By CYLDE HUGHES for the Journal and Courier
After trailing most the game, Frankfort turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth quarter to beat Benton Central 59-47 in the consolation semifinals of the J&C Hoops Classic at the Crawley Center Thursday night.
Frankfort (2-1) will play in the fifth-place game of the boys basketball tournament at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Crawley Center against either West Lafayette or Central Catholic. Benton Central will play at the same time in the seventh place game at Lafayette Jeff’s Dennis Blind Gymnasium.
Jordan Campbell scored 21 points, shooting 57 percent from the field (8 for 14) while Jarrod Smith scored all 12 of his points in the Hot Dogs’ big fourth quarter.
With the scored tied at 45-all at the 4:21 mark, Frankfort finished the game on a 14-2 run, with Smith and Campbell scoring all but one point in the finale.
“In the first half we just didn’t bring the intensity,” Campbell said. “Coach got on us a little bit at halftime and we made sure we brought it in the fourth to get the ‘W.’ I was just trying to push it, get in the middle of the lane and open up some opportunities for my team.”
It was Frankfort’s defensive pressure that made a huge difference, forcing four turnovers as the Bison shot 2-for-9 in the final period. Carter Taylor proved to be a force in the paint for Frankfort, added 10 points and six rebounds.
“The game shows that we can overcome a lot,” said Smith, who was held in check until he broke out in the final period. “That wasn’t our best game at all. We know that even when we’re down, it’s not over. We thought we could pressure their guards and shooters. We were able to get a couple of turnovers.”
Benton Central coach Kyle Marlatt said that despite the loss, his team took a step in the right direction and hopes that the learning experience will be valuable later in the season.
“Frankfort is a great team and they’re going to be really good come March,” Marlatt said. “To be able to compete and go toe-to-toe with them here all the way until the end was a huge accomplishment for our guys. I told our players that controlling the tempo was going to be key and it almost got us there.”
Indeed, Benton Central’s slower tempo that got them open 3-point looks vexed Frankfort for the better part of three quarters as the Bison led by as many as seven points on several occasions.
Benton Central shot 67 percent from the 3-point line (6 of 9) in the first half, but 47 percent overall (9 of 19) overall against the taller Hot Dogs team while holding a 27-24 halftime lead.
Johnny Lanie led the Bison with 22 points, 18 of those points from the 3-point line. Sam Smith knocked down three more 3-point shots and finished with 16 points.
“It’s killing me right now because we’re shooting 50 percent from the arc and 27 percent inside the arc,” Marlatt said. “At the beginning of the season, we said it wasn’t going to be easy and we would take it one game at a time and learn from every experience. This was just another experience to learn from. We had the lead most of the game and we followed our game plan.”