Boston High School: K.C. Cunningham

D1 Central: Franklin 59, Worcester South 50

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
2:38
AM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. –- In their first year participating in the Central Mass. Division 1 tournament after years of playing in Division 1 South, the Franklin Panthers (18-6) are returning to a district final for the first time in eight years. They'll play for the Division 1 Central championship after knocking off Inter-High power Worcester South (12-10) on Sunday night, 59-50.

Franklin senior Chris Rodgers scored nearly half of his team’s points, finishing with 29 in all. An outstanding free throw shooter, Rodgers went 12-for-14 from the charity stripe.

“You win a couple games, you play some really good teams, and it gets tough," Franklin coach Dean O'Connor said. "You have to have one special guy who can carry you through the tough games, I think we have that this year. I think we’re more balanced than we were this time last year, Chris is the main [scorer] obviously but we’ve got a good inside-outside."

The Colonels had three players in double-figures -- seniors Kasheen Cunningham and Nate Mensah (6 rebounds), as well as junior forward John Maday (7 rebounds).

South was able to keep the deficit manageable by halftime, trailing 33-24 to the Panthers midway through. After appearing nervous and timid offensively in the first half, Mensah and Maday led South out of the break and got the lead down to two points after three quarters. Ultimately though, the Colonels’ early-game turnovers proved to be costly.

“I just thought we did a lot of standing around tonight instead of playing, it was what it was," South coach Pat Williams said. "I thought our offense was kind of stale, then we kind of got hot in the fourth quarter, but you can’t keep digging yourselves holes and trying to get out of it just doesn’t work after awhile.

"I’m very proud of them, we were a complete mess and we started to get hot early in the year, we won the holiday tournament and went on a seven game winning streak. Then there was a stretch where we played all the top teams in Central Mass.”

Slowing down Cunningham: A main point of emphasis for Franklin coming into the game was figuring out how to slow down Cunningham, South’s leading scorer at just over 17 points per game. A quick point guard with a lethal outside shot, Cunningham emerged this season as one of the most dangerous scorers in Central Mass.

“You look at the box scores, we’d seen them a couple times and we knew he was the guy who makes it happens for them,” O’Connor said of Cunningham. “Quenten Harrell is the guy...We throw him at the other team’s best player. But a lot of emphasis, we couldn’t let him go off. He was still able to create, he got in the paint and made some dishes to guys to make some easy baskets.”

Harrell (12 points), the Panthers’ starting point guard and go-to defensive stopper, picked up on some of Cunningham’s tendencies early on in the game.

“We know that he didn’t want to go to left. He has that left to right crossover, I saw that a couple times and tried to jump it," Harrell said. "I just wanted to make him work for everything, I saw he was playing the whole game just like I was -– so one of us was going to get tired."

Cunningham scored seven points in the first half, but managed just one basket from then on out – a putback shot with a minute left in the game.

“That’s remarkable,” Rodgers said of Harrell’s defensive effort. “Q always covers the best player on the other team, no matter how big or how quick. [Cunningham] is a great player. Overall I think we did pretty well, he split the D a couple times and made us look pretty bad, but overall we did pretty well.”

Top MIAA hoop performances: Feb. 27

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
1:27
AM ET
Each and every night throughout the MIAA basketball playoff season, we will highlight the state's top performances. Here are my top performances from Thursday night's slate of MIAA basketball state tournament play.

As a reminder, readers are encouraged to submit their top performances via email (bhall@espnboston.com) or tweeting at ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall (@BHallESPN). Deadline for all submissions each night is midnight.

1. Alyssa Guyon, Jr. F, Ludlow
Monster night on the boards for Guyon, as she recorded 26 points and 21 rebounds in the Lions' 58-47 D2 West win over Quabbin.

2. Bridget Herlihy, Jr. F, and Brianna Herlihy, Soph. F, Braintree
The sisters combined for 29 points and 26 rebounds in the Wamps' 58-39 Division 1 South quarterfinal win over King Philip.

3. Tom Nadeau, Sr. G, Stoneham
Scored 26 points and added six assists in the Spartans' D3 North win over North Reading.

4. Kendra Hicks, Sr. F, Springfield Central
Notched a double-double in the Golden Eagles' D1 West win over Shepherd Hill, recording 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

5. Lauren Carnevale, Sr. F, Pittsfield
Had a double-double in the Generals' 57-42 D2 West win over Belchertown, recording 18 points and 15 rebounds.

6. Chris Lockett, Jr. F, St. Mary's (Lynn)
Had 24 points in the Spartans' 70-48 rout of Maimonides in D4 North.

7. Steve McGrath, Sr. F, Stoneham
Along with 23 points, had eight rebounds, six steals and three blocks in the Spartans' win over North Reading

8. Joey Crane, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Recorded a double-double in the Cardinals' rout of Dedham in D3 South, with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

9. Karlie O'Driscoll, Sr. F, Sharon
Came up with 15 pts, nine rebounds and 8 steals in the Eagles' 52-50 thriller over Oliver Ames in D2 South.

10. K.C. Cunningham, Jr. G, Worcester South
Had 20 points in the Colonels' 63-51 upset of top-seeded Fitchburg in D1 Central Quarterfinals.

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