Franklin Cruises Past L-S In Postseason Opener

Paul Mahon
Franklin senior Paul Mahon takes a three-point shot against Lincoln-Sudbury. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – In last year’s D1 Central Quarterfinals, Franklin survived a major scare from Acton-Boxboro en route to a 59-52 win. This year, Franklin made sure that scare never came, as the top-seeded Panthers played a near-perfect game from start to finish in a 79-49 win over #8 Lincoln-Sudbury.

“This year, we talked about that [the Acton-Boxboro game] at practice and said how you can’t walk in and look at your number one seed and think that’s going to do the job and get you to win games, you have to go out and show why you earned that seed, be the team you have been all season that’s put you in the great position you’re in now, and I thought we did that tonight,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely about his team’s performance.

Franklin started the game out on a 10-2 run that included five points from Matt Elias (seven points), but L-S went on a 5-0 run behind threes from Kahmari Williams (11 points) and Jack Sorbo to cut the Franklin lead to 10-8 midway through the first quarter.

But Franklin dominated the rest of the half, using a 30-9 run, highlighted by 11 points and three steals from Paul Mahon (19 points, four steals) and seven points off the bench from Will Harvey. The run gave the Panthers a 40-17 halftime lead.

Franklin stifled the Warriors defensively throughout the first half, holding them to just 24% shooting in the half and not allowing them to grab an offensive rebound.

“We had a good scout on them, we knew what was going on and the guys did a great job of executing the game plan right from the beginning, we didn’t give them anything easy at all,” Neely added. “I thought every shot they took was difficult, and then Jalen [Samuels] was an animal on the boards, and as a team, I thought the box outs were tremendous.”

In the third quarter, Franklin outscored L-S 20-12 with Paul Rudolph (seven points) scoring five points and Jalen Samuels (eleven points, 13 rebounds) chipping in with six points. A three by Rudolph with just under a minute to go in the quarter gave the Panthers a 30 point lead at 58-28, and a layup by Alex Klowan (four points) with 29 seconds left in the quarter extended the lead to 60-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

Franklin turned to their bench for much of the fourth quarter, with Gavin Farnan chipping in six points and Jack Rudolph going 4-for-4 at the free throw line. Lincoln Sudbury pulled their starters with just over a minute to go where they got a nice ovation from the visiting crowd.

Franklin boys basketball (20-4) advances to the D1 Central Semifinal for the fifth straight season. They will take on #5 Natick at WPI on Sunday at 3:00. The only common opponent Franklin has with the Redhawks is Stoughton. Natick beat the Black Knights, 74-54, in a tournament game on December 30th. Franklin beat Stoughton, 93-58, in a Hockomock League game on January 26th.

“We gotta prepare for Natick the same way we prepared for these guys, we got to stay with the one game at a time mentality, we can’t look any further than Natick, they’re a really good team,” Neely said about Franklin’s upcoming opponent. “I’ve watched them play a couple times and they beat Newton North this year, they’re definitely a high powered team that we’re going to have to be ready for, so I’m not looking any further than Natick.”

Franklin Rides Balanced Scoring Attack Past Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Paul Mahon drives to the hoop in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – With the playoffs nearing closer and closer, the teams that make the deepest runs are usually always armed with multiple weapons.

The Franklin boys basketball team is looking like it’s going to be one of those teams.

The Panthers had three players score 15 or more points, building a 12-point lead at halftime, going up by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter and then had to fend off a late charge from Taunton’s reserves to earn a 63-51 win on the road.

Sophomore Chris Edgehill scored eight of his 15 points in the opening quarter, senior Jack Rodgers netted seven of his game-high 17 points in the second quarter and senior Paul Mahon spread his 15 points out equally across the second, third and fourth quarters to pace Franklin.

“I thought as long as we shared the ball like we can, and have four or five guys touch it we would be in good shape,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “It’s about trusting each other and trusting the offense. We talked a lot in practice about trusting each other, screening for each other, believing in what we’re doing. If we do everything we need to, we’re going to get good looks. I think they did a nice job tonight of not caring who scored. Having three guys with 15 or more points is a great way to share it. That makes it so you can’t stop one guy.”

Edgehill got the offense going early, accounting for over half of the Panthers’ 15 points. He opened Franklin’s scoring with a layup, hit a three, and later converted a traditional three-point play.

The Panthers quickly turned their three-point lead to nine with an early 6-0 spurt in the second quarter. Rodgers scored back-to-back buckets, both on assists from Edgehill, and Alex Klowan capped the run on another feed from Edgehill.

Mahon hit an open three and Klowan converted an offensive rebound to keep the lead at 10. A layup from Mahon and a triple with under a minute to go from Rodgers pushed the lead to 14 but Prince Brown answered for Taunton to cut the deficit to 12 (32-20) at halftime.

“When you play a team like that, you have to step up,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “You have to focus and it’s happened all year long, at some point we lose our focus. Either take a bad shot, make a defensive error, and then the run begins for no other reason than we made one mistake. Then it becomes two mistakes, then it snowballs and all of a sudden you’re down a decent margin. It’s frustrating.”

“[Franklin] plays such a sound, simple game like Mansfield does. We’ve got athletes too. I’m impressed so much by the simplicity of the game of Mansfield and Franklin. We go off the rails, and we just can’t produce points automatically…we have to work, work, work.”

The game opened up in the third quarter with a much faster tempo, which typically favors the Tigers. Taunton scored 14 points in the frame — its best period so far. But Franklin was equally as comfortable with the speed of the game, having its best offensive quarter with 20 points.

“Taunton’s very fast and when you turn the ball over, they make you pay for it,” Neely said. “We talked a lot about taking care of the basketball and not letting them get offensive rebounds. When they those things happened, they hurt us. But we thought we could get some points in transition ourselves. When we had the chance, we looked for it.”

Edgehill and Naz Kenion traded threes to open the third, then Kenion and John Martins combined for five points to cut it to 42-30. Mahon then connected on five straight points, Lens Esquil and Dante Law answered with two apiece but three from Rodgers and two from Paul Rudolph gave Franklin a 52-34 lead at the end of the third.

“Franklin can go fast, they can go slow,” Dacey said. “Even without [Jalen] Samuels, they don’t seem to skip a beat. They still have the shooting, they still set the screens. They can still produce points from other places.

Mahon gave the visitors a 21-point lead on two free throws (58-37) with three and a half minutes to play. That signaled for both teams to go to the benches for their reserves. Taunton’s second unit made the base of the opportunity.

Michael Quinn drained a three, Brown scored with a strong take, Alex Midouin got to the free throw line for one after an offensive rebound and Malik Charles converted a putback for a traditional three-point play, finishing a 10-1 run over two minutes.

Franklin put its starters back into the game at that point. Quinn scored again to make it a 10-point game and after an Edgehill free throw, Midouin scored down low to cut it to nine. But Mahon hit two free throws and added another after a Taunton miss to ice the game.

“They scrapped, good for those kids,” Dacey said of his reserves. “I have to give it to them, made them put their starters back in. But you just don’t want to be so far out of it against the quality teams. It seems like we’re playing catch up the whole game, and that’s tough to do in high school.”

Lens Esquil led Taunton with 14 points and six rebounds while Brown and Quinn each had six points apiece.

Franklin boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 15-1 overall) stays in a tie atop the Kelley-Rex division with the win heading into Friday’s colossal clash with Mansfield. Taunton (6-7, 10-8) will try to bounce back when it travels to King Philip.

Strong Second Half Lifts Franklin Over CM

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – When the teams headed into the lockerroom for the halftime break, it looked as if the game was headed to a classic Franklin-Catholic Memorial finish that would come down to the final minutes.

But instead, Franklin came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 28-15 in the frame en route to a 74-60 win for the Panthers.

The third quarter started out similar to the first half as a back and forth affair. CM’s Kani Glover (seven points) opened the scoring up for the Knights, but Franklin sophomore Chris Edgehill (eight points) quickly responded with a three for the Panthers.

Anthony Morales (ten points, eight rebounds) responded back with a layup off a feed from Jarrett Martin (nine points). Jack Rodgers (career-high 18 points, four rebounds, five assists) scored for Franklin down the other end, and Martin hit an athletic layup seconds later to put CM up 37-36 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

But from the 6:03 mark to the end of the third, Franklin finished with a 23-7 run that included five points apiece from Paul Rudolph (seven points off the bench) and Alex Klowan (eight points and four rebounds off the bench). At the end of the quarter, Edgehill buried a three from just inside half court as time expired to give Franklin a 13-point cushion to end the quarter.

“Chris’ three was huge, you don’t see that coming, it definitely brings a huge momentum into the fourth quarter, the guys were excited in the huddle, so we were ready to go,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely about Edgehill’s three at the end of the third.

Franklin got off to a fast start as they held a 15-11 edge at the end of the first quarter. Rodgers had eight of his 18 in the first frame, while Jalen Samuels (nine points, ten rebounds) chipped in four points.

Catholic Memorial came back with 20 points in the second quarter, behind six points off two threes from Will McDonnell and seven points from Jarron Flynn (team-high 15 points, five assists, five rebounds). Matt Elias (14 points including four threes, five rebounds) had six points off of two threes for Franklin in the quarter.

One of the keys for Franklin was their senior leadership, as 57 of their 74 points came from seniors, including 18 from Rodgers, 14 from Elias, and ten from Paul Mahon (who also contributed seven rebounds and four assists). In addition, Klowan and Rudolph brought a spark off the bench, as both played big roles in Franklin’s third-quarter run that helped them put the game away.

“They’ve definitely seen CM before, so they know the deal, I think when you don’t play them you don’t get that type of refresher, they’re one of only a few teams than can press you like that and bother you, and when you haven’t seen it you get guys all over you and you can a little nervous throwing the ball around, but they knew it was coming, and we woke up this morning expecting pressure, so now they know it’s coming, they’ve seen it before, so I think it was huge to have them, and then Jalen and Chris have been in a lot of games for us in big moments, so they might as well be seniors at this point,” Neely added about Franklin’s senior leadership.

Since this was an exclusion game for Franklin, it will not count toward their tournament record. The Panthers (2-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames (4-2) in their first Kelley-Rex matchup Friday night in Easton.

The Knights (3-3) will face Malden Catholic on the road on Friday Night. Franklin beat Malden Catholic 62-38 in a recent tournament game.

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 13-10
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Houle

Attleboro will be looking to its youth to try and get back to the state tournament this season. With just two seniors and four juniors, half of the Bombardiers’ roster is made up of underclassman.

But just because the Bombardiers are young, doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced. Senior Nate Douglas, a returning starter, has been getting minutes on varsity since his freshman year, and classmate Elvin Sam emerged as a reliable shooter off the bench last season. Sophomores Qualeem Charles and Bryant Ciccio made big impacts during their rookie campaigns last season. Charles (6’5) will be a big presence in the post while Ciccio will be one of the primary ball handlers.

Charles will be joined by sophomore Jason Weir (6’2) in the post while junior forward Dom Victor will be a game-changer on both ends of the floor. At 6’4, his athleticism will cause a lot of matchup problems for opposing defenses. Douglas and Ciccio will be joined by Mason Houle, Kevin Velazquez and Tim Callahan in the backcourt.

“We will need to have our younger players step up this year,” said AHS head coach Mark Houle. “We expect to be a well-rounded team who can play a fast pace game or well in a half court set.”

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 9-11
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ryan Gordy

The goal is pretty clear for Canton this season. Not only do the Bulldogs want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014, they want to compete for the Davenport division title.

With two of the top players back in the lineup, both goals are reasonable. Senior Tony Harris and junior Devin Foster, both HockomockSports.com Third Team selections a year ago, return to anchor a Bulldogs’ team that just missed out on the playoffs last year. They’ll be joined by Austin Maffie and Jake Verille, both returning starters, as well as Paul Corcoran, Kyle Fitzgerald and Ryan Lentol, who all have varsity experience.

Harris and Foster give Canton an immediate edge on offense with two talented scorers, but it will be important for others to step up and make plays all season long. On defense, the Bulldogs will rely on their quickness to try and bother teams.

“This is a fun group who have played a lot of basketball together, they like each other which helps with team chemistry,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “Hopefully that will translate into a good product on the court.”

Foxboro

2016-2017 Record: 12-10
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jon Gibbs

The mantra “Defense Wins Championships” has been proven in many different sports, at many different levels. The 2017-2018 Foxboro Warriors are hoping that will be the case this season.

Head coach Jon Gibbs says that this team has the potential to be the best defensive team that he’s coached. “We have a lot of quick, tough, physical guards that move their feet well on the perimeter and are committed to the defensive end of the court,” he said. “I think this should be a major strength of our team.”

It helps that Foxboro returns the reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year in senior Joe Morrison. As a junior, Morrison routinely limited opponents’ best offensive player, and was a big reason why the Warriors allowed just 55.9 points per game.

Sophomore Brandon Borde returns to the starting lineup alongside Morrison. Borde had a strong freshman season and will likely see his role increase this year, especially on the offensive end of the court. Seniors Teddy Maher and Matt Rognione, both with plenty of varsity experience will both see plenty of time this year and will be relied upon to make plays.

“We have a very good mix of experience and youth,” Gibbs said. “Our seniors have shown excellent leadership thus far, practices have been competitive, and everyone is working hard to earn their spot and get better. We hope to keep building and improving each day so that we are peaking and playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 22-5
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 State Final
Coach: CJ Neely

After making it to the Division 1 State Final a year ago, the Panthers are hoping to be just as competitive this season. With three starters back, and a handful of experienced and talented bench players, the expectations for Franklin are certainly high.

Losing Josh Macchi to graduation will hurt, but the Panthers return their best player in senior Paul Mahon, along with two terrific young talents in junior Jalen Samuels and sophomore Chris Edgehill. When playing at his best, Samuels’ athleticism and offensive skills make him one of the toughest marks in the league. Edgehill really turned it on in the tournament and if he can sustain that level of play throughout the regular season, the Panthers will be a favorite for the league title.

Seniors Alex Klowan, Matt Elias, Jack Rodgers and Gavin Farnan all picked up valuable minutes a season ago and will be key pieces for the Panthers, whether its apart of the starting line up for coming off the bench. Having so many experienced players ready to come off the bench should give Franklin the upper hand on a lot of teams.

“Our strength on the offensive end will be in our balance and willingness to share the ball and create great scoring opportunities for the team,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “On defense, we hope to make our opponents uncomfortable at all times and really focus on getting stops as a unit.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 8-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Champagne

After losing just three seniors that played valuable minutes last season, and a full season complete under head coach Mark Champagne, King Philip is looking to take the next step this year and get back to the postseason.

The biggest shoes to fill are those left by Seth Sullivan and Will Weir, but the Warriors have five players back that either started or saw significant varsity minutes a season ago for a team that was just a couple games away from making the playoffs. Not only were they just a couple of games off, they were competitive in almost every game, including a three-point loss to Attleboro, a one-point loss to Taunton, and a three-point loss to Mansfield in a four-game span.

Seniors Tom Madden, Pharoah Davis, and Nolan Bradley are all back this season, along with juniors Kyle Layman and Bruce Santillus. Layman and Madden (both 6’4) will give the Warriors size in the frontcourt while Davis, one of the most experienced players in the league, will be the premier ball handler. Bradley provides King Philip with a threat from beyond the three-point line and Santillus showed this offseason the ability to fill the scoresheet up.

“With more familiarity comes trust, and a more comfortable time spent in the gym this season,” Champagne said. “Guys have worked hard in the offseason and we expect it to pay dividends as we get into our schedule. We have good depth and good leadership.”

Mansfield

2016-2017 Record: 23-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Mike Vaughan

This might be the most turnover we’ve seen the Hornets have in quite some time, but just because there will be a lot of new faces doesn’t meet much will change for the Hornets.

Expectations are still sky high, as Mansfield will be looking to compete for another Kelley-Rex title (Mansfield has won five straight division titles). And when it comes to the postseason, the Hornets are aiming to get back to at least the spot they got to last year – the D1 South Final – with aspirations to go further.

All six seniors that graduated all played important roles over the past couple of years for the Hornets, including last year’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Sam Goldberg. However, Mansfield does bring back experience in Tyler Boulter, John McCoy, Ryan Otto and Sam Hyland. Senior Nick Ferraz will give Mansfield some depth in the frontcourt after missing last year to injury, and senior transfer Justin Vine gives the Hornets another shooting option.

Junior Damani Scott showed glimpses at the end of last when he was called up while Khristian Conner and Tommy Dooling should see increased roles this season.

“I think our strength will be controlling the tempo on offense and having a bend don’t break defensive mindset,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I think we have lots of options with going small ball, playing with a taller lineup, or a good shooting line up. That creates lots of tough matchups over the course of the game.”

Milford

2016-2017 Record: 11-12
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central Quarterfinal
Coach: Paul Seaver

Although the Hawks graduated three of their top scorers from last year, expectations are still high in Milford. It will be tough to replace the offensive output of Zack Tamagni, Anthony Arcudi, and Nate Davila, but the Hawks will be relying on their size this season to get the offense going.

Senior Kayden Kelley is back for his third year starting on varsity and will be an important piece on both ends for Milford. Standing at 6’4, Kelley is a tough matchup and is one of the best rebounders in the league. He averaged 14.3 boards per game a year ago and led the league in double-doubles. Senior Shane Cosquete will start at point guard again this year, and will be relied upon on to set the offense in motion. He will likely be relied upon for more scoring this season.

Junior Brendan White will join the starting lineup after coming off the bench in 23 years ago. A physical presence, White brings energy and defensive toughness to the lineup. Transfers Andew Fraioli (6’5) and Joey Everett (6’3) give the Hawks depth in the frontcourt.

“We’ve improved statistically offensively and defensively over each of the past three seasons and that’s a trend that we will be hoping to continue here in 2017-2018,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver.

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 15-8
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

It’s no surprise that after graduating four starters, and the team’s sixth man that it will be a youth revolution in Big Red Country. Starters Brent Doherty, Johnny Friberg, Kyle McCarthy and Tommy Reynolds are gone, as well as Moni Cuevas, who played plenty of minutes off the bench.

The one returning starter is senior Chad Peterson, a familiar face in the Rocketeers’ lineup since his freshman year. And all four of the other returning players – senior Derek Shanks and juniors Matt Seavey, Josh Montague and Nate Gonsalves – all saw plenty of minutes last season.

While Peterson will likely take on a leadership role and see increased point production, expect Montague to emerge as a leading scorer for the Rocketeers. Shanks can stretch the floor some and hit mid-range jumpers, Seavey is a solid option in the post, and Gonsalves is a capable ball handler.

Offensive, North will rely on its size. On top of Seavey and Shanks, the Rocketeers have a pair of 6’6 forwards in Jacob Petersen and Owen Nassaney to add depth and size to the frontcourt. Junior Jonathan James, recovering from a football injury, will likely factor in as well.

“We are really looking forward to seeing how this new group gels,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “With a lot of new faces, its really been a preseason spent trying to find our identity. We know we need to grow up really fast as the Hock won’t give us any nights off. We’re really pleased with how this group has responded to the coaching and is accepting the challenges that lay ahead. We are excited to see what this team can accomplish together.”

Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 13-11
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Don Byron

Oliver Ames surpassed most expectations in its first year in the Kelley-Rex division, coming in third and opening the playoffs with a road win at Milton.

But the toughest part about the Kelley-Rex is that the challenge gets harder and harder every year. And with Oliver Ames losing three starters – Carter Evin, Nick Welch, and Dylan Mahoney – to graduation, the Tigers will be facing an uphill battle. The good news is that the Tigers have seniors Jack Spillane and Matt Muir back this year. Both were starters a year ago, and Spillane showed the ability to really fill up the stat sheet, scoring 25 points or more on three occasions.

Junior Ethan Eckstrom, a center, will see more minutes this season and his size will be key to helping defend opposing teams. Senior Noah Fitzgerald showed last year how much of a pest he can be on the defensive side of the ball, and the Tigers will rely on him to do so again this year.

Junior Jake Erlich earned his way into the lineup and picked up valuable experience last season. He will likely see an increased role this season and his strength help the Tigers in the post.

Sharon

2016-2017 Record: 7-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

It will be tough to replace Ricardo Ripley at point guard, but the good news for Sharon is that the majority of the Eagles that played valuable minutes last year as returning this season.

Senior Malik Lorquet broke out of his shell last year and showed that he can take over a game. Now a senior, Lorquet will be a focal point on both sides of the court for the Eagles. Senior Jimmy Fitzhenry can catch fire at any moment, and when he does, he is one of the most dangerous shooters in the league.

Alex Kaufmann also showed glimpses last year as a sophomore, both as a ball handler and a scorer. Between him, Lorquet and Fitzhenry, the Eagles have a solid offensive core to rely on. Jayvon Monteiro is one of the most passionate players in the league and will see an increased role at guard and be key to Sharon’s defense. Aidan Kane, Ben Kaplan, and Aaron Strong will all be important players off the bench for Sharon.

“Our goal is to improve upon last year, the end of the year was a confidence boost for our returning players and we’re hoping to carry over that momentum to this year,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have an experienced group of starters, but will be looking for our less experienced players to make a jump and help us at the varsity level.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 5-15
2016-2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

Stoughton will be looking to improve on last year’s season, and the best way to do that will be to improve on the defensive end of the court.

The Black Knights haven’t had too much trouble on the offensive end, and with leading scoring Cam Andrews back for his senior year, it likely won’t be a big issue this year either. But the Knights have allowed a league-high in points each of the last two seasons.

Andrews led the Hockomock League in scoring last year with 17.8 points per game and will demand the attention of opposing defenses. Senior Colin Sanda can also hit from the outside and will be a solid second option for the Black Knights, who graduated eight players including reliable scoring options Cam Gomes and Matthew Valle.

In the frontcourt, junior David Bell (6’2) showed some potential at the end of last year and should factor in more in 2017-2018.

“Offensively we may create problems for some teams but our defense has to be better than it has been in the recent past,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan.

taunton

2016-2017 Record: 13-9
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Charlie Dacey

When it comes to pace, Taunton is hoping to be among the fastest teams in the league this season. The Tigers will still be young this year, but not as much as last year with plenty of young players returning after gaining experience last season.

Seniors Lens Esquil and Malik Charles both played last year and have shown improvement in their skills; they’ll be relied upon to be team leaders this season. Sophomore Dante Law had a tremendous freshman season, and hurt a lot of teams in a lot of ways. Whether it was from deep, like his six three pointers against Foxboro, or his ability to attack the basket, he’s one of the most dangerous young players in the league. Junior Lou Vendrell also emerged as a top scorer last season and could be one of the top shooters in the league this year.

Junior John Martins is another experienced player that is capable of scoring while Diamond Blakely and Prince Brown will share point guard duties. Naz Kenian, Tyler Medeiros, and Wesner Charles are all going to be options for head coach Charlie Dacey as well.

“We have much depth with tremendous team speed,” Dacey said. “If we can learn to harness this speed and use it productively we could be interesting.”

Franklin Claims First Sectional Title In Overtime

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin poses with its D1 Central Sectional title following an overtime win over St. John’s Shrewsbury. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports,com Student Photographer)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WORCESTER, Mass. – For the past three seasons, the Franklin Panthers have had their season come to an end at the hands of St. John’s Shrewsbury.

Not this year.

The Panthers clawed back from an early deficit, took their first lead in the fourth quarter and came up with a big defensive stop in overtime to get the 67-64 win to claim the program’s first ever D1 Central Sectional title.

“It feels great,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “A lot of people were saying we can’t beat St. John’s, we hear it everywhere. I down play it as much as possible, we didn’t want to focus on one team too much. We waited until we had them on the schedule then we focused on them. I think every year it’s been a pretty good battle, I don’t think we were ever dominated but it’s nice to be on the right side of things for once.”

Franklin will play Springfield Central (West sectional champion) on Tuesday, March 14th at the DCU Center at 7:30.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said senior Josh Macchi, who was apart of the team’s last two losses to the Pioneers. “Coming off those two losses, they stung a lot. We felt like in both games we didn’t play our best and we thought they were both games we could have won. Tonight, to have to come in and grind it out and get it done, even having to go into overtime and play to the last second. It was unbelievable.”

After missing on a chance at the end of regulation, the Panthers headed to overtime with the Pioneers tied at 60-60.

SJS took the early 62-60 lead before Macchi (18 points, 11 rebounds) hauled in an offensive rebound and converted the put back halfway through the overtime period.

Franklin grabbed a defensive rebound after a missed three from the Pioneers, setting up Panther freshman Chris Edgehill (16 points) for a big moment. The rookie took a pass from Macchi, pulled up and drained a three late in the shot clock, giving Franklin 65-62 edge with just over a minute to play.

Sophomore Jalen Samuels (15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) came away with a steal but Edgehill’s transition three came up empty with 40 seconds to play.

SJS answered with a pair of free throws to get within one and then fouled the Panthers. However, Franklin missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Pioneers possession, down 65-64, with 13.8 left.

“I told them this game is about stops and defensive rebounding,” Neely said of the timeout before the next play. “I told them I was wicked excited that we’re in a one point game and all we needed to do was get a stop and a rebound and this game was ours. We talked about it all week, we talked about that being the game plan so let’s see if we can do it. The kids got it done.”

Samuels came up with a big block at the rim when St. John’s drove to the basket to try to take the lead. On the ensuing play, with 5.9 seconds to play, the inbounds pass went over the head of its intended target, with Edgehill tracking down the loose ball. He was fouled with 1.4 to play.

The freshman then hit both free throws and SJS’s last second chance – a heave to just over half court and a turnaround three – came up short, giving the Panthers the win.

“The moment just came to me,” Edgehill said. “On the three, teammates found me the ball. I think I got lucky on the turnover. I was in the right spot, someone just tipped it and read it and went and grabbed it. Those are the moments I like to be in. I like to be at the free throw line, up one, with just over a second to play.”

While the finish was want Franklin wanted, the start of the game was far from ideal for the Panthers.

St. John’s Shrewsbury raced out to a 9-0 lead just over two and a half minutes into the contest. Franklin was able to cut the deficit to five — 16-11 — by the end of the first quarter.

“We knew it was obviously a letdown to go down 9-0 but we just stuck with it,” Macchi said. “We knew that both teams would have their runs, that was theirs. We just had to play together, get tougher on the defensive end and we just came out and grinded. This team’s unity is unlike any other teams and that’s not a jab at the past teams, it’s just this year is on another level.”

The Pioneers quickly stretched the lead back to nine early in the second quarter (20-11) but a 10-3 run from Franklin brought Franklin right back into the contest (23-21) midway through the second quarter.

However, SJS rattled off a 7-0 run to get back up 30-21. Franklin hit back with a 6-0 run to make it a one possession game but an errant pass was picked off and SJS converted a layup at the halftime buzzer to take a 32-27 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

 
“Our team motto focuses a lot on hard work,” Neely said. “I think the resiliency of the guys showed, going down 9-0 early. But the kids don’t go away. They care about each other deeply, beyond the basketball court. It’s more than just coming in and playing basketball for a couple of hours, they’re friends with each other, they care about each other. When they went down, they talked to each other and they figured it out. We knew it’d be loud and I wouldn’t be able to call plays every time so the five guys on the court had to figure it out. They stayed true to each other and I’m proud of them.”

The Panthers trailed by either three or five points for the majority of the third quarter. Finally, with two minutes to play a drive from Samuels tied the game at 40. Hunter Gorgas put SJS back ahead but Connor Peterson (eight points) responded with a basket of his own. Robert Duquette drained a three to put the Pioneers back ahead but Franklin senior James Hanlon came off the bench to score off a nice post move, cutting the deficit to one (45-44) heading into the fourth.

Gorgas hit two free throws but Edgehill responded with a triple to tie the game early in the final period. The Panthers’ first lead came with 6:35 to play in regulation on a three point play from Macchi, who went up and under and converted while being fouled. He hit the free throw to make it 50-47.

SJS’s Alex Bradley cut it to one but Peterson got one right back. After a miss from Franklin, Steven Bucciaglia drained a three to tie the game with four minutes to play.

Two free throws from Edgehill preceded a missed three from SJS and then two points from Peterson to make it 56-52.

Tyler Mola (22 points) responded with traditional three point play for the Pioneers, who got the ball back after taking a charge. Mola then drained a three with just over two minutes to play to put SJS back up 58-56.

Franklin missed on the other end but Macchi was there for the offensive rebound and hit the put back to tie the game at 58.

Mola once again came up big for the Pioneers, hitting a tough layup to make it 60-58. Franklin had a turnover but forced a double dribble by the Pioneers to get the ball back.

Samuels used a strong take to the left to tie the game with just under a minute to play.

“If you didn’t see it in the book before the game, you probably wouldn’t think Chris is a freshman and Jalen is a sophomore,” Macchi said. “They’re playing at an upperclassman level right now and they’re helping us a lot right now. We trust them with the ball at any time and that’s how this team is, we have a lot of trust in each other.”

The duo of Edgehill and Samuels combined for 28 points in Franklin’s playoff opening win over Acton-Boxboro, 20 points against St. Peter Marian and then 31 points in the section final against the Pioneers.

“Those two guys have been huge all playoffs,” Neely said. “All three games that we’ve played, it’s really been those two guys taking the lead. Both games before this they hit the big shots. You can see Chris isn’t afraid of the big shot, which is what we talked about in the locker room. We told them if they wanted to win the game, they had to take it…no one is going to give it to you. You can’t wait for missed shots, you have to go find it.”

Edgehill, who started the season on the bench, was quick to credit a teammate for how far he’s come this season.

“The team definitely helped me through the season, going from the bench to the lineup,” Edgehill said. “I want to thank Jack Rodgers, he works me every day in practice and makes me a better player. Props all to him, he makes me better every single day and that’s what teammates do.”

Franklin boys basketball (21-4 overall, 21-2 tournament record) will tip off against Springfield Central on Tuesday at 7:30 at the DCU Center.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Panthers Clamp Down and Roll to Big Win Over OA

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin junior forward Connor Peterson (11) scored 16 points to lead the Panthers to a big win over Oliver Ames in the Coaches vs. Cancer game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


FRANKLIN, Mass. – Oliver Ames came out aggressive, physical, intense, and playing well on the offensive end of the floor. The Tigers trailed by three points at the end of the first quarter in Friday night’s late half of a basketball doubleheader, but the game looked poised to be a four-quarter battle.

Eight minutes later, Franklin was in complete control. Using a 19-0 run to break the game wide open and dominating the paint with junior forward Connor Peterson (16 points), the Panthers turned a close game into a rout and cruised to a 75-42 win over OA in the first divisional meeting between the two teams.

“We started playing defense, got our heads out of our butts and played like we’re capable of playing,” said Franklin coach C.J. Neely about the second quarter turnaround. “I thought OA came in and out-toughed us in the first quarter…I thought we got the ball into CP finally and once we got him the ball and started dominating the inside it opened up the outside. The press helped a little bit too.”

OA coach Don Byron, who celebrated the 400th win of his career in the Tigers’ win over Barnstable, did not pull any of his punches after the game. He said, “We didn’t play in any facet of the game. There’s no other way around it. We didn’t compete, didn’t defend, didn’t rebound, didn’t fight the post, shot selection was bad…we just got beat in every phase.”

Nick Welch (game-high 17 points) sparked the Tigers in the opening quarter as he was able to get into the lane and find shooting space on his pull-up jumpers. He scored 11 of the 17 OA points in the first and Dylan Mahoney chipped in with four.

Against OA’s 2-3 zone, Franklin moved the ball well and stayed close in the first by knocking down shots from beyond the arc. Paul Mahon (11 points) buried three of them in a row for Franklin, two from one corner and then another from the opposite side, which gave the Panthers a 15-13 lead. Connor Goldstein knocked down his only shot of the game to make it 20-17 after one.

“I don’t think we were following the scouts well in the first half,” said Neely. “They were getting blown by to the guy’s strong hand and guys were getting their go-to moves and we talked about taking away their strength and make them go to their weakness.”

That all changed in the second. After the teams traded baskets, Franklin clamped down on the defensive end. The Panthers put pressure on the ball and limited OA from getting into the lane. They held the Tigers scoreless until inside the final two minutes of the half.

Peterson was the primary offensive weapon, as Franklin took advantage of OA missing senior forward Carter Evin and pounded the ball into the post. Peterson scored eight points in the second quarter including an alley-oop dunk off a Goldstein feed that got the crowd roaring.

“He’s one of five on the floor at any one time,” said Byron about Evin. “We’ve done better even when he isn’t around. He hasn’t been around for a couple now and I thought we could compensate a little for that but it’s just not good enough plain and simple.”

Matt Elias scored five and Chris Edgehillburied a deep three and senior forward Josh Macchi scored seven of his 15 points and pulled in seven first half rebounds.

Macchi continued to play well in the third, adding another six points and being an energy player in all phases of the game. Neely said, “I said to him as we walked out, you’re the dirty work guy. You don’t get all the pub that everyone else gets but you do all those little things, rebound, screen…He’s playing very well for us and when CP is in there it really opens up things for him.”

Mahon went backdoor for a layup off a feed from Edgehill to make it 57-28 and that prompted both teams to turn to the benches with still nearly 12 minutes remaining in the game. Alex Klowan got the crowd going again for the Panthers with nine points in the final 1-1/2 quarters and Jack Rodgers had a pair of impressive blocks.

OA scored 17 points in the opening quarter but only managed 25 over the final 24 minutes. It was a performance that left Byron shaking his head on the Tigers bench.

When asked how the team bounces back from this setback, Byron said, “We come back Sunday and we’ll treat it like it’s an aberration but we have to prove it is an aberration to come out and have a performance like we did tonight.”

Franklin (6-2) will continue in division play over the next 11 days when it faces Taunton, Mansfield, and Attleboro. Oliver Ames (4-3) will try to turn things around quickly with a trip to King Philip on Tuesday.