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Glasgow Tournament 2023

New Franklin outlasts Westran in heart-thumping semifinal

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 11/30/23

The New Franklin boys won a blistering semifinal showdown over district rival Westran on Wednesday for the right to play for the Glasgow Basketball Tournament championship this Saturday night.

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Glasgow Tournament 2023

New Franklin outlasts Westran in heart-thumping semifinal


The New Franklin boys won a blistering semifinal showdown over district rival Westran on Wednesday for the right to play for the Glasgow Basketball Tournament championship this Saturday night.

The game turned out to be quite a rematch of last year’s controversial semifinal game in which Westran came back to win in overtime.

This time, New Franklin got the job done in regulation. And despite a close finish, the top-seeded Bulldogs kept themselves just enough in front to ensure that one trip to the free-throw line would not snatch away victory again.

Playing with a slim lead often leads to many chances at the free-throw line as the trailing team fouls to stop the clock with the hopes that missed baskets would lead to last-second opportunities. New Franklin made just one of five of 14 chances from the charity stripe in the final 63 seconds of the game. But the Bulldogs made up for those missed shots with rebounds that kept the ball in their hands and afforded further trips to the charity stripe.

“We bricked it so far that it was actually easy to rebound, which is interesting,” mused New Franklin coach Jim Schlotzhauer after the game. “We had a couple of long rebounds. With the athletic guys that we have, if it is that long of a miss, we can go get some of those. But you can’t count on them.”

Schlotzhauer said his team must be better mentally prepared to make free throws in close games. “The boys, I think, feel the pressure. And I think they need to learn to handle that a little better. And that’s not an easy thing to do.”

New Franklin sports an intense, up-tempo playing style that rattles opponents into making mistakes, which turn into Bulldog layups. That style was on full display as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead. After one quarter, New Franklin appeared to be in full control with a 27-14 lead.

But coach Chris Sander and his Westran Hornets are not novices to the game and quickly regrouped with a similar handsy, intense, and fast style. Starting the second quarter down 13, they chipped away at the deficit early before going on a 9-0 tear over the last four minutes. Westran outscored New Franklin 16-6 in the second period to go into halftime just three points behind.

“After [the first quarter], the game really slowed down, and you could see that in the score,” Schlotzhauer said. “They didn’t turn it over as much. That’s a big thing. We really thrive off those turnovers. When you’re getting easy looks in transition, you can set back up the press. And we hit a couple of threes there in the first quarter, too.”

Westran cut the lead to two points early in the third quarter. New Franklin called a time out, then went on a 7-3 run through the final three minutes of the quarter to pull ahead by six.

What looked like a sure thing for New Franklin after the first quarter turned into a battle for the win in a hard-fought final period. Trailing by six, Westran inched its way back in. For every two points by New Franklin, the Hornets scored four and finally tied the game at 52 apiece on a 3-pointer by Jordan Black with 5:04 left to play. Westran then took a two-point lead half a minute later on a bucket by DC Dale.

New Franklin jumped back ahead with back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Tanner Bishop. From then on, the Bulldogs milked the clock, forcing Westran to foul.

The Hornets were never completely out of the game. New Franklin’s inability to convert free-throw chances late kept it a two-score game. The Bulldogs made just 10 of 24 free-throw attempts all night.

Luckily for New Franklin, Westran hit a dry spell that lasted nearly the final four minutes. But the Hornets refused to cede the game and converted a pair of free throws with 44.6 seconds left to keep it a one-score contest. Their final basket came with 33 seconds on the clock on a shot by senior Trent Brandow.

New Franklin converted two of six free throws in the final 30 seconds, but managed to rebound the misses to stay ahead and leave the court with a 63-58 win.

“I was impressed with Westran. I thought they played really hard and really tough, and really physical. And that’s one thing our guys have to get better at, that’s playing physical,” Schlotzhauer said after the game.

One big difference from last year’s game was the absence of Westran’s Langden Kitchen. The 6’8 senior ruled the paint, and converted two last-second free throws that sent last year’s contest into overtime and stun a New Franklin team that had all but won the game.

“Chris has put in a different system without Langden. And it’s effective. His guards are good, and his bigs are tough,” Schlotzhauer said.

“I really thought we did a good job on the big guys for the most part. We kept it out of there pretty well. But they hit some big shots, and we didn’t score enough to stretch it away from them. With that zone, they were big enough and strong enough that we had trouble stretching it out.”

Schlotzhauer substituted players all night light, rarely keeping the same lineup in the game. Leading the way in the scoring column was senior Drake Clark with a game-high 18 points. Connor Wilmsmeyer added 19, and Tanner Bishop finished with 12 and made three shots from behind the arc.

For Westran, junior Marshall Kitchen posted 11 points before fouling out late in the game. Black finished with 11 points and Dale chipped in nine points.

The Hornets fared no better from the line, converting five of 12 chances.

New Franklin now moves on to the championship game. The Bulldogs will likely face second-seeded Harrisburg, which takes on Slater on Thursday night in the semifinals.

Slater pulled off a four-point upset over third-seeded Glasgow in the opening round to advance to the championship side of the bracket.

“I think rebounding is probably the biggest deal,” Schlotzhauer said about the potential of facing Harrisburg for the tournament title. “[Westran] was way more physical than we were tonight. We didn’t handle it very well. Harrisburg is probably the most physical team you will ever play. That’s what we have to be ready for. And they’re going to get up and down just like we want to. So, it will be interesting to see how that matchup goes.”

Harrisburg easily handled seventh-seeded Fayette 76-30 in the first round on Tuesday.

The championship game tips off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Westran, seeded fourth, will play for third place, facing the loser of the Slater-Harrisburg game at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.


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