By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ELWOOD, Ind. —
The Central Indiana Conference girls basketball crown will only have to sit on one head.
Thanks to Frankton’s 80-69 victory over Elwood here Saturday night, the Eagles finish league play at 7-0 and have the undisputed title. A win by the Panthers would have created a three-way tie for the title.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won one of these,” said Frankton coach Dean Riddle, who is in just his second year back at the helm of the team he previously coached. “The kids that have remained with us in this program are tough. They want to be part of something bigger. I’d like to see a program that works harder than we do.”
Elwood started the game by creating a scenario that would make some on Frankton’s team besides the state’s leading scorer, Kelsey Key, beat them. Several Eagles were willing to oblige.
With two players running at the older Key each time she got within arm’s length of the ball, her younger sister Katie fired the first salvo.
“We ran a set to get a shot for Katie if they didn’t come (to her),” said Riddle. “They didn’t and she hit the shot.” It was a 3-pointer and the Eagles were off to a quick start.
“She’s a spark for us,” said Kelsey Key of her younger sister. Yet Katie Key wasn’t the only weapon. Junior Chariti Hunt found the middle of the Panthers’ defense wide open and she didn’t hesitate to drive into it. Hunt hit three hoops in the first quarter, one of them a 3-pointer.
As a team, taking Kelsey Key’s shooting stats out of the equation, the Eagles hit 7-of-8 from the field and led 22-18 at the first break.
It wasn’t what Elwood coach Tom Kessinger wanted. “If they hadn’t hit those shots,” he said, “it would have been a different game. Frankton is a different team when they have to play from behind.”
In the second quarter, Elwood lost a bit of offensive patience and fell further behind.
“The girls have a green light because we’ve got some shooters,” said Kessinger. “But we took some rushed shots in the second quarter.” As a result, the Panthers trailed 45-32 at halftime.
“Then we had to put some pressure on them,” said Kessinger. “When Kelsey (Key) gets the ball in the open floor, she’s pretty much unstoppable.”
Without the gimmick defense on her, Kelsey Key scored 24 points in the second half on 8-of-13 from the field on her way to a 38-point showing.
“This is so unreal,” said Kelsey Key of winning the game and the title. “We’ve worked four years for this. My teammates really allowed me to have this night. They scored and gave me a chance to score too.”
Katie Key had 17 points and Hunt added 12. The Eagles won a 35-33 battle on the boards with both Kelsey Key and Natalie McGuire getting eight rebounds.
Elwood had three players score in double figures topped by Katelyn Leisure with 20 points. Tenasha Stephens had 13 points and 14 rebounds while Kelsey Hughes scored 10.
Frankton is 15-4 and will host Lapel on Tuesday. Elwood is 15-5 and will host University that same night.