Franklin Drops Heartbreaker To St. John’s In D1C Final

Franklin boys basetball
Franklin’s Thomas Gasbarro takes a shot in front of his bench in the D1 Central Final. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Contributor

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Franklin and St. John’s Shrewsbury boys basketball teams are no stranger to each other, squaring off in the state tournament for the fifth time in the last seven years.

And just like the times before it, it came down to the wire.

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Behind a pair of free throws from sophomore TJ Power with 4.9 seconds left, top-seeded St. John’s squeaked out a 56-55 win over the sixth-seeded Panthers in the D1 Central Final.

“Franklin’s got a heck of a team, they’re well-coached, but we’re not bad either,” St John’s coach Bob Foley said after the Pioneers win.

With St John’s leading 52-51 with just over two minutes left to play, Franklin senior Chris Edgehill sunk a free throw to tie the game up, but Power hit a turnaround jumper on the other end to give St. John’s a 54-52 edge.

On Franklin’s ensuing possession, junior Declan Walmsley (eight points, three rebounds) found senior Brayden Sullivan in the corner and the senior knocked down a three to put the Panthers up 55-54. Sullivan then made an outstanding defensive play on the other end to force a backcourt violation by St. John’s.

Franklin couldn’t get a basket on their next possession, but they forced a St. John’s miss to get the ball back with under 30 seconds left. Franklin got to the line with 24.9 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one.

With 4.9 seconds left, Power got fouled shooting from the corner on what at first looked like a three-point attempt, but after some initial discussion from the officials, it was ruled he was inside the three-point line. He made both free throws to put St. John’s up 56-55, and Franklin was unable to score despite having two looks at the basket in the final four seconds.

Both teams got off to a cold start, with neither team in double digits as Franklin led 9-8 after the first quarter on the strength of seven points from Edgehill (game-high 20 points), including a three right before the first-quarter buzzer.

The offenses got going in the second, as Franklin hit five threes in the frame to take a 29-25 lead into the half. St John’s came out hot to start the second half, as Charles Daniels (eight points, 11 rebounds) scored four quick points to tie the game.

Power went 1-2 at the stripe to cap a 5-0 St. John’s run, but Edgehill scored down the other end to put Franklin back on top. After a Malakhi Knight bucket, Edgehill once again found the bottom of the net to put Franklin up 33-32.

A 9-2 St John’s run gave them a 41-35 lead, but Edgehill found Thomas Gasbarro (seven points, five rebounds) and then Walmsley hit a triple to g get Franklin within a point at 41-40.

A Power bucket with just over a minute left in the quarter would be the last basket of the third quarter, with the Pioneers holding onto a 43-40 lead.

The fourth quarter was tight throughout, with the largest lead being at 50-46 for St. John’s with over four minutes to go. Down four, Edgehill sparked Franklin with a three-pointer and then matched a Charles Daniel basket with one of his own before tying the game up at the stripe.

“He’s our all-time leading scorer, he’s been a captain for two years, he’s a guy that always shows up in moments like this, there’s never been a tournament game I don’t think Edgehill hasn’t shown up and not been ready to go and really led us along the way and made all kinds of tough shots,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We’ve had such an unbelievable four years together, it’s gonna be weird going to a Franklin practice or game and not see Chris Edgehill running around out there, it’s been quite a run.”

Along with Edgehill, Franklin graduates Andrew Cunningham, Thomas Gasbarro, Steven Karayan, Matt Lazarek, Brayden Sullivan, and Jack Rudolph from this year’s team.

“This senior class is one of the best senior classes I’ve had since being at Franklin, if not the best,” Neely said. “Basketball players aside, the people that go through practices every day, the type of attitude they brought to practices every day, there was a never that time where you look at it and you say, hey somebody’s being whatever or you have to deal with an attitude problem or not, there’s none of that going on, there’s always just positive people looking to get better for Franklin and nobody looking for themselves…love those guys.”

With the loss, Franklin finishes the season at 18-6. St. John’s will play Springfield Central in the state semi-finals.

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Attleboro Starts, Finishes Strong In Win Over Franklin

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio
Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio goes up for a shot against Franklin’s Andrew Cunningham in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Behind a blazing start and a strong finish, the Attleboro boys basketball team earned a crucial division win on the road in Franklin on Friday night.

Senior Bryant Ciccio ignited the Bombardiers from the start, scoring half of Attleboro’s 22 first quarter points, and the visitors connected on four three-pointers in the opening quarter to build a lead they would never relinquish.

And to finish, it was a 12-2 run that spanned the first six minutes of the fourth quarter that propelled the Bombardiers to a 63-51 decision on the road.

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“I think the biggest thing about tonight was that we stuck to the game plan,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We weren’t just shooting on the first available shot, we really tried to get some paint shots. We didn’t get a lot but I think working the clock, making them work defensively, and looking to see where we had opportunities on skips and seals, I think that helped us.

“And Bryant coming out and really feeling it early was a spark for us. And defensively I thought we played pretty well.”

In the first, Ciccio (21 points, four rebounds, four assists) hit his first two shots, including one triple, and later in the frame hit a pair of three-pointers inside a 30-second span, the latter coming in transition that put the visitors ahead 17-8. Tim Callahan (nine points) added the other triple to give the Bombarders a 22-13 lead after eight minutes.

And in the fourth, holding a 48-41 advantage to start, the Bombardiers clamped down defensively to limit the hosts to just one made field goal over six minutes to push the lead to 60-43. Senior Qualeem Charles (10 points, 10 rebounds) got half of his points in the span and senior Jason Weir (career-high 17 points, seven rebounds) sank one of his four trifectas to give the Bombardiers breathing room.

“Jason played really well, he played within himself,” Houle said. “He’s the type of player that can play inside or outside and he’s definitely shooting the ball a lot better, he’s confident in himself. He didn’t play last year (injury) so it’s taken a little while but I’m really proud of his efforts because he’s stuck with it, he continues to battle. He’s such a competitor and it was a big night for him.

“I thought throughout the game, everyone at some point stepped up. I thought [Franklin] did a great job on Q, making him work for everything but he had a couple of key possessions in the fourth that were big for us. I don’t think it was one guy consistently but I thought different guys stepped up for us at different times and it was a really solid win against a very good team at Franklin.”

Charles started the late run off of a feed from Nick McMahon (six rebounds, four assists), who found Callahan for a bucket two plays later. Ciccio had a rare miss but Charles gobbled up the rebound and muscled through a foul to put it back in as the Bombardiers surged to a 54-43 lead with 5:15 to play.

After a bit of a lull from both sides, Attleboro got Charles the ball again and he was fouled, sinking one of two from the line. Callahan came up with a steal, Ciccio drove to the basket to collapse the defense and found Weir, who drained a three. Ciccio added two free throws with two minutes left to make it 60-43.

While Franklin entered the fourth having success from deep (6-for-18), the Panthers went ice cold from downtown for the majority of the final quarter. Jack Rudolph (14 points, four rebounds, five assists) had the Panthers’ lone bucket of the stretch with a nice take to the basket that made it 50-43 at the time.

After that, the Panthers missed on five straight three-pointers, had a turnover, and then missed two more from downtown.

“They came out hot in the first and that was a tough way to start the game, falling behind,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Ciccio was lights out, he was doing everything out there, he’s an awesome player. And at the end, I think our offense got a little stagnant and we started to force it a little bit. We don’t have the luxury to go out there and play one-on-one basketball, that’s not what we’ve been about. When we’ve been successful, it’s been a team effort, it’s been extra passes, ball reveals, screening for each other, and taking pride in all of those little details.










“Tonight, I thought we got away from those details in those big moments. It felt like we tried to get it all back in one basket. We got it down to five in the third but I thought it was a lot of those little things. I didn’t think we executed our plan very well, I didn’t think we made them earn it as much tonight. I’m not taking anything away from [Attleboro], they played great but when you’re trying to get back into a game, you can’t have lapses on those little moments.”

Franklin surged in each the second and third quarters to close the gap, but could never quite get over the hump. The only time the Panthers led in the game was after Steven Karayan (13 points) opened the game with a three-pointer.

In the second, Declan Walmsley converted through the contact after a steal from Brayden Sullivan. Rudolph sank a three-pointer and Matt Lazarek had an open layup as the Panthers closed the gap to 25-20. After a free throw from Charles, Karayan hit another three to make it a three-point game.

But Ciccio and Justin Daniels each converted from deep to give Attleboro a 32-25 lead at halftime.

Franklin closed the gap to three early in the third on a steal from Lazarek and layup from Chris Edgehill. Weir and Edgehill traded three-pointers but a steal from Charles led to a fast break for Ciccio and layup from Callahan.

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Sullivan got around his man to make it a three-point game again, but once more Attleboro answered with Ciccio connecting from downtown. Weir hit another three and Attleboro took advantage of two offensive rebounds from Weir and Callahan to push the lead to 48-41 after three.

“Both teams worked really hard,” Houle said. “They seemed to take more threes in the fourth than we did, and they are a good shooting team. It’s not like we were giving them the threes, but fortunately, they weren’t hitting them and we were getting some key box-outs and rebounds.”

Attleboro boys basketball (9-1 Hock, 11-2 overall) remains in a first-place tie with Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex with six games to go. The Bombardiers will host Davenport-leading Milford on Tuesday. Franklin (8-2, 11-2) will host Sharon on the same night.

Panthers Pull Away From KP Behind Strong Defense

Franklin boys basketball Chris Edgehill
Franklin senior Chris Edgehill goes up for a shot in the second half against King Philip’s Alex Fritz. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – After struggling against a tough Franklin defense for the first two quarters, the King Philip offense found its rhythm early in the second half.

The Warriors hit three of their first five shots from the floor after being limited to just five total field goals in the first half. And the visiting Panthers had three empty trips and a fourth end in a turnover. Suddenly, Franklin’s double-digit lead was down to just six at 29-23.

Panthers’ coach CJ Neely, who earned his 100th win with Franklin, quickly called a timeout and had a simple message for his squad.

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“Just relax,” Neely said of the message. “We just went back to the basics [out of the timeout] and we wanted to get them on their heels.”

And just like that, the Panthers’ defense from the first half was back. Senior Ryan Sullivan (13 points, three rebounds) came up with the steal on one end and senior Matt Lazarek finished off an easy layup after a nice pass from classmate Thomas Gasbarro.

Franklin used an 11-2 over the next three and a half minutes to regain its double-digit lead and never looked back to secure a 63-45 win over King Philip.

“We talked a lot about our defense at halftime and how proud we were with the number we had them at half,” Neely said. “We wanted to continue that obviously but we had some turnovers and they had a quick 7-0 run and all of a sudden they are right back in it. I didn’t think we were sharing the ball like we did during the preseason and I thought tonight all of our biggest baskets were on extra passes. Once the ball started moving, the offense started to click.”

KP senior Robert Jarest was the catalyst of the Warriors’ run, finishing off a layup and then sneaking in for a putback off of an offensive rebound. A three-pointer from senior Owen Conlin made it 29-23.

Franklin’s response featured an alert layup from Rudolph, a strong take from senior Chris Edgehill (21 points, five rebounds, three assists), a three from senior Steven Karayan (11 points), and another finish at the rim from Edgehill to make it 40-25 with 1:32 to play in the third.

“Franklin’s defensive intensity just stayed high and we couldn’t respond and keep up with it,” said second-year KP head coach Dave DeStefano. “We had a couple of turnovers and we lost the momentum that we had. Their defense is on another level, it’s really tough to match. The only time we were comfortably was right out of halftime, we started to play hard and do the things we are good at but we couldn’t maintain it.”

KP senior Andrew McKinney (six points, six rebounds) sank a pull up elbow jumper and junior Donte Barros came off the bench and finished off a layup through traffic plus the harm to get the Warriors within 10.

Edgehill and KP’s Chris Roy traded threes but another layup from Karayan and two technical foul free throws from Rudolph gave the Panthers a 47-33 edge after three.

Declan Walmsley and Brayden Sullivan each hit early fourth quarter three-pointers while KP countered with five points from Alex Fritz (11 points). But yet another three, this one from Karayan off a feed from Gasbarro, helped seal the deal. A three-point play from Rudolph and two each from Edgehill and junior Andrew Byfield helped push the lead to 20.

“I think shooting is one of our strengths this year, which is different from last year,” Neely said. Franklin shot 9-for-27 from three-point range. “We can really spread the floor out, and that’s something we talked about at halftime because we felt we had good shooters passing on open looks. That hurt the flow of our offense. We have a ton of confidence in our guys that can shoot, they just have to be ready to shoot.”

Early threes from Edgehill and Sullivan helped Franklin race out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, holding the Warriors off the scoreboard for over four minutes of action until Roy sank a triple. KP got within two on a three from Fritz but that was the only field goal for the KP senior as the Panthers made sure to give him plenty of attention defensively. Fritz also missed over five minutes in the second quarter due to foul trouble.

Fritz scored a career-high 36 points in KP’s season-opener. Sullivan was tasked with man-to-man defense on him, while Rudolph, Gasbarro, and senior Andrew Cunningham all saw him playing defense on him.

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“With a guy like that, it’s not a one-man operation defensively,” Neely said. “Brayden’s been pesky on a lot of guys to start the year but we knew it was going to have to be a team effort. I thought we made his shots difficult. He’s going to make some baskets, and some of the shots he makes are some of the highest level shots I’ve seen in the past couple of years so you just have to make it hard. I thought we did a good job of doing that.”

Franklin lead 14-9 after the first quarter but there wasn’t much rhythm in the second eight-minute frame. The Panthers went to the free throw line 18 times in the second quarter while KP made five trips. Edgehill and Byfield converted from down low early but the Panthers had just one more field goal over the final 6:40, hitting 9-of-18 free throws. Franklin led 29-16 at half.

Franklin boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Friday night in its home opener against Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) is also home, hosting Milford.