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Franklin Regional nearly lets lead evaporate before hanging on

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 10:16 p.m.
Franklin Regional guard Charan Singh drives on Penn Hills guard Darius Holloway during their December 21, 2012 contest in Murrysville. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Franklin Regional boys basketball coach Brad Midgely didn't want to call Friday's Section 2-AAAA battle against Penn Hills a must win. But for a team that started section play with two losses, it was close.

Franklin Regional (4-3, 1-2) got a big first half from bench players Matt Fisch and George Brown and then held on for a 67-62 victory. Penn Hills (1-6, 0-3) never led.

Fisch finished with a team-high 16 points, 13 in the first half, and Brown added six before leaving with an injury as Franklin Regional built a 38-29 lead.

“I don't know if we circled this game as a must win,” Midgely said. “But as far as answering adversity, it was big for us. We just couldn't put them away in the second half.”

Penn Hills, led by 6-foot-4 junior Willie James, wouldn't go without a fight. James led all scorers with 18 points, while freshman Harlyn Owen added 12 and senior Darius Holloway 11.

The Indians, behind James, quickly got back into the game in the second half by beginning the third quarter on a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 38-36. But each time Penn Hills made a run, Franklin Regional had an answer. Jake Roberge hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter as Franklin Regional pushed the lead to 46-38.

Franklin Regional junior guard Matt Renzi also contributed 14 points, 12 in the second half — all on 3-pointers, while Nate Hlozek had 11 points.

“We didn't do the little things when we got it close,” Penn Hills coach Jim Rocco said. “They hit some big shots, but I saw some good things, we're coming.”

Penn Hills picked away at the lead as Holloway and Owen hit key buckets. Owen's 3-pointer with 4:12 left trimmed the lead to 60-59.

But they'd get no closer as Charan Singh hit a jumper, and Renzi followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 65-59.

“Matt and George gave us energy in the first half,” Midgely said. “When we get that energy from different players, we're a different team.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pschofield@tribweb.com.

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