The last time the Franklin boys basketball team opened the season at 2-0, Saber assistant coach Matt Krueger was a star player on the 2010-11 WIAA regional championship team.
Krureger is now part of another Saber 2-0 squad, as they survived some bumpy moments to defeat Milwaukee Pulaski, 61-51, on Nov. 29 and then beat Milwaukee Career Academy, 69-60, on Dec. 3 at the Terry Porter Classic at Milwaukee South.
"This is actually only the third time this has happened since the year 2000," said second-year head coach Tyler Podoll. "We've talked about it a lot with the kids. Developing the habit of winning. Right now, we're still trying to mesh and to blend and find some continuity."
The Sabers will open their Southeast Conference season at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Kenosha Bradford. Then on Tuesday, Dec. 13, they will visit archrival Oak Creek in the 5 p.m. opener of a boy-girl doubleheader. Oak Creek is off to a 3-1 start, including a win over Bradford.
"We'll just continue to grind things out," Podoll said. "We still have some guys making the transition from football, so we hope to be in a good groove by mid-December."
Franklin worked hard to find its groove in the cavernous confines of the Milwaukee South Fieldhouse on Dec. 3. Podoll, a Bay View veteran, said it's a tough place to shoot.
"I think we played there something like 10 times and shot about 23 percent," he said.
It affected everyone on his team this day except 6-5 junior forward Max Alba, who had a career night with 17 field goals and 40 points total.
"They played a 1-2-2 zone for most of the game, and Max was just able to find the soft spot in the zone again and again," Podoll said.
What Podoll was also impressed with was that out of Alba's 17 baskets, there were assists on 16 of them.
Still, the Sabers found themselves down 8 late in the first half before rallying to cut the deficit to 31-29 at the break. Career ran the lead back up at the start of the second half again and were still ahead 8 with eight minutes to go before the Sabers rallied.
"We finally hit a 3 (pointer) with around that point, and that really helped," he said.
All told, Franklin hit four 3-pointers in the contest. What also helped is Franklin greatly cut down the number of turnovers. The Sabers had 15 in the first half but only four in the second.
Jacob Vonderwell added 8 and Ryley Clark 7 for the Sabers.
Against Pulaski, the Sabers build a 31-21 halftime lead only to see the Rams make a push in the second half and take a 40-39 lead on the strength of a 19-7 run.
The Sabers then steadied themselves and rolled back into the lead. It was as large as 61-44 before the final minutes.
Alba again led the way with 17, while Marcus Lee had 12 (on four 3-pointers), Zak Klug had 9 and Caleb Selensky and Vonderwell each tossed in 8.
Podoll thinks these two games taught the team some lessons.
"We've talked a lot about mental and physical toughness," he said. "We're still a young team, with two sophomore starters, so we know this may take a little time."