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Franklin Regional defense stifles Seneca Valley

| Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, 8:39 p.m.

In a matchup that featured Seneca Valley's full-court pressure, Franklin Regional's defense made its own statement.

The Panthers (16-6) forced 22 turnovers, including several during an 11-0 second-quarter run that made the difference in a 70-59 win over Seneca Valley (12-11) in WPIAL Class AAAA first-round action at Plum.

“I thought we did a really good job getting our hands on balls, whether it was a block, whether it was a strip (or) whether it was just a tip on a pass,” Franklin Regional coach Brad Midgley said. “It definitely caused some havoc in the second quarter. A lot of that created offense.”

For the first 11 minutes of Saturday's game, the teams played evenly. The game was tied at 20-20 after a score by Seneca Valley guard Matt Darby early in the second quarter.

After that, Franklin Regional's defense took over. The Panthers held the Raiders without a basket for the final five minutes of the second quarter, and Franklin Regional players Devin Arrigo, Matt Fisch and Charan Singh scored in transition. The 11-0 run gave the Panthers a 31-20 lead at the break.

Seneca Valley did its best to chip away in the third quarter by getting to the free-throw line, with Zach Snyder and Darby combining to shoot 14 foul shots during that span.

However, Franklin Regional made enough plays to maintain its double-digit lead.

“We started to press when we got down a little bit, and there's only so many times you can turn teams over before they figure it out,” Seneca Valley coach Victor Giannotta said.

“That's a good team. We got a turnover here, a turnover there, but we couldn't put a dent in the lead because they would get a bucket.”

The Raiders kept up their attack in the fourth quarter, getting as close as seven points on a T.J. Holl basket with 1:01 remaining. But Franklin Regional responded by beating Seneca Valley's press and getting a breakaway layup by Fisch to put the game away.

“We talk about that a lot, that when teams press us we want to be the aggressor, we want to be aggressive and push back and try to (make them) pay for not having guys back protecting the basketball hoop,” Midgley said.

Fisch led four Franklin Regional players in double figures with 18 points, with Matt Renzi adding 15, Arrigo 13 and Singh 11.

Snyder scored 14 of his team-high 18 points after halftime for Seneca Valley, and Darby and Dakota Topf added 13 apiece.

Franklin Regional advances to the WPIAL quarterfinals, where the Panthers will face No. 2 Hampton on Saturday.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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