WRENTHAM, Mass. – After playing at King Philip’s pace for the opening eight minutes and heading into the first break down by a point, Franklin coach John Leighton implored his team to slow things down, move the ball around, and look for good shots not just the first shot.
Over the next two quarters, the Panthers did just that, scoring 40 points in the second and third quarters combined and turning that deficit into an 18-point lead. Franklin would lead by as many as 25 points in the fourth and earned a sweep of the Warriors with a 62-48 victory.
“Something you never want is a slow start and that’s exactly what we had,” said Leighton. “We had way too many turnovers, we went too fast, but what I was impressed by is that by the end of the quarter they had bought into the idea of slowing it down, seeing the next step, and when you start getting defensive stops they can’t press as much.”
KP had the Panthers on the run in the first, playing the frenetic style that the Warriors thrive on. After back-to-back threes by Emma Glaser and Courtney Keswick (10 points), the hosts held a 10—6 lead. Olivia Quinn (game-high 22 points, six rebounds, and four steals) answered back with a three of her own and a layup to put Franklin in front, but Caroline Aaron’s drive to the basket put the Warriors up 12-11 after one.
Franklin has plenty of experience on its roster and the players talked in the huddle about the need to settle down and play their game. The defending state champions started to look more like themselves in the second.
Brigid Earley scored six of her 10 points in the second, as Franklin made an effort to get the ball inside. Elizabeth Molla responded with a three that cut the lead back to three, at 25-22, but the Panthers scored the final seven points of the half to lead by double digits.
Elizabeth Wilson crashed the boards for a putback and then Earley (four assists, seven rebounds, and two blocks) picked out Quinn for a short jumper. Quinn was the focal point of the offense, scoring eight points in the second and 13 in the first half, as Franklin led 33-22.
“I said to them that we were down 11 at halftime, but it felt like it could’ve been tied,” said KP coach Dan Nagle, who was on the bench for the first time this season. “We had a couple of live-ball turnovers where we missed wide open layups and they go down and we get a steal and throw it to them right under the basket. You can’t even be mad because your kids are flying around and working hard.”
Things clicked into high gear for the visitors in the third. After Jackie Bonner (eight points) drilled a three to start the second half, Franklin went on a 16-0 run to break the game open.
KP scored seven straight to get some momentum, including threes by Cat Spellman and Keswick, but Peterson’s offensive rebound and layup put the Panthers ahead by 18 heading to the fourth.
Leighton said, “This year, we have three or four kids who can score every night. The pressure isn’t on Liv to carry us on her back, we have a lot of kids who can contribute. This is the deepest group we’ve had in a very long time.”
One of the features of Franklin’s play was its passing. Quaile finished with eight assists, while Earley had four and Padula had three. The Panthers were spreading the ball around and making it difficult for KP to trap.
“Unselfish ball is good, especially today,” Leighton explained. “When they’re going to double you, they’re trying to make you go faster, so if you can pass and find the open kid then everyone has more time. It buys time and space.”
That continued at the start of the fourth, as Quinn hit a short jumper after a good drive and kick out by Bridget Leo and then Quinn played provider on a corner three by Emma Sousa, who had missed the first three games of the season. Franklin stretched its lead to 60-35.
Although a comeback was unlikely at that point, the Warriors never stopped running and pressing and kept battling to the final whistle. Bonner had a steal and layup and Julia Marsden assisted on Keswick’s third three of the afternoon. Aaron (11 points) had another drive through the lane and stepped back to knock down a three of her own to help the Warriors cut the deficit to 14.
“Us just realizing that all those little plays matter is a good lesson,” Nagle said. “Franklin is where we want to be eventually and we competed with them at a high level. We had them playing faster than they want to, we turned them over a good amount. Today was progress, not perfection, but it was a good effort.”
Franklin (4-0) will have a few days off before it faces Taunton on Thursday, while King Philip (1-3) will look to get back in the win column when it faces Milford on Tuesday.
Milford, 38 @ Attleboro, 47 – Final – Attleboro staked a lead through a quarter of action and overcame a poor free throw shooting night (10/24) to earn a win. Senior Justin Daniels netted nine of his team-high 14 points in the opening quarter to help the Bombardiers get off to a strong start. The Bombardiers got key three-pointers in each quarter to help key the Hawks at bay. Sophomore Trevor White (10 points) in the second, Evan Houle (eight points) and Alec Eaton (six points) in the third, and Houle again in the fourth. White added six points in the final frame for Attleboro, who led 21-16 at halftime and 32-24 after three quarters. Milford senior Ben Blanchard scored all of his team-high eight points in the first half.
Sharon, 50 @ Canton, 49 – Final – Sharon junior Will Hippler stepped in and drew a charge with 0.3 seconds left to secure a win on the road for the Eagles. Senior Matt Baskin sank a pair of free throws with 7.5 seconds left to put Sharon ahead. Canton had to go the length of the court but Hippler helped off his man, got into position and drew the charge to win the game. The Eagles built a double-digit lead by halftime (22-11) but Canton had a big third quarter, sparked by eight points from Lanse Dorcelus (11 points) and seven points from Steve Burbank (11 points) to get within three, 38-35, going into the fourth. Eric Mischler scored six of his team-high 15 points in the fourth to help Canton seize a lead, going up 48-45 late after a pair of free throws. Hippler also hit a key three in the fourth quarter while Baskin finished with a season-high 20 points, including 13 in the second half. Kiran Chandrasekaran chipped in with 11 points for the Eagles.
Attleboro, 55 @ Milford, 33 – Final – The Bombardiers pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Milford 19-9 in the frame, to secure a second straight win over the Hawks to open the season. Meghan Gordon followed up her career-high on Tuesday with 19 points to pace Attleboro. Gabby Bosh also hit double digits, scoring 11, and Emma Reilly added nine points. Kayla Goldrick chipped in with eight. Attleboro coach Marty Crowley said, “It was great to go on the road and pick up a win.” Emma Lawrence led Milford with eight points and Brooke Ferreira and Emily Croteau each had six for Milford, which kept the game close through three quarter on senior night.
Canton, 62 @ Sharon, 19 – Final – The Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-1 lead after one quarter and extended the lead to 27 by halftime, rolling to a third win of the season behind a strong defensive performance. Kiara Cerruti powered Canton to its early lead, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points and knocking down three of her five three-pointers in the first. Sydney Gallery scored 13 and Fay Gallery added 10. Tayla DeGraw chipped in with eight points for the Bulldogs. Sharon was led by Trinity Payne’s seven points.
King Philip, 31 @ Franklin, 66 – Final – Franklin picked up a big win over one of the contenders for the Kelley-Rex crown. Olivia Quinn scored in double digits for the third straight game, finishing with a game-high 18. Kayleigh Houlihan and Brigid Earley each had a dozen points in the win. Jackie Bonner scored 10 points and Cat Spellman added eight points for KP.
North Attleboro, 50 @ Stoughton, 17 – Final – For the second night in a row North got off to a great start and earned a sweep of Stoughto. After scoring the first 23 points on Wednesday, the Rocketeers went into halftime on Thursday leading 28-3 thanks to its high pressure defense. Eleven players scored for North. Amanda Kaiser and Summer Doherty both scored 14 points and Kaiser added 11 rebounds. Taylor McMath had a solid game on the block, scoring six points and grabbing eight boards.
Foxboro, 49 @ Sharon, 68 – Final – After escaping with a one-point win on the road earlier this week, Sharon put together a complete performance on both ends of the court to earn a season sweep of Foxboro. The Eagles connected on five of their 11 three-pointers in the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 23-10 to build a 39-21 lead by halftime. Senior Kiran Chandrasekaran hit a pair of triples in the second, senior Matt Baskin added two more, and junior Sam Cohen had one of his five trifectas in that frame to help the Eagles take a lead they would never relinquish. Chandrasekaran scored 15 of his career-high 17 points in the first half while Baskin had 10 of his 13. Foxboro had a strong third with 18 points, with sophomore Alex Penders scoring half of his 16 points in the frame, but Cohen had a trio of threes in the period and sophomore Matt Baur chipped in six points to keep the Eagles head. Junior Dylan Gordon led the way for the Warriors with a career-high 17 points.
Franklin, 55 @ Milford, 41 – Final – Starting the second half with a five-point lead, Franklin doubled up on Milford in the third, outscoring the hosts 24-12 in the third to pull away for the win and the season sweep. Senior Jake O’Brien got the Panthers off to a strong start, scoring half of his career-high 14 points in the opening quarter as Franklin established a 14-7 lead. Milford’s defense clamped down to hold the Panthers to just eight points in the second with Sean Murray scoring eight of his team-high 10 points in the opening half to keep the Hawks close, down just 22-17 at the break. Declan Walmsley came alive with eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, O’Brien added seven more, and sophomore Ben Harvey hit a big three as Franklin dropped 24 points in the third to extend the lead to 46-29.
Oliver Ames @ North Attleboro – Postponed to TBD.
Sharon, 14 @ Foxboro, 75 – Final – Ten players scored for the Warriors, as they completed the sweep of Sharon. Katelyn Mollica led the way with 19 points, Aislinn Servaes added 10, and Erin Foley scored eight to lead Foxboro to its second win of the season.
Milford, 23 @ Franklin, 71 – Final – The Panthers used a balanced attack to extend its win streak to 27 games, going back to the start of last season. Olivia Quinn and Jessica Pingeton each scored a dozen to pace the Panthers, while Erin Quaile, Teagan Collins, and Brigid Early each had eight points. Twelve Franklin players scored in the win. Jillian Michelson had nine for the Hawks.
Stoughton, 54 @ Canton, 59 – Final – Stoughton whittled down a double-digit deficit to just two with under a minute to play but Canton got a big stop and held on for the win. Canton exploded for 21 points out of the gate and took a 35-26 lead into halftime and a 43-36 advantage in the fourth. Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the final frame, helping make it a 56-54 game but the Black Knights saw the go-ahead three go in-and-out. Canton sealed it with a defensive rebound and a quick push up court for a quick two from senior Eric Mischler (eight points). Canton senior Will Keefe accounted for half of the Bulldogs’ eight threes, finishing with a career-high 14 points to lead the way. Ryan Connerney (three triples) added 12 points and Steven Burbank scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Stoughton senior Elisha Claude added 10 points, all in the second half, for the Black Knights.
Sharon, 54 @ Foxboro, 53 – Final (OT) – Foxboro sank the game-tying three in the final seconds to force overtime but its look at the game-winner was just off the mark in overtime as Sharon picked up a win on the road to open the season. The Eagles held a 50-47 lead late but Foxboro junior Dylan Gordon hit the tying shot from downtown just before the buzzer to force the extra period. After getting a stop, Sharon senior Kiran Chandrasekaran (career-high 15 points) scored on a tough take to the basket and on the next possession, junior Sam Cohen (career-high 16 points) intercepted a pass and went in for two and that was enough offense for the Eagles, who saw Foxboro’s last second go-ahead shot hit off the back of the iron off a floater in the lane. The Warriors held a slim lead through each of the first (16-14) and second (30-27) quarters before the Eagles tied things up after three (39-39), getting three-pointers from Chandrasekaran and Cohen in third quarter. Will Hippler and Jordan Barboza each hit a big three-pointer in the fourth for the Eagles. Foxboro sophomore Alex Penders dropped a career-high 17 points to lead all scorers.
North Attleboro, 40 @ Oliver Ames, 42 – Final – Oliver Ames outscored the visiting Rocketeers 16-3 in the second quarter to take the lead and the Tigers never trailed the rest of the way, holding off as North Attleboro’s last second chance was just off the mark. Drew Nickla (career-high 15 points) converted a traditional three-point play off an offensive rebound with two minutes left to put the Tigers ahead 39-33 but a three from North’s Brody Rosenberg (10 points) kept the visitors in it. Nickla added a free throw to push it to 40-36 but Casey Poirier answered with a nice take to the basket. Trey Buggs hit a pair of free throws for OA with under a minute to go to make it 42-48 but Jimmy Caraballo answered to cut it back to two. After a missed free throw, the Rocketeers raced the length of the court but their layup attempt just before the buzzer just missed. OA senior Amari Brown shined in the game, tying a career-high with 24 points to lead all scorers. North Attleboro senior George Ladd had a team-high 12 points.
Foxboro, 56 @ Sharon, 19 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from the game. Three players reached double figures to power Foxboro to a season-opening road win. Freshman Erin Foley scored 13 points in her varsity debut and Katelyn Mollica added 13 of her own along with five assists and five steals. Aislinn Servaes chipped in with 12 points and three steals. Foxboro led 11-4 after the first quarter and broke the game wide open with a 19-2 second quarter. After the Warriors took the third quarter 15-4 to extend the lead to 35, Sharon kept battling and had its best quarter in the fourth (11-9). Freshman Rachel Hager led the way for the hosts with eight points, including a pair of threes in the fourth quarter. Foxboro freshman Camryn Collins also impressed in her debut, scoring seven points, dishing out four assists, and recording three steals.
Franklin, 51 @ Milford, 22 – Final – Franklin opened the season with a big win on the road. Olivia Quinn scored a game-high 19 points to pace the Panthers, while Brigid Early and Kayleigh Houlihan each added eight in the win.
Mansfield, 2 @ King Philip, 4 – Final – King Philip lit the lamp three times in the second period, including two straight in the final six minutes, to skate to a season-opening win over Mansfield. After a scoreless first period, KP senior Conor Cooke put the Warriors ahead early in the second. Mansfield answered when junior Brayden Purtell found the back of the net. The Warriors struck twice late in the period, Cooke returning the favor to freshman Brad Guden for his first career goal to make it 2-1, and sophomore James Boldy (from Guden and Shea Cunningham) adding another two minutes later for a 3-1 lead. Guden scored his second goal of the game (fourth point) on a feed from David Lawler to make it 4-1. Mansfield’s Dillon Benoit scored with 6:36 left in the game to make it 4-2. KP sophomore Kyle Abbot made 25 saves to earn his first career win in net.
One of the most dynamic offensive players in the league, Cerruti has jumped right into the lineup at Canton, as part of much-hyped class of 2022, and demonstrated an array of consistently produced for a program brimming with potential. Cerruti led the Bulldogs last season at just under 15 points per game. She also chipped in with five rebounds and nearly two assists and two steals per night. Her size and skills make her an awkward matchup for opposing defenses. She can step away from the basket and has become a consistent shooter from beyond the arc but can also take smaller players into the post or crash the boards for easy baskets. If a defender is too aggressive closing out at the three-point line, Cerruti can beat them off the dribble and get to the rim with a creative array of finishes. Cerruti looks to be in good position to be just the second player in program history to reach the 1,000-point milestone with more than 600 points through her first two seasons. She is also an improving defender, with her length and smarts putting her in the right position to close off passing lanes. Canton has been a program on the rise for the past few seasons, with young talent at every position, and now the Bulldogs hope to couple that talent with experience and make a run at a first league title since 1992.
Although not a natural point guard, Flynn slid into the position for OA and became one of the league’s top playmakers as the Tigers gave Franklin a challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title. Flynn’s size and versatility allowed her to be one of the best rebounding guards in the Hock, while consistently finding a way to get into the lane. She has the strength to bully smaller guards and the ball-handling ability to get past bigger forwards, making her a tough matchup on both ends of the floor. Flynn scored 12 points per game last season and dished out four assists per game, while guarding multiple positions. Her vision and unselfishness were critical to the Tigers getting out on the break and transitioning from defense into instant offense. An improved shooter and talented finisher in traffic, Flynn causes a lot of problems for opposing defenders, but her passing ability in the half court makes it difficult to send help. OA will be aiming for a Davenport title this season and Flynn’s continued growth as a point guard is a big reason why.
King Philip head coach Dan Nagle wants his team to embrace the chaos of a high-pressure, non-stop attacking style and Glaser appears to be the perfect fit for that type of attack. A versatile, athletic combo guard, the Springfield College-commit has the right mix of skills to potentially have a big senior season and help the Warriors put in a title challenge. Glaser’s speed and aggressiveness make her a factor on both ends of the floor, whether chasing down a ball-handler or racing out on the break for an easy basket. She is also a strong finisher at the rim and doesn’t shy away from contact. Glaser can also stretch the floor as a capable three-point shooter. When the outside shot is falling, Glaser is very tough to handle because defenders don’t know whether to close down and give up a potential drive or back off and let her have the perimeter shot. It’s a confusion that Nagle wants his team to thrive on and Glaser forces defenders to make those quick decisions that create openings in the halfcourt. With a year of experience in the system, Glaser seems poised for a breakout season and has the Warriors thinking about ending a nearly two-decade wait for a league title.
Last winter, Attleboro secured it first playoff appearance in four years, winning its regular season finale to book a spot in the state tournament. While Nyah Thomas’ scoring was a big reason for the Bombardiers being in position to extend their season, Gordon developed over the course of the season into a critical player for Attleboro. The junior forward averaged eight points per game last year but that total increased over the course of the season, as she grew in confidence and expanded her repertoire on that end of the court. By the end of the year, Gordon was a double-double machine, as evidenced by her 16-point, 18-rebound performance in the finale against North Attleboro. A lanky forward, Gordon was a force on the block. She found ways to score at the rim and was tenacious crashing the boards. With her long arms and athleticism, she found ways to score at the rim even in traffic and to protect the rim at the other end of the floor. Gordon also showed off a nice touch out to 10 feet, punishing defenders that dropped off to try and keep her out of the lane. After her breakout season, Gordon will be drawing plenty of attention from opponents and Attleboro will be counting on her continuing to grow into one of the league’s top post threats.
North Attleboro was just one win shy of making a return to the playoffs last season and Kaiser was a main reason why. The senior guard led the Rocketeers with nearly 13 points per game, but also was a major factor on the other end of the court. Kaiser averaged two steals a game and her long arms and quick feet enabled her to cause havoc on the perimeter, which North took advantage of to get out on the break as often as possible. One of the league’s top deep threats, Kaiser has unlimited range and showed right from her first moments on varsity that she’s not afraid of taking big shots. She has also developed into an effective off-the-dribble player, getting into the lane and attacking the rim or finishing in transition. Opposing teams plan to try and take Kaiser out of games and she continues to build her skills to adapt to that. Kaiser fits into the get out and run mentality that head coach Nikki Correia has brought to North and her growth on both ends of the floor will be needed to keep Big Red in the hunt for a Davenport title.
Mollica has already cemented her place as one of the top players in program history with the rare feat of being a starter on two state championship-winning teams and she has steadily climbed the all-time scoring list, reaching the 1,000-point mark as a junior. Last season, Mollica led the Warriors to a third straight league title, finishing second in the Hock at just under 19 points per game. Arguably the league’s best pure shooter, Mollica buried 92 threes and shot over 90 percent at the line, while also being Foxboro’s primary ball-handler and the focal point of opposing defenses. As she has turned into a star for the Warriors, Mollica has faced numerous defenses all set up to stop her, but she continues to consistently put up big numbers. With unlimited range, the ability to knock down shots off the dribble with a quick release, and the speed to get a step on her defenders, it’s hard to prevent her from getting off a shot every trip down. As with most great shooters, Mollica isn’t going to let a few misses deter her and will continue to fire away. She also continues to develop as an on-the-ball defender with quick hands to force steals. There may be a lot of new faces for the Warriors this season, but with Mollica leading the attack the expectations remain high.
For the past two seasons, Peper has been one of the top three-point threats in the league, knocking down shots from well beyond the arc and at big moments. She forces defenses out of the lane and gives Oliver Ames room to attack the paint. As one of the taller guards in the Hock, Peper can also take players into the post and has had success attacking the basket in transition or in the halfcourt. She is a tough defender, with her long arms making it tough to pass around her, and she can crash the boards. Last season, Peper battled a back injury and still average more than 12 points per game while shooting 39 percent from three and 81 percent at the line. The backcourt combination of Peper and Caroline Flynn gives OA a unique look. Although neither are pure point guards, both are strong on the ball, can look over the defense, and can attack in multiple ways. Peper’s range and ability to knock down shots spotting up or off the dribble have made her a standout since her freshman year. With OA back in the Davenport division for the first time in four years, the Tigers will be hoping that Peper continues to expand on her game and help them reclaim the league title.
It isn’t often that a player can change a game without scoring, but Quaile was a critical piece in Franklin’s perfect season while only rarely looking for her own shot. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year controlled the action on both ends of the floor for the Panthers. She regularly locked down the opposition’s best perimeter player and also ran the offense, getting Franklin into its sets, handling pressure with composure, and limiting turnovers. It is on the defensive side of the ball that Quaile has made her mark. She is tenacious, using her quickness to stay in front of the player she is guarding and willing to take the contact to draw a charge. Last season, Quaile had 45 steals, 54 deflections, and 55 defensive rebounds. Although not the tallest guard in the league, Quaile had the strength to matchup with bigger players and never lost the aggression regardless of the type of player she was guarding. This season, Quaile will be counted on to look for her own shot a little more but it will be her ability to run the show on both ends of the floor that puts Franklin in position to retain its Kelley-Rex title.
Franklin put together a historic season in 2019-20, going undefeated and bringing home the program’s first state championship. Having Ali Brigham in the middle certainly didn’t hurt, but it was Quinn’s emergence as one of the league’s top players that took the Panthers to another (unbeatable) level. Quinn was second on the team at 15 points per game, shooting 56 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. The 5-foot-11 forward used her size to shoot over the top of smaller players and her quickness off the dribble to blow past defenders that closed out on the three-point line. She showed off a range of offensive skills, from scoring in the paint to running off screens and knocking down jumpers. Quinn also developed an eye for a pass, driving into the lane and kicking out to open shooters or hitting cutters at the basket, and developed into a solid defender who used her length and quickness to guard multiple positions. She stepped up in the clutch for the Panthers, having some of her biggest games against title challengers King Philip and Oliver Ames and scoring 16 points in both the D1 Central final and state semifinal. As the Franklin offense adapts without Brigham in the middle, Quinn will get the chance to use her wide range of skills to try and earn another title for the Panthers.
There will be a new look to Mansfield this season with former player and assistant Heather McPherson taking over for longtime coach Mike Redding, but there are a number of players returning to give the lineup a familiar feel. Although the Hornets missed out on a playoff spot last year, they showed flashes of potential, including a late season win over Bishop Feehan. Vine is one of the players that is back, and the senior guard was instrumental in running the Mansfield offense last winter. Vine scored a team-high 12 points per game and showed that she had more in her locker than just a threat on the perimeter by getting to the rim and being able to finish in traffic. She remains one of Mansfield’s most consistent outside threats but has also become one its best playmakers. When Vine gets into the lane, she can get her own shot or pick out the open teammate, which helps creates scoring opportunities for a team that boasts a strong front line. Vine was also a disruptor playing at the top of the zone last season, getting into passing lanes and using her quick hands to force turnovers. After a solid debut season on varsity, the Hornets will be hoping Vine can help them make a leap this season and challenge for the Kelley-Rex title.
2019-2020 Record: 10-12 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Martin Crowley
After a couple of rebuilding years, Attleboro made a jump last winter and clinched its return to the playoffs in the final game of the regular season. While the Bombardiers will miss the all-around game of Nyah Thomas, who is at Worcester State after a breakout senior season, Attleboro will count on six returners from last year’s roster and a couple of promising newcomers to make some noise in the Kelley-Rex.
Thomas’ scoring and ball-handling will be tough to replicate, but the Bombardiers have strength and athleticism in the post. Junior Meg Gordon developed into a double-double machine last year, using her quickness and length to cause problems in the paint. Senior Ryan Johnson is another forward with length that can impact the game on the glass and protecting the rim.
In the backcourt, senior Gabby Bosh is back to run the point as well as being a pesky defender. Juniors Hailey and Lindsey Perry will also add to the depth at the guard position and to the team’s overall speed and defensive effort. Freshmen guards Kayla Goldrick and Narissa Smith are newcomers that have the potential to make an instant impact and should immediately find themselves in the backcourt rotation.
Attleboro coach Marty Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. This is by far the most athletic team we have had and hopefully we can use that to our advantage. We are blessed to be in the gym everyday with such great kids and that is a win in itself.”
2019-2020 Record: 13-10 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jim Choquette
Canton has been a youthful team with potential for the past two seasons and the Bulldogs come into the winter with an opportunity to turn that potential into the program’s first league title since 1992. After graduating just one player from last year’s team and with many of its standout players now in year three as starters, Canton has the experience to match its talent.
Juniors Fay and Sydney Gallery and Kiara Cerruti have been standouts since their first games as freshmen and have the all-around games to cause match-up problems for the opposition. All three can score from the perimeter, but Sydney gives the Bulldogs a presence on the post while Fay can score off the dribble and be a playmaker on offense. Cerruti is a pure scorer, with good range and the ability to take defenders off the bounce.
Depth should be a strength for the Bulldogs this season, with players able to come off the bench and produce at every position. Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere will return in the backcourt, giving Canton solid ball-handlers and a pair of strong defenders. Senior Kayla Albert adds length and rebounding in the paint and sophomore Samya DaSilva showed off great footwork last year and will be another scoring threat on the block.
“I’m very excited to take the floor with this group of girls,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “I love their desire to improve, win games and represent the town of Canton to the best of their abilities. We all want to improve on our past successes, and we’ve been working hard to do so. Very lucky to be coaching this team!”
2019-2020 Record: 24-2 2019-2020 Finish: D2 State Co-Champion Coach: Lisa Downs
Foxboro closed out the 2019-20 season by winning its final 16 games and securing a second state title in the past three seasons. The Warriors graduated four starters from last year’s team, so players will have to step into bigger roles this season and newcomers will have to produce right away to make it five straight Davenport titles.
Defense and tempo are the hallmarks of Foxboro’s success under head coach Lisa Downs and that should be the same this year. For scoring, the Warriors are going to count on senior Katelyn Mollica. One of the top players in the league for the past three seasons, the Stonehill College-commit is one of the league’s top shooters and strong help defender. Senior Jordyn Collins is another key component from last year’s team, as a tenacious defender and a slasher who can get to the rim.
Senior Hannah Blake will step into the starting lineup at center this winter and Downs thinks that she has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the league. Senior Morgan Sylvestre had some big moments last year (for instance, the D2 South final against Hingham) and will see more time at point guard this year. Freshmen guards Camryn Collins and Erin Foley will both be in the mix right away and sophomore Lauren Miley is back after missing all of last year with an injury.
“We graduated a large chunk of our roster from last season so we will have quite a few new faces on the court to accompany Katelyn,” Downs said. “We will continue to focus on our defensive efforts and will strive to pursue the fast pace that we have become familiar with. Safety of the girls is obviously my first concern, but it is also my hope to be able to provide the most fulfilling season possible in terms of overall improvement on both ends of the court.”
2019-2020 Record: 25-0 2019-2020 Finish: D1 State Co-Champion Coach: John Leighton
Last winter, Franklin went start-to-finish as the top team not only in the league but in the state and capped off an undefeated season with the program’s first state championship. The graduation of center Ali Brigham, who was arguably the program’s best-ever player, is a big change for the Panthers this year but there is plenty of talent and experience on the roster to make a push for a three-peat of Kelley-Rex titles.
Junior Olivia Quinn is one of the main reasons that the Panthers are considered the favorites in the Kelley-Rex again this year. Quinn scored nearly 400 points and was one of the top three or four players in the league last season. She continues to develop and improve and will be the focal point of the offense this year. Senior Erin Quaile is the two-time Defensive Player of the Year but is also a solid point guard who limits turnovers, calms things down, and gets Franklin into its sets.
The offense will obviously look a little different this year, without a 6-foot-3 center in the middle, but the Panthers have talent on the wings to cause problems. Seniors Elizabeth Wilson and Kaleigh Houlihan, and junior Stefany Padula can all stretch the defense with their ability to knock down perimeter shots. The forward position should also be strong with Emma Sousa, Brigid Early, and Katie Peterson giving Franklin length and athleticism on the block.
“We are excited to be back on the court and I have been very impressed by our depth,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “Our girls have been committed to getting better and competing on every play.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-9 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip head coach Dan Nagle has implemented a unique system based on high pressure and constant running. The Warriors don’t have to worry about shot clock violations. With a roster of athletic players who will all be counted on at some point and have a year of experience in the system, Nagle hopes this year’s team can create even more chaos that last winter and push Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex.
Senior Emma Glaser is the team’s top returning scorer and the Springfield College-commit will be counted on to take a step up, as the Warriors lost their top three scorers to graduation and transfers. Glaser is an athletic wing with range out beyond the three-point line. Athleticism is a common theme for this roster. Senior Caroline Aaron is another versatile wing who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
Depth won’t be an issue for the Warriors, who regularly sub five players at once and everyone gets playing time. Junior guards Elizabeth Molla, Liv Lafond, Grace Clyde, and Julia Marsden will provide scoring punch. At 6-foot-3, sophomore center Emily Sawyer gives KP a unique weapon in the middle and looks more comfortable with the speed at varsity. Senior Courtney Keswick battled injuries last year but is back healthy and gives KP a consistent three-point threat. Sophomore Jackie Bonner is a scorer being moved up from JV who could be poised for a breakout year.
Nagle said, “It’s year two in the system, so the learning curve has been a lot smaller and kids are picking things up fast. What we do is no secret. It’s going to be pandemonium every game, win or lose. This year’s team might even be a better fit for it because generally we have better team speed and it being year two makes a huge difference.”
2019-2020 Record: 9-14 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Heather McPherson
After more than two decades in charge, Mike Redding retired as head coach after last season. There will be some continuity for the program however, as former player and assistant coach Heather McPherson will move into the first seat this year. McPherson can count on continuity on the floor as well, with six seniors among the returning players for the Hornets.
While the Hornets missed the playoffs last year, they also had some impressive wins against playoff teams along the way, beating Attleboro, King Philip, and Bishop Feehan. Senior Kayla Vine was one of the league’s top perimeter shooters and also a solid playmaker with her ability to get into the paint. Senior Ashley Santos extended her range as a shooter last year was a strong all-around player that was a tough matchup on both ends of the court. Sophomore Abby Wager showed flashes of her potential as a scorer during a strong rookie season and her development could be a big boost this year.
Mansfield will have plenty of depth to call on. Senior Ally Prentis adds another shooter, senior Sarah Dooling is another versatile forward, and seniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking give the Hornets a lot of height in the paint. Junior Anna Darlington and sophomore Olivia Salisbury should see more time in the backcourt.
McPherson said, “I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to begin my varsity coaching career, they have set an exciting tone to the season with their energy, effort, enthusiasm. With all of the uncertainty that this year has brought we are excited for the opportunity to be playing basketball. For us to compete each night we will need to play good fundamental basketball.”
2019-2020 Record: 3-17 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: TJ Dolliver
While Milford went winless in league play last year, the Hawks lost no one to graduation and will have seven seniors on this season’s roster. Experience will be a key for Milford, which for the first time will be playing in the Kelley-Rex division. Although the Hawks have struggled at times offensively, no one can argue with the team’s effort and athleticism, especially on defense (ask state champion Foxboro, which was held to just 44 points last year) and that should once again be the team’s strength.
Senior Emma Lawrence will be the team’s focal point this year after an all-star junior season. Lawrence has long arms, endless energy, and the ability to get to the basket. Fellow senior Jillian Michelson is another player who will shadow the opposing team’s top offensive player and use her speed and length to cause problems. Sophomore Brooke Ferreira stepped in at point guard last year and had an impressive rookie campaign. Her ball-handling and ability to get into the lane was critical to the team’s offense, which could at times struggle from the perimeter.
Milford is not a tall team, but the Hawks have several versatile forwards that crash the boards and will make it tough for teams to score in the paint. Seniors Carly Ferreira, Katie Maietta, and Elise Fauerbach add physicality on the block for a team that likes to get up and pressure the ball.
“Having a senior-heavy roster and a team of hard working girls, this season will be a lot of fun,” said Milford coach TJ Dolliver.
2019-2020 Record: 9-11 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Nikki Correia
Under first-year head coach Nikki Correia, North Attleboro bounced back last year and went into the final game of the regular season with a chance of clinching a return to the postseason. Although Big Red missed out on the tournament, the Rocketeers come into this season with optimism. A year of experience in Correia’s system and a strong corps of returning players gives North hopes of springing a surprise in the Davenport division.
Senior guard Amanda Kaiser will remain the focal point for opposing defenses and will force them to extend beyond the three-point line to prevent her from getting going. Kaiser is also a strong defender, who can kickstart the North break by forcing turnovers. Sophomore Summer Doherty is another wing player whose quickness and length causes problems on defense and her strength allows her to get into the lane on offense.
Senior Siobhan Weir keeps things calm even as North tries to get out and run as often as possible, while also adding a strong mid-range game. Senior Lydia Santos missed last season with injury and will be another strong ball-handler and leader in the backcourt. Sophomore Ava McKeon had an impressive rookie season on the wing and uses her strength and athleticism to get into the lane and her energy to get on the boards. Fellow sophomore Taylor McMath got called up last season and made an instant impact as a post player. North isn’t the tallest team, but McMath gives the Rocketeers extra length in the paint on both ends of the floor.
“I know with my team they have been so excited just to be on the basketball court again with their teammates and ready to compete,” said Correia. “Overall we have a strong unit and I can not wait to start the basketball season and see what these girls will do as a team. They all bring different strengths to the game so once they can mesh it all together on the court it will be great to see.”
2019-2020 Record: 14-7 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division for the first time since 2016, when the Tigers won their last league title. OA returns with the goal of ending Foxboro’s four-year run as the top team in the division and has a talented, experienced roster to try and win the program’s Hock-best 23rd league title.
The Tigers pushed Franklin for the Kelley-Rex crown all the way to the final week of league play last year and that experience has given them added confidence heading into the new season. Injuries took their toll down the stretch, but when fully healthy OA boasts one of the deepest rosters in the league. Caroline Flynn is more of a point forward than a point guard but she has developed into one of the league’s top playmakers, while also being one of its top rebounding guards. Caroline Peper battled a back injury all of last season, but when healthy is one of the top shooters in the Hock.
Junior Hailey Bourne has emerged as one of the top defensive players in the league, capable of guarding players on the perimeter or in the post. Senior Jess Erlich adds shooting from her forward position. OA has six returning players who will be bolstered by an exciting crop of newcomers, including freshman guard Jasmyn Cooper.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook, who passed the 700-win mark last season, said, “OA’s strengths will come from the depth of their lineup and a cast of young and upcoming players with great intensity and love for the game. Despite the challenges associated with pandemic, OA is excited to have the chance to play this season and value every second they get to compete for the top spot.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Sandy Lombardi
Sharon finished with only four wins last season, but the Eagles also lost seven games by 10 points or less, including five games by five points or fewer and twice lost by a single basket. With a good core of versatile players returning, the Eagles are hoping to make a move up the standings in what continues to be a competitive Davenport division.
The graduations of Ally Brown and Kaitlyn Wallace take away two of the team’s top ball-handlers and perimeter scorers, but the Eagles can make up for that with strength in the paint. Senior Leah Fandel and junior Trinity Payne are difference makers on both ends of the court, capable of crashing the boards, protecting the rim, and offering interior scoring. Both players are capable of stepping back and knocking down short jumpers too, adding a different dimension to the offense.
Sophomore guards Tess Letendre and Emily Freeman will be counted on to pick up some of the slack on the perimeter and get the Eagles into their offensive sets. Seniors Gaby Cabral and Julia Early will also be counted on to take bigger roles this season. The Eagles will also have a pair of freshmen, Rachel Hager and Eva Poulton, who will be expected to contribute right away.
“I’m excited for the girls to have an opportunity to play this season,” said Sharon coach Sandy Lombardi. “Looking back a few months ago I would not have imagined us having a season at all.”
2019-2020 Record: 9-11 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last year, falling just one win short of qualifying for the tournament (that included a one-point loss to North Attleboro midway through the season). The Black Knights will have to try and make up for the graduation of their two leading scorers, Aliyah Wright and Shyanne Trinh, but head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan expects that this year’s roster will live up to the program’s standard of hustle, hard work, and aggressiveness.
Mackenzie Manning is the team’s top returning scorer and Steele Jordan is counting on the senior guard to provide leadership and passion for the younger players. Fellow seniors Cate Downey and Jess Maddalena (who is out for the season with an injury) are also going to be counted on to set the tone for the team.
Junior guard Makaiyah Singleton Rivera saw plenty of time last year and gives the Black Knights a boost of speed and energy on the perimeter. There are also several underclassmen who will be jumping up to varsity and could add important minutes this season. Sophomore guards Kiara Scardina and Shayla Ford and freshman forward Alyssa Edwards are newcomers to keep an eye on this season.
Steele Jordan said, “I’m really thankful for all the players that came out for our program this year in the middle of pandemic. Looking forward to kicking off the season in 2021. Our goals have not changed, the Black Knights will play hard, play together and represent the Stoughton community with pride this season.”
2019-2020 Record: 5-15 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Amy Siggens
Taunton has struggled to get going this winter, as practices were halted after just three days and the teams won’t resume basketball activities until next week, which has forced the opening games with Attleboro to be postponed. The Tigers will also be without last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Kameron St. Pierre, who has opted out. With all of that, second-year head coach Amy Siggens is still excited that the team this season and building on the fundamentals of her system.
The Tigers will be an experienced, if still young, team this season. Seniors Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will be the focal points on the offensive end. They are both versatile players capable of stepping back and knocking down shots and also taking their defenders off the dribble. Their athleticism on both ends of the court makes them a tough matchup. They also provide leadership for a team that is building consistency. The Tigers won five games last year, but also lost seven times by single digits, including once in overtime.
A strength of the team will be its depth in the backcourt. Senior Tori DaRosa is a tough defender and gets the Tigers into their sets. Juniors Abby Souza and Braeley McDonald are also strong options to provide shooting off the bench. Sophomore Maddie Michenzie can be a force on the boards and adds a different dimension in the post on both ends of the court.
“We’re rolling with the punches here,” said Siggens about having to postpone practices until the New Year. “Everyday is something new and you just have to adjust. We’re focusing on the leadership of our seniors but also the development of our young kids. This is a year to really pull it back and go after the fundamentals and the basics.”
Team: Franklin girls basketball
2020 Kelley-Rex Division Champions
2020 Division 1 State Champions
It may still have been the regular season and there was a lot of basketball standing between the teams and a trophy, but there was a distinct sense of anticipation when Franklin and Bridgewater-Raynham met up in the first round of the Comcast Classic at Woburn High. A lot of people in the stands were wondering if the Panthers, who had been widely-considered the top team in the state since preseason, were as good as advertised.
Franklin made a statement, leading from the opening tip and pulling out a comfortable 58-41 victory over the eventual Div. 1 South champion. It was a turning point, where the 2020 Franklin girls basketball team recognized that it could play at another level, one that even the top teams in the state would struggle against. It was a confidence boost that carried the Panthers to a second straight D1 Central crown, a perfect season, and the program’s first state championship.
“That’s when we started to realize, and that was in February, that maybe it’s even beyond what we originally thought,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “Some of the kids said they wanted to go undefeated from day one, and that’s a great goal, but seeing it become a reality is a different thing.”
Senior center Ali Brigham, who was named league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year for the second season in a row, added, “We didn’t want the rankings to do the talking. We actually wanted to go out and do it ourselves. I think every single person, when we stepped on that court, and even days before when we knew we were playing B-R, it was time to lock in and play how Franklin basketball played. We did the talking in our play.”
While there was plenty of attention on Franklin coming into the season, after reaching the state semifinal the year before and with Brigham, a George Washington-commit, returning in the middle, the Panthers had some questions. Two starters from 2018-19, Shannon Gray and Bea Bondhus, graduated and it wasn’t obvious who would emerge as an offensive threat to take the pressure off Brigham.
Those questions were answered in the first week of play. Juniors Kaleigh Houlihan and Elizabeth Wilson added outside shooting, senior Megan O’Connell and sophomore Emma Sousa added athleticism and versatility at forward, and junior point guard Erin Quaile continued to be a rock on both ends of the court. Meanwhile sophomore Olivia Quinn scored 20-plus points in two of the first three games and became one of the league’s top players this season.
“It made me and Ali’s lives super easy,” said O’Connell. “Instead of trying to find people to step up and take those roles, people were gunning for them. Olivia Quinn is tremendous. No one worked harder than her in the offseason and that was clearly visible by all of her accomplishments.”
The Panthers dominated from game one. The only team that managed to keep it close against Franklin was Holy Name, which lost by four and by nine in the two regular season meetings. It seemed that Franklin could flip a switch and take over games on both ends of the court.
Against King Philip, the Panthers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. On the road at title rival Oliver Ames, Brigham and Quinn combined for 37 points in the second half and they won by 30. Davenport (and D2) champion Foxboro was down by single digits in the fourth quarter until a 17-0 run broke the game wide open.
“To go undefeated, and any team that gets to do it will say the same thing, you just need that consistency that the players are able to bring,” Leighton explained. “You need to bring that every day and if you have kids who aren’t feeling well or working on an injury, it doesn’t matter. You need to bring that same level day.”
O’Connell said the team was aware of the rankings and the hype surrounding the team but added, “The coaches did a great job of keeping us level-headed and not letting that go to our heads. They said that means absolutely nothing unless you go out and show everyone that is true.”
The Comcast Tournament, which also included a 17-point win against D4 state champion Cathedral, came at the perfect time. Along with a one-point win against New Hampshire power Bishop Guertin, the Panthers closed out the regular season by overcoming tough challenges, a good warm-up for the state tournament and additional confidence for a team that was already riding high.
“There is a fake confidence, fake bravado,” said Leighton, “but then you have that real confidence when you look at each other in the huddle and you just know that we can come back and do what we need to do. You know you can get that look, you know you can make that stop, and you can count on the kid next to you to make that play.”
In the playoff opener, Brigham achieved an important personal milestone, solidifying her place in program history. With a free throw late in a big win against Framingham, she passed Kelly Meredith to become the school’s all-time leading scorer (male or female). She finished her career with 1,692 points (and also with a school record 1,276 rebounds).
“I wrote a letter to myself when I was in eighth grade to my 2020 self,” Brigham recalled. “My main goal was to make the varsity basketball team.”
“I’m just really glad that I was able to do it,” she continued. “I put in a lot of work, and especially having it be my last home game, which was pretty cool. It was almost like I wasn’t even the most excited in that video.”
Leighton said, “At no point was Ali worried about Ali this year and that tells you so much about her. She’s a program-changing player. The young kids at Franklin playing at halftime to high-five Ali Brigham, those kids are going to remember that. Her legacy will last a very long time here.”
King Philip coach Dan Nagle said, “Ali is a real issue (obviously) because she not only is bigger than any kid in our league, but she is incredibly skilled and unselfish. If you double her, she finds a wide open shooter. If you don’t double her, she scores easily with a wide variety of moves/finishes. She even hit a three against us this year and I know we weren’t alone. She is a ridiculous talent.”
In the Central semifinal, Franklin faced Holy Name for the third time and the first quarter did not go as planned. The Panthers were held to just six points in the first and looked out of sorts. “They knew everything you wanted to do,” said O’Connell. “They knew I was going to pump fake and go to the left and whatever. It was super frustrating for all of us and we just had to turn it around.”
Franklin closed the gap to one at halftime and then dominated the second half to win by 17. That momentum carried into the Central final, as the Panthers jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back. Even when the offense was struggling, as it did in the third quarter against Natick, the defense locked opponents down and different players stepped up each night with key plays to get the win.
“I honestly think they were far and away the best team in the state this year,” Nagle said. “Even the very best teams could hang with them for a quarter or two, but eventually their size/talent, coupled with extremely organized and effective coaching, really separated them from the rest of the pack. It was a group of kids that from an opposing coach/onlooker’s perspective really understood and embraced their roles, and simply executed them to perfection night-in and night-out all season long.”
When the final horn sounded in the state semifinal win against Minnechaug, the celebrations were muted. It was clear from the players and coaches that reaching the final wasn’t the ultimate goal and there was still work to be done. Unfortunately, the following night it was announced that the final would be canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m so sad that it ended that way,” said O’Connell. “I was in my driveway and I was tagged in a Twitter post. I was like, holy crap, I would’ve stayed [at practice] all night if I had known they were going to cancel it.”
Brigham said, “The last practice we had we all got into a circle and were just talking about it. It was like an, ‘okay, we’ll see you tomorrow,’ thing. Driving home, I pulled into my garage and got the text that we’re not playing. We weren’t able to have that final goodbye together as a team, we still haven’t. It’s definitely unfortunate because we didn’t get to end it the way a team should.”
Weeks after that final practice, both players were able to reflect on the achievements of the season and the history that the team made this winter even if there is still disappointment about not having that moment in the spotlight. Brigham joked, “I’m really competitive so the fact that another team thinks they’re state champions too, that doesn’t go over very well with me.”
Leighton also took time to reflect on the perfect season and the first title in program history.
He said, “That banner will always be there and that’s a piece of history and they really bought into that. I don’t think it diminishes anything in the kids’ eyes. In the moment it did, it stunk, but now that you have a moment to step back and reflect and look at everything that happened, I’m so proud of them.
“Fairly quickly, the team attitude was obvious, how we were getting at it in practice, the maturity, our work approach. We saw that early, but seeing that you could be really good is different from winning every game or winning a state championship. It’s a whole different level.”
Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Girls Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Ali Brigham, Franklin
Hockomock League All Stars
Nyah Thomas, Attleboro
Kiara Cerruti, Canton
Sydney Gallery, Canton
Katelyn Mollica, Foxboro
Shakirah Ketant, Foxboro
Lizzy Davis, Foxboro
Ali Brigham, Franklin
Olivia Quinn, Franklin
Faye Veilleux, King Philip
Faith Roy, King Philip
Kayla Vine, Mansfield
Emma Lawrence, Milford
Amanda Kaiser, North Attleboro
Caroline Flynn, Oliver Ames
Caroline Peper, Oliver Ames
Shyanne Trinh, Stoughton
Kameron St. Pierre, Taunton
Meghan Gordon, Attleboro
Fay Gallery, Canton
Abby Hassman, Foxboro
Erin Quaile, Franklin
Brianna James, King Philip
Ashley Santos, Mansfield
Carly Ferreira, Milford
Regan Fein, North Attleboro
Meg Holleran, Oliver Ames
Kaitlyn Wallace, Sharon
Aliyah Wright, Stoughton
WORCESTER, Mass. – When asked if the loss to Springfield Central in last year’s state semifinal game, three days short of a year before Tuesday night’s semifinal at Worcester State, was being used as motivation by his team, Franklin coach John Leighton dismissed that idea, saying that his team had already moved on.
“None, not at all,” Leighton explained. “We moved on and buried that. We celebrated winning the sectional championship with the three seniors from last year. Otherwise, you kind of live in past glory and it doesn’t motivate you forward.”
The Panthers can continue to look forward, as they pulled out a 55-43 victory against a feisty Minnechaug, which upset Springfield Central in the West final, to advance to the first state title game in program history. At the final horn, there were smiles and some cheers, but Franklin players reacted like it was business as usual.
“It’s the farthest that Franklin has ever been,” said senior Ali Brigham. “We make it this far, we’re not going to stop now. We wanted to make it to the championship game, which we did. It feels good to be there but that was an ugly game so hopefully we’ll be a lot better in that game.”
It was far from a perfect game for the Panthers, who struggled from the perimeter, making only two threes in the game and being forced to get almost every point at the rim.
“It was just one of those shooting nights,” said Leighton. The only good thing, I think our offensive rebound rate on those was really high, so that kind of helps give the shooters confidence that even if it’s not going we’re still creating offense. They’re good threes, I didn’t think we were chucking up the first shot, they just didn’t fall.”
Of course, having Brigham in the middle means that the Panthers cane find plenty of success going into the paint. The senior center finished with a game-high 25 points, 16 rebound, and three blocks. She got considerable help from second-leading scorer Olivia Quinn, as the sophomore added 16 points and five rebounds, including 10 points in the third quarter alone.
“It feels a lot better too when you have someone else to take the load off,” Brigham said of Quinn’s performance. “I thought Liv played great and without her we probably couldn’t have come out like this.”
Brigham was the focus of the Franklin offense right from the start. She scored 10 points in the first quarter, grabbed four boards, and drew five fouls as the undersized Falcons (who were without their star player Lauren Barry) had to surround Brigham with defenders. She got a basket off a Quinn pass to the post, on a drive from the top of the key, and on an offensive rebound.
With the Panthers leading 14-5 and time running out in the first, Emily Howard knocked down a deep three, beating the buzzer and keeping the Falcons close. That would become a theme on Tuesday, as Minnechaug knocked down seven threes as a team and never allowed Franklin to pull away.
In the second, Franklin continued to go inside to Brigham, who scored five points in the quarter. Stefany Padula also got free on the break for two, off a good pass by Megan O’Connell. The Panthers were held to only three made field goals in the quarter, but they only allowed four on the other end to keep the six-point lead at half.
After being saddled with two early fouls and having to sit more than usual in the first half, Quinn dominated the third quarter. She opened it with a three, which was the first outside shot that Franklin made in the game. After Autumn Strange banked in a three to get the Falcons within four, Brigham scored in the paint and had a nice pass over the top to Quinn for a layup.
Quinn took a feed from Emma Sousa and finished at the rim plus the foul, pushing Franklin’s lead to 10. Elizabeth Wilson got her first points of the night off a Quinn assist to make sure it stayed 10, 38-28, heading into the fourth quarter.
“She’s such a spark to our team,” Leighton said about Quinn. “She just naturally finds gaps, especially in the press. When they tried to cover us full-court it opened space for her and she can create.”
In the fourth, Franklin showed off its experience to never let Minnechaug get back into the game. Lillian Grono hit a three to cut the lead down to nine, 46-37, but Erin Quaile answered with one of her own at the other end to go back up by 12. Brigham scored eight in the fourth, including 6-for-6 at the line, and Wilson went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe to help the Panthers seal the win and a place in the final.
Leighton said, “It’s a tremendous feeling. I’m happy for the kids. They’ve just bought all in. They’re all in to be the best they can. They weren’t satisfied just now. There wasn’t a big celebration, they said if we want to keep going then we’re going to have to play better than that. They want to compete at the highest level.”
Franklin (25-0) will try to win the program’s first state championship and complete the perfect season when it takes on North champion Andover on Saturday at a time and location to be determined.