By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
LAPEL, Ind. —
Frankton’s Aaron Korn scored a game-high 26 points, but it was a 3-pointer that didn’t fall for Lapel’s Tanner Watkins that ultimately determined the outcome in this boys basketball rivalry on Saturday night.
Watkins launched a shot from the left wing with time running out, but it hit the side of the rim and bounced out long. Trevor Hughes tracked it down for the Eagles and made a quick outlet pass to Korn, who dribbled out the clock.
It was the second win for Frankton this season against the Bulldogs, the second in a row overall and the fourth in the last five games.
“This was a huge weekend for us,” Eagles coach Brent Brobston said. “We got a great conference win (Friday), and it was really good to come in here and beat a really tough Lapel team.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Bulldogs (8-7) and brought back memories this team just can’t seem to shake. Lapel has played an extremely challenging schedule, and it routinely has kept games close into the final minutes.
But the Bulldogs just can’t seem to find a way to pull out the close victories.
“We don’t defend well enough to win games like this,” Lapel coach Jimmie Howell stated flatly.
Much of the credit for that Saturday should go to Korn, the Junior All-Star candidate who already is drawing interest from Division I schools such as Ball State.
Frankton (9-5) led much of the game but never by more than seven points. The Eagles were clinging to a one-point lead late in the third quarter as Korn dribbled near the top of the key.
Just before the buzzer sounded, he rose and slipped a 3-pointer softly through the net to give Frankton a 42-38 edge heading into the final quarter.
The visitors never could completely shake Lapel.
A 3-pointer by Nick Wright gave the Eagles some breathing room at 48-43 with 6:08 remaining, but the Bulldogs had pulled within 50-49 by the 3:36 mark.
Hughes scored to put Frankton back in front by three, and Mitchell Richardson missed a 3-pointer to tie at the other end. Korn then drove to the basket for a layup to put the Eagles back in front by five.
Watkins cut the deficit to three again with a pair of free throws, and Korn again answered with a short jumper.
“Aaron Korn did some things to kind of take over the game, and he just refuses to lose,” Brobston said. “They all do. But he just hit some big shots in some big situations tonight.”
Watkins hit a jumper to pull Lapel back within three, and Frankton’s Austin Compton was called for a charge with 52.4 seconds remaining.
With 20.8 seconds left, the Bulldogs’ Dane Mason made his first free throw and missed the second. Drew Norton and Korn tied up on the rebound, and the possession arrow favored Frankton.
Korn was fouled with 17.9 seconds left and missed his free-throw attempt. Norton got the rebound to set up Watkins’ attempt at a game-winner, but the Lapel guard couldn’t get the shot to fall.
“We’ll be back here in a month-and-a-half (for the sectional) so we could play ’em again,” Brobston said. “They’re as well-coached as anyone in the state. So we know it will be another challenge.”
Watkins led Lapel with 20 points, Brady Cherry added 13 and Norton finished with 11. Mason just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Wright was the only other Eagle in double figures, with 11 points. But Frankton made 50 percent of its attempts, led by Korn’s 11-for-20 performance.
“Tonight, I just thought we really came in to compete,” Brobston said. “Offensively, this was our best game of the year, as far as finding good shots and making them.”