Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Boys Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
John McCoy, Mansfield
Hockomock League All Stars
Qualeem Charles, Attleboro
Bryant Ciccio, Attleboro
Devin Foster, Canton
Tony Harris, Canton
Brandon Borde, Foxboro
Joe Morrison, Foxboro
Chris Edgehill, Franklin
Paul Mahon, Franklin
Jalen Samuels, Franklin
Tyler Boulter, Mansfield
Sam Hyland, Mansfield
John McCoy, Mansfield
Kayden Kelley, Milford
Jack Spillane, Oliver Ames
Malik Lorquet, Sharon
Cam Andrews, Stoughton
Lens Esquil, Taunton
And no one was surprised because that’s the never-give-up type of team that Franklin is.
But when Mansfield was able to weather the storm, keep its lead, and break the pressure to pull away in the final minutes, it didn’t come as a big surprise either, because that’s the team the Hornets have been this season.
And with that, Mansfield earned a hard-fought 67-54 win over Franklin to earn the D1 State Championship, the first in program history.
“We’d knew they would press and do whatever they needed to do to get back into the game, that’s who they are,” said Mansfield senior Sam Hyland (17 points, five rebounds, four assists). “We turned it over more than we should have and we didn’t take the best shots. But from there it was just about winning the final three minutes, then winning the final two minutes, and so on. It was just about focusing at the time at hand and outworking them. They hit some deep shots, I have to commend them for those, sometimes you have to live with it. But we did enough at the end.”
Mansfield led by as much as 18 points, up 59-41 with five minutes to play in the game after Ryan Otto (four points, four rebounds) hit a deep two just before the shot clock expired.
But true to form, Franklin turned things around. Jalen Samuels (seven points, seven rebounds, four assists) hit a free throw and then took a charge to get some momentum back. Sophomore Chris Edgehill (18 points) hit in the lane and Paul Mahon (14 points) splashed in a three to get the game back to ten, 59-49 with four minutes to play.
Out of a timeout he Panthers’ Matt Elias (eight points) picked off a pass at midcourt, leading to another three from Edgehill and suddenly the Panthers trailed 59-52 with three minutes to go.
Franklin had three chances to close the gap further but Mansfield’s defense wouldn’t allow it. Mansfield forced three straight empty trips, and then in transition, Mansfield junior Damani Scottt (19 points, four rebounds) drew the defense in and dropped a pass off right under the hoop for an easy two from Otto.
The Panthers came up short on the other end again, and Mansfield went on to sink six free throws over the final 90 seconds to secure the win the D1 State Championship.
“I can’t really put it into words,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I know the last time we were [in the state championship], the stage might have been too big. From the moment we got on the bus on Thursday, the kids were locked in. They’ve been locked in all season long. It’s been a great ride. We did great things in D1 South, we did great things in the EMass game, and we did great things tonight.”
While it looked like it may turn into a blowout in the fourth quarter, Vaughan knew that Franklin would go down swinging to the very end.
“That’s a very good team we just played,” Vaughan said of the Panthers. “We made some shots, we did some things we had to do but [Franklin] wasn’t underprepared, this wasn’t a lack of effort by Franklin. If we play this game 10 times, five go one way and five go the other. It comes down to the fact at some point in the second and third quarters, we made a few extra baskets.
“They weren’t going to go away, they weren’t going to roll over. They play hard, they compete, they do all the little things well. They were going to give us every last breath they have. Paul Mahon is one of the best players our league has seen in terms of his ability to change the game on both ends of the floor, especially defensively. He held Tyler [Boulter] (four points, seven rebounds) in check tonight plus scored points of his own. Edgehill is a special player, we still have to deal with him for two more years as a top player in the league. And Samuels is great too, and then they have great role players who step in a do a lot of things for them.”
Franklin coach CJ Neely had a similar outlook, noting that in the end, the Panthers knew it would come down to the small things. The Panthers finished 10-for-22 from the free throw line compared to 23-for-30 from the Hornets.
“As much as the hype went on all week, we talked about how at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to a couple of loose balls, rebounding and taking care of the ball, and making our free throws,” Neely said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to and they [made their free throws]. When you play in this rivalry, if you’re not making your free throws and they are, and they can go from four to an eight-point lead instead of keeping it close.
“When it starts to expand, you have to come out of what you want to do a little bit. And both teams have had to do that in all three games, we’ve gotten out of what we wanted to do because the lead extended. Then you’re doing something that you practice but it’s not your go-to or your identity. You’re trying to get back into it and you’re taking a lot of risks. Mansfield did a good job of extending their lead making their free throws, and we didn’t. At the end of the day, we didn’t do what we needed to do.”
While Mansfield had the key runs throughout the second and third quarters, they needed another one in the first quarter just to keep pace with the red-hot Panthers.
Holding a 10-9 advantage late in the first quarter behind a free throw from Samuels, the Panthers got hot from deep. Mahon took a feed from Edgehill and made a deep three, and then repeated the same sequence two plays later for a 16-9 lead with just over a minute to play.
Mansfield was able to answer over the final minute though. Hyland drove hard for two, Scott completed a traditional three-point play on a possession the Hornets had because of a steal from Khristian Conner, and then Scott came up with a late steal and went in alone for a thunderous one-handed slam to tie the game after eight minutes.
Franklin’s offense picked up where it left off as Elias drained a three to open the second quarter and junior Will Harvey joined in on the three-party with a corner trifecta for a 22-16 lead just over a minute into the second.
Hyland hit a three but Edgehill answered with a traditional three-point play to keep the Panther advantage at four. A free throw from Scott cut it to three, and two more from Justin Vine (five points) made it one after he went to the line after hauling in a defensive rebound because Mansfield was in the bonus.
With both Scott and Hockomock League MVP John McCoy (18 points, 11 rebounds) in foul trouble for the Hornets — and Samuels for the Panthers — Mansfield’s Hyland stepped up into the spotlight.
Hyland hit another trifecta, this one putting the Hornets up 27-25 with just under three minutes left in the half. Elias hit one free throw to make it a one-point game but Hyland got his layup to fall while fighting through a foul, completing the three-point play at the line. Two possessions later, Hyland once again attacked the basket, draw the foul, and got a kind bounce off the rim for another three-point play, plus a 33-26 lead.
Hyland finished with 12 of Mansfield’s 19 points in the second quarter and tied a career-high with 17 points overall on top of five rebounds and four assists.
“There wasn’t a specific game plan to get me going but we got into some foul trouble early so someone else had to step up and score points, it’s the Mansfield way,” Hyland said. “I had a couple open opportunities early that sometimes I’d pass up and wouldn’t take but fortunately I knocked them down. That gave me the confidence and then I started to get to the rim. I got a couple of bounces to go my way, a couple of calls and had a strong first half that kind of got the momentum back on our side. It ended up working out pretty nice.”
Franklin’s defense came out strong in the second half, holding Mansfield scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the third. However, Mansfield’s defense was equal to the task and the Panthers only scored once, a layup from Mahon, during that stretch.
McCoy drained a three to give Franklin some life, pushing the lead to 38-28. Mansfield went up as much as 14 points in the frame (44-30) on a traditional three-point play from Scott. But Franklin closed with an 8-4 run with Samuels scoring the first four and Elias and Edgehill each contributing two.
Franklin nearly had a big stop to keep the deficit in single digits at the end of the quarter, but Hyland came flying in to steal an offensive board for an easy putback.
Mansfield opened the fourth with a set play to get two for McCoy, and then ran a set that resulted in a corner three for Vine. McCoy knocked down a pair of technical free throws to stretch it to 55-38.
Mahon answered for Franklin with a triple but two more from McCoy at the line, and a deep two from Otto gave Mansfield a commanding 59-41 lead, only for Franklin to charge back with its 11-0 run to make it a seven-point game.
“The resilience of this team….we’re never going to go away,” Neely said. “We’re not going to be the team that plays for the newspaper and loses by 10 or 11, we’re going to go out there and try and cut back into it as much and possible, and we’ll lose by 50 but we’ll do it trying to get back into it.
“We just couldn’t make a couple of those baskets there to get back into it. When Mansfield builds a lead like that, they do a great job of moving the ball and making you work, getting to the line and making their free throws.”
Vaughan agreed, stressing the importance of getting a big lead because he knew Franklin would continue to push back.
“This was a game we were fortunate to be up 18 so we could weather the storm and let the clock tick away,” Vaughan said. “But it comes down to what we’ve done all year. Otto steps up and has a huge basket, Vine hits the three in the corner. Different guys doing different things makes a huge difference for our team.”
While the Hornets secured their first state title win with a victory over rival Franklin, Vaughan noted his squad focused more on themselves and getting a win than about the rivalry.
“It wasn’t really about the opponent, it was just about winning this game,” Vaughan said. “If anything, there’s a part of me that knows how hard it is to get here, and I know what Franklin basketball is all about, and what CJ is all about and most of those kids I’ve coached at some point. They are great kids, great young men.
“There’s a part of me that has some sympathy. I wish there were times we weren’t in the same division and we didn’t face each other at some point. But we’ve also lost to Franklin back when they were in the South. It wasn’t about who we were playing, but it was about playing in this game and doing everything we can to win it.”
Franklin finishes the season 23-4 and had a second straight appearance in the D1 State Finals.
“The guys should be very proud of themselves,” Neely said of his team. “They are working hard year round, they are sacrificing a lot to put Franklin on the map and be one of the powers in the state. We’ve beaten a lot of good teams this season, we didn’t shy away from challenges. They should be very proud of themselves.
“These guys have brought Franklin to a place they had never been before and did it twice in a row. They have a lot to be proud of. Obviously, both teams wanted to win tonight, it’s two great teams that know a lot about each other. [Mansfield] was the better team tonight.”
Mansfield boys basketball picks up its 27th win of the season, finishing with just two losses.
“This win means a lot, I know a lot of players on [Franklin] and I’m pretty close friends with some of them,” McCoy said. “It’s definitely just amazing to beat Franklin in my last high school game.”
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WORCESTER, Mass. – When Franklin took on Springfield Central at the DCU Center in Worcester a year ago, Chris Edgehill scored eight points in 20 seconds to tie the game and lead the Panthers to an overtime win to clinch a berth in the state championship.
This year, when the two teams met again on Thursday night, no such heroics were needed.
Franklin played a near-perfect game en route to a 62-43 win over the Golden Eagles, handing Central its first loss of the season.
“This game was a little bit more comfortable than last year, we were watching guys cry as we put ourselves together to come back and win last year, so this game I thought we had a much more complete performance from start to finish, I was pretty confident in what we were doing out there,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely.
Franklin started out the game on a 15-4 run and finished the first quarter up 21-10 behind two threes from Matt Elias (14 points) and a strong start from senior Paul Mahon, who had eight of his ten points in the first frame. Elias hit another just under a minute into the third quarter, putting the Franklin crowd into a frenzy.
“The threes early were great, he’s been big for us all year, and he kind of hit a slump for a couple games and wasn’t spacing the floor the way he has been, and I think that’s what opens things up for Chris [Edgehill], and hitting those early gave him a lot of confidence,” Neely said on the early threes from Elias.
Springfield Central chipped away at the Franklin lead in the second quarter, behind Levi Grady-White (12 points, three rebounds), who came off the bench to give the Golden Eagles a spark with eight points in the second quarter.
With just over three minutes left in the second quarter, Elias, who had already hit three trifectas for Franklin, looked to take an elbow to the head and was removed from the game. He would miss the rest of the quarter, but returned to start the second half. Springfield Central would go on a 7-1 run with Elias out of the game, cutting Franklin’s lead to six at 29-23 heading into the locker room at halftime.
To start the third quarter, Grady-White and Jalen Samuels (13 points, eight rebounds) traded baskets, but after Grady-White cut the lead to four with 5:38 left in the third quarter, Edgehill buried a three from the corner to put Franklin up 34-27.
“The shot looked off honestly, shooter’s bounce is what they call that, but definitely whenever I’m hitting shots I’m always gaining confidence, and my team gains confidence in me,” Edgehill said.
That confidence was on full display, as after being called for a charge, Edgehill (18 points, four rebounds, six assists) had a beautiful spin in the lane and finished with a layup for two points that extended Franklin’s lead to 36-27. A putback by Samuels with just under a minute left in the third quarter put Franklin up 42-30, a lead they held until the fourth quarter.
Springfield Central opened the fourth with a 6-0 run that included a three from Josiah Green (nine points), and a bucket from Anthony Kelley (nine points), who spent most of the game battling foul trouble. With Franklin holding onto a six-point lead, Elias struck again from beyond the arc to put Franklin up 45-36.
The Panthers didn’t look back from there, closing the game on a 17-7 run to finish off a 62-43 win and to clinch a berth to the MIAA Division 1 State Final for the second year in a row.
When they arrive at the MassMutual Center on Saturday night for the state final, it will be a familiar face on the opposite bench, as the Panthers will take on the Mansfield Hornets for the third time this season to renew their rivalry on the biggest stage yet.
“It speaks to the strength of our league, both of us have gone back and forth over the past how many years, splitting games in the regular season, both guys kind of getting things done on some nights and looking much better than the other team, and then going back and having the same thing happen on the other side, so it speaks to the Hockomock and the strength of what we’re bringing to the table every night,” Neely said about playing the Hornets. “It’s kind of like Duke-North Carolina in the National Championship game, you see what you can do, and obviously, we both know each other like the back of our hands, so it will be interesting.”
“It’s a dream come true,” Edgehill said about the state final matchup. “There’s nothing better than in the regular season going then going to that Mansfield gym, and it’s going to be a different atmosphere obviously in that big facility we’re playing in, but it’s the rivalry between Franklin and Mansfield that as a kid you’re just like, ‘I want to be apart of that,’ and it shows how good the Hock is compared to other leagues.”
“That’s going to be a great game, knowing our fans are huge and their fans are huge, it’s going to be a great environment,” Samuels said about facing Mansfield for the third time this season.
Mansfield’s (26-2) road to the state final this year included wins over Newton South, BC High, Newton North, Brockton, and Everett.
Franklin boys basketball (23-3) beat Lincoln-Sudbury, Natick, Algonquin, and Springfield Central on their way to their second straight state final appearance.
So it’s only fitting the Panthers came up with a pair of big stops to secure a 58-53 win over Algonquin to clinch the program’s second straight D1 Central Sectional Championship.
Holding a 55-50 lead with 4:21 to go, the Panthers relied on the defensive end to clinch the title. The Tomahawks had the momentum, sandwiching a bucket from Nick Redden (25 points, 11 rebounds) around two defensive stops to get within two.
The Panthers got a turnover but gave the ball back on an offensive foul that negated an and-one opportunity. Once again, Franklin got the stop it needed but the rebound bounced around and out of bounds. Algonquin called a timeout with an inbounds chance under the Franklin basket with 39.3 to go.
The Tomahawks tried to inbound the ball but Franklin senior Paul Mahon (18 points, five steals) read the play, launching into the air to tip the ball free while diving into the opposing bench. Senior Jack Rodgers tracked it down for an open layup and a 57-53 lead.
“If we were going to go out it, we were going to do it playing our style of basketball,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely about being aggressive on the final possessions. “We weren’t going to hope to not lose, we went out there to win the game. I thought our rotations were very aggressive, we got we trap when we wanted to trap them and we got some of the deflections out of it. We said at halftime this game is going to come down to deflections, loose balls, rebounds, and a couple of stops.”
Back down the other end of the court, Redden missed a jumped but Algonquin grabbed the offensive board. But an errant pass bounced around in the paint before Franklin junior Jalen Samuels (six points, 12 rebounds) grabbed hold, tossing a pass ahead for Mahon who was followed. He hit one of two free throws with 15.2 to ice it.
“It was a risk-reward play but I saw the ball in the air and I thought to myself “that’s mine“ so I went up and try to make a play on it and Jack made a nice play to track it down and score,” Mahon said.
Franklin held a 49-42 lead heading into the final quarter but the Tomahawks needed just 1:34 for a 7-0 run to tie the game.
Panthers sophomore Chris Edgehill (23 points) snapped the run with a nice take to the rim to go up 51-49. Algonquin answered with a free throw to get within one. The teams traded turnovers and then Mahon poked away another ball, leading to a break from the Panthers.
Edgehill drove to the basket to drive the defense before kicking to the corner to Rodgers. But as the defense scrambled to him, he alertly used one extra pass to get it to Mahon, who stepped up and calmly buried the triple to make it 54-50 with 4:51 to play. It was just Franklin’s third made three of the game (finishing 3-for-23 from beyond the arc).
“That felt good,” Mahon said. “I kind of get a little streaky with my shooting. We wanted Chris to attack the basket tonight and get into the lane and dish it out. He kicked it to Jack and he found me and I just let it fly, it felt awesome.”
Mahon missed last year’s sectional final with an injury and was limited his sophomore year against St. John’s because of early foul trouble.
The senior captain scored 10 of his points in the opening quarter to help the Panthers get off to a strong start (22-17 lead after one quarter). He also took on the task of guarding Algonquin’s leading scorer, Kyle Henderson (over 20 points per game).
Mahon limited Henderson to just 13 points on 3-for-11 shooting and had a big hand in Henderson committing nine turnovers.
“What up player, what a person,” Neely said of Mahon. “He wanted the challenge the second we won our last game…he told me I want Henderson. He couldn’t wait for the opportunity he’s been talking about it all week. Obviously, Henderson is a great player, you’re not going to shut him down, but Paul did about as good as you probably can against him. He was averaging over 20 points per game and now that’s another person Paul holds under their average.
“He’s relentless on the defense of end of the floor so most guys wouldn’t be able to come down the other end and hit that big shot when you need them to but he seems to be everywhere. He’s been our true captain for two years by himself and there’s a really good reason for that with the effort he gives night in and night out.”
Franklin limited Algonquin to just three points over the final 5:30 of the game and forced six turnovers.
The Panthers had a rough start to the game, committing four of their 16 turnovers on their first four possessions, facing a 6-0 deficit before even getting a shot off. But Franklin settled down and used a 13-0 run to take the lead. Leading 18-8 in the frame, the Tomahawks got back into the game with a 9-4 run.
Franklin held a five-point lead three times but each time the Tomahawks had an answer to get within three. The Tomahawks tied the game 32-32 with a minute to go in the half but Edgehill fought through contact to make back to back baskets to give the Panthers a 36-32 lead at the break.
Redden was a big reason why the Tomahawks were in the game, scoring 18 points in the first half. Both Henderson and Brian Duffy did a nice job of forcing the Panthers to bring help and Redden cleaned up with some easy buckets down low.
Franklin remedied that in the second half, holding the Tomahawks’ big man to just seven points in the second.
“We were trapping ball screens off of him and they did a nice adjustment of picking and popping with him to get him some open looks,” Neely said. “We weren’t great on our rotation against him and he got some good looks. And then he had some nice post moves and got some buckets that way. He’s long and we don’t have many long guys will start the game.
“We had some tough matchups out there but we adjusted by rotating a bit better. And then sometimes we would switch and sometimes we wouldn’t, just a couple different combinations to mix it up. But for the most part, we wanted to make him put it on the ground and then play defense against him.”
In the third, the Tomahawks cut the deficit to three with a layup with three minutes to play, but a big three-point play from Samuels, two from Edgehill, another free throw from Samuels and a pair of free throws from Edgehill with two seconds left put Franklin ahead 49-42 at the end of three.
Franklin boys basketball (22-3) will take on D1 West Champion Springfield Central (22-0) in a rematch of last year’s state semifinal. The game is scheduled to tipoff on Monday at Worcester State University at 7:30.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
WORCESTER, Mass. – All season long, the Franklin boys basketball team has relied on their defense and a balanced scoring attack on their way to the top seed in the D1 Central tournament. On Sunday afternoon at WPI, Franklin stuck to that formula in a 68-54 win over #5 Natick in the D1 Central Semifinals.
The Panther’s defensive effort was in full force throughout the first quarter, as they limited the Red Hawks to just ten points to take an 18-10 lead. Franklin sophomore Chris Edgehill score seven of his team-high 19 points for Franklin, including a three that beat the buzzer to give Franklin an eight-point advantage heading into the second quarter.
After Natick’s Will Bodnitzki (nine points, three rebounds) scored with just over four minutes to go in the first half to cut the Franklin lead to 26-17, the Panthers went on a 10-2 run and didn’t give up a field goal to close out the half. Threes from Paul Mahon (13 points, two steals) and Matt Elias (eleven points) highlighted the run that also included two free throws from Jack Rodgers (six points, eight rebounds, three assists) and a basket from Will Harvey (two steals).
Jalen Samuels (13 points, ten rebounds, four assists), who sat most of the second quarter with foul trouble, scored Franklin’s first five points of the second half as he converted a layup before hitting a three on a nice assist from Rodgers.
“Jalen’s a special player when he’s going,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely about Samuels. “Not having him in the first half, luckily we were able to keep our lead for a while there, and then getting him back obviously, being a guy that can get off you on the dribble and having big guys guarding him, I think it’s hard for them to deal with a guy like Jalen.”
Late in the third quarter after two free throws from Mahon put Franklin up 51-30, Natick came storming back, going on a 9-2 run to close the quarter behind seven points from Jahden Erold (22 points, ten rebounds).
“Not our best performance in the second half, I thought our first half was Franklin basketball, the ball was moving, defense was there, rebounding was there for us, but in the second half we started to get a little careless with the ball and started getting a little whiny about the calls and soft on the glass and on defensive end of the floor,” Neely said about his team’s second half performance. “Fortunately enough for us, we were able to make enough shots to kind of survive there in the second half and get out here with a ‘W.’”
After Alexander Cohen (three points, two rebounds) made a three with 2:15 to play to cut Franklin’s lead to just eight at 60-52, Edgehill erupted for the Panthers, scoring eight points in the last two minutes of the game, including a game-clinching three with 28 seconds to play in what would be the last basket of the game.
“I think he’s certainly never been afraid of a big moment, he’s someone that wants the ball in his hands in crunch time,” Neely said about Edgehill. “He’s a great player, and I think we’re relying on him as a team a lot to get our points.”
Franklin (21-3) will face Algonquin (17-7) Friday night at 6:00 PM at WPI for the D1 Central title. The Tomahawks beat St. John’s Shrewsbury 82-70 on Sunday for the chance to play for their first sectional title since 2001.
By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – In last year’s D1 Central Quarterfinals, Franklin survived a major scare from Acton-Boxboro en route to a 59-52 win. This year, Franklin made sure that scare never came, as the top-seeded Panthers played a near-perfect game from start to finish in a 79-49 win over #8 Lincoln-Sudbury.
“This year, we talked about that [the Acton-Boxboro game] at practice and said how you can’t walk in and look at your number one seed and think that’s going to do the job and get you to win games, you have to go out and show why you earned that seed, be the team you have been all season that’s put you in the great position you’re in now, and I thought we did that tonight,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely about his team’s performance.
Franklin started the game out on a 10-2 run that included five points from Matt Elias (seven points), but L-S went on a 5-0 run behind threes from Kahmari Williams (11 points) and Jack Sorbo to cut the Franklin lead to 10-8 midway through the first quarter.
But Franklin dominated the rest of the half, using a 30-9 run, highlighted by 11 points and three steals from Paul Mahon (19 points, four steals) and seven points off the bench from Will Harvey. The run gave the Panthers a 40-17 halftime lead.
Franklin stifled the Warriors defensively throughout the first half, holding them to just 24% shooting in the half and not allowing them to grab an offensive rebound.
“We had a good scout on them, we knew what was going on and the guys did a great job of executing the game plan right from the beginning, we didn’t give them anything easy at all,” Neely added. “I thought every shot they took was difficult, and then Jalen [Samuels] was an animal on the boards, and as a team, I thought the box outs were tremendous.”
In the third quarter, Franklin outscored L-S 20-12 with Paul Rudolph (seven points) scoring five points and Jalen Samuels (eleven points, 13 rebounds) chipping in with six points. A three by Rudolph with just under a minute to go in the quarter gave the Panthers a 30 point lead at 58-28, and a layup by Alex Klowan (four points) with 29 seconds left in the quarter extended the lead to 60-28 heading into the fourth quarter.
Franklin turned to their bench for much of the fourth quarter, with Gavin Farnan chipping in six points and Jack Rudolph going 4-for-4 at the free throw line. Lincoln Sudbury pulled their starters with just over a minute to go where they got a nice ovation from the visiting crowd.
Franklin boys basketball (20-4) advances to the D1 Central Semifinal for the fifth straight season. They will take on #5 Natick at WPI on Sunday at 3:00. The only common opponent Franklin has with the Redhawks is Stoughton. Natick beat the Black Knights, 74-54, in a tournament game on December 30th. Franklin beat Stoughton, 93-58, in a Hockomock League game on January 26th.
“We gotta prepare for Natick the same way we prepared for these guys, we got to stay with the one game at a time mentality, we can’t look any further than Natick, they’re a really good team,” Neely said about Franklin’s upcoming opponent. “I’ve watched them play a couple times and they beat Newton North this year, they’re definitely a high powered team that we’re going to have to be ready for, so I’m not looking any further than Natick.”
After beating D1 South hopeful New Bedford on Sunday, the Panthers matched up with the state’s top-ranked team, Tech Boston, in the championship game of the Harvey Nasuti Winter Classic.
Although the flow of the game was hindered by nearly 50 foul calls, the Panthers made the runs at the right times and limited the Bears in transition, resulting in a 76-67 win.
“We feel like we’re one of the best teams in the state,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We’re not worried about who’s one or two or stuff like that. We talk about our goals and taking it one step at a time. This was our next goal [to win this tournament] and Tech Boston happened to the be the top-ranked team. They’re a very good team. We like that we can compete there and show what we’re made of, especially on the defensive side of the ball I think we did a great job able to slow them down some.”
Franklin sophomore Chris Edgehill scored a career-high 31 points and dished out five assists to garner the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor. Edgehill went 17-for-18 from the free throw line.
As a team, Franklin was 31-for-48 from the charity stripe, with 37 of those attempts coming in the second half.
The first quarter went back-and-forth with Tech Boston (16-1) twice building four-point leads (7-3, 11-7) but both times the Panthers came back. The latter comeback — a bucket from Jalen Samuels (13 points, 13 rebounds) on a feed from Paul Rudolph and two free throws from Edgehill — tied the game after eight minutes of play.
With the score knotted 18-18 in the second quarter, the Panthers rattled off a 12-3 run over the final 3:21 of the half.
Senior Paul Mahon (eight points, four assists) bookended the run with a pair of layups, Samuels had five straight points in the middle of the run and Edgehill drained a triple off a nice feed from Jack Rodgers. The run gave Franklin a 31-20 lead at the break.
“We wanted to take care of the ball and didn’t want to have too many live ball turnovers where it’s basically a pick six and they get a layup,” Neely said. “And we wanted to make them play half court and I thought if we could do those things we’d be alright. We can’t defend them in the full court if we turn it over and they are getting out. I think we had only three turnovers in the second quarter and we got some separation.”
Tech Boston upped its pressure to start the second half, using a full court press along with some trapping. The adjustment paid off and the visitors started the third quarter with an 8-0 surge to get within one point.
Franklin, however, had a response of its own. The Panthers went on a 14-0 run over the next four minutes to build the separation it needed to ride the rest of the way.
Matt Elias scored the first four points, Edgehill picked up four points via two technical free throws and a layup on the ensuing possession and then Mahon had four points breaking the press as well as an assist to Edgehill in transition.
By the end of the third quarter, the Panthers had a 55-38 lead on the previously unbeaten Bears.
“We knew they were going to have to adjust and start trapping us a little bit and putting some pressure on,” Neely said. “We didn’t do a good job adjusting right away but once we settled ourselves down and stopped chucking it around the gym, we were alright. Guys wanted the ball, they were flashing and catching and being strong with it. They weren’t just dribbling to nowhere. Once we started breaking the press we were fine. And Edgehill is great with the ball, you can rely on him to break some of those traps. And once you get through the top level we got some easy buckets.”
The Panthers didn’t have much of a chance to run their offense in the fourth quarter. Whether it was being fouled on defensive rebounds or trying to break the press, Franklin went to the line 28 times in the fourth quarter alone, sinking 16 attempts.
Franklin boys basketball (19-2) is back in action on Thursday when it travels to Cambridge Rindge & Latin in a rematch of last year’s D1 State Final. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
“We wanted to play a really hard schedule after what we did last year,” Neely said. “We hear it all the time about being in the Central [section]. We wanted to challenge ourselves against the best teams. We scrimmaged Needham, Newton North, and Burke earlier in the year, we played CM and New Bedford and [Tech Boston], we played Arlington. We’re ready, we wanted to be tested. The Central has some challenges, contrary to what people believe. So we wanted to be ready.”
Today’s games are listed below.
Attleboro, 70 @ Taunton, 45 – Final – Attleboro’s offense was clicking on Friday night, shooting over 60% from the field in a win over the Tigers. With the win, Attleboro qualifies for the state tournament. The Bombardiers were 29-for-48 from the field, including eight three-pointers. Sophomore Bryant Ciccio had a career-high 24 points along with seven assists, Kevin Velazquez and senior Nate Douglas each added 13 points apiece and sophomore Qualeem Charles had six points and 13 rebounds.
Stoughton, 56 @ Canton, 65 – Final – Canton added to its lead after each of the first three quarters to beat Stoughton and clinch a share of the Davenport division title, the program’s first Hock title since 1992. The Bulldogs led 11-8 after one, 32-26 at halftime and 47-37 heading into the fourth. Senior Jake Verille scored a career-high 20 points while classmate Austin Maffie poured in 20 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to pace Canton. Colin Sanda had 15 points and four assists for the Black Knights.
North Attleboro, 38 @ Foxboro, 56 – Final
King Philip, 49 @ Franklin, 62 – Final – Franklin pulled away in the fourth quarter to hold off an upset attempt from King Philip. The Panthers led 36-35 going into the final period and scored 26 points to secure the win. Senior Paul Mahon paced Franklin with 21 points while junior Jalen Samuels added 17 points.
Mansfield, 59 @ Oliver Ames, 48 – Final
Milford, 72 @ Sharon, 55 – Final – Milford scored 45 points in the first half, running away with a win over a division foe on the road. Junior Brendan White scored a game-high 24 points, Andrew Fraioli (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Kayden Kelley (10 points, 12 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles and Zach Tammaro chipped in with 13 points. Sharon senior Malik Lorquet scored a team-high 20 points for the Eagles.
Taunton, 42 @ Attleboro, 43 – Final – Jordyn Lako hit a go-ahead free throw with eight seconds left and Liv McCall sealed the win with a steal three seconds later. Sam Pierce scored 14 points to lead the Bombardiers, while Nyah Thomas added eight. Hannah Moniz was Taunton’s top scorer with 10 points.
Canton, 48 @ Stoughton, 49 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
Foxboro, 66 @ North Attleboro, 41 – Final – Lily Sykes scored a team-high 23 points for the Warriors, who capped off the program’s first perfect season in the Hockomock League.
Franklin, 57 @ King Philip, 41 – Final
Oliver Ames, 49 @ Mansfield, 42 – Final – Oliver Ames pulled away late, breaking open a 34-34 game by going 5-for-5 from the line and scoring off its defense down the stretch to earn a split of the season series with the Hornets. Abby Reardon and Caroline Flynn each came up with key free throws during that stretch. Kayla Raymond led the way for the Tigers with 14 points and Erin Holmberg added 11. Maggie Danehy had 13 and Mady Bendanillo had 10 for Mansfield.
Sharon, 55 @ Milford, 62 – Final – Emily Piergustavo celebrated senior night with a career-high in points and a triple-double to help the Hawks close out the regular season with a win. Piergustavo scored 27 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists. Julie Rabinowitz scored 14 for Milford, knocking down four three-pointers. Emma Eberhardt was Sharon’s top scorer with 27 points, while Telishya Herbert had 15 and Kaitlyn Wallace has 11.
The Franklin boys basketball team is looking like it’s going to be one of those teams.
The Panthers had three players score 15 or more points, building a 12-point lead at halftime, going up by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter and then had to fend off a late charge from Taunton’s reserves to earn a 63-51 win on the road.
Sophomore Chris Edgehill scored eight of his 15 points in the opening quarter, senior Jack Rodgers netted seven of his game-high 17 points in the second quarter and senior Paul Mahon spread his 15 points out equally across the second, third and fourth quarters to pace Franklin.
“I thought as long as we shared the ball like we can, and have four or five guys touch it we would be in good shape,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “It’s about trusting each other and trusting the offense. We talked a lot in practice about trusting each other, screening for each other, believing in what we’re doing. If we do everything we need to, we’re going to get good looks. I think they did a nice job tonight of not caring who scored. Having three guys with 15 or more points is a great way to share it. That makes it so you can’t stop one guy.”
Edgehill got the offense going early, accounting for over half of the Panthers’ 15 points. He opened Franklin’s scoring with a layup, hit a three, and later converted a traditional three-point play.
The Panthers quickly turned their three-point lead to nine with an early 6-0 spurt in the second quarter. Rodgers scored back-to-back buckets, both on assists from Edgehill, and Alex Klowan capped the run on another feed from Edgehill.
Mahon hit an open three and Klowan converted an offensive rebound to keep the lead at 10. A layup from Mahon and a triple with under a minute to go from Rodgers pushed the lead to 14 but Prince Brown answered for Taunton to cut the deficit to 12 (32-20) at halftime.
“When you play a team like that, you have to step up,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “You have to focus and it’s happened all year long, at some point we lose our focus. Either take a bad shot, make a defensive error, and then the run begins for no other reason than we made one mistake. Then it becomes two mistakes, then it snowballs and all of a sudden you’re down a decent margin. It’s frustrating.”
“[Franklin] plays such a sound, simple game like Mansfield does. We’ve got athletes too. I’m impressed so much by the simplicity of the game of Mansfield and Franklin. We go off the rails, and we just can’t produce points automatically…we have to work, work, work.”
The game opened up in the third quarter with a much faster tempo, which typically favors the Tigers. Taunton scored 14 points in the frame — its best period so far. But Franklin was equally as comfortable with the speed of the game, having its best offensive quarter with 20 points.
“Taunton’s very fast and when you turn the ball over, they make you pay for it,” Neely said. “We talked a lot about taking care of the basketball and not letting them get offensive rebounds. When they those things happened, they hurt us. But we thought we could get some points in transition ourselves. When we had the chance, we looked for it.”
Edgehill and Naz Kenion traded threes to open the third, then Kenion and John Martins combined for five points to cut it to 42-30. Mahon then connected on five straight points, Lens Esquil and Dante Law answered with two apiece but three from Rodgers and two from Paul Rudolph gave Franklin a 52-34 lead at the end of the third.
“Franklin can go fast, they can go slow,” Dacey said. “Even without [Jalen] Samuels, they don’t seem to skip a beat. They still have the shooting, they still set the screens. They can still produce points from other places.
Mahon gave the visitors a 21-point lead on two free throws (58-37) with three and a half minutes to play. That signaled for both teams to go to the benches for their reserves. Taunton’s second unit made the base of the opportunity.
Michael Quinn drained a three, Brown scored with a strong take, Alex Midouin got to the free throw line for one after an offensive rebound and Malik Charles converted a putback for a traditional three-point play, finishing a 10-1 run over two minutes.
Franklin put its starters back into the game at that point. Quinn scored again to make it a 10-point game and after an Edgehill free throw, Midouin scored down low to cut it to nine. But Mahon hit two free throws and added another after a Taunton miss to ice the game.
“They scrapped, good for those kids,” Dacey said of his reserves. “I have to give it to them, made them put their starters back in. But you just don’t want to be so far out of it against the quality teams. It seems like we’re playing catch up the whole game, and that’s tough to do in high school.”
Lens Esquil led Taunton with 14 points and six rebounds while Brown and Quinn each had six points apiece.
Franklin boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 15-1 overall) stays in a tie atop the Kelley-Rex division with the win heading into Friday’s colossal clash with Mansfield. Taunton (6-7, 10-8) will try to bounce back when it travels to King Philip.