Franklin Routs Shady Side Academy 75-43 in Opening Round of PIAA Playoffs

| March 12, 2023

FRANKLIN, Pa. – Franklin came out swinging and defeated Shady Side Academy 75-43 in the opening round of play in the PIAA 3A Basketball Championships.

(Article and photos courtesy Eight & 322)

“It was a big deal to get over this hump,” coach Jason Fulmer said of the victory. It was the Knights’ third attempt at winning a state playoff game in as many years. And after two years of “tough draws,” Fulmer said the players were hungry for a win this year.

In the first minute of the game, it appeared nerves might be taking over as the Knights failed to convert their first two possessions into any points. Shady Side took an early 2-0 lead off a couple of foul shots.

Cole Buckley answered for Franklin with a field goal plus one. Eli Teslovich responded with a three-point shot to regain the lead 5-3 at 6:39. It was the last time the Bulldogs were ahead the rest of the night.

Then the Knights settled into their usual rhythm of fast breaks, quick passes, penetrating the paint, and three-pointers from the corner. From there the game belonged to them. They scored 13 unanswered points and were ahead 16-5 before Shady Side had another basket. The run included a coast-to-coast rebound and bucket by Jalen Wood and six points by Damon Curry.

“The good start really took the pressure off the guys,” Fulmer said.

The margin would only grow as the first quarter started to wind down. Franklin was up 22-10 at the end of eight minutes.

The second quarter was more of the same for the Knights, including three blocked shots by Johnathan Leccia in just a few minutes of play. Curry had another cluster of baskets, scoring eight more points, and Dreyden Payne came off the bench to pour in six points that quarter as well.

Halftime found the Knights up 45-20.

As the second half got underway, it looked like the Bulldogs were going to make a run for the win, Mac Mohn opened the half with six unanswered points for Shady Side. Franklin came out cold, missing three shots in a row.

Following the media timeout, Franklin found a way back to their game and regained control of the pace of play with Ethan Owens stepping up for six points, including a putback basket on an offensive rebound. Leccia seized the opportunity for a slam dunk with 1:36 left to play in the quarter and the game started to feel wrapped up early.

After 24 minutes of play, Franklin was up 60-32 but Curry wasn’t done yet. In the fourth quarter, he added eight more points. Buckley also had a standout quarter with six more points before he and the other starters exited the game with a running clock in place and 1:59 to go.

Gavin Eakin came off the bench to score Franklin’s final four points of the night.

Curry led the way with a game-high 28 points, followed by Owens and Buckley with 11 each. Leccia had eight points, Wood had seven, Payne had six and Eakin had four.

With their first playoff win since 2011, Franklin will move forward in the bracket to play Our Lady of Sacred Heart at Westminster College on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

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