Last season the Franklin High School men's varsity basketball team posted a winning season with a record of 20-9. Now as the season begins to take off once again, head coach Jesse Pinkston is optimistic despite having long odds.
“It could be a tough season. We lost seven seniors from last year so experience is definitely lacking,” he said. “Basically we have one returning player who had a significant role last season, but we're going to be okay. We're taking it one game at a time and one practice at a time.”
The team played their season opener yesterday when they hit the road to take on the T.C. Roberson Rams, kicking off their season the same way they did last year by playing the same team.
“We like to keep them on our schedule. It gives us a good idea of where we're at,” Pinkston said yesterday morning. “You know, they are a big 4A school and they are usually one of the best teams in the area. Last year, they were a little down and we were able to capitalize on that.”
The men's team played the Rams twice in the first three weeks of the season last winter and were able to win soundly in both games. The first took place in Franklin where the Panthers won 48-34. In their next meeting which took place at T.C. Roberson High School, the Panthers won again by a score of 56-45.
Last year the team made the state playoffs and experienced some success early on when they won their first round match up against Rutherfordton-Spindale Central in front of the hometown crowd before traveling to Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia, N.C. Their season came to an end when they lost 78-55. This year, their goals aren't much different. “I think this season is going to be interesting. We're setting our goals just like we have in years past. We want a conference championship and a playoff run. That's what you always want of course. It could be premature, but we'll know about this time tomorrow,” said Pinkston.
The Panthers will travel to Brevard tomorrow (Friday) when they take on the Blue Devils, a team that they were able to beat last year during the four-game winning streak they put together at the start of the season. After that, they will go to West Oak, a team they beat last year and then on Dec. 10, Franklin will host their first home game of the season against the Pisgah Bears.
“I'd say that Pisgah and Smoky Mountain are the best teams in our conference and we get to play them both in the same week in consecutive games. We were able to watch the Smoky game last night and I think we've got a pretty good scouting report, but first thing is first, we have to focus on T.C. and then Brevard,” said Pinkston. “We may not have the experience that we had last year, but I still feel good about where we're at and we'll just see how the season plays out.”