Hock Moves Volleyball, Rejects Out-Of-Season Coaching

Oliver Ames volleyball Jordan Bennett
Oliver Ames junior Jordan Bennett tips a ball over a double block in the fourth set of the match against Barnstable in the 2019 D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
The Hockomock League officially announced the move of girls volleyball to the Fall 2 season in a statement released on Saturday afternoon. The announcement follows Thursday’s meeting with league athletic directors and principals.

Volleyball joins football, competitive cheerleading, and unified basketball in the Fall 2 season, which is slated to start on February 22. Boys and girls soccer, field hockey, golf, and cross country are scheduled to start on September 18 at the earliest, with some schools pushing the start date until September 21 due to Rosh Hashanah. The MIAA announced its guidelines and modification for those sports on Friday, which can be found at here.

“The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums,” the statement said. At least five Hockomock schools – Canton, Franklin, King Philip, Mansfield, and Taunton – are set to start the school year fully remote.

The statement included a total of five key bullet points, including a vote against out-of-season coaching. The MIAA Board of Directors voted on August 19 to “allow out of season coaching from September 18th, 2020 through July 3rd, 2021, as approved by the member school principal.” The Hock voted unanimously to “continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1. Rule 40, titled “Out-of-Season Coach-Athlete Contact Limitations” partially reads that “between seasons a coach may conduct a meeting(s) with team candidates only to elect captains, collect equipment, issue equipment, to provide for physical examinations, to conduct legitimate fund-raising events, or to offer wellness workshops or activities.” You can view the entire MIAA Handbook at here.

The statement also notes this includes the fall sports (football, volleyball, competitive cheer, unified basketball) that were moved to the wedge season, noting “There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.” Multiple sources have indicated that most leagues in the region will be making the same decisions regarding out of season coaching.

The Hockomock League also announced a new spectator policy in accordance with the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. There will be a limit of 50 spectators while face covers and six feet social distancing are required. Only spectators associated with the host school will be allowed into the facility and the league says spectators are “strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive.”

Below is the complete statement from the Hockomock League:

Fall 2020 Sports are now moving forward to implementation. Several Hockomock League School Committees approved this week a return to the slate of Fall I sports put forth by MIAA. The MIAA Sports Committees completed their task of providing modifications to their sports to abide under the restrictive DESE and EEA guidelines issued on August 13. The MIAA Board of Directors approved and published these modifications on August 28.

The Hockomock Principals, following the recommendations of their respective Athletic Directors, made some important decisions regarding the sports offerings and procedures for the upcoming season. Their goal, as always, is to keep the League united and consistent in its competitive offerings. Here are the motions as approved by the Principals:

1. Start Date – The MIAA start date for Fall athletics is Friday, September 18th. This is the first day of the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The League Principals voted to leave the start date up to the individual school. Therefore, some schools will begin practices on September 18 and others on Monday, September 21.

2. Sport Offerings – Guidelines from DESE/EEA/MIAA allowed schools to play Golf, Field Hockey, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer and Volleyball. As other conferences have done, including Central MA, all of District 3, and the Tri-Valley League, the Hock Schools agreed it would be best to move Volleyball to the new Fall 2 “wedge season” which will start on February 22. The Hock realizes the reality of many schools starting in a remote-only structure, keeping buildings closed, as well as hybrid schools not having appropriate access to their gymnasiums.

3. Out-of-Season Coaching – The MIAA approved Out-of-Season Coaching from September 18th to July 3rd. This in fact would allow any and all athletic programs to run practices all year. In order to minimize the amount of student extracurricular activity and limit student cohort interactions, the Principals voted for the League to continue to follow the MIAA Handbook guidelines on out-of-season coaching until at least November 1.

4. Football, Volleyball, Unified Basketball and Competitive Cheer Practice – These sports have been moved to officially practice and compete in the Fall 2 season that begins on February 22. In similar fashion to the motion above on out-of-season-coaching, the Principals approved the motion to govern these four sports under the MIAA Handbook guidelines. There will be no practices conducted for these sports until the issue is re-investigated on or before November 1.

5. Spectators
In an effort to organize the safest athletics experience possible for our student-athletes, the Hockomock League will be following the most recent guidance that was issued by the MA Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In the most recent guidance, issued on August 13th, the following details are specific to spectators regarding “Outdoor Capacity Limits”:

No more than 50 people excluding players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers in the aggregate in, on, or surrounding any surface / playing area or start/finish lines at any one time, provided that there is adequate space for all players, coaches, referees, or facility/activity workers and spectators to maintain at least six feet of social distancing.

Spectators must wear facial coverings and maintain six feet of social distance at all times.

In order to enforce this STATE-MANDATED restricted attendance, the Hockomock League will only be allowing spectators associated with the host school into their facility. All spectators are strongly discouraged from traveling to away games, especially since they will not be allowed into the host school’s facility when they arrive. The method by which each host school chooses to admit, or not admit, fans will be decided at the individual District level.

Any adjustments which we are pursuing are being made in order to continue to provide a healthy and safe athletic environment for our student-athletes. We are asking our families and student bodies to respect these Board of Health limitations to spectators at sporting events.

We are grateful for the opportunity for our Fall athletes to return to the playing field. While the seasons are date-modified, the sectional and state tournaments cancelled, and the sports are modified for health and safety, the student athletes will gain competitive experience and learn life lessons in these challenging and difficult times. Our students will greatly benefit and t heir social and emotional health will prosper.

Sincerely,
The Hockomock League ADs

Mark Houle, Attleboro
Danny Erickson, Canton
Joe Cusack, Foxboro
Tom Angelo, Franklin
Gary Brown, King Philip
Mike Redding, Mansfield
Peter Boucher, Milford
Kurt Kummer, North Attleboro
Bill Matthews, Oliver Ames
Nick Schlierf, Sharon
Ryan Donahue, Stoughton
Mark Ottavianelli, Taunton

Attleboro’s Murphy Signs With NY Giants As An UDFA

Kyle Murphy
Former Attleboro Bombardier Kyle Murphy signed with the New York Giants on Saturday as an undrafted free agent. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
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Attleboro graduate Kyle Murphy didn’t hear his name called during the 2020 NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean the former Bombardier isn’t getting a chance to live out his dreams to play professional football.

Minutes after the seventh and final round concluded on Saturday evening, Murphy announced via his Twitter account that he had signed as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants.

Murphy shined for four years on the gridiron at Attleboro High, earning Hockomock League All Star honors as both a junior and a senior. He also played basketball at Attleboro High, earning all star honorable mention honors twice. He went on to play football for four years at the University of Rhode Island and was one of three Rams in consideration for this year’s draft along with receivers Isaiah Coulter and Aaron Parker.

Coulter was drafted by the Houston Texas and Parker reportedly signed with the Dallas Cowboys after the draft.

Murphy, a 6’3, 316-pound offensive lineman started at all three positions along the offensive line, including center, during his four-year career with the Rams. As a senior, he was selected as a team captain and was a two-time all-Colonial Athletic Association First Team selection. He was named to four All-America First Teams (Athlon Sports FCS Postseason, STATS FCS, Hero Sports, and Phil Steele FCS) and one All-America second team (Associated Press). He made 10 appearances as a freshman at URI and 11 in each of the past three seasons.

Check out some of Murphy’s highlights from this past season courtesy of ABC6.

Former Tiger Santos-Silva Declares For NBA Draft

Marcus Santos-Silva
Marcus Santos-Silva, pictured here in 2014 playing for Taunton, declared for the NBA Draft on Friday night. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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VCU forward Marcus Santos-Silva, who played with the Taunton boys basketball team for one season, announced on social media on Friday night that he is declaring for the NBA Draft, while keeping his NCAA eligibility.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA and that’s why I’ll be putting my name into the 2020 NBA Draft while maintaining my eligibility,” Santos-Silva said in the post. “I feel like it’s a perfect time for me to put my name in so I can get the feedback that I need to make a final decision. I am excited to take the next step in my career.”

Coming off a successful junior season in which he led the Rams in points (12.8), rebounds (8.9), and blocks (1.3), the 6’7″ Taunton-native was named tot he All-District Second Team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). He had 10 double-doubles and notched a career-high 34 steals, earning Atlantic 10 All-Academic Honors.

Santos-Silva played for Charlie Dacey at Taunton as a sophomore during the 2013-2014 season, helping the Tigers post a 13-3 league record for second place in the Kelley-Rex division. Taunton went 17-5 overall, falling to Brookline in double-overtime in the opening round of the state tournament. He went on to play for Bridgewater-Raynham as a junior before transferring to Vermont Academy.

NCAA rules allow players to declare for the NBA Draft while still maintaining eligibility. According to the NCAA, “College basketball players who request an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation, participate in the NBA combine and aren’t drafted can return to school as long as they notify their athletics director of their intent by 5 p.m. the Monday after the draft.” Santos-Silva can also withdraw prior to the draft and return to VCU for his senior season.

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2020 Hockomock League Boys Swimming All Stars

Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Boys Swimming All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Timothy Luc, Taunton

Hockomock League All Stars

Matthew Marcil, Attleboro
Javier Frestler, Canton
Matthew Thompson, Canton
Brendan LaPuma, Franklin
Bleddyn Titmuss, Franklin
James Wu, Franklin
Connor Eck, Franklin
Derek Whyte, King Philip
Jake Hokanson, King Philip
Cam Stringfellow, King Philip
Matthew Grough, King Philip
Aden Schwartz, Mansfield
Gill Hobart, Milford
Ted Stearns, Milford
Jacob Desmond, Milford
Josh Kravets, Milford
Liam Bennett, Milford
Patrick Parlon, North Attleboro
Colin Monahan, North Attleboro
Ben Turner, Oliver Ames
Anthony Carraggi, Oliver Ames
Nicholas Wang, Sharon
David Bai, Sharon
Daniel Schnitzer, Sharon
Thanh Tran, Sharon
Tyler Tran, Stoughton
Timothy Luc, Taunton
Brady Callahan, Taunton
Martin Dafov, Taunton
Matthew Heather, Taunton

Honorable Mentions:
Colton Mangion, Attleboro
Ben Guerini, Canton
Thomas Perry, Jr., Foxboro
Daniel Gurge, Franklin
John Dionis, King Philip
Michael Peel, Mansfield
Tammo Guid, Milford
Alex Rogers, North Attleboro
Cormac Ganshirt, Oliver Ames
Nikkil Kload, Stoughton
Jonathan Trinh, Taunton

2020 Hockomock League Boys Indoor Track All Stars

Below are the official 2020 Hockomock League Boys Indoor Track All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

David Peters, Stoughton

Hockomock League All Stars

Jonathan Chery, Canton
Zach Goldstein, Canton
Junior Sainvil, Canton
Cameron Sanchez, Canton
Deyontai Dennis, Canton
Nick Calitri, Franklin
Tyler Brogan, Franklin
Ryan Proulx, Foxboro
Michael Griffin, King Philip
Michael Norberg, King Philip
Eric DeLorenzo, King Philip
Nathan Farkash, King Philip
Noah Hurd, King Philip
Jovan Joseph, King Philip
Owen Mullahy, Mansfield
Andrew Williams, Mansfield
Jack Rivard, Mansfield
Emmett Ruote, North Attleboro
Kyle Sarney, Oliver Ames
Evan Connor, Stoughton
Anthony Pizzano, Stoughton
Clayton Rahaman, Stoughton
David Peters, Stoughton
Nathaniel Peters, Stoughton
Elisha Claude, Stoughton
Mark Edge, Stoughton
Christopher Ais, Stoughton
Jordan Emile, Stoughton
Patrick McManus, Sharon
Mason Benton, Sharon
Steven Westgate, Taunton

Honorable Mentions
Ethan Crosby, Attleboro
Kyle Downing, Canton
Adam Connolly, Foxboro
Camden Harrington, Franklin
Sean McCombs, King Philip
Mike Mullahy, Mansfield
Anthony Ghalbouni, Milford
Nick Taylor, North Attleboro
Rory McLaughlin, Oliver Ames
Mark Starovoytov, Sharon
Christian Ais, Stoughton
Ty Cali, Taunton

Canton Boys, Girls Hockey Teams Named Co-Champs

Canton hockeyByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
With both the boys and girls hockey teams set to play for state championships on Sunday night, Canton was ready to host its own version of a “Garden Party.”

But unfortunately, neither team will hit the ice at the TD Garden. In fact, none of the six hockey games scheduled for Sunday will happen after the MIAA decided to cancel them due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The MIAA also canceled all of the basketball state championship games scheduled for Saturday.

With the cancellations, all of the teams that were scheduled to play in the final are considered co-champions. The Canton girl’s hockey team shares the title with Wellesley while the boys share the crown with Lincoln-Sudbury.

There will be a lot of anger, frustration, and disappointment among other emotions. Time will tell if this incredibly tough — and rather unprecedented — decision the MIAA made was the best choice. While it’s hard to swallow, keeping student-athletes safe is and should always be a top priority.

“We understand this is disappointing news however, this decision was made in the best interests of all our student-athletes, schools and communities,” read a statement on the MIAA website. “Schools who would have been participating in the State Finals will be considered Co-Champions.”

It’s tough to put in words how unfair it is to take away this opportunity from those who have earned it. One thing is for sure, it’s heartbreaking for all of the players, coaches, and team personnel involved that started this journey together back in December with hopes of reaching this point, only to have that opportunity taken away.

“I’ve been in the locker room in the past trying to console players after a heartbreaking loss but when we found out about the decision after practice, it was like nothing I’ve had to do before,” said Canton boys head coach Brian Shuman. “Sadness, frustration, disappointment…the full gamut of emotions.

“I wish I had the right words to make them feel better.”

Over the past week, we’ve seen the professional sports leagues like the NBA and NHL postpone their current seasons due to the outbreak. The MIAA also announced that the start of the spring season will be pushed back at least two weeks.

As the week went on, school systems across Massachusetts starting to announce closures ranging from days to up to a month in some locations.

“It’s just really horrible for us and for our opponents,” Shuman said. “We both had remarkable seasons and we were both looking forward to closing it out on Sunday. It’s just really unfortunate, I’m really bummed out for the kids.”

The Bulldogs would have entered Sunday’s championship game with a record of 21-1-3, the lone loss coming to their opponent Lincoln-Sudbury back on February 12th. At the time, it snapped Canton’s 43-game unbeaten streak that dated back to the 2018-2019 season, a year in which the Bulldogs went undefeated and won the D2 State Championship.

While Shuman noted the goal was to always return to the Garden to try and defend the title, there has to be an extra layer of frustration that the Bulldogs won’t get a shot at avenging their lone blemish in a remarkable two-year stretch.

“The kids worked incredibly hard every single game, not just skating, passing, and shooting, but emotionally and mentally every single day was such a grind. Not just this season, but for two years. It requires such mental toughness and commitment. To go through that, and then to not have that final test or final opportunity to hopefully put the cherry in top of a remarkable run is overwhelming.”

Without the state championship game, it means the high school hockey careers have come to a close for over a dozen Bulldog seniors: Chris Lavoie, Tommy Vaughan, Jack Connolly, Dom Cammarata, Tommy Ghostlaw, Shane Marshall, Colby Ciffolillo, Timmy Kelleher, Owen Lehane, Johnny Hagan, Declan Pfeffer, Ronan O’Mahony, and Joe Cammarata.

The same goes for the six seniors on the girls’ team: Kaitlyn McLaughlin, Caroline Tourgee, Alexa Maffeo, Meg Aldrich, Rose Malloy, and Vicky Revanche.

It would have been the third trip in the past four years to the TD Garden for the Canton girls team. It would have been a chance for those seniors to skate together one last time, a chance to deliver the first state championship in program history.

Canton (19-1-4) would have entered Sunday’s D2 Final as the underdog against the top-seeded Raiders (22-1-0) but that hasn’t stopped the Bulldogs from winning before. Back in 2017 as the 14-seed, Canton gave a scare to top-seed Notre Dame Academy, and a year later, the Bulldogs nearly knocked off the Raiders in a one-goal game.

In the run up to the final, Canton outscored its three opponents 11-2 and knocked off #2 Norwell in the state semifinal.

Unfortunately, we won’t get to see if the third time would have been the charm for the Bulldogs.

7th Annual Charity Basketball Classic Canceled

Unfortunately, we are canceling this year’s Charity Basketball Classic, which was scheduled to take place this Friday night. Earlier today, Mansfield Public Schools announced it is restricting the use of facilities from outside groups in the wake of the State of Emergency declared by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker due to COVID-19. That means the MHS gym is unable for us to use on Friday night.

I reached out to a handful of other coaches and athletic directors in the Hockomock to see if another gym was available for Friday night. At this point, all of the schools we talked to, are following the same steps that Mansfield is and no gyms were available. With that considered, and out of an abundance of caution for the participants, volunteers, and attendees, we decided to cancel the event.

This decision was not made lightly, and it’s certainly a night that I know a lot of people looked forward to each year. Not only is it disappointing that we won’t be able to highlight all of the talent in the Hockomock League this year, it’s even more disappointing that we won’t be raising funds through admission to donate to the Mass Chapter of the ALS Association. We have an online fundraiser set up if you are looking for a way to make a donation.

– Ryan Lanigan
Editor-in-Chief
HockomockSports.com

Lynn English Ends Mansfield’s Playoff Run In State Semis

Mansfield boys basketball Sam Stevens
Mansfield senior Sam Stevens shoots over the defense of Lynn English’s Jack Rodriguez in the first half at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BOSTON, Mass. – It’s the patented fourth-quarter run that the Mansfield boys basketball team has put so many opponents away with.

Junior TJ Guy converted a putback and scored down low, sandwiching buckets around a three-pointer from Cincere Gill. After a steal, senior Sam Stevens drained a three off a feed from Drew Rooney, and then hit another from deep off a feed from Matt Boen to cap a 14-4 run in the final minutes of the game.

But this time, things were different. This run only cut into a large deficit created by Lynn English that proved to be too big of a hole for the Hornets.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Bulldogs, winners of the North sectional and defending D1 State champions, shined on both ends of the court from start to finish to earn a 74-58 win and a return trip to the state final.

“I thought defensively we did a good job following what we were trying to do, it’s just they are so talented at so many positions,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan.

The Bulldogs had their best offensive quarter in the opening eight minutes, scoring 22 points to build a five-point lead. By halftime, Lynn English led by 12, and the advantage balloon to as much as 23 in the fourth quarter before the Hornets finally found a consistent rhythm on offense, closing the gap over the final minutes.

The combination of 6’8” center Jean-Baptiste Mukeba (20 points) and 6’6” forward Ademide Badmus (eight points) was a matchup problem for Mansfield, which threw a handful of looks defensively in the post both before and after the entry pass.

And when the Hornets came with a double or fronted to deny the pass, the speed and playmaking ability of English’s guards — Jarnel Guzman (19 points) and Jack Rodriguez (20 points) — gave the Bulldogs second and third options.

Even when the Hornets slowed the guards, denied the entry passes, and played good defense, the Bulldogs got points out of eight of their 10 offensive rebounds.

“A lot of teams you play, maybe they have one good rebounder and they get an offensive rebound but they miss the putback…[Lynn English] didn’t miss the putbacks,” Vaughan said. “You over-rotate, you double the post, they throw out of it and you get the exact play you want but it doesn’t matter if its Guzman or the other two perimeter players, they are knocking down the three. And then their ability to get you off of the bounce, so at any point we have Sammy, TJ, and Chris [Hill] in at the same time, we have a big on a guard and they can expose that.”

For all the problems that the Bulldogs presented on the offensive end, there were equal issues on the defensive end. Mukeba and Badmus defended the post, turning easy looks into difficult takes. After hitting a trio of threes in the first quarter, Mansfield didn’t get many clean looks the rest of the way and had just one make on nine attempts between the second and third quarters.

After junior Matt Boen tormented the Bulldogs for 32 points in the regular-season matchup, the Bulldogs assigned Mason Jean-Baptiste to shadow Boen’s every move, almost attached at the hip to try and prevent a repeat performance.

“Teams don’t sustain that intensity [on defense] typically, you see it in the first quarter and you think you’ve weathered the storm, down by five,” Vaughan said. “And then all of a sudden you think you can make an adjustment or two in the second quarter but we just never got to that point, except maybe the last couple of minutes, we just never got comfortable and looked like a normal Mansfield team on offense. Some of that is execution, some of that is we were pressing because we got down so much, and some of it was just their defensive ability.”

Mukeba was the beneficiary of some handoffs down low, racing out to 10 points in the first half. Guzman was equally as dangerous, finding space to attack the rim or pull up for mid-range for nine points in the opening quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill hit on a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, the second one giving Mansfield a brief 8-7 lead — its last edge on the scoreboard. Boen scored his only points of the first half on a circus-like layup to start the second to make it 22-19 but an 8-0 burst from the Bulldogs pushed the lead to double-digits.










Gill (career-high 17 points), who was a huge boost off the bench all night for the Hornets, drained a three and Guy (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists) attacked for two more to make it 30-24 but Louis Rivera came off the bench and delivered Lynn English’s lone three of the half and sparked an 8-2 run to close the half with the Bulldogs ahead 38-26.

“We kind of prepared more for them trapping in the backcourt and their pressure and it kind of left us susceptible to the half court stuff,” Vaughan said. “I thought when we got good position, we kind of forced action which causes you to have bad possessions and it’s a bit of a snowball effect. They were locked in, ready to go to take stuff away. Every possession we had was not easy and that has a lot to do with their game plan and their execution.

“It’s tough because you can’t punish them. Everything you do, they have a guy that’s going to alter the shot. When normally you might get something as a layup, now it’s an altered shot so it’s that much more difficult to score.”

Mansfield went right to the heart of the Bulldog defense, with both Stevens (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Guy finding success attacking the rim. The Bulldogs called a timeout just 1:19 into the second half, and it paid off, resulting in a 10-4 boost over the next four minutes.

Lynn English took a 57-39 lead into the final quarter, and had its largest lead after a three from Guzman, a putback from Mukeba, and back-to-back drives from Rodriguez before the Hornets went on their run to make it 70-57 with two minutes to play.

“I thought their game plan was excellent in terms of denying Matty the ball, and when he did have it try to take away his left hand and make him work for everything he had,” Vaughan said. “They have three guards that can do it. Most teams have one or two defensive specialists, they’ve got three that can do it. And from a scheme standpoint, you overcome that and find a way to almost punish them, then you have to shoot over a 6’8 or 6’6 kid. It’s just a double whammy. You think you have great offense and then a shot gets blocked or altered.

“I think it starts with their game plan and scheme that their coach came up with and then it goes to their guard play with their speed and athleticism, and their commitment to defending, and then third you have the bigs altering shots once you finally break them down. I thought they played at a good pace where they didn’t over force it, they picked their spots to be effective. I think the combination of their patience and execution was a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield boys basketball wraps up its season at 23-4, half of its losses coming to the Bulldogs, one to rival and Central finalist Franklin, and one to Whitman-Hanson, who is competing in the D2 State Semifinal on Wednesday.

The Hornets also secured the program’s eighth straight Kelley-Rex division title. Mansfield graduates three seniors: Makhi Baskin, Rooney, and Stevens.

“It’s been great,” Stevens said of his two years as a starter for the Hornets. He finished with 782 career points. “It’s always disappointing when you don’t come out on top. Winning the South isn’t something to bat your eyes at so I’m proud of everything this team accomplished.”

Hagan Carries Canton To Second Straight South Title

Canton boys hockey Johnny Hagan
Canton senior Johnny Hagan battles for the puck against Bishop Feehan’s Tyler Ahmed in the first period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BOURNE, Mass. – For the first time in two years, the Canton boys hockey team found itself in unfamiliar territory.

With just 15 minutes left in the D2 South Sectional Final, the Bulldogs were knotted at 1-1 with the 15th-seeded Shamrocks of Bishop Feehan.

Dating back to the start of last year’s state tournament, it was the first time in eight playoff games that Canton did not lead entering the final period. And on top of that, it was the first time in that same stretch that the Bulldogs didn’t have a two-goal cushion with one period left.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But in a matter of 19 seconds, Canton’s #19 — senior forward and captain Johnny Hagan — broke the game wide open. Hagan scored twice in that time span, tacking on an empty netter late to finish with four goals to lead the Bulldogs to a 4-1 decision over the upset-minded Shamrocks.

With the win, Canton claims its second straight D2 South Sectional title and returns to the TD Garden to defend its D2 State Championship.

“For all the experience we have in that locker room, we haven’t had the experience of really have to grind out a third period and the end of a game in the playoffs the last two years,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “And that’s what they had to do tonight, they stepped up. All the credit in the world to Bishop Feehan, what a season they had. They are a heck of a team, well-coached, a lot of skill and they had a great run in the tournament.

“The playoffs so far, we’ve had our way against teams. We talked in-between periods how this is how it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be 1-1 going into the third in a championship game. We had to embrace that, we had to embrace the hard part of the game. I think the mentality went from being afraid to lose, to winning the final period. I think the switch in that mentality plus our second line and red line played great in the third, they set the tone for the third period.”

In last year’s playoffs, Canton led by an average of nearly four goals going into the final period of play. This year, the Bulldogs led by scores of 4-0 (against Taunton), 6-1 (against Medway) and 3-0 (against Whitman-Hanson) going into the final stanza.

Canton was close to taking a one-goal lead into the third when Hagan opened the scoring in the game with 2:25 left in the middle period. The senior converted a partial breakaway with a great low shot that beat the goalie five-hole to put the top-seeded Bulldogs ahead.

But Feehan needed just five seconds on the power play to knot the score. Jason Sullivan’s low show through traffic from the right circle found its way into the back of the net with just 30.4 seconds left in the middle frame.

With just 15 minutes to play, the Shamrocks were level with the Bulldogs.

“I think they outplayed us in the second,” Hagan said. “We came back into the locker room and decided as a team that we had 15 minutes left, it was in our own hands and that we control our own destiny. Feehan is a good team, if they did the seedings the right way [strength of schedule], they’d probably be a top-five seed. It’s a playoff game, it’s the South final so we knew it was going to be close.”

Similar to the first period, the Canton offense applied a lot of pressure over the course of the first couple of minutes of the third. The Bulldogs’ second line of Tommy Ghostlaw, Shane Marshall, and Timmy Kelleher set the tone with a couple of good chances early.

Senior defenseman Owen Lehane found Marshall for a shot in the slot with Kelleher screened, but Feehan goalie Ryan D’Amato (saves) was in position for the stop. Seconds later, Ghostlaw connected with Marshall, who dished it along to Kelleher for a shot but again D’Amato made the stop and then stuffed Marshall on the doorstep on the rebound.

Senior Chris Lavoie carried the puck into the zone down the left side and tossed it in front. With a handful of bodies in front, the puck popped free to Hagan and he buried his shot to make it 2-1 with 10:19 left in the game.

Hagan needed just 19 seconds to complete his hat trick, pinching down to the right corner and winning a battle. He carried the puck toward goal and picked the top corner on the near side to make it 3-1 with 10:00 to play.

“What a career he’d had…he’s arguably the greatest player that I’ve coached, one of the greatest athletes we’ve seen at Canton High,” Shuman said. “He’s a fierce competitor and he was going to go out there and do what he could in that third period.”










Bishop Feehan was limited to just three shots on goal in the third period but had a couple of serious chances. The Shamrocks stormed into the offensive zone just past the midway point with an odd-man rush but Bulldog defenseman Declan Pfeffer made a decisive sweeping motion to knock the puck free and break up the chance.

And the Shamrocks’ best chance, again on the stick of Sullivan, came with just over two minutes to go after a Bulldog turnover gave him an open look right in front but Joe Cammarata stood tall to deny the chance.

With just over a minute to go, Canton caught the Shamrocks in a line change and tacked on an empty net goal to seal the win.

While it was all Canton in the first period (15-5 advantage in shots on goal), the Bulldogs couldn’t break through. Lavoie, Hagan, and Donny McNeice all registered serious scoring chances in the opening minute, and sophomore Eamon Kelly had a nice shot saved with 10 minutes to go.

Senior Jack Connolly had a pair of shots from the blue line knocked down in front, and fellow defensemen Ronan O’Mahony and Sean Connolly also had bids turned aside.

Ghostlaw and Kelleher did their best but couldn’t solve D’Amato, the goalie making a toe save on Kelleher at the midway point. Hagan blasted a shot off the mask with five minutes to go, Kelly’s tip on a rip from Sam Carlino was denied with four minutes to go, and Lavoie dangled past a pair of defenseman only for his shot to be stopped.

After scoring seven goals on the Shamrocks in the regular season matchup, Canton was held to just one through two periods.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think these guys have done a good job of forgetting past games against teams. [Thomas Reilly] is a great player for them, a game-changer, and we didn’t see him the first time. Their goalie [Ryan D’Amato] was on a heck of a run and we didn’t see him the first time, so we knew it was going to be a different game. Plus they are just a really good team.

“We caught them on a bad night the first time around. We knew this would be a tough game. They are not a 15 seed…strength of schedule rankings they would be up higher…clearly one of the best teams in the south that deserved to be there at the end.”

Canton boys hockey (21-3-1) returns to the D2 State Championship game on Sunday at the TD Garden, with the time yet to be announced. The Bulldogs will take on either Triton or Lincoln-Sudbury, who battle for the North sectional title on Monday. Lincoln-Sudbury handed Canton its lone loss of the season in February (6-4 on February 12th).

Mansfield Rolls Past Brockton To Earn D1 South Title

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen goes up for a layup in the second half against Brockton in the D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – In the middle of the D1 South Sectional championship game, the Mansfield boys basketball team put on a clinic in front of a jammed pack crowd inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High.

For over eight minutes, the Hornets dominated on both ends of the court. It started with terrific defense, and more often than not, ended with an extra pass and an open look. The result was a runaway win for the top-seeded Hornets, a 78-65 decision over #2 Brockton.

It’s Mansfield’s second D1 South Sectional title in the past three seasons.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The guys seemed locked in,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “Anything they threw at us, we seemed to have an answer for it. I thought the ball movement was tremendous. Our ball movement is really good and when we move the basketball, I think a lot of different guys can contribute and that definitely happened in the second quarter.

“We start working on [the ball movement] in December, and around mid-January, I thought we were a kind of lackadaisical and guys were trying to get their own instead of running the offense. We just have to grind through those possessions to try and get to a point where it all seems to click. We always talk about playing our best in March and so far we are doing that.”

The momentum started with a 9-1 surge to end the opening quarter. After Brockton’s Isaac Lane drained a three-pointer to make it a two-point game at 13-11, the Hornets created a double-digit advantage with its late run.

Junior TJ Guy (six points, six rebounds) dished out one of his eight assists, finding classmate Brendan Foley wide open cutting to the basket for two. Junior Cincere Gill was fouled driving to the basket and hit two from the line, and junior Matt Boen (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored five straight points for a 22-12 advantage through eight minutes.

“A lot of times you see a team with that size, with that length, and that athleticism and guys seem to back up,” Vaughan said. “We want to go at them and find opportunities to score. Use the ball as your friend to move and get going in the offensive end.”

After finding success cutting to the basket, Mansfield found some space on the perimeter as both senior Sam Stevens (29 points, seven rebounds) and Boen drained early threes. That afforded Drew Rooney (10 points, six rebounds) space up the middle for a strong take and Guy turned an offensive board into a traditional three-point play, capping an 11-4 run for a 33-16 lead.

The Boxers converted a steal into points but Mansfield answered in the form of an 11-0 surge. Stevens started it with two free throws, Gill joined the three party with a triple of his own, and then Stevens splashed two more triples for a 44-18 lead.

Boen took a feed from Jack Colby and drained a three before Stevens added another one from deep as the Hornets took a 50-27 lead into halftime. In total, Mansfield hit nine first half three-pointers, including four apiece from Boen and Stevens.

“For us, we just have to trust the process,” Vaughan said. “If we do that, allow the game to come, we’ll settle into what we need to do and I think that makes a big difference for our comfort level. Then kids can go out there and make plays. It felt like we could score on every possession in the first half.

“They wanted to take away the perimeter, take away Matty and deny Sammy the ball. That let Drew get some easy baskets early, TJ could have had a couple more. That allowed more of our guys to get comfortable. Once they get comfortable, Sammy and Matty can get going.”

Brockton played better in the third quarter, hitting six field goals from the floor including three from deep. But Mansfield was quick to match the Boxers, as Stevens accounted for 10 of the Hornets’ 16 points in the quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill had a pair of finishes at the end of the press break and Rooney added a putback for the Hornets, Stevens had a three, hit five free throws, and drained a contested elbow jumper at the buzzer as Mansfield carried a 66-44 lead into the fourth.

“Sam has had a great second half of the year and a lot of that is from settling in and trusting his teammates,” Vaughan said. “It’s about understanding that he can pass up on an early shot to get one going. Once he starts doing that and feeling good, you trust him to take that early shot. And when he’s making them, you can play off of him a little bit and that makes a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield’s lead hovered around 20 for the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter, a bucket from Hill on a feed from Boen giving the Hornets a 70-51 lead.

But Brockton kept it interesting with a bit of a late run. An 8-1 run made it 71-59 with just over two minutes to play, and the Boxers in possession. Brockton hit just one of two from the line and Boen came down the other end and converted through contact, completing a three-point play to essentially ice the win.

Mansfield boys basketball (advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the D1 North champion on Tuesday at the TD Garden at 7:15. Lowell (22-0) and Lynn English (21-2) meet on Saturday night in the D1 North Sectional final.