FRENCH SETTLEMENT – The scoreboard showed an 81-61 win for French Settlement over Franklinton when the final horn sounded Monday at Gerald Keller Gym.
It was a victory the Lions knew they had to work for.
“We had to fight the whole way,” said FSHS coach Jake Bourgeois said after his team used a big run in the fourth quarter to pull away and move to 12-3. “That’s what I told them. I said as long as we stay gritty, bust our butts, fly around and dive on the floor and do all the little things and just fight the whole time, we can stay in any game.”
“We need these types of games that we’ve got to battle the whole time, and I think we’ve been doing that lately,” Bourgeois continued. “I’m preaching to them that we’re not going to be the most talented team. We’re not going to be the most athletic team. You look at us, we’re young, but as long as we battle, stay scrappy, fly around, take charges, do the small things, we’ll be able to play with most teams we play with most teams that we play this year.”
French Settlement led 54-53 going into the fourth quarter, but the Demons tied the game on a free throw just eight seconds into the final period and pulled ahead 58-54 on Jahiem Jefferson’s putback.
That was the Demons’ final lead of the game as Edward Allison’s 3-pointer keyed an 18-0 run which put the Lions ahead 72-58 and in control of the game. The key for FSHS during the deciding stretch was rebounding while limiting Franklinton to one shot on its possessions.
“The whole team came together as one and played defense,” said French Settlement’s Draven Smith, who finished with 24 points. “We knew they only had two people really scoring, so our objective was to just keep them out of the paint, shooting and all that. (It was) rebounding, the outlet and getting down the floor.”
After Jefferson hit a 3-pointer to end the run, Allison went 5-for-5 at the line as the Lions closed the game with a 9-0 burst. Allison finished with 24 points.
“We played our starting five the whole game tonight, and we pressed and we ran up and down the floor,” Bourgeois said. “I don’t know how they do it. They’re going to be tired. I save my timeouts for them. We used them at the end. Edward started breaking their press. We started making good decisions, getting the ball to him when we needed to. He started making the right plays.”
The Lions led 37-36 at halftime, but the Demons got a pair of 3-pointers from Cornelius Laurant during a burst which tied the game at 43-43.
French Settlement worked its inside game, with Smith scoring all of the points during a burst which put the Lions ahead 49-45. Smith had 10 points in the third quarter.
The Demons, however, chipped away, cutting the lead to 52-51 when Laurant, who finished with 29 points, connected on a pair of free throws.
Smith missed two free throws after the Demons were called for a technical foul, and the Lions turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, leading to a basket by Cam Stewart, which gave Franklinton a 53-52 lead before Allison’s basket to end the quarter.
Franklinton led 21-17 at the end of the first quarter and pushed the lead to 27-17 before Smith’s putback keyed a run which tied the game at 27-27. Allison and Brennan Boeneke had 3-pointers and Will McMorris had a steal and layup during the stretch.
Boeneke finished with 13 points, while McMorris had 12.
From there, the Demons went ahead 32-27 before a putback by Smith keyed a run that put French Settlement on top 37-32. The Demons closed the quarter with a 4-0 burst.
“Me and my coaching staff preached at halftime we’ve just got to limit our turnovers, play with energy, play with effort, fly around, box out – do all the little things, and if we do that, we’d be right there in the end, and we were,” Bourgeois said. “We ended up pulling away with it in the fourth quarter, knocking down some free throws and doing some good things defensively.”
The first quarter featured six ties and nine lead changes before the Demons emerged with a 21-17 lead.
“That’s only like the second time we’ve been pressed this whole year, and we didn’t handle it at all in the first half,” Bourgeois said. “We did with initial part, but it was the secondary part of the press where we’d break it and get across half court and then all of a sudden we’re getting back-tapped or making the wrong decisions and giving the ball right back to them, and that’s when they went on their run.”