HOPEDALE — Bri Frongillo is used to this moment.

You know, all eyes on her. On the cusp of a landmark.

After all, the Hopedale High girls basketball player has been here before. It was just over two years ago when Frongillo scored career point No. 1,000, and this week she needed just nine more to attain another hardwood highlight.

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In a game against Millbury on Tuesday night, Frongillo reached the rare 2,000-point milestone. With a 3-pointer in the second quarter, Frongillo crossed the plateau, forcing a brief pause to the action so her accomplishment could be celebrated inside Draper Gym.   

Introducing Ms. 2K.

“I remember, before I even got to high school, telling my parents and friends that ‘I’m going to be a 1,000-point scorer,’” Frongillo said. “But now I’m 2,000 and that’s pretty cool.” 

The 5-foot-3 guard, currently averaging 27 points per game, joins Lekia Cowen (Class of 2008, 2,219 points) as the only other Hopedale High basketball player to eclipse 2,000 points in a high school career.

“She’s one of a kind,” first-year Hopedale coach Jason Rojee said of Frongillo. “Her IQ and her ability to read the other team are unmatched.”

Frongillo didn’t get off to a fast start on Tuesday. She admittedly pressed a bit. The senior guard missed her first few shots, turned the ball over and didn’t score a single point in the opening quarter.

Yet Frongillo’s fortune changed in the second stanza.

A steal on defense and a foul from a Millbury player on a layup attempt netted Frongillo two made free throws.

Seven points away.

On Hopedale’s next offensive possession, Frongillo was fouled again and made both of her freebies.

Frongillo didn’t get off to a fast start on Tuesday. She admittedly pressed a bit. The senior guard missed her first few shots, turned the ball over and didn’t score a single point in the opening quarter.

Yet Frongillo’s fortune changed in the second stanza.

A steal on defense and a foul from a Millbury player on a layup attempt netted Frongillo two made free throws.

Seven points away.

On Hopedale’s next offensive possession, Frongillo was fouled again and made both of her freebies.

Just elated for her,” her mother said.  

“She was patient,” her father said. “She knew that she had four quarters and it didn’t have to come in the first quarter. It was fitting that the shot to go in (was) the three-ball.”

Frongillo hit two more 3-pointers – both in the fourth quarter – to help the Blue Raiders hold on for a 51-49 win over Millbury. The Bryant University commit, who scored a game-high 29 points, was more worried about improving her team to 16-1 than reaching the career milestone.

“It really just shows her character,” Casey said. “She’s not just in it for herself but she’s in it for the team and she wants to win.”

Once the final whistle sounded, Frongillo was swarmed on court by youngsters hoping to snap a selfie or grab an autograph from the hoop star. She was happy to oblige.

“It was pretty weird,” Frongillo said. “But it’s super sweet of them. Kind of surreal.”

Following all the postgame jubilation, Frongillo finally made her way to the locker room 22 minutes after the final horn. Waiting for her were teammates armed with confetti and noisemakers.

“Even though I’ve experienced it before it’s still pretty special to be able to celebrate with them,” Frongillo said. “They’re the ones that have been with me for this entire ride.”

It’s been a wild basketball journey for Frongillo.

Since starting on varsity as an eighth-grader to scoring her 2,000th career point as a senior captain, the skilled artist – who is interested in screenwriting and wants to make films someday – couldn’t have scripted her basketball career any better.

Or could she?

“Honestly I don’t know. She’s really creative,” Casey said. “This game was crazy so I don’t know if she could come up with something as good as that.”

“No,” Frongillo confirmed. “Definitely not.”

As they say in the film industry: That’s a wrap.

Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.

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WORCESTER — Was there any doubt?

With the Hopedale girls basketball team tied with Springfield International Charter School (SICS) in a playoff game Tuesday night, Bri Frongillo found herself at the free throw line with 3.1 seconds left in regulation.

With a chance to send her team to a Division 5 state championship game, the senior guard didn’t bat an eye.

“I felt good about it,” Frongillo said.

While at the line, Frongillo received the ball from a referee, dribbled three times, twirled it and took a deep breath. She then knocked down the freebie to give her team the lead.

Frongillo repeated the same routine and nailed the next free throw. Classmate Caroline Hurley then stole a SICS pass prior to the final buzzer as Hopedale held on for a 58-56 win at North High.

So, was there any uncertainty with Frongillo at the charity stripe in the closing moments?

“No doubt,” Hopedale head coach Jason Rojee said. “Not when it’s on the line.”

Hopedale coach Jason Rojee calls plays versus Springfield International Charter School.
 

“I saw her at the line and I knew instantly she was going to make those,” Hurley said. “I had full faith in her.”

Third-seeded Hopedale (21-2) will face top-seeded Hoosac Valley (21-3) in the Div. 5 state championship game at Tsongas Center in Lowell with the date and time still to be determined. Second-seeded SICS finishes with a 20-4 record.

“These kids have fought hard all year,” Rojee said. “They deserved that win.”

Rojee didn’t take over a program in need of a rebuild this winter. The first-year Hopedale basketball coach – admittedly – needed to just keep his new team on autopilot.

“The program was in good shape,” Rojee said, “and I liked the challenge of trying to come in and maintain instead of building.”

Helping Hopedale steer the plane this season has been Frongillo. The 5-foot-3 senior captain tallied career point No. 2,000 in a regular-season game on Feb. 15 and averaged 37.3 points per game in the Blue Raiders’ first three playoff contests.

“Knowing Bri, she would trade every single point for a state title,” Rojee said.

Frongillo scored a team-high 31 points on Tuesday. She missed three free throws, however, in the first half. But the star guard didn’t miss her final two freebies when it mattered most.

“To say someone who averages 28 a game is taking her game to another level is unbelievable,” Rojee said of Frongillo. “She’s taken her game to another level but what’s been most impressive is how everyone else has stepped up their game.”

Among those chiming in this postseason is Lilah Casey. The other Hopedale senior captain scored 11 of her 13 total points in the second half to help Hopedale weather SICS’ storm.

Hopedale's Lilah Casey makes a layup on breakaway versus Springfield International Charter School.
 

“Lilah is always there to bring the energy and this team would not function the way it does without her and she’s a huge part of it,” Hurley said. “Especially this game.”

After a Frongillo 3-pointer gave Hopedale a 49-36 lead with 6:51 left in the final quarter, SICS started to ramp up its pressure. The Bulldogs went on an 18-7 run to cut the deficit to two in the final minute.

A Hopedale turnover on an inbound pass with 17.3 seconds to go gave SICS the ball back with a chance to tie things up. The Bulldogs’ talented sophomore Alicia Mitchell proceeded to drain a basket to knot the game up at 56 apiece.

“I had to keep telling myself ‘I refuse to lose this game,’” Casey said. “We just had to remain calm throughout those see-saw moments.”

Following a Bulldogs foul (they had three more fouls to give until they were in the bonus), Frongillo received an inbound pass. Without much obstruction from defenders, “I was surprised that I had such an open lane,” Frongillo made her way to the paint and was fouled as she went up for a layup by Mitchell.

Hopedale's Bri Frongillo reaches for a rebound between Springfield International Charter School's Alicia Mitchell, left, and Jala Witherspoon.
 

“I told myself to be calm and take some deep breaths,” Frongillo said of her free throws. “I felt confident I could hit them.”

Once Frongillo made the pair of shots, Hurley picked off one final Bulldogs pass and celebrated with teammates as the clock hit triple zeroes.

“I just turned and looked at Bri and we were just staring at each other for the last three seconds,” Hurley said.

“Everything just seemed to freeze,” Hopedale senior Nora Hodgens said. “Those three seconds could not have gone by slower but it turned out well in the end.”

In 2018, Hopedale made the playoffs for the first time in three years when Frongillo was an eighth-grader on the team. The Blue Raiders have made the tournament each year since, except for 2021, when postseason play was canceled across the state due to COVID-19 concerns.

The last time the Blue Raiders made it anywhere near this far in the playoffs was in 2012, when Hopedale lost to Sutton in the Div. 3 Central final.

Now, the Blue Raiders finish their historic season with a trip to the Division 5 state championship game.

In 2018, Hopedale made the playoffs for the first time in three years when Frongillo was an eighth-grader on the team. The Blue Raiders have made the tournament each year since, except for 2021, when postseason play was canceled across the state due to COVID-19 concerns.

The last time the Blue Raiders made it anywhere near this far in the playoffs was in 2012, when Hopedale lost to Sutton in the Div. 3 Central final.

Now, the Blue Raiders finish their historic season with a trip to the Division 5 state championship game.

Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.

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LOWELL – They’re new at this, so a blunder is to be expected. 

Lilah Casey inadvertently scraped teammate Bri Frongillo in the head when Sunday’s game ended. 

That it was with the state championship trophy helped dull any pain. 

The Hopedale senior captains had just played a key role in helping the Blue Raiders lift the coveted hardware for the first time.  

After suffering a cut on her forehead in the postgame celebration, Hopedale's Bri Frongillo holds the Division 1 Division 5 state championship trophy after leading her team to a 55-45 win over Hoosac Valley at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, March 20, 2022.
 

“I hit her with it,” Casey said in a my-bad moment. 

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Frongillo responded to an inquiry regarding her well-being. 

A game-high 23 points, the school scoring record and a Division 5 state title? Yeah, she’s okay. 

Hopedale led wire-to-wire, and after Frongillo quickly set the mark, the Blue Raiders used key contributions from Casey, Phoebe Carroll and Nora Hodgens to defeat Hoosac Valley, 55-45, at the Tsongas Center. 

“It’s a very surreal moment,” said Frongillo, who will play at Bryant next year. “We’ve been doing this since fourth grade, the first time we started playing together. Yeah, it’s great.” 

Hard to properly verbalize the moment? 

“For sure, as you can see,” she said. “It’s hard to come up with the words, but it’s awesome.”

Casey, while clutching the trophy, had a little easier time explaining her new prized possession. 

“I literally want to bring it home with me. It’s unreal,” she said. “And it’s also heavier than I expected.” 

Frongillo, scrape and all, could only laugh at the description. 

“I was holding it up and my arm was really tired.” 

How sweet it is:Algonquin wins Division 2 state girls hockey title over Canton in overtime.

‘Get better every day’

After sharing their newly-earned championship with the student section, the Hopedale locker room was eerily quiet. The Raiders were waiting for coach Jason Rojee’s grand entrance, which was delayed by a courtside radio interview. 

When the first-year coach knocked on the appropriately-colored blue door, he was quickly met with “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” before the team hopped all around him. 

When he came out, Rojee summed up the season. 

“You have one goal every year: to get better every day,” he said. “And they did it.” 

The Division 5 state champion Hopedale girls basketball team and their Blue Raiders fans pose with the trophy and banner after the 55-45 win over Hoosac Valley at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, March 20, 2022.
 

Casey scored 12 of her 14 points over the middle two quarters, a period where Frongillo netted just three points. Every time Hoosac Valley had a chance to take the lead, the Blue Raiders responded. 

“It’s a testament to the four seniors (Caroline Hurley, Hodgens, Frongillo and Casey),” Rojee said. “The team takes on the personality of their leaders. They’re just mentally tough. There’s no pressure there.”

The Lady Canes had three opportunities to go ahead in the second quarter, but a Casey 3 put an end to the threat. When HV, which trailed by six at the half, cut it to 31-30, Casey drained another 3. 

Casey’s follow put her team up 41-33 late in the third before Frongillo scored nine fourth-quarter points to help ice things. HV did make it a five-point game but Carroll (11 points) was fouled while making a basket with 59 seconds remaining. 

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