Class C semis: Top-seeded Lenox locks down Franklin Tech, 51-36

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert is defended by Greenfield’s Gloria McDonald earlier this week in Turners Falls.

Franklin Tech’s Hannah Gilbert is defended by Greenfield’s Gloria McDonald earlier this week in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DYLAN THOMPSON

Berkshire Eagle

Published: 02-21-2024 9:53 PM

LENOX — On Wednesday night, top-seeded Lenox took one step closer to redemption, jumping out to an early 13-point lead, en route to a 51-36 victory over No. 4 Franklin Tech in a PVIAC Western Massachusetts Class C semifinal.

One year after losing in the Class D final, Lenox advances to the Class C final on Saturday. The Millionaires will take on No. 3 Renaissance, which upset Palmer on Wednesday night, in the title game at Holyoke Community College (3 p.m.).

“Great credit to them,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “They knocked down a lot of shots. We didn’t tonight. We missed a lot of free throws. Left a lot of points on the floor. They did a nice job with our pressure, and we didn’t do a nice job of rotating defensively.”

Although Lenox had not played the Eagles this season, the preparation they did before the game helped spark a hot start. The Millionaires knew the Eagles would run a press defense, and they took full advantage, beating the press for easy buckets on multiple occasions. Lenox jumped out to a 14-4 lead behind seven points from Jocelyn Fairfield.

“All the coaches in our staff up late at night just thinking how can we give our team an advantage,” Lenox coach Bailey Patella said. “We watched some film on them. We saw they liked to press and usually don’t stop their press. I thought that if we get the ball up the court quick enough that we could use it to our advantage and get them out of their press.

“That’s exactly what happened.”

The Millionaires defense held Franklin Tech to five points in the first quarter. Kelsey Kirchner (eight points and four blocks) set the tone for Lenox, swatting away shots in the paint.

The Millionaires opened up a 26-6 lead, forcing Franklin Tech to make adjustments. The Eagles turned to junior Hannah Gilbert (game-high 16 points), sparking a 7-2 run to close the quarter.

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Lenox kept its foot on the gas in the third quarter, upping its intensity and hustle. The Millionaires were first to loose balls, playing with passion and tenacity. Julieano was excellent in the second half, scoring 10 points. Chloe Parsenios suffocated the Eagle guards, forcing turnovers that led to runouts in transition.

Gilbert and senior Lea Chapman (11 points) did their best to cut into the Lenox lead, trimming it to 42-29 at the end of the third quarter. Franklin Tech was unable to make a run in the fourth quarter, and Lenox held on for the win.

Franklin Tech (16-4) will look to regroup before the upcoming state vocational and MIAA Division 5 State Tournaments.

“We just got to do a better job of knocking down shots and taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves,” Gamache said.