Northeast Times

Public League playoffs: Franklin Towne upended by Freire Charter

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On the soc­cer field, Bri­anna O’Don­nell’s Frank­lin Towne Charter has won two con­sec­ut­ive Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ships.

After en­dur­ing some grow­ing pains on the bas­ket­ball court this sea­son, the Towne girls bas­ket­ball coach is hop­ing her hoops team can reach that same po­ten­tial next sea­son.

It was a ban­ner year for Towne on the hard­wood in 2012-13, as the Coyotes won 16 games in one of the best sea­sons in pro­gram his­tory. After a quarterfi­nals win over Dob­bins on Feb. 8, Towne saw its sea­son end in Wed­nes­day’s 40-35 semi­finals loss at the hands of Freire Charter.

“It was a great game against a great team,” O’Don­nell said by phone Fri­day af­ter­noon. “We just had some foul trouble early on that really hurt us, and they have a really in­cred­ible play­er who was big­ger than our play­ers. We just couldn’t slow her down.”

That play­er was Freire’s Chelsea Woods, who torched Towne for 28 points, in­clud­ing nine in a cru­cial fourth quarter. Woods also grabbed an as­ton­ish­ing 20 re­bounds, and in the end was just too much for Towne to over­come.

“Six­teen of her points came from the foul line, and she only missed one free throw,” O’Don­nell said. “To say everything they did went through her would be an un­der­state­ment.”

Still, O’Don­nell found some pos­it­ives in her team’s play; the team’s most tal­en­ted and well-known play­ers — ju­ni­ors Rachel and Re­becca Gil­borges and Stefanie Ulmer — have en­joyed suc­cess on both the soc­cer field and bas­ket­ball court. O’Don­nell is ex­cited, too, about two oth­er play­ers who came a long way this sea­son and against Freire.

Those are sopho­more point guard Alex­is O’Neill and six-foot ju­ni­or cen­ter Madeline Cep­par­ulo. O’Neill tal­lied a team-high 17 points against Freire, while Cep­par­ulo chipped in with 14 points and 17 re­bounds.

“The way I see it, these were def­in­ite grow­ing pains,” O’Don­nell said. “This was their first taste of ser­i­ous play­off bas­ket­ball. Madeline and Alex­is both came to play, and I see that as something to build on. We came in­to our own, and we can take that in­to next sea­son.”

The great thing for O’Don­nell is that her roster con­tains just one seni­or, and every play­er in her ro­ta­tion will re­turn next sea­son. Nobody wants to win more than the fiery Towne coach, but she was able to find some sil­ver lin­ing in the end of her team’s sea­son.

“These games are con­fid­ence build­ers,” she said. “They wer­en’t happy they lost, but they could feel the suc­cess of their sea­son. They learned they could com­pete with these teams, and I don’t think they felt that way be­fore this sea­son. Now they feel like they be­long and they can match up with any­one.”

Now, with the whirl­wind of the soc­cer and bas­ket­ball sea­sons be­hind her, O’Don­nell is look­ing for­ward to be­ing a fan in the spring. Many of her play­ers on both teams run track or play soft­ball for the school, so she is look­ing for­ward to trad­ing in her coach’s hat for that of a de­voted spec­tat­or.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing able to cheer them on in something else that they really do well,” she said. “And I know my cap­tains will be set­ting up sum­mer workouts for both soc­cer and bas­ket­ball; they did so last year, and the turnout was un­be­liev­able. They take this ser­i­ously, and they’ll be work­ing hard soon­er than you know it to get ready for next year.” ••

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You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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