Hockomock Track Teams Race to Support Good Cause

Hockomock Indoor Track
Hockomock League indoor track teams are competing to collect the most clothes for Cradles to Crayons. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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This winter, Hockomock League teams are not only competing on the track at the Reggie Lewis Center, but are also in a friendly competition off it. Teams are racing to collect new and gently used clothing that will be donated to the non-profit organization Cradles to Crayons to help families in need throughout the Boston and Metrowest areas.

The brainchild of Sharon athletes and MIAA student ambassadors Berta Faktorovich and Jacob Durbin, this is not an ordinary call for donations. The teams have been organized into a competition to see which program can collect the most. Certain items of clothing are worth more points than others, for example sweatshirts, coats, ski pants, and jackets are worth three points and t-shirts, socks, gloves, and hats are worth one.

Clothes are being collected at each of the league’s track meets, as all the teams gather together at the Reggie Lewis Center. Through the first two meets, North Attleboro was in the lead with 197 points and Sharon was close behind in second at 179.

Hockomock Indoor Track
Jacob Durbin.

The idea of using fun competition as a means for drawing interest in helping a local charity stemmed from an MIAA student ambassador huddle. “In small groups, we were talking about how having an incentive can encourage more people to bring in donations,” Faktorovich explained. “I then realized how great it would be to have a competition among the winter tracks teams for a clothing drive.”

After sharing the idea with Durbin, the duo set out to get support and buy-in from the league’s team captains and athletic directors. Thanks to social media efforts promoting the “standings” and continuing to spread the word throughout the league, nearly 500 articles of clothing have been collected through two meets.

“Especially around the holiday times when people are receiving new clothes and simply leaving their old clothes to get dusty in their closets, this is a great opportunity to collect clothes for those who need it,” said Durbin. “Adding other teams has only made this bigger and better for the recipients of these great donations.”

Berta Faktorovich.

While the first meet yielded only 76 pieces of clothing, the number jumped considerably at the second meet and Durbin and Faktorovich are hoping for even more support over the final two meets of the league season. The winning team will be announced at the league championship meet in February with a prize of MSTCA swag for collecting the most.

“The other teams turned out to be a huge help,” Faktorovich said. “We received so many items from all of the teams, especially North Attleboro. They even posted on their own Instagram stories about the drive, which helped spread the word.”

Durbin added, “The competition aspect of the clothing drive surely has caused more people to donate. They are incentivized to earn the reward at the end, but also represent their schools.”

The current standings after three meets are:

  1. Mansfield – 437
  2. North Attleboro – 396
  3. Sharon – 343
  4. Franklin – 204
  5. Canton – 182
  6. Attleboro – 160
  7. Foxboro – 140
  8. King Philip – 123
  9. Taunton/Oliver Ames/Milford/Stoughton – 0

According to a notice from Sharon High regarding the collection drive, “There are simply two requirements for donated clothes: they can be NEW and/or GENTLY USED, and they have to have a sizing tag intact. Trash bags, clearly marked with your school’s name, can be turned in at every dual meet.”

Cradles to Crayons has offices in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The organization seeks to assist more than 260,000 Massachusetts children that are battling poverty. “Clothing insecurity” is the term the organization uses to describe children who are without adequate or appropriate clothing, an issue that is even more pronounced during New England winters.

For more information about Cradles to Crayons and its efforts to help local families, visit https://www.cradlestocrayons.org.

The next winter track meet will be held at the Reggie Lewis Center on Friday, Jan. 24.

Strong Closing Kick Pushes Franklin Past Foxboro

Franklin girls basketball
Ali Brigham (1) scored a game-high 19 points and the Panthers used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a big win against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – It remained a two-possession game deep into the fourth quarter, but then Kelley-Rex division leader Franklin showed off another gear, putting together a run over the closing minutes that turned a close contest into another dominant victory.

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After a Shakirah Ketant basket cut Franklin’s lead to 44-38, the Panthers stepped on the gas, scoring 17 straight points to pull away and hand Foxboro a 61-40 loss. It was a lopsided final score that wasn’t indicative of the bulk of this showdown between division leaders.

“They have a strong desire to be good,” said Franklin coach John Leighton about his team. “Games aren’t won on Tuesdays and Fridays, they’re won in practice. We grind it out. If you play good ‘D’ and get stops, then our offense will take care of itself and I thought we did a good job of that. That confidence snowballs.”

Ali Brigham (game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds) got the run started with a basket and then snagged a missed free throw by Erin Quaile and put it back up and in to extend the lead to 11. Sophomore Olivia Quinn, fresh off a career-high against Oliver Ames, got behind the Foxboro defense for a bucket in transition and then knocked down a jumper. She scored nine of her 11 points in the final quarter.

Quaile, who played tight defense on Foxboro star Katelyn Mollica (15 points) and also spearheaded the Franklin offense with six assists, knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the game and seal the win.

“Mollica, you can chase her around the court all night, but she’s going to get her points,” Leighton explained. “Erin wants zero credit and just wants to grind. She’s happy with that assignment. I thought she did a wonderful job of making Mollica work for everything and making her work defensively too.”

The Panthers started the game with a run as well, jumping out to an 8-0 lead. While the attention is, as always, on Brigham in the middle, it was Franklin’s outside shooting that made the difference in the first half. Kaleigh Houlihan nailed three from beyond the arc, scoring all nine of her points in the first, and Elizabeth Wilson (10 points) buried one in the first.

“It’s impossible because you have to double Ali,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “There’s no way around it otherwise she’s just going to continue to score in the paint. The girls were hustling and doing what I asked them to do defensively. That team was just hot tonight.”

Ketant (eight points) was able to step back and knock down a pair of free throw line jumpers to bring Brigham out of the paint a little and Abby Hassman got to the rim for a three-point play to keep Foxboro down just eight after one.

In the second, Foxboro went on a 10-4 run to get back within two points. Lizzy Davis (nine points and seven rebounds) knocked down a deep three and then got a second one after Hassman (eight rebounds) crashed the glass. After Hassman knocked down a jumper, the Franklin lead was only 20-18 and the Warriors looked like the more aggressive team.

Again, it was the outside shooting that got the Panthers back on track. Wilson nailed a pair of threes to stretch the lead right back up to eight and Quaile set up Brigham for a basket to make it 28-21 at the break.

The third quarter was all about defense, which isn’t surprising for two of the league’s top defensive teams. It was also about the league’s top two scorers, as Mollica hit a pair of threes and scored all eight of Foxboro’s points in the third and Brigham scored six of Franklin’s on the other end, including a pair of baskets on offensive rebounds.

Things continued to be back-and-forth in the final quarter. After Wilson teed up Quinn for her first three of the night, Mollica was fouled on a shot from distance and made all three at the line (her final points of the night). Ketant knocked down a baseline jumper to cut the lead to 39-34.

Emma Sousa came off the bench and hit a jumper on the other end, which was answered by Hassman. Sousa then got a look from deep and buried Franklin’s eighth three of the night to keep the lead at eight.

“It’s not the world’s trickiest game plan to shut down the top two scorers and I thought Foxboro did a great job of doing that, but you have to give something up,” said Leighton. 
“We did a great job of moving the ball and the kid who should shoot it, shot it. We didn’t force many shots.”

Foxboro got it back to two possessions with another Ketant hoop, but that would be it for the Warriors until Davis hit a pair of free throws in the game’s final minute and with the result all but decided.

“It didn’t feel like a 20-point loss,” said Downs. “I thought we saw some good things. Shakirah battled as much as she could in the paint. For her to do what she did against Ali Brigham, I give her a lot of credit. We gambled a little bit and didn’t really focus on some of the girls who were hitting their threes tonight. They were lights out.”

Franklin (10-0, 9-0) will travel to Attleboro on Friday night, while Foxboro (9-2, 7-2) will be on the road at North Attleboro, which is currently two games back of the Warriors in the Davenport standings.

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Franklin’s Spillane Skates Into Final Shift at St. A’s

Ryan Spillane
Former Franklin standout Ryan Spillane has battled back from an injury to have a strong senior season at St. Anselm. (St. Anselm Athletics)

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Looking forward to his junior season at St. Anselm, Ryan Spillane was expecting to see a larger role for the Hawks. The former Franklin High standout had played in 23 games as a sophomore, scoring a pair of goals and recording three assists, and he had high hopes of even more ice time and even more production as a junior.

Unfortunately, a hamstring injury in September would cost Spillane the entire year. He has worked hard to not only get back on the ice but to become a regular contributor for a team with its sights set on bringing home the NE-10 title.

“By the beginning of the summer I was ready to get back on the ice and get in shape,” Spillane explained. “By the time the season came, I felt like I was ready to go, back in game shape like I was two years ago. It’s nice to be back on the ice.”

It is always hard for an athlete to sit and watch his team play, but Spillane praised his coaches, teammates, and the training staff at St. Anselm for keeping him involved and for getting him back on the ice for this season.

“It was definitely really frustrating,” he admitted. “At first, I was rehabbing the injury with hopes of coming back and then I saw a couple more doctors and it ended up that I had to have surgery. It’s tough to show up every day and watch knowing that you’re not going to be on the ice at any point in the season.”

The injury has also been a motivating factor for his senior season and a reminder to not take any moment on the ice for granted.

“It kind of was a little bit of a shock,” Spillane said. “It kind of told me that I have to focus in and really give it all I’ve got for this last year because you never know if something could happen. You could go down in any game, so you’ve just to give it everything you’ve got every game.”

Hard work has been a trademark of his game since his time at Franklin when Spillane led the Panthers to their first Super 8 berth, winning Hockomock League MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year honors in the process. He capped that season with one of the top moments in program history, when he scored the game-winning goal against Xaverian in the Super 8 play-in game.

“I’m still best friends with all those kids I played with on that team,” Spillane said. “Obviously we’re older now, but it’s something that’s still reminisced upon on occasion.”

Although playing college hockey was something that he had long considered, Spillane chose to stay at Franklin for the full four years before taking a postgraduate season at Kent Hill School in Maine. He said that staying at Franklin was an easy decision, in no small part because he was able to play for his father Chris.

He said, “There was no chance I was going to leave Franklin. Obviously playing for my father, and playing with all the kids I grew up with, it was too special for me and something I wasn’t willing to give up.”

His season in Maine was critical to his development and, he said, one of the reasons that he was prepared for playing at the collegiate level. While his post-grad experience helped, Spillane said that there was still a lot of growth when he got to the Manchester, N.H. campus, both physically and mentally.

“I came in pretty light and was getting thrown around a little bit, so just getting stronger as a player is really important,” he said. “Coming into senior year, trying to pick up a bigger role, it’s definitely been quite a ride here.”

The comfort level he feels on the ice is obvious, as he has already scored a career-high six goals and tied his career-high with three assists through the first 18 games of the season. That included the eventual game-winning goal in the first period on Friday night against Post. It was the third straight win for the Hawks (10-7-1, 5-2-1), who are in the middle of conference play and currently lead the league by a point over St. Michael’s.

The Spillane family legacy at Franklin is well-documented. Chris Spillane was a star player for the Panthers before becoming the head coach and leading the program for 20 successful season. Ryan and CJ Spillane both played for the Panthers and their sister Kaitlyn was a standout at Franklin before heading to prep school and to an impressive career at St. Anselm.

Kaitlyn’s success at St. Anselm was one of the reasons that Ryan had the school as his top option.

“It’s where I wanted to play hockey, where I wanted to go to school, and I was fortunate enough to make that happen,” he said.




“Playing hockey at the same school as my sister definitely brought us closer together. We could talk hockey, we could talk school, we could talk whatever and it was really special to be able to watch her last couple years playing hockey. She’s a great hockey player, so it was really fun to watch her.”

One of the reasons that Chris Spillane cited for his decision to step down after two decades in charge of the Panthers was the chance to watch Ryan play his senior season. Ryan said he was grateful to look up in the stands and see both his parents there watching, even if the coaching hasn’t really stopped.

“You definitely get the pointers after every game, but it’s great that I’m able to have that relationship with him,” he said. “He’s been coaching [at Franklin] for so long, it’s been such a big part of his life our whole lives but it reaches a point in everything where you’ve got to call it quits and I think he was just at that point where he was ready to hang them up.”

Spillane is closing in on the time when he will have to hang up the skates as well. His senior season is winding down and he is confident that the team can send him out with a NE-10 championship. “I’ve only got about 13 games left in my career,” he said, “and I’d just like to go out on top, end on a high note, and just give it everything I’ve got.”

He took a moment to reflect on what the end of his career will mean, after so many years spent on the ice. “It’s just crazy to think how quick it’s winding down,” he said.

“It feels like just yesterday that I was playing my first college game, even playing high school games. It’s been a long career, hockey’s been my life since I was five years old, and it’s crazy to think it’s coming to an end. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ve had a great run.”

Quinn Sets Career-High as Franklin Rolls at OA

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin sophomore Olivia Quinn scored a career-high 32 points, including 23 in the second half, to lead the Panthers to a big win at OA. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – As a freshman, Franklin forward Olivia Quinn got to experience life on the varsity team, spending every practice going up against the Panthers star center Ali Brigham during the team’s run to a Div. 1 Central title. That experience seems to have paid off handsomely for the Panthers because Quinn has taken her game to another level this winter.

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In a showdown at the Nixon Gym of the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division, Quinn was unstoppable. She poured in a career-high 32 points, including 23 in the second half, and knocked down five three-pointers, including all four that she took after the break.

Quinn and Brigham combined to score 37 of Franklin’s 41 points in the second half, as the Panthers rolled to a 71-41 victory and grabbed control of first place in the division.

“I thought on offense we executed at a high level, especially in the second half,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “We got under control, we didn’t kick the ball around the gym, stopped fouling, and just got good possessions. When they doubled Ali, we moved the ball and kids knocked down open shots.”

OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook added, “We just didn’t do the little things we needed to do to stay afloat. Give them credit. They’re the real deal, they certainly are, and I’m grateful that we get another chance because there are certainly things we need to work on. That’s the level that we’re trying to achieve.”

While Brigham, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, will always be the primary focus for opposing teams, but the Panthers showed right away that there are other weapons for teams to deal with. Kaleigh Houlihan knocked down a pair of threes in the first quarter, including one in the corner off an inbounds pass from Elizabeth Wilson to put Franklin up 14-8 after one.

Tate Hadges knocked down a jumper and Caroline Peper (nine points) knocked down her only three of the game, and Hailey Bourne (seven points) hit a jumper off a Meg Holleran assist, as the Tigers tried to keep it close in the second.

Wilson scored all four of her points in the second quarter, Brigham (22 points and three blocks) added four more and Quinn started to find the range with seven in the quarter to help Franklin build the lead. A Quinn corner three on a Houlihan assist made it 30-18, but OA got Caroline Flynn free inside for a layup to cut the lead back to 10 heading into the locker room.

It didn’t take long for the Panthers to break the game wide open, as the Tigers simply couldn’t contain Brigham in the third. The George Washington-commit scored 12 points in the quarter on a variety of post moves on both sides of the rim and even stepping back to drill a three that put the Panthers up 41-26.

“It’s nice having a Div. I kid sitting there,” Leighton said, “but it creates good spacing and (point guard) Erin [Quaile] did a good job creating, getting to the rim when we needed her to. It really puts the defense in peril when everyone is getting touches. No kid can be a spare part.”

When OA did get the ball out of Brigham’s hands, Quinn was there to create another difficult matchup. She scored with a lefty scoop, nailed a three off a Quaile assist, and then hit another from the corner, as Franklin led by as many 22 in the third. Quaile also got to the rim for the only two points not scored by Quinn or Brigham in the quarter.

“As a freshman, I had a lot less confidence,” said Quinn, who entered the week as the fourth leading scorer in the league at more than 15 points per game. “This year, I’m taking on a bigger role in the team and they’re all helping me out and it’s been a great season so far.”

Leighton noted, “Her playing time what it was but she worked her tail off. Going at that speed, going against Ali every day in practice, makes you better. The big thing is confidence. Tonight it all came together. They had a hard time closing out and it gave her the look and she knocked it down.”

Franklin’s defense was preventing OA from keeping the game close, holding the Tigers to just three made field goals in the third. Tori Harney got a jumper after Flynn (10 points and eight rebounds) snagged an offensive board and swung the ball around to the forward. Flynn also scored inside and Bourne managed to slip through the defense on a drive, but it was Franklin by 20 heading to the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, Quinn took over. Quaile set her up for a three and then, after Brigham got a bucket inside, she buried a second one on a kick-out. An offensive rebound for two and the layup plus the foul in transition after a Meghan O’Connell steal put the Panthers up by 27. Another basket on a Brigham assist and a pair at the line completed an impressive night for Quinn and the Panthers.

“We got beat off the dribble repeatedly, we didn’t cover three-point shooters, and I said to them that they’re not 30 points better than we are, but they are today. We didn’t execute any part of our game plan and we didn’t learn from our mistakes.”

Quinn said, “Them being the only other undefeated team in the Hock, this was a big game for us and we really came ready to play with a lot of intensity and gave it to them early.”

Franklin (9-0, 8-0) will be back home on Tuesday in another showdown, this time against Davenport division leader Foxboro. Oliver Ames (8-2, 7-1) will try to bounce back from its second loss when it hosts Milford.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.