Eagles Grounded By Holliston in Overtime Thriller

Sharon girls basketball
Sophomore guard Allyson Brown (4) takes the ball to the basket during the first half of Sharon’s 57-56 overtime loss to Holliston. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – With only seven seconds remaining in overtime, Holliston guard Grace Dzindolet went to the line to try and put the Panthers back in front. The senior hit the first, but her second bounced off the rim and was rebounded by Evanjuline Elisma. The Sharon junior took off like a flash, racing up court with an opportunity to win the game for the Eagles.

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Elisma went straight at the basket. There was contact between Elisma and a Holliston defender but there was no whistle, only the final horn putting an end to a thriller that the Panthers pulled out 56-55 to sweep the season series by a combined four points.

“We had a chance at the end and was it a foul?” asked first-year Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi. “I don’t know. If the ref doesn’t blow his whistle then it’s not a foul.”

The Eagles seemed to be playing catch-up right from the opening quarter. Sophomore Allyson Brown (seven points) drilled a three to put Sharon ahead 10-8 in the first, but Holliston went on a 7-2 run to close out the quarter with the lead. Dzindolet scored seven of her team-high 14 points in the first.

Holliston extended the lead in the second, as Sharon was held to just one made field goal for the first six minutes of the quarter. Behind four points from Brooke Geoffroy (12 points and 16 rebounds), the Panthers led 25-16 and seemed on the verge of breaking the game open.

It could have been much closer, but for Sharon’s struggles at the free throw line. The Eagles shot just 6-of-14 at the line in the second and 10-for-24 for the game. Still, as the half was winding down, the Eagles were still in it. Miranda Cheung (seven points), the only senior on the Sharon roster, got a steal and a layup, which was followed by a traditional three-point play by Emma Eberhardt (15 points and 15 rebounds).

Sharon trailed by just one at halftime, but Holliston was able to push the lead to five at several points of the third quarter. Geoffroy had six in the quarter, but Eberhardt scored seven points and Kaitlyn Wallace drilled a three to keep it a two-point game with eight minutes left.

“We’re young, we’re inexperienced but they always play hard,” said Lombardi. “They always play aggressive. The other day we were down 17 at halftime and we came back to be down by one. They could have easily packed it in and gave up but they fought back.”

Wallace and Eberhardt went back-to-back on drives to the hoop to tie the game at 39-39 in the fourth quarter and then Elisma kicked out to Telishya Herbert to knock down a jumper from just inside the three-point line to give the Eagles their first lead since it was 10-8 in the first.

The lead was short-lived, as the Panthers proceeded to go an 8-0 run and seemed to have the game in control after Tess Powers completed a four-point play. Sharon answered. Brown picked up a steal and went the length of the court for a basket and then, off another Brown steal, Elisma got free in transition to make it 47-45.

Cheung battled for a loose ball underneath, grabbed an offensive rebound, and went right up to score and tie the game. Sharon got it back with 27 seconds left and the chance to win it with the final shot, but the Eagles turned it over. Dzindolet thought she had the game-winner on the break only for Wallace to block the shot and keep Sharon alive.

“In a game like this,” Lombardi explained, “it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that will come out on top. We missed too many layups. We missed too many foul shots and that’s been a thing all season long.”

Geoffroy put the Panthers in front to start overtime, but Herbert scored on a rebound to tie it. Threes by AbbyRae Wells and Kami Kozubal put the visitors up 55-51, but again the host came right back. Cheung had an offensive rebound to cut the lead to two and then Brown also scored with a putback to tie the game.

“They play hard,” said Lombardi of Chueng and Brown. “For little kids, they play hard, they’re physical, and that’s why they don’t come out of the game too often. I don’t think Ally came out of the game at all today.”

In the excitement after the tying basket, Sharon made a critical mistake. The Eagles fouled Dzindolet with 7.5 seconds remaining and sent her to the line for a pair of free throws.

“They played hard today,” Lombardi said of her team, “but in spurts we didn’t play smart and that was the difference in the game.”

Dzindolet made the first and Elisma had a chance off the missed free throw to get out and run. There was no call on the final attempt and the shot came up short.

“We’re trying,” said Lomnbardi. “We’re young…it’s a learning experience for some of these kids who haven’t played varsity basketball before. So, being in those situations and keeping the game close, hopefully next time we find a way to win.”

Sharon (2-8, 1-5) will try to bounce back on Tuesday when it hosts Stoughton.

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OA’s Waldorf Helping to Make Lacrosse a Global Game

Ariana Waldorf
Oliver Ames senior goalie Ariana Waldorf taught lacrosse in Israel this winter and played for the Israel U-19 team in Poland. (Courtesy Photo)

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The growth of lacrosse across the country has been well-documented and in this area new youth and high school programs are popping up seemingly every year to meet the demand for the sport. But lacrosse is not only an American phenomenon.

In July 2018, the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) will hold its men’s lacrosse world championships and it has been announced that the tournament will feature players from more than 50 countries, jumping up from 38 in the 2014 championships. The girls’ game is growing at a similar rate around the world and one Hockomock athlete spent her winter break helping to spread lacrosse to a new audience.

Oliver Ames senior Ariana Waldorf was invited to travel to Israel this winter to spend a week in Netanya, about an hour north of Jerusalem, teaching lacrosse to young students in the city and surrounding area and also getting to represent Israel on the world stage.

It was the experience of a lifetime for the Tigers goalie.

“It meant a lot to share something that we see everyday in our lives with kids who literally had no idea what we were talking about,” said Waldorf in an interview after her return from Europe.

“Most of the people we talked to had never heard of lacrosse in their lives, but we were able to interact with people and talk to little kids about how to hold a stick and how to play the game that I’ve played forever,” she continued.

Waldorf, who plays club lacrosse for Laxachusetts in addition to playing for OA, was invited on the trip by a friend whose father has helped coach the Israeli youth international team in the past. She was spotted during an Intercollegiate Womens Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) showcase tournament in Florida and asked to join the program.

Thanks to her Jewish heritage, Waldorf is eligible to play for Israel, which recruits heavily in the U.S. because the local lacrosse culture is still relatively new. When she got a call this summer to see if she was still interested, Waldorf jumped at the opportunity.

She was the lone girl from Massachusetts to make the trip, but Waldorf said there were boys from Plymouth and Andover that were also part of the program. The players joined together in Netanya and started to teach the game to kids who had never picked up a stick. Waldorf could relate to the excitement and energy of the new players, as she only started playing lacrosse in fifth or sixth grade when Easton created its first youth program.

“A bunch of us remembered starting from scratch and not even knowing how to pick up or throw a ball,” Waldorf said. “Seeing these kids who didn’t even know what the game was, was kind of relatable.”

She added, “I’m a goalie, so trying to teach little kids how to play on the field was a similar experience.” When asked if any of the Israeli kids were interested in learning more about Waldorf’s position, she joked, “We tried a little bit. I’m not sure too many of them were keen on having balls thrown at them by their friends, but I don’t know a lot of people who are.”

The trip was not just about youth clinics. The players were taken to Netanya Stadium, which will be the host stadium for this summer’s FIL world championships, and brought to the locker rooms. In each of the lockers, arrayed in each of the lockers as though they were professional players, were their new Israel uniforms.

“There’s a video of us all running in and the looks on our faces…it’s just an absolutely unforgettable moment,” said Waldorf, who is hoping to go back next winter and take part in tryouts for the official Israel U-19 team.

After a week of clinics, Waldorf traveled with Israel Lacrosse to Poland where they were able to put on their new jerseys and represent Israel for the first time. She recalled, “It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. You’re not just representing your town or a club, but a country and a unique people.”

Waldorf played one half of the game against Poland, which Israel won 15-6. The second game was against the European All-Stars and Israel lost by one in overtime. While Hockomock lacrosse games may draw bigger crowds at the moment, Waldorf enjoyed the atmosphere of camaraderie between all the teams taking part and the chance to share lax experiences with players from around the world.

“Even comparing lacrosse experiences throughout the country, some had the new women’s helmets and internationally we don’t even have to wear goggles and mouth guards,” Waldorf explained. “Then sharing their club team experiences and how they found the program was really interesting.”

While she is in the middle of the season for the OA ski team, Waldorf is already thinking about spring and getting to play lacrosse again. Now, she has an even better appreciation for the sport and more motivation to get back on the field.

“We had girls who were so excited to work for two hours in a sport they’ve never played before,” she said. “Coming home, it makes you want to work that much harder to show them the people that they were learning from are putting in just as much effort as they were.”

Whalen Double-Double Earns Stoughton Win at North

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton senior forward Val Whalen (14) scored 19 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to help the Black Knights earn their first league win of the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Friday night’s game at the Pickering Gym, Stoughton had lost four games by seven or less points, struggling to find ways down the stretch to pull out wins. When North Attleboro climbed back to within five points in the fourth quarter, it looked like that may happen again for the Black Knights.

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Instead of letting the game slip away, senior forward Val Whalen took over down the stretch. She scored 10 points, made 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint to help Stoughton close with a 17-6 run that sealed a 59-43 victory over North and ended the Black Knights’ winless start in the league.

“This is the best game of Val’s senior year so far and I know she’s going to continue to do great things,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “It was clutch. She stepped up to the line and knocked them down. Obviously, her offensive rebounds were important, but it was nice to see her do well from the free throw line.”

Whalen finished the game with 19 points and 19 rebounds, while also adding four assists and two blocks. North struggled to find an answer for the senior on either end of the floor.

“She’s a nightmare and causes a lot of problems,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “She can shoot a little bit and it drags you out and then you’ve got [Jordan] Motley to grab all the backside rebounds. So, you’ve really got to have two posts and if you don’t have two posts you’re always playing a matchup game.”

Stoughton took over on the boards right from the opening tap. Whalen pulled down nine rebounds in the first quarter and scored seven points, with both of her baskets coming on putbacks at the rim. Sophomore guard Aliyah Wright (13 points, nine rebounds) also chipped in with six in the first.

North tried to stay close with its perimeter game. Julia Feid (team-high 12 points) and Emily Haskell (eight points) each knocked down threes to keep North within seven (17-10) after one quarter.

The Rocketeers made only one shot from the floor in the second, but were managing to stay close thanks to 9-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Stoughton’s aggressive defense was giving North free points, but sophomores Shyanne Trinh (14 points) and Mariah Harris (seven points) each hit threes to keep the Black Knights ahead.

With North hanging around, down just eight inside the final few seconds of the half, Trinh took off on a coast-to-coast run that ended with a layup and a 30-20 halftime lead, which left North’s bench frustrated.

“We did okay with our game plan, but they’re a good team, they’re battle-tested, and they’ve got some kids who’ve been on varsity for two or three years now,” said Herber.

Fouls continued to rack up for Stoughton in the second half. North shot 12 free throws in the third and reached the bonus before the end of the quarter. Feid scored on an offensive rebound to cut the lead back to 10 and Julia Santos (eight points, 11 rebounds) added a putback as well.

Heading to the fourth quarter, Stoughton’s lead, which had been as many as 13 was down to just seven.

“We were in foul trouble and that really hurt us,” said Steele Jordan, “but we’ve had several close ones that we needed just a little bit more and I think those games helped us in this instance.”

North continued to battle early in the fourth. Sophomore Eliza Dion (seven points) drove through the Stoughton defense for a layup that made it 40-35 and, after a pair of Whalen free throws, Haskell drove on the other side for a bucket that again got the Rocketeers within five points. It was as close as North would get.

Herber said, “They fight, they fight and that’s why I feel so bad for them because they do fight. We’ve been in the last couple of games but we just couldn’t get that big shot.”

Wright scored on a runner in the lane and found Whalen leaking out in transition for an easy basket to push the lead back to nine. Whalen grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Trinh for an open three that put Stoughton up by double digits and then Whalen sealed the win with six free throws in the closing minutes.

“They can do some things in the post that we didn’t have any answers for,” Herber admitted. “Whalen and Motley (14 rebounds) down the stretch really gave us problems and we tried to get them in foul trouble but couldn’t at the end.”

Steele Jordan said, “It’s tough. You have a few tough losses back-to-back, but I have a fantastic team and they work hard for me every day. They dug down, played solid ‘D’, and took their time on offense and it showed today.”

After earning its first win in the league, Steele Jordan is hoping that the team can build off this performance. She said, “They’re young, but they’re coming into their own, which is nice because you always worry about peaking too soon. I’m glad my team is starting to turn the wheels now and really get going.”

Stoughton (2-7, 1-5) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night trying to make it two in a row in the Hock. North Attleboro (1-7, 0-6) will try to get its first win in the league on Tuesday at Milford.

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Big Night From Irwin Lifts Milford to Win Over Canton

Milford girls basketball
Milford senior guard Kate Irwin (11) scored a game-high 26 points, 17 in the second half, to lift Milford to a win over divisional rival Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Holding onto a seven-point lead with a little more than a minute remaining in Tuesday night’s game against Davenport division rival Canton, Milford moved the ball around the perimeter to run clock. Despite the pressure from the Canton guards, the Hawks were able to keep the ball moving until it got to senior guard Kate Irwin on the left wing.

The lefty point guard took two hard dribbles to get space and pulled up from just inside the three-point line. Irwin got a clean look and hit nothing but net on the last of her game-high 26 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

Irwin’s jumper effectively sealed a 49-38 victory for the Hawks, who move into a tie with the Bulldogs for second place in the division ahead of the visit of league leading Foxboro on Friday.

“We played that to perfection,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver of the team’s penultimate possession. “I’m happy to see that because when we played Stoughton we didn’t handle the end of game situation well and that bucket there is the difference in the game. We ran 25 seconds off and made a bucket.”

Irwin had only two points in the first quarter, as Canton junior Maggie Connolly made her work for every shot. The imposing figures of 6-foot-3 Erin Devine and 6-foot-1 Hannah Jerrier in the paint also made it difficult to find good looks at the rim.

Senior guard Emily Piergustavo picked up the slack for the Hawks in the first with seven of her nine points, including a a three and a basket from an offensive rebound. Devine led the Bulldogs with four and it was a three-point edge for the Hawks heading to the second.

That was when Irwin started to catch fire. She opened the second with a traditional three-point play off a steal, scored off a Piergustavo offensive rebound and assist and then got another steal and transition basket.

“Getting to the hoop in the half court was going to be difficult,” said Dolliver about his team’s desire to run at every opportunity, “so luckily we got our good looks in transition and we were getting to the hoop.”

Canton continued to keep the game close, despite only getting four points from Jerrier. The team’s leading scorer was blanketed by Milford’s 2-3 zone with all of the Hawks making sure to know where the senior was at all times. The zone opened up opportunities from the outside and junior guard Julia Hamilton (nine points) made a pair of threes, the second of which tied the score at 24-24 in the third quarter.

“We get into a lot of situations where we defer to the bigs because they’re talented and it’s part of our game plan to utilize them, so it’s nice to have Julia do one of the things she’s good at and help our team get us ahead in that area,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette.

Jerrier (10 points and 11 rebounds) scored off a Connolly assist to give the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead, but Milford went on a 9-2 run to finish the third with a five-point advantage. Irwin scored eight of those final nine points, hitting a pair of pull-up jumpers and scoring twice off of steals.

“She always makes the difference,” said Dolliver of Irwin. “She’s a tough kid too. I get on her now and then and she handles it well.”

The game remained tight in the fourth quarter. Jerrier scored on a putback to start the fourth, but Gillian Valanzola scored off an Irwin assist to answer. Hamilton got the ball into Devine for a basket at the rim and, after Jess Tomaso scored to push the lead back to four, Molly Ludwig scored off another Hamilton assist to make it 37-35.

Again, the Hawks were able to close a quarter strongly. Kate Lobisser rattled in her only basket of the night to get the run started and Irwin added three more with a finish, plus the contact, following a steal. After the teams traded a series of free throws, Irwin got open in the corner and hit the dagger jumper to ensure the win.

“We didn’t execute enough to win,” admitted Choquette. “You have to give credit to Milford…at the end of the day, they just made more of those little things that they had to right. The score’s not as close as the game was, but in a close game it comes down to the team that makes the extra play.”

Milford’s ability to compete with Canton’s size on the glass was also a factor in limiting the Bulldog’s offense. Tomaso and Valanzola each finished with six rebounds, while Irwin and Juliana Tracy each finished with five.

Dolliver explained, “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had but they had their fair share and they’re going to get their fair share in every game, but that was a point of emphasis before the game because that’s where a lot of their points come from.”

Milford (5-2, 3-2) will host league leading Foxboro on Friday night. Canton (4-2, 3-2) will be back home on Friday to face Sharon.

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Attleboro Clamps Down in Fourth Quarter to Beat KP

Attleboro girls basketball
Jordyn Lako (12) scored all 14 of her points in the second half and added nine rebounds to help the Bombardiers pull away in the fourth quarter and beat King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro was clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against King Philip, but the Bombardiers shut down the Warriors over the final eight minutes, allowing only six points and two made field goals from the visitors to pull away for a 52-41 victory.

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“I think this is our most complete effort, front to back, all year,” said first-year Attleboro coach Marty Crowley, who was facing KP for the first time since leaving the Warriors during the off-season.

He added, “I think we played 32 minutes tonight. We had a great win against Durfee, down by 13 in the third quarter and we came back to win by 12 last game, and the light kind of came on for us. I kind of put us in a hole early with my defensive scheme, but we switched and the kids really dug in.”

Attleboro scored the first five points of the fourth on drives to the basket by MacKenzie Roberts (her only basket of the game) and sophomore Nyah Thomas (seven points, six rebounds). Faith Roy scored on a drive and Shannon O’Connor hit a free throw to cut the lead to 41-38, but Abby Struminski added a pair at the line and Sam Pierce (14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) scored in the paint to extend the advantage back to seven points.

“Sam obviously is a phenomenal player, she’s one of the best players in our league,” Crowley said about getting the senior forward involved offensively. “We’re working on recognition when to give Sam the ball and when not to and I thought we move the ball pretty well tonight.”

Pierce followed with a kick-out pass to junior Jordyn Lako for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 11. Lako scored all 14 of her points in the second half and the point guard also chipped in with nine rebounds. After O’Connor knocked down a late three for KP, Thomas scored in transition and Lako got a steal and layup to seal the win.

First-year KP coach Amy Siggens said, “We don’t go very far in our bench and we’re very guard heavy. The guards we have are very good, so I think it comes down to is trying to get people subs and rest where we can. We just runs out of steam, but that’s something that can be fixed.”

O’Connor, the Boston University-commit, started the game on fire, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Crowley admitted that the Bombardiers had to change things up defensively to slow down the junior guard, who he had coached for the past two seasons.

“Shannon is such a special player,” said Crowley of using Lako, Thomas, and Pierce to guard O’Connor. “The three of them did a nice job on her and we just tried to take her out of the equation and for the most part it worked in the second half. First half, they ran some good stuff for her but we made some adjustments at halftime.”

Pierce kept Attleboro in the game in the first quarter with seven points and Liv McCall gave Attleboro a much-needed perimeter threat with all nine of her points coming in the first half (on three shot from beyond the arc).

The Warriors were also forced to play without starting forward Faye Veilleux for the majority of the game after the sophomore twisted an ankle in the first quarter.

“It really hurt us,” said Siggens. “She’s really been fighting hard to work on her positioning and getting better as a player. She was really starting to get it and to go down like that is too bad.”

The teams went into halftime tied at 25 apiece and the third quarter was back-and-forth. Julia Leroux (nine points, six rebounds) gave KP a brief lead and O’Connor scored four points in the quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Leroux added a pair from the line to give the Warriors a lead at 33-32.

“She never stops playing,” said Siggens of Leroux. “She’s fun to watch and she really wants to go get it. I couldn’t ask anything more of her tonight.”

Christina Hathaway scored inside to put KP ahead by three points, but the Bombardiers rallied behind Lako, who scored eight of the team’s 11 points in the third. She buried a three off a Rory Hopkins pass to tie the gam and added a free throw to give Attleboro a slim edge heading to the fourth quarter.

KP was also hamstrung heading into the fourth after O’Connor picked up her fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third. “Foul trouble seems to be what we’re getting into but I’ll take it because it means they’re playing hard,” Siggens said. “We’ll figure out all the little things and controlling it better later.”

For almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Attleboro held KP to just three points, pushing the lead and securing a third league win in four games this season.

Crowley said, “We really clamped down in the fourth quarter when we had to, but we put ourselves in position where we didn’t have to scramble from behind and once we kind of took off there in the beginning of the fourth quarter that was the difference in the game.”

Attleboro (5-3, 3-1) will travel to Mansfield on Wednesday just one back in the win column of the Hornets in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (2-4, 1-3) will host Oliver Ames looking to get back on track.

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