• Above, Franklin Tech sophomore Jordan Hurlbert looks to build off a strong freshman campaign to help a young Eagles’ squad that will look to get back to the postseason after missing it last season. Below, junior guard Brooke Adams will be instrumental in running the Eagles’ offense and should provide some much-needed scoring this season. Recorder File Photos

  • Franklin Tech's Brooke Adams jumps up for a shot guarded by Duggan Academy's Carineh Santana, and Jaleysha Franco during their game Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Recorder File Photos

  • Franklin Tech's Amber Merritt takes a shot over Duggan Academy's Amya Pinkney during their game Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Recorder File Photos

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

If the Franklin County Technical School girls’ basketball team is going to get back to the postseason this winter, it’s going to do so on the backs of youngsters.

The Eagles enter the season with a relatively young squad, as just one senior and two juniors are part of the 2017-18 team that looks to try and get back to the western Mass. tournament.

Last season was trying for the Eagles, who were dealing with life after Brittany Andrews, the star player for the team who averaged nearly 15 points per game in 2015-16. The result was a squad that struggled to score points on a consistent basis. Still, the team played well enough to finish 7-13, but the season ended without a berth in the postseason.

This season will again feature a team that does not return a player who scored more than 4.4 points per game last winter, but the Eagles do have some experience back from a season ago. The Tri-County League has also undergone realignment this winter, as perennial power Putnam Vocational Academy has moved up to the Franklin County South. Defending league champion Springfield School of Science & Technology remains in the TCL North, as do Pioneer Valley Christian Academy and Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical School, two teams that also missed the tournament last winter. Duggan Academy, which went 9-7 in the FCL South last year and qualified for the tournament, moves into the North, as does Renaissance School, which also missed the postseason last year.

Franklin Tech coach Sean Knightly returns to guide the Eagles and he has been encouraged by a good turnout this season, especially at the younger levels.

“We have large participation from the sophomore and freshman classes, which is great,” he said. “While my team is young, I’m hoping we will be competitive this year. The girls all have a great attitude and great work ethic.”

Forward Amber Merritt is the lone senior on the team and returns after averaging 3.3 points per game last winter, while junior guard Brooke Adams is the top returning scorer on the squad after averaging 4.4 points per game. Now a year older, the soccer star looks to make a scoring leap to help the young team. She is certain to be a big part of the offense.

“Brooke is a good ball-handler and her confidence and skills have each improved,” Knightly said.

Forward Hailey Larned is the other junior on the team and will likely come off the bench.

Sophomores Joclyn Crowningshield, Jordan Hurlbert and Izzy Duga are each penciled in as big contributors this season. Crowningshield averaged nearly 4 points per game as a freshman guard, while Duga (guard) and Hurlbert (forward) each averaged nearly 3 points per game as freshmen and should also see their numbers jump. Another youngster to keep an eye on is freshman Gabby Castonguay, another promising guard.

Junior Dezaray Sepulveda and sophomores Ariyana Drouin and Hailey Jackson will each come off the bench, while freshmen Courtney Churchill and Desiree Doane are also in the mix.

The Eagles open their season today in the annual Eagles’ Holiday Classic Tournament at Franklin Tech when they face Hopkins Academy at 3:30.