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BREAKING NEWS

Unexpected success

By GIB SNYDER III

OBSERVER Sports Reporter

With just two seniors on his team, Brocton boys’ basketball coach Jeff Franze didn’t know what to expect this season. However, with his Bulldogs sitting at 14-1, a big win last week over Sherman and a season sweep of Clymer, Franze has been able to rest a little easier than he thought he would when it started back in November.

“I’m kind of a glass half empty kind of a guy, that’s just my personality,” Franze said. “There’s still a long way we can go, but I’m happy where we’re at. I think we can still step it up a couple of notches if everybody gets involved and if we execute. And that’s something we can really work on.”

What’s helped Franze’s Bulldogs get to where they are this season, has been the play of senior captains Jordan Patterson and Dan Ferguson, as well as fellow captain, junior Macalum Buchanan.

“They’re a confident team right now,” Franze said. “And the seniors’ confidence has helped an awful lot, because the other players haven’t had a lot of time, or a lot of experience really. It’s mostly a junior team outside of my two seniors, but they’re very important.”

Patterson’s leadership was on display Tuesday night as he helped the Bulldogs past Clymer, hitting a key 3-pointer with time winding down on both the shot clock and game clock. But Franze knows that it isn’t just his seniors that he has to rely on.

“It’s the senior leadership, without a doubt, it’s helped a lot,” Franze said. “But we’ve got a nice mix of kids. I haven’t had tall guys, or big guys in a while and it helps your defense out a lot.

“We’ve done things totally different this year,” Franze continued of his defense. “We used to play a lot of man-to-man and now we’re mostly a zone team. But the size helped.”

Inside and outside, Franze is happy with what he sees on a daily basis.

“It’s just a good balance of guys right now,” Franze added. “We have three really good perimeter players, three good inside players, it’s a nice mix.

“Total balance,” Franze continued. “It doesn’t seem like it’s balanced, but on defense it’s definitely balanced. And hopefully we can get our inside game going a little more. We’ll play it day-to-day.”

Every successful team does not necessarily always get along, but that’s not the case with Franze’s team.

“They’re a close knit group of guys,” Franze noted. “And they’re very unselfish. One (player) doesn’t matter if they’re the leading scorer or not. A win is a win and that’s all that matters.

“There’s no jealousy on the team, none of that,” Franze continued. “They’re just a nice group to work with.”

Most coaches will tell you during a successful season, that there was one moment, or perhaps a few moments, that let them know that they had something special. Franze certainly didn’t have to think too long when asked which moments thus far have led him to believe his team can do good things this year.

“When we lost at Sherman in a close game that could have gone either way, that told me everything,” Franze said. “And then when you can beat Clymer in Clymer, that told me an awful lot.”

Despite the success his team is having, Franze knows there is still room for improvement.

“Execution,” Franze said of an area where his Bulldogs need to improve before playoffs start. “I’m real happy with our defense, so just executing. Executing on offense, that can improve a lot.

“We’ve only had a 16-game schedule this year,” Franze continued. “It hurts you. We’re always two games behind everybody else and last year we only had 12 games, because we had no non-league games. And I think that just hurts you, but we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”