Franklin Drops Overtime Heartbreaker In State Semis

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin’s Megan O’Connell drives to the basket against Springfield Central in the D1 State Semifinal. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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WORCESTER, Mass. – Springfield Central is headed back to the MIAA D1 State Championship for the third straight year, but it wasn’t without a hell of a fight from the Franklin girls basketball team first.

The Panthers went toe-to-toe with the three-time West sectional champions, forcing overtime with a late bucket before bowing out of the tournament with a 64-57 loss at the hands of the Golden Eagles in the D1 State Semifinals.

“When you’re this close, you’re a game away, they are definitely disappointed,” said Franklin head coach John Leighton. “For the girls, I think in the next 24 hours, the sense of accomplishment will come back, but right now, it stinks. It’s raw because it just happened and was overtime. It’s one thing if you lose by 20, you know the season is done. But not here when you’re battling until the last 12 seconds. It’ll hurt tonight, but it’ll get better.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For the second straight game, junior Megan O’Connell scored in the final seconds, this time a layup with 6.1 seconds left to tie the game at 48-48 to force overtime.

“We have a lot of faith in her,” Leighton said of O’Connell. “Her confidence has grown so much. It was a similar play to what we ran the other night, just with Ali or Meg with an inside-out option, and the lane was there so I give her credit. The kids have really grown confidence-wise. We’ve been in a lot of close games and come out ahead and I think that gives them a lot of confidence. We celebrated last game and then buried it but I think that confidence at the end helped us.”

Franklin carried that momentum into the extra period as O’Connell (16 points, 17 rebounds) drove to the basket on the opening possession to give the Panthers the lead, and two trips later, senior Shannon Grey drained a corner three for a 53-48 lead with 2:49 left.

But the Golden Eagles refused to go away, answering right away with a triple from Selenya Gonzalez (21 points). Franklin’s Ali Brigham (26 points, 25 rebounds) converted an offensive rebound to give Franklin a four-point cushion and then blocked a shot to give the Panthers possession back with under two minutes to go.

But a missed three resulted in two free throws for Jaliena Sanchez (34 points, eight rebounds) and then a turnover resulted in two free throws for Rosheda Guthrie, knotting the score at 55-55.

Turnovers hurt the Panthers all night, and their 19th and final one of the game led to one of the biggest plays of the game. After two misses, Franklin came down with another offensive rebound but a pass to the paint was picked off by Sanchez and she raced the length of the court and converted while being fouled, hitting the free throw to put Springfield Central up 58-55 with under a minute to play.

“There’s going to be plenty of swings throughout the game,” Leighton said. “I thought they had a couple of good stops, got us to turn it over a couple of times. And Sanchez was just on fire at the end, she couldn’t miss from the foul line. She did a lot of stuff, she finished strong and I thought she was the biggest difference in the game, especially in the second half and in overtime.”

Brigham answered on the other end with a pair of free throws but Sanchez went back to the line, where she finished 17-for-21, and sank another two to push the lead back to three, 60-57. Franklin was unable to convert its chance and Sanchez added four more from the line in the final seconds to ice the game.

It was back-and-forth for the majority of regulation, with neither team grabbing a significant lead at any point. Springfield Central jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game but Franklin settled in and took a 13-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.

Buckets from O’Connell and Brigham midway through the second helped the Panthers build a brief five-point lead at 19-14 but a 7-1 swing from the Golden Eagles put Springfield Central ahead. The Panthers got points from Bea Bonhus and Erin Quaile, plus four straight from Brigham to take a 28-26 lead into halftime.

Sanchez worked her way to the line early and often in the third, hitting five free throws but Brigham answered with a three-point play, a rare shooting foul called against the Golden Eagles while defending Brigham.

A four-point play from Sanchez — a made three plus another foul — gave Springfield Central a 37-33 edge and the momentum but the Panthers stole it back with a 10-0 run to end the quarter. Brigham scored the first four then O’Connell scored three straight baskets for a 43-37 edge heading into the fourth.

Franklin was held to just one point — a free throw from freshman Olivia Quinn — for the first six minutes of the fourth. The Panthers finished the game just 2-for-18 from three-point range.

“We’d love to have a couple more of those [threes],” Leighton said. “And the thing is, I thought we took good shots, we weren’t forcing them, they just weren’t falling. Not that we’ve been living off the three all year, but they were urging us to shoot it and we had to take the open shots. “

Quaile sank two free throws with 1:40 left to get Franklin within one before O’Connell’s tying basket late.

“This team is historic,” Leighton said. “They went further than any other Franklin girls team has ever gone. This is a cohesive group, which is really special. I’d love to take credit for it but I have nothing to do with it. These girls love each other.”

Franklin girls basketball finishes the season at 21-4.

Player of the Week: Megan O’Connell, Franklin Hoops

Morse Insurance
 

Megan O'Connell
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Franklin junior Megan O’Connell has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for March 3 through March 9. O’Connell is the 23rd player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2018-19 school year and the 13th player in the winter season.

O’Connell has been an important part of Franklin’s league championship season, but that went to a new level on Friday night at Worcester State when she hit arguably the biggest shot in the program’s history (to this point). With the Panthers down one to undefeated top seed Wachusett in the Div. 1 Central final, O’Connell grabbed an offensive rebound and hit an off-balance putback at the buzzer to secure the program’s first-ever sectional title.

“Megan is the ultimate team-first player who has done everything we have asked of her to help this team win,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “In the playoffs, she has raised her game to a whole new level both offensively and defensively. I could not be prouder of her.”

O’Connell finished the sectional final with 10 points and nine rebounds and she continued to combine well with center Ali Brigham, using her ability to take players off the dribble to open up passing lanes to get the ball into her classmate. In addition to her heroics against Wachusett, O’Connell rebounded from a tough shooting night in the playoff opener to spark Franklin to a big win against Concord-Carlisle in the semifinal.

She scored 10 of Franklin’s 14 points in the first quarter, taking advantage of the attention being paid top Brigham to find driving lanes. She finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, as the Panthers advanced to the Central final for the first time since 2015. O’Connell also knocked down a big jumper late in the comeback against Westford Academy that kicked off Franklin’s tournament run.

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.

Morse Insurance

O’Connell Beats Buzzer and Lifts Franklin to First Title

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin girls basketball celebrates on the court after beating Wachusett at Worcester State to earn the program’s first-ever sectional title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – Franklin got the look it wanted to try and win the game.

Down by one with less than 10 seconds remaining, Erin Quaile swung the ball around the perimeter to her backcourt partner Shannon Gray, who looped the ball into Ali Brigham on the left block. The 6-foot-3 junior center, who had 28 points to that point, turned into her smaller defender, took a dribble, and got a look at the rim.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Unlike so many other chances that Brigham converted in Friday night’s Div. 1 Central final at Worcester State University, this one didn’t find the bottom of the net. Instead, it kicked off to the far side, but her classmate Megan O’Connell was there and pulled down the offensive rebound between three Wachusett defenders.

O’Connell instantly went back up with an off-balance shot. It bounced on the right side of the rim, took a touch on the backboard, and dropped through to put Franklin ahead 61-60 just as the final horn sounded on the program’s first-ever sectional title.

“I was thinking, ‘oh my god, it’s not going to go in,’ and then it somehow did,” said O’Connell after the game. “I was thrilled, this is all we’ve been working for. I’m just happy it all worked out.”

Gray added, “It’s amazing. I can’t believe that we’re the first team in Franklin girls basketball history to ever get a sectional and that’s just so amazing…I can’t believe it’s real.”

When the ball dropped through the basket, O’Connell seemed to hesitate for a second before the celebrations kicked in, as though she wasn’t sure if she had really just done that. That she had just won the game. “I was in shock. I didn’t really process that it went in,” she explained.

“It was like every bad Disney movie at the end where you’re just waiting and waiting,” Franklin coach John Leighton joked. “We drew up a play to get Ali the ball but we talked about at the end of the game, whoever has the ball just shoot it, not to make the extra pass. [Megan] got it, she didn’t blink, she didn’t think twice, and she shot it right away.”

There were points in the second half when it looked like Franklin may run away from the Mountaineers and cruise to the title. But, Wachusett came in undefeated for a reason and stormed back in the fourth. A 4-0 run to close the third was followed by four more to start the final quarter with junior Belle Lanpher (21 points) getting a steal and then a transition basket to cut the lead to 47-45.

Brigham answered back with a basket plus the foul and senior Bea Bondhus (10 points) knocked down a pull-up jumper from the right to push the lead back to seven. A jumper by Rachel Vinton (14 points) was matched by a Brigham layup, off a feed from O’Connell, to keep the Panthers up 54-47.

That was when things started to get very interesting.

Lanpher drilled a straightaway three to cut the lead to four points and Vinton halved that with a pair at the line. Again, Franklin turned to Brigham, who added 14 rebounds and seven blocks to her game-high point total, and she responded with a basket from a Gray assist. A layup for Jill Post made it a two-point game and then Courtney Lanpher (14 points) buried a three to put the Mountaineers up 57-56. It was their first lead of the second half.

Bondhus got fouled in the backcourt and, despite the cacophony of noise from the Wachusett student section, buried two clutch free throws with 1:19 left to give the Panthers back the lead. Courtney Lanpher was fouled and knocked down a pair at the line to make it 59-58 with 1:06 left. After another foul, Gray (seven points) hit 1-of-2 to tie it with 1:01 remaining.

“The whole time we were just like let’s do it,” said Gray. “We’ve got it and let’s just finish.”

The score stayed the same until Lanpher was fouled going to the basket with 15.1 on the clock. She missed the first and Leighton took a timeout. The senior guard made the second and instantly Wachusett went into its press. Quaile got free to get the inbound and pushed the ball up court, where the Panthers got the ball into Brigham’s hands and then O’Connell provided the heroics.

“A quarter-inch difference and Wachusett wins the game and we’re going home,” said Leighton, adding, “If that bounced the other way, I’d be just as proud of the kids because what they did tonight was give everything they had against a great team. This was as complete a game as they could play and if that ball bounced out I don’t think I would feel differently.”

O’Connell said, “We worked so hard and we had a good run in the first half and we thought we were going to win and it turned around and we had to stay put and keep playing defense and we pulled it out.”

Wachusett came out firing and took an early 10-4 lead in the first. The Mountaineers scored 19 points in the opening quarter, mostly using a high pick-and-roll in the center of the court. Franklin was aggressively jumping out to the shooters and the Mountaineers were able to turn the corner time and again and get to the rim, where Brigham was nowhere to be found because she was forced to extend out.

The Panthers changed things up defensively in the second and held Wachusett to just 10 points in the quarter.

“They shoot the lights out…so we came out trying to limit their three-point shots,” said Leighton. “We adjusted and we tried to switch a lot more and put a person in that gap so it wasn’t a straight shot to the rim. That got Ali a lot of those blocks because she had time to get back.”

Brigham was on fire early in the game, as the Panthers got the ball inside early and often. O’Connell (10 points and nine rebounds), fresh off a 19-point game in the semifinal, was also getting free and taking the ball to the rim. Gray nailed a three in the final seconds to tie the game at 19-19 after one.

In the second, Franklin’s outside shooting started to find the range. Bondhus and Quaile each hit threes and Brigham added another six points as Franklin pushed the lead to as many as 10, 35-25. A quick 4-0 run at the end of the half got the top seed back within single digits at the break.

A Belle Lanpher three cut the Panthers advantage to 40-37 in the third, but then Franklin went on a 7-0 run to again push the lead to 10. Brigham got an offensive board and put-back and Bondhus drilled a three in the run. But again, Wachusett was able to score four straight to get back within six at 47-41 and set up an exciting finish to this rematch of the 2015 Central final.

Franklin (20-4) now advances to the state semifinal for the first time and will face West champion Springfield Central.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Panthers Find the Range in Second Half to Reach Final

Franklin girls basketball
The Franklin bench celebrates one of the team’s five three-pointers in the second half that allowed the Panthers to pull away from Concord-Carlisle. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WORCESTER, Mass. – When the ball swung around to Franklin guard Shannon Gray right in front of the Panthers bench, her teammates started to rise in anticipation of a shot. But Gray hesitated and passed it back up top. Franklin coach John Leighton urged the senior to let it fly when she gets the chance.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Gray heeded that advice and she knocked down a pair of threes on back-to-back possessions to stretch the Franklin lead from just four points to double digits. She knocked down three of her team’s five shots from beyond the arc in the second half, helping the Panthers pull away for a convincing 59-43 victory over No. 2 seed Concord-Carlisle in the Div. 1 Central semifinal at WPI’s Harrington Auditorium.

“We talked at halftime, start like it’s 0-0 and play like we do and the key is to keep reversing the ball,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “In the second half, they were just packed in so when we reversed it the kids were just wide open to take the shot and once one goes in that confidence starts coming.”

At halftime, Franklin held a slim, two-point lead over the Patriots and that was entirely because of two players, junior center Ali Brigham and her classmate Megan O’Connell.

The Panthers opened the game with a 10-0 run, as O’Connell took advantage of the attention on Brigham in the paint to find driving lanes. Brigham added an and-one off an offensive rebound and had four points in the first, but O’Connell was the aggressor in the paint and on the glass (13 rebounds), scoring 10 of Franklin’s 14 in the first. She finished with 19 points in the game.

“I had a pretty bad game last time and I really just wanted to get back to where I know I can be,” said O’Connell about her aggressive start. Leighton added, “I’m so happy for her because she’s been so patient all year. They were so hyper-focused on Ali that the lane just kept opening up. Early on everyone was a little tentative and she was aggressive.”

The Patriots crept back into the game, trailing by just six after one and then getting as close as two at several points in the second quarter. Franklin was determined to get the ball into the paint and Brigham (game-high 22 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks) scored all of her team’s nine points in the period, twice scoring on put-backs and twice getting baskets at the rim thanks to O’Connell assists.

While Franklin had the lead at the break, it was hard to envisage a trip to the final with only two players getting on the scoresheet, especially as the Patriots threw a variety of different defenses at Brigham in the post, almost daring the Panthers to shoot from the perimeter. That strategy worked for a half, but Franklin made the Patriots pay in the second half.

After an O’Connell drive for two, Bea Bondhus knocked down Franklin’s first three, and her only shot of the game, to make it 28-21. Concord-Carlisle, which came into the game with only one loss on the season, cut the lead back to just four points but then Gray stepped up and knocked down a pair to suddenly make it a 10-point edge.

“She’s our captain and she leads us in every way,” Leighton said of Gray. “She’s the most selfless kid. She makes us run, her composure…so for her to get a little bit tonight was really nice.”

Leighton added about the team’s outside shooting, “It broke what they were doing. They went into that triangle-and-two to look to pack the paint hoping we wouldn’t make any threes. I think it was vital to break their confidence in what they were doing.”

Again the Patriots rallied with back-to-back buckets, but Brigham answered with a rebound and score and then Teagan Collins finished a break with a scoop shot off the glass. As the clock wound down on the third, Erin Quaile put a punctuation mark on the quarter by drilling a three at the buzzer to give Franklin its largest lead at 43-31.

The Panthers scored nearly as many points in the third quarter as in the first two combined. That offensive barrage continued in the fourth. Brigham got a three-point play on a rebound and then finished off another rebound to make it 49-31.

Corcnord-Carlisle hit back with five straight points, but then the Panthers put the game out of reach. Gray snagged an offensive rebound and made a nice dish underneath to a wide open O’Connell for two. Gray then stepped back outside and nailed her third three-pointer of the afternoon and O’Connell added two more with yet another rebound.

“We just needed to slow down really,” said O’Connell. “We were getting ahead of ourselves and trying to make the perfect pass, but we just needed to make the easy pass and we’d get layups.”

Franklin (20-4) is making a second appearance in the D1 Central final, its first since 2015, and will face the top seed Wachusett.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” said O’Connell. “We’ve been working really hard every day in practice and we’re just trying to get as far as we can.”

Leighton praised his team for meeting its high expectations. “Two years ago, we started 0-6 and I brought the team that year to watch the finals at Worcester State,” he recalled. “We were like, this is where we want to be. This is what lays ahead, if we do what we need to do.”

He added, “For this team, hard work has been the key.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Brigham, Bondhus, Defense Lift Franklin in Comeback

Franklin girls basketball
Hockomock League MVP Ali Brigham scored 33 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, and blocked three shots to lift Franklin to a come from behind win against Westford Academy in the opening round of the playoffs. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin head coach John Leighton was not pleased when he called timeout with his team trailing by 10 points in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s Div. 1 Central quarterfinal against Westford Academy. The Grey Ghosts had just knocked down their third triple of the quarter and eighth of the night and Leighton urged his team, which has allowed less than 40 points per game this season, to find another gear on the defensive end.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Panthers responded and then some. Franklin gave up only 10 more points the rest of the way, turning a 10-point deficit into a 10-point, 63-53 win that sends the Panthers into the quarterfinal. Franklin closed the game on a 30-10 run to earn its first playoff win since the team made a run to the Central final in 2015.

“We really communicated far better on defense, communicated the switches, communicated how we had to rotate far better at the end of the third quarter and especially the fourth quarter,” Leighton explained. :When we were in better position, then we rebounded better, which kept them to a lot of one-and-done’s.”

Out of that third quarter timeout, Franklin went on a 7-0 run that instantly got the hosts back into the game. Olivia Quinn set up Ali Brigham for a basket to get things started and then Quinn added her only basket of the night off a Shannon Gray dish. Westford got two back, but then Brigham snatched one of her 15 rebounds and scored to make it only a three-point game heading to the fourth.

Erin Quaile completed the comeback for the Panthers when she buried a three-pointer from the left wing, her only points of the night, to put Franklin ahead 46-45. It was Franklin’s first lead since the second quarter. Jennifer Martin answered for the Ghosts with a step-back three, her fourth of the night, but momentum was with the Panthers and they answered with a long inbounds pass to Brigham under the basket to tie it.

Brigham, who was recently voted the Hockomock League MVP, was dominant throughout and she grabbed another offensive rebound to put Franklin back in front. She finished with a game-high 33 points.

She also got some help from senior guard Bea Bondhus, who scored seven of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to secure her first win in the playoffs and make sure this was only her final home game, not the final game of her career. Bondhus drained a three on a kick out from Brigham that put the Panthers up 53-51 and then she followed it with a pump-fake and drive to the basket that extended the lead to four.

“In our timeout we were talking about reversing the ball side to side,” Bondhus said. “And so me and Ali were talking and I said, my girl is running in and doubling so look opposite and she said I’ve got you next possession and it happened exactly as we said it would happen.”

Leighton said of Bondhus, who is one of just three seniors on the roster, “Bea’s been a great three-point shooter forever, but she raised her game up. How many times did she ball-fake, drive, and create. She defended, boxed out, rebounded. She’s really expanded her game.”

A pair of free throws by Brigham was followed by a jumper from Megan O’Connell, who had a rough shooting night up until that point, and the Franklin bench and the home crowd sensed that the Panthers were moving on.

“It took a lot of mental toughness there,” Bondhus said. “We wanted to focus on our defense because we gave up five threes in the first half and we wren’t closing out. Once we started getting defensive stops that transitioned into offense for us.”

Three-point shooting had put Franklin in an early hole, as the Grey Ghosts knocked down four from beyond the arc in the first quarter alone. Despite Brigham scoring nine in the first, including a spinning pull-up jumper from the free throw line, and Bondhus adding five, Westford held a 16-14 edge.

The Panthers kept forcing the ball into the paint to Brigham, who added another eight points in the second quarter, but on the defensive side of the ball Franklin was allowing Westford to control the boards and get second chance opportunities. The Ghosts extended the lead to 10 at one point in the second, but a mini-run cut that lead in half by the break. Brigham in the paint and Bondhus from three giving Franklin a quick five points.

The threes kept raining down from the visitors in the third quarter until Leighton’s timeout and his insistence that the Panthers lock down the perimeter.

Bondhus said, “I was really happy we pulled it out. This team means so much and we’re all best friends off the court, so it was so nice to have the team win there… It really shows our toughness.”

Franklin (19-4) will take on No. 2 seed Concord-Carlisle on Sunday at WPI at 5:00.

Leighton remarked, “It was big to get back to WPI. These kids have never played there. Now they want to get to the final. They’re not done; hungry for more.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sunday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/17/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Franklin, 60 vs. New Bedford, 49 – FinalFranklin jumped out to a 15-9 lead after the first quarter but struggled over the next two periods, trailing 38-37 going into the fourth quarter. Panther senior Jalen Samuels scored 10 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth to help . Franklin pull away. Samuels also had 13 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks while junior Chris Edgehill added 13 points and five rebounds. The Panthers will take on North Andover on Monday at 2:00 in the final of the Harvey Nasuti Classic.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 42 vs. Bishop Feehan, 50 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Attleboro trailed by just three at halftime but Feehan broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Bombardiers by 11. Liv McCall scored 15 to help Attleboro stay close on senior night.

Franklin, 46 vs. Belmont, 41 – Final (OT)Franklin scored the only five points of the overtime period to pick up a big win against highly-ranked Belmont in the D1 consolation game of the IAABO Board 27 tournament. Ali Brigham scored 15 points to pace the Panthers (and was named to the all-tournament team), while Megan O’Connell scored 10 and Bea Bondhus added nine. As usual, defense was the key for Franklin, with Erin Quaile and Shannon Gray holding Belmont’s star players to just 15 points combined.

King Philip, 50 vs. Wellesley, 60 – FinalClick here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The game was tied at 24-24 going into halftime thanks a strong defensive second quarter in which the Warriors held Wellesley to only seven points. Wellesley was able to hold off the Warriors with a strong second half. Brianna James led the Warriors with 14 points, Faith Roy added 11, and Shannon O’Connor scored 10 points.

Milford, 31 @ Hopedale, 50 – Final

Boys Hockey
Attleboro, 3 vs. Plymouth North, 5 – Final

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/15/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Attleboro, 36 @ Franklin, 57 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.

Milford, 46 @ Canton, 52 – FinalCanton senior Devin Foster poured in a game-high 28 points, including a three-pointer in the first quarter that made him the all-time leading scorer in Bulldog basketball history, passing Brian Pendergast (1,179 points in 2000). Foster (12 rebounds) scored 12 points in the opening quarter, and then 14 in the second half to help Canton turn a halftime deficit into a win. Milford led 23-20 at the break but the Bulldogs scored 18 points in the third to seize the lead (38-31) with both Ryan Lentol (10 points) and Robbie Gallery scoring five in the frame. Milford’s Brendan White scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half and Danny Corsini added 14 points for the Hawks.

North Attleboro, 47 @ Foxboro, 48 – FinalFoxboro senior Anthony Mollica sank both ends of a one-and-one situation from the foul line with 2.9 seconds to lift the Warriors to a win and a spot in the state tournament. The Rocketeers led by one after a 9-0 run and had the ball with 31 seconds left in the game, and 24 seconds left on the shot clock, but couldn’t extend the lead. Mollica drove to the basket as time ticked away and was able to draw a foul on the floor, with the Rocketeers in the bonus. North Attleboro led 26-20 at half and 36-33 going into the final quarter. An early run from the Warriors put the hosts ahead, leading 46-38. North responded with a 9-0 run, Josh Montague hitting back-to-back baskets to put the Rocketeers up 47-46. Foxboro junior Brandon Borde had a game-high 17 points while Mollica finished with 10, seven coming in the final quarter. Josh Porter, Ethan Friberg, and Jake Petersen each had eight points for North.

Oliver Ames, 66 @ King Philip, 71 – Final (OT)King Philip overcame a 22-point second half deficit to force overtime and shock Oliver Ames. The Tigers jumped ahead 34-21 by halftime, and extended the lead to as much as 22 before taking a 55-37 lead into the final eight minutes. King Philip held OA to just three points in the final quarter, dropping 21 points of their own to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra period, with KP up by two, senior Bruce Saintilus (27 points) hauled in an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and sank two free throws of his own to extend the lead to four with 10 seconds left to secure the win. Saintilus scored nine points in the fourth quarter comeback and was 6-for-6 from the line in overtime. Juniors Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney each added 15 points for KP, who scored 34 points over the final 12 minutes after netting just 36 over the course of the first three quarters. Sean O’Brien had a team-high 14 points, Owen Friel added 12 points and Jake Erlich finished with 11 points for OA.

Taunton, 56 @ Mansfield, 65 – FinalMansfield pulled away late to secure the Kelley-Rex division title, a record seventh straight for the Hornets, surpassing Oliver Ames’ six straight from 1981-1986. Mansfield held a 16-13 lead after a quarter of play, and took a 30-27 advantage into halftime. Taunton continued to battle, taking a brief 41-40 lead late in the third and went into the fourth quarter tied 44-44. Mansfield made a 8-3 run over a three minute span in the fourth quarter to create enough separation for the win. Damani Scott had a team-high 15 points along with 11 rebounds, Sam Stevens added 13 points, and TJ Guy finished with 11 points. Taunton junior Dante Law had a team-high 21 points.

Sharon, 36 @ Stoughton, 80 – FinalStoughton combined to score 45 points between the second and third periods, running away with a big win over Sharon to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2012. The Black Knights connected on an impressive 31 two-point field goals, with 10 players getting on the scoresheet and six of them scoring nine points or more. Junior Obinna Ugwuakazi scored a team-high 13 points, sophomore Brett Pendenza added 11 points, senior Zak Paquette and junior Ahmad Jahed each scored 10 points, and senior Kevin Dixon and junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell each finished nine points. Aidan Kane had a team-high 12 points for Sharon.

Girls Basketball
Franklin 54 @ Attleboro, 63 – FinalLiv McCall and Mackenzie Roberts both scored career-highs and Attleboro head coach Marty Crowley called the game a “phenomenal effort” by the Bombardiers to hand the Panthers their first league loss of the season. McCall scored 18 points and Roberts added 17 to lead Attleboro to the upset. Bea Bondhus had 13 points and Megan O’Connell had 12 for the Panthers.

Canton, 58 @ Milford, 32 – FinalCanton matched its highest win total since 1995 with its 13th win of the season. Maggie Connolly led the way with 13 points, Sydney Gallery added 12 and Kiara Cerruti scored 11 for the Bulldogs.

Foxboro 60 @ North Attleboro, 29 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

King Philip, 60 @ Oliver Ames, 69 – FinalA pair of underclassman each scored over 20 points for the Tigers, helping Oliver Ames fend off visiting King Philip. Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a career-high 25 points and hauled in 11 rebounds while freshman Caroline Peper scored a career-high 26 points for OA. Shannon O’Connor led three Warriors in double digits with 23 points, but KP couldn’t find a way back after falling behind early, trailing 32-23 at half. Brianna James scored 13 points and Faye Veilleux added 11 for KP.

Mansfield, 47 @ Taunton, 36 – FinalMansfield took control of the game in the third quarter, breaking open a 20-20 halftime tie by scoring 19 points in the third. Maggie Danehy scored 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Sydney Mulkern added nine for the Hornets. Sonya Fernandez was the top scorer for the Tigers with 15 points and Lily Patneaude added eight.

Stoughton, 46 @ Sharon, 55 – FinalEmma Eberhardt closed out the season with 15 points to help the Eagles sweep the season series with the Black Knights and finish with nine wins. Kaitlyn Wallace added 13 and Telishya Herbert had 10 in the win. Sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe scored 18 points for Stoughton.

Brigham Hits Milestone and Panthers Rally to Win at OA

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin junior center Ali Brigham is mobbed by her teammates after scoring her 1,000th career point on a third quarter free throw at Oliver Ames. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, Franklin junior center Ali Brigham was sent to the line with a chance to reach the 1,000-point milestone. She missed the first, but drilled the second one to become the first Franklin player to hit that mark since Kelley Meredith in 2008 (Kyle Gibson reached 1,000 points in 2011 for the Franklin boys).

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After head coach John Leighton called a quick timeout, Brigham, who finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds, was mobbed by her teammates on the court.

There were plenty of hugs and smiles at that stage of the game, with the Franklin ahead 33-32, but Oliver Ames nearly put an early end to the celebrations when it took a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. With three minutes to play, the Tigers led by four and it looked like Franklin’s unbeaten run through the league was about to end.

The Panthers rallied with a 13-4 run to close out the game, including 10-2 over the final three minutes, to pull out a 53-51 victory and allow Brigham the chance to savor her moment as well.

“We’re really excited for the tournament that we’ve got coming up this weekend and we just won the Hock, so this is a game that we could’ve let slip,” Brigham said after the win. “I think that was really big for us to come back in the fourth because we work so hard at practice to not let a game like this slip us up.”

Brigham has been a dominant force in the paint since her freshman year, and came into the week leading the league in scoring with more than 22 points per game. Leighton praised his star for her desire to keep improving her game.

“What’s neat is the improvement every year,” Franklin coach John Leighton said. “The scoring has been great, but she also knows what she needs to get to 1,000 rebounds, which says a lot about a kid when that’s what she’s worried about. She’s worked on getting other people open. When things slogged down, she set more screens to get everyone else going.”

While the headlines would be about Brigham’s milestone, it was freshman Olivia Quinn and senior Bea Bondhus that would bring Franklin back in the fourth quarter.

Twice Ally Scolnick (eight points) got behind the Franklin defense for transition layups, both assisted by Caroline Flynn (eight points), freshman Caroline Peper (team-high 17 points and eight rebounds) drilled a corner three, and her classmate Hailey Bourne (eight points) snagged an offensive rebound to help OA build a 47-40 lead.

Quinn helped the Panthers claw back into the game by crashing the boards. She scored six of her seven points in the quarter (hitting three of Franklin’s four made field goals) and all came on offensive rebounds, including a layup that tied the game at 49-49.

“At this point, [freshman] is not a term that I associate with her because she’s played in so many meaningful minutes,” Leighton said of Quinn. “She moves so well with her height. We can have her do multiple things.”

Bondhus (14 points) followed another defensive stop by driving down the left side of the lane, absorbing the contact, and finishing at the rim for the go-ahead score. Another defensive stand and two more free throws put the Panthers up four with only seconds remaining.

“The game plan was very specific and I would say that 99 percent of the time they executed it and I was really proud of their defensive effort,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was all of them. It was the best team performance that we’ve had this season.”

Things were a struggle at the start of the game for the Panthers, who were clearly trying to get Brigham some touches, but OA senior forward Alex Sheldon was doing everything in her power to keep Franklin’s 6-foot-3 center uncomfortable and limit her touches. Bourne, despite giving up plenty of size to the George Washington-commit, also jumped into the post to provide some defensive help.

“They were so physical,” said Clement-Holbrook. “They weren’t afraid to bump. They tried to make it a little bit difficult for her.”

Flynn got off to a good start on the offensive end with six points in the first, twice getting transition baskets off Sadie Homer assists, but Brigham still managed to get eight in the quarter and keep the Panthers down just three, 16-13.

“I was a little worried,” Brigham said, “because 15 is kind of a big number but I came out fast and it was good. My team did a good job of just doing their thing and it just happened.”

Franklin clamped down defensively in the second, limiting the Tigers to just seven points as a team, six of those scored by Peper. On the other end, Bondhus started to heat up. She scored six in the quarter, including a steal and layup that put the visitors ahead 24-23. Shannon Gray hit a jumper to put the Panthers up three at halftime.

Brigham was only three points away from 1,000 to start the third and opened the second half with a basket, but Peper countered with a bucket, assisted on a Meg Holleran basket, and then drilled a three to tie the game at 32-32. Megan O’Connell was taking advantage of the attention being on Brigham to score six of her nine points in the quarter.

After Brigham hit her free throw to reach the milestone, Scolnick got her first points to tie the game at 34-34. Bourne went 4-of-4 at the line and the teams entered the fourth quarter tied.

OA opened the fourth with a 9-2 run and looked on the verge of a signature win, but the Panthers showed why they have only lost once this season and were able to earn the come from behind win.

“I think it’s very valuable for us,” said Leighton about being pushed to the end. “I thought they played with real grit at the end. We locked it down and I thought we got every single defensive rebound. We stopped turning it over. We did the little things that you need to win.”

Franklin (17-1, 15-0) will close out league play against Attleboro on Friday before taking on perennial power Braintree (and either Belmont or Cathedral in the second game) at the IAABO Board 27 Tournament at Woburn High over the weekend. Oliver Ames (10-7, 9-6) will end its league schedule by hosting King Philip.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 02/08/19

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
King Philip, 54 @ Attleboro, 58 – FinalAttleboro senior Mason Houle hit a big three and junior Qualeem Charles sank two big free throws as the Bombardiers held off an upset bid from King Philip. Houle (15 points) took a feed from Kevin Velazquez (nine points) and drained a three to make it 56-48 with 1:20 to play. KP’s Bruce Saintilus (21 points) answered with a three of his own to make it 56-51. After a stop, Tim Nault sank a three for the Warriors to make it 56-54 with 39 seconds to play. Charles (13 points, eight rebounds) hit two free throws with 12.4 left to secure the win for Attleboro. Tim Callahan added 13 points for Attleboro while Alex Fritz finished with 13 points for the Warriors.

Sharon, 43 @ Canton, 69 – FinalCanton senior Devin Foster scored 31 points to lead the Bulldogs to a win. With the victory and other results from the Davenport division, the Bulldogs clinched at least a share of the division title.

Stoughton, 62 @ Foxboro, 53 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery from this game.

Franklin, 67 @ Taunton, 49 – FinalAfter an even first quarter, Franklin controlled the final three periods to secure a win on the road over Kelley-Rex rival Taunton. Tied at 12-12 through eight minutes, Franklin created a 30-23 lead heading into the halftime break. The Panthers then extended the lead to 49-33 after three and never looked back to get the win. Franklin junior Chris Edgehill scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, Jalen Samuels added 14 points, and both Jake Macchi and Will Harvey (all points in the first half) finished with 10 points apiece. Dante Law had a team-high 10 points for the Tigers.

Mansfield, 60 @ Oliver Ames, 51 – Final Mansfield connected on nine three-pointers and found success at the free throw line to return home with a win over Oliver Ames. Sophomores TJ Guy and Matt Boen each had 16 points for the Hornets, who held a three point lead at halftime (29-26) and entering the final quarter (45-42). Sam Stevens scored five of his eight points in the final quarter for Mansfield.

Milford, 53 @ North Attleboro, 63 – FinalNorth Attleboro was perfect from the field in the fourth quarter, going 9-for-9, and poured in 31 points to complete a comeback win over visiting Milford. The Rocketeers were limited to 16 points in the first half but equaled that total in the third quarter. Trailing 41-32 after three, the Rocketeers opened the fourth with an 8-0 run to get back into the game. Junior Ethan Friberg (11 points) hit a pair of threes in the fourth, sophomore George Ladd added 10 points (all in the second half), and Nate Gonsalves scored all eight of his points in the final quarter. Senior Josh Montague scored a team-high 19 points while Josh Porter added nine points, including a big layup in the fourth quarter. Brendan White had a team-high 14 points and Brendon Sailer added 13 points for the Hawks.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 44 @ King Philip, 63 – FinalFaith Roy set a career-high with 22 points to lead the Warriors to a win that clinches a state tournament berth. Shannon O’Connor and Faye Veilleux chipped in with 12 points apiece for KP.

Sharon, 48 @ Canton, 65 – FinalKiara Cerruti scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Bulldogs to their 11th win this season. Defensively, seniors Maggie Connolly and Julia Hamilton combined for 14 steals in the win. Emma Eberhardt scored 19 points in the loss and Telishya Herbert added 15 for the Eagles.

Foxboro, 79 @ Stoughton, 36 – FinalKatelyn Mollica had 25 points, including seven three-pointers, to lead the Warriors to a division win. Yara Fawaz had 16 points and Abby Hassman and Chelsea Gibbons each scored nine points in the win.

Taunton, 37 @ Franklin, 82 – FinalFranklin clinched the outright league title with the win. It’s the first title since 2013 for the Panthers. Eleven different players scored for the Panthers in the win led by Ali Brigham with 20 points. Bea Bondhus added 16 and Megan O’Connell had 13 in the win. Sonya Fernandez was Taunton’s top scorer with 12.

Mansfield, 45 @ Oliver Ames, 39 – FinalMaggie Danehy led the way for the Hornets with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Mady Bendanillo added 10 ppoints, four assists, and three steals in the win. OA closed the gap in the fourth quarter, cutting an 11-point lead to just six, thanks in part to freshman Caroline Peper, who scored 14 of her game-high 21 points in the fourth.

North Attleboro, 55 @ Milford, 19 – FinalLiz Smahi and Julia Kleczkowski each scored eight points for the Rocketeers.

Boys Hockey
Foxboro, 9 @ Stoughton, 2 – FinalBrendan Tully netted a hat trick and Kirk Leach scored twice as the Warriors skated to a win over Stoughton at Asiaf. Sean Doherty and Carter Gerome each scored for Stoughton.

Gymnastics
Mansfield @ Sharon, 7:30
Oliver Ames, 137.95 @ Mansfield, 147.05 – Final

Boys Gymnastics
Attleboro @ Newton North, 6:30

Panthers Net Kelley-Rex Title With Win at Mansfield

Franklin girls basketball
Erin Quaile (20) and Shannon Gray (10) were all smiles after beating Mansfield on the road to clinch at least a share of Franklin’s first league title since 2013. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The cliche is that defense wins championships and, if the cliche is true, then it is no wonder that Franklin had the chance to clinch a Kelley-Rex division title on Tuesday night. The Panthers came into the game against Mansfield in the Albertini Gym allowing a little more than 35 points per game, which was a league best.

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With a potential title on the line against the three-time defending champions, the Panthers turned to their defense once again, and added some clutch shooting to go with it.

Franklin held Mansfield to just 14 points in the first half and took control with an 11-0 run just before the break and sealed the win with a 11-4 run down the stretch when the Hornets had gotten back within single digits. With the 47-32 victory, Franklin secured at least a share of its first league title since 2013.

“It’s really what we’ve been working towards all season,” said Franklin senior Bea Bondhus. “Yesterday, at the end of practice we sat in front of the banner in the gym and coach was like, ‘2013 was the last time we won it and you guys have the chance to win it this year.’ Before the game, we were really nervous but he made it clear that this was an opportunity and that we can beat this team.”

The game was a defensive struggle from the opening tip. It took nearly three minutes for either team to get on the scoreboard and the teams were tied at just 7-7 after one.

Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “They’re aggressive defensively, [Ali] Brigham’s back there if they do get beat off backdoors and off the dribble and it’s hard to make field goals against them and if you’re not getting to the free throw line good luck trying to beat them.”

Mady Bendanillo buried a three off an assist from her sister Kara to open the scoring, but Franklin was able to get the ball into the paint to star center Ali Brigham. The 6-foot-3 junior scored all seven of the Panthers’ points in the first and finished with a game-high 17, along with 10 rebounds and four blocks.

The Hornets continued to hang right with the league leaders late into the second quarter, thanks to its own defensive effort. Mansfield is allowing fewer than 40 points per game this season as well. Emily Vigeant (nine points) scored on a drive and then drilled a three to put the hosts up 14-13 with only a couple of minutes left until halftime.

“The tight start? Mike’s team plays great ‘D’. Bea was never open, Ali was hugged, and they just said beat us with someone else,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained.

Franklin took control in the span of about 90 seconds. Freshman Olivia Quinn scored on an offensive rebound to get the lead back. Shannon Gray knocked down a three to extend the lead to four and then Brigham stepped into a transition three. Gray capped the half with a corner three off a Brigham kick out to open up a 10-point lead.

“That’s exactly how I drew it up with my center hitting a pull-up three,” Leighton joked. “It was huge, especially Shannon hitting a couple because we’ve been working with her. In practice, she nails them but in games she’s the last kid to look for her shot and tonight, when it was there, she took them.”

Redding added, “It was a great defensive battle and then a one-point game became a 10-point game. We played them pretty even in the second half but that run really was the killer.”

Maggie Danehy (10 points and 13 rebounds) opened the second half with a jumper, but each time Mansfield got the lead back to single digits Franklin had a response. Megan O’Connell got a layup off one of Erin Quaile’s five assists and then Quaile drove to the rim for a basket.

Sydney Mulkern hit a three to cut the lead back down to nine points, but Brigham scored at the rim and Quaile hustled to snag an offensive rebound and fed Bondhus (eight points) for an easy finish. The Panthers led 36-23 after three quarters.

“A lot of people, when they talk about our team, they say that Ali carries us but it’s huge for everyone on this team to step up and make shots,” said Bondhus. “Megan, Erin, Shannon, everyone made shots.”

Neither offense clicked in the fourth but Mansfield was able to get as close as eight points (36-28) off a Mulkern drive. With Brigham in foul trouble, the Panthers were starting to rush against the Mansfield press and it looked like the Hornets might just have a chance to get back into the game.

“This is such a game of momentum,” said Leighton, who called a timeout in the fourth quarter to try and rally his team. “I’d love to tell you I drew something new up, but I just wanted to settle them down because they’re good enough. Once we settled, I think the guards handled the pressure better and we ran good offense.”

Following the timeout, the Panthers responded. Quaile scored, extending the lead to 11, and then Bondhus got free for the first time at the three-point lead to break the game open again. She buried a second three, the team’s sixth of the night, to put the game away.

“Bea stayed patient and stayed loose until the fourth quarter and those were some killer shots when we needed them,” said Leighton. He added, “Nothing changes after this. Win or loss, we still have to play the remaining games. Nothing is done.”

Franklin (15-1, 13-0) can clinch the outright title on Friday night when it hosts Taunton. Mansfield (11-4, 10-3) will try to keep up its push for a top-four seed in the Div. 1 South sectional when it travels to Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.