Basketball: Zeke McCoy scores 1,000th point in victory as Franklin boys’ and girls’ teams seek home playoff game

Franklin’s Kourtney Kaplan (12) goes on a fast break during a Dec. 17 game in Farmington.

Franklin’s Kourtney Kaplan (12) goes on a fast break during a Dec. 17 game in Farmington. KJ Cardinal / Ball603.com

Franklin’s Zeke McCoy (1) goes up for a basket during a game against Kennett at the 44th Mike Lee Holiday Bash at Farmington High School on Dec. 28. McCoy scored his 1,000th point on Monday night and led Franklin to a 62-27 win over Moultonborough, its 10th win of the season and, the most that Franklin has won in a season since 2016.

Franklin’s Zeke McCoy (1) goes up for a basket during a game against Kennett at the 44th Mike Lee Holiday Bash at Farmington High School on Dec. 28. McCoy scored his 1,000th point on Monday night and led Franklin to a 62-27 win over Moultonborough, its 10th win of the season and, the most that Franklin has won in a season since 2016. KJ CARDINAL / Ball603.com

Franklin’s Zeke McCoy (1) poses with his family on the court at Franklin Middle School after scoring his 1,000th career point in Franklin’s 62-27 victory over Moultonborough on Monday night.

Franklin’s Zeke McCoy (1) poses with his family on the court at Franklin Middle School after scoring his 1,000th career point in Franklin’s 62-27 victory over Moultonborough on Monday night. Courtesy of Dan Sylvester

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 02-06-2024 12:51 AM

Modified: 02-06-2024 2:37 PM


For many years, Franklin High hasn’t been synonymous with success on the basketball court. But those years are over.

Entering Monday night’s home game just four points shy of 1,000 for his career, senior Zeke McCoy stole the ball and drove to the basket, banking a layup off the glass for two points. A step-back 3-pointer from the corner with 53 seconds left in the opening quarter gave him 1,001 points for his career.

McCoy celebrated that milestone, and he and junior Harrison Kaplan both scored 16 points as Franklin celebrated win No. 10, a 62-27 victory over Moultonborough (6-9) in the gym at Franklin Middle School.

That victory is a significant milestone for the Tornadoes. With a 10-5 record and three games yet to be played, Franklin has already won more games than it has in any season since 2015-16, when the Tornadoes went 15-5 and reached the Division IV quarterfinals.

That season also marks the last time that Franklin has hosted, let alone won, a playoff game. The Tornadoes went 8-11 last season and reached the play-in contest (the program’s first playoff appearance in six years) with the No. 17 seed (a game Franklin lost to Gorham, 51-35), but the team has higher aspirations this season.

The program has improved steadily over the last few seasons, going from four wins in 2020-21 to six in 2021-22 to eight last season.

But as head coach David Bedard points out, that improvement has little to do with basketball.

“The biggest part of the turnaround has nothing to do with basketball. … We really just started pushing the culture piece,” Bedard said. “Through no fault of their own, just people seeing that their jersey says ‘Franklin’ means that people might view them a certain way.

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“We focused on the little things. How we present ourselves, showing up wearing a shirt and tie to away games, better attendance at practices. We’ve had very few practices where we haven’t had all 13 guys there. That all leads to better chemistry on the court.”

Signs of a positive culture were evident all over the place on Monday night. From signs recognizing Franklin’s seniors adorning the gym walls, to the anticipation and raucous celebration when McCoy’s milestone shot fell through the hoop, to the way his teammates stood and applauded his achievement, to the hugs shared with McCoy, his family and Bedard on the court, it’s clear that this a cohesive group that has bought into a common culture.

McCoy has been a key component of that.

“Sometimes you’re thrown into leadership just because of your skill,” Bedard said. “(McCoy) is our most-skilled player, but he has the tone in the locker room and on the floor.

“When he became that guy last year, he embraced that role. He loves the game, and he wants to get better every day. He grabs guys and gets them to the gym to work out with him. He understands that for a program to be successful after he graduates, he needs to get the younger guys involved.”

Bedard also highlighted McCoy’s ability to be tough during practices when he needs to be, holding his teammates accountable but balancing that with being supportive during games and raising his teammates up when they need it.

“Zeke, more than any player I’ve coached, has come to talk to me before practice, after practice, during the game,” Bedard said. “He wants to be better, not just for himself but for the team. He cares a lot about the team’s success.”

This year, success looks like hosting a playoff game, and Bedard thinks that his squad will need to win two out of three remaining games to make that happen.

The Franklin girls’ basketball team has the same goal and has had a similar trajectory as the boys’ program. The Tornadoes went 8-11 to reach the playoffs and are already at 9-6 this year.

While Franklin lost to Moultonborough (10-5), 37-31, in the first game on Monday night’s doubleheader, head coach Mark Dionne is also pleased with how his team has grown.

“They’ve had a year under their belt together. They’re starting to mature. They’re still super young,” said Dionne, referring to his roster that has no seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. “They’re starting to get the feel of playing ball with each other. They’re buying into the system of working hard and working together.”

Some of Franklin’s youth showed early. The Tornadoes trailed 10-3 after the first quarter and 21-6 at halftime before shots started to fall to cut their deficit to 29-18 at the end of the third quarter.

“Our team defense is definitely good, but we definitely struggled tonight looking to shoot the ball in the first half,” Dionne said. “That’s where the younger players are going to have to step up more and want to take shots.”

Freshman guard Kourtney Kaplan was back in action after missing two games last week to an injury. Kaplan is the leading scorer in Division IV with 19.9 points per game (she scored eight against Moultonborough), while fellow freshman Lily Cornell scored 12 points and is the team’s leader in rebounds and blocks.

Like the boys’ team, the Tornadoes snapped an eight-year playoff drought last season. At 9-6, Franklin has already surpassed last year’s win total, but it won’t mean as much if the team’s ultimate goal isn’t reached.

“They’re looking to try to get a home playoff game for the first time in probably 15 years,” Dionne said. “We have three games left, so they’re probably all must-wins at this point.

“They’re not just satisfied with making the playoffs. They did that last year. They want that home playoff game.”