Plum girls mount double-digit 4th-quarter rally to beat Franklin Regional

Monday, January 23, 2023 | 10:08 PM

It’s rare a team wins a basketball game after making one field goal in an entire half.

Not every team has Megan Marston, however.

After a difficult first half when nothing would fall for anyone, Marston found a rhythm and her Plum teammates followed.

And they pulled off an epic comeback.

Led by Marston’s game-high 23 points, the Mustangs rallied from double-digits down in the fourth quarter to steal a 38-35 win over Franklin Regional and sweep the season series in Section 1-5A play Monday night.

Franklin Regional (5-10, 4-4) led 31-21 after three quarters, but the Mustangs (11-6, 5-3) outscored the Panthers, 17-4, in the fourth.

“We never give up,” Marston said. “It’s a game against Franklin (Regional), which we are known to have a rivalry with. In a game like this, we’re fighting for every single thing we can.”

Marston hit a shot to cut the lead to 33-32. Then, Riley Stephens stole the inbounds pass and threw it to Marston, who passed it back to Stephens, who hit a reverse layup that gave Plum its first lead with less than two minutes remaining.

“Riley comes in the clutch when we need her, and we needed her in that moment,” Marston said. “We’ve been encouraging her to get that steal on the press for a while now. When she got it, she gave it to me. I didn’t have a shot, so I got it back to her because I trust her and she came through. It was huge.”

Marston and Stephens hit a pair of free throws each in the final 30 seconds. Pascale Olczak also had two key buckets during the fourth-quarter comeback and finished with eight points.

Prior to the rally, Franklin Regional locked up Plum for the first half.

Marston made a layup in the first quarter, and Plum did not have another field goal until Marston nailed a 3-pointer midway through the third.

The Mustangs made six free throws in the second quarter and were down 19-8 at halftime.

“Defensively I thought we played well in the first half, but we couldn’t do anything on offense,” Plum coach Rich Mull said. “Megan really got us going. It’s similar to some other games this year, where she made some shots and everyone else got comfortable.”

Angelina Brush led Franklin Regional with 12 points.

It was a tough ending for second-year Panthers coach Bernie Pucka and his team. Pucka coached at Plum for seven years and teaches in the school district. It was his first time at Plum as an opposing coach.

“I tip my hat to Plum for their fourth quarter and comeback victory,” Pucka said. “It takes a lot for a team to battle through losing the entire game and pull out a win. I teach here, and I know and respect those girls. I can also say that I’m where I need to be, and I love the team we have. We’re going to eventually win these. It’s a tough, sour feeling I have in my stomach, and our 17 varsity players have the same feeling.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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