Sunday, February 18, 2018

Edgehill, Mahon Lead the Way as Franklin Tops New Bedford

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Franklin, Mass. - While the Whalers tried to set the pace, it was Franklin that lit up the scoreboard.

Chris Edgehill scored 24 points, while Paul Mahon chipped in 18 more, to lead Franklin past visiting New Bedford, 76-65, in the semifinals of the Harvey Nasuti Basketball Classic at Franklin High School.

The Panthers advance to play No. 1 Tech Boston in the championship game tomorrow at 2 p.m.

While the Whalers came out hoping to set the tempo with the full court pressure, quickness, and pressure, it was the Panthers who proved to be the beneficiary of the change of pace.

Franklin scored at least 25 points in both the first and third quarters, while the Whalers struggled through the first 25 minutes outside of a four-minute stretch in the second quarter.

For the game, Franklin shot 57-percent from the field and 44-percent from beyond the arc.

The Panthers took their largest lead of the game, 68-39, on a Paul Rudolph three pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter

A Will Harvey layup early in the fourth quarter allowed the Panthers to maintain a 25-point advantage, 70-45, but the Whalers stepped on the gas pedal to claw their way back.

Over the next three minutes, the Whalers went on a 18-2 run highlighted by four three-pointers from Lamar Antone (19 points) to pull within 72-63 with 1:40 to play.

The deficit, however, proved to be insurmountable as junior Jalen Samuels (13 points, 13 rebounds) laid in a put back and Mahon sunk a pair at the free throw line to seal the win for Franklin.

"We knew they were going to come at us the whole game for the most part with the pressure," said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. "We said if we could keep it in the half court and not turn it over we would be in good shape. When we are able to set our defense and play in the half court I think we are as good as most teams. I think we could have been better though at the start of the fourth."

From the opening tip the Panthers offense was efficient and explosive.

Edgehill led the initial spurt converting on a pair of trips to the rim to put the Panthers up 6-0.

A Trae Rezendes-Cross runner in the lane capped of an 8-2 run that pulled the Whalers within 10-8, but the final five minutes of the stanza belonged to the Panthers.

Matt Elias and Mahon swished consecutive triples off the press break and Edgehill drove to the bucket for two.

Franklin than showed a willingness of its own to get out and run as off a Whalers miss, Mahon received the outlet pass and drove the length of the floor for a layup.

Edgehill and Rudolph capped off the 18-4 run to close the quarter for Franklin, connecting on a pair of three-pointers to put Franklin up 28-12 after one.

“First quarter we came out firing," said Neely. "The first quarter defense was great. Paul has been playing great and he has really turned it up lately. It's good to see him coming on here down the stretch because we need it. We can't just rely on Chris (Edgehill) and Jalen (Samuels)."

New Bedford was able to get its offense going in the second quarter.

Rezendes scored six points around an Elijah Diaz top of the key triple to trim the Franklin lead to 29-24.

The Panthers closed the half strong as Mahon drilled a wing three-pointer and Edgehill followed up with one of his own to put the Panthers lead up 43-32 at the break.

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