Franklin Academy 46
River Mill 62
by Marty Simpkins
WAKE FOREST — A more physical and dominant River Mill team took care of Franklin Academy at the Patriots’ homecoming game, besting them 62-46.
The Jaguars are second in the North Central Athletic conference and the match last Friday night showed why after pounding the ball inside the paint for easy buckets possession after possession.
“Their [River Mill’s] guys are bigger and stronger than our guys in the middle,” Coach Matt Durkin said. “We had to get into a better position to play against that. Our guys need to get a little more aggressive defensively. This game was won in the paint.”
The Patriots had a rough start when the Jaguars went on a 7-0 to start the first quarter as River Mill kept scoring inside for easy points. Franklin Academy trailed 15-6 entering the second quarter.
Neither teams could stop each the other on offense, but the lead still belonged to River Mill at halftime, 30-20.
River Mill could have pushed the lead even further at the beginning of the second half, but Franklin Academy capitalized on the Jaguars’ mistakes, outscoring them 15-10 in the third period. The Patriots cut the deficit to five with River Mill still leading, 40-35.
“I told them that we could play them man-to-man and we out-rebounded them for the most part,” Durkin said. “I said that if you stick with it and play under control, then we’ll get back in it.”
Franklin Academy’s attempt of a comeback fell apart, along with their defense. River Mill outscored the Patriots 22-11 in the fourth quarter to win in convincing fashion, 62-46.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favor hitting 14 out of 65 from the field today,” Durkin said. “We missed a ton of shots. That’s disappointing, but that’s the game of basketball.”
The loss is the second to River Mill this season and the Patriots are still fighting for tournament contention. However, the lack of healthy players have plagued Franklin Academy and they played the Jaguars without their starting point guard, Trevor Troutman.
“We’re just not a complete team without everybody available,” Durkin said. “If we can get everybody available, I think we can get closer to where we want to be. River Mill is the second-best team in the conference, so we at least showed we could hang with them.”
A bright spot on the team was senior Brandon Hanson. The forward has been the Patriots’ best player since the beginning, averaging 17.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. Hanson had a double-double against River Mill at his last homecoming game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
With only a few games remaining and Franklin Academy currently sixth in their conference, the Patriots will have to pull off a good run in order to finish in the top four in the conference to make the state tournament.
“The guys have to have some urgency for the rest of the season,” Durkin said. “At the same time, they have to play with the things that we have taught them. We can’t get too down, because if we get on a streak here, we can finish the season with a good chance to make the state tournament. There’s also the conference tournament, which is very important, so we have to prepare our guys for that as well.”