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Haskell, Franklinville look to finish what they started last year at Final Four

Franklinville is returning to Troy looking to finish a job it started last season.

Except the Panthers’ girls basketball team has been riding the underdog mentality during its run to the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association Final Four at Hudson Valley Community College as opposed to showing up in the Capital Region with a flawless record.

Whatever works this late in the season, right?

Franklinville takes on Section II champion Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons at 11:45 a.m. Friday in the second of two Class D semifinal games at Hudson Valley CC. The winner will meet either X-Fort Edwards-Knox or IV-South Kourtright at 4 p.m. Saturday for the title.

While the Panthers won every game last year except the state final, they’ve endured some growing pains in returning to the mecca of NYSPHSAA girls basketball.

Does this trip to Final Four feel better than last year’s?

“It’s not better than last year,” junior Dani Haskell said. “But it’s different because nobody thought we could get this far and we have a different team. We’re a different team and knowing we still got back here is cool.”

While the chatter has been on what the Panthers lost from last season, that doesn’t change the fact that they head into every game with perhaps the best player on the court in Haskell.

The returning first-team All-Western New York guard has kicked it up a notch this postseason. She outscored Elba during Franklinville’s regional win last Saturday – dropping 33 points in a 49-32 victory. In the Section VI final, Haskell finished with 28 points, including her team’s final five points in a 54-53 win over Panama.

“I think she’s doing what she’s always done,” classmate Abby McCoy said. “She can score in so many ways. She is the rock of our team. She creates for others. Those kids can hit shots. She’s a confidence booster for us.”

Coach Allan Dunlap said it’s not just Haskell's offense that has been key.

“What gets lost in the conversation is how good she is defensively and she’s taking her game to another level with rebounding,” Dunlap said. “She’s worked hard (there) but partially out of necessity because we are small. She’s a great leader vocally. ... It’s hard for teams to stop us at times because she’s hard to stop. She’s able to create and give other kids open looks. She’s definitely been a huge part of our success no doubt about it.”

Haskell, who has scored more than 2,000 points in her career, says her success is derived from assistance by her teammates, including McCoy, a 1,000-point scorer who’s averaging 15.5 points and scored a game-high 32 points in a sectional quarterfinal win.

“We lost Ally (Haskell) and Amy (O'Neal) but we were still very confident we’d get here,” Haskell said. “Even if we lost big games (early in the season), it didn’t matter. Playoffs were the only thing that matter.

“I think if we are able to pull it off (win the state title), it gives you chills just thinking about just because last year we were so close. If we do it, it would be amazing.”

Smudge makes her mark: Franklinville’s Haskell shooting up WNY’s all-time scoring list

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