Franklin wins with confidence

January 13, 1995|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

With 2:12 remaining in last Friday's game against Randallstown, Franklin girls basketball coach Jill Myers glanced at the scoreboard:

Randallstown 63, Franklin 53.

Myers then stared into her players' faces and was greeted with an unfamiliar look.

It was a look of determination. No one was panicking. No one was willing to accept defeat.

Franklin, which has wilted in similar situations in the past, ended the game on a 13-4 run, and although it fell one point short, Myers could not have been more proud had her team won by 20 points.

Although they entered the game with a 6-0 record, the Indians' strong showing against the Baltimore County 3A-4A league favorite probably gained them more respect than any of their victories.

"I was impressed with the comeback by the kids," Myers said. "We came out of it knowing we have the ability to match up with Randallstown. We're looking forward to the next game against them."

Franklin (7-1 league and overall), which has a rematch with the Rams at Randallstown on Feb. 1, is off to its best start in school history.

The Indians, who are in second place in the division behind Randallstown (9-2, 9-0), have done it with a balanced offense, aggressive defense and increasing confidence.

"The girls are playing with a lot more confidence," said Myers, who has coached either the varsity or JV at Franklin sporadically since 1964. "They have talent and they are confident in their abilities."

Myers has successfully blended a core of eight returning players -- including four senior starters -- with some capable newcomers.

Three of the four starters -- center Jill Smith (averaging seven points, 13 rebounds), point guard Staci Lotterer (eight points) and guard Shannon Bamonto -- have been playing together in recreation leagues for six years.

The other returning starter is shooting guard Sharee Lewis, who averages a team-high 12.1 points.

Lewis is also the defensive catalyst for the Indians, whose trademark is their full-court pressure defense. In Franklin's 61-43 victory over Dulaney last month, the Lions' All-County center, Lisa Rutledge, had scored 15 points in the first half before Myers put Lewis on her. Lewis limited Rutledge to one field goal in the second half.

Another senior, forward Ivy Haley, has moved into the starting lineup. Despite her size (5 feet 4), Haley is an excellent leaper who is averaging 8.6 points and 7.9 rebounds.

The Indians are also getting a strong contribution from freshman guard Erin Spatafore off the bench. A quick player with a good shooting touch, Spatafore scored 12 points against Randallstown and has been steadily improving.

"The kids are playing very unselfishly," Myers said. "They look for each other all the time. We have nine or 10 kids scoring in every game."

Lewis, Lotterer and Bamonto have started for Franklin's three-guard offense for three years.

"Two years ago, it was hard starting out," Lotterer said. "We were just learning the plays and learning how everyone worked. Last year it started to fall in place. This year it seemed like a connection. We're working as a team."

As the players gradually gained experience and became more comfortable with each other, the Indians began to win more consistently.

Two years ago, Franklin finished at 10-10. Last season, the Indians broke into the upper echelon of the league with a 12-5 record.

Franklin has not fared well in the playoffs, however, where it has been eliminated in the first round the past two years.

The Indians, who are in the same region as Randallstown, never have qualified for the state semifinals.

But there is a feeling among the players that the Indians' postseason woes won't continue this season.

"Our goal at the beginning of the season was just to go out and better the record we had last year," Lotterer said. "But now that we're into the season, we want to stay at the top. We want to keep working and hopefully go all the way to the states."

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