Although varsity squads tend to get more attention, head coaches Tres Rogers and Bekah Brooks have their respective junior varsity basketball squads experiencing winning efforts at Franklin High School (FHS) for the 2023-2024 season.
Rogers and assistant Ryan Raby’s team is 10-3 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain Seven Conference (M7C). Two of the defeats were close losses to East and North Henderson teams. All three losses were by a combined 16 points. Coach Rogers admitted, “The common denominator for those games is that we didn’t shoot very well from the field or the free throw line.”
Rogers added, “Our defense has been outstanding all season, even in the losses when we didn’t score very well. We have started multiple lineups and mixed things up all season because of sickness and injury, but we also have the luxury of a deep team with our top seven or eight players being pretty interchangeable.”
The JV boys have had five different players lead the team in scoring and eight players score in double figures in games throughout the season.
“This shows how deep our team is, giving us the ability to sub freely and allow several players to get extended minutes on the floor,” explained Rogers.
Freshman Anderson Terrell, who is averaging 10.9 points per game, has been the most consistent scoring source.
“He gives us energy and athletic ability on both ends of the floor and has the ability to drive to the basket as well as shoot from outside,” said his coach. “Five out of his last six games have been in double figures, demonstrating that he has gotten better as the season has progressed and is now comfortable with his role as our go-to scorer each night.”
JV has two other players averaging almost eight points a game in sophomore Aaron Bravo and freshman Gunner McConnell.
“Aaron has done a good job scoring inside but is also able to handle the ball and step outside against bigger defenders. Gunner has stepped into the starting lineup and is a threat to shoot the three but does an amazing job of getting inside the defense to score and get to the free throw line,” stated the coach. “Both of these guys have been keys to our success by being willing to go inside and work hard as well as stepping out and shooting the ball, all while helping with ball handling duties.”
Sophomore Peyton Hervey is the main outside threat and has shot the ball well from three-point range all season. Rogers said Hervey has started expanding his game and driving more as defenses attempt to close out on him on the outside. He is also averaging 5.4 points per game.
Freshman Lance Parker is the main inside presence on the team and leads in rebounds while also routinely getting multiple steals per game. Sophomores Aiden Pitts and CJ Engert have produced quality minutes at point guard and off guard throughout the season. Sophomore center Jacob Lind continues to improve as a player this season and “is one of those kids we think has a bright future in the Panther basketball program,” observed Rogers.
Freshman guard Damion Bowles started the season playing at a high level with scoring and defensive energy but fractured his hand and missed the past seven games. He was cleared to start practicing recently and coaches looked forward to working him back into the lineup.
“We have had a great season so far. We are obviously disappointed with the three losses but we expected to make a run here at the end of the season as all but the Tuscola and Smoky games are back home in the Panther Den,” concluded Rogers. “I’m proud of these guys. They have worked hard in practice and in BFS [Bigger, Faster, Stronger] and have improved so much this season. That is the goal, to get better every day.”
Brooks’ team has suffered only two defeats so far in their current campaign; one to Pisgah and the other to Tuscola. They continue to play well and learn also, according to their coach.
“Some games the guards shine, and some games the post [inside players] shines; we have so many different people scoring, which is good!” exclaimed Brooks. “Defensive wise, we have accumulated around five steals a game and are above 10 per game in defensive rebounds.”
Brooks went on to confess that in the Pisgah game, “we were up by one at half, and then came out and didn’t have a great third quarter. We had a lot of shots, but they didn’t fall.”
According to the coach, the team committed too many turnovers and missed too many shots in the Tuscola game. “We came back and were ahead and we couldn’t understand how to hold the ball and delay so they [Lady Mountaineers] couldn’t get it back to score,” said Brooks. FHS also had multiple chances to win the game in the last minutes with shots that did not fall.
Overall, the team stands at 9-2, 1-2 in conference, with one loss coming at home and one on the road. Three games remain in the regular season with the M7C conference tournament set to begin Feb. 16.