Cobden picks up big road win
Appleknockers' return trip to West Frankfort ends in 62-54 win
WEST FRANKFORT – It had been a long time since a Cobden Appleknockers' boy's basketball team had stepped onto the hardwood floor of Max Morris Gymnasium.

How long was it you might ask?

It was Tuesday night, March 17, 1964, to be exact.

In a supersectional game against Pinckneyville, Cobden squeaked out a 68-66 triple overtime triumph over the Panthers.

It was win number 30 for the team that ended up going 32-3 with a second place finish in the still One-Class IHSA state tournament.

It was also the last time the Appleknockers won a boy's basketball regional championship.

If you are looking for a common historical reference for this time frame the Beatles, just a month earlier on February 9th, had made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and the very first Super Bowl was nearly three years away.

A huge fast forward to the present, the 2019-20 edition of Cobden hoops were also successful in this trip to Franklin County, with this game not taking nearly as long to complete.

Coach Wendell Wheeler's club used a big third quarter beginning and a strong ending as they held off a rally by the host West Frankfort Redbirds in a 62-54 win.

Cobden improved to 14-6 on the season behind some very key pieces of a victory puzzle.

Senior guard Dylan Lewey pumped home 20 points to pace Coach Wheeler's club.

He nailed down some key shots, including two first half 3-pointers.

Six-foot-five senior forward Joe Brumleve took care of business around the basket, scoring 11 points while yanking down 16 rebounds.

“Joe (Brumleve) had a great game. The boys did a good job of getting him the ball in the right spots tonight and he did a great job on the boards,” said Coach Wheeler. “Dylan Lewey played really well for us tonight. He is one of the most improved players that I have ever coached from his junior year to his senior year. He was pretty good last year but he is one of those kids that coaches want to have that will put in the work. He is one of those guys for me.”

Despite being saddled with foul problems, 6-foot-6 junior forward Noah Franklin tossed in 16 points for Cobden, including 5-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Reserves Landon Britt and Jose Lopez also were factors in the win.

Lopez, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, launched and connected on two 3-pointers in the second half to finish with six points while 6-foot-1 senior Britt made 5-of-6 free throws for five big points from the line.

Freshman Tyler Franklin and senior Alex Remsey were a combined 4-of-4 (two each) from the foul line, with all four coming in the final 1:06 of the contest.

When you calculate all of those figures, it resulted in a big road victory for the Appleknockers.

“This is a big win for us. They (West Frankfort) have been playing well. They gave Murphysboro all that they wanted , they gave Massac all that they wanted last night. That (tonight) was a good quality win,” said Coach Wheeler. “Especially to come here with our kids getting a chance to play in this gym. It (Max Morris) is something special.”

On the flip side head coach Pete Gordon and his West Frankfort Redbirds have had a very frustrating 2019-20 campaign so far.

In his first season coaching his Alma mater, this mentor has observed some heartbreaking defeats.

In his club's 11 losses heading into the Saturday night matchup, six were by single digits and four had come by combined seven points, including a pair of recent Ohio Division games against Murphysboro and Massac County.

Friday night's 54-52 defeat to the Patriots followed a 44-43 defeat at Murphysboro on Tuesday.

Now you can add the Cobden game to the list of the tough losses as West Frankfort is now 5-12 on the year.

Three Redbirds finished with double-figures in scoring.

Senior guard Quincy King and junior guard Paxton Griffith tossed home 17 points each while 6-foot-3 senior forward Ethan Culley added 12.

Coach Wheeler's club got going early in the game with Brumleve scoring six of his points on nice moves in the lane.

He scored on a pass inside where he turned around for a two-handed slam and on the next possession he converted on a reverse lay in as the Appleknockers led 6-3.

Lewey converted a conventional three-point play and they dropped in one of his two 3-pointers as Cobden led 16-10 with just over a minute left in the first quarter.

King, who nailed a pair of shots from behind the arc in the opening frame, closed the first quarter with his second trey to make it 16-13 Appleknockers.

What could have been a big turning point in the game for West Frankfort ended up being a “blessing in disguise” for Cobden.

With the Appleknockers up 24-23 with under a minute left before intermission, Brumleve scored in transition on yet another two-handed slam dunk.

Only on this one he was issued a technical for hanging onto the rim.

Although the basket counted for a three-point lead, Britt was called for technical during the dead ball situation.

So with :29.8 showing on the clock, King toed the foul line and after he missed the first free throw the senior guard completed the technical foul shots by nailed down the next three to tie the game at 26-all.

This could have been a huge momentum swing to West Frankfort but instead Cobden got a stop by forcing a turnover and then Noah Franklin drove into the lane for a basket while being fouled by junior Isaiah Thompson.

The Franklin conversion sent the teams to halftime with the Appleknockers up 29-26.

“We lost a chance at the end of the half to have momentum going into the third quarter and we came out and competed hard in the second half but we just couldn't get any shots to fall,” said Coach Gordon. “We just couldn't finish shots. We got good looks around the rim but nothing would fall. So we were fighting up hill in the second half.”

Coach Wheeler's squad took complete control of the game by scoring the first nine points of the third quarter.

It wasn't your usual “run of the mill” scoring spree as the Appleknockers got a pair of baskets by Brumleve and Lewey and 5-of-6 free throws from Lewey and Britt.

They survived five third quarter turnovers by forcing a bad shooting quarter from the hosts.

Coach Gordon's club just couldn't get any shots to fall as they missed their first 10 field goal attempts and ended up 1-of-13 from the floor in the eight minute stretch.

By the time West Frankfort finally got something to go in, the Redbirds were down 38-28 with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

Lopez hit his first of two long distance shots as Cobden headed to the fourth up 41-30.

A basket in the paint by Franklin and the second “trifecta” from Lopez gave Coach Wheeler and his team their biggest spread at 46-31 with 7:10 left in the contest.

West Frankfort made a final run at Cobden.

Three-point bombs by Culley and Griffith and another score on a drive by Culley got the Redbirds to within 54-49 with just 1:46 left.

Cobden closed out the win with eight-consecutive made free throws by Noah Franklin, Remsey and Tyler Franklin.

For the fourth quarter, Cobden hit 12-of-15 from the stripe.

“They (Cobden) are pretty good and they shot the ball well against us. We played very well defensively against both Murphysboro and Massac County. But tonight not so much. I know we lost a couple of tough games but we aren't going to be able to turn this thing around by using excuses,” said Coach Gordon. “I was proud that they guys extended the game down the stretch. But they (Cobden) made enough free throws to close us out.”

Statistically speaking, it was an odd game in the fact that West Frankfort shot the ball poorly but committed few other mistakes.

The Appleknockers shot a much better percentage but were careless handling the ball.

The Redbirds ended up 18-of-52 from the floor overall, 5-of-19 from the arc and committed just seven turnovers.

Cobden hit 18-of-31 from the field, 4-of-9 from the 3-point line.

However the guests gave away 17 turnovers, forced and unforced.

The rebounding edge went to Cobden with a 26-23 advantage.

The Appleknockers hit 22-of-29 free throws while WF ended up 13-of-21.

Both teams will have busy weeks coming up as they jump back into action in Mid-Winter Tournaments.

Cobden will play Charleston (MO.) in the Metropolis “Superman Classic” at Massac County on Tuesday while West Frankfort hosts is own tournament.

The Redbirds will take on Herrin, also on Tuesday night.

“I think we took a step in that direction tonight by being able to close out games,” said Coach Wheeler. “Pete does a great job with his team and they are a big, physical 2A team. We kept at it and got some things accomplished tonight. With the history of the gym and the Appleknockers having not played here since 1964, we think this was a big win for our community back home.”

Cobden (14-6)
West Frankfort (5-12)

Cobden (62) – N. Franklin 5 0 6-9 16, Lewey 4 2 6-7 20, Brumleve 5 0 1-3 11, Remsey 0 0 2-2 2, T. Franklin 0 0 2-2 2, Lopez 0 2 0-0 6, Britt 0 0 5-6 5.
2FG-14, 3FG-4, FT-22-29, PF-16.

West Frankfort (54) – Thompson 2 0 0-0 4, Scales 0 0 0-0 0, King 1 3 6-7 17, Griffith 5 1 4-7 17, Culley 3 1 3-5 12, Melvin 1 0 0-2 2, Cunningham 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-13, 3FG-5, FT-13-21, PF-21
Fouled Out – Cunningham, Culley - West Frankfort.

Technical Fouls – Brumleve, Britt - Cobden; Melvin - West Frankfort.