The visiting Monterey High School Toreadores didn’t get their first lead until midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:33 remaining, the Toreadores took a 53-52 advantage over the Wilcox Chargers. On the very next Chargers possession it was senior captain Franchon Butler who drove to the lane before laying in a basket and getting the and-one opportunity. Franchon Butler would miss his free throw attempt, but it was nonetheless a crucial quick response to Monterey taking its first lead. When the game is on the line, Franchon Butler has a knack for raising his game to a higher level.
“He is a gamer, that’s for sure,” commented Wilcox Head Coach Robert Toloy. “There were times last year and the games earlier this year where he will knock down threes that you don’t expect him to knock down. He will get some and-one opportunities and he will knock down his free throws even when he’s missed a few earlier in the game. He usually comes through when it’s crunch time. Sometimes in practice he won’t impress during drills, but when it comes to game time, he has so much passion, he just takes over. Last year in CCS against Gunn he scored all 20 of our points in the fourth quarter.”
“When all the people are yelling and it’s crunch time, I love those moments,” confirmed Franchon Butler. “Especially when we are the visitors and the other team’s crowd is booing you. The thing I love more than a loud crowd is a silent crowd, I like to silence the crowd. That said, when everybody is yelling for me it does give me a confidence boost.”
Against Monterey it was Franchon Butler who was far and away the highest Wilcox scorer with 32 points. The next highest individual output came from fellow senior Sean Juanes who finished with 13. The shooting guard hit a clutch three-pointer to put the Chargers up four points, 67-63, with just about a minute left in the game.
“Well, Sean had a bad shooting night tonight,” chuckled coach Toloy loud enough so Juanes could hear as he walked past. “He’s capable of hitting seven to 10 threes in a game, but his development has been phenomenal. He’s shooting with more confidence and the offseason work he put in has helped out a lot.”
While Franchon Butler and twin brother Deshawn Butler are typically the big playmakers for the Chargers, it was varsity newcomer in sophomore Prat Sharma who was arguably the second most notable player for Wilcox. Sharma completed his and-one opportunity in the first quarter among his nine points. Just his second year of high school, first year on varsity and Sharma was on the court in the final minutes of a tight game.
“Last year on the frosh/soph team as a freshman, he was named the most outstanding player,” noted coach Toloy on his youngster. “He has a lot offensive skills, he finishes well down deep, but that was last year when he was playing against guys his size or smaller. Now he’s going up against guys who are six-four. Hes learning how to kick the ball out at the right time and when to go up for the put back at the right time. He has a lot of upside.”
With the victory, the Chargers improve to 3-1, but are hoping to get out of this early-season trend of letting teams hang around. Wilcox held leads of 17-11, 36-24 and 45-33, before Monterey went on a 12-4 run, pulling within 49-45 to end third quarter.
“When we came out in that third quarter we were doing good, but they shifted into a press that we weren’t used to, so after that we got all out of whack and became lackadaisical,” admitted Franchon Butler. “We got too comfortable with a small lead.”
“Our last three games have been like this,” noted coach Toloy. “The other team makes a good run on us, they take the lead, we take it back then they take it back. These are character wins for us, I’m happy they are happening early in the season. We can learn from them as we have a long ways to go.”