Athol Daily News – Girls Basketball: Franklin Tech falls in state vocational final

Published: 2/21/2020 8:53:08 PM

Modified: 2/21/2020 8:52:52 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The first-ever postseason championship will have to wait for the Franklin Tech girls basketball team. 

The top-seeded Eagles fell to Old Colony, 52-44, in the finals of the Massachusetts Vocational Athletic Directors Association Small School Tournament on Friday night in the Powertown.

The Eagles’ (18-4) vaunted press created problems for opponents all season until their match up with the third-seeded Cougars.

The Cougars methodically broke Franklin Tech’s press for most of the game and limited their turnovers. 

“Their guard play is very good,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “They can shoot from the perimeter. They have the perfect formula to beat what we do. No fault to the girls’ effort tonight. They gave max effort.”

After the Cougars broke the press, they were efficient from the perimeter in the half-court. Old Colony connected on five 3-pointers during the game.  

Without the easy baskets usually produced from their press, the Eagles had to execute in the half court.  Jordan Hurlbert led the Eagles with 15 points but her minutes were limited due to foul trouble. 

“It certainly changes things a little bit,” Gamache said. “She one of our stronger offensive post players. We run a lot of our offense through her.”

After Jocelyn Crowningshield hit consecutive jumpers, the Eagles had a 17-12 lead in the second quarter.  

From there, the Cougars came back to take a 26-22 lead going into halftime. Old Colony’s defense was the best the team has seen all year, according to Crowningshield. 

“We haven’t seen pressure like that all season,” Crowningshield said. “Moving the ball wasn’t very easy for us.” 

Trailing for most of the second half, the Eagles drew to within five points in the fourth quarter.  Gabby Gastagna started a run for the Eagles with a second-effort basket before a put back by Hurlbert.

Gastagna followed with a floater to make the score 43-38.  The Cougars responded with a 4-0 run to increase their lead. 

The Eagles closed the gap again to 47-41 with 2 minutes, 3 seconds left but Old Colony’s Olivia Perry hit a 3-pointer off glass to extend the lead. 

Gastagna scored 10 points with Isabelle Duga and Crowningshield both adding six each. The Eagles made some minor adjustments at halftime.

“When we come out in the second half, we normally come out better than the first half,” Crowningshield said. “This second half, we didn’t come out as strong as normal.”

Franklin Tech’s offense had problems with turnovers during the game.

“When it comes to offense, we kind of rush around,” Crowningshield said. “We don’t take the extra second to find a good shot. We rush our shots. It’s something we will have to work on.”

The mood of the team was good after the game, according to Crowningshield. Franklin Tech will now await its seed and first-round opponent in the Western Mass. Division 4 tournament. 

“We are still in it,” Crowningshield said. “We are not backing down now. We have made it too far as a team. We have to keep our heads up. We still have one more game.”

The seeds for the sectional tournament come out on Saturday. 

“We are going to come out and we are going to battle,” Gamache said. “We’ve had a great season and we are not done yet. The goal is to try and extend this as long as we can. It’s been a lot of fun. We want to make a little noise in the Western Mass. tournament.”

Hailey Hathaway led the Cougars with 17 points. Savanna Halle (nine points), Isabel Souza (eight points) and Perry (nine points) chipped in offensively for Old Colony. 

Gemanaia Cruz scored three points for the Eagles, with Desiree Doane and Renee Reed adding two points each. 

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