Payton Knott drove the Franklin High School party bus Tuesday night.
The senior guard/floor general had a rollicking good time with 20 points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals against visiting Carlisle, which got run over 88-47 in a Warren County boys basketball rivalry rout at Darrell Hedric Gym.
“I love it,” Knott said. “I love being the point guard on this team and running down and giving it to open guys and they hit shots. I love getting my assists up.”
It may be hard to believe with the final score, but the hosts trailed 30-28 late in the first half. Franklin ran off 9 straight points in the last 69 seconds of the half to take a 37-30 lead, then outpointed the Indians 25-8 in the third period.
The Wildcats (8-1) fired in 16 shots from beyond the 3-point arc and forced Carlisle (4-5) into 23 turnovers. Franklin scored 60 of the game’s last 77 points.
“It seems like our defense really creates offense,” Wildcats coach Brian Bales said. “I thought the difference in the game was we started guarding.
“We told our guys we’ll go as deep as we’ve got to go on our bench to find guys that want to guard, and I was looking for guys in the first half. We had an encouraging halftime talk. It was really just about getting back to us and being great teammates and playing great defense.”
Knott had 11 points and all three of his 3-pointers in the third quarter, and teammate Will Emrick totaled 11 of his 14 points and three of his four treys in the fourth stanza.
Zack Minton (on four 3-pointers) and Cole Bundren both chipped in 12 points, with Minton notching four steals. Jared Kinzer had 10 points, eight assists and five boards.
“They had more intensity than we had in the first half,” Knott said. “Second half, we had way more intensity than what they had. They gave us a big boost going into halftime, and then we just fed off that.”
“We believe in our culture, we believe in the pace that we practice at, and we thought our pace would eventually get into their bench,” Bales said. “Our saying here is that a loose ball is our ball. I thought we did that in the second half and got back to who we are.”
Indians coach Don Ridinger wouldn’t argue with that. He felt Franklin got every 50-50 ball after intermission as his team wilted into submission.
“It was embarrassing,” Ridinger said. “Missed assignments, turnovers, and they made shots. You can’t play half a game and expect to be in it against a team like that. They’re really hard to guard, and they really get after it. If you can’t handle that much pressure, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Carlisle’s Justin Flor, the Southwestern Buckeye League’s leading scorer and rebounder, was “held” to 16 points and five rebounds. Cash Ridinger added 10 points and five boards.
Tuesday’s crossover game doesn’t count in the SWBL standings. Both teams resume divisional play Friday, the Indians at Milton-Union in the Buckeye Division and the Wildcats at Monroe in the Southwestern Division.
Franklin is 3-0 in Southwestern play and seeking its seventh straight championship.
“We’ve got a tough road ahead. Our January’s brutal,” Bales said. “We know we’ve got a bull’s-eye on our back, but there’s two things I said at the beginning of the year, and I think they’re still true. This group’s chemistry is as good as we’ve had here, and they’re as gritty as any group we’ve had.”