Franklin Puts Scare Into Feehan Before Bowing Out

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin’s Katie Peterson (12) and Chloe Fales (5) scramble to cause a tie up in the first half of the D1 Sweet Sixteen game at Bishop Feehan. (Josh Perry/

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – On the road against the No. 2 seed, Franklin (18-5) went into Monday night’s Div. 1 Sweet Sixteen game wanting to prove that it can compete with one of the state’s best. To accomplish that goal, the Panthers were going to need to play some of their best basketball of the season.

In front of a packed, raucous gym, they did just that.

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Franklin stormed out of the gates, building a nine-point lead at the end of the first quarter. Bishop Feehan rallied to cut the lead to just one by halftime and grabbed a lead heading to the fourth quarter, but the Shamrocks weren’t able to put the game away until the final minute, going 13-of-18 at the line in the fourth to pull out a 69-61 victory.

“I have nothing but pride,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “I’m so happy with the way they played. I know the final score is what it is, but we went out and played our best basketball and that’s all you can ask them to do.”

The first quarter matched the energy in the gym. Both teams were flying up and down the court, and the Panthers looked equal to Feehan’s typical fast-paced, high-pressure style. Samantha Reale (20 points and nine rebounds) was the lone Shamrock that Franklin was struggling to stop. The North Attleboro native scored 11 of Feehan’s 15 points in the first, consistently getting to the rim and putting the visitors in early foul trouble.

Reale put Feehan ahead 11-6 with an and-one, but Franklin came right back. A nice skip pass found Sasha Tracey (six points, all in the first) open for a three from the wing. Katie Peterson then got into the lane and dropped off a nice pass for Lizzy Newman (eight points and five rebounds) to score, plus the foul.

Caelyn Leonard (seven points) followed with a three on a kick-out by Tracey to extend the Franklin lead to 17-12. A Reale three closed the gap back down to three points, but the Panthers scored the final six of the quarter to build an early cushion. Peterson (game-high 24 points) twice found a seam down the middle for layups and she dished out an assist to Leonard for a bucket as well.

“Across the board, I thought defensively we did some amazing things at times,” Leighton said of his team’s effort. “They’re a great shooting team, but we forced them to reverse it way more than they wanted and that’s just team defense. That’s not an individual thing, that’s a whole team thing.”

It was always going to be hard to maintain that pace against a team of Feehan’s caliber and fouls started to add up in the second to slow down Franklin’s momentum.

“Not only are they good, but they’re really quick,” Leighton said about his team getting into the double bonus early in the second. “They put us in some hard spots, rotationally, and you just have to learn to play through it. As the game went on, we did better.”

Chloe Fales (nine points) scored on a reverse to keep Franklin ahead by eight, but Charlotte Adams-Lopez drilled a deep three to slice the deficit to just two. Newman answered with a line drive three on the other end and Peterson once again got to the rim for a layup that made it 33-28.

In the closing seconds of the half, Reale rimmed out a halfcourt three, but Mary Daley hustled to secure the rebound and lay it in at the buzzer. It was her only basket of the night and made it 33-32 going into the locker room.

The play electrified the Feehan faithful and the momentum seemed to carry over into the third quarter, as Julia Webster came out and scored plus a foul to put Feehan in front. From there, Madelyn Steel took over for the hosts. With all the attention going to Reale, the North Attleboro native caught fire from deep, burying four three-pointers in the quarter.

Franklin continued to hang around. Peterson continued to find her way to the basket, Bridget Leo had a nice drive for two, and Fales drilled a big three that made it 46-44. Feehan went on an 8-1 run from there and it looked like the home team was suddenly in full control. Peterson wasn’t ready to let the game slip. She swished a halfcourt three at the buzzer to pull the Panthers within six going to the fourth.

“UMass’ gain is our loss,” Leighton said about Peterson, who is committed to play lacrosse for the Minutemen next year. “She’s done everything we’ve ever asked of her. Twenty-four points and at no point was I like wow she’s taking every shot, but it was just her shots were falling. She works so hard and the effort tonight was great.”

Feehan had only one made field goal in the fourth quarter, but the Shamrocks continued to manufacture points at the line. Peterson closed the gap back to six, taking a nice pass from Newman and finishing with a reverse, and then added a pair at the line as well. Three Feehan free throws pushed the deficit back to seven, but Newman again made a nice pass to set up Leonard for a bucket.

The Shamrocks continued to keep the visitors at arm’s length. Newman hustled to grab an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Peterson for a three that made it 67-61 in the final minute, but there wasn’t enough time for a comeback and Reale sealed the victory with two more from the line.

Leighton was full of praise for his team, regardless of the final score. He said, “It’s hard to have it end, but if it’s going to end then I’d rather have it end with a game like this against a team like that.”

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Allen Ignites Franklin In Playoff Win Over Weymouth

Franklin boys basketball Justin Allen
Franklin senior Justin Allen sinks one of his eight three-pointers on his way to a career-high 25 points in a win over Weymouth. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — As Franklin prepared all week to go against Weymouth’s aggressive zone defense, the Panthers knew they’d have some looks from outside.

Senior Justin Allen certainly took advantage of that opportunity.

Allen was nearly flawless as poured in a career-high 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting from three-point land, leading the third-seeded Panthers to a hard-fought 61-49 win over #30 Weymouth in a Division 1 Round of 32 game.

“I just hit the open shots, my teammates found me and once I see a couple go in, that basket just gets bigger,” Allen said. “With them in a zone, it just opens things up for us and we have great creators like Ben Harvey and Bradley [Herndon], and everyone else too. They were finding me and I was just knocking down shots.

“We have a bunch of great shooters on this team and that helps me out because they can’t just focus on me. We’ve got guys like Geino [Scaringello], Andrew O’Neill, and Caden Sullivan who can really just knock down threes so you can’t focus on one guy, that’s what is so special about this team.”

Allen and the Panthers wasted little time finding the range against the Wildcats’ 1-3-1 zone. He sank a pair of threes in the opening eight minutes — the first bucket of the game off of a pass from O’Neill (eight points, seven rebounds, four assists) and another from the corner that gave the hosts their first double-digit advantage of the game.

Junior Sean O’Leary (20 points, six rebounds) also dropped in a pair of threes while O’Neill had another for a total of five in the first quarter to help Franklin set the tone, and take the lead (19-10).

Franklin went scoreless for nearly three minutes to start the second quarter but Allen ignited the offense when he hit a three with five minutes to go in the half. His second three of the quarter came just 30 seconds later after Ben Harvey (six points, three rebounds) sliced into the zone before kicking it back out. Allen assisted O’Leary the next trip and then O’Leary returned the favor one trip later, finding Allen open in the corner.

“We’ve really been clicking recently,” Allen said, “That Mansfield loss was a wake-up call for us. We’ve been going really hard in practice and guys know what time of year it is and nothing is guaranteed, no one is going to hand it to us. Weymouth is the 30-seed but that was a tough game, that was a full 32 minutes of competing.”

After hitting his first five threes, Allen went up for a heat check as he quickly launched a deep three off a pass from Harvey and it was pure to extend the lead to 33-21 with two minutes left in the first half. A putback from Harvey inside the final minute gave Franklin a 35-26 halftime lead.

“Three hard days of working against aggressive zone defense,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely on preparing for the game. “We spent so much time focusing on the 1-3-1 or diamond-and-one, whatever you want to call it. We thought we’d see a lot of zone and then we did a good job getting Justin a lot of good looks. Even other guys got really good looks but just didn’t hit like they usually do. That was a full team win because they gave an unbelievable effort in practice this week simulating their defense.”

The three-point barrage slowed some in the second half but the four triples that the Panthers did hit were timely. O’Neill opened the second half with one and the Panthers were able to attack the basket against Weymouth’s defense, which switched to man-to-man.

Harvey had four straight, including a traditional three-point play, and O’Leary cleaned up his own miss plus the foul. With success getting to the rim, Allen found himself open in the corner and his quick release hit nothing but net, his seventh straight make.

“When they got up on us, and they started denying Justin the ball, we have guys like Ben, O’Leary, and [Bradley] Herndon that can really get downhill and find themselves in the paint, and not only do they get in there, they are willing passers,” Neely said. “Even if you don’t score in there, the ability to get downhill and make the defense rotate. Credit to [Weymouth], they play really hard and made us battle the whole second half.”

Although Allen missed his next three on a heat check, the Panthers carried a 48-36 lead into the final quarter. Sophomore Caden Sullivan drained a three off a pass from Herndon (six rebounds, four assists) off of a set play and the Panthers had their biggest lead at 51-38. The Wildcats clawed back within eight twice but Allen’s eighth and final triple of the game midway through the fourth restored the double-digit advantage and Franklin stayed in front down the stretch.

While Allen was red-hot from three-point, the Panthers had some inconsistencies in the offense throughout the night. But old reliable — Franklin’s defense — stayed steady all night and held the Wildcats under 50 points.

“That’s the beauty of what we’ve done here for a while is the ability to get stops and weather those storms of poor shooting or lack of finishing, we can get through those when we have guys like Harvey playing defense on [Edric Louissaint] and O’Neill on [Gill] Dolan, who had 33 points in a game earlier this year. To be able to shut those primary options down and make other guys score, that’s a great job by those two and everyone else too.”

Franklin boys basketball (19-1) will host #14 Brockton, who took down Methuen, 66-49, in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at 6:00.

Balanced Attack Pushes Panthers Past Newton South

Franklin girls basketball Chloe Fales
Franklin sophomore Chloe Fales goes up for a layup in the second half against Newton South. (Ryan Lanigan/
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — Franklin battled against foul trouble throughout the first half and couldn’t quite shake the 18th-seeded Lions of Newton South.

But with its full complement of players back in the mix in the second half, the 15th-seeded Panthers proved to have too many weapons.

Franklin had four players score in double figures and had a big second half offensively to land a 62-50 win over the Lions, advancing to the Round of 16.

“I thought we got in bad foul trouble early in the game and didn’t rebound great,” said Franklin head coach John Leighton. “When we got Lizzy [Newman] back we were able to use our height advantage a little more and got them to spread out [defensively] and then we could score in multiple ways. Mainly I thought it was our defense that improved and that was the difference.”

Newman had two fouls in the opening quarter and was forced to the bench for the rest of the half. The Panthers had seven team fouls before the second quarter started, meaning the Lions would be in the bonus for the rest of the first half.

Franklin came close to pulling away a couple of times, a quick 9-0 run to start the game that eventually turned into a 22-14 in the second quarter as Katie Peterson (15 points, six rebounds) sandwiched a pair of buckets down low around a three from Elle Bonacci (five points, four rebounds, three assists) but South closed on a 9-2 run in the last three minutes to make it a one-point contest, 24-23, at the half.

Newman (19 points, 10 rebounds) made her presence felt immediately to start the second half, cleaning up a miss for a putback. Bridget Leo (12 points, six assists) had a nice feed to Newman for a triple, and then after coming up with a steal, found Newman again for a traditional three-point play. Peterson linked up with Newman down low for two, and Newman cleaned up her own miss for two more.

“Lizzy played a great game, having her back really opened things up, having multiple tall girls out there allowed us to move some things around,” Leighton said. “You saw Chloe drive more, Bridget started to drive more, and it really allows everyone else to do more.”

A free throw from Sasha Tracey preceded a bucket from Peterson to extend the lead to nine (42-33) but Newton South’s Maddy Genser drove to the basket for a late field goal to close the gap to seven going into the fourth.

The Lions twice cut it to five early in the fourth quarter but a putback from sophomore Chloe Fales (10 points, five rebounds) and a three from Newman (off a nice extra pass from Bonacci) moved the lead back to seven. After a brief scoreless stretch, senior Caelyn Leonard had a nice pass to set up Leo for a triple and the lead finally hit double-digits, 52-42 with just under four minutes to play.

“It’s everyone contributing in the playoffs,” Leighton said. “It’s not going to be pretty, it’s never how you draw it up so I was really proud of the girls. Playoff basketball is about winning those energy plays. I thought in the first half Norah [MacCallum] came in and gave us some really good defense and then Elle came in and gave us some points right away, and had that great assist to Katie on the back door cut.”

Franklin girls basketball (17-4) will travel to #2 Bishop Feehan (17-4) for a Division 1 Round of 16 game, which is currently scheduled for Monday at 6:30.

Panthers Claw Past Attleboro With Strong Finish

Franklin boys basketball Sean O'Leary
Franklin junior Sean O’Leary celebrates with teammates after hitting a crucial three-pointer late in the fourth quarter at Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/
 ATTLEBORO, Mass. — For three and a half quarters, Attleboro controlled the tempo of the game and had visiting Franklin right where they wanted them.

The Bombardiers slowed the game down in an effort to limit how many possessions the Panthers had, and it was working as sophomore Hayden Crowley’s third three-pointer of the game had Attleboro up 30-25 with just six minutes to go.

But in crunch time, Franklin junior Sean O’Leary showed why he’s been the best player in the Hockomock League this season.

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The Panthers rattled off a 12-0 run in a three-minute span, and O’Leary was directly involved in each bucket. He had a pair of traditional three-point plays, assisted on a three from senior Justin Allen after Attleboro brought a double team, and then drained a corner three off a tremendous effort play from senior Ben Harvey for a 37-30 lead.

Attleboro made a final push as Justin Hanrahan scored back-to-back buckets off turnovers and Michael Beverly scored down low with a minute to go to cut the deficit to just one.

Franklin quickly got the ball back to O’Leary (17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) in the post, and when the Bombardiers brought help, he quickly found Allen (12 points) wide open and the senior sank his fourth triple of the game to clinch a 41-36 win.

“Going into the fourth, it was tied so we just said we have to beat them in an eight-minute game,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “We had to forget about the first three quarters and just win that one. It didn’t have to be pretty, just wanted to get the win and that’s what happened.

“The two biggest plays were the Harvey save to O’Leary for three, and then O’Leary finding Allen for the open three with under a minute to go. We know Sean is going to get a lot of attention, and we still need to get him the ball more. I thought when things weren’t going our way, we weren’t getting him the ball. And if teams want to double him, we have the shooting to punish teams.”

For almost the entire first half and the majority of the second, Attleboro used at least 25 seconds of the shot clock before looking for a shot. And the Bombardiers only allowed three offensive rebounds to the Panthers, who have torched opponents this season with their high-tempo offense.

“We did a pretty good job of running some clock on offense and trying to get some good shots,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought there were a couple we left out there in both halves. We wanted to limit their possessions and I think we did a pretty decent job at that. They sped us up at the end and got some turnovers, which ended up being a big factor.

“We wanted to control the tempo. We sacrificed some chances at offensive rebounding because we wanted to get back on defense. We probably had some slips that we didn’t hit early and then we had too many turnovers. When you limit how many possessions you have, you can’t have those turnovers and that hurt us.”

The Bombardiers made their intent known early as they only had nine field goal attempts in the first eight minutes, including one second-chance bucket. On the flip side, Franklin only had 10 chances from the floor, including a pair of second-chance points.

The result was an 8-6 lead for the Panthers, and not much changed over the next eight minutes. Franklin was once again limited to eight shots from the floor. While Attleboro controlled the tempo, they couldn’t find a rhythm either as they went without a three-pointer in the first two quarters.

Allen had a steal and a layup midway through the quarter but the Panthers would only score once more (a layup from Bradley Herndon) over the final four minutes, while the Bombardiers closed the gap with a strong take from Neo Franco (10 points, 6 rebounds), a three-point play from freshman Connor Houle, and another tough take from Franco to get with 17-13 at the break.

“Credit to Attleboro, they had a gameplan of slowing us down for as long as possible and stick around, and they certainly did,” Neely said. “It was a tough game. I’m actually glad we got that kind of challenge because we had to make some tough plays.”

Attleboro was a bit more active on the offensive end to start the second half, opening the third quarter with a 10-3 run. Jaiden Outland had an early late and Crowley (9 points) sandwiched a pair of threes — the first two triples from the Bombardiers — around a layup from Franco to surge ahead 23-20.

Franklin’s Ben Harvey and Franco traded buckets before a traditional three-point play from O’Leary with under a minute to go made it 25-25 going into the fourth quarter.

Franco opened the fourth with a bucket and Crowley sank another three as Attleboro took a 30-25 lead with six minutes to go. The Panthers, who had started to double-team late in the third quarter, extended their defensive pressure to full court in the fourth quarter.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After O’Leary’s first traditional three-point play, Franklin’s press resulted in a thrown away pass and the Panthers cashed in with a triple from Allen. Another Attleboro turnover led to another three-point play for O’Leary, putting the Bombardiers ahead for good.

“I thought we played well on him all night long but he’s one of the better players in this league, and he showed it,” Houle said of O’Leary. “They went to him and he made the plays. It wasn’t just him scoring either, he had a couple of nice passes to Allen.”

Franklin boys basketball (14-1 Hockomock, 16-1 overall) will conclude its league slate on Friday on the road at Milford while Attleboro (8-7, 11-8) is home again against rival North Attleboro.