Franklin boys basketball gets past Indian Creek

Coming into this season, Dylan Beverly’s varsity basketball experience consisted of one cameo appearance last season that saw him put one point and one rebound on his stat line.

The 6-foot-4 junior did a bit more than that on Tuesday night.

Beverly scored 23 points and the Grizzly Cubs opened the Adrian Moss era with a win, opening up a double-digit lead in the third quarter and holding off a late rally for a 72-65 victory over Indian Creek in the season opener for both teams.

“I’ve been working on my game all summer,” Beverly said after his breakout performance. “Coach Moss has helped me a lot. He’s helped me get to the point where I am today, helped me dribble more, shoot more, my athleticism.”

That athleticism was on display in the second quarter when Beverly came up with a steal, threw the ball forward to Wyatt Nickleson and then ran the length of the floor, leaping to catch an alley-oop pass and throw it down. That play was the highlight of a 14-1 surge that allowed the Grizzly Cubs to take the lead for good.

Both teams showed flashes of their strengths in the opening quarter between the typical early-season hiccups. For Indian Creek, it was the shooting prowess of Braxton Christie, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers on the way to 10 early points. On the other end, Franklin got a pair of pretty assists from Wyatt Nickleson along with a 3 and a dunk from Beverly, helping the Grizzly Cubs keep pace at 13-13.

The Braves continued to hold their own, starting the second quarter with a Landon Sichting 3-pointer and maintaining that upper hand through the first four-plus minutes of the quarter, leading 24-21 with 3:50 left in the half. But the Grizzly Cubs finally found their footing when Nickleson fed Sam Auger for a 3 and then hit one of his own, sparking the game’s decisive run.

Nickleson had nine points and four assists in the first half, helping Franklin build a 35-27 advantage. The momentum carried over into the third period, when an and-one by John Shepard followed by a steal and dunk from Micah Davis stretched the Grizzly Cub lead to 43-31 with 4:24 to go.

The margin grew as large as 17 on a Beverly 3 early in the fourth quarter before Indian Creek clawed its way back, cutting it to 66-58 on a steal and layup by Carter Modlin with 2:48 remaining in the game. Christie knocked down a 3-pointer with 13.9 seconds on the clock, chopping the deficit to five, but Franklin was able to hang on.

“We came out like we wanted to come out,” Moss said. “Our intensity was there. Our engagement was there. I think we’ve got a lot of guys who have never been in that situation. They’re very talented players, but they’ve just never played in front of a crowd before.”

Nickleson and Auger contributed 12 points apiece for the Grizzly Cubs, with Davis and Shepard each adding seven.

Christie led the Braves with 19 points in a losing effort, while Sichting finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in his varsity debut. Javan Crouch chipped in 11 points.

“We were able to hang around because we didn’t turn the ball over, Indian Creek coach Drew Glentzer said. “Missed free throws and rebounds, I thought, were the difference in the game. Obviously, we don’t have a big margin for error in those categories, and they’ve got the luxury of being 6-5, 6-7, whatever they are. We’ve got to put a body on somebody and block out a little better. … We knew what we were coming into, and I think we did a good job of keeping that where we needed to keep it, and it gave us a chance in the fourth quarter.”