Franklinville has some un­fin­ished busi­ness in Troy

Pan­thers face Notre Dame-Gib­bons

The Buffalo News - - HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - By Miguel Ro­driguez NEWS SPORTS RE­PORTER

Franklinville is re­turn­ing to Troy look­ing to fin­ish a job it started last sea­son.

Ex­cept the Pan­thers’ girls bas­ket­ball team has been rid­ing the un­der­dog men­tal­ity dur­ing its run to the New York State Pub­lic High Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion Fi­nal Four at Hud­son Val­ley Com­mu­nity Col­lege as op­posed to show­ing up in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion with a flaw­less record.

What­ever works this late in the sea­son, right?

Franklinville takes on Sec­tion II cham­pion Notre Dame-Bishop Gib­bons at 11:45 a.m. to­day in the sec­ond of two Class D semi­fi­nal games at Hud­son Val­ley CC. The win­ner will meet ei­ther X-Fort Ed­wards-Knox or IV-South Kor­tright at 4 p.m. Satur­day for the ti­tle.

While the Pan­thers won ev­ery game last year ex­cept the state fi­nal, they’ve en­dured some grow­ing pains in re­turn­ing to the mecca of NYSPHSAA girls bas­ket­ball.

Does this trip to the Fi­nal Four feel bet­ter than last year’s?

“It’s not bet­ter than last year,” ju­nior Dani Haskell said. “But it’s dif­fer­ent be­cause no­body thought we could get this far and we have a dif­fer­ent team. We’re a dif­fer­ent team and know­ing we still got back here is cool.”

While the chat­ter has been on what the Pan­thers lost from last sea­son, that doesn’t change the fact that they head into ev­ery game with per­haps the best player on the court in Haskell.

The re­turn­ing first-team All-Western New York guard has kicked it up a notch this post­sea­son. She outscored Elba dur­ing Franklinville’s re­gional win last Satur­day, drop­ping 33 points in a 49-32 vic­tory. In the Sec­tion VI fi­nal, Haskell fin­ished with 28 points, in­clud­ing her team’s fi­nal five points in a 54-53 win over Panama.

“I think she’s do­ing what she’s al­ways done,” class­mate Abby McCoy said. “She can score in so many ways. She is the rock of our team. She cre­ates for oth­ers. Those kids can hit shots. She’s a con­fi­dence booster for us.”

Coach Al­lan Dunlap said it’s not just Haskell’s of­fense that has been key.

“What gets lost in the con­ver­sa­tion is how good she is de­fen­sively and she’s tak­ing her game to an­other level with re­bound­ing,” Dunlap said. “She’s worked hard (there) but par­tially out of ne­ces­sity be­cause we are small. She’s a great leader vo­cally . ... It’s hard for teams to stop us at times be­cause she’s hard to stop. She’s able to cre­ate and give other kids open looks. She’s def­i­nitely been a huge part of our suc­cess no doubt about it.”

Haskell, who has scored more than 2,000 points in her ca­reer, says her suc­cess is de­rived from as­sis­tance by her team­mates, in­clud­ing McCoy, a 1,000-point scorer who’s av­er­ag­ing 15.5 points and scored a game­high 32 points in a sec­tional quar­ter­fi­nal win.

“We lost Ally (Haskell) and Amy (O’Neal) but we were still very con­fi­dent we’d get here,” Dani Haskell said. “Even if we lost big games (early in the sea­son), it didn’t mat­ter. Play­offs were the only thing that mat­ter.

“I think if we are able to pull it off (win the state ti­tle), it gives you chills just think­ing about just be­cause last year we were so close. If we do it, it would be amaz­ing.”

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Franklinville’s girls bas­ket­ball team pose with their awards af­ter beat­ing Elba for the Class D Far West Re­gional Cham­pi­onship.

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