TAUNTON, Mass. -- It might have ended with Taunton winning 59-47 over Franklin, but in no way was it a 12-point game.
With just 46.6 seconds left, Franklin trailed 51-47, but Tiger senior Shaq Davis hit a pull-up jumper to ice the game and Taunton hit all six of their final free throws to pull away from the Panthers.
The largest lead before either team before the final minute of play was seven for Franklin after a quick bucket in the second quarter put them up 17-10 -- a lead that was quickly erased to one. Franklin led 24-21 at the half.
"I think in the first half they were absolutely dictating to us defensively, which we fully expected because that's their forte," Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. "We just didn't handle it very well. They were forcing us way too far, they were taking away our cuts. They were taking it to us in the first half. We talked about better cuts, back door cuts and not letting them dictate to us. It was a little bit of a pep talk at half."
The pep talk worked for Taunton as they took their first lead with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter after a Davis free throw. They only gave up that lead once -- for just six seconds.
"Offensively, we just couldn't make a layup," Franklin head coach Dean O'Connor said. "The biggest thing is just we turned the ball over - some of them were Taunton some of them were self-inflicted. Then they started making some shots to combine that. We weren't shooting the ball well, combine that with the turnovers and then Taunton getting on a good roll defensively. Our defense broke down in the second half and they started to make some shots."
Davis led with a team-high 16 points and Cory Green added 11, while Gerald Cortijo finished with 10 after being in foul trouble for the majority of the game.
Taunton led 37-34 heading into the fourth quarter but Franklin's Quenten Harrell brought the Panthers back with six straight Franklin points to give them a 42-41 lead with 5:46 left in the game but relinquished it six seconds later at junior Matt Midouin scored 2 of his 11 points. An offensive rebound and layup from Franklin's Marcus Giese made it a two-point game at 49-47 with 1:55 left, but it was Midouin -- play just his second varsity game -- again for the Tigers, coming up with a big two points to make it 51-47.
"He hangs around the rim and he's a tough kid," Dacey said of Midouin. "He's tough to dislodge around the rim. He's so inexperienced but he's pretty coachable. He does just what we ask."
Senior Chris Rodgers finished with a team-high 16 points for Franklin, with 10 of them coming in the second half. Harrell finished 13 points and Giese added 9. Taunton sophomore Marcus Santos-Silva finished with 10 rebounds in just his second varsity game, including two big defensive rebounds during Franklin's last push.
Both teams are hoping with time, they'll continue to progress and improve on their performances on Friday night.
"We have a lot of guys that haven't play a lot of varsity and its the growing pains," O'Connor said. "One thing we have to do is play great defense and be fundamentally sound and we didn't do the second part of that at all. We've got to clean that up if we're going to be a good team."
"Like Dean probably said they'll be better later, and I think we'll be the same," Dacey said. "This season started too soon for all of us."
Both teams will be back in action on Monday when Franklin travels to Catholic Memorial and Taunton takes a visit to New Bedford.