By Britany App

The Franklin College Men’s Basketball team is stronger than ever as the regular season comes to an end. Ending their regular season with a record of 18-8, the Grizzlies have found themselves co-champions of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.

But how did they get here?

It started with last season when the Grizzlies won 8 of their last 10 games. 

“Last season we kind of had it figured out at the end of the year,” said Sam Gutierrez, a junior guard.

Since there were no seniors last season, that same group came back with some big goals they wanted to achieve.

“We knew we had a chance to be something special this year,” said Matt Krause, sophomore forward.

While the Grizzlies didn’t lose any seniors coming into this season, they did gain some talented freshmen that have been important to this year’s success.

“They remind me of how I was and my freshman class,” said senior guard Borden Kennedy. They continue to learn from the upperclassman in practices as well as providing scouting reports to prepare the team for upcoming games.

One freshman in particular plays an important role on the team, and he doesn’t even wear a jersey.

Eagan Keever-Hill is a student manager for the Franklin Grizzlies. From running the clock in practice to cheering his heart out during every game, Eagan has become a vital part of this season’s success.

“He’s a joy to be around, everybody loves having him at practice and games. He will always be a really important part of our team,” said Daniel Goggans, sophomore forward.

The team said they faced an added challenge after their head coach Kerry Prather, was named acting president of Franklin College mid-season.

Some players wondered if he would resign from coaching to focus on his duties as president. But that wasn’t an option for Prather. 

“The deal I struck with them is that it’s going to be weird for a while,” Prather said.

One of the big players in this transition has been assistant coach Brian Lebowitz.

“Brian has carried things, and the beauty of having Brian is if I’m gone, he just steps up,” Prather said. “If I show up, he just takes a step back.”

The Grizzlies will play in their first round of the conference tournament next Saturday, Feb. 29, at Transylvania University. They will face off against the winner of the Hanover College and Rose-Hulman game at 7 p.m.

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