Wills, Love power Lapel past Frankton

Nov. 17—LAPEL — Coming off its first loss of the season, the Class 2A second-ranked Lapel girls basketball team had a little extra motivation to bounce back Friday night at home, not that it is usually necessary when arch-rival Frankton is the opponent.

If Tuesday's defeat was the wake-up call, the Bulldogs answered the bell Friday night.

Laniah Wills recorded 22 points and added 17 rebounds, Jocelyn Love scored 12 points on four 3-point baskets and the Bulldogs held the ball for nearly two minutes near the end, denying Frankton a chance to come back as Lapel scored a 50-44 win.

Lapel improved to 4-1 with the win while Frankton fell to 3-2.

For the Bulldogs this was a game won by playing together, an aspect that was not present in Tuesday's loss.

"It taught us a lot of things that we needed to work on," Wills said. "We took it personal."

"They really just wanted to get back to playing basketball how we taught it," Lapel coach Zach Newby said. "We did not do that on Tuesday. That was key for them to get back into their rhythm defensively. They executed our defensive game plan perfectly."

After Frankton scored the first point of the second half to pull within two points, Love — who entered the game averaging just above 3 points — drilled a 3-point basket off an AnnaLee Stow rebound and assist. A pair of Wills baskets sandwiched around a Maddy Poynter drive staked Lapel to a 37-28 lead.

Emma Key answered with five straight Frankton points to trim the deficit to four, but Stow buried a 3-point basket, Poynter drove for a pair and Wills sank two free throws and the lead was back to nine entering the fourth quarter.

Frankton's leading scorer was held largely in check as Stow limited Eagles senior Emma Sperry to six points.

"She was really good tonight defensively," Newby said. "She is one who doesn't get a lot of press, and sometimes she gets down on herself because she thinks she doesn't play well. She does so many little things that allow us to win."

Frankton had opportunities to cut into that lead at the outset of the fourth quarter as it held Lapel scoreless for nearly three minutes. The problem for the Eagles was they did not score, either, until Amaya Collins hit two free throws at the 5:34 mark.

Love then hit her fourth 3-pointer of the night, and Lapel had the biggest lead of the game at 47-37.

"It definitely helped (my confidence), but I'm just happy that we worked better as a team today," Love said. "We really talked and communicated, defense turned into offense and our defense was so much better tonight."

That was an important cushion because Frankton scored the next seven points on a Sperry 3-pointer and baskets from Sophia Hoagland and Key.

But Wills scored in response for a 49-44 lead, and Love picked up a steal on the next Eagles' possession for a big defensive stop.

"We've seen flashes of that," Newby said of Love. "She worked really hard when I told her that she was going to be (guarding) Collins and asked a lot of questions. She did a fantastic job."

Lapel was able to burn the next 1:22 off the clock with crisp passing and ball handling before Frankton was finally able to commit its fifth foul to put the Bulldogs at the line.

It was another missed chance for the Eagles.

"We missed opportunities," Frankton coach Jeff Bates said. "(Lapel) played decent, and we did some of the things we wanted to do, but we also have learning to do."

Wills scored 11 points — including 5-of-5 on free throws — in the first quarter as the Bulldogs took a 13-10 lead into the second period. Frankton's lone first-quarter leads came on 3-point baskets by Ann Curtis for a 5-4 lead and from Collins for an 8-6 advantage.

The Eagles opened the second quarter on a 9-2 run as Collins opened the period with a 3-point basket and Macy Curtis capped the run with a layup off a Collins assist. But a Wills rebound basket and a pair of Love 3-point baskets gave momentum back to the Bulldogs as they took a 28-25 lead into the locker room.

Poynter finished with eight points and four assists while Stow added eight points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs. Frankton was led by 10 points each from Key and Collins while Ann Curtis and Hoagland scored eight points each.

Lapel scored the last five points of the junior varsity game — limited to two seven-minute halves — for a 19-15 win over Frankton. Layla Dawson and Alaria Tellis shared scoring honors for the Bulldogs with four points each while Macy Curtis led all players with six points for the Eagles.

Frankton will remain on the road with a trip to New Castle on Saturday evening while Lapel travels to Guerin Catholic on Tuesday before hosting 2A ninth-ranked Alexandria on Wednesday night in a battle of top-10 teams.

Contact Rob Hunt at

or 765-640-4886.