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Apaches fall short in regional opener

DEFENSE: Frankton’s Brayton Cain (white, 10) drives past Wabash’s Trenton Daughtry (black, 22) during Saturday morning’s regional contest at Lapel.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

LAPEL – Inches were all that separated Wabash and a potential shot at a regional title on Saturday morning.

Trailing by three in the closing seconds, the Apaches saw Trenton Daughtry and Jasper Walter each miss three-pointers to tie the game, the latter of which hitting front iron before bouncing wide as Frankton narrowly earned a 57-54 win.

The back-and-forth affair on the day saw neither side separated by more than seven points. And the lone seven-point lead the Eagles held early in the fourth following a three-point play from Rylan Detling was short-lived as Wabash’s Trenton Daughtry answered with five-straight points in the ensuing 43 seconds to close the gap back down to two at 41-39.

Daughtry scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth, willing Wabash back into the contest before Dereck Vogel connected on one of his three three-pointers on the day to cut the deficit to 52-51 with 2:19 left.

Kayden Key scored at the rim for Frankton with 1:43 left before Daughtry came down and missed a three with 1:26 remaining. The Eagles, though, struggled mightily at the line with the opportunity to ice the game, missing a pair of one-and-ones to give the Apaches life.

After a handful of empty possessions, Wabash finally took advantage with Vogel hitting a three-pointer with 14.3 seconds left to pull Wabash within one at 55-54. Jon Hatzell would connect on both freebies for Frankton to extend the margin to three points.

Daughtry would have a look at the tie that missed short before hitting a Frankton player and bouncing out of bounds. With just seven-tenths of a second on the clock, Logan Vander Velden found Walter on the inbounds and the sophomore would get off a clean look that came up short as time expired.

Both sides had their moments in the regional opener, particularly in the second half. With Frankton leading 25-22 at the break, Wabash shot out of the gates with a 10-2 run. Daughtry started the run with consecutive baskets before Blake Gribben and Logan Vander Velden joined the act. Vogel capped the run with a driving layup to put Wabash ahead 32-27 with 3:49 left, forcing a Frankton timeout.

The lead peaked at six points for Wabash after a Gribben free throw but the Eagles finally put together their own run, scoring the final nine points of the third quarter with Key connecting on a jumper just ahead of the buzzer to put Frankton ahead 38-34 after three.

Detling’s three-point play to open the fourth made it a 12-0 run in total for Frankton.

Each side held narrow leads in the opening half, first with Frankton scoring six of the first eight points of the contest. A three-pointer from Vogel and a steal and layup from Daughtry quickly put Wabash ahead 7-6.

The sides went back-and-forth for the next eight minutes, neither side leading by more than four points. A 6-0 run from Logan and Elijah Vander Velden for Wabash gave the Apaches an 18-16 lead two minutes into the second period but Frankton responded with five unanswered to lead 21-18 with 3:14 remaining.

Baskets from each Vander Velden in the final 2:12 for Wabash were countered by baskets from Key and Ethan Bates for Frankton, allowing the Eagles to take a 25-22 lead into the locker room.

Vogel finished with 11 points, Elijah Vander Velden had eight and Logan Vander Velden six. Gribben had four for the Apaches. For Frankton, Detling had 23 points and Key added 15.

The Eagles moved onto Saturday’s regional final where they met the winner of Alexandria and Covington. Wabash finishes the season with a 21-5 record.