FRANKLIN, Pa. – In a game defined by runs, Franklin’s 12-0 run during the final 2:24 proved to be the difference as the Knights claimed the District 10 Class 3A championship with a 56-47 win over Sharpsville Friday.
In the fourth quarter alone there were three ties and two lead changes. Just before Franklin ended the game with its run, Sharpsville used a 7-0 run to take the lead with 2:38 to play.
The Blue Devils battled back from a 6-point halftime deficit to tie the game early in the fourth quarter. Hayden Adams and Luke Guth completed traditional 3-point plays on consecutive Knights possessions to put Franklin on top, 44-40.
Mark Staunch put in a pair of layups and knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Blue Devils a 47-44 advantage.
“So Staunch hit that big three with 2:38 to play and I said, ‘Alright, here we go. It’s gonna go down to a 2-minute game,'” Franklin coach Jason Fulmer said. “The fortunate part is our region really prepares us for that event. You go into those battles against teams like Grove City and Hickory. So it’s not like we’re out of our minds at that point,”
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Franklin’s Easton Fulmer answered with a 3-pointer of his own, his third of the game, to tie it at 47-47. Adams put the Knights in front for good with a field goal with just under two minutes remaining. Guth and Fulmer went 3-4 from the line as Sharpsville started fouling to extend the game, and Guth’s bucket with seconds remaining sealed the win.
Sharpsville opened the game with a 7-2 run, capped by a Zak Ramsay 3-pointer. With 1:43 left in the frame and the Knights trailing 9-4, Easton Fulmer took over. He scored 13 straight points to help the Knights take a 17-14 lead early in the second quarter.
Things got a bit heated between the two teams in the second. Just over a minute in, Jackson Doyle was fouled on a breakaway. James Thomas helped Doyle to his feet and did something to draw the official’s ire as he was assessed a technical foul. Four minutes later, Jonathan Leccia had some words for Thomas following a blocked shot and also picked up a technical. Both players had received a warning earlier in the game.
“You always want to be that team that is receiving the technical shots not giving the technical shots,” coach Fulmer said. “A young kid (Leccia is a sophomore) gets caught up in the game. Hands down, it’s the biggest game of his life, and the most minutes he’s playing that situation. He has a big block. I felt like in all reality both of (the technicals) are probably a little quick trigger, compared to what I’ve seen in the past. I think they were trying to set the tone.”
Franklin took a 28-22 lead into the half, but Sharpsville started the third quarter much the same way it started the first, with a big run.
The Blue Devils scored the first eight points of the second half to regain the lead, 30-28. Coach Fulmer appeared to be ready to take a timeout, but Zak Smith signaled that things were under control and the Knights played on. Guth drilled a 3-pointer on the next possession to put Franklin back on top, 31-30. The teams traded buckets until Sharpsville grabbed a 36-33 lead thanks to a Thomas 3-point play. Adams answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game and Damon Curry gave the Knights a 38-36 advantage heading to the fourth.
Easton Fulmer had a game-high 22 points, including the 1,000th of his career, in the win. He spoke about both after the game.
Guth finished with 13 points and Adams added 10 for the Knights.
Staunch led the Blue Devils with 19 points. Doyle had 12 and Thomas 11.
Franklin will play the winner of Saturday’s District 6 championship, either Bishop Guilfoyle or Westmont, on Saturday, March 20 at a time and place to be announced.