Senior staff writer
Franklin Central’s boys basketball season came to a dramatic and heartbreaking end Saturday against No. 11 Evansville Reitz in the first round of the Class 4A regional at Seymour.
The No. 18 Flashes enjoyed a 58-33 lead with 5:36 left in the third quarter against Reitz, which began to turn the game around with tenacious full-court pressure. Paired with FC’s poor passing, turnovers and lack of rebounding, the Panthers stormed back to take a 69-68 lead over the next eight minutes.
FC regained the lead on a pair of 3-point shots from leading scorer Marcus Burk before Reitz went up 81-80. Burk’s last-second shot bounced off the rim.
“All the years I’ve seen them play basketball, I didn’t think this was possible,” FC coach John Rockey said. “The most important possession of the game, we were up one point and they missed two shots and got the rebound. They would have had to have fouled us.
“When we went up by 25 points we were passing the ball, attacking, getting great looks, but then we went into a funk and began dribbling way too much. We had been clicking on all cylinders until then.”
The Flashes committed an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers in the third period, which led to 11 points by the Panthers, who cut the lead to 63-57 by the end of the stanza.
Burk led the Flashes with 36 points in his final game to wear the blue and white; classmate and point guard Jimmy Weinke added 18 points, and senior Grant Pedigo, who was saddled with foul trouble, had 10 points.
The Flashes built a 47-29 halftime lead as Reitz missed all 10 field goal tries in the final six minutes.
The Flashes finished with an 18-7 record, the prestigious Richmond Holiday Tournament championship, a fourth straight sectional title and runner-up in Conference Indiana. It was their best season since winning 21 games in 2008-09.
The Flashes will lose seniors Burk, Weinke, Jackson and 6-3 Austin Kocken. Key returnees are expected to be back-up point guard Mason Hardiman, 6-3 sharpshooter Jake Cerbone and 6-5 Wilson Huber.
“We had a great group of seniors; I really loved coaching them,” Rockey said.