Spolidoro Gives Panthers Triple Threat Against KP

Jillian Spolidoro

Franklin’s Jillian Spolidoro takes the ball to the hoop in the second quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin senior Jillian Spolidoro knocked down four three-pointers on her way to a game-high 15 points to lead the Panthers to a 65-35 victory over Kelley-Rex division rival King Philip on Thursday night in the opening game of a basketball doubleheader.
Spolidoro got off to a great start with a trio of shots from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. The forward consistently found herself space in the corner as the KP defense sagged into the paint to deal with dribble drives from point guard Julianne Pisani (five points, three assists) and forward Lexi Martin.
“We played the other night and the team just covered Jill and wouldn’t help off her and we just kept driving,” explained Franklin coach John Leighton. “These guys closed that off and she’s open. We try to put defenses in bad positions and Jillian makes things a little quicker and a little harder for the defense.”
He added, “And I don’t know how you cover Lexi — she’s a special athlete. We’re very fortunate.”
Martin and Aubrie Kutil each added four points in the opening quarter and Franklin jumped out to a 19-12 lead. Emily Sullivan scored six of her team-high 14 points in the quarter with a pair of three-pointers that had cut the lead to just four before Spolidoro answered with her third.
KP coach Martin Crowley said, “When you start knocking down shots that’s a problem because there are so many weapons to guard against that it’s pick your poison.”
In its past two games against division rivals (Mansfield and Attleboro), KP has struggled against pressure defense but has kept the game close to halftime before struggling in the third quarter. On Thursday it was the second quarter that broke the game wide open.
The Panthers would win the second 20-4 with the full-court press forcing a number of turnovers and providing a number of transition baskets.
“Their pressure got to us tonight,” said Crowley. “We expected it was coming and we just do a good job handling it.”
Martin continued to be a difficult cover for the Warriors and the athletic forward consistently got into the paint and was able to find sometimes acrobatic ways to finish against the lengthy KP post players. When the drive was shut down, Franklin was able to feed it into Kutil, who scored eight of her 10 points in the first half.
“We wanted to try and play athletic,” said Leighton. “They’re a good defense, but we tried to take advantage of our guard play and we have some quick kids up front, especially when Lexi is in that mix, and tried to play full-court defense.”
Franklin went into the break leading 39-16 and continued to shoot the lights out in the second half with Spolidoro, Martin, and sophomore Erin Skidmore each knocking down threes in the third.
The fourth quarter belonged mostly to the Franklin bench. Freshman Kiera Fernandes went 6-6 from the line and sophomore Carli Koffinke buried a late three. For KP, Sullivan provided five points in the fourth, including her fourth three-pointer of the game, and Grace Davis finished with seven points and six steals on the night.
“Give Franklin credit — they’re a legitimate team and we’re still a work in progress,” said Crowley. “It’s not the end of the world and we’ll get back to work tomorrow and get ready for Saturday.”
The Panthers (6-1) rebounded this week with a pair of divisional wins against Taunton and KP following the disappointing first matchup with North Attleboro, which edged Franklin for the league title last year after the teams shared it two seasons ago.
“We weren’t pleased with how we played against North,” said Leighton. “Not to take anything away from North because they’re a great team but we didn’t play our game. Really that’s been our goal all week is to play together better. I’m pleased.”
Franklin (6-1) will head to New Bedford on Saturday with expectations of sweeping the season series with the Whalers before returning to league play on Tuesday against unbeaten Foxboro. King Philip (2-6) will travel to Framingham on Saturday looking to bounce back.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
Ryan Lanigan
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