Coming off the bench, Brandon Franklin was the spark Reservoir needed on the road against Centennial Tuesday.
The senior tied season highs with 11 points and 13 rebounds, highlighted by pouring in six straight points for the Gators to open the second half, and Reservoir systematically pulled away down the stretch for a 64-46 victory over the Eagles.
With the win, Reservoir (11-5, 13-6) takes sole possession of third place in the county standings and also improves its chances of obtaining the third seed in the upcoming 3A East region playoffs. The Gators are battling Centennial (10-6, 11-7) and Annapolis (12-6) for the third and fourth seeds.
“The season is getting close to the end and its time to leave it all on the court,” said Franklin, who added four assists and three blocks. “Tonight was a big game … they’re all big games now. I don’t want any regrets.”
After playing less than a minute in the first quarter, Franklin delivered a couple lay-ups in the second. And that energy he was giving the team convinced coach Mike Coughlan to start him in the second half.
“I made a last minute decision to put him out there … I just had a sense that with the way he was playing in the first half he was what we needed,” Coughlan said. “He came to play tonight and his energy was the difference.”
Franklin wasn’t the only Gator to have a big night, though. Aaron McDonald (14 points) and Matt Christian (9 points, 6 rebounds) also chipped in strong efforts for a Reservoir team that had nine different players score.
Timi Tinuoye (15 points) led the way for Centennial in the loss. The team’s leading scorer on the season, Omari Ringgold, was held to just three points in what was his lowest total of the winter.
“They do a lot of on-ball and off-ball screens, so we knew we had to bump them to prevent those easy cuts and easy looks,” McDonald said. “We definitely worked real hard defensively tonight.”
Reservoir built itself an early cushion, scoring the first six points of the game, and led for the entire first quarter. Centennial bounced back in the second, though, and eventually took its first lead of the game, 24-21, with 1:34 left before halftime following a 3-pointer by Tinuoye.
The Gators, however, weren’t fazed. James Simms quickly made a lay-up and Kyle Reilly (8 points) converted a four-point play shortly after to send Reservoir into the half up 27-24.
“That was big because we are a second half team,” McDonald said. “We knew that if we had the lead going into halftime, we were in good shape to come out on top at the end.”
With Franklin leading the charge, Reservoir built a 42-31 advantage by the end of the third quarter. Then in the fourth, after Centennial briefly closed with seven points, the Gators went on a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.
With three games left in the regular season, Reservoir is currently riding a four-game winning streak. The win over Centennial, a team the Gators were tied with entering the night, was particularly big.
“I told the older kids if you want to have a home playoff game in your last year and if you want to get a bye, we have to be able to do it tonight,” Coughlan said. “I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on it, but this was a big game no doubt.”
Reservoir 64, Centennial 46
Re (11-5, 13-6): McDonald 14, Franklin 11, Christian 9, Reilly 8, Simms 6, Toler 6, Henry 4, Brooks 4, Boris 2.
C (10-6, 11-7): Tinuoye 15, Fletcher 8, Conley 6, Eads 5, Olmstead 4, Strothers 4, Ringgold 3, Wilkin 1.
Half: 27-24 Re.