Walker’s skills off bench vital for Franklin girls

Comparing the Franklin girls basketball teams of the past two seasons is proving unavoidable.

So much about the squads, both Class 4A semistate qualifiers, is similar. However, differences do exist — one being the offensive and defensive potential junior guard Adelyn Walker brings off the bench.

The 5-foot-7 Walker, a former Martinsville player who transferred to Franklin in the offseason with her older sister, senior forward Ashlyn Traylor, provides the Grizzly Cubs a dimension most teams can’t match.

Walker and the 5-10 Traylor were starters for the Artesians in 2020-21, a team that finished 16-5 overall and won the Mid-State Conference title with a 7-0 record — winning on Franklin’s home floor in the process.

In terms of athleticism and all-around feel for the game, Walker is a starter. This season, for the Cubs, she’s more a closer.

“Adelyn is a competitor,” said Franklin coach Josh Sabol, who has used Walker in this role all season. “She knows her role is to come off the bench and provide that spark for us. She just impacts the game the minute she comes in.”

At the Columbus North Regional last Saturday, Walker helped the second-ranked Cubs score wins over East Central and No. 3 Bedford North Lawrence, totaling 23 points and four rebounds.

Her ability to shadow sweet-shooting BNL junior guard Karsyn Norman in the game’s waning moments was lauded by coaches and teammates alike following Franklin’s 58-52 victory in the championship game.

“I took that personally because coming off the bench and giving us a boost is definitely big for me,” Walker said. “It was the final four minutes. They switched me off on her, and I did my thing.

“It’s great to be going to semistate. It’s wonderful. We beat East Central, which beat us twice at sectional when I was at Martinsville. We got a revenge game, and we’re hoping to win at semistate.”

Half of Walker’s 14 points against BNL — her 10th game in double figures this season — were in the final quarter, including a layup in transition with 1:37 remaining off a sweet bounce pass from senior guard Kuryn Brunson.

Traylor snagged the rebound off a Stars miss on the ensuing sequence, dribbled downcourt and swished a short jumper in the lane that pushed the lead to eight points.

Ball game.

The Grizzly Cubs have had to absorb every opponent’s best effort this season. Formerly the plucky upstart, Franklin has been adept at blending new talent with a veteran cast of holdovers from a year ago — namely junior Kyndell Jochim and sophomores Scarlett Kimbrell, Lauren Klem, Erica Buening and Brooklyn York.

“It was much harder this year than it was last year,” Sabol said. “Last year, I think people knew we were good enough, but we hadn’t done it yet. This year, there’s no surprise. From the start of the year until now, to get to regional and win again, it’s awesome.”

Klem, the starting point guard who is second on the team in assists (2.4) and steals (2.0), points to how every player on the roster, starter or reserve, embraces and takes pride in what she brings to the program.

“I feel like this year we have such great team chemistry,” Klem said. “We all know exactly where the other players are going to be on the court. We know where to pass it. Personally, I think it’s everybody. Everybody chips in to help.

“Scarlett hitting 3s to Adelyn’s defense, everyone helps in their own way, and that’s what gets us the win.”

Traylor, too, has taken her game to a higher level in the postseason, averaging 21.8 points in Franklin’s five tournament games.

In the regional semifinal against East Central, she scored a career-best 32 points.

Traylor averages 2.5 assists per contest, but saves her best one for the players who’ll take the court with her Saturday night at Jasper for the semistate game against Mooresville.

“Well, we practice hard every day, and I wouldn’t be where I’m at without my teammates,” Traylor said. “Scarlett and Lauren being able to shoot like they can … everybody on our team can shoot. It opens the lane for me, and I can get in there.”

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Mike Beas is the Daily Journal's veteran sports reporter. He has been to more than 200 Indiana high schools, including 1990s visits to Zionsville to profile current Boston Celtics GM Brad Stevens, Gary Roosevelt to play eventual Purdue All-American Glenn Robinson in HORSE (didn’t end well) and Seeger to visit the old gym in which Stephanie White, later the coach of the Indiana Fever, honed her skills in pickup games involving her dad and his friends. He can be reached at [email protected]