In the mind of Franklin girls basketball coach Guy Balistreri, the Sabers were looking up to their hosts from Oak Creek in more ways than one all night Friday.
Because the Knights, who start 6-foot-2 Ashley Luke and 6-1 Rebecca Running, simply went over the top of the smaller Sabers all game long and played what coach Steve Hluchnik felt was their most complete defensive game of the season in earning a 56-33 decision.
"You can't teach height," said Balistreri, whose team doesn't have a starter over 5-11. "We held our own for awhile, but we just couldn't get the ball in the hoop."
"We really played our butts off," said Hluchnik, whose team successfully rebounded from a tough loss the previous Friday to Southeast leader Racine Case. "They're athletes (the Sabers), but we have height and that's our advantage. When they went man (defensively), they had no way of stopping us."
The win was the 11th in 12 games for the Knights as they improved to 7-2 in league play and 11-4 overall. They are still tied with Muskego (7-2, 13-3) two games behind Case (9-0, 13-2). Franklin fell to 4-5 in league play and 9-7 overall.
Franklin, behind a game effort from 5-11 senior center Jenna Coenen (seven points), hung tight in the first half, trailing only 13-11 at the quarter and 26-18 at the half.
But the Knights exerted their will in the third quarter. Luke (10 points) got a steal on the first possession and fed senior guard Cydney Weisflog (six points) on the outlet. Weisflog made the lay-up and then finished the three-point play to push the lead into double digits.
From that point on, the Knights never looked back as the advantage went to 44-23 by the end of the third session.
Running (10 points) and Luke got baskets right at the start of the fourth quarter as the lead reached its largest point at 48-23.
"We just ran into a very good opponent who played a very good game tonight," said Balistreri. Taylor Atkinson led the Sabers with 10 points. The Sabers took on South Milwaukee on Tuesday and will be at Kenosha Tremper on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
For Hluchnik, whose team will face a hectic four-game in six days schedule next week, the win was a good way to throw the Case disappointment into the dustbin. Eight different players scored on parents' night as Morgan Kokta also had 10 and Tamya Sims contributed eight.
Hluchnik said that Running played her best game "offensively, defensively and all over the floor tonight."
"If she plays like that consistently, then we'll really be hard to stop," he added. "This was really our most complete game of the season."
The Knights took on defending state champion Pius XI on Tuesday.
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