SOMERSET NJ - The state tournament for high school basketball is still a few weeks away yet, but the seedings and brackets were announced earlier Thursday at the NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville and both the boys and girls teams for Franklin will join the party.
The sixth-seeded boys team will face 11th-seeded Columbia in the first round of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 tournament at home on Feb. 25. The Warriors will be searching for their first sectional title since 2003 when they had their best season ever. That year, they won Central Jersey, Group 3 and were crowned overall champions of Group 3. They also won the Somerset County Tournament.
In order to advance through the bracket, Franklin will have to continue to be balanced. The likely final matchup is top-seeded Elizabeth against second-seeded Newark East Side.
Entering Thursday, Franklin, led by first-year coach Tony Mento, is 12-6.
For the girls, the Lady Warriors are searching to continue their dominance. The No. 1-ranked team in New Jersey is the top-seed in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 and will host 16th-seeded Perth Amboy at 6:00 p.m. in the first round on Feb. 25. They are the heavy favorite to not only win the section, but Group 4 as well and make a return trip to the Tournament of Champions for the third straight year and fourth time in the last five seasons.
Franklin entered Thursday a perfect 18-0 and won the T of C in 2016-17. It won N2G4 and Group 4 the last two years as well under coach Audrey Taylor.
And fresh off of the news of the state tournament pairings, the Warriors took to the court and faced Phillipsburg. The boys were home and the girls were on the road in Warren County.
The boys dropped a tight 47-46 game to the Stateliners and a big fourth quarter fell just short. Franklin outscored Phillipsburg 21-12 in the final frame. The Warriors had fallen behind 24-13 at halftime.
Franklin’s Dominic Bacallao-Wright, Trevin Midgette, and Joshua Kuroda-Grauer each scored points apiece. Midgette made five foul shots while Bacallao-Wright made three. The Warriors held a 12-9 edge from the free-throw line.
But for Phillipsburg, Richard Manigault netted a game-high 21 points and Alain Gonda joined him in double figures with 12.
Next up, the Warriors make the short trip to take on Piscataway in Piscataway on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
The girls team handedly defeated the Stateliners on Thursday and immediately return to the road for a quick turnaround game at Trenton Catholic on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.
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