Teams of the Decade #5: 2020 Franklin Girls Basketball

Franklin girls basketball

Team: Franklin girls basketball
Year: 2019-2020
Record: 25-0
2020 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2020 Division 1 State Champions


It may still have been the regular season and there was a lot of basketball standing between the teams and a trophy, but there was a distinct sense of anticipation when Franklin and Bridgewater-Raynham met up in the first round of the Comcast Classic at Woburn High. A lot of people in the stands were wondering if the Panthers, who had been widely-considered the top team in the state since preseason, were as good as advertised.

Franklin made a statement, leading from the opening tip and pulling out a comfortable 58-41 victory over the eventual Div. 1 South champion. It was a turning point, where the 2020 Franklin girls basketball team recognized that it could play at another level, one that even the top teams in the state would struggle against. It was a confidence boost that carried the Panthers to a second straight D1 Central crown, a perfect season, and the program’s first state championship.

“That’s when we started to realize, and that was in February, that maybe it’s even beyond what we originally thought,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “Some of the kids said they wanted to go undefeated from day one, and that’s a great goal, but seeing it become a reality is a different thing.”

Senior center Ali Brigham, who was named league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year for the second season in a row, added, “We didn’t want the rankings to do the talking. We actually wanted to go out and do it ourselves. I think every single person, when we stepped on that court, and even days before when we knew we were playing B-R, it was time to lock in and play how Franklin basketball played. We did the talking in our play.”

While there was plenty of attention on Franklin coming into the season, after reaching the state semifinal the year before and with Brigham, a George Washington-commit, returning in the middle, the Panthers had some questions. Two starters from 2018-19, Shannon Gray and Bea Bondhus, graduated and it wasn’t obvious who would emerge as an offensive threat to take the pressure off Brigham.

Those questions were answered in the first week of play. Juniors Kaleigh Houlihan and Elizabeth Wilson added outside shooting, senior Megan O’Connell and sophomore Emma Sousa added athleticism and versatility at forward, and junior point guard Erin Quaile continued to be a rock on both ends of the court. Meanwhile sophomore Olivia Quinn scored 20-plus points in two of the first three games and became one of the league’s top players this season.

“It made me and Ali’s lives super easy,” said O’Connell. “Instead of trying to find people to step up and take those roles, people were gunning for them. Olivia Quinn is tremendous. No one worked harder than her in the offseason and that was clearly visible by all of her accomplishments.”

The Panthers dominated from game one. The only team that managed to keep it close against Franklin was Holy Name, which lost by four and by nine in the two regular season meetings. It seemed that Franklin could flip a switch and take over games on both ends of the court.

Against King Philip, the Panthers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. On the road at title rival Oliver Ames, Brigham and Quinn combined for 37 points in the second half and they won by 30. Davenport (and D2) champion Foxboro was down by single digits in the fourth quarter until a 17-0 run broke the game wide open.

“To go undefeated, and any team that gets to do it will say the same thing, you just need that consistency that the players are able to bring,” Leighton explained. “You need to bring that every day and if you have kids who aren’t feeling well or working on an injury, it doesn’t matter. You need to bring that same level day.”

O’Connell said the team was aware of the rankings and the hype surrounding the team but added, “The coaches did a great job of keeping us level-headed and not letting that go to our heads. They said that means absolutely nothing unless you go out and show everyone that is true.”

The Comcast Tournament, which also included a 17-point win against D4 state champion Cathedral, came at the perfect time. Along with a one-point win against New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, the Panthers closed out the regular season by overcoming tough challenges, a good warm-up for the state tournament and additional confidence for a team that was already riding high.

“There is a fake confidence, fake bravado,” said Leighton, “but then you have that real confidence when you look at each other in the huddle and you just know that we can come back and do what we need to do. You know you can get that look, you know you can make that stop, and you can count on the kid next to you to make that play.”

In the playoff opener, Brigham achieved an important personal milestone, solidifying her place in program history. With a free throw late in a big win against Framingham, she passed Kelly Meredith to become the school’s all-time leading scorer (male or female). She finished her career with 1,692 points (and also with a school record 1,276 rebounds).

“I wrote a letter to myself when I was in eighth grade to my 2020 self,” Brigham recalled. “My main goal was to make the varsity basketball team.”

“I’m just really glad that I was able to do it,” she continued. “I put in a lot of work, and especially having it be my last home game, which was pretty cool. It was almost like I wasn’t even the most excited in that video.”

Leighton said, “At no point was Ali worried about Ali this year and that tells you so much about her. She’s a program-changing player. The young kids at Franklin playing at halftime to high-five Ali Brigham, those kids are going to remember that. Her legacy will last a very long time here.”

King Philip coach Dan Nagle said, “Ali is a real issue (obviously) because she not only is bigger than any kid in our league, but she is incredibly skilled and unselfish. If you double her, she finds a wide open shooter. If you don’t double her, she scores easily with a wide variety of moves/finishes. She even hit a three against us this year and I know we weren’t alone. She is a ridiculous talent.”

In the Central semifinal, Franklin faced Holy Name for the third time and the first quarter did not go as planned. The Panthers were held to just six points in the first and looked out of sorts. “They knew everything you wanted to do,” said O’Connell. “They knew I was going to pump fake and go to the left and whatever. It was super frustrating for all of us and we just had to turn it around.”

Franklin closed the gap to one at halftime and then dominated the second half to win by 17. That momentum carried into the Central final, as the Panthers jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back. Even when the offense was struggling, as it did in the third quarter against Natick, the defense locked opponents down and different players stepped up each night with key plays to get the win.

“I honestly think they were far and away the best team in the state this year,” Nagle said. “Even the very best teams could hang with them for a quarter or two, but eventually their size/talent, coupled with extremely organized and effective coaching, really separated them from the rest of the pack. It was a group of kids that from an opposing coach/onlooker’s perspective really understood and embraced their roles, and simply executed them to perfection night-in and night-out all season long.”

When the final horn sounded in the state semifinal win against Minnechaug, the celebrations were muted. It was clear from the players and coaches that reaching the final wasn’t the ultimate goal and there was still work to be done. Unfortunately, the following night it was announced that the final would be canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m so sad that it ended that way,” said O’Connell. “I was in my driveway and I was tagged in a Twitter post. I was like, holy crap, I would’ve stayed [at practice] all night if I had known they were going to cancel it.”

Brigham said, “The last practice we had we all got into a circle and were just talking about it. It was like an, ‘okay, we’ll see you tomorrow,’ thing. Driving home, I pulled into my garage and got the text that we’re not playing. We weren’t able to have that final goodbye together as a team, we still haven’t. It’s definitely unfortunate because we didn’t get to end it the way a team should.”

Weeks after that final practice, both players were able to reflect on the achievements of the season and the history that the team made this winter even if there is still disappointment about not having that moment in the spotlight. Brigham joked, “I’m really competitive so the fact that another team thinks they’re state champions too, that doesn’t go over very well with me.”

Leighton also took time to reflect on the perfect season and the first title in program history.

He said, “That banner will always be there and that’s a piece of history and they really bought into that. I don’t think it diminishes anything in the kids’ eyes. In the moment it did, it stunk, but now that you have a moment to step back and reflect and look at everything that happened, I’m so proud of them.

“Fairly quickly, the team attitude was obvious, how we were getting at it in practice, the maturity, our work approach. We saw that early, but seeing that you could be really good is different from winning every game or winning a state championship. It’s a whole different level.”






Click here to listen to the HockomockSports.com Franklin Girls Basketball Podcast on Spotify


Franklin girls basketball
Franklin girls basketball

Opponent
Result
MilfordW, 81-25
King PhilipW, 80-50
CantonW, 61-34
Holy NameW, 44-40
MansfieldW, 67-39
StoughtonW, 77-31
TauntonW, 66-18
North AttleboroW, 53-33
Oliver AmesW, 71-41 (Recap)
FoxboroW, 61-40 (Recap)
AttleboroW, 73-41
SharonW, 53-20
King PhilipW, 65-39
MansfieldW, 67-41
TauntonW, 79-36
Holy NameW, 52-43
Oliver AmesW, 76-30
AttleboroW, 64-26
Bridgewater-RaynhamW, 58-41 (Recap)
CathedralW, 73-56
Bishop Guertin (NH)W, 47-46
FraminghamW, 85-37
Holy NameW, 59-42 (Recap)
NatickW, 53-38 (Recap)
MinnechaugW, 55-43 (Recap)






Franklin girls basketball

Franklin girls basketball

Franklin girls basketball

Franklin girls basketball

Franklin girls basketball

Franklin girls basketball


2020 Hockomock League Girls Basketball All Stars

Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Girls Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Ali Brigham, Franklin

Hockomock League All Stars

Nyah Thomas, Attleboro
Kiara Cerruti, Canton
Sydney Gallery, Canton
Katelyn Mollica, Foxboro
Shakirah Ketant, Foxboro
Lizzy Davis, Foxboro
Ali Brigham, Franklin
Olivia Quinn, Franklin
Faye Veilleux, King Philip
Faith Roy, King Philip
Kayla Vine, Mansfield
Emma Lawrence, Milford
Amanda Kaiser, North Attleboro
Caroline Flynn, Oliver Ames
Caroline Peper, Oliver Ames
Shyanne Trinh, Stoughton
Kameron St. Pierre, Taunton

Honorable Mentions:
Meghan Gordon, Attleboro
Fay Gallery, Canton
Abby Hassman, Foxboro
Erin Quaile, Franklin
Brianna James, King Philip
Ashley Santos, Mansfield
Carly Ferreira, Milford
Regan Fein, North Attleboro
Meg Holleran, Oliver Ames
Kaitlyn Wallace, Sharon
Aliyah Wright, Stoughton

Franklin and Foxboro Girls Earn Respective State Titles

Franklin girls basketball Foxboro girls basketball 
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Both the Franklin and Foxboro girls basketball team were practicing on Thursday evening when the news filtered through that both of their seasons had ended with a victory, although neither got the opportunity to complete their impressive seasons by taking the floor in a state championship game.

The MIAA announced early Thursday evening that it was canceling the state championship basketball games originally slated to be played on Saturday in Worcester out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic. The six hockey state championship games scheduled for Sunday at the TD Garden were also canceled and the beginning of the spring season has been postponed for at least two weeks.

With the decision to cancel the finals, the teams that had reached this stage were declared co-champions. Foxboro will share the Div. 2 title with West champion Taconic, earning the Warriors a second state title in three seasons. Franklin finishes its season at 25-0 and will share the Div. 1 crown with North champion Andover, claiming the first state title in program history and widely regarded as the top team in the state.

For both teams, it is hard not feel the season’s end and the state titles were anti-climactic after the excitement of winning four or five tournament games.

“I got up at 3:30 this morning to start watching film because I didn’t know if we were going to be able to practice on Friday or if they were doing team stuff, there were just no details,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “So, I went from watching film in the middle of the night to my day job to practice and then I got the call. It was like, ‘what just happened?’ It just feels like a bad dream.”

Franklin coach John Leighton said, “They wanted to be able to get some closure and finish what they started and that will never come. They were frustrated, but they knew it might be coming. We practiced today more hopeful than optimistic.”

The players were understandably disappointed with the decision, although, as Leighton explained, there had been discussion about not having the finals for several days.

“One of the things we always talk about is ‘control what you can control’ and that’s usually fouls and effort but we talked about this all week too,” he said. “On Tuesday, the tournament director even came up to me and said, ‘Hope you get to play on Saturday.’ So we kind of had a hint that it might happen.”

Downs was grateful that her team was at least able to experience playing at the TD Garden, after being denied that chance because of a snowstorm during the 2018 state title season.

“I think it would’ve been so much worse if we hadn’t gotten to play at the Garden,” she said. “Yesterday I thought, okay we’re probably going to be playing in an empty gym, which sucks but at least they get to play the game. The girls don’t understand, you know, they’re 17-year-old kids. They’re just like, ‘They can take everyone’s temperature.’”

Franklin was start-to-finish the top-ranked team in the state. The Panthers made history last year by reaching the state semifinal, but came out this winter with renewed focus and raced through an unbeaten season, which included wins over D2 champion Foxboro, D1 South champion, Bridgewater-Raynham, and D4 champion Cathedral.

“We became really hard to beat,” said Leighton. “They were always hungry to get better Even last game, when we walked off the court they weren’t super happy. They knew it wasn’t their best game and they couldn’t wait to go play another.”

The state championship run was also the coronation of senior center Ali Brigham’s career with the Panthers. She finished as the top scorer in not only the program’s history, but the school’s history as well. Leighton credits the George Washington-commit with raising the profile of the program and making them into a perennial state power.

Leighton said, “She’s changed the program. The expectation of the kids who are going to come play basketball at Franklin has changed. She chose to stay all four years. That was selfless of her and her play this season was selfless. It says a lot about who she is as a kid.”

Foxboro finished the season 24-2 and on a 15-game win streak, which included a difficult run through the South sectional, knocking off Pembroke (which beat the Warriors in last year’s semifinal), Old Rochester, and Hingham. Defense was the key, as Foxboro allowed the second-fewest points per game in the league this season (37.6) and bettered that average in the playoffs (36.8).

“I don’t want everything ending so abruptly to overshadow that these girls were able to go 24-2,” said Downs. “From last year getting pummeled in the semifinal and having basically the same group of girls and getting progressively better throughout the course of the season. In postseason, you could see they were where you’d want a team to be. We had just so many pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t had in other years.”

Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, neither Foxboro’s or Franklin’s season ended with the trophy and celebration at center court that typically follows winning a state championship, but both teams will be able to add another state title banner to their programs’ legacies.

Franklin Keeps Perfect Season Alive, Heads to First Final

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin senior Ali Brigham scored 25 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to help the Panthers beat Minnechaug and advance to the program’s first ever state title game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – When asked if the loss to Springfield Central in last year’s state semifinal game, three days short of a year before Tuesday night’s semifinal at Worcester State, was being used as motivation by his team, Franklin coach John Leighton dismissed that idea, saying that his team had already moved on.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“None, not at all,” Leighton explained. “We moved on and buried that. We celebrated winning the sectional championship with the three seniors from last year. Otherwise, you kind of live in past glory and it doesn’t motivate you forward.”

The Panthers can continue to look forward, as they pulled out a 55-43 victory against a feisty Minnechaug, which upset Springfield Central in the West final, to advance to the first state title game in program history. At the final horn, there were smiles and some cheers, but Franklin players reacted like it was business as usual.

“It’s the farthest that Franklin has ever been,” said senior Ali Brigham. “We make it this far, we’re not going to stop now. We wanted to make it to the championship game, which we did. It feels good to be there but that was an ugly game so hopefully we’ll be a lot better in that game.”

It was far from a perfect game for the Panthers, who struggled from the perimeter, making only two threes in the game and being forced to get almost every point at the rim.

“It was just one of those shooting nights,” said Leighton. The only good thing, I think our offensive rebound rate on those was really high, so that kind of helps give the shooters confidence that even if it’s not going we’re still creating offense. They’re good threes, I didn’t think we were chucking up the first shot, they just didn’t fall.”

Of course, having Brigham in the middle means that the Panthers cane find plenty of success going into the paint. The senior center finished with a game-high 25 points, 16 rebound, and three blocks. She got considerable help from second-leading scorer Olivia Quinn, as the sophomore added 16 points and five rebounds, including 10 points in the third quarter alone.

“It feels a lot better too when you have someone else to take the load off,” Brigham said of Quinn’s performance. “I thought Liv played great and without her we probably couldn’t have come out like this.”

Brigham was the focus of the Franklin offense right from the start. She scored 10 points in the first quarter, grabbed four boards, and drew five fouls as the undersized Falcons (who were without their star player Lauren Barry) had to surround Brigham with defenders. She got a basket off a Quinn pass to the post, on a drive from the top of the key, and on an offensive rebound.

With the Panthers leading 14-5 and time running out in the first, Emily Howard knocked down a deep three, beating the buzzer and keeping the Falcons close. That would become a theme on Tuesday, as Minnechaug knocked down seven threes as a team and never allowed Franklin to pull away.

In the second, Franklin continued to go inside to Brigham, who scored five points in the quarter. Stefany Padula also got free on the break for two, off a good pass by Megan O’Connell. The Panthers were held to only three made field goals in the quarter, but they only allowed four on the other end to keep the six-point lead at half.

After being saddled with two early fouls and having to sit more than usual in the first half, Quinn dominated the third quarter. She opened it with a three, which was the first outside shot that Franklin made in the game. After Autumn Strange banked in a three to get the Falcons within four, Brigham scored in the paint and had a nice pass over the top to Quinn for a layup.

Quinn took a feed from Emma Sousa and finished at the rim plus the foul, pushing Franklin’s lead to 10. Elizabeth Wilson got her first points of the night off a Quinn assist to make sure it stayed 10, 38-28, heading into the fourth quarter.

“She’s such a spark to our team,” Leighton said about Quinn. “She just naturally finds gaps, especially in the press. When they tried to cover us full-court it opened space for her and she can create.”

In the fourth, Franklin showed off its experience to never let Minnechaug get back into the game. Lillian Grono hit a three to cut the lead down to nine, 46-37, but Erin Quaile answered with one of her own at the other end to go back up by 12. Brigham scored eight in the fourth, including 6-for-6 at the line, and Wilson went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe to help the Panthers seal the win and a place in the final.

Leighton said, “It’s a tremendous feeling. I’m happy for the kids. They’ve just bought all in. They’re all in to be the best they can. They weren’t satisfied just now. There wasn’t a big celebration, they said if we want to keep going then we’re going to have to play better than that. They want to compete at the highest level.”

Franklin (25-0) will try to win the program’s first state championship and complete the perfect season when it takes on North champion Andover on Saturday at a time and location to be determined.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Brings Home Second Straight Central Crown

Franklin girls basketball
Megan O’Connell (34), Olivia Quinn (23), and Emma Sousa (24) celebrate after the final whistle of the D1 Central final win against Natick. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – After overcoming a rough first quarter against Holy Name in the Div. 1 Central semifinal, Franklin wanted to make sure that it got off to a better start in Friday night’s final at Worcester State.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Panthers dominated on both ends of the floor, scoring the first nine points of the game and building a 16-5 lead after one. Natick never got closer than eight points for the remainder of the game. Franklin showed off its experience on the big stage, and its defensive prowess, to pull out a 53-38 victory and win its second straight Div. 1 Central crown.

“That was super hard,” Franklin senior Megan O’Connell said of the tough start to the semifinal. “My stomach was in my throat that game. This was a lot better. We got up by a lot, but in the third quarter it fell apart and then we got it back. We want to keep moving on and it’s survive and advance right now.”

Franklin coach John Leighton admitted that there was a focus on starting better than the Panthers did at WPI and he brought in some reinforcements to talk to the team. Kristen McDonell, the current Norwood boys and former Braintree girls coach (who twice coached the Wamps to wins over Franklin in sectional finals), spoke to the Panthers about staying the course even if things don’t go well in the opening few minutes.

“We talked a lot about the fist five possessions, try to get everyone a touch, defense force them into a quick thing,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “I thought we did that tonight, got off to a good start and built confidence.”

“Having played in this gym and feeling the pressure,” he added, “when it’s new, the lights are brighter, the crowd is bigger, you feel the difference.”

It turned out, there was no reason for concern. O’Connell got the game started directly from the opening tip, as she drove to the basket for the game’s first points. Olivia Quinn (16 points and seven rebounds) drilled a three and then Ali Brigham (17 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks) stepped beyond the arc to bury one as well.

The Panthers had gotten off to the ideal start. Natick’s Yale-bound forward Brenna McDonald scored four points in the first, but Quinn got free on a kick-out by Erin Quaile for a jumper and Franklin went 6-for-8 at the line to build an 11-point advantage.

Quinn continued her strong play in the second, leaking out for a layup on an Emma Sousa look-ahead and then making a nice backdoor cut to get a perfect pass from Quaile for a layup. She also lined up against McDonald and did her best to contain Natick’s star.

“She’s tremendous,” O’Connell said about her teammate. “She worked so hard in the off-season, so she deserves this more than anything and I love to see her confidence.”

Natick was hanging around in the second quarter, but the Panthers continued to find ways to score. Brigham knocked down a short jumper and then got a layup after a nice post entry from O’Connell. Elizabeth Wilson came off the bench and closed out the first half by burying a three after a nice Brigham skip pass and the Panthers raced into the locker room up 28-13.

“I thought we came out ready to play tonight,” said Leighton. “I thought our defense was really, really good. Brenna is a special player but we tried to make her work for every look she got.”

It looked like Franklin forgot its game in the locker room at halftime, as the Panthers managed only six points in the third quarter. Thankfully for the Panthers, they continued to play tough defense and allowed only nine on the other end.

McDonald scored six of her 19 in the third, including a defensive rebound that she turned into a coast-to-coast layup and that cut the lead down to nine. Wilson (nine points) again came up with a crucial basket to close out the quarter, as she nailed a big three that extended the lead back up to 12. She also added the first three points of the fourth to make it 37-22.

“She’s been a spark,” Leighton said of Wilson’s play in recent games. “Elizabeth’s always been a good shooter, but it’s her defense. She came in and got two stops and then knocked down that three. When you have kid who can come in and do both, we really have six starters at this point. She’s been clutch.”

The Redhawks would not go quietly. They knocked down three shots from deep in the fourth and got the lead to as little as eight points, 42-34, but the Panthers closed on an 11-4 run and knocked down 11-of-13 free throws over the final eight minutes to secure the victory and the title.

After Wilson scored the first three points, McDonald and Jenna Forman knocked down back-to-back threes to get the lead down to single digits. Brigham answered on the other end, scoring in the paint plus the foul. Point guard Delaney Ross hit a deep, straightaway three but Quinn got two off an O’Connell feed to put Franklin up 11.

Three straight, all at the line, got Natick within eight but Quinn returned the favor to set up O’Connell for a finish at the rim. Franklin scored its next nine points at the line, including four from Brigham and four from Quaile.

Leighton said, “I’m proud of kids. Before a year and a day ago, we had won zero sectional championships and to win two back-to-back is incredible.”

O’Connell added, “It feels great, but I want a state championship though. We are so focused. We’re still competing every time that we step on the floor and we want this.”

Franklin (24-0) will face West champion Minnechaug, which upset Springfield Central, in the state semifinal. The game’s date, time, and location are to be determined.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Finds Second Gear to Book Place in Final

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin junior guard Erin Quaile helped to shut down Holy Name’s star guards Jaini Edmonds and Grace O’Gara, as the Panthers advanced to the Div. 1 Central final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – At the end of the first quarter in Tuesday night’s Div. 1 Central semifinal at WPI’s Harrington Auditorium, Franklin coach John Leighton brought his undefeated team together and explained that even though the Panthers had just played one of their worst quarters of the season they only trailed by six and had plenty of time to rebound.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Holy Name is a tremendous team,” Leighton said after the game. “They came to play. I thought they got the jump on us in the first quarter, but at the end of the quarter we said okay that’s probably the worst quarter we’ve played in a very long time and we’re in the game.”

Things improved markedly in the second quarter to pull Franklin within one of Holy Name at the half and then the Panthers found their stride in the third quarter. After scoring 21 points in 16 minutes in the first half, Franklin poured in 21 points in the third quarter alone to turn a one-point deficit into a 13-point lead.

Thanks to that big third quarter, Franklin pulled out a 59-42 win over the Naps. It was the third win of the season for the Panthers against Holy Name and sends them back to the Central final for the second year in a row, this time to face Natick.

“I thought our kids calmed down and got over it and that says a lot about who they are, not panicking,” Leighton explained. “We got better looks, we moved the ball way better and got wide open shots.”

Everything started fine for the Panthers, as Erin Quaile (10 points and three steals) set up Olivia Quinn (nine points, six rebounds, and three blocks) for a jumper in the corner for the game’s first points. But, the 1-3-1 trapping zone that Holy Name threw at Franklin was causing problems. The ball almost never got into Ali Brigham in the post and the Panthers were turning it over on the perimeter.

The Naps scored six straight before Megan O’Connell (eight points and five rebounds) got Franklin’s second basket on a drive. Quinn added a basket off an Emma Sousa feed to make it 10-6, but Grace O’Gara got two more after a Tamia Nunes steal to put the Naps up six after one.

Franklin trailed by as many as eight and needed a spark on offense. Brigham got her first basket 50 seconds into the second quarter and then Quaile buried a three off a Kaleigh Houlihan inbounds pass to make it 14-11.

Nunes answered with a three on the other end but then Franklin went on an 8-0 run to grab the lead. Quinn found Brigham for a jumper, O’Connell hit two at the line, and Brigham grabbed an offensive rebound to tie it before Quinn hit a baseline jumper to make it 19-17. She answered a Holy Name basket with a put-back but the Naps scored three straight and went into halftime up 22-21.

In the second half, Franklin made sure that Brigham got touches on almost every possession. She scored plus a foul on an offensive rebound, posted up her defender on an inbound, and then added another three-point play on the glass. Brigham (nine rebounds and four blocks) scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the third.

Leighton said, “We actually tried to move the ball more and start skipping it. Once you skip it the zone has to widen out. In the first quarter they had 10 shoes inside the red paint on every possession. Once we knocked down a couple threes, at least moved the ball, they spread out and Ali was able to dive to the rim and it’s hard to stop her when she gets the ball there.”

The Panthers also used Brigham as a passer. As the Holy Name defense sank in to protect the paint, she was able to look over the top and her skip passes led to several open looks. Quaile drilled one and then on the next possession, so did Elizabeth Wilson (10 points).

“Ali did a really good job of reversing it to the open girl because they were collapsing in on her,” said Quaile. “If we can all score they can’t really just stop Ali. If they double in on Ali, everyone else around her can score too.”

Even when things broke down, Franklin found a way to score. Quaile was able to beat the shot clock buzzer with a jumper after getting stuck in possession on the wing with no open players around her. Quaile’s impact was felt even more acutely on the other end of the floor, where she showed off her tenacity, quick hands, and reading of the game to hold Holy Name star Jaini Edmonds to nine points.

“Shutting her down stops their whole offense,” Quaile explained. When asked about her strategy for trying to stop Edmonds, Quaile replied, “Just stay in front of her. If she can’t get the ball then obviously she can’t do anything but if she does get it just stay as close as I can and if she does blow by me then it helps having Ali, Liv, and Meg behind me to block it.”

Leighton was full of praise for his point guard. He said, “She’s such a unique kid. Jaini Edmonds is a legit DI stud and she ran her all over this gym. She made her work for everything and then she ran our offense. She’s not just a defensive stopper. She drove tonight, knocked down shots when we needed it, I thought she was the star of the game.”

The Naps only scored seven in the third, as Franklin dominated on both ends to build a 42-29 lead heading into the fourth. The teams traded baskets at the start of the quarter, with Brigham showing off her ability to score off the dribble and with a drop step move on the block and O’Connell finding a seam to the rim. Edmonds scored six of her nine in the fourth to try and keep it close.

As Franklin tried to use the clock and work the ball for good looks, Quinn set up Wilson for a jumper and Quaile continued to call her own number as she drove to the rim for two and a 16-point edge to sealed the win.

Franklin (23-0) will be back in the Central final on Friday night at Worcester State to face No. 8 seed Natick, which upset No. 2 seed Wachusett in overtime

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/28/20

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
D1 South

#8 Attleboro, 52 @ #1 Mansfield, 54 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

#10 Taunton, 53 @ #2 Brockton, 60 – FinalTaunton rallied to shrink an 18-point deficit down to three midway through the fourth quarter but the Tigers couldn’t get over the hump and fell on the road to Brockton. The Tigers struggled to get the offense going, trailing 19-8 after a quarter of play and 31-17 at halftime. The Boxers got off to a strong start in the third, pushing the advantage to 42-25 before Taunton closed on on a 15-3 run in under four minutes of play in the third quarter. Trailing 45-40 to start the final quarter, Taunton made it a one possession game at 49-46 but Brockton answered with a quick 5-0 burst to stay ahead. Junior Tyler Stewart had a team-high 13 points, sophomore Trent Santos added 11 points, and junior Josh Lopes finished with nine points.

D2 Central
#4 Milford, 61 vs. #5 Westboro, 60 – FinalMilford junior Jordan Darling hit a free throw with 10.5 seconds left to give the Hawks a four point cushion, and it proved to be the winning basket as the Rangers hit a three at the buzzer to make it a one-point game. The Hawks led after one quarter of action (16-13) and at halftime (27-23), even pushing the lead to as much as seven in the third before Westboro stormed back with a 10-0 surge to take a 41-40 lead after three quarters. But the Hawks won the fourth quarter with Darling leading the way, including a three-pointer that gave the Hawks a seven-point cushion with a minute to go. Junior Ben Blanchard led the Hawks with a team-high 18 points, including a third of Milford’s nine three-pointers. Colby Pires (16 points) also had three three-pointers in the win while Darling finished with 15 points. Milford advances to the D2 Central Semifinals and will take on #8 Hopkinton (11-10) on Tuesday, March 3rd at 7:45 at Clark University.

Girls Basketball
D1 Central

#1 Franklin, 85 vs. #8 Framingham, 37 – FinalFranklin was ruthless in its opening round playoff game, opening its Central title defense with a 48-point victory. Ali Brigham scored a game-high 29 and passed Kelly Meredith (1,632 points) to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. Olivia Quinn added 18, Megan O’Connell had 12, and Stefany Padula scored 11. The Panthers will face Holy Name in the Central semifinal on Tuesday night at 7:45 at WPI. Franklin won both meetings with the Naps in the regular season.

D2 South
#2 Foxboro, 56 vs. #7 Pembroke, 43 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Boys Hockey
D3 South

#7 Foxboro, 4 vs. #10 Abington, 0 – Final

Player of the Week: Ali Brigham, Franklin Basketball

Ali Brigham
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Franklin senior Ali Brigham has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Feb. 9 through Feb. 15. Brigham is the 21st player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2019-20 school year and the 10th for the winter season.

Brigham, the reigning Hockomock League MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, powered Franklin to another dominant week, as the Panthers closed out a perfect run through league play and made a statement with a big win against fellow Div. 1 state title contender Bridgewater-Raynham. In the process, Brigham has closed in on 1,600 career points, putting her in range to pass Kelly Meredith’s school scoring record (male or female) of 1,632.

“Ali has transformed our program,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “She is a special athlete who draws the attention of every opponent. Yet, she welcomes the challenge. Ali has looked out of double teams to create offense through her teammates. As a coach it is very rewarding to have a player of Ali’s caliber who is always seeking to improve.”

The week started with the Panthers clinching the outright Kelley-Rex division title by sweeping the season series with Oliver Ames. Brigham led all scorers in the game with 22 points. Two days later, Franklin completed a 16-0 league campaign with another big win against Attleboro. Brigham was dominant on Thursday, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the first half alone, on her way to 28, 15, and five blocks.

On Saturday night, Brigham and the Panthers made a statement with a 17-point win against B-R in the opening round of the Comcast Classic. The George Washington-commit rose to the challenge and scored 19 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in the win. Coming into this week, Brigham was the league’s leading scorer at more than 20 points per game for the unbeaten (19-0) Panthers.

The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/17/20

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Attleboro, 71 vs. Tech Boston, 66 – FinalAttleboro used an 8-0 surge at the end of the third quarter to take the lead back, Jason Weir hit a pair of big three pointers in the final quarter, and Bryant Ciccio went 7-for-8 at the line to help the Bombardiers secure a win over Tech Boston. Attleboro led 16-15 after one and 32-31 at halftime before Tech Boston took a lead late in the third. Justin Daniels hit a three, Tim Callahan hit two from downtown, and Qualeem Charles had five of his 17 in the third to help Attleboro take a 48-45 lead entering the fourth. Weir finished with 12 points and Ciccio had a game-high 25 points, going 9-for-10 from the line overall, hitting four three-pointers in the first quarter.

Canton, 54 @ Bishop Feehan, 59 – FinalCanton rallied to get within striking distance in the fourth quarter but Bishop Feehan iced the game at the free throw line to get the win in the Bulldogs’ season finale. After a close first quarter (9-8), the Shamrocks created a nine-point advantage (24-15) at halftime, a lead they carried into the fourth (38-29). Nick Cushman (12 points) hit a pair of threes in the fourth while Eric Mischler (17 points), Will Keefe, and Matt Giglio each hit one, and Robbie Gallery added four of his 12 in the final frame, but the Shamrocks made just enough of their chances from the line to get the win.

Foxboro, 82 vs. Holliston, 40 – FinalFoxboro’s offense poured in 28 points in the first quarter and never looked back in a big win over Holliston. The Warriors built a 46-11 halftime lead with 10 players getting into the scoring column over the first 16 minutes. Senior Brandon Borde scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the opening quarter while Donald Rogers had nine of his 11 points in the same frame. Freshman Alex Penders added a career-high nine points and sophomore Dylan Gordon had eight points. Foxboro will play Randolph in the tournament final on Tuesday at 4:30.

King Philip, 80 @ Somerset-Berkley, 60 – FinalClick here for a photo gallery from this game – King Philip closed the first half on a 12-0 run to create the separation it needed to get the win and punch its ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2015. Senior Alex Fritz (five assists) scored 10 of his game-high 26 points in the second while Andrew McKinney (eight rebounds) had a big second half, netting 11 of his 16 points. Tommy Donahue added 12 points and nine rebounds and Robert Jarest finished with 11 points and four rebounds for KP, who will play Hanover in the tournament final on Wednesday at 6:30.

Mansfield, 63 vs. Needham, 58 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Milford, 67 vs. Tantasqua, 56 – FinalMilford senior Colby Pires poured in a career-high 41 points to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a win at home over Tantasqua. Pires got off to a hot start, hitting three three-pointers in the first, finishing with 14 points in the frame. He added eight more in the second and then went back to the three-point line in the third, hitting a trio of three-pointers again. He closed strong with 10 points in the fourth. Jordan Darling added seven of his nine points in the fourth to help the Hawks close the win out.

Sharon, 47 vs. Dedham, 59 – FinalClick here for a photo gallery from this gameSharon got within eight in the second half but couldn’t overcome a slow first half against Dedham in the final game of the season. The Eagles were limited to eight points in the first and five in the second, going into halftime down 29-13. A strong start to the third capped by a bucket from Aidan Kane (nine points, five rebounds) made it 33-25 but Dedham finished the quarter with a 7-3 burst to push the lead back to double-digits. Andrew Burton led the Eagles with 11 points and four rebounds while Sam Cohen chipped in with eight points.

Girls Basketball
Franklin, 73 vs. Cathedral, 56 – FinalFranklin closed out a perfect regular season with its second straight 17-point win against a highly-ranked opponent at the Comcast Classic. Ali Brigham scored 16 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, but she also got plenty of help, as Franklin got another strong team effort in the win. Megan O’Connell scored 16 points and Olivia Quinn had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Canton, 66 vs. Nauset, 50 – FinalThe Bulldogs earned an impressive win against a potential playoff opponent and split the season series with the Warriors. Canton led 17-10 after one quarter, extended the lead to 13 by halftime, and by 16 heading into the fourth. Kiara Cerruti paced the offense with 16 points, while Fay and Sydney Gallery each scored 14 points. Fay added six assists and eight rebounds. Kayla Albert had a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds and Samya DaSilva finished with eight points and 10 boards.

Foxboro, 60 vs. Scituate, 48 – FinalFoxboro won the opening game of the Warrior Classic to advance to tomorrow’s championship. Katelyn Mollica knocked down six three-pointers and scored 24 to lead the Warriors. Yara Fawaz had 10 points, Shakirah Ketant had nine, and Lizzy Davis added eight in the win.

Mansfield, 47 vs. Bishop Feehan, 44 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Mansfield rallied from eight points down heading into the fourth, outscoring Feehan 18-7 over the final eight minutes to grab the win in the semifinal of the Roundball Classic. Kayla Vine scored nine of her 11 points in the fourth, including 7-of-8 at the line, and had what turned out to be the game-winning free throw. Ashley Santos had a game-high 17 points, including six in the fourth quarter, and Kelly Doherty knocked down a pair of clutch free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win. Feehan jumped out to a 15-10 lead after one, but the Hornets held the visitors to only four points in the seconds. A last second bucket put Feehan up by one at half and the Shamrocks came out of the break with 18 points in the third to extend the lead to eight. Santos scored four points in the third to try and keep Mansfield close and Allison Prentis knocked down a clutch three. Sarah Dooling added six points and seven rebounds in the win.

Taunton, 65 @ Durfee, 47 – Final The Tigers went on the road and picked up their fifth win of the season. Youth was served for Taunton, with freshman Kameron St. Pierre and eighth grader Sam Lincoln continuing their impressive rookie campaigns on varsity by leading the team with 16 points apiece. Junior Jaelyn Fernandez also got into double digits with 11 points. Taunton closes out its season at home against New Bedford on Wednesday.

Boys Hockey
Canton, 4 vs. Boston Latin, 2 – Final

Foxboro, 3 vs. East Bridgewater, 0 – Final

King Philip, 3 vs. Norwood, 3 – FinalKing Philip erased a 2-1 deficit to take a third period lead but the Mustangs of Norwood scored with less than a minute left to steal a point from the Warriors. Nolan Feyler gave the Warriors a 1-0 first period lead before Norwood responded with a pair of second half goals to seize a 2-1 advantage. Aidan Boulger made it 2-2 with just under two minutes to go in the second and Feyler netted his second just under six minutes into the third to put KP ahead 3-2. With the goalie pulled, Norwood tied the game with 17 seconds left to make it 3-3.

Oliver Ames, 2 vs. Westwood, 3 – Final

Taunton, 3 @ Auburn, 6 – Final

Girls Hockey
Canton, 3 vs. Barnstable, 0 – FinalOlivia Maffeo, Lizzie Tassinari, and Payton McDonough each scored as the Bulldogs skated to a win over Barnstable. Freshman Carolyn Durand recorded her 12th shutout of the season in net.

King Philip, 3 vs. Walpole, 0 – Final