Franklin girls basketball hammers Evansville North in regional


Kennedy Urban’s transition from defensive stopper to offensive threat wound its way through Bedford North Lawrence’s gymnasium on Saturday.

Franklin’s senior guard came off the bench to deliver four 3-point baskets in the second quarter alone to help the Class 4A No. 8 Grizzly Cubs score a suspense-free 69-30 regional victory over Evansville North.

Urban and senior point guard Lauren Klem each produced 14 points for Franklin (24-3), which is semistate bound for the third time in four years and will face Center Grove this Saturday at Southport. Teammate Brooklyn York, a senior wing, added 11 points, while Erica Buening finished with six points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Urban, who took the floor averaging 2.2 points per game, certainly spiked that number with her performance against the Huskies.

“Kennedy played pretty well in the sectional last week. I thought she gave us some good minutes there,” second-year Franklin coach Mike Armstrong said. “She’s always been a good defender, and passer and teammate, but she’s starting to shoot the ball better than she’s shot it all year. That was nice to see.”

Urban tallied a season-high 17 points just last week in the Cubs’ 74-25 win against Columbus North at the Whiteland Sectional. Prior to Saturday, it was her only double-figure performance of the season.

Chalk one up for impeccable timing.

“I would say once the postseason hit, that’s when my confidence kind of boosted up more,” Urban said. “It feels good. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They make the passes.”

Added Klem: “(Urban) is an amazing player to start with. She comes off the bench every game, and she gives it all she has. Having the confidence to shoot and play good defense is what we really need from her.”

With Klem’s defensive quickness causing headaches for Evansville North ball-handlers, and the Grizzly Cubs distributing the offensive load evenly, Franklin raced to a 17-1 lead. Four different players — Klem, guard Emma Sappenfield, Buening and York — produced points during the fast start. The Huskies didn’t make their first basket until a runner by senior guard Vanessa Nankwenya with 1:33 left in the first quarter.

Defensively, Franklin made life miserable for the Huskies, who turned the ball over 16 times before intermission — including nine in the first quarter. The Grizzly Cubs countered with one turnover in the opening half and only three for the entire game.

Franklin led 20-3 after one quarter, 41-14 at halftime and 57-22 through three periods.

“I think (defense) was one thing that we wanted to focus on,” Klem said of the practices leading up to regional. “We definitely said going into this game that we would have to amp it up a little bit. We watched a little bit of film, but other than focusing on them so much, we wanted to focus on ourselves.

“In the sectional, you could see that we weren’t making that many shots, and we didn’t have that much energy. I think today we brought everything that we had.”

Lending an assist in this department was the squad’s narrow 45-42 defeat of Whiteland in the sectional title game.

“That told us we’ve really got to bring it every game because any day, someone could be on,” Klem added. “You have to be yourselves and have confidence and know you’re going to win.”

The Huskies finished with 21 turnovers, a sum that likely would have been larger had Franklin maintained its early-game defensive intensity.

“(Evansville North) is a team that throughout the season did not turn it over very much, so I was really pleased with how we utilized our press and were able to turn them over,” Armstrong said. “I really thought a key for us today was a good start.

“Our kids just wanted to play better, whether we won or lost.”

Evansville North (16-11), making its first regional appearance in four years and fifth overall, was led by junior forward Maddy Knies with nine points and eight boards.