Franklin Cruises Past L-S In Postseason Opener

Paul Mahon
Franklin senior Paul Mahon takes a three-point shot against Lincoln-Sudbury. (Peter Raider/HockomockSports.com)

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.”

Franklin Takes Down Top Ranked Tech Boston

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin senior Paul Mahon converts a layup in the first half against Tech Boston. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Coming off a state finals appearance a year ago, Franklin loaded its schedule with tough opponents in hopes of preparing for another deep playoff run.

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.”

Franklin Rides Balanced Scoring Attack Past Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Paul Mahon drives to the hoop in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – With the playoffs nearing closer and closer, the teams that make the deepest runs are usually always armed with multiple weapons.

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.

Franklin Fends Off Oliver Ames’ Late Surge

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Jalen Samuels (right) makes a pass against Oliver Ames in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Sunday night was Franklin’s first division game of the season, and likely a preview of what the Panthers will see over the next two weeks, and again later this season.

Although the Panthers led from start to finish and had a double-digit for most of the second half, the win wasn’t secured until the final buzzer. Oliver Ames refused to go away, even cutting the deficit to six with two minutes to play but Franklin was money at the free throw line late, coming away with a 63-50 win over the resilient Tigers.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter how it looks, as long as you get the win…it wasn’t our prettiest game, it wasn’t our best performance but we grinded out a win in a tough environment,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “The OA kids played hard, I thought they were all over the place rebounding wise and they were first to all the loose balls. I thought out first half defense was excellent…but 31 points is too much in the second half. It was a tough game, ugly game, but we’ll take it.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sophomore Chris Edgehill led the way offensively, tying a career-high with 28 points while Franklin went 11-for-12 at the free throw line over the final two minutes to secure the victory.

“We were one big play away from getting it to a one-possession game somehow,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “But Franklin kept us just enough at arm’s length where they probably didn’t feel like they were getting tested. But on our side, we never really felt like we were out of it, the kids just kept coming and coming. That’s the biggest thing to come out of this one…can we compete with the best the state has to offer? And I think we did.”

Franklin closed the opening quarter with an 8-2 run to seize a 17-10 lead through eight minutes. The Panthers limited OA to just nine points in the second quarter, but the Tigers’ defense also kept Franklin’s offense in check (10 points), heading into half down 27-19.

The Panthers’ 11-point lead in the third quarter was trimmed down to just five behind baskets from OA’s Jake Erlich (13 points) and Jack Spillane (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists). But before the Tigers could get any closer, Edgehill drained a three to spark a 13-4 run.

Edgehill followed his triple with a strong take to the rim, and Paul Mahon (six points, four assists, three rebounds) had an easy take after a nice pass from Matt Elias (eight points, three rebounds). Franklin cashed in on back-to-back OA turnovers with both Edgehill and Paul Rudolph finishing traditional three-point plays.

“I thought [Edgehill] was very good offensively, especially getting inside,” Neely said. “We got the ball moving on offense and he was the recipient of those and hit some threes. He’s an electric creator off the dribble and he was able to get into the paint and draw a lot of contact. I think he found some guys and we missed some layups too. Tonight, I think someone needed to step up and he did.”

Franklin took a 43-31 lead into the final frame.

The Panthers led by as much as 14 early on in the fourth, and then a triple from Edgehill with three minutes to play had Franklin leading comfortably 52-39.

But once again, OA got right back into the game when Spillane hit a three while being fouled, finishing the four-point play a the line, and junior Sean O’Brien hit two free throws to make it 52-45 with two minutes to play.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be a free-flowing, easy going, up-and-down, everyone gets to run their offense type of game,” Byron said. “Our focus was to try and keep the game in the low 50s, high 40s. Not only are they going to do their part to make sure that happens, their games are all that way…but we did the same. We did the things we needed to do to have a shot.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Jalen Samuels (12 points, four rebounds, three blocks) hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to nine but Spillane splashed a three to make it a two-possession game. OA came up empty on its next trip, missing a pair of three’s, and Franklin iced the game with successful free throw shooting.

OA junior Ethan Eckstrom finished with 13 points for the Tigers while senior guard Matt Muir was the games’ leading rebounder with eight boards.

Franklin boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it hosts Taunton. Mansfield Olver aelxi (2-2, 4-3) resumes action with its fifth straight home game, hosting King Philip at 6:30.

Strong Second Half Lifts Franklin Over CM

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – When the teams headed into the lockerroom for the halftime break, it looked as if the game was headed to a classic Franklin-Catholic Memorial finish that would come down to the final minutes.

But instead, Franklin came out swinging in the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 28-15 in the frame en route to a 74-60 win for the Panthers.

The third quarter started out similar to the first half as a back and forth affair. CM’s Kani Glover (seven points) opened the scoring up for the Knights, but Franklin sophomore Chris Edgehill (eight points) quickly responded with a three for the Panthers.

Anthony Morales (ten points, eight rebounds) responded back with a layup off a feed from Jarrett Martin (nine points). Jack Rodgers (career-high 18 points, four rebounds, five assists) scored for Franklin down the other end, and Martin hit an athletic layup seconds later to put CM up 37-36 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

But from the 6:03 mark to the end of the third, Franklin finished with a 23-7 run that included five points apiece from Paul Rudolph (seven points off the bench) and Alex Klowan (eight points and four rebounds off the bench). At the end of the quarter, Edgehill buried a three from just inside half court as time expired to give Franklin a 13-point cushion to end the quarter.

“Chris’ three was huge, you don’t see that coming, it definitely brings a huge momentum into the fourth quarter, the guys were excited in the huddle, so we were ready to go,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely about Edgehill’s three at the end of the third.

Franklin got off to a fast start as they held a 15-11 edge at the end of the first quarter. Rodgers had eight of his 18 in the first frame, while Jalen Samuels (nine points, ten rebounds) chipped in four points.

Catholic Memorial came back with 20 points in the second quarter, behind six points off two threes from Will McDonnell and seven points from Jarron Flynn (team-high 15 points, five assists, five rebounds). Matt Elias (14 points including four threes, five rebounds) had six points off of two threes for Franklin in the quarter.

One of the keys for Franklin was their senior leadership, as 57 of their 74 points came from seniors, including 18 from Rodgers, 14 from Elias, and ten from Paul Mahon (who also contributed seven rebounds and four assists). In addition, Klowan and Rudolph brought a spark off the bench, as both played big roles in Franklin’s third-quarter run that helped them put the game away.

“They’ve definitely seen CM before, so they know the deal, I think when you don’t play them you don’t get that type of refresher, they’re one of only a few teams than can press you like that and bother you, and when you haven’t seen it you get guys all over you and you can a little nervous throwing the ball around, but they knew it was coming, and we woke up this morning expecting pressure, so now they know it’s coming, they’ve seen it before, so I think it was huge to have them, and then Jalen and Chris have been in a lot of games for us in big moments, so they might as well be seniors at this point,” Neely added about Franklin’s senior leadership.

Since this was an exclusion game for Franklin, it will not count toward their tournament record. The Panthers (2-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) are scheduled to take on Oliver Ames (4-2) in their first Kelley-Rex matchup Friday night in Easton.

The Knights (3-3) will face Malden Catholic on the road on Friday Night. Franklin beat Malden Catholic 62-38 in a recent tournament game.

Franklin Gets Past North Attleboro In Defensive Battle

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Matt Elias (right) pulls up for a shot against North Attleboro’s Jake Petersen. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a game when points are at such a premium, even the smallest of runs can be game-changers.

Franklin used a pair of those short spurts to create enough separation and delivered a signature tough defensive effort in a 45-28 win over North Attleboro.

With both squads playing their best on the defensive end, points were especially hard to come by early on.

Franklin’s first field goal came with 6:31 left in the first quarter, and North tied it with 3:41 to play as the teams combined for just four points over the opening six minutes.

But in the last two minutes of the opening frame, Franklin’s offense came to life with an 8-0 run. Sophomore Chris Edgehill (eight points) drained a step back three and hit one of two free throws to start the run. Paul Rudolph scored in transition and Matt Elias converted an offensive rebound shortly before the buzzer to give the Panthers a 10-2 lead after one.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin kept that lead for the majority of the second quarter, leading 19-10 entering the final two minutes of the half. Edgehill got the run started again with a strong take to the rim, Jalen Samuels (nine points, nine rebounds) hit the first of two free throws and Elias drained a pair of threes inside the final minute, giving the Panthers a 28-10 lead at the break.

“It feels like a 16-0 run in a game like this,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Those runs are enormous. Seeing the ball go in the hoops is huge. It’s good to see Matt Elias come out and bury some shots. We know he’s capable of doing that. That’s his game, he’s a great catch and shoot player. He wasn’t himself the first couple of games so it was nice to see him out there tonight leading us in scoring.”

“That’s where I think you see experience factor in,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “I thought those two threes at the end of the second quarter really stung our guys mentally. If you take those two shots away, you’re going into halftime holding Franklin to 22 points. Those shots were just back breakers. And when you’re not putting the ball in the hoop, and give Franklin a lot of credit for that, it puts so much pressure on your defense to be perfect. And our defense was good, so those shots hurt even more.”

While Franklin’s offense was able to create separation with those runs, North Attleboro never got into a groove. Big Red turned it over 10 times, partly due to the pressure of Franklin guard Paul Mahon, playing in his first game of the season. While North’s defense forced nine turnovers of its own, the offense shot just 24% from the field in the first half, including just a pair of two-point field goals.

North Attleboro’s defense was just as strong in the second half, limiting the Panthers to under 10 points in each the third (nine points) and fourth (eight points) quarters. The Rocketeers held Franklin to 25% shooting from the field in the second half.

“[North Attleboro] did a great job defensively,” Neely said. “We’ve been struggling to score so far this season, and they were giving us some fits for a while. We were able to figure a couple things out and get some looks. But it was just one of those ugly games of basketball. We kind of like it, we’re not against it. But we wanted to be tougher after the Foxboro game.

“We really wanted to grind out stops, get on the loose balls, fight for rebounds. Looking at the scoreboard, we probably should have done some more offensive work in practice but the guys competed and I thought that was important.”

While North’s offense struggled, especially in the first half, the Rocketeers are hoping that it can build upon its strong defensive performance. North is just the fourth team since the beginning of last season to hold the Panthers to 45 or fewer points (Mansfield, Canton, Cambridge).

“I just told our guys that we have to look at this as a glass half full situation,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought our defense was good. I think there is another level though, and I think Franklin was an example of it tonight. The way they rotate, the way they move the ball….our guys were in the right places, and maybe its a lack of experience or technique, we just have to be a bit better on rotating. It was a great effort from our guys but we just have to put the ball in the hoop more.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin’s defense got a big boost on the defensive end with Mahon making his season debut. After missing the first two games of the season with an injury, the senior captain was back and made an immediate impact. While he will certainly have better offensive showings during the season, his presence on defense was felt immediately.

“Whoever he’s guarding is going to have a tough light,” Neely said. “Even if they get their points, they’re going to be annoyed, he’s going to bother them. He picks everyone up. When the rest of the team sees how he gets after a ball handler, it inspires everyone else behind him. He brings the toughness level up. He might tell you had a bad night, but he was very valuable for us tonight. He had a big night without having to score.”

North Attleboro junior Nate Gonsalves netted a career-high with 11 points to led the Rocketeers while classmate Josh Montague had six points and six rebounds.

Franklin boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 2-1 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it heads to Somerville High for a tournament, starting off against Malden Catholic. North Attleboro (1-2, 1-2) will look to bounce back the same day at Lincoln-Sudbury’s tournament when it takes on Reading at 5:00.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.