Is Frankton a serious threat to unseat top-ranked Park Tudor in the Class 2A championship on Saturday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse?
Or will the Panthers romp to a fourth 2A title in five years?
Frankton (26-2) is making its first state finals appearance and figures to have a decisive crowd advantage. The Eagles, ranked fourth in 2A, are led by Austin Compton, a do-everything 6-1 senior guard who leads Frankton in scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounds (6.7) and assists (5.8).
“He’s very quick with the ball and very athletic,” Park Tudor coach Kyle Cox said of Compton. “He’s underrated athletically. You wouldn’t look at him and think he could really jump or he’s very quick. But he’s very quick with the ball and he’s a great passer. He does it all for them. He’s really their engine.”
Park Tudor will counter Compton, a signee of NAIA St. Francis, with 6-3 senior Bryce Moore (18.9 ppg, 4.7 rebounds). Unlike some of the teams Park Tudor has faced in the tournament, Frankton does have some size with 6-7 senior Brady Ashton (7.5 ppg, 4.7 rebounds), 6-5 senior Isaac Stuckey (6.9 ppg) and 6-4 sophomore Maurice Knight (7.2 ppg, 3.8 rebounds).
“They aren’t 26-2 and in the state finals by accident,” Cox said. “We feel like we match up OK with them. We pretty closely mirror them on the stat sheet so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Frankton’s only losses this season came to 3A Muncie Central (67-57) and Class A Liberty Christian (73-63), which made a run to the semistate round. The Eagles’ most impressive wins came against 4A Mt. Vernon, Tipton (by 24 points), Lapel (twice) and Hammond Noll (in the semistate).
Frankton went to team camps over the summer at Indiana State and Michigan State.
“It really started then when we played against a high level of competition,” Frankton coach Brent Brobston said. “We played against Park Tudor, Hamilton Heights, Scecina and Noblesville. We played against some schools that were a good challenge for us. We tried to toughen our schedule, too. We tried to get it as beefed up as we could to make the schedule down the stretch that much more difficult.”
Frankton had never won so much as a sectional title until 2012. Now that the Eagles have made it to the state title game, the excitement around the community has reached a fever pitch. It’s been especially fulfilling for Brobston, a 1995 Frankton grad.
“It’s been really neat for our kids to be a part of it,” he said. “The community feels like they know each kid. Our whole town was shut down during the semistate. There wasn’t anybody left. That’s really special and something that they’ll never forget the rest of their lives. Their goal was to get to state championship, and they stuck with it during the course of the tournament. To get here, for our community, is an unbelievable feeling.”
OK, time for state finals predictions.
Class A – Marquette Catholic (24-6) vs. Barr-Reeve (26-2), 10:30 a.m.: Is this the year Barr-Reeve finally breaks through? The Vikings have been the Class A runner-up four times, including a 70-66 overtime loss to Marquette Catholic last year. The Vikings are led by seniors Addison Wagler (16.4 ppg), Duncan Roy (11.2 ppg) and junior Logan James (10.9 ppg). Marquette Catholic senior Ryan Fazekas, a Providence recruit, lit up the Vikings last year for 34 points and is averaging 21.0 points a game. Both of these teams will move to 2A next season under the tournament success factor. I like Barr-Reeve in a close game similar to last year’s matchup.
Class 2A – Frankton (26-2) vs. Park Tudor (25-2), 12:45 p.m.: Park Tudor is a machine and could probably make a pretty good game of it against any 4A team this season. Can Frankton pull the upset? It’ll need a big game from senior guard Austin Compton. I think Park Tudor’s superior size and strength eventually wins out. Teams rarely get a second shot against Park Tudor – better make the first one.
Class 3A – Griffith (19-10) vs. Guerin Catholic (21-8), 6 p.m. – Griffith wasn’t supposed to be here. As covered the last couple weeks, the Panthers were suspended for fighting by the IHSAA. But a judge stepped in, made Griffith eligible and here we are. The matchup on the court should be very good. Griffith likes to attack the basket with 6-4 senior Anthony Harris (17.0 ppg) and 6-5 juniors Tremell Murphy (17.6 ppg, 9.0 rebounds) and Anthony Murphy (14.7 ppg). Guerin Catholic’s Matt Holba (18.5 ppg, 9.6 rebounds) was excellent last week against Vincennes Lincoln. Guerin’s last five opponents have not scored more than 46 points. I like Guerin Catholic to win its second title in four years.
Class 4A – Homestead (28-2) vs. Evansville Reitz (29-1), 8:15 p.m. – The final high school game of the season should be a fantastic matchup. Homestead’s 6-9 senior Caleb Swanigan (22.7 ppg, 13.7 rebounds) is one of the top players in the country. Reitz is balanced and exciting, averaging more than 92 points a game. Any one of five players is capable of scoring 30 points on a given night. Both teams have survived tough games in the tournament to get here. I like Evansville Reitz to win a close, high-scoring game and take home its first title.