Walsh Takes Charge in Indians' Victory over Hereford
With leading-scorer Devin Hebron out early due to a coach's decision, fresh faces fill void to topple Bulls, 47-43 Wednesday night.
Franklin High School had to rely on its supporting cast Wednesday night at home against Baltimore County opponent Hereford. The team's leading-scorer on the season, junior Devin Hebron, did not tally a point until the final three minutes of the game in the Indians' 47-43 victory.
Hebron, who scored 25 points against No. 7 John Carroll earlier this week, entered the game for the first time with less than seven minutes to play in the first half, joining the contest when Franklin held a five-point lead.
Benched in the first quarter due to a coach's decision, he was eager to make up for lost time, forcing off-balance shots and passes. He was even called for fouling Hereford's Joey Jones, who scored 27 points on the night, on a three point shot attempt -- a call Franklin coach Kieran O'Connell hotly contested. Jones hit two of his three free throws to cut the lead at the time to two points.
The Bulls clawed back to tie the game at 20 a piece at halftime, but the Indians scraped by with the victory when the final buzzer sounded.
"We held our composure throughout the game for the most part when it came to slowing down and getting into our game," O'Connell said. "We lost that composure a bit toward the end and let Hereford back in, but we pulled it together enough to get the victory."
Senior, Joe Walsh scored eight of Franklin's 13 first quarter points to stake the Indians to an early four-point lead. The lanky 6-foot-4-inch senior efficiently scored when face-to-face with his defender with a quick first step to get to the basket for easy conversions. Walsh finished the game with 15 points, to lead the Indians.
Hereford struggled to find an offensive rhythm early against Franklin's man-to-man defense. The Bulls were unable to penetrate and find open paths to the basket, often settling for deep jumpers and off-target floaters tossed softly toward the rim.
The Bulls defense tightened in the second quarter, though, especially once the ball had left the hand of a Franklin shooter. Hereford held the Indians to one shot nearly every time down the floor, limiting second-chance opportunities, as the Bulls' methodical offense – heavily featuring back-screens and off-ball cuts to the basket – began to click and get better looks inside the key, as they clawed back to a halftime tie.
"Hereford does a great job of screening off the ball, and at halftime, we spent a lot of time figuring out that back-screen," O'Connell said. "We, also, wanted to get out in transition to get some easy buckets, get the outlets going and then transition into our defensive set quickly, as well."
In the third quarter, it was the Franklin defense that stepped up by dropping down. Defensively, they sagged into the paint to pick up cutters and cut down on passing lanes. The defensive momentum carried into their offensive possessions as the Indians opened the half with a 14-4 run, leading to a nine-point advantage heading into the final period of play.
A couple screens at the top of the key that left open Hereford players open under the basket pulled the Bulls back to within three points before the Indians' dynamic guard took over.
Hebron scored for the first time with 2:30 to play in the game on a deep jumper from just inside the arc and followed on the next possession with a shot from the same spot. It wasn't even two seconds after Hereford crossed half-court on their subsequent possession before Hebron tapped the ball lose for a steal and easy layup in transition.
"Devin is a player that likes to have the ball in his hand, and by not starting, I think that did impact his play tonight as he never really got it going," O'Connell said. "The one thing about Devin, though, is that he hit some big shots for us when we needed them. He's the type of player that I want to have the ball even when he is having an off night."
In the final minute, down five points, Hereford challenged Franklin to seal the game at the free throw line. Hebron, the first to step to the charity stripe, failed to extend the lead, missing his first shot, which led to a Bulls 3-point basket from the corner to cut the lead to 45-43. With 30 seconds to play, senior Mark Venable stepped to the line, also missing his first shot, as well.
Fouled on the ensuing possesion, Hereford's Joe Seider also missed both his free throw attempts, but Walsh was called for traveling off of the rebound to give the Bulls another opportunity to tie the game.
Hebron stole the in-bound pass, though, hitting Venable under the basket in transition to preserve the victory, 47-43.
Franklin suits up again on Tuesday when they play South Carroll High School in the opening round of the North Carroll Holiday Tournament at 2:30 p.m.