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Franklinville’s quest to ‘be the first’ continues with state semifinal win

TROY – As the 11 girls on the Franklinville basketball team huddled around each other to celebrate their win Saturday, senior Allyson Haskell raised her left index finger with a simple message.

One more.

Visible on that left forearm are the words “be the first.” Inspired by a visit from 1990 Franklinville grad Brian Wachter, every player applied a temporary tattoo at the hotel Friday night with that same phrase.

Wachter, a former standout guard who led the boys team to Section VI titles in 1989 and 1990, came into high school with all these goals to leave as the all-time leading scorer and a member of the All-Western New York team.

“But then he realized by the end of his career that all that didn’t matter,” Franklinville coach Allan Dunlap said, “and that he only had one goal. And that was to be the first, the first to get a basketball state championship at Franklinville.”

With a 59-40 win over Section X’s Edwards-Knox (21-2) in the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Class D semifinals, the Panthers (25-0) have an opportunity to do just that and complete a perfect season in the process.

Sunday’s 11:45 a.m. championship game at Hudson Valley Community College is against Section IV’s Delaware Academy (23-2), the No. 2 team in the state, which had no problem beating Section VII’s Moriah in the other semifinal, 55-26.

“They press and they push it up and down the floor,” Dunlap said. “They’re a lot like us – although tonight I don’t feel like we lived up to that billing of pushing it up and down the floor as we usually do – but this team, they fly. They press, they trap, they’re all over the place.”

It took Franklinville a good part of the first quarter to show why it’s been ranked as the state’s No. 1 team since Jan. 31. Part of that was due to the fact that the Cougars simply couldn’t miss early on.

Franklinville came in with a defensive strategy to keep a distance on Edwards-Knox’s shooters, close enough to contest the three ball but far enough away to help out on standout post player Riannon Holly (19 points, 13 rebounds).

The Cougars opened with a 15-10 lead before Danielle Haskell (19 points), the mastermind behind the temporary tattoo idea, scored four points in the last 41 seconds of the opening frame.

Allyson Haskell (18 points) made three three-pointers in a second quarter that the Panthers started with an 11-0 run and ultimately won, 17-4, to make it 31-19 heading into the locker room.

On defense, Franklinville’s plan came to fruition. It gave up its first field goal since 3:48 of the first quarter with 36 seconds left in the half, a span of 11:12. The Cougars didn’t score a point for 8:32 after taking that five-point lead 4:49 into the game.

“When they got hot and hit a few shots, I think it kind of came back to us just following through with what we had planned all week defensively,” Dunlap said, “and that turned into stops and points for us to kind of spread the gap a little bit.”

Edwards-Knox made it 33-29 with 2:30 left in the third quarter but the Panthers closed on a 10-0 run, punctuated by a long Danielle Haskell trey that she banked in just before the buzzer.

All five of Franklinville’s field goals in the fourth quarter were from three-point land. It finished with 13 as a team, four from Ally Haskell and three each from Dani Haskell, Abby McCoy (11 points) and Brianna Broadwell (nine points). Its most this season is 17.

“That’s what we do,” Dunlap said. “All year long we’ve ran and when we have an open look, we want to take it because we feel like we have at least three or four kids that have the ability to get hot and stick those shots.”

One more performance like that Sunday would make those $5 tattoos, plus the $20 expedited shipping fee, well worth it.

“I think that if we just come out and try our hardest and play our best,” Allyson said, “then we have a shot.”

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