TAUNTON, Mass. -- When the offense is bogged down and a team is struggling to create open looks, it is always nice to have a player that can take matters into his own hands and make baskets out of nothing. The Franklin Panthers (10-4) are grateful that they have that player in senior point guard Sam Bohmiller.
With the Panthers trailing 14-5 after the first quarter and the Taunton defense taking away the passing options, Bohmiller took over.
He scored 13 points in the second quarter (25 for the night) on a series of contested jump shots, baseline fallaways, and floaters in the lane. Bohmiller capped an incredible eight minutes with a buzzer-beating, step back three-pointer in the face of Taunton’s Fawaz Mass to tie the game at 27-27.
“The second quarter our offense wasn’t real good, but Sam made shots,” said Franklin head coach Dean O’Connor. “He’s making contested shots, fallaways, you know and he’s keeping us in the game.”
Franklin took over the game in the third quarter and held on to pull the upset over No. 15 Taunton on the road, 66-61, and move within a game of the Tigers in second place in the Hockomock’s Kelley-Rex division.
Taunton (11-3) jumped out to a 12-2 lead midway through the first half. Junior guard Gerald Cortijo knocked down two from beyond the arc and the Tigers were able to push the tempo. After a Franklin timeout, the pace dropped considerably and the Panthers halfcourt defense started to clamp down.
“They slowed us down,” remarked Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “They did a nice job of that. We didn’t get any easy stuff; I can’t recall an easy hoop all night long.”
Thanks to the heroics of Bohmiller, Franklin outscored Taunton 22-13 in the second quarter. In the third, it was junior Chris Rodgers’ turn to take over offensively.
Rodgers scored on a layup to start the half and give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 29-27. Mass answered for Taunton on the other end with an old-fashioned three-point play to take back the lead, but Rodgers was unstoppable and scored the next six points. He finished with 10 points in the quarter and 21 for the night.
O’Connor recognized the importance of Rodgers to the flow and spacing of the Panthers offense and is happy to see that the guard has gotten through the illness that held him back at the beginning of the season.
“It opens everything up, you know, for Sammy,” he noted. “He (Rodgers) was playing through itand he couldn’t score and I was like, ‘What’s wrong with Rodgers?’ Lately he’s been playing the way we expected, consistent double figure guy that rebounds the ball well.”
When asked if he was surprised at the ability of Rodgers to get to the basket for easy points, Dacey remarked, “I’m surprised and disappointed.”
He added, “We had to sit some people and bring some people in and the defensive continuity may have suffered but athletically if we do our job we should be fine. But we lose our mind here and there, not doing our job and it affects us.”
With Cortijo and senior forward Anthony Parker missing for the majority of the third quarter with foul trouble, Mass was forced to be more aggressive offensively. He had 10 points in the second half, a team-high 16 points for the game, and kept Taunton within 10 into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Shaquille Davis started to create his own offense, but it proved to be too little, too late. Davis knocked down two three’s and had 11 points in the final quarter, but the Panthers offense was too balanced to allow the Tigers to make a run at the lead.
Jaquan James knocked down his second shot from deep and had six points in the fourth (nine for the game), while forward Patrick O’Reilly came up with five points and several offensive rebounds. Of course, Bohmiller also stepped up with nine points in the quarter and 5-6 shooting from the free throw line.
This was the second home loss in three days for the Tigers, after a last-second loss to New Bedford over the weekend. Dacey was disappointed with both the offense and the defense that the Tigers played on Tuesday night and let his team know after the game that they would need to improve.
Dacey said, “We didn’t have the discipline or patience to go to the second part of the offense. It broke down and they were there waiting for us either blocking a shot or taking a charge. They played good team defense.”
He added, “The two guards totaled 46 points. With the players that we have, we should be able to defend guards.”
Defense has always been a strong suit for O’Connor’s teams and he is happy to see the players buy into the scheme even if means more of the game being played in the halfcourt and at a slower tempo.
This was the sixth straight win for the Panthers. O’Connor chuckled when asked if this was the typical Franklin surge in the second half of the season. “You know, kids play in the summer and stuff but it still takes time to judge and to work out your rotations.”
“They’re a good team and to beat them here is a real good win,” O’Connor continued. “We’ve been playing well, but not sure how well and tonight we showed that we’ve come a long way. The kids are happy and I’m happy for them.”