Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Catholic Memorial Survives Scare from Franklin

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

WEST ROXBURY, Mass. - Coming into the game, Catholic Memorial coach Denis Tobin dreaded a possible final score in the 50s, but by the end of the night his feelings had certainly changed.

Trailing Franklin 57-52 with 40 seconds to play, Knights’ star junior guard Ulyen Coleman buried his first 3-pointer of the night from the left wing to bring Catholic Memorial back within two, 57-55.

Following a defensive stop, Coleman brought the ball up the floor with 10 seconds to go and launched a pull up three.

Coleman’s shot rimmed out, but Mike Giaccobe (12 points, 10 rebounds) was there to grab the offensive rebound and tip it back out to Coleman, who fired a second-chance 3-pointer. This one swishing through the net to give the No. 8 Knights a 58-57 win over No. 10 Franklin on Tuesday night at Catholic Memorial High School.

Knights coach Denis Tobin said he was worried about the possibility of getting into a rock fight with the Panthers.

“I thought for the most part we got good shots tonight, but they just did not fall,” said Tobin. “Credit a lot to Franklin, they played really grind it out, tough defense.”

That tough defense showcased by Franklin had held Coleman to just two points through the first three-and-a-half quarters.

When they needed him most, however, the Knights' star rose to the occasion.

Tobin said he pushed Coleman all game long to stay aggressive.

“I said to Ulyen just keep shooting, they will fall,” said Tobin. “It was his worst shooting night of the year but he made those two big ones at the end. If it’s a close at the game, we want him taking those shots, and I thought it was big of him to step up and take them.”

Throughout the contest, Franklin never claimed larger than a seven-point lead but it felt like the Panthers were always in complete control.

Catholic Memorial grabbed a 15-13 advantage after one quarter following a Jahari Boone three pointer and a Jarron Flynn fast break lay up.

The middle two quarters, though, belonged to Franklin.

Led by steady ball handling from guards Jalen Samuels (13 points) and Matt Elias, and offensive discipline in the half court, the Panthers went on an 8-2 run midway through the second quarter, capped off by a Connor Goldstein three pointer to take a 27-21 lead.

The Knights were able to close the gap to 27-25 on back-to-back transition lay ups, but Paul Mahon drilled a three pointer as the first half expired to send the Panthers into the break up 30-25.

Franklin was able to push their lead up to 37-30 on a Josh Macchi free throw, but behind junior guard Will McDonnell (15 points), Catholic Memorial was able to get right back in the game.

McDonnell hit four 3-pointers from the top of the key over the next two minutes, the last one coming off a ball screen and evening the game up at 46.

Tobin said McDonnell’s willingness to shoot is certainly well known.

“You know he is a kid you just have to work through,” said Tobin laughing. “Will (McDonnell) has given me a few gray hairs, but at the same time he hit some of those big shots in the third quarter. With Will there is more good than bad, and hopefully as the season goes on there is more improvement.”

Despite McDonnell’s third quarter outburst, James Hanlon was able to get a low post jumper to go down to keep Franklin up 48-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth, the Panthers seemed well on their way to a key road victory as a Samuels back door cut lead to a lay-in to hand Franklin a 54-47 advantage with three minutes to play.

Catholic Memorial (5-1), as their known to do, stepped on the gas pedal.

A Flynn basket coupled with a Coleman mid-range jumper – his first of the day – brought the Knights back within 54-51.

After the two sides exchanged free throws, Macchi nailed a fall away jump shot to put Franklin up 57-52, but Coleman responded by hitting a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to just two, and set the stage for his own last second heroics.

“We have a tough schedule coming up with the Catholic Conference and our guys need to stop allowing so much penetration defensively,” said Tobin. “That is one thing I’ve been telling the new guys in terms of playing hard for 32 minutes, other than that I thought offensively, while the score may not show it, we took some good shots.”

With their win on Tuesday night, the Knights will officially head into conference play having not lost a home game since February 5th, 2013.

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