By Tyler Fenwick | For The Times-Post
FRANKTON — The last time the Lapel boys basketball team started a season 0-2 was in 1998. That year, the Bulldogs finished with a 5-16 record and, ironically, one of their first two losses was to Frankton.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, Lapel dropped a 54-42 decision to Frankton to fall to 0-2, leaving head coach Jimmie Howell with doubts about how his team is coming together.
“We’re not a team,” Howell said. “We’re a bunch of individuals on the floor right now. We have the makings of a good team, but right now we’re not doing things to make each other better.”
If the Bulldogs were looking to prove their coach wrong, they had an opportunity in the fourth quarter against the Eagles (2-0). With about 3:30 to play, senior Austin Lyons hit a 3-pointer to cut Lapel’s deficit to 46-37. The Bulldogs had been playing from behind for most of the second half as the Eagles continuously stretched their lead. But after Lyons’ 3, Frankton scored five straight points, while Lapel struggled to keep pace.
“I want to see people battle through adversity, and we weren’t able to do that tonight,” Howell said.
The 14-year head coach said he wants to see more unselfish play down the stretch of a close game. That includes more ball reversals, more passes into the post and more passing to open shooters off the dribble.
Lapel and Frankton spent most of the first half trading the lead back and forth. The Eagles scored the game’s first six points, but the Arabians came back to tie it at 11-11 going into the second quarter. Following four ties, Frankton owned a 30-26 advantage at halftime.
Lyons was the brightest spark offensively for Lapel. He finished the game with almost half of the Bulldogs’ points with 20. He also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal. Junior Luke Richardson was the next-leading scorer with eight points, and he led the Bulldogs with six rebounds.
The Eagles were carried by 22 points from senior Landon Weins and 20 points from junior Landon Key.
Howell said his team’s 71-67 loss to Anderson the previous night may have had an effect on the Bulldogs’ ability to compete at a high level 24 hours later, but he noticed a different issue.
“We’re just not in shape,” he said. “We’re not close to being in shape.”
Howell also said his full team hasn’t been together very long, with the success of the football team causing their seasons to overlap. He said that could be playing a role early, but he doesn’t see it as an excuse.
“It’s just a matter of them deciding that we want to be a good team,” he said.
Lapel will face another two-game stretch in as many days when the Bulldogs travel to Pendleton Heights on Friday, Dec. 1, and then host Madison-Grant on Saturday, Dec. 2. Both games have a junior varsity tip of 6 p.m.
“Obviously we’ve got a long time to work on this,” Howell said. “I think we’ll get it accomplished, but we’re gonna have to start taking some baby steps to getting there, and right now we’re not.”