Seniors Looking to Go Out on Top
With strong senior players at the helm, Franklin High boys’ basketball coach CJ Nealey has high hopes for the season. Shown, co-captain Sean O’Leary makes a play. Photo used courtesy of Kirsten O’Leary
The Franklin boys’ basketball team finished 18-1 last winter enroute to capturing the Hockomock League Championship. Unfortunately, the Panthers, who were awarded the number three seed in the Division 1 State Tournament, quickly found themselves packing their bags and heading home for the year. After destroying Weymouth 62-49, the boys of Franklin were upset in the second round by 14th seed Brockton, 56-47.
“We had ourselves a pretty good season last year; things just didn’t go our way in the tournament,” Franklin Coach CJ Neely said. “We lost four seniors, three of them were starters, but honestly, coming into this season, we have a strong senior class, and I believe we can go back-to-back in the league.”
One of the biggest reasons that Neely is so high on this year’s season is the return of co-captain and Hockomock League MVP, Sean O’Leary. The senior has already committed to playing basketball on the collegiate level with Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. The Panther Coach likes the fact that O’Leary is a versatile athlete that he can use in so many different ways on the court.
“He can post up or shoot the three. He plays a lot with his back to the net and has a great put back shot,” the Franklin Coach said. “If a bigger guy is covering him, he can dribble past him, while if he’s up against someone smaller and move them inside to get to the net,”
In addition to being named the league MVP during his junior campaign, O’Leary is on track to record his 1,000 point for the Panthers this season. Being one that averages just under 20 points a game, the task should be a rather easy one. According to the Coach, O’Leary didn’t see all that much time on the court as a freshman because of COVID. Otherwise, his number would be much higher.
Another senior returning to join O’Leary will be Hansy Jacques, who has worked extremely hard this past off-season and should also be able to put up some good numbers as Franklin looks to take home the league title once again. Having been the 6th or 7th person off the bench last year, Jacques was able to log a good number of minutes for the Panthers. Last winter, his numbers were not all that impressive, averaging about 7 points per game, but Neely is looking for him to double those numbers this winter. The Coach would be totally surprised if Jacques doesn’t score between 13 and 16 points per contest this year.
“Hansy also has a good chance to be recruited and play on the next level. So far, he has not decided where he would like to play,” Neely said. “He’s a long athlete that plays above the rim and can shoot from the outside. He is also very quick and can slash to the net.”
Having O’Leary and Jacques gives the Panthers two talented individuals that should give Franklin the opportunity to do a lot of good on the court this season.
The other co-captain, Andrew O’Neill, will most likely spot up on the wing. He is a great defensive player for the Panthers and will get the ball moving in the right direction.
“He can shoot the ball and facilitate,” the Coach said. “He really doesn’t get the publicity he deserves; he does a lot of the dirty work for the team and is the engine that keeps the team running.”
The final senior starter will be point guard Bradley Herdon. Like the other three starters, he, too, is a soccer player for Franklin and should once again play a lot of minutes this season at the point guard position.
Neely noted that Herdon is one of the best passers on the squad and can put a ton of pressure on the opposition when trying to bring the ball down the court. In addition to being a gnat flying around the opposition, he is a great defender all around and can rebound with the best of them. He is a crafty individual that gets the ball moving.
Rounding out the senior class is Ryan Wilson and Andrew Benoit. Benoit came off the end of the bench last year but could find himself as the first player off it this season. He is one that knows his job and is a big strong player that can shoot the ball.
Junior Caden Sullivan looks to be the team’s final starter this coming season. Last winter the then sophomore had a bad bone infection, and although Neely thought that he would start, he unfortunately sat out for two-thirds of the year.
“He is a high-volume scorer, but he never looked like himself last year,” the Coach said. “I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do this year in his return now that he’s healthy.”
Despite not getting past the second round of the State Tournament last year, Neely’s goal this year is to continue to play at the level they did last year. The Coach doesn’t want to get ahead of themselves but is looking to repeat as the Hock Champions once again, while making a strong run through the tournament this upcoming campaign.
“A lot of the guys have been playing together during the off-season, so there will be a lot of hope and excitement once the season begins,” Neely said. “We want to reestablish ourselves as the team to beat, but this is an entirely new year where everyone is 0-0 right now. This current team hasn’t done anything yet.”Having worked together to get ready for the season, the Franklin players should be ready to hit the ground running enroute to picking up where they left off, taking home another Hockomock League Title and then, hopefully, going further into the Division 1 Tournament than they did last season. here...