Girls basketball: Franklin Tech girls eyes postseason after winning Franklin County League South title for 2nd straight year

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) looks toward the basket during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) looks toward the basket during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Cordelia Guerin (4) takes a 3-point shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Cordelia Guerin (4) takes a 3-point shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert (21) readies to take a shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert (21) readies to take a shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) pulls up for a shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) pulls up for a shot during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Trinity Doane (2) makes a pass during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Trinity Doane (2) makes a pass during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Kyra Goodell (10) makes a pass during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Kyra Goodell (10) makes a pass during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) tries to corral a loose ball during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Lea Chapman (11) tries to corral a loose ball during the Eagles’ victory over Putnam on Monday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 02-06-2024 6:00 PM

There was the expectation that it might be hard for the Franklin Tech girls basketball team to replicate its success from the 2022-23 campaign. 

After just missing out on a Franklin County League South title in 2021-22, the Eagles went 20-3 last winter. They lost just one regular season game before taking home the FCL South title for the first time. Franklin Tech went on to win their second straight state vocational tournament while also reaching the Round of 16 of the MIAA Div. 5 state tournament. 

Fast forward a year and the Eagles are right back in familiar territory. Franklin Tech closes out its regular season next Tuesday against Taconic, and will enter that game with a 15-2 record. 

The Eagles also closed out their FCL South slate with an unblemished 10-0 record to win the league for the second straight year after handling Putnam on Monday.

“I’m super proud of everything this group has accomplished,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “We set quite a few goals at the beginning of the season and winning a league title was on the list. We had won it last year and came up just short the year before that. This group of seniors — Lea Chapman, Trinity Doane, Kyra Goodell and Kait Trudeau — in particular and this junior class have put a lot of work in over the last three or four years to get to where they’re at.” 

Chapman and Hannah Gilbert have been the engine driving the Eagles this season. 

Chapman, a senior, leads Tech with 14.5 points per game this season and has also put the work in defensively — blocking four shots and snatching two steals per game. But her work on the glass has been the X-factor, as she is averaging a whopping 12.6 rebounds per game and actually does her best work on the offensive glass, pulling down seven offensive boards per game. 

Gilbert is second on the Eagles in scoring, averaging 13.1 PPG. The junior has added four steals per game on the defensive end.

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Goodell has tossed in 7.9 points per game, Trudeau leads the team with 5.3 steals per game while Doane has added 1.5 steals per game. 

Gamache said it’s the character of those players that has helped contribute to the success. 

“This group has done things the right way,” Gamache said. “They play hard all the time, they get along way. It never feels like a chore to get them to practice because they enjoy being there. They’re disappointed when we give them days off. They’re great energy kids who have been nothing but coachable from day one.”  

Franklin Tech’s defense has been its biggest tool for success. The Eagles have surrendered a mere 33.2 points per game this season, and with Franklin Tech putting up 48.6 PPG itself, it’s easy to see why the Eagles have been so dominant.

“We run things through our defense,” Gamache said. “We try to set the tone defensively and get out and run in transition from there. They do it and enjoy it. Our bench, the JV kids, they’ve bought into it. Our players know that if they want to stay on the floor they have to play defense or someone else will get a shot.” 

That defense is spearheaded by a press that gives teams fits. That press has helped the Eagles turned their opponents over an average of 20 times per game. 

That comes from having athletes all over the court. Gamache credited his players for playing other sports to grow as athletes, which has translated to basketball. 

“They’ve bought into playing other sports and working on other sports besides basketball,” Gamache said. “They’re contributing in volleyball, field hockey and soccer in the fall. In the spring they’re doing track and softball. It makes a big difference in terms of running the system we run. You see the benefits of it.” 

If Franklin Tech can pull off a win over Taconic (3-12) next week, it’ll enter the Western Mass. Class C tournament on a 12-game win streak. The last loss the Eagles suffered was to Frontier on Dec. 19, a game where Chapman suffered an injury in the opening quarter. 

As it stands on Tuesday, Franklin Tech is the No. 4 seed in the Class C tournament, while also ranked No. 9 in the Div. 5 state tournament. The Eagles have also already qualified for the state vocational tournament.

“It’s been a good season,” Gamache said. “The reality is we still have plenty of basketball ahead of us this year. Our goal of winning the league is out of the way. So far in the new Western Mass. tournament [format] we haven’t advanced past the quarterfinals. We came up one point short against Drury last year. We’re in the vocational tournament and we made the Sweet 16 of states last year. We’d like to go further this year and ride this season out as long as we can. Our goal is to just play our best at the most important time of year.”