Archive

ShareThis Page
Franklin Regional boys rounding into form at right time | TribLIVE.com
News

Franklin Regional boys rounding into form at right time

Gar Alperovitz
| Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:03 p.m
gtrMoonFRboys16031117
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Simon Behr (32) scores to give the Panthers a 50-49 lead late in the fourth quarter against Moon during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Plum High School. Franklin Regional won 52-51.
gtrMoonFRboys2031117
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Nate Leopold (30) scores his team's first points of the game over Moon's Jarrod Simmons (22) during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Plum High School. Moon leads 23-20 at halftime.
gtrMoonFRboys5031117
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Hunter Stonecheck (33) scores over Moon's Andrew Buckley (21) in the first period during the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs on Friday, March 10, 2017, at Plum High School. Moon leads 23-20 at halftime.

Franklin Regional has come a long way from the season-opening Hempfield tournament, where it was missing four key players, including senior forward Simon Behr, who was attending the Army-Navy football game.

Behr, who played quarterback, tight end and linebacker for the Panthers, committed to play football at Army. But in the PIAA boys basketball playoff opener Friday night, he played another role: hero.

Behr’s short-range hook-shot fell through the hoop with 2.5 seconds left to lift Franklin Regional (14-11) to a 52-51 upset of WPIAL champion Moon (20-6) in the Class 5A opener at Plum.

Franklin Regional’s stunner moves it into the second round where it will face Meadville (23-1) 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Farrell.

The Panthers endured injuries and absences throughout the year and did not have their expected lineup together until late in the season — for a half-dozen games or so. With the team healthy, it’s finding the chemistry it was missing months ago. It’s a what-could-have-been story that got a second chance to be told.

“This means so much to us because we put in so much work in the offseason,” junior guard Nate Leopold said. “We had some guys out at times during the season, but we all came together at the end.”

Moon beat the Panthers during the regular season and again in the WPIAL quarterfinals, so Franklin Regional needed Moon to win the WPIAL title to make states.

Those who follow the Panthers know the potential — stunted early but rekindled late — always was there.

“As a coach I am biased,” said coach Brad Midgley, a former standout at Bishop Canevin who had a respectable career at Duquesne. “I knew what we were capable of. We knew we’d have to piggy-back (Moon) to make states, so you’re not quite sure if your season will continue. Then it kind of just hits you: You’re in. We just had to keep our focus.”

Leopold said the winning hoop Friday could have gone to another senior forward, Hunter Stonecheck. But with him well guarded, the ball went to the 6-foot-4 Behr, who caught it outside the 3-point arc, dribbled into the lane and made an old-school post move over Moon star Jarrod Simmons. The ball bounced around the rim and fell as Behr outshined Simmons down the stretch. Behr, who had 18 points, scored the Panthers’ last six, including a free-throw-line jumper to make it 50-49, Panthers.

The referee put an extra second on the clock after Behr’s clutch hoop, but Moon could not get a good shot off and the WPIAL’s fifth-place team moved on.

“We were going to go to Hunter, but I told Simon to be ready,” Leopold said. “That’s his move. He’s been doing that for years.”

The Panthers made the most of their first PIAA playoff appearance since 2008.

Behr played with confidence against a team Franklin Regional knew well.

“They had just won the WPIAL title, and we had nothing to lose,” Behr said. “It’s so surreal. We couldn’t believe we were in states. It’s awesome. We never imagined we’d be in states and pulling off a win like this on March 10.”

Franklin Regional has made only four appearances in the PIAA playoffs but made noise in the past. In 1997, the Panthers reached the Class AAAA championship game before falling to Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 50-45, in Hershey.

“We went to a zone (against Moon) and really played well,” Leopold said. “We feel like we can play with anybody.”

Behr lost his father, Jeffrey, about a year ago. Jeffrey Behr died from injuries suffered in a skiing accident at Seven Springs Resort.

Simon knows his father would have been proud. The senior has had some big moments in football too but, “This one was special,” Simon said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.