Wager Scores Mansfield a Win Against Attleboro

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield sophomore Abby Wager (2) scored on a drive to the basket with :08 remaining to secure a win against Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Four games into her head coaching career, Mansfield’s Heather McPherson had her first chance to draw up a play in the closing seconds with the game on the line.

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Following a free throw by Emma Reilly put Attleboro up one with less than 20 seconds to play at the Albertini Gym, the Hornets got the ball on the side with three-quarters of the court to go. The play was designed to get the ball into the hands of sophomore Abby Wager and the athletic guard was supposed to drive and get to the rim.

The play worked exactly as planned.

Wager beat her defender, got to the basket for a layup with eight seconds to play, and put Mansfield ahead by one. When Reilly’s last-second three bounced off the rim, the Hornets celebrated a 54-53 victory.

“She just made me look like a hell of a coach because that’s what we wrote up. She made us look good,” McPherson said of Wager, who finished with a team-high 14 points and four steals and impacted the game on both ends of the court down the stretch.

Attleboro coach Marty Crowley added, “They made one more play than we did. I’m very proud of our effort. The kids we had (Lindsey and Hailey Perry were out for the game) played hard tonight and it came down to one play. It was a typical Mansfield/Attleboro game.”

The Bombardiers stunned the home crowd by dominating the first quarter and holding Mansfield, which scored 39 in the first half against North Attleboro over the weekend, to just one made field goal and three points. Attleboro’s quickness and length made it tough for Mansfield to run its sets.

On the other end, the Bombardiers were moving the ball to get good looks. Gabby Bosh (nine points and four steals) started the game with a theft and a layup, Reilly (13 points) drove for two, Meghan Gordon (game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds) banked in a jumper, and freshman Narissa Smith drained a deep three.

It certainly didn’t look like a game that was going to come down to the wire, as Mansfield trailed 15-3, but the Hornets turned the game around in the second.

Anna Darlington proved to be a spark off the bench, scoring only two points but grabbing four steals and slowing down Smith. McPherson said of Darlington’s impact, “She crushed it. Smith is very athletic, so quick, and Anna shut her down.”

Trailing 20-10, Ashley Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) scored six straight points to get Mansfield right back into the game. The Hornets were starting to pass the ball well and break the press. Darlington scored on a putback and Wager drove to the basket to make it a two-point game.

Reilly answered with a pull-up jumper to put stem the tide, but Olivia Salisbury banked in her only points of the game and Kara Santos banked in a short jumper to send the teams into the break tied 24-24.

“They’re so athletic,” McPherson said about Attleboro, “but we just talked about playing good defense and getting those stops and playing a simple game. I think the big difference offensively was that one more pass. We weren’t hitting it in the first quarter and then it slowly started to come together.”

Both teams came out firing to start the second half, combining for 35 points in the third quarter. Kayla Vine (seven points) drilled a three off an Ally Prentis pass put the Hornets ahead for the first time in the game, 29-28.

Attleboro answered right back. Gordon rose above everyone for an impressive putback that made it 34-31. After a step-back three by Smith (six points and three assists), the Bombardiers were up 42-35 and threatening to pull away again. Mansfield closed the quarter on a 6-0 run, including a Vine basket in the dying seconds to make it a one-point game heading to the fourth.

Neither team could grab more than a five-point lead in the final eight minutes. A tough finish in traffic by Kayla Goldrick, who absorbed the contact and still got the ball to the rim, made it 47-43 for Attleboro.

Crowley said, “Our kids kept our composure tonight. We fought hard right to the end. It’s tough when someone makes a run on you like that, puts up 21 points in a quarter, which isn’t typical of our defense.”

Ashley Santos started to take over offensively, while Wager made plays on the defensive end. Santos knocked down a jumper then converted a Wager steal and long outlet into a three-point play that put the Hornets up 48-47 with 3:45 on the clock.

McPherson said, “Ashley was big. We’re kind of looking for her to get her momentum and she needed a game like this. She runs the floor well, she sees the floor, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Wager then got another steal and assist on a Vine layup and blocked a Smith layup attempt, winning the ball back for the Hornets. Sarah Dooling (six points) scored with a drive to make it 52-47.

After a timeout, Attleboro settled down and got back into it. Gordon made two at the line and then stepped back to drill a three right in front of the bench that tied the game at 52 with 1:39 to play.

“That’s the thing about this team, any night it’s a different person,” said Crowley. “Meg hit some shots, Narissa made some big threes, Emma played very well again tonight. I feel for the kids because they work so hard but in less than two days we’re back at it again.”

With the clock winding down, Reilly went to the line and put Attleboro ahead, but Mansfield had one more chance and took advantage.

Mansfield (3-1) and Attleboro (2-1) will have a quick turnaround before facing each other again on Thursday night.

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Chaput Snipe Lifts Canton to Win Against North

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Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput celebrates his second period goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Canton against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – North Attleboro got bodies in the way all game long, not letting pucks get through on goal, but sometimes it only takes a sliver of space to find the back of the net.

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Sophomore Jeffrey Chaput got that one chance in the second period and buried it in the top corner and it turned out to be all that the Bulldogs would need. Canton added an empty net goal in the final minute and skated to a 2-0 victory over North Attleboro that puts the teams in a tie for first in the Davenport division.

“North Attleboro does a great job blocking shots, they always have,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “They sell out, they take away the shooting lanes. Also a failure on our part, too many shots above the knees, which are the easiest shots to block. We have to keep it low, along the ice, and find shooting lanes. Stop trying to go top shelf on their goalie and try to create more rebound opportunities.”

It was an even game, despite Canton’s edge in shots on goal. Both teams came out flying and the Bulldogs showed no rust from having a week off between games.

Shuman explained, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be skating normally, so I think that in itself is keeping us in a good flow and a good rhythm. We’re just lucky to be playing right now because there are a lot of teams that unfortunately aren’t.”

Jack Digirolamo sprung Brendan Tourgee down the left wing for an early chance that was saved by North goalie Kyle Gruber (23 saves). Andrew Valkanas stayed with the puck after his initial shot was blocked and had a good look coming off the right wing boards, but again Gruber stood tall.

The chances kept coming for Canton in the first. Digirolamo had a shot blocked in front and the rebound fell to Tourgee at the post, but the freshman forward was denied by the freshman goalie’s pad. AJ Thomas had another chance between the circles with a quick spin and shot but Gruber, who was making his first varsity start, was again equal to it.

“Why not?” chuckled North coach Ben McManama when asked about having his goalie make his debut against the Bulldogs. “I was a little worried about doing that but you can tell he’s a tough kid mentally and you know what? You’re going to have to learn sometime and we thought it would be good experience for him.”

North started to get more looks in the offensive zone as the first period wore on. Charlie Connolly angled a shot from the right point that was tipped in front by Joe Quinn, but went just wide of the post. In the final seconds of the first, Nik Kojoian pushed towards goal from the left circle but was denied at the post by Canton goalie Liam Polles (15 saves).

Despite starting on the kill, Canton dominated zone time in the second, keeping North pinned back in its defensive zone. Even with all that pressure, it was North that had the edge in shots on goal (6-5) in the period. The Rocketeers defensemen continually got in the way of shots and kept Canton out of the middle.

“It can be a little deceiving sometimes,” said McManama. “There may be a lot of zone time, but are we giving up quality shots? I think we didn’t give up too many except for the goal they scored. They did a good job of keeping everything to the outside and our goalie did a great job and we also helped him out.”

Jake Gruber had a good chance for North when he forced a turnover near his own blue line and then forced a blocker save from Polles on the other end of the ice. Mark Ayvazyan almost had a breakaway for the Rocketeers, but pulled up short of the crease to avoid a defenseman and then fired just wide.

By that point, Canton had gotten its one good chance. After a spell of pressure in the zone that saw a couple of shots blocked in front, the puck kicked out to Chaput just inside the left circle. He barely settled the puck before whipping a shot into the top corner that gave the goalie no chance.

“Jeff had a great shot and a quick shot, quick release that kind of surprised the goalie,” said Shuman. “He worked hard. He had the best game I’ve seen him play in his two years for us and he deserved that.”

The pattern continued in the third period, with Canton using its speed to gain the zone and put pressure on the North defense, but with the visitors holding firm and creating the occasional scoring opportunity on the other end.

“Coach Spillane said it best on the bench, let’s get some breathing room and get that goal early in the period,” Shuman said of Canton’s approach to the third period. (With his assistant coaches unavailable this week, Shuman asked former Franklin coach Chris Spillane to help out on the bench.) “We had a couple good chances, just couldn’t bury it.”

Sam Clarke nearly tied the game inside the first minute of the third. He blocked Jay Kelleher’s shot from the point and raced past the Canton defense before forcing a blocker stop from Polles.

It was a warning for the Bulldogs that the game wasn’t over. The best chance to double the lead came when Dylan Coyne’s shot from the slot was blocked and the rebound fell to Eddie Gillis, but his tip slid just wide of the post.

North came closest to tying the game with 2:30 remaining. Tyler Sarro stretched to tip a clearance in the neutral zone to avoid an icing and, after a battle behind the Canton net, the puck came out to Nick Longa on the edge of the crease. Polles kept his pads on the ice and was able to cover up.

Just a few seconds after North pulled its goalie, Canton wrapped up the win. Sam Carlino blocked a pass on one end, chased the puck down, and flicked into the empty net to make it 2-0 with 40.2 on the clock.

“We’re going to have to look at the film and see how we can generate more offense,” said McManama. “Sometimes they do such good job with our ‘D’ zone coverage that we get stuck down there. We’re going to have to work on ways to get ourselves better entries through the neutral zone.”

Canton (3-0) and North Attleboro (1-2) will meet again on Wednesday at the New England Sports Village.

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Franklin Overcomes Slow Start to Sweep King Philip

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin point guard Erin Quaile dished out eight assists to lead the Panthers to a win at King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – After playing at King Philip’s pace for the opening eight minutes and heading into the first break down by a point, Franklin coach John Leighton implored his team to slow things down, move the ball around, and look for good shots not just the first shot.

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Over the next two quarters, the Panthers did just that, scoring 40 points in the second and third quarters combined and turning that deficit into an 18-point lead. Franklin would lead by as many as 25 points in the fourth and earned a sweep of the Warriors with a 62-48 victory.

“Something you never want is a slow start and that’s exactly what we had,” said Leighton. “We had way too many turnovers, we went too fast, but what I was impressed by is that by the end of the quarter they had bought into the idea of slowing it down, seeing the next step, and when you start getting defensive stops they can’t press as much.”

KP had the Panthers on the run in the first, playing the frenetic style that the Warriors thrive on. After back-to-back threes by Emma Glaser and Courtney Keswick (10 points), the hosts held a 10—6 lead. Olivia Quinn (game-high 22 points, six rebounds, and four steals) answered back with a three of her own and a layup to put Franklin in front, but Caroline Aaron’s drive to the basket put the Warriors up 12-11 after one.

Franklin has plenty of experience on its roster and the players talked in the huddle about the need to settle down and play their game. The defending state champions started to look more like themselves in the second.

Brigid Earley scored six of her 10 points in the second, as Franklin made an effort to get the ball inside. Elizabeth Molla responded with a three that cut the lead back to three, at 25-22, but the Panthers scored the final seven points of the half to lead by double digits.

Elizabeth Wilson crashed the boards for a putback and then Earley (four assists, seven rebounds, and two blocks) picked out Quinn for a short jumper. Quinn was the focal point of the offense, scoring eight points in the second and 13 in the first half, as Franklin led 33-22.

“I said to them that we were down 11 at halftime, but it felt like it could’ve been tied,” said KP coach Dan Nagle, who was on the bench for the first time this season. “We had a couple of live-ball turnovers where we missed wide open layups and they go down and we get a steal and throw it to them right under the basket. You can’t even be mad because your kids are flying around and working hard.”

Things clicked into high gear for the visitors in the third. After Jackie Bonner (eight points) drilled a three to start the second half, Franklin went on a 16-0 run to break the game open.

Quinn came right back with a three off a Stefany Padula drove and kick, Erin Quaile’s steal led to a Katie Peterson basket, and Earley had a pair of assists on Quinn buckets to push the lead to 17. Peterson (10 points) got open again underneath, this time on a Kayleigh Houlihan assist, and Quaile found Teagan Collins for an open three to make it 49-25.

KP scored seven straight to get some momentum, including threes by Cat Spellman and Keswick, but Peterson’s offensive rebound and layup put the Panthers ahead by 18 heading to the fourth.

Leighton said, “This year, we have three or four kids who can score every night. The pressure isn’t on Liv to carry us on her back, we have a lot of kids who can contribute. This is the deepest group we’ve had in a very long time.”

One of the features of Franklin’s play was its passing. Quaile finished with eight assists, while Earley had four and Padula had three. The Panthers were spreading the ball around and making it difficult for KP to trap.

“Unselfish ball is good, especially today,” Leighton explained. “When they’re going to double you, they’re trying to make you go faster, so if you can pass and find the open kid then everyone has more time. It buys time and space.”

That continued at the start of the fourth, as Quinn hit a short jumper after a good drive and kick out by Bridget Leo and then Quinn played provider on a corner three by Emma Sousa, who had missed the first three games of the season. Franklin stretched its lead to 60-35.

Although a comeback was unlikely at that point, the Warriors never stopped running and pressing and kept battling to the final whistle. Bonner had a steal and layup and Julia Marsden assisted on Keswick’s third three of the afternoon. Aaron (11 points) had another drive through the lane and stepped back to knock down a three of her own to help the Warriors cut the deficit to 14.

“Us just realizing that all those little plays matter is a good lesson,” Nagle said. “Franklin is where we want to be eventually and we competed with them at a high level. We had them playing faster than they want to, we turned them over a good amount. Today was progress, not perfection, but it was a good effort.”

Franklin (4-0) will have a few days off before it faces Taunton on Thursday, while King Philip (1-3) will look to get back in the win column when it faces Milford on Tuesday.

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Franklin Bounces Back With Shutout of North Attleboro

Franklin Boys Hockey
Franklin senior defenseman Justin Abely looks for an opening to shoot during a 4-0 road win against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Two days after suffering its first loss to King Philip in more than 20 years, and giving up five goals in the process, Franklin coach Anthony Sarno asked for a reaction from his team when they traveled to the New England Sports Village for a non-league matchup with North Attleboro.

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Sarno got his wish, as the Panthers scored inside a minute, doubled the lead in the final minute of the second period, and tacked on two more in the third, while also keeping the Rocketeers off the board, skating away with a 4-0 victory.

“We told them on the bus ride home from that KP loss, you guys got outworked and it’s never going to happen again,” Sarno said. “I give them credit, they stepped up. They played the body, they moved the puck pretty well…all-in-all I thought we bounced back in a positive way.”

The Rocketeers were happy to be back on the ice for something other than a practice. North had a nine-day break between its season-opening win against Oliver Ames and Friday night’s game.

“Our start, you could see that we really haven’t played many games and there was a lot of rust in that first 10 minutes,” said North coach Ben McManama. “Unfortunately, we were in the right position but we kept fumbling pucks and not being sure on our sticks.”

Franklin needed only 55 seconds before breaking the deadlock with what turned out to be the game-winner. Pat Dolan took a shot from the left point that slipped under the pad of North goalie Jimmy Burtchh. As the puck trickled behind Burtch, Ben Jarosz was in the right place to slam the puck across the line.

It was a quick start for the Panthers and they tried to add to the lead. Conor O’Neil had a shot from between the circles saved and then Burtch (27 saves) recovered to stop Domenic Lampasona’s rebound effort. Dylan Marchand flew down the far boards and cut a pass back to Jarosz in front, but his backhander was stopped.

North had a few chances in the first, mostly from stepping up at the blue line and causing turnovers as Franklin tried to exit its zone. The best chance came with nine minutes left in the first, when Nik Kojoian picked off an outlet pass to give Tyler Sarro a good look at goal, but Franklin goalie Gary Mandia (17 saves) got his blocker to it.

Although Franklin would hold a significant edge in shots on goal (31-17 for the game), the Panthers didn’t feel like they had the game totally in control. Burtch came up with a pad stop on a Declan Lovett one-timer early in the second, but North had a couple chances to try and even things up.

Kojoian forced another turnover and this time set up Brady Sarro for a chance, but Mandia stopped the slap shot. A minute later, Gavin Arabian had a shot from the point that knuckled on its way to goal, but was casually blockered aside by Mandia.

O’Neil had a snap shot on the turn gloved and then Justin Abely broke up a North shorthanded rush and quickly turned it into a break the other way. Justin Magazu picked out Jarosz, but again Burtch showed a quick glove to keep the deficit at one.

“He did a good job,” McManama said of Burtch. “We didn’t do the little things to help him out. I thought our ‘D’ zone was okay, but we were giving too many odd-man rushes and the neutral zone we didn’t do a very good job with.”

With less than a minute remaining in the second, North was unable to clear its zone and Franklin turned it into a second goal. Sean Connelly with a perfect cross-ice pass to Lovett, who took a touch to settle the puck before sniping the far corner.

The momentum appeared to carry over into the third period because the Panthers came out flying and looking to put the game away. Jarosz nearly turned provider, setting up Ryan Sicchio right in front but the goalie was able to cover.

Sarno said, “When we’re at our best, we’re focused, we’re locked in, and our forecheck is working and we’re forcing teams back into their own net. We need to learn how to control our shots and our shot selection and location needs to be better.”

The Panthers dominated the opening four minutes of the period until a major penalty gave North life.

Anthony Westcott had North’s first shot of the third after more than five minutes and it sparked the Rocketeers into a little flurry that nearly produced a goal. Mandia came up with a couple big stops as North tried to cram the puck in at the post and then Charlie Connolly got free in the right circle and smashed a shot off the post and out.

A penalty against North would cut the power play short by two minutes and the hosts missed a golden opportunity to get back into the game.

“It was a good opportunity for us,” explained McManama. “I think they came with a lot of pressure and we weren’t used to it. We do it, but we’re not used to teams pressuring us in-zone as we’re breaking out. We’ve just got to practice that and be sure that we’re ready to go against an aggressive penalty kill.”

Franklin turned on the pressure again and put the game out of reach. Connelly was positioned perfectly to redirect Lovett’s shot from the point to make it 3-0 with 5:14 to play. Three minutes later, the Panthers nearly had a highlight-reel goal after a nice passing sequence between Jarosz, Siccio, and JT Dwyer only for Burtch to somehow get his heel on the backhand shot.

The Panthers only needed to wait 30 seconds longer to tack on a fourth. Magazu drove into the zone and flicked a pass to Marchand, who opened his body up and went high to the blocker side and into the side of the net.

Sarno said, “I think that kill gave us a lot of confidence and more momentum and from there it was just, okay we got this and let’s play good hockey now.”

Franklin (4-1) will host Taunton, in the season opener for the Tigers, on Wednesday. North Attleboro (1-1) will be back in action on Monday with a trip to division rival Canton.

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Third Quarter Scoring Lifts OA to Sweep of Foxboro

Oliver Ames girls basketball
Oliver Ames scored 23 points in the third quarter and then held off a Foxboro comeback to beat the Warriors for the second time in three days. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – For the second time in three days, one quarter proved decisive for Oliver Ames. On Tuesday, the Tigers won the fourth quarter to break open a one-point game to win by double digits. On Thursday, in Foxboro, the Tigers exploded in the third quarter to build a big lead and then had to hold off the Warriors in the final minutes.

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After scoring 22 points in the first half, OA found its offense in the third and put 23 on the board, extending a one-point lead out to 13. The Tigers managed only six points in the fourth (all from the free throw line), but the lead turned out to be just big enough and OA earned the season sweep with a 51-47 victory.

“We’ve just got to fine tune some things and do the right thing in the right situation,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I’m not disappointed with their effort at all, it’s just about doing the right things at the right time. It’s all growth, just got a little too close for comfort.”

Despite having no fans in the gym and being down by double digits heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors showed no quit, which impressed their coach.

“I’d love to play them every night because that’s how you get better,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We definitely did better defensively then we did on Tuesday. Against their zone we just didn’t rotate the ball as much as we should have to give us better, open looks, but for the most part we fought hard.”

After a very even, defensive first half, OA hit high gear coming out of the break. Katelyn Mollica (12 points and seven rebounds) drilled a three to put Foxboro ahead 24-22, but it would be the last lead for the Warriors. Caroline Peper (eight points and eight steals) answered from deep on the other end and put the Tigers ahead to stay.

That three was the start of a 12-0 run that pushed OA’s lead out to double digits. Caroline Flynn (10 points and 10 rebounds) grabbed four points in the run and Jess Erlich (nine points) added four of her own. The Tigers were getting out on the break, finding the cutters in the halfcourt, and crashing the offensive boards.

After freshman Camryn Collins snatched an offensive rebound and found classmate Erin Foley (12 points) for a layup, Foxboro cut the lead back to seven. OA answered right back. Hailey Bourne scored on a drive to the rim, freshman Kaydance Derba (six points, all in the third) buried a three on a Bourne kick out, and Maddie Homer scored on a putback.

Three free throws from Derba extended the advantage to 45-32 after three quarters and it looked like the Tigers were going to run away with it.

“I think we did a good job anticipating,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “I thought we did a good job in terms of rotation defensively and made it difficult for them. I thought we were probably better at executing in the third quarter than any of the other quarters.”

Things dried up offensively for the visitors in the fourth quarter. OA scored only six points and didn’t make a shot from the field. Foxboro took advantage to creep back into the game.

“They just had to listen and realize that we were playing into their hands,” Downs said. “We were dribbling into a trap instead of rotating the ball and we just had to rely on our speed, trying to fast break a little bit more, spread the floor, and get the ball up ahead.”

Aislinn Servaes swung the ball to Mollica for a three that got the lead down to single digits and Jordyn Collins (seven points and eight rebounds) followed with a driving layup that made it 48-41 with 1:35 to play.

“I would’ve liked to see us be a little more consistent in the fourth quarter,” said Clement-Holbrook. “I’d like to see us do a much better job attacking the offensive boards. We’ve got to come to the realization that offensive rebounds are an easy way to score, as opposed to having to run this screen, that screen. We’ve got to be more disciplined going to the boards to score.”

Peper knocked down two clutch free throws to push the lead back to nine but a perfect fast break led to a Camryn Collins three-point play and it was only a six-point game. Hannah Blake (eight points) hit her fourth jumper of the game to make it 50-46 but it was not enough to catch the Tigers.

“They definitely fought to the end,” Downs said about her team’s fourth quarter comeback. “Any normal season, Oliver Ames would be one of the favorites going into the state tournament. It’s a good opportunity, especially for the young girls, to see a quality team like that.”

The first half was back-and-forth, as both teams locked down defensively. OA had a distinct advantage with its length, recording eight blocks in the first half alone. Freshman Jasmyn Cooper didn’t score, but grabbed 10 rebound and blocked three shots.

Foley, who has had a strong start to her varsity career, scored five points in the first quarter and Blake added four, but the game was tied at 12 after one. Foley then buried her second three to put Foxboro ahead 15-12, but freshman Sarah Hilliard came off the bench to spark the Tigers. Her three-point play tied the game and she had a steal and layup to put OA in front. She scored all seven of her points in the second and had OA in front 22-21 at the break.

Oliver Ames (2-0) will be back home on Tuesday to face Sharon, while Foxboro (2-2) will try to bounce back against Stoughton.

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