North Attleboro vs. Dartmouth, 7:30
Milford, 12 @ Norwood, 14 – Final – Milford pulled level with just a couple of minutes left in the contest but a quick three goal surge from Norwood proved to be the difference. The Mustangs played from ahead throughout the game but then Hawks pulled even at 11-11 with six minutes to go. But Norwood responded with a 3-0 burst and that ended up as the difference as the two squads split the season series. Emily Croteau led the way with four goals, two assists and a strong showing on ground balls. Aislinn Bennett scored five goals to tie the program’s all-time scoring record (held by Emily Haley) with 107 goals. Aliza Syed, Stephanie Goulet and Carly Haley had one goal apiece for Milford and Caitlyn Bangert made seven saves.
Milford @ Taunton, 4:30
Oliver Ames, 4 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Oliver Ames freshman Hannah Farber rallied from a one-set deficit to take the second set in a tiebreaker and then the match in a third-set tiebreaker, helping the Tigers take a 4-1 win over North Attleboro. Farber secured a 1-6, 7-2 (2), 13-11 win while Elizabeth O’Brien added a 6-0, 6-1 third singles win for OA. Caroline Peper and Morgan Vasiliou continued their strong season with a 6-1, 6-4 first doubles victory, and the tandem of Marina Mierzwinski and Olivia Querzoli earned a 6-0, 6-4 win at second doubles. North Attleboro’s Grace Noreck captured a 6-3, 6-1 win at second singles.
Taunton, 4 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Taunton took two wins from both singles and doubles action to secure a win on the road over Milford. Senior Kayla Parrett battled to a 7-6 (1), 6-0 win at first singles and junior Brooke Bell took a 6-1, 6-4 victory at second singles for the Tigers. The team of sophomores Morgan Smith and Janelle Garcia earned a 7-5, 6-1 first doubles victory, and the duo of Sam Parrett and Rylie Roderick emerged from second doubles with a 6-0, 6-0 verdict. Milford junior Serena Borges prevailed with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (2) win at third singles.
Milford, 0 vs. Westfield, 3 – Final
TAUNTON, Mass. — After suffering a tough extra-innings loss on Saturday night, the King Philip softball team showed up an hour early to practice the next morning eager to bounce back.
On Monday night, the Warriors stayed extra late to get the job done against Taunton.
Junior Sarah Cullen clubbed a two-out single up the middle on a full count in the top of the seventh to bring in the tying run to keep the Warriors alive, and King Philip went on to score two runs in the top of the 10th inning to emerge with a key 4-2 win on the road over the Tigers.
With the score knotted at 2-2 since Cullen’s hit in the top of the seventh, King Philip finally broke the deadlock in the 10th inning. Sophomore Ava Kelley led off with a double to the gap in left center and junior Ava Lanza followed with a double to left field to bring in the go-ahead run. Kelley fouled off a bunt on the first pitch but then took a slap approach, finally getting one to fall in fair territory after fouling three consecutive pitches off.
“The plan was if she didn’t get it down on the first one then to take advantage of whatever the defense was giving,” Fallon-Comeau said. “She saw the third baseman was in so she went with the slap and she found a hole to left to bring [Kelley] in.”
Meg Sherwood smacked one to right center that dropped, allowing Lanza to come home to double the lead.
Sophomore Jordan Bennett tossed a complete game for the Warriors and retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, getting her 10th strikeout for the final out.
“I told my assistant Bri [Sebio] before the inning that if we could get to Sarah, we would tie the game,” said KP head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau.
Freshman Liv Petrillo (3-for-5) started the rally in the top of the seventh with a leadoff double but KP couldn’t move her any closer after a bunt was popped up and another bid was caught at shortstop.
That set the stage for Cullen, who ended up in the nine-hole after Fallon-Comeau shuffled her lineup heading into the contest. Cullen was without a hit in her first two at-bats but made solid contact both times and Taunton played good defense both times.
“I just had a feeling, she had been hitting it well so far today,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I moved her out of the leadoff because I wanted to take the pressure off of her, it’s a tough spot. She’s been there since the beginning of the year and got into a little slump so just a chance of perspective, change of pitches…we wanted to get her up to bat with someone on base.
“She had been striking it well all day, it was just about finding a hole at some point. She just needed to believe in herself and get it done, and she did. And then she made that spectacular catch in center field too [in the 8th inning].”
King Philip sophomore catcher Maddie Paschke ended a threat in the bottom of the sixth by throwing a runner out trying to steal third. After that, Bennett allowed just one hit — a leadoff single to junior Ava Venturelli in the bottom of the sixth.
Bennett retired the next three batters she faced and went on to retire the side in order in the final four innings.
“She’s always unfazed, no matter what the score is,” Fallon-Comeau said. “She kind of just chipped away in the circle, they were hitting her early on but I felt like somewhere in the middle of the game she settled down. She was focused and lasered in and really started to hit her spots. I thought she did a great job.”
Taunton jumped ahead right out of the gate. Freshman Cate Larson (10 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) worked around a leadoff single from Kelley to strand a runner at second in the top half of the first, and the Tigers’ offense cashed in on its first chance.
Kyleah Plumb reached on an infield error after a bunt and took third on the same throwing error. Kaysie DeMoura followed two at-bats later with a well-hit ball up the middle for an RBI and an early 1-0 lead.
Larson retired the Warriors in order in both the second and third innings and Taunton took advantage once again after Plumb reached from the leadoff spot. This time it was a single, a sac bunt from Brooke Aldrich, an infield error, and a double steal that brought Plumb home to make it 2-0.
KP cut the deficit in half the next half inning as Taylor Regan reached on a fielder’s choice, took second on a single from Charlotte Raymond, and came around to score on a single up the middle from Petrillo.
“Any time we get to play them, we love it and it’s always a great game,” said Taunton head coach Carrie Consalvi. “We were missing some key players tonight so I’m proud of them for hanging around with [KP] and playing 10 innings with them. [Larson] has maybe pitched a max of four innings in one game this year so for her to go 10 innings was impressive.
“But you can’t expect to score one or two runs and expect to beat KP. They are scrappy and they just keep plugging along. It was the first game in a while our offense went quiet but we’ll look to bounce back.”
Taunton (10-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) is back in action under the lights on Wednesday against Franklin. King Philip softball (11-0, 13-2) has the inside track to the Kelley-Rex division title but Fallon-Comeau said the focus remains solely on their next opponent, Mansfield.
“We still have a lot of games left so we didn’t talk about the division,” Fallon-Comeau said. “We have to just keep playing hard, this isn’t it. We still have a lot of Hock games left against good teams so we still have a lot of work to do.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Oliver Ames senior Jack Richardson had strike three called for the final out of the top of the fifth inning and headed to the dugout with five shutout innings under his belt.
But an umpiring mistake on the third strike, which was dropped with runners on first and third, ended up being corrected and it put the batter on first to load the bases instead of the third out.
Oliver Ames baseball
Milford cashed in when sophomore Keith Lee snuck a grounder up the middle to plate two to make it 5-2, and the tying run came to the plate. But Richardson quickly jumped ahead of the next batter and induced a fly ball to left that was hauled in by a sliding Ian Kelly to get the third out, again.
That was the only damage done by the visiting Scarlet Hawks, as OA junior reliever Andrew Zagami pitched out of a bases-loaded threat an inning later and the Tigers secured a 5-2 win at Frothingham Park.
“We try to do one thing at a time and we focus on what we can control,” said Oliver Ames head coach Joe Abarr. “We don’t let the calls influence us, we ignore what’s going on in the stands, we just focus on the next pitch and try and be as competitive as possible. And I think Jack has bought into that completely. You see it at the plate, he’s unshakable in the box. He’s been a tremendous leader for us at the plate, on the mound, he’s been phenomenal.”
Richardson (5IP, 2R, 0ER, 4H, 2BB, 10K) worked around a leadoff walk (erased by catcher Nathan Carpentier at second) in the first, stranded runners at second and third with a big strikeout in the second, and retired the side in order in the top of the third.
OA left a runner at second in both the first and second innings but finally broke through in the bottom of the third. Nathanial Lewis reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on a single from Patrick Finnerty. Lewis came in to score on a single from Ian Kelly, and both Finnerty and Kelly moved up a bag on the throw.
A walk to Jake Waxman loaded the bases and Richardson came through to help his own cause, smacking a single to bring in two runs. Two batters later, Joe Cicchetti was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Carpentier connected on a two-out single to bring in two more runs for a 5-0 lead.
“I think we’re getting a little more confident at the plate, we had good at-bats both yesterday (at Canton) and today,” Abarr said. “And it’s getting to be contagious too. Now we have a little bit of a gap until our next game next week so we have to keep that mindset rolling until then.”
Oliver Ames baseball
Milford sophomore Anthony LaPierre (6IP, 5ER, 7H 3BB, 4K) bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning, stranding runners at first and second.
LaPierre finished the game strong, only allowing three Tigers to reach in the final three innings. The tall righty sat the home side down in order in the fourth, erased a walk with a 6-3 double play by shortstop Damien Carter to first baseman Evan Cornelius, and ended the inning with a fly ball to center after an infield single from OA’s Jack Muir.
“I thought Anthony LaPierre did a really good job for his first varsity start as a sophomore, before and after that inning really settling down keeping them five to give us an opportunity,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “Obviously we didn’t capitalize on it, but for his first varsity start, I was impressed with that.
“I think we’re seeing some growing pains right now, when we have the opportunity to make a play, we just aren’t making. We were a play or two away from getting out of that inning with two runs instead of five, and then it’s a different game.”
After OA’s big third inning, Cornelius drew a one-out walk but Richardson got all three outs via strikeout.
“I told him that was one of the best high school pitching performances that I’ve seen,” Abarr said. “He had great stuff, he had swing and miss stuff, but he was willing to attack and get those swinging strikes. And he himself made a couple tremendous defensive plays. I give him a tremendous amount of credit and I think the rest of the guys saw what he was doing and bought into it.”
An infield error allowed Ian Carter to reach in the top of the sixth for the Hawks and a passed ball and wild pitch moved him all the way to third. After Tyler Lane drew a walk, the Tigers went to their second reliever of the day in junior Andrew Zagami.
Zagami got the second out with a pop-up to the shortstop Jack Morley but a two-out walk to Grant Scudo loaded the bases for the Hawks, with Scudo representing the tying run at first. Zagami induced a grounder to third and got the force out at the bag to escape any damage.
Zagami closed the game by retiring the side in order in the top of the seventh.
“He fills up the strike zone, that’s his thing,” Abarr said of Zagami. “He’s worked on holding runners and looked pretty good today in that regard. He loves baseball, he wants to get out and throw strikes, work with his catching staff, and he went out there and did exactly what we needed him to do today.”
Oliver Ames baseball (4-1 Hock, 4-1 overall) is off until next Wednesday when it hosts non-league foe Dighton-Rehoboth at Frothingham. Milford (2-2, 2-2) returns home for a date with Mansfield on Friday.
TAUNTON, Mass. — In a back-and-forth seesaw battle between two of the top teams in the Hockomock League, the Taunton baseball team emerged with a quality win over visiting Franklin.
Franklin built a pair of leads but Taunton erased both of them, using a three-run fifth inning to take the lead for good in a 7-5 win.
The Panthers seized a 2-0 edge in the top of the second inning only for the Tigers to answer with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Franklin’s offense struck for two runs in the third to tie it and took the lead once again with a single run in the fourth, but Taunton rallied for a second time by plating three runs in the fifth.
“We knew we were going to be in for a good one today,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “Franklin is always a perennial powerhouse so we knew what we were getting into. I told them the guys before the game they might get punched in the mouth, and I wanted to see how they’d respond. I was really proud of them for having good, quality at-bats. We were moving guys over, hitting the ball hard, putting pressure on them.
“It’s a great group, really hard working. I can’t say enough about the camaraderie, really happy to be coaching them.”
Trailing 5-4 and down to the final nine outs in the bottom of the fifth, junioe Dawson Bryce hustled down the first base line and slid in head-first for a leadoff infield single. Two pitches later, junior Ryan MacDougall smacked his second single of the day to put the go-ahead run on base.
Senior Colby DeCouta delivered the biggest of the game, driving a double to the outfield to bring in both runs for a 6-5 lead. An error allowed DeCouta to move up to third and two batters later, junior Brady Boucher laid down the squeeze bunt to bring DeCouta home for a key insurance run.
“It’s about piecing things together, and we had some fundamental baseball with some small ball,” Bourque said. “We work on it quite a bit and even though Brady’s hitting the ball pretty well, we felt like we wanted to make sure we get that run across and he did a great job and it was great execution, both Brady’s bunt, and Colby’s read. Having that two-run lead is huge, that’s really important. That comes from doing the little things.
“I give a lot of credit to Colby, he’s the leader on the team right now. He got them together and got them going, making sure we were confident in our ability to come back. I think we have one of the better offensive teams that we’ve had in a while. Colby’s a leader behind the plate, and on the bench, and he deserves a lot of credit for making sure, mentality-wise and confidence-wise, that they could come back.”
MacDougall, who took over in the top of the fourth inning, stranded a runner on third with a strikeout to end the sixth inning. Franklin kept fighting until the end, as Ben Jarosz (walk) and Henry Digiorgio (single) both reached with two outs but MacDougall ended the game with his seventh strikeout.
MacDougall finished with just one run allowed, as the first batter he faced — Ryan Gerety — singled and scored on a base hit by Evan Raider. The only other hit he allowed was to Digiorgio just before the final out.
Taunton senior Evan Cali started on the mound and pitched three solid innings, allowing four runs but just two earned while striking out three.
“We don’t really have that number one [pitcher],” Bourque said. “Evan’s a great pitcher, Ryan’s a great pitcher but in years past, we’ve had college-level pitching, we don’t have that this year. So we’re going to have to trust our defense, put the ball in play, and help them out as much as we can. We need the pitchers to throw strikes and they did that today.
“Evan did a great job keeping us in the game early, his pitch count started to get a little high. Ryan came in and did really well. We were able to come back and put a couple runs on the board.”
Jarosz laced a one-out double in the top of the second and came around to score two at-bats later on a double from Joe Tirrell. Gerety followed with a hard hit ball over the right fielder’s head for a triple, scoring speedy courtesy runner Luke Sidwell to make it 2-0.
Braden Sullivan led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk and moved to third on a base hit by Shawn Cali, who took second on the throw. A ground ball snuck past third and stayed fair for Boucher, bringing Sullivan home. Jack Gobin followed with a base hit of his own to tie the game, and Andrew Cali reached safely on a bunt.
With the bases loaded, Evan Cali brought a run home on a fielder’s choice with the force out at second. Bryce added another single for the Tigers, bringing Taunton’s fourth run of the inning home.
Franklin chipped away at the lead right away as Raider and Eisig Chin both reached on infield errors by the Tigers. Jase Lyons made them pay with an RBI single to right field to cut the deficit down to one. With runners on the corners and two outs, Digiorgio delivered a single to bring the tying run home to make it 4-4.
Franklin starter Jacob Jette (4.1IP, 9H, 4K, 1BB) retired the side in order in the bottom of the third, sandwiching a pair of fly balls to the outfield around a web gem of a catch from Jarosz at third.
Gerety singled, Jack Marino walked, both runners moved up on a ground out from Chris Goode, and Raider drove one up the middle to bring Gerety home to give Franklin its second lead of the game, 5-4.
“This is always a tough place to come play, they have a great club,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We knew coming into the game it was going to be back-and-forth, you know that’s real competition. They do good things, we do good things. Unfortunately at the end of the pendulum today, they had the upper hand.
“But what I really liked from our guys is they kept fighting. They could have folded but even down to two outs, we were scrapping and clawing to get the tying run on base with a chance there at the end. It didn’t go our way today but we’ll learn from it and hopefully, it will fuel our desire to continue to work hard during practice and heighten our attention to detail.”
Taunton baseball (3-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) will hit the road on Wednesday for a trip to Canton. Franklin (3-1, 3-1) is on the road again on Wednesday with a trip to Community Field to take on North Attleboro on tap.
PLAINVILLE, Mass. — After missing a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, King Philip made sure to take advantage of its opportunity with the game on the line an inning later.
Senior Meg Sherwood (2-for-4, home run) led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple down the right field line and sophomore Ava Kelley followed with her first hit of the game, a sharp single up the middle to give the Warriors a 5-4 walk-off win over Taunton, snapping the Tigers’ 21-game win streak.
“I think they know how big of a win this is but I told them they can enjoy it from the rest of the night, but we’re right back to work tomorrow,” said King Philip head coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “We have 20 regular season games to go, we have to take it one game at a time.
“We just put a big bullseye on our back and everybody is coming for us now.”
Taunton took the lead with a three-run first inning only for King Philip to quickly erase it with three runs of its own in the bottom half. The Tigers grabbed their second lead of the game with a run in the top of the fourth inning but once again, the Warriors had the answer and pulled even again.
The host Warriors had a chance to take their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after freshman Liv Petrillo was hit by a pitch and Maddie Paschke reached on an error after a bunt. But Taunton freshman Cate Larson (3IP, 5H, 3ER, 6K 0BB), who came on in relief in the fourth inning, sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around another sac bunt to strand runners at second and third.
King Philip sophomore starter Jordan Bennett (7IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 6K, 0BB) fielded a grounder for the first out of the top of the seventh and then got back-to-back outs against the top of the Taunton lineup to set up the Warriors’ walk-off.
“We kind of did it a little bit in the tournament last year where we’d go down and come back so I love that about them, they are very resilient and they don’t get fazed by being down,” Fallon-Comeau said of coming back from a pair of deficits. “They make the plays they need to and know they can dig out of it.
“I wish we didn’t give up the runs first, but that’s softball for you. It should be a back-and-forth, that’s a sign of a great game. But I love that they are so resilient.”
While it ended how KP wanted, it wasn’t an ideal start. Angie Lynch smacked a hard grounder in the infield for a single and then Kaysie DeMoura’s sac bunt wasn’t fielded cleanly, sending Lynch to third. After DeMoura stole second, Brooke Aldrich reached first on a fielder’s choice with Lynch safe at home.
Aldrich followed suit with a stolen base and a ground out from Ava Venturelli brought DeMoura home, and then a hard-hit single to left field from Hayley Krockta brought Aldrich in. Bennett induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
It didn’t take long for King Philip to muster up a response. Junior Sarah Cullen laced a double to right and Ava Lanza reached safely on a bunt to put runners on the corner. After Taunton starter Liv Mendonca (3IP, 5H, 3ER, 6K 0BB) got a strikeout, Sherwood launched a home run deep over the left field fence to make it 3-3.
“We needed this, this team needed like this because we’ve kind of been sleepwalking,” admitted Taunton head coach Carrie Consalvi. “I’m glad we had this moment and it will feed some hunger. [King Philip] is our equal, they are a great team that’s well-coached and I think both teams played hard until the end. I think we needed this.”
Taunton nearly went back ahead in the top of the second after a bunt from Kyleah Plumb and an error allowed Kylie Thorpe to reach to put runners on the corner. But KP catcher Maddie Paschke gunned the runner down at second, and after a dropped third strike, Paschke got the out at first and first baseman Taylor Regan quickly fired it back home to catch the runner in a pickle for the third out.
Krockta started the top of the fourth inning with a bang, launching a 3-1 pitch deep over the fence in center to put the Tigers back ahead. Plumb had a one-out double but Bennett got back-to-back strikeouts to limit the damage.
Paschke got a fly ball to drop in shallow center for a one-out single and Cullen followed with her second double of the game. Bennett came up for her first at-bat as the flex and dropped down the squeeze bunt to bring in the tying run in the form of courtesy runner Olivia Ali. Larson stranded the runner at third with a pop up to left.
“We aren’t leaning on just one player, they are spreading it around. Meg, a senior captain, had the big home run and then of course the triple. I wanted to go with squeeze [for Ava] but didn’t want to go on the first pitch, and they were ready, so you’re playing a little mind game.
“But we still have a lot of work to do and [Taunton] is going to get better, they absolutely are.”
It’s the second time that Fallon-Comeau has snapped a lengthy Taunton winning streak. Back in 2019 as the head coach at Franklin, she led the Panthers to a 2-1 upset win that ended a 28-game win streak. That was also the last time Taunton lost to a division opponent.
King Philip softball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is scheduled to return to action on Thursday with a trip to visit the Black Knights of Stoughton (2-1). Taunton (1-1, 1-1) will look to start a new winning streak on Friday when it visits Sharon.
LOWELL, Mass. — Legendary Oliver Ames head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook likes to describe her squad as a puzzle, the players fitting together to create a true team.
The Tigers temporarily lost one of the pieces to its puzzle in the middle of February when senior Anna Murphy was forced out of action with a concussion in a win over Foxboro.
Murphy didn’t play the final four games of the regular season, which included two of OA’s three losses this entire year, missed the first-round win over North Middlesex, and saw very little action in the playoff rematch with Foxboro, essentially missing a half dozen games to close the season.
“It was difficult, I just remember thinking how bad I wanted to be back, I really wanted to be back but I wasn’t getting better as quick as I wanted to but I wanted to be ready for the tournament,” Murphy said. “And Laney knew that too, she kept telling me to take my time. It took a little longer than I wanted, even though it wasn’t the same as before, it worked out perfectly fine.
“It was unfortunate because I had to stay indoors, I missed everyone so much. I was FaceTiming them at the pasta dinners…it was unfortunate it happened but I think it helped us grow and it made me appreciate the time I had with all of them. It makes me sad to think it’s over now.”
Now back in the fold, Murphy played a vital role in helping Oliver Ames clinch the Division 2 State Championship with a 53-48 win over previously undefeated Norwood.
“Getting her back, absolutely completed [the puzzle],” Clement-Holbrook said. It broke our heart that she missed six games because of that concussion. It was just like God looking over our shoulders and this made things right. The fact that she contributed in that way, especially tonight, it was like all the pieces were back together.
“I always talk about a puzzle, we are one big puzzle. Just because someone’s piece is bigger or someone’s is smaller, if you pull it out, it’s not a complete puzzle anymore.”
The senior reserve has been a big boost in the early goings throughout the playoff run, getting six points in the win over Dracut and adding a basket in the first half of OA’s overtime thriller against Medfield in the state semifinals.
It continued on Saturday night at the Tsongas Center, converting a layup in the first quarter for a 15-10 lead, and then adding a floater (20-14) and a putback in the second, the latter bucket giving the Tigers a 24-21 lead at halftime.
“We absolutely missed her,” said classmate Caroline Peper. “With her out it was a missing part of our team. Even in the Medfield game, we knew she was going to be the key component that was missing in our previous games. We knew she was going to make a great impact and just needed to do what she was doing before she left.”
While her offensive contributions in the first half were important, her points in the fourth were gigantic for the Tigers. OA was forced into some lineup changes due to foul trouble, and the Norwood defense was zoned in on stopping Peper and sophomore Jasmyn Cooper. That left plenty of opportunity for others to step up and Murphy took advantage.
She hit nothing but net on a tough elbow jumper with under four minutes to play that put the Tigers ahead 44-38. And she wasn’t rattled by the bright lights or loud crowd either as she sank a pair of free throws to make it 48-43 with two minutes to go.
“She’s so consistent, such a great role model,” Cooper said. ”She gives us great energy off the court and on the court. It really brings the energy up in the gym.”
The Mustangs battled back into the game, a quick 5-1 burst capped by a strong take from Erin Reen got the top-seed within one with 25.9 seconds left. After missing the free throw, Murphy hauled in a huge defensive rebound and was fouled.
Cool as a cucumber, the senior sank both free throws to push OA’s lead back to three at 51-48 with 21 seconds left in the game. OA got a final stop and Peper iced the game with two free throws with just seconds left.
“I think everyone believes in everyone else on this team, which is amazing,” Murphy said. “We’re all so skilled and developed players that we aren’t afraid to take it when we need to. Pep was being guarded like crazy, Kaydance [Derba] was in foul trouble, and it’s those times that the whole team works together. At that point, it was just finding the open player.”
On top of her offensive showing, Murphy had her hands full on the defensive side. Classmate Hailey Bourne, one of the best defenders in the region, picked up two fouls early on and battled foul trouble all game. That meant Murphy was tasked with guarding Villanova-commit and 1,000-point scorer Megan Olbrys.
QUINCY, Mass. — For the first time in over a decade, the Oliver Ames girls basketball team is heading back to the Division 2 State championship game.
The third time proved to be the charm for the Tigers against Medfield as Oliver Ames, who had lost back-to-back games to the Warriors at the end of the regular season, emerged from a hard-fought battle with a 62-59 overtime win to earn a spot in the D2 Final.
The victory wasn’t secure until the last second — all tenths of it — ticked off the clock and the final buzzer sounded in overtime. The journey to get there was full of twists and turns, punches and counter punches, and momentum swings you couldn’t script in a Hollywood thriller.
“When you play the same team three times, all sorts of things happen,” said Oliver Ames head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “You’re just so very familiar with each other and what each other does…it comes down to execution. There were moments I thought we had it, and then there were times we made it a little too easily for them. But the thing I’m most proud of is their resiliency because they didn’t quit, they didn’t give up, and they came back.”
While Medfield had the edge for the first two quarters, Oliver Ames surged ahead during the second half. But even with some big runs, the Tigers couldn’t quite put the Warriors away in regulation.
Similar to their 10-0 run in the third quarter, Oliver Ames hit its stride in the fourth quarter and looked poised to run away with the win. The Tigers rattled off a 13-6 run over a four-minute span, a triple from sophomore Kaydance Derba (nine points, four assists) shortly after OA broke the press put OA ahead 51-43 with two minutes to go in the game.
But similar to how the Warriors responded to OA’s big run in the third (a 7-0 run of their own), Medfield quickly turned the game on its head. Ann McCarthy (28 points, eight rebounds) drew back-to-back fouls for four straight free throws. After a traveling call on OA, McCarthy attacked the rim for two more to make it a two-point game.
Medfield kept the pressure up and forced another turnover and McCarthy splashed in a triple to complete a personal 9-0 run as the Warriors suddenly jumped ahead 52-51 with under a minute to go.
Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA had a shot blocked and then turned it over on the ensuing inbounds play, giving Medfield the ball with the lead and just 19.1 seconds to go.
There was no quit in the Tigers as both senior Hailey Bourne (three steals, three blocks) and sophomore Jasmyn Cooper (14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals) read the inbounds play perfectly and combined for the steal. Cooper found classmate Sarah Hilliard (six points, 10 rebounds, four assists), who alertly dished it off to senior Caroline Peper (26 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) for an easy layup and OA was back up 53-51 with 12 seconds to go.
Bourne came up with a steal on Medfield’s ensuing inbounds but after a foul, the Warriors got a steal of their own, and McCarthy was fouled. The Medfield star hit the first to tie the game but was short on the second. OA grabbed the rebound, was fouled instantly but their 1-and-1 chance from the line with 0.2 seconds left was off and the game headed to overtime.
“I want to give kudos to our crowd,” Clement-Holbrook said. “We’ve had a couple of the boys come to practice with us the last week and they showed up and brought more people, and they were so important. Those foul shots at the end, I just kind of turned to them and they ramped up the noise. That’s high school basketball.
“These kids just love to play, the senior class has been absolutely amazing in terms of paying it forward for these young kids. They are demonstrating the right things, saying and doing the right things, both on and off the court. I’m so proud of them.”
After each team hit a free throw to open overtime, Cooper came down with an offensive board and put it back in to give the Tigers a 56-54 lead. A baseline make from Medfield tied it but Derba fired a beautiful bullet pass to Cooper cutting to the rim for two and another lead.
Although OA got a stop, the Tigers turned it over trying to take it over half. Bourne had another terrific play, coming up with a block that was called a jump ball, and OA had the possession arrow.
The Tigers couldn’t add to the lead and McCarthy came back with another layup to tie it, but Peper was fouled and went to the line in the double bonus.
She sank both.
Medfield answered with one of their own, but with under 30 seconds to go, the Warriors had to foul and OA made sure to get the ball to Peper.
She sank both, again.
“Yeah, that’s a situation I want to be in, that was the plan to get the ball,” Peper said. “I’m pretty confident in my free throw shooting, I shoot a lot of them in practice. I was ready to be in that position.”
With a 62-59 lead, the Tigers got another final stop, and one last halfcourt heave from the Warriors was off the mark to seal the win.
“When it went to the situation in overtime where they had to foul, we want Peper at the line,” Clement-Holbrook said. “She’s got ice in her veins. We wanted her to get her hands on the ball.”
Oliver Ames saw a pair of eight-point leads disappear, once in each quarter. The latter putting the Tigers just seconds away from a defeat, but Bourne credited her teams’ resiliency for being able to bounce back.
“We never put our heads down, we just kept going,” Bourne said. “Even when there was just one second left on the clock, we never put our heads down. We all came together and just really looked at each other and said, ‘We got this.’ No one dropped their head at all. I think that just goes to show how determined we are.
“It’s very hard to beat a good team three times and we felt like we had nothing to lose.”
It was a slow start on the offensive end for the Tigers, who got early baskets from Cooper and Peper, and a late one from Anna Anna Murphy but trailed 12-6 after a quarter.
Oliver Ames girls basketball
Once OA was able to get its outside scoring going, the offense opened up. Peper hit a pair of triples and Derba added one of her own to get the Tigers within one. After Medfield responded, Peper hit nothing but net on another triple, and Cooper found Hilliard down low for two as the Tigers cut the deficit to 24-22 at the break.
“[Peper] and Kaydance got the offense going,” Clement-Holbrook said. “We wanted to get the ball inside but Medfield did a great job of taking it away, there was not a lot of space. I have three sophomores in my starting lineup, so this was really their first time with this environment. Just from an emotional standpoint, the noise, the crowd, I thought they handled themselves beautifully.”
Hilliard returned the favor to Cooper three minutes into the second and that sparked a 10-0 run for OA. Peper hit another three and then found Maddie Homer for a layup. A steal from Hilliard ended up with yet another three from Peper and the Tigers surged ahead 38-30. Medfield applied its full court press and closed the quarter with a 7-0 burst to make it 38-37 going into the fourth.
“We knew the pressure was on them,” Peper said of playing Medfield for a third time, having lost the two meetings. “We believed we could beat them because we had some of our players missing on those games that are pretty key components to our team. We weren’t ourselves those games so we came into this game wanting it so bad.”
Oliver Ames girls basketball will take on the winner of #1 Norwood and #5 Whitman-Hanson in the Division 2 State Championship at the Tsongas Center, with the date (either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) and time to be announced.
MANSFIELD, Mass. — Behind a spectacular defensive effort, the Mansfield boys basketball team battled back to get in position to take the game.
But the signature run that the Hornets have used to put away teams time and time again just never came to close it out.
The Hornets dug themselves out of a 15-point second half hole, erased a seven-point deficit in the final 90 seconds of regulation but couldn’t quite put the finishing touches on the big comeback, falling 57-51 in double overtime to Norwood in the Division 2 Round of 8.
“I thought our defense was pretty spectacular,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan, who saw his team force the Mustangs into 25 turnovers. “I thought we did an awesome job on [Noah Beaudet]. I thought we were able to minimize their other guys’ chances and really put ourselves in a position to come back. The problem was, for whatever reason, the second half of the year we’ve struggled scoring. In the first half…you only have 14 points, you can’t do that against a team at this level.
“We continued to stay true to ourselves defensively and started to make some plays, hit a couple of shots. I just can’t say enough about their effort and commitment to playing the right way and playing hard. You can’t get a better high school game out of this.”
Mansfield boys basketball
The Hornets were limited to 14 points total in the opening half, and a bucket just seconds into the start of the second put the Mustangs ahead 29-14. Mansfield refused to go quietly and outscored the visitors 14-4 the rest of the way in the quarter to get back into it.
After an early bucket, sophomore Trevor Foley (16 points, seven rebounds, four blocks, three steals) turned a steal into an emphatic one-handed slam to bring the hosts within a point, 33-32. Mansfield tied it on a free throw from junior Chris Hill (14 points, six rebounds), who tacked on a three a couple of possessions later to tie it 36-36.
Norwood star junior Noah Beaudet broke free for a rare open look and drained a triple and scored three from the foul line to bring the Mustangs back in front, 44-37, with 1:47 to go.
Senior Andrew Slaney connected on a corner three and the Hornets trapped immediately on the inbounds and forced a turnover, resulting in a quick layup from senior Matt Hyland (10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals).
Mansfield forced back-to-back turnovers but missed the front end of a one-and-one and had another chance blocked. With 26 seconds left, Hyland found Hill on a backdoor lob play and Mansfield tied it 44-44. The Hornets got another stop on defense with 10 seconds to go but a layup chance was off the mark for the hosts to send the game into overtime.
Points were at a premium in the four-minute overtime period. Hyland lost control in the paint but the ball fell right to Foley for a layup with 2:17 to go. Hill grabbed a steal but the Hornets missed on a chance to extend the lead. Hyland had a steal on the next possession but the Hornets turned it right back over and Norwood tied the game on a putback from Ziad Awde.
Both teams missed on a three in the final minute as the game went double overtime, tied 46-46.
Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield sandwiched a pair of misses around a turnover, and Beaudet converted to put the visitors ahead. A free throw cut it to one but a tough jumper from Beaudet extended it back to three, 50-47. The Hornets couldn’t get anything to go on their next trip, and Norwood turned an offensive rebound into two points, 52-47 with 1:15 to go.
Foley scored to cut it to four but the Mustangs did enough at the line to keep the advantage the rest of the way.
“I think it just came down to us missing some bunnies, we had our opportunities. I thought in the first half we were forcing some action and then we got to a point we weren’t forcing it, but there were some opportunities when it looked like easy baskets that we just didn’t put in the hole. I’m not sure we shot great from the foul line either. Those two things…you can’t shoot yourself at this level. Defensively, we did it…we played great on defense and played as good as we could on defense.
“But offensively, I thought there were a lot of times we got exactly what we wanted but didn’t capitalize on it.”
Mansfield had an uncharacteristic day on the offensive end, shooting under 30% from the field overall and under 20% from three-point range.
Hill scored the opening basket of the game but it would end up as Mansfield’s lone lead of regulation. Hyland had the two other buckets but Norwood claimed a 14-6 lead after one.
An early three from Hill gave Mansfield a good start to the second quarter, and points from Foley and Anthony Sacchetti made it 14-13 before Mansfield’s offense went cold and the Mustangs closed the half on a 13-1 run.
Foley ignited the Hornet offense with back-to-back buckets in the third, Hyland and Caden Colby each had one from in close, and Slaney added a three. By the end of the third, Mansfield closed the gap to just five, 33-28.
“They are tremendous kids,” Vaughan said. “This was just a great group, starting with the seniors all the way through. Nice kids, came to work every day and never complained. I had no issues with this team all year long. They were great, it was a fun team to be around.”
Mansfield boys basketball finishes the season at 21-5.