Last season, the Stoughton High girls’ basketball team got off to a , but then went and showed promise for .
The Black Knights opened the with a road win at Hockomock League Davenport Division (small schools) rival and Tuesday night were ready for a big test with a home date against a very strong Franklin team.
Stoughton displayed that it will be a force to be reckoned with when the game was tied 27-27 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. That’s where the Panthers (large schools, Kelley-Rex Division) took over, putting together a 19-3 run over the next 5:30 en route to a 53-40 victory over Stoughton.
“We were playing our game up to that point of solid half court offense, slowing the game down, and going to our strength, down low, but Franklin’s pressure defense got to us and we allowed them to speed up the game like they wanted and we fell behind,” Stoughton coach Janet Sullivan said.
Franklin was coming off an impressive 64-27 season-opening drubbing of King Philip, but this contest wasn’t going to be as easy. The Stoughton inside duo of senior tri-captain Chrystal Holland (11 points and 11 rebounds) and junior Nicole Daniels (9 points and 10 rebounds) was too much for Franklin to handle in the early-going of the contest, allowing the Black Knights build a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.
The Panthers battled back with a solid full court press that led to 14 Stoughton turnovers in the first half and 22 throughout the contest. Kristi Kirshe, a junior, had 12 of her 15 points in the second quarter including the last five in the final 30 seconds before halftime to give Franklin a 22-19 advantage at the intermission.
Franklin (2-0 overall and in the Hockomock League and 1-0 in the Kelley-Rex Division) continued the full court pressure into the third quarter, but Stoughton remained close as the Panthers began to turn the ball over.
After a time out, Franklin settled back into its game and scored the next 19 of the game’s next 22 points, in a five-minute span of the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, to take a commanding 46-30 lead.
Catie Phelan, a senior, (16 points), junior Kaitlin Copponi (10 points) and junior Alicia Kutil (7 points and 7 rebounds) all stepped up their game for the Panthers.
Defensively, Copponi and Kutil were able to hold Daniels and Holland to only five points and six rebounds combined in the second half.
Stoughton (1-1 overall and in the Hockomock and 1-0 in the Davenport) continued to battle back, led by the guard play of juniors Mackenzie McGrath (10 points) and Emma Zuk (7 points and 6 assists), but the damage had been done, as Franklin had a 21-point fourth quarter to secure the victory.
“We have a lot of balance and we had many players step it up in different roles for us, both offensively and defensively,” Franklin coach John Leighton said.
“Our man-to-man defense was able to force them into shots that they didn’t want to take and we rebounded much better in the second half.”
Stoughton is off until after Christmas, when the Black Knights take part in the Holiday Tournament at Hingham, next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Check out video highlights from the game in the media gallery above.