Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Franklin Makes Hockomock Statement Against Attleboro

By Matt Feld (@mattyfeld612)

FRANKLIN, Mass. - Ever since their heartbreaking loss to Catholic Memorial, Franklin has been on a mission.

Behind 18 points and 7 rebounds from Josh Macchi, the Panthers picked up their fourth consecutive victory on Tuesday night, defeating their Hockomock League rivals Attleboro, 61-49, at Franklin High School.

It has been quite the turnaround for the No. 7 Panthers, who saw their hearts ripped out by Catholic Memorial just two weeks ago when they lost a five point lead with 30 seconds to play.

Now, Franklin (9-2, 5-0) has asserted itself as the team to beat in the Hockomock, knocking off Oliver Ames and Taunton to go along with heavyweights Mansfield, and now, Attleboro.

Franklin coach CJ Neely highlighted his team’s unselfishness on offense.

“We don’t really have one scorer that the opposing team can focus on we have a ton of different ways to beat you,” said Neely. “Tonight was not one of our best offensive games but I thought at times, especially in the beginning of the second half, we really moved the ball well and made the extra pass when we needed to.”

The first half of the contest was a rock fight, with each team struggling to get the ball to go in the basket.

Franklin showcased a full court man-to-man defense, preventing Attleboro’s guards from getting in the paint and denying the ball from the Blue Bombardiers top scorer in Jake Dunkley.

On the other side, meanwhile, Attleboro showcased a mixed bag of defenses, switching between man-to-man and a 2-1-2 three quarter court press.

Finally, late in the second quarter, the Panthers started to find a groove.

With the game tied at 19, Macchi went on a 7-2 run of his own, hitting consecutive free throws, dropping home a layup in transition, and draining a three from the corner to put Attleboro up 26-21.

The Blue Bombardiers cut the lead two before halftime on a free throw and bucket from Berylns Abraham, but the Panthers turned to their star in Connor Peterson (10 points, 7 rebounds) to get them going in the third quarter.

After a frustrating first half that saw Peterson come away with only four points and two fouls, Franklin ran consecutive plays for him in the opening minute of the third quarter that lead to two easy layups.

Franklin opened up their lead to 13 points as a three pointer from Paul Mahon and four free throws from Chris Edgehill and Macchi gave the Panthers a 39-26 lead.

Attleboro was able to slowly chip away at the deficit, trimming it down to eight on an and-one by Dunkley and again early in the fourth as three pointer courtesy of Andrew Milliken made it 44-36.

The Panthers discipline on offense, however, made it nearly impossible for the Blue Bombardiers to make a consistent run.

By the fourth quarter, Franklin found themselves breaking the Attleboro press with ease, which often meant either open drives to the basket or good looks from behind the arc.

After Peterson and Dunkley exchanged free throws, Jalen Samuels went coast to coast on consecutive trips down the floor to put the Panthers up 14, 52-38.

Two more Dunkley free throws cut the advantage for Franklin back down to 12, but Connor Goldstein hit his third and final three pointer of the game on the Panthers next trip down the floor giving the home team their largest lead of the game, 57-42, with just over three minutes to play.

“We’re a really unselfish team,” said Peterson, “These are big wins for us to kind of get some separation in the league, and we’re just feeling good about ourselves right now.”

There are still six weeks to go until tournament time, but for now the Panthers sure look like a team that could make a run to the state championship.

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