It's safe to say that Franklin is not just starting a new chapter in the program, but arguably a whole new book. Dean O'Connor and the field house are gone. CJ Neely takes over the program and the team will play in a new state of the art gym. One thing that remains the same is the winning standard.
"I'm really looking forward to growing as a team and focusing on day to day progress," Neely said. "I expect our kids to really have to battle day to day for minutes which should make practices very competitive and enjoyable. If we stay focused on commitment to daily improvement I hope to be in contention in a highly talented and deep Hockomock league and make a strong tournament showing."
Six-foot-seven Marcus Giese returns as not only one of the better post players in the league, but one of the best players period. He's tough to defend around the rim and he showed last year that he can has extended his range. On defense, his shot blocking ability is unmatched and makes it tough to score in the paint. Tim Prunier had a breakout sophomore year last season and will look to build on that while Dylan Reno will emerge as a key player on both ends of the court.
Read the full boys basketball preview article by Hockomock Sports here
The Panthers return all but two regular players from last season’s team, which lost the league title by a single game and reached the D1 Central semifinal in Franklin’s first year competing outside of Eastern Mass. Head coach John Leighton knows that his team enters the season with huge expectations, especially with star forward Lexi Martin back for her senior season and recently signed to play at Merrimack College.
“Lexi signed and that’s nice because now she can focus on the season without having to worry about it,” said Leighton. Along with Martin, Franklin returns a cast of players that can all play major roles in the drive and kick system that Leighton runs. Julianne Pisani was the team’s leading scorer in the tournament with Martin out injured and will be joined in the backcourt by her twin sister Tracey, who was the HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year last winter.
Jillian Spolidoro adds size and shooting on the wing and junior Aubrie Kutil continues to develop into a weapon on the post. Alexandra Ethier and Olivia Adiletto will add scoring off the bench and Leighton expects junior Lauren Rudolph to return from an ankle injury that she suffered during the soccer season and add another shooter off the bench.
As if that was not enough talent to work with, Leighton is also looking for Caroline Maguire, Meghan Georges and “dynamic” freshman Kiera Fernandes to contribute as well. After regularly making deep runs in the tournament, Leighton is hopeful that this year’s team can “break through” and bring a title home to its new gym.
Read the full girls basketball preview by Hockomock Sports here
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