Franklin Pierce High School boys basketball hasn’t been in this position for a while. The Cardinals last won a league title in 2006, when they swept the Class 3A Seamount League’s Pierce Division, which no longer exists.
But, after knocking off perennial 2A SPSL power Foss in a physical, 69-59 win Friday night in Tacoma, Franklin Pierce is in good position to add more ink to the banner in its gymnasium that details the school’s league titles over the years, when the regular season wraps up at the end of the month.
“It means a lot,” sophomore guard Jalen Barbee said. “It’s changing the whole culture, and we’re not used to that. It feels good.”
The Cardinals (12-0) remain undefeated with the win, have still topped each of their opponents by double digits this season, and handed the Falcons (9-3) their first-ever league loss since joining the 2A SPSL in 2016. Foss lost to Fife last season, but in the 2A West Central District tournament.
“I feel incredibly grateful, because they’re one of the top teams in the state,” Barbee said. “I know we’re going to see them again, and they’re going to be ready for us the next time, but we’ll be ready for them, too.”
Barbee, who scored a team-high 23 points, and Claudell Quinland, who added 22, paced Franklin Pierce to the gritty win, but the Cardinals endured plenty along the way.
The two programs combined for three technical fouls in the first two minutes of the game. Franklin Pierce coach John Barbee was tagged with two of those — one for what appeared to be a uniform violation by a player, and another for allegedly stepping outside of the coaching box — and ejected shortly after the Cardinals built a 6-0 lead.
But, Franklin Pierce didn’t falter, never trailed during the contest, and carried a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
“He tells us all the time, ‘Next play,’ so that’s all we do is think about the next play and keep going,” Jalen Barbee said.
The two programs combined for more than 50 turnovers — Foss had 20, and Franklin Pierce had 33 — often caused by close, nagging pressure by defenders, had a collective 42 fouls, and shot a total of 53 free throws.
But, Franklin Pierce was more efficient from the field (44 percent) and the free throw line (65.5 percent), which proved to be the biggest difference. The Cardinals also used their length to combine for 11 blocks as a team.
Meanwhile, the Falcons shot 32.4 percent from the floor, were contested on most of their shots, and finished 54.2 percent from the stripe.
Foss also turned in its second-lowest point total of the season, and worst since November, when the Falcons opened with a 73-35 loss to Eastside Catholic. Their only other loss of the season prior to Friday night was by six points to defending 3A state champion Garfield.
“We were not together today,” Foss senior guard Micah Pollard said. “We just have to be better.”
Pollard, who was averaging more than 30 points per game entering the meeting with Franklin Pierce — and scored a career-high 45 on Wednesday against Garfield — was held to 11 in the first three quarters, faced constant pressure, and was often double- or triple-teamed on shot attempts.
“We just had to make sure he didn’t score as much, get him off of the 3-point line and try to stop him by helping each other out and working together,” Jalen Barbee said.
Pollard scored 14 of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter, while trying to spark a late comeback, but the Falcons couldn’t close the gap within 10 points.
“At the end, we should have been playing like that the whole game,” Pollard said. “It’s not that they were better than us. We beat ourselves. ... We haven’t been consistent, so we have to get those things in check, and have better practices, and play better.”
Despite a rough shooting night, Pollard still nearly completed a triple-double with the 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine steals, and added five blocks and two assists. Eloheim Johnson chipped in 20 points for the Falcons.
F – Shooting: 22 of 68 (32.4 percent). Free throws: 13 of 24 (54.2). Turnovers: 20.
FP – Shooting: 22 of 50 (44 percent). Free throws: 19 of 29 (65.5). Turnovers: 33.
F – Eloheim Johnson 20, Rashid Salahuddin 2, Micah Pollard 25, Alex Glenn 4, Caleb McCorry 1, De’Ante Hill 5, Isaiah Jackson 2.
FP – Abraham Konan 8, John Barbee 7, Jalen Barbee 23, Tannyr Thomas 3, Toney Brown 4, Claudell Quinland 22, Jermaine Prunty 2.