FRANKLIN, Mass. – Even with some of its regular starters on the bench cheering on, Franklin started Tuesday night’s game with Attleboro locked in defensively and crashing the glass. The Panthers held Attleboro scoreless in the first and to just six points in the second quarter, allowing their offense time to click into gear.
Once Franklin got going on that end of the floor, knocking down 10-of-12 threes as a team in the second half, there was no way back for the Bombardiers. Franklin rolled to a 64-27 win, extending its win streak to nine games this season and 34 games overall and clinching a third straight Kelley-Rex division title.
“We have something to win,” Franklin coach John Leighton said of his team’s focus. “Beyond Thursday, there’s nothing out there. It’s the abyss. So, this was one tangible thing that they could do and they’ve been very fired up about it.
He added, “It’s a great league. It’s a great league when we play 20 games and a great league when we play 10. There’s great balance in the league, so I’m very proud of the girls for closing that out.”
Celebrating senior night, some of the usual suspects weren’t in the starting lineup, but the Panthers came out intent on controlling the boards and giving Attleboro no good looks.Katelynn Taylor (five rebounds) and Elizabeth Wilson (eight rebounds) set the early tone.
“We tried to limit their first and second looks and make their third or fourth look beat us,” Leighton explained. “The seniors this is their final home game and there was a spark across all 14 kids. I was impressed how they played.”
When junior Olivia Quinn, the team’s leading scorer, came in off the bench, the offense started to get going as well. She scored six of her game-high 15 in the first and Emma Sousa added a bucket for an 11-0 lead after one.
“Defensively in the first quarter I thought we did a good job when the game was still on the line, but then you go eight minutes and don’t score,” said Attleboro coach Marty Crowley. “We haven’t played from behind like that this year, from that kind of deficit so it’s a lesson learned.”
Emma Reilly (eight points) got Attleboro on the board with a pair of jumpers and Narissa Smith (eight points) hit a pull-up for her first points of the night, but Franklin’s depth and its strength in the paint was able to extend the lead to 17 by halftime. Katie Peterson scored all six of her points in the second and Brigid Earley chipped in with four of her six points in the frame.
Leading 23-6, Franklin was in control at halftime, but things still seemed out of sorts on the offensive end. The Panthers were getting good looks, but were making very few of them. Something seemed to click in the three-minute break before the start of the third quarter.
Quinn drove and kicked out to Erin Quaile (six points, five rebounds, and five assists) for a three to start things off. After Earley and Gabby Bosh traded drives, Stefany Padula spotted up in the corner for a three. Then Earley grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked out to Quaile from beyond the arc.
Out of nowhere, the lead was now 24 and Franklin was just getting started. Quinn had a nice lefty finish and then got an easy bucket after Quaile’s rebound and long lead pass. Teagan Collins (10 points) got into the act, burying her first three of the night, followed by one from Quinn, then one from Kaleigh Houlihan (11 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals), then another from Collins.
When the dust had settled, Franklin had knocked down seven threes and scored 29 points in the third and had built a 52-14 advantage.
“We got a lot of good looks, but missed a lot of wide open threes,” said Leighton. “When they started to connect in the second half, we just couldn’t miss. I said in the first half, they’re all good threes, no one is jacking up shots, but we don’t want to live by the three either, just keep playing. Then the roof came off the hoop and away they went.”
To Attleboro’s credit, the Bombardiers didn’t stop and had their best offensive quarter in the fourth. Meghan Gordon, who came into the night as the league’s leading scorer at more than 20 points per game, got a layup off a Smith steal and dish and then added a three. She finished with seven points and seven rebounds. Smith also knocked down a pair of threes in the fourth.
Franklin didn’t stop scoring either. Houlihan showed off her range, hitting a pair of threes including one from a few feet behind the line. Collins added her third three as well.
“In the third quarter, they probably could’ve been in the parking lot and not missed a shot the way things were going,” Crowley joked. “We held them 11 points in the quarter, so defensively you’re doing your job, but offensively we just couldn’t find a rhythm early on. We have great kids who work hard and tonight was just [Franklin’s] night.”