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.
“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.
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.