The Player Perspective: FHS Basketball Captains Reflect on Final Season


Sean Vinson (#33) goes up for a layup against Durfee while Will Tracey (#11) watches on. The two Sr. Captains led Franklin to a 21-4 record this season (via Sammy Patel Photography)

Ryan Martin, Writer

The courts are cleared, jerseys hung up, and laces untied – Another successful season is officially in the books for FHS Boys Basketball. After a year where the Panthers barely broke a .500 record and graduated their entire starting lineup, this inexperienced team came together and shocked many Hockomock opponents. A streaky group all year, the Panthers rallied off both seven and eight-game winning streaks this season before a 2nd round playoff loss to Catholic Memorial in the MIAA Playoffs two weeks ago today. To reflect on Franklin’s season, and look ahead to what could be next for the Panthers next season, I caught up with the team’s two Senior Captains: Sean Vinson and Will Tracey.


RM: Let’s start back in the pre-season. This very well could have been a developmental year for Franklin: after graduating your top three scorers from a season ago (following a 6-5 COVID-shortened year), many saw this young Panthers team taking a step back in 2022. Even with many guys new to the varsity level, how confident was this team internally going into the season?

Sean Vinson: There was definitely a sense of uncertainty about how successful our team could be this season, but everyone in the program knew we had the talent to compete with the best teams in the state after a few practices. 

Will Tracey: Even though our team is young and inexperienced at the varsity level, it became clear to me during the preseason games we played that the young players were extremely talented, and even without much experience, they would have a strong impact on the success of our season.


RM: After starting the season 7-0, Franklin lost two straight road matchups at Mansfield and Taunton, the two teams you guys finished behind in the Kelley-Rex this season. As captains, at that moment, how important were those two losses to this team’s growth and chemistry over the rest of the season?

Will Tracey (#11) goes up for a dunk against Durfee while Rattle City watches on (via Sammy Patel Photography)

SV: I think those two losses were important to the growth of our team as we benefited from the pain of losing and seeing what happened when we played undisciplined. Those losses reinvigorated our motivation to get better every day. 

WT: Obviously, we would have liked to win those games, but I agree with Sean: it was a good way to humble our team, especially with a bunch of young inexperienced guys. It really checked our team’s ego overall and made a lot of us realize that if we wanted to have the success we all knew we could have, we had multiple areas to improve on in our game.


RM: The chemistry was definitely feeling good after that Taunton loss – Franklin finished the regular season winning 13 of their last 14, including a dominant rematch win over those Tigers. What clicked over that stretch of games? How vital was that stretch of wins to be sure you were playing your best basketball heading into the tournament?

SV: That stretch of success we had stemmed from our team chemistry and confidence being at an all-time high, and it led to us shooting the ball well and having a lot of really great practices in that stretch. 

WT: I think a lot of that success had to do with our team keying in on the main struggles we had that led to those two straight losses. We put more of an emphasis on defense and rebounding; we started to trust our teammates more and work together better as a unit.


RM: Playoffs start, you guys are the #5 seed and get a big win against #28 seed Durfee before losing an OT-heartbreaker to a talented Catholic Memorial team at home four days later. In what was truly one of the most back and forth games you guys had all season, you guys fought back in the second half, and the game came down to one final possession in OT. I have a couple questions to get more insight on that game. 

  1. Was that the kind of game you guys expected from CM? A tough, hard-nosed dog fight?
  2. Take me back to that last possession: 6 seconds and change to go, Ben inbounds from your own baseline to Andrew, tight defense forces him into a tough, deep 3 as the buzzer sounds. What was the talk in the huddle before that play? Was that the look you guys were hoping for?
Sean Vinson holds the ball on offense in Franklin’s 2nd round matchup against Catholic Memorial (via Sammy Patel Photography)


  1. We knew that CM had a good team with some good players before the game, and you know going into every playoff game that it’s gonna be a battle where every player is playing to keep their season alive. They played exceptionally well and there’s nothing we can do about it now. 
  2. Coach Neely drew us up a play to get a multitude of different players a possible open look. The thing we talked about most in the huddle was the importance of getting a shot up in general: the worst shot you can take is the one you don’t get off before the buzzer. It was unfortunate that Andrew’s three didn’t fall, but everyone on the team welcomed a shooter of Andrew’s caliber taking that last shot. That was one of my favorite parts about this team: everyone just wanted to win and see their teammates succeed.  


  1. We definitely knew that CM had a squad full of solid basketball players that could score the ball and play great defense. I thought we had a pretty good scout on them but at the end of the day, they played the game better than us and ended up coming out on top.
  2. Yeah, basically what Sean said: I don’t think Andrew was the first look on that specific play but he is a great player and we were really just trying to get a shot up in the air because any shot is better than no shot. Unfortunately, Andrew didn’t make that shot but we got one up and that’s the best we could do.


RM: Looking ahead to Franklin Basketball after the Class of ‘22, you guys set the program up with a bright future. Ben Harvery (Jr.), Henry Digiorigio (So.), Sean O’Leary (So.), Andrew O’Neill (So.)… the list of talented guys who will be back next season seems limitless. From what you guys saw every day at practice, how dangerous do you think this young group at Franklin can be over the next couple of years?

SV: I know the Franklin Basketball program will continue its success in the future the same way it has in the past under Coach Neely. It can be exciting to look forward to what lengths this young team can reach, but at the end of the day, these guys will still have to put in the work to make the aspirations they have come true. Potential just means you haven’t done it yet. 

WT: I truly think that the team over the next few years may have the best stretch in Franklin basketball history. We had a good run this year, and with 7 guys who are sophomores or under, the future is bright for this team. The numbers that we put up as a team and the games we played with this much inexperience is very rare in my opinion and I know that these guys will have a great stretch at FHS.


RM: Lastly, this program definitely wouldn’t be in the position it’s in right now if not for Coach Neely and the staff he’s formed around this team. In a year in which you guys are graduating and Coach Neely picks up win #200, speak on the impact you’ve seen him have on both this team over the last couple seasons and personally for you two as players/people.

Senior Captains Will Tracey (#11) and Sean Vinson (#33) listen in on Coach CJ Neely’s huddle (via Sammy Patel Photography)

SV: Coach Neely’s reputation speaks for itself, but I personally can’t say enough good things about what he has done for the guys on our team and myself over the years. He and the rest of the coaching staff have done a great job portraying what a good role model should be and how to carry yourself as an individual. I didn’t take my time with Coach Neely for granted, the same way I hope the rest of the guys on this team didn’t. 

WT: Coach Neely is a great coach who obviously has been very successful at Franklin. I think the reason he has had so much success is because he can be a great guy and a good friend and joke around with you, and then also yell at you and be serious if you are not playing hard enough. He has a good balance between being serious and being fun and I think that creates a really enjoyable environment for people to play in. The more fun you have, the better you are gonna play, and the more effort you are going to want to put in; I think Coach Neely has done a great job establishing that balance.


As Mentioned, Franklin lost to Catholic Memorial in the 2nd Round of the MIAA Playoffs, 81-78 in Overtime. The MIAA D1 Tournament is now down to the final two teams: Boston College HS, the #1 seed in the tournament, will take on #2 seed Newton North for the D1 Championship this Sunday. The game, to be played at neutral-site Tsongas Center on the campus of UMass Lowell, is set to tip-off at 6PM.