BARNSTABLE, Mass. –- This has never been in doubt with Franklin’s Sam Bohmiller: When the Panthers’ senior guard is called upon to take crucial shots down the stretch, he has almost always delivered throughout his high school career.
Tonight, before a capacity crowd at Barnstable High in an MIAA Division 1 South first round matchup at Barnstable High, he put another notch on the belt. The 5-foot-9 Bohmiller scored 13 of his game-high 30 points in the final quarter of play, as the Panthers fought off a hard-charging second-half Barnstable rally.
Franklin never lost control, or the lead, never letting the Red Raiders come within five points over the final 13 minutes, as they cruised to a 71-61 victory, to set up a rubber match with archrival and district No. 1 seed Mansfield on Saturday.
“He’s pretty unselfish normally, [but] tonight he had to be a little bit more aggressive offensively,” Franklin head coach Dean O’Connor said of Bohmiller. “I mean, that’s our high scorer of the year. They’re a tough team to defend, they’ve got a couple of kids who can really take you off the bounce.
“He made the big hoops when we needed them. When we needed something, we ran something for him, a quick hit or something, create for him or someone else.”
Franklin led 39-29 at the half, but Barnstable’s Jason Eddy (25 points) came out firing to start the second half, sparking a 7-2 run to start the third quarter with two drop-step finishes through the middle of the lane. The Red Raiders cut the lead to 41-38 with a three-pointer from Tedaro France, then later in the period came up with some more craft, this time Eddy hitting a walk-up NBA-range three-pointer with a hand in the face to cut the lead again to three.
The Panthers led 50-45 headed into the final frame, and opened with a 10-3 run to extend the lead to 12. Finishing off the run was Bohmiller, with a trio of nifty plays. First, after initially getting swatted by the Raiders’ Kadeem Bailey, Bohmiller lofted a shot back up from an acute angle, and the ball seemingly blindly landed.
On the next trip down, a 2-on-1 fast break, Bohmiller hesitated in the middle of the lane, drawing a defender out, and delivered a bounce pass underneath to forward Brendan Kuzio (13 points) for a clean lay-in.
Bohmiller then finished the run with an off-balance leaner, drawing a foul in the process, for a 60-48 advantage with 4:15 to go.
“The big thing was getting stops,” Bohmiller said. “They had a lot of momentum at the end of the third going into the fourth, they hit some big shots. Eddy was going nuts toward the basket. We had to contain him, rebound the ball, and once we rebound, Coach really preaches pushing the ball upcourt. Against their big guys, we thought we could get some easy buckets in transition.”
Barnstable’s Nick Peabody (12 points, 13 rebounds) closed the lead to six with 1:24 to go, nailing his third 3-pointer of the night. But Bohmiller was able to keep the rally at bay, from the charity stripe; Bohmiller was 9-of-10 on free throws from the quarter, and 12-of-15 overall.
Chris Rodgers added 14 points for Franklin in the win. France was the only other Barnstable player in double-figures, with 10 points.
Eddy brings it: When the Franklin coaching staff went to scout Barnstable, in a win over Falmouth, they observed Eddy’s affinity for perimeter shots in that contest, including his buzzer-beater at the end to win it. But by their count, they also had Eddy down for 4-for-17 from three-point range.
Safe to say, this was not the case tonight. Eddy was particularly efficient in the second half, scoring 18 of his 25 points over the final 16 minutes, mostly on drives through the middle of Franklin’s defense. Most of the time, Franklin’s defenders ended up with fouls on the floor, pressing into his midsection in an attempt to slow him down. Eddy was 11-of-12 on free throws.
“We wanted to attack the basket,” Barnstable coach Gerry McDowell said. “I mean yeah, we shot three’s, but you’re not going to win games…There were some games where we hit a bunch of three’s this year, but we really felt that we could attack them.
“They didn’t really have a shot blocker inside –- they’re tough, and they’re aggressive inside, but they didn’t have a shot-blocker –- so we attacked the basket. And I think Jason is at his best when he’s doing that.”
Next up -- Mansfield; An all too familiar opponent is on the docket for Saturday afternoon, as the Panthers travel to Mansfield for their third matchup of the season. Mansfield took the first game of the heated rivalry back in mid-December, but Franklin turned around and delivered an upset a week and a half ago to even the series.
Last season, Franklin ended Mansfield’s season early with a second-round battle at Franklin High’s field house, en route to an unexpected appearance in the D1 South semifinals.
This will mark the sixth time the two teams have squared off since the start of the 2011-12 season. The coaches are all too familiar with each other too; Mansfield’s Mike Vaughan is a former assistant of O’Connor, and the two maintain a strong friendship off the court.
“Every time we play Mansfield, it’s a battle,” Bohmiller said. “The first time, over there, they handed it to us. We stole one from them on our home court a few weeks ago, on senior night. I’m sure coach Vaughan will have them ready to go. I know we’ll be ready to go. It’s always a great showdown with them, always a great playoff atmosphere. I’m looking forward to it.”