Franklin Regional basketball doing best to push through stop-and-start season

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Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 6:28 PM


Franklin Regional had just ripped off three straight Section 3-5A boys basketball wins — a thrilling, double-overtime victory at McKeesport, a tough-fought home win against Gateway and a blowout over Kiski Area, also at home.

The Panthers rose to first place and had begun to build serious momentum.

Then it all came to a screeching halt. The needle slid off the record as the program had to stop all activities and quarantine after contact tracing showed possible exposure to covid-19.

Let down but not totally surprised, the Panthers went into hiding for 10 days.

“We kind of anticipated that something like this might happen at some point this year,” coach Steve Scorpion said. “We just have to go with it and deal with it. I think the kids are handling it all right because they understand this is out of our control.”

Franklin Regional’s girls basketball team had already taken to quarantine when the news broke about the boys. The girls team returned to practice Jan. 26 after a 10-day shutdown, again due to contact tracing.

“The biggest thing for us is continuity,” girls coach Anthony Kobus said. “We were missing four varsity players coming out of the (state-mandated) break, and when they were eligible to come back, we shut down again. “

Gov. Tom Wolf made high school sports go into a three-week pause from mid-December to Jan. 4.

The girls team was 0-3 when it was stopped. They lost to Section 4-5A leader Latrobe, 50-18, in their return game Monday.

The sudden suspension of play will have the feel of a holiday break for teams that have to quarantine. Only there are no tournament games to keep them tied over until section play starts again.

“I told them when we shut down that we just have to pick up where we left off when we come back,” Scorpion said. “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us and take it easy on us just because we had to pause for a little while.

“We need to be ready to go when we come back, and I think we will be. “

Franklin Regional’s boys are averaging 69.8 points in their four wins, 66.0 overall, the highest average in the section.

Senior 6-foot-4 forward Kadyn Hannah (20.2 ppg) has been a pleasant surprise, routinely giving the Panthers double-digit points. They could do a lot worse for a rebounder and defender, too.

He and senior Luke Kimmich (19.4 ppg) have been a potent one-two punch, an inside-outside pair with Kimmich providing perimeter points.

Junior guard Caden Smith is a third scoring threat and a solid, well-sized defender in the backcourt at 6-4.

Scorpion has a deep rotation going, another reason he wants play to resume.

“I thought we were playing well and doing some good things, but there is no reason why we can’t continue to play that way when we come back,” he said. “The conditioning part and game legs will be the toughest part, I think, when we come back. Not really doing much for 10 days then coming right back at it is hard for anyone to do. Hopefully this is where our depth will help and we’ll be able to play multiple guys like we have been.”

Kobus is anxious to see what a healthy, full-strength rotation will look like as his team seeks out consistency in a number of ways.

“We will be looking to see how those pieces fit in and where we go from there,” he said of the returning girls. “We get some height back, which will help us with rebounding, and we also add depth to the bench, which we didn’t have before the break. We’ll get back to it.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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