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WAKE FOREST - The boys basketball game between Franklin Academy and East Wake Academy started off close with a tie at the end of the first quarter, but then the Patriots pulled away in the second period to hold onto the 63-51 victory at home Monday.
Franklin Academy didn't pull away with the advantage until after the first quarter, but once they did, the Patriots took multiple double-digit leads throughout the contest. First-year Franklin Academy head coach Tyler Alexander said the players put in the effort on both offense and defense to make the win possible.
"The guys continued to work hard all game," Alexander said. "They started making jump shots. Defensively, they started getting stops. Our two leading scorers are down with injuries, but the guys stepped up in their absence. I'm really proud of them for that."
There were multiple lead changes in the first quarter and neither team could pull off a major run. With East Wake Academy up 16-13, Franklin Academy's Nicholas Russo made a 3-point shot at the buzzer to tie the game at 16-16.
Franklin Academy built off their momentum from the buzzer-beater shot to pull off an 8-0 run at the start of the second quarter, going up 24-16. The Patriots were ahead by multiple digits many times throughout the period and went into halftime up 36-26.
In the third quarter, East Wake Academy cut the deficit to single digits at 46-38 entering the final period. However, Franklin Academy proved too much for the Eagles and outscored them 17-13 to run away with the 63-51 win.
"We're trying to build leaders on and off the court," Alexander said. "We preach hard work every single day. The guys have to play for each other. We're trying to be consistent with those things this year."
Even without team captains Jaxon Moseley and Colby Lynam, Franklin Academy had three players score in double digits to help beat East Wake Academy. Jason Rovnak led the squad with 15 points. Will Quinn was right behind him at 13 points and Landon Brewer contributed with 10 points. Russo also had a decent night with nine points.
"Jason Rovnak and Landon Brewer stepped up tonight as senior leaders," Alexander said. "They scored for us and played really good defense. I'm proud of them for that."
Alexander has spent his past six seasons as a middle school basketball coach. He started out at Wake Forest Middle and spent four years there. Then he coached Franklin Academy Middle School's basketball team for two years. This is his first season as a high school varsity head coach.
With the loss, East Wake Academy dropped to 2-12 overall and 1-6 in North Central conference play.
With the win, Franklin Academy improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in North Central conference play. Alexander said as long as the players continue presenting effort every night, they can make a run for the conference title.
"We always talk about communication on the court," Alexander said. "Shot selection and rebounding is big for us. We have to run our offense well and box out well. I'm always going to grind the guys on boxing out."
Franklin Academy will play at Triangle Math and Science Academy in Raleigh at 7:30 p.m. Friday Jan. 10.