Franklin Academy held off a late Raleigh Charter run Friday, topping the visiting Phoenix, 52-46, in a win that head coach Matthew Durkin hopes will help keep the Patriots in the running for a wild card spot in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A playoffs.
“We’re trying to get in that wild card spot,” Durkin said. “We did not make the state tournament last year, so our goal this year is to get back there and try to get our first state tournament win. So that’s motivating us and driving us, and I think this win will go a long way in helping us do that possibly.”
Franklin (10-16, 7-7 NCAC) led for much of the game, using size to their advantage against a smaller Phoenix team. But Raleigh Charter (6-13, 6-8) kept within striking distance, and used a 14-3 run at the start of the fourth quarter to turn a 12-point third-quarter deficit into a one-point game.
Durkin called a timeout to settle his team, and the Patriots ran a play on its next possession that ended with junior Matthew Greeson getting fouled on a made basket. Greeson made the ensuing free throw, and the momentum was able to help Franklin stave off another Raleigh Charter run.
“They’re a good team, well-coached. They’re hard-workers -- they’re not one of the top public high schools in the country for nothing,” Durkin said of Raleigh Charter. “They’ve just got a bunch of hard working kids. ... Basketball is a game of runs, and it’s the team that gets the last run in the end that ends up winning. So the hope was that we could get the last run. I knew that they’d make a run, I just didn’t know how big it would be.
So it’s a testament to them for fighting hard to get back in it, and testament to our guys for holding on to win and not crumbling under pressure.”
Brandon Hanson led the Patriots with 22 points. Greeson added eight.
“It’s always a great rivalry,” Raleigh Charter coach Casey Hester said. “(Franklin Academy always has) a lot of energy and they have some good players and they’re well disciplined, so they play well with the energy. ... So we expected a fight, and that’s what we got. We just weren’t able to respond in time.”
Syed Fayyam Shah led the Phoenix with 12 points, while Patrick Powers and Ajay Bezawada chipped in nine each. Johnny Huntley grabbed 14 rebounds for Raleigh Charter in the loss.
“We’re so much of a different team than we were three months ago that it’s just something to celebrate in itself,” Hester said. “I’m really proud of our progression and in these last three games that we have all I can hope is that they just continue to get better, and see that as the main goal regardless of the outcome, though obviously we’re trying to win every game.”