Public League playoffs: Franklin Towne upended by Freire Charter
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.” ••