By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – On Tuesday night at Franklin High, the Panthers took advantage of a balanced scoring attack and a strong defensive effort to defeat the Attleboro Bombardiers, 63-51.
Defense was the name of the game for both sides, as neither team scored three points until the 3:57 mark of the first quarter when Jake Dunkley (18 points, five rebounds) hit a shot to put Attleboro up 3-2.
A 5-0 Franklin run from there put the Panthers up 7-3, but an and-one layup from Lucas Boucicaut (nine points) cut the Franklin lead to one and after baskets from Connor Peterson (10 points), who had four in the first quarter, and freshman Bryant Ciccio (four points), Franklin took a 9-8 lead into the second quarter.
Early in the second, Attleboro took its final lead of the night at 14-12 with 5:12 to play in the half after a basket by Berlyns Abraham (five points) and four points from Boucicaut. From there, Franklin was led by Josh Macchi, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the second quarter to put Franklin up 26-24 at the half.
“Josh was a beast. He’s been really responding, his rebounding has been terrific, especially on the offensive end, he did a great job tonight getting a few extra points for us,” Franklin coach C.J. Neely said about Macchi, who also chipped in seven rebounds.
After a Peterson bucket to start the third quarter, Attleboro senior captain Andrew Milliken (five points) picked up his fourth foul and, while he sat, Franklin stifled the Attleboro offense during a 13-2 run where Attleboro only scored on a bucket from freshman Qualeem Charles (two points, four rebounds) and saw the Panthers take a 39-26 lead.
Once Milliken checked back in, Attleboro scored four straight off of two free throws from Milliken and a layup by Dunkley, but a layup by Paul Mahon (14 points) and one of three three-pointers from Connor Goldstein (nine points) put the Panthers up 44-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
Attleboro started off the fourth with a made three by Milliken, and with 5:25 left to go in the game they cut the Franklin lead to eight at 48-36 following a pair of made free throws from Dunkley, but four straight points from Jalen Samuels, who had six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, and another bucket by Mahon extended the lead to 14 at 52-38 with 4:05 left to play.
In the final four minutes, senior guard Nate Douglas had five of his six points for Attleboro while Dunkley picked up six more points, but four points from Macchi, three from Goldstein and two each from Mahon and Samuels kept the Franklin lead intact and helped them hold on for the 63-51 victory.
Franklin had four guys in double figures (Macchi, Mahon, Samuels, Peterson) in addition to Goldstein with nine, which speaks to the amount of options Franklin has on the offensive end.
“We don’t have one guy. “Obviously people see CP (Peterson) and think they got to deal with him, but we have so many guys that can give you 8-10 points a night,” Neely added after the win.
The win was also the Panthers’ seventh game, and third in a row, in which they held an opponent to fewer than 55 points.
“Our defensive effort has definitely been what’s carried us over these last three or four games, we’ve definitely made a huge commitment on the defensive side of practice, and the guys have responded,” Neely also added.
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