SOMERSET, NJ - The celebration still hasn't ended.
Franklin Township continues to regale the accomplishments of the high school's girls' varsity basketball team which just completed a season that stands as the greatest in the history of New Jersey.
The Warriors are the first team ever to go 34-0. They won their second NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title in three years on March 17, when they defeated Saddle River Day School in the T of C final. And Friday night, the gym at Franklin High School was open to the entire community to honor these girls.
The players and coaches were available to all fans young and old for a meet and greet. They met with their adoring public with the same grace, class and good cheer that marked the team's persona during the entire course of this remarkable title run. Autographed photos were available, and music and cheerleaders added to the festive atmosphere, which was capped by a net-cutting ceremony.
"Believe me, for a long time we were known as a 'walkover' team," said Franklin head coach Audrey Taylor. "But right now, when you say Franklin and you say the Warriors, you're gonna say positive things about these girls. I am very, very proud of what they have done for the program."
Hard as it may be to believe, just two of the five starters on this three-time state Group 4 champion were seniors. McDonald's All-American Diamond Miller, who is headed to the University of Maryland, and point guard Tiana Jackson are the only 12th-grade starters on a team that will bring back junior guards Keona Schenck and Kennady Schenck, and freshman forward Christina Midgette.
But even though the five starters came from three different grades, they forged a unique bond stronger than most basketball teams ever enjoy.
"To be a part of someting like this is amazing, a lot of people don't get to where we are--not once, but twice," Miller said. "Just to play with these girls that you grew up with, we're never gonna get this ever again. Just knowing that these girls had my back for four years--and more--is amazing. I love these girls. They will always be my family."
Although the team that Jackson and Miller played for as eighth-graders also went undefeated in their middle school league four years ago, reaching this pinnacle still seemed unreal to Jackson.
"It's something I could have never dreamed of. I've been playing here since freshman year, and seeing where we were in the beginning and then seeing where we are now, I would have never dreamed of anything like this," Jackson said. "Being able to say that I have two T of C titles, we were No. 1 team in the state twice, and being able to say that I did it with these girls is honestly amazing."
The 2019 Franklin Warriors:
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