A Panther Party on Friday Night

Siddharth Chandra

2 years later, winter sports have gotten a playoff tournament. This time the tournament was a March Madness-style tournament with the MIAA implementing a new playoff and seeding system for this year. The boys and girls basketball teams looked to continue their great play from the past 2 years. The boy’s team consisted of a young core while the girls had a more experienced core. Both teams had fantastic seasons with the boy’s team earning the #5 seed (21-3) in the playoffs and the girls earning the #6 seed (21-1). On Friday night the Panthers hosted #27 Braintree (girls) and #28 Durfee (boys) for the first round of the playoffs. Both teams blew out their opponents by 20+ points.

The girls were the first in the doubleheader on Friday. A team that’s been 55-1 over the past 3 years looked to continue their dominance in this year’s postseason. It was a quick start for the panthers as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead with Braintree calling a timeout after a Katie Peterson 3. Franklin started in a full-court press which Braintree would try to match after their timeout. At the end of the first, it was 22-14 Franklin. It was a good shooting performance from Franklin so far, but turnovers were an issue late in the quarter with Braintree capitalizing.

The 2nd quarter was a change of pace for both teams. The full-court press died off, and franklin was starting work more in the paint and bullying Braintree in the paint. They were able to get boards left and right and then kick it out to their shooters. Braintree attempted to match this physical play but they were just getting bullied in the paint. A Peterson 3 off a tough Brigid Earley rebound put Franklin up 29-14, and by half, it was 42-21, Franklin.

#5 Senior Brigid Earley dominated the paint and rebounds all game (Siddharth Chandra)

The Panthers continued that same intensity into the 3rd quarter adopting a more balanced playstyle. A rebound and kick out to Stefany Padula made the game 45-23 and Olivia Quinn’s jumper later would make it 51 to 26. The issue from Braintree was they were committing to the paint too much and were not covering the long jump-shots and 3s whatsoever. With this Panther team full of great shooters, it was a nightmare for the Wamps. The end of the 3rd ended on a high note for the Panthers as Jessica Pingeton hit a halfcourt shot to make it 58-28 Franklin.

Even though the game was a blowout both teams still played their hearts out, and never looked like they were giving up. It demonstrates the competitive grit both sides had during this game. With the final score ending up being 70-43, Franklin would cruise to a first-round win. The girl’s team looked near perfect in their first game in a tournament in 2 years, but to reach the top level they must achieve that perfect they desire. They will face #11 Lincoln-Sudbury on Tuesday, March 8th at 5:00 P.M. at home. 

Coach John Leighton has led this team to a 52-1 record over the past 3 seasons and will look to add to the wins on Tuesday (Siddharth Chandra)

Then came the boys who for most of the team was their first playoff game in a high school setting. This obviously puts a ton of pressure on these players, but time and time again they did not falter under the pressure. Franklin jumped out to a huge lead of 15-0. They were led by 3s with 2 of them coming from Sean Vinson and 1 from Henry Digiorgio. Franklin seemed to be calm and collected while Durfee was scrambling around the court trying to get up any good shots. Durfee did go on a 7-2 run to end the first quarter but Franklin still had a big lead of 17-7.

Franklin did miss some inside shots early in the 2nd but was jumpstarted by a Will Tracey 3. By the end of the 2nd scoring had slowed down for Franklin as they were up 29-16. Don’t get me wrong that is still a sizable lead, but they were not playing as efficiently as they wanted to on offense. This can also be attributed to the fact that the refs were calling very limited fouls. Unlike the girl’s game where fouls were more apparent and as described by a Braintree parent “this is the playoffs there are no soft fouls”, the refs were not giving either team many calls. This hurt Durfee significantly as they were hoping to get inside the paint and draw Franklin into foul trouble. By halftime, it was 31-19 with Durfee hitting a late 3 in an attempt to jumpstart a comeback attempt.

Foul calls were hard to come by but not on this play by Will Tracey (Siddharth Chandra)


The 3rd quarter was the continued level of intensity from both teams but Franklin just seemed to have more gas in them. Ben Harvey would go coast to coast to put Franklin up 41-21 off a 10-2 run. This would be seen again as Justin Allen would drive into the paint blowing past the defenders to widen the lead to 43-22. With a Tracey layup at the buzzer, it was 52-27 Franklin. Durfee seemed to be missing shots left and right, it looked like the team wasn’t designed to shoot outside shots.

Franklin would go on to win the game 60 to 39 (shocker) and will move on in the playoffs. As this team has shown they just get better as time goes on, and these young players are learning more and more. It will be a tough matchup for the Panthers as they will face #12 Catholic Memorial on Tuesday, March 8th at 7:15 P.M. at home.

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