By HockomockSports.com Staff
2021-2022 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview
2020-2021 Record: 10-6
Coach: Mark Houle
After trotting out an entirely new lineup during the shortened COVID season a year ago, Attleboro is looking to build upon the foundation it built and contend for a Kelley-Rex title in a very deep division.
Senior Evan Houle and junior Trevor White are the two returning starters from a year ago but the Bombardiers have a lot of players back that saw valuable minutes off the bench as well. Houle and White both averaged 10 points per game a year ago and will be two of the main options on the offensive end of the court. Alvin Harrison and Joe Francois both played solid minutes last year and give the Bombardiers some size in the paint. Jake Struminski, Christian Dame, and Michael Beverly all played throughout last season and should be in the mix again this year.
The Bombardiers are getting a big boost in the backcourt with the addition of senior Colin Morais, who transferred in after playing in Rhode Island last year. Morais can score in a variety of ways and can really catch fire from three-point range so he will be a welcome addition to the lineup. Sophomore Neo Franco could see an expanded role right away and help provide additional defensive intensity and some scoring punch. Seniors Hayden Hagerty, senior Nathan Hunter-Evans, and junior Jaiden Outland give the Bombardiers some quality depth on the roster.
“I have been very impressed with our work ethic and how our players have set high standards in practice every day,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I credit our recent graduates for the past several years who set the high expectations for our teams to work hard, be good teammates, and earn our success in practice. We’re looking forward to the always challenging Hockomock League schedule. We must be prepared and be ready to compete at a high level every game.”
2020-2021 Record: 4-9
Coach: Eric MacKinnon
A new chapter begins for the Bulldogs with Eric MacKinnon taking over as head coach after Ryan Gordy stepped down to take an athletics administrative position with Canton. MacKinnon, a former Hockomock League All-Star for Oliver Ames, has experience coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels and will try to guide a relatively inexperienced group through a tough league schedule.
Canton graduated seven seniors from last year’s team that accounted for nearly 90% of the team’s points scored last year. But with that loss comes a lot of new opportunities for new players to fit into the lineup and rotation. Senior Lanse Dorcelus possesses the most experience of anyone on the roster after getting pulled up to varsity his freshmen year and seeing an expanded role in each of the past two seasons. He could be primed for a breakout year with his ability to attack the rim, and he can score in bunches when he gets going.
Dorcelus is joined by Dillon Nguyen, Conor Hunter, and Nate Mei as returners from last year. All three of those players know what it’s like to play at the varsity level in the Hockomock League so MacKinnon will be leaning on their experience as the Bulldogs try to navigate through a very challenging schedule. MacKinnon is hoping to have the Dogs playing with pace in the halfcourt and will be looking to have a balanced attack on offense with a presence in the post but also a roster that can hit from outside.
“We have a mix of guys who have had varsity experience along with some juniors who weren’t able to swing last year because of covid protocols,” MacKinnon said. “We know we’ll need to be efficient offensively and be sound on the other end to compete every night in this league. We’ve made progress in our early practices and I’ve been impressed by our senior leadership.”
2020-2021 Record: 2-9
Coach: Jon Gibbs
There were a lot of growing pains for the Warriors last season, resulting in a 2-9 record during the shortened COVID season. But with its entire starting lineup back plus some added depth, Foxboro could be looking at a worst-to-first type turnaround in 2022.
Senior Dylan Gordon, fresh off an incredible football season for the Warriors, had a breakout season a year ago and was one of the leading scorers in the Hock at 16 points per game. He’s joined by junior Alex Penders, who had some dominant moments at times last year in the paint and averaged 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and juniors Ryan LeClair, Sam Golub (6.4 PPG), and Sean O’Leary. Juniors Andrew Finn and Cam Barreira both played solid minutes at points last year so the Warriors boast eight veteran players now, which is a vast difference from last year when everyone on the roster was making their varsity debut.
The Warriors will look to boast a balanced offensive attack and have the weapons to do so. Whether it’s Penders down low in the post, Gordon slashing to the basket, or Golub lighting it up from deep, Foxboro has options all over the court. Head coach Jon Gibbs is hoping the experience and chemistry the group gained last year will provide a strong foundation for this season. Defensively, the Warriors have some size and length that will allow them to protect the paint, contest shots, and rebound at a high level.
“We have a deep team this year,” Gibbs said. “Guys are pushing each other hard in practice every day as they work to carve out roles for themselves. If we can defend and rebound at a championship level, we have the potential for a very successful season.”
2020-2021 Record: 6-5
Coach: CJ Neely
Last season marked the second straight year that the Panthers graduated a large senior class and that means there are a lot of opportunities for new faces to step into the starting lineup and expanded roles this year around.
While the Panthers will have an entirely new starting lineup, Franklin will most certainly be right in the mix in a Kelley-Rex division that is jammed-pack with talent. Gone are leading scorer Declan Walmsley (17.5 points per game) along with the next two leading scorers on last year’s roster in Andrew Byfield (10.2) and Jake O’Brien (9.9). Key depth pieces like Zach Harvey (4.5) and Alex Newman (3.6) also graduated so head coach CJ Neely will be working with some new options this year.
Sophomore Henry Digiorgio burst onto the scene as a freshman a year ago and he’s the top returning scorer at 5.4 points per game, although he did reach double figures in the scoring column three times. Sean Vinson and Ben Harvey are the other two players back in the fold that saw some minutes a season ago. But something we’ve seen Franklin do year-in and year-out is reload so there will certainly be some new names to emerge over the next couple of weeks.
While the players change, the style of Franklin basketball has been consistent for years and defense remains to be the calling card under Neely. The Panthers are always a team that puts a lot of pressure, moves the ball around on the offensive end, and incorporates a lot of motion off the ball to keep opposing defenses on their heels.
“Guys have really showed up ready to compete for jobs,” Neely said. “Obviously with five graduating starters from last year’s team there are a lot of roles up for grabs and practices have been great. We have had a very competitive preseason and it has shown that we have a lot of depth and it will be an ongoing battle all year to earn your spot and maintain your spot throughout the year.”
2020-2021 Record: 0-10
Head Coach: Dave DeStefano
With a strong mix of experienced players and new faces, King Philip is looking to make some noise in a very talented and deep Kelley-Rex division, one of the best divisions in the state.
Head coach Dave DeStefano is back after missing the COVID season due to the birth of his son and has seven seniors, four juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen on the roster to work with this year. KP has a solid foundation with two returning starters back and both averaged double figures in the scoring column. Junior Will Laplante had a breakout year and will be someone every opposing defense will have to keep an eye on after averaging 16.4 points per game last year. And senior Danny Clancy is one of the hardest-working players and fights for a lot of rebounds on the offensive glass; he averaged 12.2 points per game last year.
Senior Charlie Grant, fresh off leading the King Philip football team to the state final at quarterback, is confident with the ball in his hands and will be like a quarterback for the offense by setting the tempo. Seniors Sean Sullivan and Braeden Sottile will be looking to build on their minutes from a season ago and could see expanded roles this go around. Seniors Will Martorano (6’5) and Drew Danson (6’3) should give the Warriors a big, physical presence in the paint. DeStefano is also expecting juniors Tommy Martorano, Grant Kinney, and Collin Peck to be in the mix after improving a lot over the offseason.
“The boys have really committed this offseason,” said DeStefano, who is hoping a combination of athleticism and physicality lead to success this year. “The practices so far have been really competitive and physical. We know that everyone in this league can score the ball and if we want to be successful we are going to have to commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2020-2021 Record: 15-1 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield won another division title last season and expectations are sky high yet again this year, as the Hornets look to win their 10th straight Kelley-Rex division title and go on a deep tournament run.
While the Hornets reload every year, they have a pretty good head start this season already with senior Matt Hyland and junior Chris Hill back in the lineup. Both boast a lot of experience at the varsity level and are capable of being the best player on the court. Mansfield lost 1,000-point score Matt Boen (just the second player to reach that milestone under head coach Mike Vaughan despite all of the program’s success) to graduation so both Hyland and Hill will take on more responsibility on the offensive end of the floor.
Seniors Jack Lasbury-Casey, Andrew Slaney, and Anthony Sacchetti, along with sophomore Trevor Foley, all saw minutes during last year’s shortened COVID season and could be in line for expanded roles this year. Sacchetti has impressed in the preseason so far and the Hornets have played well with him on the floor, Foley (6’5) creates a lot of matchup problems with his size and athleticism, and both Lasbury-Casey and Slaney can give the offense a boost with their outside shooting.
Caden Colby, Dante James, and JT Veiking all are coming off very successful seasons of JV and the same goes for sophomore Eddie McCoy, who had a strong year on the freshmen squad. All four players are all in the mix for minutes and give the Hornets a very deep roster. The Hornets are looking to use their size and length to their advantage, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“Overall the expectations are the same, we want to qualify for the tournament as quickly as possible by playing one game at a time, win the league title, and win multiple tournament games,” Vaughan said. “With the quality of the league and our tough non-league schedule, we have a challenge ahead of us but I think we have the pieces to be a very talented and quality basketball team on both ends of the floor.”
2020-2021 Record: 3-9
Coach: Paul Seaver
It’s not uncommon for a program to graduate its entire starting lineup, and it’s not even uncommon to see the majority of a roster turnover because of graduation. But Milford is in a unique situation in which it graduated its entire team. That’s right, Milford will boast a roster full of players without a minute of varsity experience.
Head coach Paul Seaver has four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen as the Hawks write a new
chapter book in program history. Coaches in the Hockomock League will be checking in with their subvarsity coaches, and maybe even their metro coaches, to try and get an idea of what to expect from the Hawks this year.
While we’ll learn more about the Hawks as the season goes on, we do know one thing. Seaver will be leaning on the leadership of senior captains Nick Schuler and Paul Roberts. Both Schuler and Roberts have varsity experience in other sports so their leadership will be key for a program that will be experiencing this level for the first time.
“With a brand new crop of guys this season, we look to compete on both sides of the floor this year while working towards reestablishing the culture and environment of Milford basketball,” Seaver said.
2020-2021 Record: 8-3
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
The Rocketeers have a roster mixed with new faces and a handful of experienced players and are hoping that combination can lead to some success in a loaded Hockomock League.
After graduating just two seniors two years ago, North lost half of its roster from last year and all five were players that saw valuable minutes for head coach Sean Mukerrins. But on the plus side, the four players back all played a lot of minutes including starters and potential league all-stars Brody Rosenberg and Casey Poirier. Rosenberg was second on the team last year in scoring with 10.4 points per game last year and will need to take on more responsibility on the offensive end this year. Poirier is a capable guard that is confident with the ball in his hands and likes to spread the rock around.
Seniors Gavin Wells (6’3) and Nate Bennett (6’3) are the other two returners for the Big Red and both improved as the season went on last year. Wells emerged as a threat from the perimeter, dropping a season-high 13 points in a road win over Foxboro last season. Bennett can play in a variety of roles and he gives North some good size on the defensive end.
North has developed a reputation for being disciplined and well-prepared on the defensive end of the court, and that will likely be the strength for the squad again this year. On the offensive end, the Rocketeers will follow the lead of Rosenberg and Poirier as an unselfish group that is always looking for the best shot.
“We are excited to get the season started and see where we stack up against the rest of the Hockomock League,” Mulkerrins said. “After graduating a tremendous 2021 class, this group is excited to step in and carve our roles that will help our team succeed.”
2020-2021 Record: 9-1 (Davenport division champions)
Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames had a terrific showing during the shortened COVID season, winning the Davenport division in its first season back after four years in the Kelley-Rex division.
Oliver Vil takes over as head coach of the program after the untimely passing of legendary and Hall of Fame coach Don Byron in June. Byron coached through his battle with cancer for the past couple of seasons, leading the Tigers to the Davenport crown with a 9-1 record last winter.
Vil and the Tigers will honor Byron this season when they play Abington; Byron coached the Green Wave to a sectional title in his final season there before coming to Oliver Ames. The Tigers will be raising funds for Coaches vs. Cancer when they host Abington on December 23rd.
Vil, who was an assistant under Byron before taking the head coaching job at Walpole, has two key pieces back from last year’s squad. Senior Drew Baxter is a crafty guard that can really get going on the offensive side of the ball and score in a variety of ways; he will spearhead the offense while Jake Grimaldi, a senior co-captain, gives the Tigers some size down low. After graduating nine seniors from last year’s roster, there are a lot of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of.
“I look forward to continuing the great tradition at OA,” Vil said. “There are big shoes to fill, but my mentor Don Byron has prepared me for this position. I’m excited for this opportunity and challenge.”
2020-2021 Record: 4-9
Coach: Andrew Ferguson
Sharon built a solid foundation during last year’s COVID-shortened season and now expectations are high as the Eagles look to build on it and compete for the Davenport division title.
The Eagles have a good chunk of the roster back from last year, all with an important year of experience now under the belt, and an impressive group of young players that are ready to make an immediate impact at the varsity level. Senior John Baez is in his fourth year with the varsity team and will be joined by senior Ryan Zunenshine in the backcourt to give the Eagles an experienced duo spearheading the offense.
The strong senior class also features Sam Cohen, Will Hippler, Donyae Pierre, Nate Yaffe, Ryan Baker, and Brent Cham. Cohen burst onto the scene at the end of his sophomore year and can light it up from three-point range while Hippler is a versatile player that gives the Eagles defensively flexibility. Junior Matt Baur is poised for a breakout season and might be the best player on the court on both sides of the court for the Eagles.
Sophomores Nate Katznelson and Jacob McLoughlin impressed in their first year playing high school ball last year and now will make the jump to the varsity level and could make an immediate impact. Juniors Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman give Sharon quality depth at the guard position. Sharon is hoping to get all five guys on the court involved on the offensive end of the court while a revamped defense could be the spark the Eagles need.
“We are thankful to be playing another season and thank the work of the athletic directors of the league to ensure a full season,” said head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have been working extremely hard throughout the offseason and the early season to hit the ground running. We have a tight-knit team who have been growing together over the past few years and we can’t wait to get the season started.”
2020-2021 Record: 4-9
Coach: Evan Taylor
With just one starter back from last year, second-year head coach Evan Taylor is relying on a mix of new faces and some returners to make up the nucleus of this year’s squad.
Connor Andrews is the lone starter back for the Black Knights after averaging 8.5 points a year ago. But Stoughton also has a pair of juniors in Josh Rivera and Cashmere Mathurin, along with junior Rayan Sablon, that played meaningful minutes and are in line for expanded roles for the 2021-2022 season. Andrews can do it all on the offensive end and does a lot of the little things right. Not only can he light up the scoreboard with his outside shooting, but he also sets the tone with his hustle and rebounding.
Rivera is a capable ball-handler and likes to get his teammates involved; his energy will set the tone of the defensive end. Matherin’s size and athleticism will give a lot of teams trouble this year and Stoughton is looking for him to be one of the best rim protectors in the league. Sablon will play a variety of roles for the Knights, capable of playing as both the one and the two depending on the scenario. Freshman Matt Greenspoon is a player to watch as the season goes on.
Taylor is putting a big focus on the defensive end of the floor during the preseason. The Black Knights allowed the second-most points against in the Davenport division this year so a renewed focus on defense — with an emphasis on using their speed and athleticism to cause havoc — will be something to keep an eye on.
“We are very pleased with the energy and competition level at practice and we are expecting to be very competitive in the Davenport division this season,” Taylor said.
2020-2021 Record: 10-1 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Charlie Dacey
Last season will always be “what if” for the Tigers, who won their first Hock title by sharing the Kelley-Rex division title with Mansfield. But the past is the past and Taunton is focused on the future, which could be another league title.
There will certainly be a bit of a new look for Taunton with the centerpiece of the offense from the past two seasons Tyler Stewart now causing problems for opponents in the Commonwealth Coast Conference as a member of the Wentworth men’s basketball team, and three-year starter Josh Lopes now suiting up for American International College.
But not all is lost as the Tigers have its three other starters from last year’s squad back in the mix and ready to challenge for another Kelley-Rex crown. Trent Santos is now a three-year starter and led the Tigers in scoring last year with 15.2 points per game and he will be one of the top players in the league again this year. Tristan Herry made a huge jump between his sophomore and junior year and is looking to continue that trend this year, the heart and soul of the defense. And Faisal Mass made a big splash last year and can hurt teams in a variety of ways.
The Tigers are getting a boost with the addition of Jordan Costa, who provides a big boost in the rebounding category and can cause some damage around the rim. He’ll be joined by junior Matt Small (6’4) to give the Tigers another option down low. Sophomores Troy Santos and Morrisette could be contributors to the lineup right away for Taunton.
“We’re looking to be aggressive defensively and dynamic offensively with varied skills being able to finish from different spots and different personnel,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.