FRANKFORT — Frankfort got off to a strong start and led up until the last two minutes of the second quarter, but Axtell was able to overpower Frankfort throughout the game as the Wildcats suffered a 57-35 home loss Tuesday.
Frankfort is now on a four-game losing streak and has lost 11 of its last 12 games.
It was the exact type of start Frankfort wanted as it held a 10-3 lead after the first quarter.
“We have gotten off to some good starts this year against some good teams,” Frankfort head coach Ben Steinlage said. “Came out and shot the ball well early. Always seem to be relaxed and focused. It is not that we played hard against a good team. We had a hard time stopping runs in the second half.”
The Wildcats (2-14) were sparked in the first quarter with two 3s from freshman Wes Anderson, the first six of Anderson’s 18 points to lead the way in scoring.
“(Anderson) has kind of been the engine that has made us go here, especially after Christmas,” Steinlage said. “He has shot the ball really well lately. Propelled us offensively. Wes has definitely been someone (who) has helped push us a little over the edge offensively.”
Anderson also made a 3-pointer in the second quarter to help Frankfort hold on to the lead in the second quarter when Axtell began to make its comeback and his his final 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats had balanced offense in the first half as five players scored in the first half, and compared to just three in the second half.
Axtell (13-4) began a full-court and a half-court pressure on Frankfort in the second half, which allowed the visitors to quickly cut Frankort’s lead in the second quarter and eventually jump ahead by a point, 18-17, with 2:02 remaining in the second quarter.
“We had trouble with their full-court press a little bit; more of it was in the half court,” Steinlage said. “We did not do a very good job of handling pressure. Defensively, they beat us up on the boards a little bit.”
Frankfort was able to momentarily retake the lead, 19-18, with 1:40 remaining in the second quarter, but Axtell quickly retook the lead and held a 25-21 lead at halftime.
The third quarter is when Axtell was able to gain its separation as its offense from the second quarter continued . That’s when Frankfort’s offense went cold as the hosts scored just five points in the third quarter.
“It has kind of been something about us all year, we just come out and have a hard time putting together quarters, whether it has been the third or fourth,” Steinlage said. “Their pressure kind of got to us. We did not move as well, did not set very good screens and we did not free shooters up.”
Axtell outscored Frankfort 16-5 in the third quarter and 16-9 in the fourth quarter.
With a young core with mostly freshman and sophomores, Steinlage said he thinks it is a matter of consistency for this team to stay in the game throughout the full four quarters instead of just the first quarter or the first half.
“We got a young group, and we have shown glimpses already this year of being able to hang with some of the better teams in the league,” Steinlage said. “Now, we have got to, at some point, learn from our experiences and get better from it. Play a full 32 minutes instead of a 20 minute game or a 16 minute game. The potential is there, but it is also just a big word of if you don’t want to work to reach it.”
Frankfort now heads to Troy for a road game on Friday.