By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
FRANKLIN, Mass. – With a two point lead and just under a minute to play, Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey called a timeout. With the inbounds coming just over half court, the Tigers tried to run a double screen to get junior Tommy MacLean an open look but Franklin covered it perfectly.
Instead, senior point guard Carlos Borrero took off to the basket, drew a defender and used a perfect bounce pass to hit Dominique Smith for an easy bucket to extend the lead to four with just 40 seconds to play.
Taunton’s defense held off Franklin’s ensuing chance and picked up a key 57-53 win on the road over the Panthers.
“The way this league goes, you’re always scouted,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “Your first option is almost a giveaway to suck the defense and then come back. We did want to go to MacLean but they had the awareness to take that away. [Carlos] had a real good game.”
It was the exclamation point for a terrific final quarter for the Tigers. After trailing by six (43-37) entering the quarter, Taunton opened up the final frame with a 10-2 run to take the lead. Borrero and Quan Roberson each scored before Franklin sophomore Paul Mahon answered on the baseline. Jose Mercado hit a floater and MacLean hit two free throws to tie the game at 45. Two more defensive stops from Taunton were rewarded by buckets from Dominique Smith (from Borrero) and Mercado (from MacLean).
Franklin didn’t go quietly though as sophomore Connor Peterson converted a traditional three point play to get within one and after a basket from Roberson, Tim Prunier got two plus the harm to tie the gam at 51 with 2:36 left.
After a miss from Smith from deep, MacLean corralled the loose ball for an offensive board and got the putback to give Taunton a 53-51 lead. On the other end, Borrero stepped in to take a charge for the Tigers.
“He had a great game, all those charges he took too,” Dacey said of Borerro. “Maybe he heard me complaining about how charges can change the game. He stepped in while other guys weren’t.”
Taunton turned it over on its ensuing possession but its defense came up with another stop, securing a rebound after a Franklin missed three from the corner and then set up its big play out of the timeout.
“We wanted to get them at the three point line because we didn’t want them to beat us from there,” Dacey said. Taunton limited Franklin to 4/17 shooting from deep. “We were fairly confident if we closed out properly and made them put it on the floor then we could defend it at that point. I was real happy with the defense, especially since they scored 90 something against CM. You have to take away the three point and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
The Tigers held a 9-8 lead with 3:43 left in the first quarter, but the Panthers came to life and went on to take a 19-16 lead after the first quarter. Franklin held Taunton to just six points in the second quarter and took a 29-22 lead into the halftime break.
In the third quarter, Taunton rallied with a 13-5 run, capped with a put back by Roberson to take a brief 35-34 lead. But Franklin quickly responded with a full court pass and easy bucket for Peterson and a 9-0 run to restore an eight point lead. Kevin Gill had five of those points, taking passes from Sam Harrell and Jay Dieterle.
“We could have folded then and we didn’t,” Dacey said. “We stayed with the defense, we even fumbled away from opportunities to get back in the game offensively but we stayed solid defensively and weathered the storm.”
Taunton won the rebounding battle 27-17 and had eight offensive boards.
“They totally out-toughed us during the game,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “The things we pride ourselves on, we didn’t do today. We didn’t take a charge in the game which is not something we do, I can’t remember the last time we didn’t take one in a game. We didn’t box out, so we got out rebounded. I thought our initial defense was pretty good and we got the stops we wanted to especially late in the game but multiple offensive rebounds took the game over. I thought it was pretty back and forth but they got a couple of extra shots from those rebounds and it ended up being the difference really.”
The Tigers had five players reach double digits, Quan Roberson had 14 points, Tommy MacLean had 11 points, four rebounds and seven assists, Carlos Borrero had 11 points and five assists, Dominique Smith had 11 points and six rebounds and Jose Mercado had 10 points and eight rebounds. Franklin’s Tim Prunier had 15 points and four assists, sophomore Connor Peterson had 11 points and Kevin Gill had 10 points for the Panthers.
Taunton (4-2, 3-1) will look to make it two in a row when they travel to Mansfield (5-0, 4-0) on Friday for a 7:00 tip off. Franklin (5-1, 3-1) will look to bounce back on Friday when they travel to King Philip for a 5:30 tip off.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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