Eagles sweep Panthers in county rematch

Apr. 24—ELWOOD — At least it was dry the second time around.

Less than two weeks after barely finishing their Madison County first-round match on a chilly and damp evening, Frankton returned to Elwood for the regular-season meeting. It was still cool — temperatures barely reaching 50 — with high winds, but there was no precipitation this time as the Eagles rolled to a 5-0 win over the Panthers.

Frankton improved to 7-4 and is 2-0 in the Central Indiana Conference. Coach Stephan Hamaker remarked several times — through chattering teeth — during the matches Elwood played much better Wednesday than it did in the county meet, when the Eagles took a 3-0 lead before rain washed out the rest of the night.

"Elwood has definitely made some strides to improve from where we were back in that first week after spring break," he said. "The weather is not much better than it was that first time, but they've made some improvements, and I'm happy that my girls were able to stay mentally checked in."

His daughter Lainey — perhaps inspired by the thought of postgame pizza — put the first point on the board for the Eagles with a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 2 singles over Darica Dickey. Moments later, Sloane Harrison and Campbell Quire made it 2-0 with a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles over Abby McCleery and Kimmee Fern.

"Anytime we go on the road, that's always a point of discussion, where we're going to go eat," Coach Hamaker said. "They've been begging me for some Pizza King pizza, so tonight it's Pizza King."

The remainder of the matches were much closer, particularly early on.

Karlee Cole and Laela Deitzer of Frankton fought off Elwood's Sam Dockery and Cali Doom for a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2 doubles for the clinching point while Lily Hall edged Elwood's Breelyn Norris in the first set before going on to a 6-4, 6-1 victory at No. 3 singles.

"Bree is a wonderful athlete, and she's a girl that plays many sports," Elwood coach John Kelly said.

A pair of seniors took to the court in the No. 1 singles match, but neither has been playing their entire high school life. Frankton's Emily Bilyeu began playing as a sophomore while Elwood's Raeghan Wisehart is in her second year.

Wisehart started strong but, despite numerous long rallies and points, could not maintain that momentum as Bilyeu prevailed 6-3, 6-1 to complete the Eagles' sweep.

"(Bilyeu) was staying patient, especially when Raeghan jumped out and hit the ball incredibly well right out of the gate," Hamaker said. "She made some small adjustments for the wind, and the patience paid off."

"All things considered, with as young as this team is — starting four freshmen in seven spots — I'm very positive about these kids," Kelly said. "The four freshmen are athletic, but they are freshmen and they just haven't had the court time yet."

Kelly's thoughts were also elsewhere Wednesday after receiving word one of his former players faces a serious health challenge.

Hannah Everson is a 2020 graduate of Elwood, where she was her class' vice president, played basketball and volleyball in addition to tennis, was a cheerleader, a Madison County Athlete of Character and frequently sang the national anthem at home games. A GoFundMe page has been posted for her and her family after Everson — an Indiana University pre-med student — was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia recently and has begun aggressive treatment at an Indianapolis hospital.

Her former coach has little doubt Everson can beat back this challenge.

"I saw that information last night about Hannah, and my heart just fell in my chest," he said. "She's one of those girls who played four years of tennis for me. She's a beautiful girl. I had her in the classroom, and she's a wonderful student, and when you see something like that — and it's never timely — as young as she is, it really is a troublesome thing to hear when a young person like that is stricken."

Coach Hamaker also knows Hannah from his days coaching basketball at Frankton against Elwood and has also had her younger brother Ty — now a junior at Frankton — in classes. The father of three daughters was stunned at the news, but agrees with Kelly that Everson can win this fight.

"It's terrible when you hear something like that, and my thoughts and prayers go out to her entire family," Hamaker said. "A great kid, it's not fair at all, but she's got a fighter's mentality and a fighter's spirit."

"I can tell you one thing I know from my time around Hannah as a student and an athlete, and that's that she is a fighter," Kelly added. "I know that she's going to fight this with everything that she has. She's got a great family, and we're all praying for her."

Contact Rob Hunt at

or 765-640-4886.