Teams of the Decade #4: 2013 Mansfield Boys Hoops

Mansfield boys basketball

Team: Mansfield Boys Basketball
Year: 2012-2013
Record: 25-3
2013 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2013 Division 1 State Finalists


There are few teams that have had as much success as the Mansfield boys basketball program over the past decade. Not only have the Hornets been the class of the Hockomock League, but they’ve also won multiple sectional championships and a pair of trips to the state championship.

So there’s certainly a long list of impressive wins, but one that remains near the top of the Hornets’ resume is the 55-50 win over Central Catholic on the parquet floor inside the TD Garden in a state semifinal matchup. Timely shots, impressive defense, and a dramatic finish highlighted what head coach Mike Vaughan calls one of his most proud wins in his tenure at the helm.

The 2012-2013 Mansfield boys basketball team, which earned its first-ever appearance in the state championship game with that win over Central Catholic, was loaded with talent from top to bottom. A very talented sophomore group complemented a strong junior class and a handful of seniors that led the way.

“It was a team that had a little bit of everything,” Vaughan said of the 2013 squad that posted a 25-3 record. “We just really had no weaknesses with the exception of our youth. We had three sophomores playing a lot, three juniors that played a lot…as the season went on, we started to realize this team could win in a number of different ways and were super talented.

“And the other that really goes unmarked about this particular team, we had some guys at the end of this roster that didn’t necessarily play a whole lot who probably on other teams in the league or in the state probably would have played a lot of minutes. Guys like Cole Cummings and Zach Wisnieski, guys that were just great practice kids and great teammates. When they had the opportunity to play, they went in and played really hard and did everything we asked them to do. In any other varsity program, they would have played their fair share but this particular year we had some dynamite underclassman. But they were great teammates, great leaders, great in practice and they were unsung heroes for us.”

Greg Romanko was the lone senior in the starting lineup, a 6’3 forward that gave the Hornets leadership on the court, could stretch the floor with his shooting, and provided interior defense. Rocky DeAndrade, Kevin Conner, and Kyle Wisnieski played the most minutes among the junior class. DeAndrade took a huge step forward from his sophomore campaign and ran the show from the point, Wisnieski was one of the best defensive players in the area, and Conner provided a lot of flexibility, giving the Hornets size but his athleticism made him a tough matchup for opponents. Michael Hershman, who was selected as a league all star as a sophomore, played very limited minutes throughout the season due to injury.

 

And the sophomore class featured Brendan Hill, who went on to win the Hockomock League MVP that season, along with Ryan Boulter and Michael Boen. Hill was a true star on the court, with the size of a forward but could play any position on the court. Boulter emerged as an offensive boost off the bench as a sharpshooter while Boen was another defensive option as the season started.

But the importance of depth was a theme among the players too. DeAndrade stressed how important practice was and how the competition among one another helped improve the entire squad.

“Everyone had a role and everyone played it perfectly, and that’s from one through 15,” DeAndrade said. “A lot of our success we had that season comes from practice. It was the battles we had in practice, the guys getting the minutes on the court had to play better. The competitiveness…every drill was a battle. It didn’t matter if you were a starter or on the bench, it was all about winning. Everybody stepped at some point when we needed it. That’s what made it so tough to beat us, we always had an answer.

“Everyone had the same mission on the team, everyone was there to win. It sounds cliche but no one was there with a personal agenda, it was all about what can we do to help the team win that game. I think it was our chemistry, just how well we all played together and how it translated off the court. We all hung out even outside of basketball so we were around each other all the time. And we had all played together since middle school. We were so used to playing with each other.”

The Hornets started the season 4-0, sweeping its first three Hockomock League games by an average of over 25 points per game, as well as an impressive double-digit win over BC High. At the Shooting Touch tournament at Emmanuel College, Mansfield knocked off Amityville out of New York before suffering their first setback, a six-point loss to D2 power New Mission.

Mansfield got back on track in the new year, picking up 12-straight wins. The Hornets picked up a key 68-62 win over Taunton early in January and followed it up with one of their most impressive results of the year, a 65-42 win over rival Franklin. Mansfield clinched the Kelley-Rex title with their second close win over Taunton but just six days later, their winning streak came to a screeching halt at the hands of their rival Franklin.

The Panthers edged out the Hornets with a three-point win in overtime, splitting the regular season series. Despite suffering that loss, Mansfield was quick to correct things and five days later picked up a marquee win. In the RoundBall tournament, Mansfield hosted Wakefield, who was one of the favorites in D2 North. Mansfield notched a 69-46 win.

“At the end of the season, we played in the RoundBall tournament against Wakefield and Bruce Brown Jr., who went on to play in the NBA, and we dominated that game,” Vaughan said. “They were ranked higher in the city papers, they were one of the favorites for the North, and we dominated that team from start to end. It was one of my more proud games we played that year. At that point, it felt like the sophomores were playing like juniors, the juniors were playing like seniors, and the seniors were just great, playing with a veteran mentality. That’s when I thought we could do something special in the South section…but I never thought we would get beyond that or play in a state championship because it’s so hard to do, it’s not necessarily part of the thought process.

“So how did we get there? We had length, we were athletic, smart, we could do things game-to-game, adding things or taking things out, we had toughness, and we had basketball junkies. So you look back now and say, that was a pretty special team and that’s why.”

After knocking off Newton South in the opening round of the tournament, Mansfield ran into rival Franklin to settle the season series. The Hornets survived regulation, going into overtime after the Panthers had a chance to win it late, and eventually came away with a 57-48 win. DeAndrade was the star late, scoring 11 of his game-high 21 points between the fourth and overtime.

“We watched the film recently, it was an absolutely crazy game,” Vaughan said. “There’s a play that happened late, where if that ball goes in, we lose and Franklin wins. There was a time I asked Paul Connolly over at Newton North, who had won back-to-back state titles, I asked what’s the secret. He said you have to be good, you have to be disciplined, you have to be a well-oiled machine but you have to get lucky somewhere. For us, that definitely happened there. There were no secrets between us and Franklin, we already went into overtime before. If that game is different, then we’re not even talking about playing in the state championship.”

While the next two games were far from easy, the Hornets took care of business with a 68-50 win over Brookline behind some hot shooting from Boulter, and then a 57-45 win over North Quincy, sparked by its bench, to win the D1 South Sectional title.

Defense was the key to the game at the TD Garden as both Wisnieski and Boen took turns limiting Central Catholic star Tyler Nelson. Nelson, who was named to the Boston Herald’s All-Decade EMass starting lineup, was one of the most lethal scorers in Massachusetts this decade. In the end, it was Conner who came up with key baskets late to elevate Mansfield to the win.

“One thing I remember is the defense Kyle and Boen played on Nelson in the first half,” DeAndrade said. “I don’t know why it’s stuck with me, but after the game we all were on about the defense those two played. We made some big plays when we needed to, when they counted most and that’s why we were able to come out with the win.

“We just played great from the start,” Vaughan said. “Kevin Conner hit some big baskets for us, Michael Boen and Kyle Wisnieski did a tremendous job on Tyler Nelson. We played a near-perfect game for what you’d consider a perfect game for a high school game. We got contributions from almost everyone in that group. That was probably one of the best victories we’ve had in our program history.”

While the win over Central Catholic remains as one of the best in program history, the game that followed is one the Hornets wish they had a chance to play over. A team that averaged over 66 points per game throughout the course of the season had its worst shooting performance of the season, falling to Putnam in overtime, 50-47.

Mansfield’s defense did its part, holding the Beavers to just 17 points in the first half. But the Hornets couldn’t get things going in the second half and saw its halftime lead evaporate by the start of the fourth. And then things went from bad to worse as Mansfield trailed by seven late in the fourth as its offense sputtered (only nine second half points, 4-for-26 three point for the game).

A three-point play from Boen sparked the comeback, and the sophomore followed it up with another triple. After Putnam sank two free throws, Romanko battled to keep possession off of a miss and, on the ensuing inbounds play, Boulter was fouled while shooting the tying three with 7.5 seconds to go.

Despite all the pressure on the shoulders of a sophomore, Boulter delivered and sank all three free throws to force the extra period. Boulter connected on a pair of three’s in the overtime period as well, the second tying the game at 48-48. In the end, it was a pair of free throws from Ty Nichols with under 10 seconds to go that put Putnam ahead for good as Mansfield’s last second shot was off the mark.

“It was one of those nights, and that happens in sports,” Vaughan said. “It’s why you play the games, you can’t just walk in and win the game. I don’t think that particular game takes away from the level of talent this team had and what they were able to accomplish all year.”






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Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield boys basketball

Opponent
Result
SharonW, 70-51
AttleboroW, 73-40
King PhilipW, 69-45
BC HighW, 69-57
Amityville (NY)W, 65-58 (OT) (Recap)
New MissionL, 60-54
Oliver AmesW, 82-54 (Recap)
TauntonW, 68-62 (Recap)
FranklinW, 65-42
StoughtonW, 72-57 (Recap)
North AttleboroW, 69-30
CantonW, 81-46
AttleboroW, 69-36
BrocktonW, 66-41
King PhilipW, 58-26
FoxboroW, 90-43
MilfordW, 76-52 (Recap)
TauntonW, 45-41 (Recap)
FranklinL, 59-56 (OT)
North AttleboroW, 68-32
WakefieldW, 69-46
Dighton-RehobothW, 65-44
#17 Newton SouthW, 72-56
#9 FranklinW, 57-48 (OT) (Recap)
#12 BrooklineW, 68-50 (Recap)
#6 North QuincyW, 57-45 (Recap)
Central Catholic (State Semifinals)W, 55-50 (Recap)
Putnam (State Final)L, 50-48 (OT) (Recap)






Mansfield boys basketball


Former Tiger Santos-Silva Declares For NBA Draft

Marcus Santos-Silva
Marcus Santos-Silva, pictured here in 2014 playing for Taunton, declared for the NBA Draft on Friday night. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva, who played with the Taunton boys basketball team for one season, announced on social media on Friday night that he is declaring for the NBA Draft, while keeping his NCAA eligibility.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA and that’s why I’ll be putting my name into the 2020 NBA Draft while maintaining my eligibility,” Santos-Silva said in the post. “I feel like it’s a perfect time for me to put my name in so I can get the feedback that I need to make a final decision. I am excited to take the next step in my career.”

Coming off a successful junior season in which he led the Rams in points (12.8), rebounds (8.9), and blocks (1.3), the 6’7″ Taunton-native was named tot he All-District Second Team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He had 10 double-doubles and notched a career-high 34 steals, earning Atlantic 10 All-Academic Honors.

Santos-Silva played for Charlie Dacey at Taunton as a sophomore during the 2013-2014 season, helping the Tigers post a 13-3 league record for second place in the Kelley-Rex division. Taunton went 17-5 overall, falling to Brookline in double-overtime in the opening round of the state tournament. He went on to play for Bridgewater-Raynham as a junior before transferring to Vermont Academy.

NCAA rules allow players to declare for the NBA Draft while still maintaining eligibility. According to the NCAA, “College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.” Santos-Silva can also withdraw prior to the draft and return to VCU for his senior season.

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2020 Hockomock League Boys Basketball All Stars

Below are the official 20020 Hockomock League Boys Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Bryant Ciccio, Attleboro

Hockomock League All Stars

Bryant Ciccio, Attleboro
Qualeem Charles, Attleboro
Eric Mischler, Canton
Brandon Borde, Foxboro
Donald Rogers, Foxboro
Chris Edgehill, Franklin
Alex Fritz, King Philip
Matthew Boen, Mansfield
Sam Stevens, Mansfield
TJ Guy, Mansfield
Ben Blanchard, Milford
Jordan Darling, Milford
George Ladd, North Attleboro
Amari Brown, Oliver Ames
Obinna Ugwuakazi, Stoughton
Myles Grigalunas-Powell, Stoughton
Tyler Stewart, Taunton

Honorable Mentions:
Nick McMahon, Attleboro
Nick Cushman, Canton
Ryan Hughes, Foxboro
Brayden Sullivan, Franklin
Tommy Donahue, King Philip
Andrew Rooney, Mansfield
Colby Pires, Milford
Edan Kelley, North Attleboro
Ryan Burkett, Oliver Ames
Andrew Burton, Sharon
Ahmad Jahed, Stoughton
Josh Lopes, Taunton

Lynn English Ends Mansfield’s Playoff Run In State Semis

Mansfield boys basketball Sam Stevens
Mansfield senior Sam Stevens shoots over the defense of Lynn English’s Jack Rodriguez in the first half at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOSTON, Mass. – It’s the patented fourth-quarter run that the Mansfield boys basketball team has put so many opponents away with.

Junior TJ Guy converted a putback and scored down low, sandwiching buckets around a three-pointer from Cincere Gill. After a steal, senior Sam Stevens drained a three off a feed from Drew Rooney, and then hit another from deep off a feed from Matt Boen to cap a 14-4 run in the final minutes of the game.

But this time, things were different. This run only cut into a large deficit created by Lynn English that proved to be too big of a hole for the Hornets.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Bulldogs, winners of the North sectional and defending D1 State champions, shined on both ends of the court from start to finish to earn a 74-58 win and a return trip to the state final.

“I thought defensively we did a good job following what we were trying to do, it’s just they are so talented at so many positions,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan.

The Bulldogs had their best offensive quarter in the opening eight minutes, scoring 22 points to build a five-point lead. By halftime, Lynn English led by 12, and the advantage balloon to as much as 23 in the fourth quarter before the Hornets finally found a consistent rhythm on offense, closing the gap over the final minutes.

 

The combination of 6’8” center Jean-Baptiste Mukeba (20 points) and 6’6” forward Ademide Badmus (eight points) was a matchup problem for Mansfield, which threw a handful of looks defensively in the post both before and after the entry pass.

And when the Hornets came with a double or fronted to deny the pass, the speed and playmaking ability of English’s guards — Jarnel Guzman (19 points) and Jack Rodriguez (20 points) — gave the Bulldogs second and third options.

Even when the Hornets slowed the guards, denied the entry passes, and played good defense, the Bulldogs got points out of eight of their 10 offensive rebounds.

“A lot of teams you play, maybe they have one good rebounder and they get an offensive rebound but they miss the putback…[Lynn English] didn’t miss the putbacks,” Vaughan said. “You over-rotate, you double the post, they throw out of it and you get the exact play you want but it doesn’t matter if its Guzman or the other two perimeter players, they are knocking down the three. And then their ability to get you off of the bounce, so at any point we have Sammy, TJ, and Chris [Hill] in at the same time, we have a big on a guard and they can expose that.”

For all the problems that the Bulldogs presented on the offensive end, there were equal issues on the defensive end. Mukeba and Badmus defended the post, turning easy looks into difficult takes. After hitting a trio of threes in the first quarter, Mansfield didn’t get many clean looks the rest of the way and had just one make on nine attempts between the second and third quarters.

After junior Matt Boen tormented the Bulldogs for 32 points in the regular-season matchup, the Bulldogs assigned Mason Jean-Baptiste to shadow Boen’s every move, almost attached at the hip to try and prevent a repeat performance.

“Teams don’t sustain that intensity [on defense] typically, you see it in the first quarter and you think you’ve weathered the storm, down by five,” Vaughan said. “And then all of a sudden you think you can make an adjustment or two in the second quarter but we just never got to that point, except maybe the last couple of minutes, we just never got comfortable and looked like a normal Mansfield team on offense. Some of that is execution, some of that is we were pressing because we got down so much, and some of it was just their defensive ability.”

Mukeba was the beneficiary of some handoffs down low, racing out to 10 points in the first half. Guzman was equally as dangerous, finding space to attack the rim or pull up for mid-range for nine points in the opening quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill hit on a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, the second one giving Mansfield a brief 8-7 lead — its last edge on the scoreboard. Boen scored his only points of the first half on a circus-like layup to start the second to make it 22-19 but an 8-0 burst from the Bulldogs pushed the lead to double-digits.










Gill (career-high 17 points), who was a huge boost off the bench all night for the Hornets, drained a three and Guy (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists) attacked for two more to make it 30-24 but Louis Rivera came off the bench and delivered Lynn English’s lone three of the half and sparked an 8-2 run to close the half with the Bulldogs ahead 38-26.

“We kind of prepared more for them trapping in the backcourt and their pressure and it kind of left us susceptible to the half court stuff,” Vaughan said. “I thought when we got good position, we kind of forced action which causes you to have bad possessions and it’s a bit of a snowball effect. They were locked in, ready to go to take stuff away. Every possession we had was not easy and that has a lot to do with their game plan and their execution.

“It’s tough because you can’t punish them. Everything you do, they have a guy that’s going to alter the shot. When normally you might get something as a layup, now it’s an altered shot so it’s that much more difficult to score.”

Mansfield went right to the heart of the Bulldog defense, with both Stevens (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Guy finding success attacking the rim. The Bulldogs called a timeout just 1:19 into the second half, and it paid off, resulting in a 10-4 boost over the next four minutes.

Lynn English took a 57-39 lead into the final quarter, and had its largest lead after a three from Guzman, a putback from Mukeba, and back-to-back drives from Rodriguez before the Hornets went on their run to make it 70-57 with two minutes to play.

“I thought their game plan was excellent in terms of denying Matty the ball, and when he did have it try to take away his left hand and make him work for everything he had,” Vaughan said. “They have three guards that can do it. Most teams have one or two defensive specialists, they’ve got three that can do it. And from a scheme standpoint, you overcome that and find a way to almost punish them, then you have to shoot over a 6’8 or 6’6 kid. It’s just a double whammy. You think you have great offense and then a shot gets blocked or altered.

“I think it starts with their game plan and scheme that their coach came up with and then it goes to their guard play with their speed and athleticism, and their commitment to defending, and then third you have the bigs altering shots once you finally break them down. I thought they played at a good pace where they didn’t over force it, they picked their spots to be effective. I think the combination of their patience and execution was a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield boys basketball wraps up its season at 23-4, half of its losses coming to the Bulldogs, one to rival and Central finalist Franklin, and one to Whitman-Hanson, who is competing in the D2 State Semifinal on Wednesday.

The Hornets also secured the program’s eighth straight Kelley-Rex division title. Mansfield graduates three seniors: Makhi Baskin, Rooney, and Stevens.

“It’s been great,” Stevens said of his two years as a starter for the Hornets. He finished with 782 career points. “It’s always disappointing when you don’t come out on top. Winning the South isn’t something to bat your eyes at so I’m proud of everything this team accomplished.”

Mansfield Rolls Past Brockton To Earn D1 South Title

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen goes up for a layup in the second half against Brockton in the D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – In the middle of the D1 South Sectional championship game, the Mansfield boys basketball team put on a clinic in front of a jammed pack crowd inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High.

For over eight minutes, the Hornets dominated on both ends of the court. It started with terrific defense, and more often than not, ended with an extra pass and an open look. The result was a runaway win for the top-seeded Hornets, a 78-65 decision over #2 Brockton.

It’s Mansfield’s second D1 South Sectional title in the past three seasons.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The guys seemed locked in,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “Anything they threw at us, we seemed to have an answer for it. I thought the ball movement was tremendous. Our ball movement is really good and when we move the basketball, I think a lot of different guys can contribute and that definitely happened in the second quarter.

“We start working on [the ball movement] in December, and around mid-January, I thought we were a kind of lackadaisical and guys were trying to get their own instead of running the offense. We just have to grind through those possessions to try and get to a point where it all seems to click. We always talk about playing our best in March and so far we are doing that.”

The momentum started with a 9-1 surge to end the opening quarter. After Brockton’s Isaac Lane drained a three-pointer to make it a two-point game at 13-11, the Hornets created a double-digit advantage with its late run.

 

Junior TJ Guy (six points, six rebounds) dished out one of his eight assists, finding classmate Brendan Foley wide open cutting to the basket for two. Junior Cincere Gill was fouled driving to the basket and hit two from the line, and junior Matt Boen (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored five straight points for a 22-12 advantage through eight minutes.

“A lot of times you see a team with that size, with that length, and that athleticism and guys seem to back up,” Vaughan said. “We want to go at them and find opportunities to score. Use the ball as your friend to move and get going in the offensive end.”

After finding success cutting to the basket, Mansfield found some space on the perimeter as both senior Sam Stevens (29 points, seven rebounds) and Boen drained early threes. That afforded Drew Rooney (10 points, six rebounds) space up the middle for a strong take and Guy turned an offensive board into a traditional three-point play, capping an 11-4 run for a 33-16 lead.

The Boxers converted a steal into points but Mansfield answered in the form of an 11-0 surge. Stevens started it with two free throws, Gill joined the three party with a triple of his own, and then Stevens splashed two more triples for a 44-18 lead.

Boen took a feed from Jack Colby and drained a three before Stevens added another one from deep as the Hornets took a 50-27 lead into halftime. In total, Mansfield hit nine first half three-pointers, including four apiece from Boen and Stevens.

“For us, we just have to trust the process,” Vaughan said. “If we do that, allow the game to come, we’ll settle into what we need to do and I think that makes a big difference for our comfort level. Then kids can go out there and make plays. It felt like we could score on every possession in the first half.

“They wanted to take away the perimeter, take away Matty and deny Sammy the ball. That let Drew get some easy baskets early, TJ could have had a couple more. That allowed more of our guys to get comfortable. Once they get comfortable, Sammy and Matty can get going.”

Brockton played better in the third quarter, hitting six field goals from the floor including three from deep. But Mansfield was quick to match the Boxers, as Stevens accounted for 10 of the Hornets’ 16 points in the quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill had a pair of finishes at the end of the press break and Rooney added a putback for the Hornets, Stevens had a three, hit five free throws, and drained a contested elbow jumper at the buzzer as Mansfield carried a 66-44 lead into the fourth.

“Sam has had a great second half of the year and a lot of that is from settling in and trusting his teammates,” Vaughan said. “It’s about understanding that he can pass up on an early shot to get one going. Once he starts doing that and feeling good, you trust him to take that early shot. And when he’s making them, you can play off of him a little bit and that makes a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield’s lead hovered around 20 for the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter, a bucket from Hill on a feed from Boen giving the Hornets a 70-51 lead.

But Brockton kept it interesting with a bit of a late run. An 8-1 run made it 71-59 with just over two minutes to play, and the Boxers in possession. Brockton hit just one of two from the line and Boen came down the other end and converted through contact, completing a three-point play to essentially ice the win.

Mansfield boys basketball (advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the D1 North champion on Tuesday at the TD Garden at 7:15. Lowell (22-0) and Lynn English (21-2) meet on Saturday night in the D1 North Sectional final.

Franklin Drops Heartbreaker To St. John’s In D1C Final

Franklin boys basetball
Franklin’s Thomas Gasbarro takes a shot in front of his bench in the D1 Central Final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Contributor

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Franklin and St. John’s Shrewsbury boys basketball teams are no stranger to each other, squaring off in the state tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years.

And just like the times before it, it came down to the wire.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Behind a pair of free throws from sophomore TJ Power with 4.9 seconds left, top-seeded St. John’s squeaked out a 56-55 win over the sixth-seeded Panthers in the D1 Central Final.

“Franklin’s got a heck of a team, they’re well-coached, but we’re not bad either,” St John’s coach Bob Foley said after the Pioneers win.

With St John’s leading 52-51 with just over two minutes left to play, Franklin senior Chris Edgehill sunk a free throw to tie the game up, but Power hit a turnaround jumper on the other end to give St. John’s a 54-52 edge.

 

On Franklin’s ensuing possession, junior Declan Walmsley (eight points, three rebounds) found senior Brayden Sullivan in the corner and the senior knocked down a three to put the Panthers up 55-54. Sullivan then made an outstanding defensive play on the other end to force a backcourt violation by St. John’s.

Franklin couldn’t get a basket on their next possession, but they forced a St. John’s miss to get the ball back with under 30 seconds left. Franklin got to the line with 24.9 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one.

With 4.9 seconds left, Power got fouled shooting from the corner on what at first looked like a three-point attempt, but after some initial discussion from the officials, it was ruled he was inside the three-point line. He made both free throws to put St. John’s up 56-55, and Franklin was unable to score despite having two looks at the basket in the final four seconds.

Both teams got off to a cold start, with neither team in double digits as Franklin led 9-8 after the first quarter on the strength of seven points from Edgehill (game-high 20 points), including a three right before the first-quarter buzzer.

The offenses got going in the second, as Franklin hit five threes in the frame to take a 29-25 lead into the half. St John’s came out hot to start the second half, as Charles Daniels (eight points, 11 rebounds) scored four quick points to tie the game.

Power went 1-2 at the stripe to cap a 5-0 St. John’s run, but Edgehill scored down the other end to put Franklin back on top. After a Malakhi Knight bucket, Edgehill once again found the bottom of the net to put Franklin up 33-32.

A 9-2 St John’s run gave them a 41-35 lead, but Edgehill found Thomas Gasbarro (seven points, five rebounds) and then Walmsley hit a triple to g get Franklin within a point at 41-40.

A Power bucket with just over a minute left in the quarter would be the last basket of the third quarter, with the Pioneers holding onto a 43-40 lead.

The fourth quarter was tight throughout, with the largest lead being at 50-46 for St. John’s with over four minutes to go. Down four, Edgehill sparked Franklin with a three-pointer and then matched a Charles Daniel basket with one of his own before tying the game up at the stripe.

“He’s our all-time leading scorer, he’s been a captain for two years, he’s a guy that always shows up in moments like this, there’s never been a tournament game I don’t think Edgehill hasn’t shown up and not been ready to go and really led us along the way and made all kinds of tough shots,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We’ve had such an unbelievable four years together, it’s gonna be weird going to a Franklin practice or game and not see Chris Edgehill running around out there, it’s been quite a run.”

Along with Edgehill, Franklin graduates Andrew Cunningham, Thomas Gasbarro, Steven Karayan, Matt Lazarek, Brayden Sullivan, and Jack Rudolph from this year’s team.

“This senior class is one of the best senior classes I’ve had since being at Franklin, if not the best,” Neely said. “Basketball players aside, the people that go through practices every day, the type of attitude they brought to practices every day, there was a never that time where you look at it and you say, hey somebody’s being whatever or you have to deal with an attitude problem or not, there’s none of that going on, there’s always just positive people looking to get better for Franklin and nobody looking for themselves…love those guys.”

With the loss, Franklin finishes the season at 18-6. St. John’s will play Springfield Central in the state semi-finals.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.