Girls basketball: Franklin Tech overcomes slow start, locks down St. Bernard’s in Div. 5 tourney

  • Franklin Tech's Lilianna Inman (34) is defended by Turners Falls' Abbi Holloway (24) at the Tech School earlier this season.  STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 3/2/2023 9:31:04 PM
Modified: 3/2/2023 10:14:00 PM

On the road in a hostile environment, the last thing the Franklin Tech girls basketball team wanted to do was fall into an early hole.

But host St. Bernard’s wiped that plan out completely when it scored the game’s first eight points of their MIAA Division 5 Round of 32 tussle on Thursday in Fitchburg.

Thankfully the 17th-seeded Eagles didn’t mind doing things the hard way, as they answered with an 8-0 run of their own that ballooned to a 17-3 spree into halftime. Riding a tenacious defensive effort, Franklin Tech marched on in the state tournament behind a 36-26 win over the 16th-seeded Bernardians.

Franklin Tech (21-2) will play at No. 1 Millis in the Div. 5 Round of 16 early next week.

“Our kids showed a lot of heart,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache lauded. “I’m obviously super impressed with their ability to keep their composure battle their way back out of that early hole.”

The Eagles turned an 8-0 deficit into a 17-11 halftime lead, and outscored St. Bernard’s by a 19-15 margin after intermission.

“I thought both teams played well defensively but we managed to take them out of what they wanted to do offensively and keep them off balance a little bit,” Gamache said.

Kyra Goodell led the way offensively for the Eagles, notching a team-high 13 points to go with six steals, while Hannah Gilbert joined her in double figures with 10. Lea Chapman overcame some foul trouble to finish with four points and 14 rebounds, while Kate Trudeau added four points, eight rebounds and nine steals.

Gamache lauded the play of Lilianna Inman in the second half, as she came off the bench and contributed four points and four boards. Kendra Campbell dished out four assists and recorded four steals.

“They did a pretty good job keying in on Kendra and keeping the ball out of her hands so we needed some other kids to step up,” said Gamache. 

Next up is a trip to play at No. 1 Millis (13-8) in the Round of 16.

“It’s a monumental task for us but we've now made the deepest run this school has made [in the state tournament] and we can kind of play free,” said Gamache. “Hopefully our girls continue to play our game and who knows, anything can happen this time of year.”

Millbury 47, Frontier 41 — The Redhawks gave the No. 10 Woolies a run for their money in the Round of 32 of the MIAA Div. 4 state tournament on Thursday. 

No. 23 Frontier never let Millbury run away from it, trailing 10-7 after one quarter before the Woolies extended their lead to 25-17 at the half. 

 The Redhawks stormed back in the third, taking the lead at one point but cutting the deficit to 34-31 heading into the fourth. With 20 seconds left, Frontier found itself trailing 44-41. The Woolies knocked down their free throws late, however, to knock off the Redhawks with a 47-41 victory. 

Millbury advanced to face the winner of No. 7 Littleton and No. 26 Mahar, which play on Friday. Frontier closed out its season with a 13-8 record. 

“At one point I called a timeout and instead of setting up a play I told them how proud I was of them,” Redhawks coach Dave Machon said. “All the effort that went into practice this week showed up in this game. We played with a team that was so many seeds beyond us which is a testament to our girls’ strength and ability.” 

Kylie Laford, who got into foul trouble early, still managed to finish with 18 points, knocking down three 3’s in the second half to help Frontier get back in the game. Delaney Fifield recorded eight points, Claire Kirkendall scored five points, Hailey Hutkoski finished with four points and played a strong game defensively while Brianna Storozuk, Molly Gates and Whitney Campbell each had two points in the loss. 

Millis 79, Pioneer 40 — The No. 32 Panthers were unable to pull off the upset against top seeded Millis, falling on the road in the Round of 32 on Thursday. 

Pioneer ends its season with a 13-9 record. 

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