EDINBURGH, Ind. -- The last 90 seconds of the Johnson County boys basketball tournament championship game featured unusual intensity. But between the fouling, the loose balls and the clutch defense, somehow Franklin prevailed Saturday night.
"That last minute was crazy," said Grizzly Cubs forward Nick King.
In a game that was tense all the way, Franklin (9-2) topped Center Grove 46-42, avenging a 62-53 loss on Nov. 21.
Franklin was so emotional about the victory that the team posed for photographs waving fingers signifying it was No. 1, as if it had just won the state championship. The Grizzly Cubs followed up by cutting down the nets.
"We worked so hard for this," said King, who scored 16 points.
The tone was set for the low-scoring game early with both teams carefully milking the clock. Each team played tough, halfcourt defense and the offenses attacked deliberately, throwing pass after pass around the perimeter. The goal for Franklin was to get Center Grove (6-6) off-balance and free a cutter.
Center Grove countered with 3-point outside shots. Brady Brown led three Trojans double-figure scorers with 11. But no one gained much of an upper hand. The spread after one quarter was Franklin up three. It was 22-all at the half and 32-all after three periods.
The only time it seemed possible anyone might move away was the start of the fourth quarter when Franklin guard Keenan Wood (15 points), the mastermind of the offense, stole the ball and made a breakaway layup, followed by a Christian Dickmann free throw and another Wood steal and layup. The Grizzly Cubs were up 37-32.
"The thought did cross my mind," Wood said of pulling away. Then he told himself, nah. He knew Center Grove could come back with 3-pointers, and it did. Trojans sophomore forward Michael Benkert made one long-range shot and guard Brown hit another.
Center Grove became extra cautious with the ball in the last 3 minutes and tied it at 42 with 1:26 left. But the Trojans never scored again. Wood hit the go-ahead shot on a short jumper, King added one free throw and Branden Hardesty another foul shot for the final margin.
"Oh, my God, it was frantic for sure," Wood said of the last minute or so. "But we practice situations -- the last 2 minutes, the last minute, the last 30 seconds."