State Tournament Roundup: Franklin Tech girls basketball cruises past PV Christian

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert is defended by Greenfield’s Gloria McDonald in Montague earlier this season. 

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert is defended by Greenfield’s Gloria McDonald in Montague earlier this season.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By GEORGE MILLER

For the Recorder

Published: 03-01-2024 9:43 PM

Modified: 03-02-2024 11:55 AM


TURNERS FALLS — The only real difficulty for Franklin Tech came in the fourth quarter Friday night, but oh, what a considerable difficulty it was.

Pioneer Valley Christian, trailing 44-20 after three quarters, flew back into contention on the strength of a 27-point fourth quarter, including five 3-pointers as a team and 11 points alone from Quincie Clayton. But Franklin Tech stabilized matters with its own 7-0 run to go back in front by 20, and withstood PVCA’s 9-1 burst to finish the game as the host Eagles fended off the visiting Eagles, 58-47, in the MIAA girls Division 5 Round of 32.

Hannah Gilbert (game-high 20 points), Kyra Goodell (13) and Lea Chapman (10) were the double-digit performers for 12th-seeded Tech (19-4), which advanced to a Round of 16 game Wednesday at No. 5 seed Westport, a 74-33 winner over New Mission earlier Friday.

Clayton led PVCA (19-2), the No. 21 seed, with 18 points. Ella Knox scored 10 and Ava Knox and Sadie Keenan each contributed eight.

“We’re gonna put on the Cinderella slippers and see how long we can make this thing last,” said Tech coach Joe Gamache. “Hats off to those kids over there, they definitely played hard up to the final horn. 

“The good news is we came out with great energy, and they feed off the crowd and the kids that come to support them at home. We haven’t lost at home yet this year. Our struggle this year has been when we go on the road, and hopefully we’ve kind of overcome that with the way we played on Sunday (in the State vocational tournament championship).”

Franklin Tech held PVCA without a basket for the first 5:59 Friday, building a 12-2 lead before Keegan scored on a wing jumper. The Eagles then ran off the last nine points of the quarter, all on 3-balls – two by Gilbert, one by Goodell – to go ahead 21-4 after one.

The lead ballooned to 26-4 before a pair of PVCA 3-pointers by Clayton, and the visiting Eagles got back to within 28-13 before Tech got two baskets by Goodell and one from Chapman with 17 seconds left to make it a 34-13 game at the break.

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With Tech ahead 44-18, the hosts then fell quiet for over 5½ minutes while PVCA scored the last basket of the third quarter and then the first 10 points of the fourth, rallying to within 44-30 with just under six minutes to go. Kaitlin Trudeau (seven points) stopped the 12-0 run with a pair of free throws. After a trey by PVCA’s Ava Knox, Tech scored the next seven points, including a pair of driving layups by Gilbert, to make it 53-33 with 3:04 to play.

That brought about the final frantic couple of minutes, when PVCA scored nine of the game’s final 10 points to pull to within 11.

Boys basketball

Div. 5 Round of 32

Athol 67, Southbridge 51 — The Bears are into the Sweet 16.

Ben Kearney poured in a game-high 29 points, and Angel Castillo notched 22 points to propel 14th-seeded Athol to a 67-51 win over No. 19 Southbridge on Friday night at Mallet Gymnasium in Athol.

The Bears (18-3) will play at No. 3 Pioneer in the Round of 16 next week.

“So proud of how hard we worked,” Athol coach Brian Patria said. “It was our tenacity and heart that propelled us to win. Our defense was really good shutting down a really good three-point shooting team. We also rebounded well.”

Kearney set the tone with 16 of his 29 in the first half, as Athol built a 19-14 lead after one quarter and extended it to 32-21 at halftime.

“ Offensively, Kearney played his best game… he was unstoppable at times,” Patria said. “Great win for our program and the Sweet 16 never felt so good.”

Logan Cormier, Ethan Bacigalupo and Ray Castine all tossed in four points for Athol, which won a state tournament game for the first time under the new MIAA format.

Div. 4 Round of 32

Manchester-Essex 75, Frontier 46 — Trailing 37-24 at the half, the No. 28 Redhawks were unable to contain the fifth-seeded Hornets in the second half as Manchester-Essex scored 24 points in the third quarter and 16 in the fourth to pull away with a 75-47 victory in Manchester-by-the-Sea on Friday in the Round of 32 of the MIAA Div. 4 tournament. 

"It was a tough night but this was a building season for us," Frontier coach Josh Morse said. "Manchester-Essex was just a bit tougher and more experienced than us today." 

Max Millette finished with 16 points, Owen Babb scored nine points, Rowan Modestow tossed in eight points, Sasha Dragicevich recorded seven points while Garrett Dredge added five points for the Redhawks (11-11). 

Tyngsborough 66, Greenfield 61 — The No. 21 Green Wave trailed the No. 12 Tigers 30-29 at the half but Tyngsborough was able to fend off upset-minded Greenfield in the second half to advance to the Round of 16 with a 66-61 victory in Tyngsborough. 

The Tigers will go on the road to face the aforementioned Manchester-Essex in the Round of 16. 

It was the third quarter that gave Tyngsborough the advantage, as it outscored Greenfield 19-11 in the frame to take a 49-40  lead. 

Jon Breor finished with 19 points, Ollie Postera scored 14 points, Grayson Thomas finished with 12 points, Caleb Murray tallied nine points while Jacob Blanchard tossed in five points for the Green Wave. 

Greenfield closed out its season with a 15-7 record.