WOBURN, Mass. – First it was overcoming a 14-0 hole to start the game.
Then it was battling all the way back with a huge second quarter to get within four at halftime.
Then it was clawing back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to get within two points in the fourth quarter.
Despite multiple comeback runs, the Panthers could never equal Everett, dropping their third straight by the score of 80-71.
Saying it was a slow start for Franklin would be an understatement as the Panthers mixed in misses of open looks and contested ones while the Crimson Tide raced out to a double digit lead. Franklin started 0/8 from the floor while Everett, taking advantage of some second opportunities, went 4/7 and lead 14-0 halfway through the first.
Although there were spurts from both sides, it was essentially even the rest of the way. In fact, Franklin outscored Everett over the remaining 28 minutes of game play.
“Everett is a tough team, their length is tough to deal with,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “We’re a little shorthanded with our bigs and they were able to get their hands on a lot of balls and get some extra possessions. And in the end that proved to be a difference.”
After the 14-0 start, Franklin and Everett finished the first quarter 6-6 but the Panthers first real push came in the second quarter.
Tim Prunier scored five straight points but the Crimson Tide pushed the lead right back to 16. With just under four minutes to play in the half, Connor Goldstein connected on a three to make it a 12 point game and freshman Jay Dieterle drove to the rim to cut it to 10. Everett’s Ghared Boyce (30 points) drained a three but Franklin close the half on an 11-4 run.
“After the first quarter I thought it was pretty evenly played, back and forth,” Neely said. Their #2, Boyce, we knew he was a good player but he was ridiculous. He was burying shots and making plays right when we’d cut it close. Off of nothing too, and that can be frustrating. You’re working so hard and you score but then he comes down and has one quick move and scores. I thought our guys worked hard on him, he’s just a really good player.”
Five points from Josh Macchi, four from Goldstein and two apiece from Dieterle and Prunier, the latter being a drive to the rim before the buzzer, pulled the Panthers within striking distance at 40-36 at the break.
Franklin had a bright start to the second quarter with Dieterle draining a three to get within one but a 15-6 run from Everett restored a double-digit lead halfway through the quarter. The lead grew to as much as 13 but another 11-4 run to close the quarter brought the Panthers right back in it.
Dieterle’s traditional three point play started the run and then Prunier followed with a three. Macchi, who notched a career-high 15 points off the bench, hauled in an offensive rebound and finished plus the harm and once again Prunier beat the buzzer by slicing through the defense to make it 65-59 after three quarters.
Macchi started the fourth with four straight points to bring the Panthers within two (65-63) with just under seven seconds to go but Franklin’s shooting went cold. Franklin went 0/9 from the floor over the next six minutes, including five three point attempts. In that time span the Panthers were able to add three points via free throws but Everett assumed a nine point lead.
Prunier hit a three to break the cold stretch and get within six but a three point play from Boyce sealed the game.
“When you play a team like that, you can’t score six points in a quarter,” Neely said. “You can’t come out like that and expect to win. We cut it to four at halftime and we felt like it was a new game but they had a run to start the second half and we’re in a hole a game. We just had to battle and grind the whole game. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Prunier finished with a career-high 25 points along with four rebounds and three assists. Macchi added eight rebounds to go along with his 15 points, Dieterle had 11 points and five rebounds an both Goldstein and Paul Mahon had nine points.
Franklin boys basketball (14-4) will play in the consolation of the Comcast/Arbella tournament at Woburn High on Monday at 1:00 against Brighton.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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