ATTLEBORO — The Bombardiers withstood the sharpshooting of 13 3-point field goals launched by the Panthers of Franklin High that found their way between the twine.
The Attleboro High boys’ basketball team battled through eight ties and nine exchanges of lead in a donnybrook of an initial 16 minutes of a Hockomock League heavyweight contest.
And it was the heavy-handedness of senior center Qualeem Charles, who delivered 27 points, including the 1,000th of his Bombardier varsity career with 6:12 remaining in the game that enabled AHS to prevail 62-56 over Franklin Thursday.
“The thing was that we trusted out motion offense,” AHS coach Mark Houle said. The Bombardiers recorded assists on seven of their 11 field goals during the first half, having assists on 12 of their 14 shots made from the floor during the second half, during which the Panthers never tied the score nor took a lead.
“Our kids executed very well, we made the extra pass,” Houle added, as the Bombardiers took a 47-42 lead into the final eight minutes. Then a spree of six straight points from Charles inside — on a pair of feeds from Tim Callahan and the deliverance of the ball into his hands from Nick McMahon on the left side for his historic field goal — built the Bombardiers largest lead of the game at eight points.
“It was nice to get the 1,000, but it was even better to get the win,” Charles said, joined by another 1,000-point scorer and teammate Bryant Ciccio, just the third AHS tandem of teammates to achieve the milestone.
Charles becomes the 14th member of Attleboro High’s 1,000-point club, the ninth male and joins his coach Mark Houle (1,219 points) on the legendary list.
The Bombardiers (14-5, 12-4 in the Kelley-Rex Division) entered the contest having lost three of their previous four games — by 12 points to Mansfield, by five points to King Philip and by seven points to Taunton. Franklin (14-5, 11-5) is 3-4 in its past seven outings, one of which was a 63-51 loss at home to Attleboro.
“I don’t think that we forced the ball inside (to Charles),” Houle said. “It (1,000 points) came within the flow of the offense. We made some nice passes and opened up the offense. I was proud of the way that we played, I thought that we defended better, that was the biggest thing.”
McMahon, the Bombardier senior guard collected eight assists and eight rebounds to go along with points, while senior guard Tim Callhan delivered five assists and scored seven points.
Charles scored 12 third-quarter points, AHS shooting seven-for-11 in the session. Charles broke the 28-all deadlock at halftime with a three-point play, then a pair of free throws.
And when junior guard Justin Daniels hit his second 3-pointer off of a Jason Weir pass with scant seconds left in the third quarter, the Bombardiers gained a five-point lead with eight minutes left to be played.
The Panthers were unable to match, nor defend, Charles’ presence in the paint. Charles had nine first half points to go along with nine rebounds (finishing with 12).
A 3-point shot by McMahon gave AHS a 58-50 lead with three minutes to go, but Franklin’s Chris Edgehill (17 points) and Brayden Sullivan knocked down trifectas to cut the gap to two with 1:38 remaining.
However, the Panthers misfired on a 3-point shot and on their next possession, Ciccio created a steal and a three-quarter court length drive for two points.
“We defended better than we did the last two games, which is a step in the right direction,” Houle added. “I’m proud of this senior group, all the work that they put in and they play for each other.”
Four different Bombardiers hit 3’s during the first quarter, but Edgehill (10 points) hit two of Franklin’s three 3’s in the session. Back-to-back 3’s by Steve Karayan and Edgehill presented the Panthers with their largest lead at 28-22 with just over two minutes left until halftime.
But, Charles converted an offensive rebound, McMahon drove through the lane for two points and Weir scored in low off of zip of a McMahon pass to deadlock the score.
“It was a pretty special moment for these guys,” Houle said of Ciccio and Charles both joining the 1,000-point club. “Q (Charles) is a very unselfish player, we have to tell him to shoot. Six weeks ago, we were telling him, Q, when you get the ball inside, you’ve got to put it up. It’s helping us be a better team.”
The Bombardiers have a road trip Sunday, participating in the Woburn Tournament, meeting Newton North with a 6:30 p.m. tapoff.