By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
FRANKTON, Ind. —
Some losses are easier to get over than others.
The kind that end on a tip-in at the conclusion of double overtime tend to skew toward the high end of the difficulty scale. Add a sectional championship to the mix, and the challenge becomes even greater.
But there's nothing the Frankton boys basketball team can do about last year's season-ending 52-50 loss against Wapahani in a Class 2A sectional final. So the Eagles, who finished 18-6 one year after winning the first sectional title in program history, are focusing on the future.
"It's pretty much history," Frankton coach Brent Brobston said of the double-overtime defeat. "We never talk about it. You always want to learn from your mistakes, and I think we've done that. It's in the past, and now we're moving forward."
In fact, it's full speed ahead.
The Eagles return 12 players with at least some measure of varsity experience, including The Herald Bulletin's reigning player of the year — senior superstar Aaron Korn.
It's been an eventful summer for the Mr. Basketball candidate who led Frankton with a 23-point scoring average, a 5.9-rebounding average and 37 steals last season. He played with and against many of the top players in the state as a member of the Indiana Junior All-Stars, and he recently signed to play next season at Lipscomb in the NCAA Div. I Atlantic Sun Conference.
The truly frightening news for opponents is that he's still getting better.
"I think Aaron's gotten stronger, and that's making his game that much better," Brobston said. "Every kid has areas they need to work on and get better at every day."
That's a common theme for the Eagles, who open the season as the eighth-ranked team in Class 2A.
But they have no plans to rest on those laurels.
Frankton suffered the loss of just two regulars from last year's roster. Trevor Hughes graduated after ranking third on the team with an average of 9.1 points per game. And Logan Weins — a versatile big man who could play inside and out — decided to focus on baseball in his senior year.
Among the many returnees, none might be more excited than junior point guard Austin Compton. A shoulder injury at the end of the 2012 football season hampered him throughout his sophomore campaign. He still managed to lead the team with 6.2 assists per game and finished second to Korn with 11.8 points per game and 35 total steals.
But Compton was never quite fully himself.
"It's definitely been a long process for him to get back to this point," Brobston said. "He's worked hard to get back, and we expect him to be as healthy as he's been for about 14 months now."
There are plenty of other promising places on the roster to which to turn.
Junior Nick Wright and senior Jordan Reeves return after averaging 6.9 and 5.8 points respectively. And they're joined by a host of experienced players including junior Bailey Threet, senior Zach Stephenson and junior twins Cameron and Connor Bates.
Other returnees include juniors Brady Ashton, Brayden Ginder, Aaron Karr, Blaine Reed and Isaac Stuckey.
"We feel like our depth is as good as it's been (in his six-year tenure)," Brobston said. "We've got 12 guys we feel like can play each and every night."
That could come in handy throughout a schedule that includes dates with recent powerhouses Tipton (Dec. 7) and Wapahani (Dec. 27), county and school-system rival Lapel (Jan. 25) and Class 3A mainstay Muncie Central (Feb. 25).
The Eagles will be the prohibitive favorite in an otherwise tightly bunched Central Indiana Conference, and they'll likely be among the top picks to win the sectional.
But nothing will be handed to Frankton, and last year's finish serves as a constant reminder of how thin the margin can be between victory and defeat.
"Our kids have stayed grounded," Brobston said. "They know in order to win basketball games and win championships they have to prepare, and they have to get better each day. We have a chance to have a special season, but to get that season we've gotta put in the work."