By Ryan Massad, Contributing Writer
Worcester – The Saint John’s High School basketball squad met with Franklin High School at Worcester Polytechnic Institute March 9 with the Central Massachusetts Division 1 championship on the line. For the Pioneers, the result was similar to nearly every other game this season; a convincing “W.” However, it was not looking that way during the first half.
In his 42nd year as head coach, St. John’s Bob Foley was fiery as ever, as the Franklin Panthers controlled his team well to start. Defensively, Franklin focused on taking St. John’s senior guard Adham Floyd out of the offense. Double-teams and traps kept Floyd mostly contained, but he was still able to find the open man very successfully several times with nifty, no look passes, which pleased the always loud St. John’s super fans. This also allowed open looks for other players such as senior Nick Lukasevicz, who led the team with 14 points. Still, the Panthers had a hot start, stretching the lead out to 10 points in the first quarter. Franklin maintained their lead for the entire second quarter, until Floyd was able to hit an open 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half, giving the Pioneers a 1-point lead going into the break.
It was really Franklin’s offensive scheme that allowed for St. John’s to spread their lead margin in the 2nd half. The Panthers were relying heavily on the 3-ball. In basketball, you can live by the 3, or die by the 3, and after going 4/16 from beyond the arc, Franklin’s playoff journey died by the 3. It presented an opportunity for St. John’s to create a comfortable lead which was sparked by sophomore Sean Burke scoring 6 straight points down low to open the second half. This got St John’s on the momentum train, which they never got off.
The disciplined Pioneers shot almost 50 percent from the field, and hit nearly every free throw in the second half. Taking advantage of these scoring opportunities was a big reason for Saint John’s 2nd half domination. Another reason was overall intensity.
“The difference in the second half was intensity,” said assistant coach Bob Foley Jr. “We went out there and played really hard.”
That overall impressive play resulted in a 67 – 52 victory, and another trophy for the ever-growing trophy case at Saint John’s High School.