By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Franklin High School boy's basketball team is headed back to their second straight state final after another year of taking down Springfield Central in the semifinals. Last year, they needed a miraculous comeback in overtime buoyed by eight points in 20 seconds from then-freshman Chris Edgehill to get past the Golden Eagles. This year, they used a strong fourth quarter to cruise to a 62-43 win.
The Panthers started the game on a 15-4 run and ended the first quarter up 21-10. Of course, Springfield Central wasn't going to go down easy and they went to their bench in the second quarter, which started cutting into the lead behind Levi Grady-White (12 points, three rebounds). Late in the second, Franklin's Matt Elias (14 points) went out of the game after taking an elbow to the head, and the Golden Eagles took advantage. Springfield Central went on a 7-1 run to cut the deficit to 29-23 heading into halftime.
The third quarter saw Springfield Central cut the lead to four, but from there the Panthers started to pull away, at least for a little while. Edgehill (18 points, four rebounds, six assists) and Jalen Samuels (13 points, eight boards) were all over the place for Franklin and helped them build a 42-30 advantage at the end of three quarters.
Springfield Central still was not finished as they slashed the lead in half with a 6-0 run to start the final quarter. Elias, who had returned to the game, banged a three to kill the momentum for the Golden Eagles. Finally, at this point Franklin would take off and run away with the win. Up nine points, they closed the game out on a 17-7 run and punched their ticket to advance while ending Springfield Central's perfect season.
Franklin will face off with a familiar opponent on Saturday night in the state final, the Mansfield Hornets. The rivals have already played twice this season and it'll be a huge Hockomock matchup in the biggest game possible. Mansfield comes in at 26-2 while Franklin will enter the game at 23-3. The game will be played at the MassMutual Center.