Just over four months ago Shaw Franklin was throwing 40-plus yard passes to Cameron Sorenson during football season as the two connected for a team-leading 363 passing yards on a team-high 21 receptions.
Franklin also threw three of his season total 10 touchdown passes to Sorenson. This ranked as second on the team and for anyone who watched them play it was obvious that the two players had a connection that ran deeper than just on the football field.
The duo have taken their great chemistry off the field and produced one of the county’s best 1-2 punches on the basketball court. During games covered by the Wood County Monitor senior point guard Sorenson is averaging just over 11 points per game while junior forward Franklin has led Mineola in that category averaging 15 points per game.
Ironically while Franklin spent most of his time passing to Sorenson on the football field, it’s been Sorenson – as the basketball team’s point guard – spending more of his time passing to Franklin (Mineola’s leading scorer this season).
Head Basketball Coach Ryan Steadman said in a season preview that he believes the duo would have to come up big if Mineola would have a shot at getting in to the UIL playoffs. Steadman also added that he’s not surprised at their great chemistry coming to fruition on the court this year.
“When you get two players that are great kids, who work hard and set a good example for the rest of team you know you’ve got something special,” Steadman said Wednesday.
With both players playing their third varsity season together, not only are both Franklin and Sorenson are great athletes, they’re also fantastic students. Both players made the honor roll list for the third grading period this school year and both players earned over a 3.5 grade point average.
While Franklin and Sorenson have proven to be good leaders for their team both say they lead in different ways.
“Cameron’s more of the vocal leader, he’s the one who speaks up first about stuff we need to fix when we’re not doing things the right way, but I just try to lead by being a good example of how we do things,” Franklin said.
One of the more impressive things about both players is that they’ve been able to create the same unique connection on the basketball court that they had on the football field.
“They really seem to trust each other, they both know the other is going to be in the right spot at the right time and they have each other’s back. Both have proven to be extremely competitive and always want to win,” Steadman said.
Steadman can be seen on the sidelines constantly imploring his team on the defensive end and both Franklin and Sorenson mirror the identity of their coach.
“Going in to every game I always put Shaw and Cameron on the other team’s two best players and I ask a lot of them to set the tone defensively for our team. They’ve done a great job of that this season and it’s helped our team defensively because it allows us to be in every game with a good shot to win,” Steadman said.
Sorenson echoed those thoughts as he said he’s aware of the responsibilities that come with being a team leader.
“We both try to set a tone on the court by working hard and giving our best effort for the team. We know the younger guys are looking to us to lead, the same way Shaw and I looked up to older guys when we were new to the team,” Sorenson said.
As both players have been the top two scorers for Mineola this season they both have scored in somewhat different ways. Both players have proven to be good three-point shooters but Sorenson thrives in the half court while creating offense off the dribble. Franklin prefers to score in transition or in the post where he uses his quickness to get around bigger players who guard him.
“Shaw has really improved his shooting and post up game this year, which has helped us tremendously, he’s making around half his three-point attempts and shooting a good percentage from the field overall as well,” Steadman said.
One of the biggest differences this season in their styles of play was when Steadman handed Sorenson the ball as the team’s point guard coming in to this season. Previously Sorenson has been a shooting guard whose primary focus was to look for his own scoring opportunities. But as a senior this year, playing the point guard spot he’s had to take a different approach in some aspects.
“When I asked Cameron to change positions coming in to the season I knew he would have some adjustments to make, but he’s worked hard to do what I’m asking him and he’s consistently gotten better with getting the rest of our team involved offensively and knowing he should create his own shot or look to create a shot for his teammates,” Steadman said.
The duo had arguably their best game as a tandem when they hosted Kemp two weeks ago. Both players tied their season-highs with 18 points combing to score 36. However Mineola lost that game 49-46 in dramatic fashion.
“I’ve been saying it all year, but if we can get Shaw and Cameron to play well at the same time like they did against Kemp, we will be a really tough team to beat,” Steadman said.
Currently Mineola is in third place in 3A Region Region II District 12 and still in playoff contention. The first round of UIL playoffs begin Feb. 19.