FRANKFORT – For the 10th straight year, the Frankfort Hot Dogs opened the boys’ basketball season with a win over Clinton Prairie. This time, the Hot Dogs used a salvo of first-quarter 3-pointers to take the early advantage on their way to an 81-69 win over the Gophers on Wednesday night in Case Arena.
“Our guys were ready to play somebody else,” second-year coach Jared Catron said. “We did not have the opportunity to play a scrimmage. So, I knew they were hungry to play another team. We played and beat a really good Clinton Prairie team. I think people around here can expect that team to do a lot of things this season.”
Point guard Jarrod Smith opened the season with a 3-pointer, and Frankfort nailed five of their six 3s in the first five minutes to lead 21-9 before bringing the opening quarter to a close with a 25-14 lead over Clinton Prairie.
“That’s what we emphasized,” Catron said. “We said ‘Let’s be the ones to attack first, so the other team can play on their heels.’ And, we did that. That first half – we got after it and put them down quite a few points. I was very pleased with our starters.”
The Hot Dogs had three players score in double figures in the season opener.
Smith starter his senior campaign with a double-double, finishing with a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds. Six-foot junior forward Carter Taylor scored 24 points and blocked a pair of shots on the other end, and senior guard Jordan Campbell chipped in with another 17 points.
“We had three scoring threats this game, so I was very pleased with everybody’s effort,” Catron said. “Everybody who touched the court did a great job tonight.
“We shot about 55 percent for the game,” he added. “They knocked down big shots, continued to go get rebounds and put them back. I am pleased with the second chances we got, and I was pleased with our field goal shooting.”
By halftime, Frankfort’s led 44-30, but the Hot Dogs largest lead was 19 points with just over a minute left in the second quarter.
“I told the kids that this one is on me,” first-year Clinton Prairie head coach Jeff Henley said. “We felt like Frankfort’s game was to spread the floor and attack the bucket, so we made sure we were going to take away dribble penetration and make them hit the outside shot, and then they hit six 3s. We dug a big hole, but then we got into the third quarter and made a tremendous effort.”
Drew Scott scored the first points of the second half for the Gophers, who got a defensive stop before Chase Joseph scored to trim the deficit back down to 10 points, at 44-34. Kale Morris ripped a rebound away from a Hot Dog soon after that and threw a perfect pass down court to Scott, who scored to give Clinton Prairie a six straight points to begin the third quarter, prompting a Frankfort timeout. Scott scored again after the timeout to make it a 44-38 game. Frankfort responded though and brought the lead back to 10 points by the end of the third period.
Clinton Prairie made one more run at Frankfort in the fourth quarter, scoring six straight to cut the lead down to four points, at 62-58, but the Hot Dogs answered with a six-point run of their own and held on down the stretch to seal the season-opening win.
“I am so proud of how hard we played in the second half,” Henley said. “The kids just did a phenomenal job of battling back against what I think is a very good team. This one is on me. I just felt like they wouldn’t shoot that well, and we were going to give them the outside shot and take away the inside. They made 3s, and now we have to come back out higher. We basically took the 3 away from them, and then got hurt sometimes with dribble penetration.
“I give Frankfort credit because they answered the call and got it back up to 10 or 12,” Henley added. “I have to give credit to Jarrod Smith. He took some really tough shots, and he hit them. He did a really nice job. We just used up so much energy that I don’t think we had any left. But, I am really proud of the way the kids played in that third and fourth quarter. I think it is something that we can use to make us better in the future.”
The Gophers also had three players finish in double figures.
Morris led Clinton Prairie with 22 points and six rebounds, while Scott finished with 15 points, and point guard Jared Stillwell added 10 and four assists.
Clinton Prairie turned the ball over just seven times, compared to 12 for the Hot Dogs, but Frankfort out-rebounded the Gophers, 35-16.
“We had the mental attitude of one-and-done defensively,” Catron said. “They took one shot, and we made sure that was their only opportunity. They still shot well, but on their misses, that was it. As far as offensive rebounds, I had guys come off the bench and do great for us. I was very impressed with our rebounding.”
The Clinton Prairie junior varsity won the early game 49-35.
The Hot Dogs begin play in the J&C Hoops Classic on Monday with a 7:30 p.m. first round game against the host Lafayette Jefferson Bronchos.
“They are quick and they are good shooters,” Catron said. “I think they will be a lot like Clinton Prairie as far as speed and shot selection. So, it was a good learning opportunity for us tonight, defensively. We must have to know that we are going into Lafayette Jeff’s house. We have to be tougher and stronger and be mentally there.”