You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Experienced Franklin boys should challenge for another SWBL title

For the first time in a while, the Franklin High School boys basketball team didn’t have a whole lot of outside expectations to live up to last year in the beginning of the post-Luke Kennard era.

The Wildcats used that as motivation to jump out to an 8-0 start and eventually claimed their fifth straight Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division title (shared with Oakwood).

Now, with the bulk of the lineup returning, coach Brian Bales is impressing upon his team the need to play with that same mentality that drove the Wildcats to a 16-7 finish a year ago. Franklin opens its 10th season under Bales on Saturday at Jefferson.

“Last year we had guys that I think because of Luke & Co. leaving and everyone thinking we were going to rebuild, they played with a chip on their shoulder,” Bales said. “We talked a lot last year about how we’re still hunting. Those guys played with an edge and something to prove, and that’s what we’re talking about this preseason — we have to keep our edge and stay hungry. We’re still hunting.”

Franklin replaces only two seniors, and while one of them is leading scorer Braxton Lawwill (10.9 points per game), the Wildcats have the rest of the starting lineup back and plenty of experience returning to provide depth.

Expected to lead the team are seniors Konnor Black (9.6 ppg), Noah Kremer (8.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Will Kercher (8.0 ppg), as well as juniors Payton Knott (9.6 ppg, 4.7 apg), Ryan Montgomery (7.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg), Jared Kinzer (6.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and Cole Bundren (2.9 ppg).

Transfers Braden White, a junior who came from Edgewood and played quarterback for the Wildcats football team this fall, and Greg Wyatt, a senior who moved in from Florida, also should contribute.

“We have a lot of different guys who on different nights can lead us, and that was interesting last year, too,” Bales said. “We could have a very balanced attack, and that’s exciting to us as a staff.”

The offense isn’t where Bales thinks it could be later in the season, though.

Several players joined the team late after being part of the football team’s run to the second round of the Division III playoffs, and the Wildcats have yet to experience a practice with everyone available because of sickness or lingering bumps and bruises from the fall.

Bales said as of Tuesday the football players had been back for seven practices after taking a few days off following the season.

“Right now, we really are just trying to get back in the swing of things,” Bales said. “I don’t think we’re very cohesive or fluid, especially offensively, but as time goes on we will get better and better.”

As the offense finds its rhythm, the defense should help carry the load.

Much of Franklins’ Southwestern-leading 60.1 points per game last year came from its defense creating turnovers and a quick transition game off rebounds. The Wildcats were second in their division with 163 steals and hope to remain strong in that area this season.

“We really want to pressure the ball and play full-court defense,” Bales said. “We feel we have the depth to do that, and we pride ourselves on defending people. We’ve done that since our staff has been here and that’s our goal this year: Let our defense create our offense with an up-tempo, fast-paced game.”

Bales said the league is “as strong as it has been in the last five or six years,” so Franklin won’t have a lot of room for error early on. Like the Wildcats, several teams have a lot of players back from last season and size seems prevalent as well.

Franklin hopes to keep its tradition of success alive, but Bales said the Wildcats can’t be too confident about past achievements.

“We want to compete every second, win the day and win the next one,” Bales said. “That’s been our battle cry for 10 years now. We’ve had a good frame of mind approaching things, and if we do those things, maybe the chips will fall that way (for another title). We don’t talk a lot about pursuing championships. We try to pursue moments.

“We do return a lot of experience now, a lot of guys that were varsity contributors, but we can’t hang our hat on what we did last year. This is a new year and I believe these guys will keep their edge about them and remain hungry.”

Franklin Wildcats

Coach: Brian Bales, 10th season

2015-16 Record: 16-7 overall, 9-3 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division (first place, tied)

2016-17 Schedule (all start times 7:15 p.m. unless noted): Dec. 3 — at Jefferson, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 6 — Tri-County North, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 9 — Valley View; Dec. 10 — Talawanda, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 13 — at Edgewood, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 16 — at Bellbrook; Dec. 20 — Belmont, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 3 — at Carlisle; Jan. 6 — Monroe; Jan. 7 — Miamisburg, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 10 — Oakwood; Jan. 13 — at Brookville; Jan. 17 — at Eaton; Jan. 20 — Waynesville, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 24 — Preble Shawnee, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 27 — Bellbrook; Jan. 31 — at Monroe; Feb. 3 — at Oakwood; Feb. 4 — Springboro, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 7 — Brookville; Feb. 10 — Eaton; Feb. 17 — at Valley View

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

LeBron, Curry highlight all-star starters list that mostly gets it right

The NBA announced its starting lineups for next month's All-Star Game in New Orleans late last week. And while the new voting process created for this season did what was intended, keeping unexpected names out of the lineup, that doesn't mean the results didn't come without controversy. Cleveland Cavaliers stars Kyrie Irving and LeBron James lead the...
Women’s hockey barnstormers feel league play can wait

Kendall Coyne gathered the puck and was in the open ice almost instantly, darting toward the University of Minnesota goalie Sidney Peters. Faced with an unforgiving predicament, Peters sprawled out to no avail. Coyne went to her backhand and easily scored, a trademark goal from one of the world’s fastest players. Last year, such skills earned...
Trumbo empowers Orioles to keep contending as window starts to close

Dave Sheinin   Mark Trumbo's first career trip through free agency was a microcosm of the baseball talent market this offseason. He and his agent turned down the Baltimore Orioles' one-year qualifying offer in November, rejected a longer-term offer as well, floated the idea of an $80 million contract in December, found the market to be inhospitable...
Rookie class played major role in Cowboys' success, sets foundation
Rookie class played major role in Cowboys' success, sets foundation

  The future is bright for the Dallas Cowboys and 2016 has the chance to go down as one of the franchise's best draft classes.  Running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott put themselves in the MVP conversation as rookies, and those two have a chance to become superstars if they continue to put the team in Super Bowl contention...
How Johnson’s ambassadorship might affect the Jets

With the New York Jets owner, Woody Johnson, heading across the Atlantic to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Britain, it is not known how his appointment will affect the day-to-day operations of the team. But a recent precedent, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers’ chairman, Dan Rooney, held the ambassadorship to Ireland from 2009 to 2012, offers...
More Stories