Surging Franklin Regional girls keep momentum with win over Armstrong

By: HSSN Staff
Monday, January 7, 2019 | 10:21 PM


No letdown here.

The Franklin Regional girls basketball team, fresh off an upset of No. 2 Mars last week, carried the momentum into Monday night’s Section 2-5A game against Armstrong and followed their signature win with another one.

The Panthers started fast and then held off repeated comeback attempts by visiting Armstrong to post a 50-38 victory.

Senior forward Jordan Yaniga scored a game-high 16 points and senior guard Cali Konek added 12, 10 in the second half, to pace the Panthers, who moved to to 7-3 overall, 3-1 in the section and 3-0 at home this season.

Franklin Regional went on the road and clipped Mars, 52-51, on Thursday.

“We wanted to show that Mars was no fluke,” Yaniga said. “We all came together as a team. We knew playing at Mars would be tough, but we didn’t get overwhelmed just because it was Mars. We are starting to play the way we can.”

Armstrong (5-6, 2-3), known for its defensive propensity over the year and often being a tough out, helped keep the Panthers from accelerating for much of the night.

Yaniga scored six of the Panthers’ first nine points as Franklin Regional looked primed to pull ahead by double figures early.

The Panthers finally gained some seperation in the third quarter, though, when they took their first double-digit lead on a 3-pointer from Konek, a Southmoreland transfer and Charlotte recruit who continues to find comfort in her new setting.

“Cali does a nice job in the open floor and that’s how we score our points sometimes — we need to run,” Panthers first-year coach Anthony Kobus said. “Against a team like that, they only give up 43 points a game, we want to push it. The girls made the right plays.”

Konek, who had five assists, made a nice pass to junior forward Noelle Boyd to extend the advantage to 31-18, but sophomore Shaelyn Clark scored late in the third to trim the margin to 33-23 heading to the fourth.

A free throw by Armstrong senior guard Madisyn Lorigan and a 3-pointer from junior Jaylen Callipare tightened the margin to 34-27 with 6 minutes, 32 seconds to play.

But Yaniga converted her second 3-point play, scoring in a crowded lane, to keep the River Hawks at arm’s length.

“Having everyone start to do everything was the key,” Yaniga said. “Everyone played their role. We haven’t been doing as well on help defense but we did really well this time. We knew they were going try and throw up some shots and try to come back.”

Yaniga hit again inside and Konek fired in a 3 to key a 9-0 run to give the Panthers a 46-29 lead with 3:38 left.

“Konek had 11, and I think every one of those points came during a siutation when we were making a run,” Armstrong coach Kirk Lorigan said. “She’s a player.”

Armstrong senior Alex Rogalski, a transfer from Harvest Baptist, found a rhythm for the River Hawks in the second half. She made four 3-pointers, including three in a row in the fourth to close the gap to 48-38 with 2:15 to play. Rogalski, who had made three 3-pointers all season coming into the game, finished with a team-high 13 points.

“We have shown we can play with anybody,” Kirk Lorigan said. “The effort has been there in every game. But when you look at the teams we play, our field-goal percentage is often lower than everybody else’s. And we have to do better under the basket. They outscored us in the paint, 26-10 and we lost by 12.”

Franklin Regional held serve on defense to preserve win.

“This is our third game in a row having a 14-point lead,” Kobus said. “We had a 17-point lead and we let them shoot 3s and get back in the game. We have to learn how to finish games. It’ll come. The section is a grind. We’ll be lucky to come away with a win up there (at Armstrong).”

Rogalski made a 3 from the far corner for Armstrong to trim the margin to 18-13 but a layup from Konek and two free throws from senior forward Alex Reitz gave the Panthers a 22-13 at the half.

“Our girls never let down,” Kobus said. “I was worried about whether they were going to match their intensity. Our girls always come out and play hard. There was no sense of a letdown in practice. They stopped talking about Mars when they got off the bus last Thursday.

“I told the girls you have a bulls-eye on your backs now, and with each win, the bulls-eye keeps growing.”

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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