ATTLEBORO — When the second-seeded Bishop Feehan girls’ basketball team is clicking, the ball whizzes around to shooters and cutters. It took some time to crack No. 15 Franklin’s defense, but the Shamrocks eventually found their sweet spots.
After withstanding a hard-charging first quarter from the Panthers, Feehan buckled down and battled back to earn a 69-61 home victory in the second round of the Division 1 state tournament.
“We know Franklin’s a great team, and when you’re at this point in the season, everybody’s gonna make their runs,” Bishop Feehan coach Amy Dolores said. “I do give the kids a lot of credit. They withstood the run, they kept their faith and confidence in each other and made shots down the stretch when they needed them.”
Franklin (17-5) took an early 24-15 lead in the first quarter and solved Bishop Feehan’s press within the first few minutes. But the Shamrocks also stepped up their offensive pressure, with straight-line drives from senior Sammy Reale (20 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) helping spark the comeback. Reale hoisted up a half-court shot just before the halftime buzzer that rolled out, but Mary Daley ran the floor and put the shot back up to cut the deficit to 33-32.
“I was like, ‘I’m not letting this be my last game,’ ” Reale said. “So I would see openings, take as much as I can, look for cutters, and look for the drive-and-kicks.”
Bishop Feehan (18-4) found better success moving the ball in the third quarter. Sophomore Madelyn Steel (19 points) drained four 3-pointers in the frame and the Shamrocks led by as much as 9. The passing, cutting, and spacing emblematic of a state title contender showed up in full force.
“We were really trying to get the drive-and-kick, because they were collapsing in the middle and they had height on us, so we needed to draw them in,” Steel said.
Senior Katie Peterson (24 points) had her own half-court heroics planned, draining one at the third-quarter buzzer to close the gap to 54-48, but Franklin never got closer than 4 in a back-and-forth final quarter.
Sophomore Charlotte Adams-Lopez had 12 points and nine assists and junior Julia Webster had 11 points and six rebounds for the Shamrocks.
Dolores credited her squad with battling against the Panthers’ size advantage and cleaning up their help defense, which resulted in key steals and blocks. Steel explained how Feehan emphasized fighting around screens to make entry passes difficult and helping when Franklin tried to throw the ball down low.
“Our main focus was that when [Franklin] set the ball screen, we really wanted to rush it so they couldn’t get it way over the top,” she said. “Once they got it in the post it was really hard to stop it, so we were focusing on stopping it before it got there . . . and then help over the back.”
Feehan advances to play the winner of No. 7 Bridgewater-Raynham and No. 10 Newton North. Reale and Daley are the only two seniors in the rotation, and Dolores has been impressed by the maturity of her younger players in these big moments.
“They’ve really grown a lot over the course of the season,” she said. “We played a really tough schedule, and we took our lumps at times, but they learned from it, and it’s been really great to see their confidence grow and develop this season.”
Wachusett 66, Wellesley 42 — The fourth-seeded Mountaineers (20-2) built a 41-15 halftime lead and got 29 points from Mary Gibbons, including 19 in the first half, as they cruised into the quarterfinals, where they will take on the winner of No. 12 Springfield Central (18-2) and No. 5 Brookline (17-4), who play Wednesday.
Mashpee 52, Joseph Case 39 — Hialeah Turner-Foster scored 14 of her game-high 24 points in the first half for the eighth-seeded Falcons (19-5), who withstood a late run from No. 9 Case (16-6), which got within 2 points with 4 minutes to go. Mashpee plays the winner of No. 1 Cathedral (16-3) and No. 16 South Hadley (14-7) in the quarterfinals.
Millis 67, Franklin County Tech 38 — Hailey Bassett (18 points), Mia Molinari (15 points, 12 rebounds), and Olivia Hockman (13 points) helped top-seeded Millis (14-8) storm out to a 34-15 halftime lead en route to a second-round home win. Millis plays No. 8 Palmer (17-4) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.
Ethan Fuller can be reached at email@example.com.