Freshman forward Molly Reagan hit two late free throws and sophomore guard Jenn Guen had 7 points off the bench as second-seeded Braintree defeated top-seeded Franklin, 51-46, for the Division 1 South girls’ championship at UMass-Boston Saturday.
“This is unbelievable,’’ said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. “I have personally dreamt about [reaching TD Garden] for a long time, and I think these kids, they’re absolutely riding this crazy high that they’re on right now, and I’m so happy they get to experience it.’’
Braintree advances to the Division 1 EMass final, where it will face Andover, the two-time defending state champion Tuesday.
Franklin jumped out to a 38-34 lead late in the third, but Annie Kate Joyce hit a 3-pointer and a layup to put the Wamps up, 39-38, entering the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, Braintree went on a quick 8-4 run to stretch its lead to 47-42.
With seven seconds remaining and Franklin down, 47-44, a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the left corner hit the side of the rim.
Regan then hit two foul shots to make it a two-possession game, essentially sealing the outcome.
Franklin finished 4 of 13 from both 3-point range and the free throw line. Senior Alicia Wilde led the Panthers with 11 points.
“Sometimes it comes down to who’s on and who’s off, and the ball fell for us when it needed to,’’ said McDonnell. “These kids really dug deep. I’m so proud of them.’’
After trailing, 16-11, late in the first, Franklin went on a 15-3 run for a 26-19 lead with 2:15 left in the half.
The Wamps came back a bit, but went to the locker room trailing, 29-28.
“We came into the halftime really excited, really happy with where we were,’’ said McDonnell. “I thought we had a good battle in the first half. So to come out with it, our momentum, we hit a couple shots and I thought we would be OK.’’
The momentum seemed to sway in favor of the Wamps midway through the third quarter when Guen took a hard charge that sent her to the floor.
Following the charge, Guen received the ball at the top of the key and made an outlet pass to senior guard Paige Marshall (game-high 15 points) in the left corner, who drained the 3-pointer to tie the game at 34.
“We’re a really physical team, and we get energized when anybody either goes at us or we go at them,’’ said McDonnell. “I think we needed it to get to that level and to get a little emotion into us. We came out to start the second half a little flat to start, and I thought once that [charge] happened, we really picked it up.’’