Panthers Defense and Depth Highlighted in Blowout

Hockomock Lexi Martin Franklin

Lexi Martin (22) led the Panthers with 13 points, despite sitting out the fourth quarter, and Franklin brushed aside New Bedford 71-17 on Tuesday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
FRANKLIN, Mass. – There was the possibility that Franklin would look at the scouting report and play with zero energy or maybe the Panthers would fall into the trap of looking ahead to Friday night’s showdown with two-time defending league champions North Attleboro.
That was what New Bedford was hoping for, but instead Franklin dominated from the opening tip, gave up only six points in the first half, allowed the Whalers to make only five shots from the floor, and cruised to a 71-17 victory on Tuesday night in the new gym.
“At halftime that was one of the things that the team talked about was let’s not play to anyone else’s level, let’s play our game and let’s focus on getting better,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “I think our kids did a good job defensively…make them work for every shot.”
The Panthers jumped out early and never looked back. Senior Jillian Spolidoro (eight points, six rebounds) scored the first five points of the game and then classmate Lexi Martin took over with seven of her team-high 13 points in the opening quarter.
The Panthers scored 18 points in each of the first two quarters and in the second would allow only one basket for the Whalers. Martin added four more points in the second quarter and sophomore Carli Koffinke (13 points, four rebounds) came off the bench to add five points, including the first of her three shots from beyond the arc.
The third quarter was more of the same with Franklin getting production from everyone on its roster. Kutil (nine points) added five points in the third and Olivia Adiletto (six points, five rebounds, four assists) tacked on a pair of free throws to push the Panthers lead to 45-6.
“It was nice to get some depth some playing time,” said Leighton. “I’ve got some younger kids like Koffinke, who’s going to be a player, so it was nice to get her some minutes and let her play.”
After five straight points from New Bedford, freshman Kiera Fernandes (10 points) stepped up and knocked down a pair of three’s, including one at the buzzer that made it 51-11 heading to the fourth.
With all of the starters on the bench in the final quarter, it was an opportunity for other players to get significant playing time and to contribute. Meghan Georges scored four points and grabbed five rebounds and Koffinke scored eight points in the quarter. In all, 12 Panthers played and each of them had at least two points.
Leighton added, “For some of the newer, younger players it was good [to build confidence]. For the older, more experienced players it was get out healthy and let’s move on.”
When asked what he would take out of a game that was this one-sided, Leighton highlighted the ability to work on different schemes on both sides of the floor.
He explained, “We really tried to work on our halfcourt man, worked on some offensive looks, and really worked on some individual stuff for kids that have been struggling to get them some better looks.”
Although it was not the same level of competition that Franklin will face in the Hockomock, Leighton saw improvement in his team’s approach. He said, “There have been times this season where we’ve struggled on offense because we’re too quick to take the first shot. Tonight we were more patient getting the better look.”
On Friday night, Franklin (4-0) will have a showdown with North Attleboro in the Pickering Gym, which edged the Panthers by a game for the league title last season after sharing the title two seasons ago.
“That’s why I love the league,” said Leighton. “This is a deep league…every night is a game.”
Click HERE for photos from the game.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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