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TAUNTON, Mass. – If there was one game that reflected on how this season has gone for Taunton, it was Tuesday night’s win over Franklin.
The Tigers offense shot an impressive 57% from the floor, had 18 assists on 31 field goals, out-rebounded the Panthers 36-24 and scored over 80 points.
Luckily that was enough to overcome 26 turnovers and over 70 points from Franklin.
What has been an up and down season so far is currently back on the up side as Taunton scored an 83-72 win to sweep the season series against the Panthers.
“It should be impossible, I don’t have explanation other than we were pretty efficient when we didn’t turn it over,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “It wasn’t much of an artistic performance. The turnovers were just staggering, just staggering. I mean some of them, saying it politely, were unforced. It’s hard to believe we scored over 80 points with that many turnovers but obviously we were pretty productive when we didn’t turn it over.”
The scoring for the first half was typical of the Tigers when they’re on, shooting nearly 60% from the floor (17/29) to put up 39 points. But 15 turnovers showed a glimpse of of the Tigers we’ve seen in other games, including their loss to Sharon.
But after facing some adversity late, including a 17-5 run by the Panthers to take the lead after three quarters and a four point deficit with just over six minutes to play, the Tigers switched it back to on.
Tim Prunier’s traditional three point play putting the Panthers up 59-55 with just over six minutes to play. But Quan Roberson dropped in a layup and then followed up his own miss with a putback to tie the game. Senior Carlos Borrero drove to the basket for two for the lead and then Roberson went up and under, putting the perfect spin off the glass plus the harm to go up 64-60. Borrero front rimmed a three on Taunton’s next trip but Dom Smith was first to the rebound and laid it back in for a six point lead.
Josh Macchi’s corner three brought the visitors back within but a three point play from Borrero was followed by a stop and a basket from Jose Mercado to make it 71-63 with 3:02 to go. The closest Franklin would get the rest of the way six (73-67) but a pair of blocks from Roberson down the stretch, the Tigers’ ability to run through the press and successful free throw shooting down the final minute and a half proved enough for Taunton.
“The first meeting was a rock fight and this one was open court stuff,” Dacey said. “That’s kind of our forte too, get in the open court, spread the court and just find the mismatch. There was always at least one out there for us, even if we had three others guys convinced they had one too. That was the turnover issue. Once we get into the open court and start flying, the better for us. We’re a transition team, you can see that. But you have to play defense to transition effectively. Of course it comes with some turnovers but sometimes we weren’t even pushing the ball and turning it over.”
“We gave them too many easy baskets,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “Our offense did a poor job of playing defense, turning it over and giving them easy buckets. They were able to get behind us in transition sometimes. To be honest I just didn’t think we came with our type of basketball tonight. Other than maybe one guy, I don’t think we brought it. We seemed very flat throughout. The guys made a nice run to get back into it which I’m proud of but at the end of the day, Taunton wanted this game more than us. I thought Taunton brought more intensity tonight.”
After a slow first couple of minutes, Taunton got the pace of the game where they wanted: fast. The Tigers were quick in transition and rattled off a 14-4 run, capped with a three from Smith and a floater from Roberson to go ahead 16-9. After the first minutes, Taunton had 23 points and an eight point lead.
Franklin sophomore Paul Mahon provided the Panthers a spark with a pair of steals and easy buckets to get within six and Prunier and sophomore Connor Peterson added consecutive baskets to get within two. But Taunton outscored Franklin 12-8 over the final four minutes of the half, capped with a layup from Tommy MacLean to go into the break up 39-33.
When Taunton went up by 11 in the first two and a half minutes in, Franklin slowly chipped away. Mahon again was the catalyst. First, the sophomore drained a three from the left side, then raced across the baseline, intercepting the inbounds pass, launching a three from the right corner that rimmed out but the sophomore grabbed the rebound and found an open Macchi for two. Prunier got Franklin within two and then with just under a minute to play, Mahon drained a three to tie the game at 51.
“He was by far our best player tonight and that was the best I’ve seen him play,” Neely said of Mahon. “He’s played well in some AAU games but on that stage, against that type of opponent, he brought everything.”
Roberson finished with a career-high 25 points (on 63% shooting), eight rebounds and a pair of assists, steals and blocks.
“Quan is a touch matchup, he really is,” Dacey said. “If we have to roll him to the block against a guard, we’ll do that. But if he’s out there with a big, that really forced CJ to change the way he did things. He’s got a good basketball sense. We spread the court and let him make decisions and he makes good decisions. Then when he gets around the rim, he’s kind of wiry and finishes when it doesn’t look like he should be able too. Plus he’s hitting his free throws now, which he wasn’t doing earlier in the season.”
Mercado added 19 points and seven rebounds, MacLean had 17 points, five assists and four rebounds, Smith had 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists and Borrero had seven points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“He’s the absolute x-factor,” Dacey said of Smith, who missed the Mansfield game over the weekend. “He’s got energy, he’s a pretty good on the ball defender. He does a lot of little things. He doesn’t even have to score for us but when he scores points, that means the court is spread out and he’s getting his points off offensive putbacks and leaking out.”
Defensively, Taunton focused on getting out on Franklin’s shooters to try and take the three point away. Franklin shot 5/20 from deep.
“Absolutely, we wanted to focus on [Jay] Dieterle and Mahon,” Dacey said. “Obviously they can shoot the three. But then Prunier is blowing by people cause there’s no help there. We had to pick our poison like we did the other night and we decided to take away the three and if they were getting to the rim, shame on our on the ball defense.
“We wanted to take away Dieterle’s threes, we wanted to take away Peterson in the post and we wanted to defend Prunier, I think that’s their big three. I don’t think we did a great job on Prunier but I think we kind of minimized Dieterle and did an okay job on Peterson. But they scored 72 points so we didn’t go a great job defensively either.”
Prunier led the Panthers with 20 points, four assists and three rebounds, freshman Jay Dieterle had 17 points and seven rebounds and Mahon finished with 19 points, five rebounds and six steals.
Franklin (14-2, 12-2) stays atop the Kelley-Rex division but just a game ahead of the Tigers and Mansfield, who they will host on Friday night. Taunton boys basketball (13-4, 11-3) will take a trip to Attleboro on Friday night.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.