Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Aug. 4, 2020

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All-Region boys basketball: Success Is no fluke for Evergreen’s Franks

Junior was making a name for himself long before miracle shot

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published:

It is easy to guess what friends, classmates and teammates will remember for years about Robert Franks’ high school basketball career.

His over-the-shoulder fling in the last second to stave off playoff elimination for the Evergreen Plainsmen was the kind of improbable drama that sticks with those who saw it. Weeks after the unlikely basket, even Franks has trouble believing it.

“I’ve watched that video hundreds of times,” Franks said. “One time I sat and watched it like 60 times in a row. I was just thinking, ‘How did I make that?'”

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Robert Franks, jr., Evergreen

Class 4A Greater St. Helens League MVP. Hit “The Shot Heard ‘Round ESPN” in playoff game against Camas. Inside/outside dominance. Averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game.

Rest of All-Region first team

JAMIE FORD, SR., BATTLE GROUND: Leader of the Tigers helped Battle Ground to the regional round of the state playoffs, averaged better than 16 points a game.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Robert Franks, jr., Evergreen

Class 4A Greater St. Helens League MVP. Hit "The Shot Heard 'Round ESPN" in playoff game against Camas. Inside/outside dominance. Averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game.

Rest of All-Region first team

JAMIE FORD, SR., BATTLE GROUND: Leader of the Tigers helped Battle Ground to the regional round of the state playoffs, averaged better than 16 points a game.

ALAN HAAGEN, SR., HOCKINSON: Co-MVP of the 2A Greater St. Helens League; led the Hawks to a share of the 2A GSHL title and a state tournament berth.

NATHAN HAWTHORNE, JR., COLUMBIA RIVER: 3A Greater St. Helens League MVP energized River to third consecutive league championship.

MICAH PAULSON, JR., UNION: Leading scorer for the league and district champions, averaged better than 15 points a game for the Titans.

All-Region honorable mention

TYLER BARTON, JR., HUDSON'S BAY: Second-leading scorer in the region averaging 19 points a game.

TRE EISENHUT, JR., FORT VANCOUVER: Leader of the Trappers helped team to bi-district.

RILEY HAWKEN, JR., UNION: Another key contributor to league and district champions in 4A GSHL.

JACK KLODT, SR., HOCKINSON: Another key player in Hawks' postseason run, averaging 14 points a game.

TREVOR JASINSKY, JR., CAMAS: Leading scorer for team that won six more games this year than last year.

JAMES PHILLIPS, SR., PRAIRIE: One of five players in the region to average 17 or more points per game.

ALEX TORSON, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: At 22 points per game, only player in region to top 20 per outing.

KIENAN WALTER, SO., KING'S WAY CHRISTIAN: He helped a small school make a big impression.

ALAN HAAGEN, SR., HOCKINSON: Co-MVP of the 2A Greater St. Helens League; led the Hawks to a share of the 2A GSHL title and a state tournament berth.

NATHAN HAWTHORNE, JR., COLUMBIA RIVER: 3A Greater St. Helens League MVP energized River to third consecutive league championship.

MICAH PAULSON, JR., UNION: Leading scorer for the league and district champions, averaged better than 15 points a game for the Titans.

All-Region honorable mention

TYLER BARTON, JR., HUDSON’S BAY: Second-leading scorer in the region averaging 19 points a game.

TRE EISENHUT, JR., FORT VANCOUVER: Leader of the Trappers helped team to bi-district.

RILEY HAWKEN, JR., UNION: Another key contributor to league and district champions in 4A GSHL.

JACK KLODT, SR., HOCKINSON: Another key player in Hawks’ postseason run, averaging 14 points a game.

TREVOR JASINSKY, JR., CAMAS: Leading scorer for team that won six more games this year than last year.

JAMES PHILLIPS, SR., PRAIRIE: One of five players in the region to average 17 or more points per game.

ALEX TORSON, SR., MOUNTAIN VIEW: At 22 points per game, only player in region to top 20 per outing.

KIENAN WALTER, SO., KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN: He helped a small school make a big impression.

As magical as that moment was — the basket forced overtime where Evergreen eliminated Camas from the district tournament — it was not one play that makes Franks The Columbian’s choice for All-Region boys basketball player of the year.

The 6-foot-7 junior averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots per game. He shot 53 percent from the floor, 81 percent from the foul line, and was the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League player of the year.

Despite his size, Franks enjoys playing on the perimeter and shooting 3-pointers.

This season, he became a more determined player around the basket, shooting 62 percent from inside the 3-point line and scoring more points from close range than from distance.

“I can post up, but I never liked it,” Franks said. “I think that’s a big improvement. I knew I had a better advantage, and I think it showed this season by getting more points in the paint than just shooting from the perimeter.”

Evergreen coach Brian Witherspoon said Franks became a much more confident player between his sophomore and junior seasons. That was evident both on the court and off, as the Evergreen coaches encouraged their best player to embrace a leadership role that didn’t come naturally.

“Coaches tell me every day about how I can be a better leader,” Franks said. “I’ve got to take control. Some kids take criticism better from their own peers. And also being a leader from the jump. For example, coming out hustling that can give us a spark and inspire my teammates to do the same.”

Other than the one awe-inspiring shot, Franks said his most memorable games of the season were a key home win over Battle Ground and a tough home loss to Union in a game when the Titans’ Isaiah Robinson — one of Franks’ good friends — outplayed him. Ultimately it was a season of highs and lows that came up short of Franks desire to lead the Plainsmen to the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

All of it was a chance to grow said Franks, who hinted he might now be taller than 6-7.

 ”I can reflect on how I improved from last year to this year, and I still can improve my game,” Franks said. “I know that I have to be a better leader on and off the court. I became a better person by taking on adversity.”

Never was that adversity more acute than in the moments before his miracle basket. During the timeout before the tying shot, Franks admits he was disconsolate, believing the season was ending.

“I was thinking the season was going to be over. Before that, we ran a play to get me to the basket to tie it up. I get to the basket and I miss the layup,” Franks said.  “I knew that I would take the blame for our season, the way it ended.”

Yes, Franks has tried to replicate his over the shoulder sling shot. “Almost every time I go into a gym, I at least try it once.”

No, none of those attempts have gone through the basket.

This spring and summer Franks will play for a second year with the Northwest Panthers, making memorable trips with an AAU team of top Northwest players (including Union’s Micah Paulson) that will play top competition from around the country. College coaches will be watching closely, so this summer figures to determine where Franks plays after high school.

“I don’t put pressure on myself,” Franks said. “Whatever work I put in is what I’m going to get out.

So I play with confidence and just do my best.”

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
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