Rocketeers Rally In Third Period For Draw With Foxboro

Foxboro North Attleboro boys hockey Espen Reager
Foxboro goalie Espen Reager makes a save with North Attleboro’s Jack Connolly crashing the net in the second period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro and Foxboro boys hockey teams each exited the New England Sports Village with a point after their division clash on Wednesday night, but understandably, each left wanting more.

For Foxboro, it was 3-1 third period lead that slipped away and a last minute power play that saw the potential game-winning goal clank off the post and stay out that prevented the full two points.

And for North Attleboro, it was a dominating stretch during the second period that saw everything but a goal, as well as a two-goal flurry in the third period that tied the game and swung momentum in their favor but came up short of a game-winner.

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Nonetheless, it was a point apiece as the Rocketeers and Warriors finished deadlocked in a 3-3 draw.

“We should be going into that game knowing we can win the game,” said Foxboro head coach Mark Cedorchuk. “If they won that game, I felt like they would have stolen it from us. Our Achilles heel tonight was they scored two power play goals. We had our chances…but our penalty kill hurt us tonight. Overall I thought our defense played well overall, I thought all five guys played well and moved the puck up ice. And our forwards played well too.”

Foxboro never trailed in the contest, taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, jumping back ahead 2-1 in the second after the Rocketeers tied the game, and pushing the advantage to 3-1early in the third period.

North Attleboro, who was a bit unlucky to go down a goal in the opening period, knotted the score less than a minute into the second and then scored a pair of goals in less than a minute span in the third to tie the game.

Trailing by a goal going into the third, the message from head coach Ben McManama was clear.

“Very simple, it’s no secret…’This will be the most important 15 minutes of our season,’” McManama said. “It’s pretty obvious why, looking at the standings and who we have left on the schedule. I thought they worked hard all game but they brought it to another level in the third period.”

But before North could rally, it faced even more adversity as the Warriors scored less than a minute into the third. Junior Kirk Leach netted a highlight-reel goal, splitting a pair of Rocketeer defenseman and shielding one as curled back in front and popped a shot top shelf to give Foxboro a 3-1 lead with 14:16 to play.

North Attleboro got some life with a power play chance with 11:11 to play and cashed in less than a minute into the man-advantage chance. Tyler Sarro and Dennis Morehouse connected with senior Jack Connolly along the boards in the corner. Connolly curled back to the right circle and fired a wrist shot into the top corner with a screen in front to make it 3-2 on North’s second power play goal of the night.

“The two power play goals were great but the reason they were great is because he didn’t see either shot,” McManama said. “That’s something that we’ve been working on…we’re not just trying to get to the net, we’re trying to take the goalies’ eyes away. So it was refreshing to see it happen.”

With momentum on its side, North Attleboro cashed in less than a minute later. Senior Matt McSweeney drove hard to the net but lost possession. However, the puck popped free right in the middle and senior defenseman Jeff Baker stepped up and blasted a shot through traffic into the back of the net to make it 3-3.

The Rocketeers had a chance to make it three straight with another power play chance at the midway point of the third period but Foxboro goalie Espen Reager came up with a double save on Morehouse and another on a shot from Will Yeomans through traffic.

Reager (34 saves) came up with another key kick save on a low shot from Baker with sophomore forwards Nick Longa and Nik Kojoian crashing hard in front.

Leach broke free in the final minute and went on a breakaway that drew a slash and a power play chance for the Warriors with 38 seconds to play. After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Foxboro sophomore Jack Watts bounced on the loose puck, maneuvered past a defenseman and backhanded a shot five-hole but North goalie Nick Digiacomo got just enough of it and it hit off the post and stayed out.

“We tried to keep everything in front of [Reager] but tonight our Achilles heel was our penalty kill,” Cedorchuk said. “I thought we skated with them, we transitioned well with them, and we kept them to the outside for the most part. I really thought we were going to have that one.

“Knowing where we are now and the level of talent we have, we know that we can compete with anyone on our schedule.”










Foxboro opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game with a bit of an unlucky bounce for the Rocketeers. The Warriors were in the midst of a line change and North looked to counter up ice but the puck was inadvertently blocked by the ref and stayed in North’s zone.

Foxboro’s Kyle McGinnis quickly jumped on the puck and connected with Leach, who found some space and blasted a shot into the back of the net.

North had the edge with eight shots on goal in period but Reager was up to the task each time. He first blocked away a chance from Brady Sarro, gloved a shot from McSweeney, and kicked away a rush from Sam Clarke.

The Warriors’ best chance to double its lead came when Watts gloved down a loose puck and found Ronnie MacLellan but his shot was denied by Digiacomo.

The Rocketeers came out flying in the second period and were rewarded with the tying goal less than a minute in. A flurry of chances resulted in a big scrum in front of the net and eventually, it was Connolly that found the puck and the back of the net, Tyler Sarro and Yeomans assisting, to make it 1-1.

But North was whistled for a penalty after Foxboro’s Ryan Jacobs and Josh Bertumen applied pressure. Less than 20 seconds into the man advantage, Leach skated to the right circle and fired a low shot that Watts redirected right in front to regain a 2-1 advantage.

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North dominated a solid six-minute stretch in the second period but couldn’t find the back of the net. Clarke, Longa, Connolly, and McSweeney all had good chances come up short. But the Rocketeers were able to ride that momentum into the third and score a pair of goals to tie the game.

“There’s a lot of little things going on this year so you have to look at the positives,” McManama said. “We battled back, we probably played one of our better periods energy wise of the year, and we just have to keep doing that. Every day at practice, we have to keep showing up and getting better. If we compete and work hard, we’re going to be fine.”

North Attleboro boys hockey (2-1-3 Hockomock, 6-4-5 overall) is back in action next Wednesday when it travels to Canton. Foxboro (1-2-2, 4-4-3) will visit Taunton on Saturday.

Hawks Land Key Crossover Win Over Oliver Ames

Milford boys basketball Jordan Darling
Milford junior Jordan Darling goes up for a layup against Oliver Ames’ Will Whiteside in the fourth quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – Coming off a pair of close losses, the Milford boys basketball team knew it couldn’t let another opportunity slip away.

A one-point loss to Taunton preceded a rare division home defeat to Stoughton last week but with a strong emphasis on defense and a career night from junior Jordan Darling (33 points, 12 rebounds), the Scarlet Hawks put an end to the brief skid with an important 73-61 verdict over visiting Oliver Ames.

The Hawks were the lone Davenport team to win on Tuesday, a week after the division was swept by the Kelley-Rex.

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Milford turned the game on its head with a terrific third quarter, doubling its output from the first half in just eight minutes while its defense got the job done against a Tigers’ squad that can score in a variety of ways.

“We came out [in the second half] with a sense of urgency,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “Our defense led to offense is the best way to put it. We had our opportunities in two games last week and we didn’t capitalize so we came into this game really focused on our team and what we can do.

“We put a real emphasis on defense the last couple of days and looking at the score, we held them to 40 points from the field so I thought our defense was phenomenal. I think our defense is what won us the game tonight.”

A back-and-forth first half featured 21 combined fouls and 23 combined free throw shots, so there wasn’t much rhythm for either side. Darling got off to a strong start with seven points in the first quarter while Dom Schofield, Colby Pires (11 points, eight rebounds), and Ben Blanchard (12 points) all scored to help the Hawks seize a 13-8 lead early.

Oliver Ames briefly overcame a tough first shooting quarter (2-for-10 from the field) for its best offensive stretch of the night. The Tigers went on a 12-0 run in the middle of the second quarter that featured seven straight from senior Evan Craig (15 points, eight rebounds), a layup and free throw from Amari Brown (12 points, five rebounds, four assists), and a mid-range jumper from Jay Spillane to go ahead 20-15.

But the Tigers’ offense cooled over the final four minutes of the second quarter, and for the majority of the game. Milford countered with an 11-4 run to end the quarter that was capped by a layup from Ralph Franklin Jr. at the buzzer that gave the Hawks a 26-24 lead at halftime.

Blanchard opened the third quarter with a three and the Hawks were off and running from there. And even when Milford was off the mark on its first shot, like it was on two of its next four possessions, the Hawks shined on the offensive boards. In both cases, it was Darling that collected the offensive rebound and went right back up for two, and junior Sean Murray chipped in with a putback of his own to give the hosts a 37-28 lead at the midway point.

The Hawks pushed the lead to double-digits for the first time on a layup from Blanchard, and the offense closed the quarter with an incredible surge.

Franklin Jr. scored off an assist from Tyler Wetherbee, Darling converted in the post and then on a breakaway after a steal. Weatherbee used a nifty feed from the baseline to find Darling for two more before Oliver Ames looked to put a stop to the bleeding by sinking its first three (after missing its first 12 attempts) via Owen Friel (10 points) with just a couple of seconds left in the third.

But Milford had one more punch to deliver as Darling banked in a shot from just over half court to beat the buzzer and give the Hawks a 52-36 advantage through three quarters.

“This is one of those ones where we got thoroughly outplayed in every phase,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “Right down the line, defensively not good, offensively bad choices, bad shooting, and on and on…just felt like we got outplayed.










“Because we’re not shooting well (19-for-59 FG), we’re in transition defense all the time. We usually shoot the ball better and can set the defense. And they hurt us on the boards all night.”

Pires opened the final quarter with a three, Murray scored down low, and Pires finished off his own miss as the Hawks pushed the lead to 59-38 early in the fourth. The Hawks held OA without a made field goal for the first three minutes, limiting the Tigers to just three free throws.

OA senior Ryan Burkett (13 points, 12 rebounds) scored down low but a three-point play from Darling with 2:50 left in the game gave the Hawks their largest lead at 64-46 and capped the junior forwards’ big night.

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“He’s always up for the challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” Seaver said of Darling. “And obviously tonight was a career night for Jordan but just after the game, I heard someone tell him how many points he had but he said the team won, that’s all that matters. That sums up the type of kid he is and the team-first attitude everyone on this team has.”

The teams combined for 20 free throws in the final two minutes of action to bring the final score to 73-61.

Milford boys basketball (5-4 Hockomock, 6-4 overall) moves into sole possession of first place in the Davenport just past the midway mark and will travel to Canton on Friday. Oliver Ames (4-5, 8-6) will try to bounce back when it visits King Philip on the same night.

Bombardiers Finish Strong To Upend Visiting Tigers

Attleboro boys basketball Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (35) goes up for a shot against Taunton’s Tyler Stewart (15) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – A battle between two of the top teams in the Hockomock League boiled down to late game execution.

There wasn’t much to separate the Taunton and Attleboro boys basketball teams, locked in a tie game through three quarters, and still level two minutes into the final quarter.

In the end, it was the Bombardiers that did enough down the stretch, getting a pair of game-changing shots from senior Nick McMahon to earn a 52-46 decision over the Tigers.

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“I think the second of the fourth quarter, really it was the resilience of our team,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “Rebounding, hitting some tough shots and making some big plays. I thought we were engaged in the play down the stretch and in a close game, late in the fourth quarter that’s what you want to do. We showed some grit at the end.

“[Taunton] communicates well, they hedge the ball screens, they are engaged the whole time. That’s a team that’s really working hard on the defensive end and they made us work for everything we got tonight.”

The first came on the first possession after the Tigers a putback and the lead whipped away on a travel call that drew the ire of the Taunton bench. McMahon, who scored nine of his 11 points in the final quarter, took a pass slightly to the left of the top of the key and drained a three while being fouled.

Although he didn’t sink the ensuing free throw, the momentum swung heavily of the hosts with the play. Taunton’s Tyler Stewart (nine points, 15 rebounds, two blocks) and Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (15 points, 10 rebounds) — two of the league’s top post players this season — traded baskets as Attleboro’s lead sat at 44-41 as the clock went under four minutes to play.

The Tigers’ defense, which forced 13 second half turnovers, was close to another stop as the shot clock ticked into the final seconds. But McMahon dribbled around a screen on the right side and sank a fading baseline jumper to give Attleboro a 46-41 lead with 3:52 to play.

“Nick is such a hard worker, really smart player both offensively and defensively,” Houle said. “He’s capable of making the right reads and he knows when to take his opportunity. A lot of times it’s when they are doubling on Q, or helping on penetration with Bryant. He’s made some big shots for us this year, I was really proud to see him hit the big one tonight. And then the second one, it’s not part of our playbook but it was a great shot. I think it shows the toughness of this senior group.”

Attleboro got three consecutive stops as Taunton missed a layup, a pull jumper, and a three-pointer. The Tigers shot just 4/13 from the floor in the final quarter.

Senior Bryant Ciccio (11 points) overcame a tough shooting night to deliver his second field goal of the fourth to extend the hosts’ lead to 48-41 with just over two minutes to play. Taunton’s Tristan Herry converted in transition but McMahon sank a pair of free throws with 19.1 seconds left.

Taunton sophomore Trent Santos (20 points) cut the deficit to four with his fifth trifecta of the game but McMahon was money from the free throw line once again with 9.3 seconds left to ice the game.

“They made a couple more plays down the stretch,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “That travel call killed us and they came down and buried a three. They had another big shot before the shot clock a couple of plays later. There wasn’t much flow to the game, I felt like we left some points out there.”

The opening six minutes of the game set the tone for the entire game. Both defenses played well, making it tough for either offense to gain much momentum. The teams split the opening 10 points, tied at 5-5 with two minutes left in the first quarter.

There was a bit of a flurry in the final two minutes as Santos hit back-to-back threes and sank three free throws after being fouled taking another one while Ciccio and Charles each scored; the Tigers led 14-9 after one.

Attleboro cut into the deficit by a point after the second quarter. Attleboro’s Ryan Sullivan (six points, six rebounds) drained a three to tie the game at 20-20 but Taunton sophomore Faisal Mass (eight points) answered with one of his own and Santos connected from deep again to give Taunton a 26-22 lead at halftime.

Stewart, Taunton’s leading scorer, didn’t miss in the first half but was limited to just two field goal attempts as the Bombardiers put a heavy focus on him. Between Weir and Lorenzo Wilson guarding him, plus help from Charles to double, Taunton relied on its three-point shooting (4-for-12).










“Stewart is really good, he’s terrific in the post,” Houle said. “We didn’t want him to get going. Just like us, when you go inside out and start getting good looks, it can be tough to defend. We did a decent job early of not letting them get the ball in there. Second half, he did a better job opening it up, almost playing through the double team. We definitely double-teamed him and we used two big guys. We have Q in there, we had Jason in there, we had Zo in there…definitely some big boys in there.”

Dacey agreed, “They were smart in how they defended Tyler. I thought they would put Q on him but they didn’t, they doubled off with him and they have some size. We tried a couple of different things you have to pick your poison.”

Stewart picked up two quick fouls in the second half to push his total to three and had to sit for the final five minutes of the third quarter. Attleboro made sure to get Charles plenty of touches the rest of the way.

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The senior big man rewarded his team with seven points and a pair of offensive rebounds. Mass gave the Tigers a boost with a triple but with the defense focusing on Charles, Ciccio drilled an open triple to knot the score 37-37 after three quarters.

“We want to go inside-out all the time but early on [Taunton] was doing a good job collapsing on [Charles],” Houle said. “There were a few times he didn’t catch it clean that he’d probably like to have back, he has great hands. So second half, we started going with him right away and he got those first two baskets. We definitely made it a point to get him the ball with Stewart out.”

Attleboro boys basketball (7-1 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) is back in action on Sunday when it travels to New Bedford for a non-league clash. Taunton (6-3, 9-3) had its nine-game win streak snapped but will try to bounce back when it travels to Canton on Tuesday.

King Philip Outlasts Stoughton in Double Overtime

King Philip boys basketball Chris Roy
King Philip senior Chris Roy (right) drives to the basket against Stoughton’s Ahmad Jahed in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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WRENTHAM, Mass. – What looked like a runaway win for the King Philip boys basketball team turned out to be anything but.

Visiting Stoughton erased a 17-point second half deficit, hitting a late three to force overtime and looked on the verge of a victory in the extra period before the Warriors forced double overtime and snatched it right back, earning a 90-84 verdict on Tuesday night.

King Philip seniors Tommy Donahue (20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks) and Owen Conlin (14 points) came up with huge plays down the stretch to help the Warriors earn the win.

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Donahue beat the buzzer with an offensive putback in the first overtime and Conlin drew a key charge and hit a big three in the second overtime, a pair of crucial plays that helped the hosts secure the win.

“We talk about how it’s a game of runs and how you respond to them,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “I thought we did a good job of getting them early but then we settled in and got a little too comfortable instead of finishing the game strong. I’m happy with the way the guys responded in overtime and we got some big plays down the stretch from Tommy Donahue and Owen Conlin, and that was the difference.

“They each had a huge play with Tommy getting the tip in to force the second overtime and I thought Owen stepping in to take that charge in the second overtime was the difference-maker.”

Stoughton scored first in the second overtime but Donahue answered with a bucket down low. The team’s traded empty trips before Conlin stepped in to take a charge against Obinna Ugwuakazi, who scored a career-high 36 points for Stoughton. Not only did it get the Warriors the ball back, but it was also Ugwuakazi’s fifth foul.

Robert Jarest drove to the basket and finished off the backboard for two before Stoughton’s Myles Grigalunas-Powell (17 points, eight rebounds, four assists) and King Philip’s Alex Fritz (30 points) traded field goals.

After an empty trip from each team, Conlin drained a big three with just under two minutes left to push KP’s lead to 88-82. The game never got closer from there with Stoughton going 0-for-6 in its next couple of possessions and KP held on for the win.

“There’s a lot of positives, there’s a lot of negatives,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “It’s not our first rodeo with having a bad first half and great second half, it’s actually become a cliche with this team. They know it, we know it, and we’re working on it…that was a good high school basketball game.”

Conlin converted in the paint to put the Warriors up 49-32 midway through the third quarter. The Warriors had never trailed in the contest and held a double-digit lead since the first quarter.

But Stoughton gained a little bit of momentum with a strong finish to the frame with Ugwuakazi spearheading a 14-point burst to end the third to bring the Black Knights within striking distance, down 57-46.

That momentum carried over into the fourth in the form of a 9-0 run that featured two points from Brett Pendenza and five from Grigalunas-Powell to get the visitors within two points.

Chris Roy answered with a big three on a feed from Jarest (five points, 14 rebounds, three assists) and two possessions later, Andrew McKinney (16 points, 11 rebounds) completed a traditional three-point play just before the midway point of the fourth to push KP’s advantage back to 63-55.

Ugwuakazi answered with a tough, contested three-pointer and the Black Knights got a stop before Jake Queeney sank another triple, bringing the visitors within two again.

Fritz made one free throw but back-to-back buckets from Stoughton senior Adman Jared and a strong take from Ugwuakazi gave the Black Knights their first lead of the game with 1:32 to play.

Fritz sank two more free throws to put KP ahead before Ugwuakazi had one of his own to knot the score at 68-68. Two more from the line from Fritz preceded a stop by the Warriors, and Fritz went back to the line and sank another to push the lead to three.







Stoughton took advantage, coming back down and Tommy Sanda drained a three with 3.3 seconds left to make it 71-71. King Philip’s half court heave was off to force overtime.

The free throw line helped dictate the direction of the overtime periods with Tahkwan Gates Brown and Fritz trading a pair early on. McKinney put the Warriors ahead and Donahue converted a putback to push the KP lead to 77-74.

Stoughton responded with a 4-0 burst, getting a turnover that led to another three from Queeney as the Black Knights jumped ahead 78-77. Both teams had a pair of misses at the line, Stoughton got another stop, and Sanda pushed the lead to two with another free throw.

Fritz was just off on a contested layup but with more bodies down low, Donahue came up with the offensive rebound and put it right back up before the buzzer to make it 79-79 and forced a second overtime.

“We talk about it being a team game and there are five guys on the court,” DeStefano said. “We still want to use Fritz, but if defenses are overplaying him, then we have other guys that can step in there. We have other guys on this team that can score as we saw tonight.”

It was a bit of a wild start to the game with the teams combining for over 40 points. Fritz and Ugwuakazi, the Hockomock League’s leading scorers, both got it done early.

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Fritz shot 7-for-9 in the opening eight minutes, scoring 17 points as the Warriors enjoyed a 27-point outburst to start the game. Ugwuakazi knocked down a pair of triples and finished with 12 of the Black Knights’ 17 points.

After the first quarter, Stoughton’s adjustment to put Queeney on Fritz paid dividends, with Gallivan making a point to highlight Queeney’s defensive work. The Black Knights held Fritz to two points in the second, scoreless in the third, and without a field goal until the second overtime period.

King Philip boys basketball (3-4 Hockomock, 5-5 overall) is back in action on Friday when it entertains Mansfield. Stoughton (2-5, 5-6) will look to snap its three-game skid when it travels to Milford on the same night.

Canton Extends Unbeaten Streak With Win Over KP

Canton boys hockey Eamon Kellyq
King Philip goalie Jasper Makudera (right) makes a save against Canton sophomore Eamon Kelly in the first period. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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CANTON, Mass. – It was back to the basics for the Canton boys hockey team.

After back-to-back games in which the Bulldogs needed a third period goal to ignite its offense, Canton focused on all of the little things to get things going from the start.

And it certainly helps when two-thirds of your top line returns from injury.

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Senior Chris Savoie, the team’s leading goal scorer, returned after a three-game hiatus to join classmate Johnny Hagan and sophomore Eamon Kelly (who rejoined the lineup on Wednesday) and the Bulldogs found the back of the net in each period en route to a 5-2 decision over a good King Philip team.

With the win, Canton extends its unbeaten streak to 35 games.

“We checked a lot of the boxes tonight,” said Canton head coach Brian Shuman. “We learned from some of the games in the past against KP where you have to come out and do the little things like winning the battles, getting pucks to the net, working hard on the backcheck, and good things will happen. We kind of got away from that, even in some of the games we’ve played well, we have to realize the little things will lead to the goal scoring opportunities.”

Canton’s top line combined for three goals while Shane Marshall scored twice, finding the back of the net for the second straight game. The Bulldogs never trailed, turning a one-goal lead after a period into a two-goal advantage through 30 minutes. Canton had a four-goal lead before KP scored in the final minute of play.

“They don’t make many mistakes and they have three lines, one is as good as the next,” said King Philip head coach Paul Carlow. “They are well-coached and a deep team, they are good every year for a reason. It’s a good measuring stick, we need to play better to do well down the stretch. I think all the Hock teams are good but I think they are clearly the best.”

After a relatively even first 10 minutes, Canton seized the lead with just 2:25 to go. Not only did it give the hosts the lead and the momentum before the first intermission, it was a sign of things to come for the Bulldogs’ offense.

Just seconds after a 4-on-4 situation ended, Kelly made a hard drive to the net down the left side, cutting in front of the net but KP goalie Jesper Makudera made the stop. But Marshall was first the loose puck and batted the rebound in to give the hosts the lead.

King Philip responded well to start the second period, cashing in on its offensive zone pressure. The Warriors were able to force a loose clearance and sophomore Shaun Fitzpatrick won a stick battle to unleash a wrist shot. Canton goalie Joe Cammarata made the kick save but the rebound popped right to senior Noah Ray and he buried it to make it 1-1 with 11:15 left in the second.

While the Warriors seemed to have the momentum, they were whistled for a trip and the Bulldogs went on the power play. Canton needed just over a minute to cash in as senior defenseman Owen Lehane skated down into the right circle, firing a shot that Kelly tipped in for a 2-1 lead.

“We were battling out front, looked like a stick might have hit a skate…it was just a tough time for that call,” Carlow said. “We got some momentum back there with the goal early in the second and I felt like if we could play 5-on-5 for a good stretch, we were okay. But they took the lead right back on the power play, and right after we had a bad turnover that led to a breakaway.

“I think 5-on-5 we were okay tonight but obviously, [Canton] is a good hockey team, you can’t make mistakes against them. I didn’t think we played our best and I would have liked to see us play more 5-on-5 hockey but giving them the momentum right back certainly hurt us.”

King Philip had a chance to answer when it went on the man-advantage less than two minutes after Canton’s second goal, but instead, it was the Bulldogs that struck. Hagan took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone, used his speed to race across the blue line and fired a low shot five-hole for a shorthanded tally, giving the Dogs a 3-1 lead with 6:50 left in the second.

“Getting Chris Lavoie back on the power play particularly, having that third option is really important,” Shuman said. “Ironically, those are two guys [Owen and Eamon] that often times don’t touch the puck as much. Owen did a great job taking the ice he was given and Eamon doing what we preach all the time, going with his stick to the net and he made a good play.”







The Warriors had another chance to cut into the lead late in the period on a power play chance. A loose puck popped right in front to Conor Cooke and his shot looked destined for the back of the net but Cammarata made a terrific stop to keep the two-goal lead.

KP couldn’t convert on an early power play chance in the third period and junior David Lawler blasted a shot from the blue line that saw a rebound bounce around in front, but no one on KP could get a stick to it.

Canton made the visitors pay, scoring just before the midway mark of the third period. Ronan O’Mahony took and pass from Jack Connolly and laced a low shot through traffic from the blue line that Makudera stopped but Marshall was quick to pounce on the loose puck and buried it for a 4-1 lead.

With just under three minutes to go, Hagan skated in down the left boards and fired a shot that was stopped by Makudera but once again the Bulldogs were there for the rebound and Kelly tapped it in for a 5-1 advantage.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The third was our best period, we talked about the next goal (in the third) was huge,” Shuman said. “If they scored, they’d have a ton of energy and be back in the game. Or if we got it, we’d take a huge step towards winning the game. The fourth one came from a good shot, the defense made a good play, and Shane buried it.”

King Philip’s Aidan Boulger finished off a scrum in front of the net with less than a minute to play in the game. Jack Coulter and Cooke earned assists on the goal.

Canton boys hockey (3-0 Hockomock, 7-0-2) will host Oliver Ames on Wednesday evening while King Philip (1-1, 6-3-0) returns home to take on North Attleboro on the same night.

Taunton Shines On Both Ends To Knock Off Franklin

Taunton boys basketball Tyler Stewart
Taunton boys basketball junior Tyler Stewart blocks a shot in the first half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton boys basketball team delivered a message to the rest of the Hockomock League on Friday night.

At the expense of visiting Franklin, that message was sent loud and clear.

The Tigers, locked in at both ends of the floor from start to finish, had one of their best all-around games since joining the league nearly a decade ago, earning a dominating 83-52 win over the previously unbeaten Panthers.

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“That was one of the best games we’ve played on both ends of the floor,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.

Not that it was a hard decision for Dacey to make following a first half in which the Tigers were terrific on the defensive end of the court and a second half in which Taunton was nearly unstoppable on the offensive end.

“The underdog mentality the kids have…they are willing to work hard, they are great in practice,” Dacey said. “They’ve responded really well this year.”

Taunton set the tone with its active defense the featured steals from sophomore Tristan Herry (eight points, eight assists, five rebounds) and junior Danny MacDougall in the opening four minutes. The Tigers also stepped in to take a pair of charges (sophomore Trent Santos and MacDougall) in the opening minutes; Franklin finished with nine first half turnovers.

The energy on the defensive end translated to the offensive side for the Tigers, who raced out to a 10-4 lead in the game and took a 15-10 lead after one. Santos (21 points) had five points in the opening quarter while junior Tyler Stewart (21 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two blocks) and Josh Lopes (23 points) had four points apiece in the first quarter.

“We worked on fighting through screens so we just had to stay focused, and we had to work on our close outs with their three-point shooting,” Dacey said. “It’s all fundamental stuff but these guys are willing to execute it come game time. It’s hard for 32 minutes to go through the Franklin grind. If you’re going to beat the best, you have to match what they do out there.”

Stewart, a 6’6 forward, remained a focal point of the Tigers’ offense, adding six more in the second quarter. The offense was contagious with Herry (four points), sophomore Faisal Mass, and MacDougall joining the scoring sheet in the second.

The Tigers held the Panthers to just 10 points in each the first and second quarters. Franklin senior Chris Edgehill (18 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of threes inside the final three minutes of the half to keep the visitors in the game, down 31-20 at halftime.

“We got beat in every aspect of the game of basketball tonight,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Taunton had a group that played with a chip on their shoulder with a lot of to prove…that was a group of hungry kids that came out right from the start ready to play, ready to compete. They had a great gameplan, and defensively they really tightened up early and we struggled to score.

“Once we started to get a little something going, we came out for the second half feeling alright and scored on the first possession but they just had an answer for pretty much everything. The floodgates really opened up after that. We’re not really in the business of trying to manage the scoreboard so we got into some defenses that weren’t our style but we had to try something to get back into it, we got up and pressed a little.”

True to form, Franklin emerged from the locker room with renewed energy as Santos fouled Panther senior Brayden Sullivan (10 points). Not only did Sullivan make the two free throws, Santos — arguably the Tigers’ top shooter — went to the bench with his third foul.

Franklin couldn’t capitalize on a Taunton turnover and the Tigers made them pay as Lopes ignited a three-point parade with his (and Taunton’s) first trifecta of the game.

Thomas Gasbarro sank a pair from the line to make it a 10-point game at 34-24 but Stewart answered down low on a feed from Herry, who set up Lopes for another three on Taunton’s next possession.

“That’s our gameplan, we have to get Tyler touches early,” Dacey said. “[Franklin] was throwing guys at him tonight, a couple times he had three guys on him but he’s pretty good at kicking it out. Six assists doesn’t surprise me tonight. Josh is a shooter and he hits his first couple he’s going to have a good night and Trent is a shooter, he doesn’t lack confidence putting them up.”

Jack Rudolph kept the Panthers in it finishing off a layup after a nice cut but once against Stewart answered off a nice feed from Nigel Choate and then Stewart scored on his own miss. Gasbarro set Sullivan up after a steal but Lopes came back down and sank a three for a 46-28 lead with three minutes left in the third.

‘You have to be able to respond,” Dacey said. “That’s the mark of a mature team, and even though we aren’t a mature team on paper (two seniors), we matured tonight. To be able to respond to their energy…we figured the first four minutes they would press and try and make it a full court game. We were able to respond to it.”




Edgehill finished through contact and the Panthers got a stop but a pair of offensive rebounds, the second hauled in by Stewart and put back up for two. Edgehill sank a three to try and keep the Panthers close but Lopes answered with his fourth three of the third quarter.

Herry added Taunton’s fifth three of the quarter in the final minute and Choate drove the baseline for a nice finish to cap a strong offensive quarter, putting the hosts up 57-35.

If there was any hope for a comeback, Taunton’s hot start to the fourth quickly put it to rest. Santos, back after missing the third in foul trouble, drained a three on the first play of the fourth. Mass was money on a 12-foot pull up, Stewart converted a traditional three-point play, and Santos pulled up for a long two as the Tigers pulled off a 12-3 run over the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.

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“We had to adjust with Stewart killing us inside, so we started to sink down on him a little more and that opened the three a little more and credit to them, they shot great from three, it felt like they were 8-for-8,” Neely said. “We’ve kind of developed an identity of being a defensive team and I didn’t see it tonight. When you start pressing a little bit, sometimes you forget what makes you good in the first place.”

Taunton finished the second half going 8-for-11 from three-point range and 20-for-28 (71%) from the field overall.

Taunton boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) earned its eighth straight win and will be back in action on Tuesday when it welcomes Milford to town. Franklin (5-1, 8-1) entertains North Attleboro on the same day.

Kelly’s Third Period Goal Lifts Canton Over Mansfield

Canton boys hockey Johnny Hagan
Canton senior Johnny Hagan looks to finish off a move in front of goal in the third period against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – Canton head coach Brian Shuman planned on easing Eamon Kelly back into the lineup after the sophomore forward missed the past four games with an injury.

But that plan didn’t last long as Kelly’s time on ice quickly increased into regular shifts, and that ended up working out just fine for the Bulldogs.

Kelly scored the game-winning goal less than two minutes into the third period in his first game back as Canton grinded out a 2-0 win over Mansfield after an empty net goal in the final minute.

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“He gives good energy and we’ve missed that energy guy so far this year…and he brings it,” Shuman said. “I was really happy for him, he’s a hard worker and he deserved that [goal]. He’s been hurt for most of the season so far and we tried to ease him in but that lasted about half a period and we threw him out there in regular shifts.”

After 30 minutes of back-and-forth, up-and-down the ice at the Foxboro Sports Center, neither team had a goal to show for. Both Canton goalie Joe Cammarata (21 saves) and the Bulldog defense along with the Hornet blue line unit and goalie Sean McCafferty (28 saves) had done their part with the game scoreless heading into the final period.

Canton needed just 1:40 to break the deadlock at the beginning of the third period. Junior Donny McNeice won possession behind the net and quickly tossed a pass in front. The puck took a fortunate deflection off of a Hornet stick and fell right to Kelly, who made no doubt about it to put the Dogs up 1-0.

“We showed some promise in the second period towards the end, started to play better,” Shuman said. “I just think for our psyche we had to get a goal early in the third. Some of our guys are trying to score every time they touch the ice and putting a lot of pressure on themselves. They just need to go out there and outwork the other team and the opportunities will come.

“We’ve had to work for all of them, there hasn’t been an easy [game] all year. Credit to Mansfield, they are a good team, Mike does a good job with them. They had four lines going, they brought a lot of energy and they took it to us in the first half of the game. A typical game against Mansfield, they always bring their ‘A’ game and play hard, play tough. That was a good hockey game.”

The remainder of the third played out similar to the first two periods with both teams clogging passing lanes and applying a lot of pressure, making it tough for either team to connect more than a pass or two in a row.

Canton Johnny Hagan had the best chance of the period to double the advantage. The senior forward used his speed to race around a defenseman before cutting back in front of goal, just missing the inside the post.

Mansfield’s best chance at an equalizer came in the final two minutes. Senior Ben Ierardo ripped a shot from the blue line that was saved by Cammarata and covered as a pair of Hornets poked at the loose puck on the doorstep.

And a minute later, with the net empty, Hornet defenseman Jack Gormley rifled a hard shot that was redirected by Jake Lund but it was just over the net.

Canton senior Shane Marshall won a foot race to a loose puck and went in alone and tucked in an empty net goal with 34 seconds to play to secure the win.

“They are very skilled, they work hard, they are well-coached, Brian is a great coach,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini of the Bulldogs. “We knew the task at hand but we had two really good days of practice leading up to the game. We did all the little things right, winning faceoffs especially in the defensive end was huge for us. Overall I thought we played really well.”

While it was during the infancy of the game, a pair of power plays in the opening five minutes might have been the Hornets’ best chances.

Going up a man just over a man, Mansfield’s best chance of the first power play came on a slap shot from senior Joseph Troiano but Cammarata was equal to the task.

Just seconds after killing its first penalty, Canton was whistled for its second trip of the game. Senior Chris Jenkins put a shot on goal with classmate Kevin Bellanger on the doorstep trying to bury the rebound, but the Hornets couldn’t find the back of the net.

Canton went on the power play late in the first period but the first two chances of that stretch went to the Hornets. Lund had a partial breakaway turned aside by Cammarata and Jenkins put his shot over the net after a steal in the neutral zone.




The Bulldogs’ best chance of the first came in the final seconds when junior TJ McCabe centered for senior Tommy Vaughan but his one-timer slid wide.

The middle period featured more chances for each side but nothing past either Cammarata of McCafferty. Belanger gained some space with a nice move but Cammarata saw it the entire way for the glove save.

Midway through the period, Canton’s fourth line produced a great chance with sophomore Sam Carlino linking up with senior Dom Cammarata but his bid was denied. A minute later, senior Jack Connolly had a blast knocked down and gobbled up by McCafferty.

“Our fourth line played great, they turned the tide for us,” Shuman said. “We gave them regular shifts the second half of the game because they earned it. Sam Carlino, Dylan Coyne, and Dom Cammarata…they played great and they deserve credit for helping us grind that one out.

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Mansfield sophomore Kyle Oakley had a turn around wrist shot denied with four minutes left in the period and Cammarata had his best stop of the day, denying a wrist shot from Braedon Copparini with his stick on a chance in transition.

“We’ve been struggling the first five minutes of each game so I gave our green line, which is our fourth line [Dillon Benoit, Ryan Doherty, Jake Berdine], the start. And they responded great. We’ve been having trouble setting the tone and they certainly helped us tonight. We had two early power plays early with some good looks but overall I thought we played well.”

Canton boys hockey (2-0 Hockomock, 6-0-2 overall) wrapped up a three-game road trip with the win and returns home on Saturday to begin a three-game home stretch, starting with King Philip. Mansfield (1-1, 3-3-1) is back in action on Thursday at Brown University against Barrington.

Attleboro Rides Dominant Fourth Quarter Past North

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio (left) and Qualeem Charles (35) double team North Attleboro’s Edan Kelley (15) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For three quarters, not much could separate rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro on the hardwood inside Kenneth Pickering gymnasium.

A two-point lead for the visitors after a quarter, a tied game at the halftime break, and just a one-point advantage for the Bombardiers made it anyone’s game heading into the final frame.

And even two minutes into the final quarter, just one basket separated the rivals with Attleboro holding onto to a 45-43 lead.

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But just like that, the Bombardiers flexed their muscles on both ends of the court. Attleboro hit six of their next seven attempts from the floor with the lone miss hauled in for an offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws. And defensively, the Rocketeers missed three shots while committing four turnovers.

The result was an 18-0 run that turned the game on its head and a close contest into a comfortable 63-46 win for the Bombardiers.

“We made that run because we played defense,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “You can’t score 18 straight if you’re giving up baskets on the other end. We talk about being consistently good on defense and during that segment, we were very good.

“We went to a little different look on offense and we were able to spread them out a little bit. Obviously, when you make shots it changes everything. But we were stagnant on offense but it was because their defense kind of made us play like that.”

North Attleboro junior George Ladd (eight points, five assists) finished off a tough layup through contact to bring the hosts within 45-43 with 6:01 left on the clock.

Nick McMahon (nine points, seven assists) penetrated the North Attleboro zone and kicked it out to classmate Tim Callahan (17 points) for his fifth trifecta of the game, a shot that sparked the Attleboro offense.

Attleboro got a stop on the other end and senior Bryant Ciccio (15 points) sank a difficult baseline jumper before the Rocketeers had an empty trip. Ciccio took a pass from Jason Weir at the top of the key and sank another three for the Bombardiers, putting the visitors up 53-43 with just under four minutes to play.

North’s turnover woes (16 in total) factored in as Ciccio came up with a steal, the play resulting in two made free throws from Qualeem Charles (16 points, nine rebounds). It was near deja vu on the ensuing Rocketeer possession as Ciccio stripped the ball free and went in for an uncontested layup.

“We have to have more urgency at all times,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “When the moment gets big, we can’t change our focus level or let the scoreboard dictate how we play. It’s a hard lesson for our guys to learn but that’s back-to-back games, five minutes to play against a quality team…we’re not about moral victories, we have to be better. We have to do a better job coaching too.

“Credit to their better players, Ciccio stepped up in that fourth quarter, McMahon had a nice play, they hurt us inside on the glass. But selfishly from my end, we can’t turn the ball over and then have a breakdown defensively, it’s a double whammy. And then look up at the scoreboard and feel bad for yourself and let that dictate how you play. It certainly snowballed. Ultimately we have to step up and have more urgency.”

A travel gave the visitors the ball back, and despite their first miss of the stretch, Charles hauled in the board and was fouled going back up. He hit two more free throws while North’s cold stretch continued with a missed corner three.

McMahon capped the run with back-to-back strong takes to the rim sandwiched around a Rocketeer turnover after a double team from Ciccio and Charles.

“I thought Nick started feeling more comfortable towards the end,” Houle said. “He’s been terrific for us this year and against a zone, you can’t just pass it around the whole time you have to slip and look to attack a little bit. And then he started hitting wide open guys. So it was a win-win when you knock them down, you get a paint touch on the dribble penetration then kick it out.

“And for us in the second half, every time Q touched it we wanted him to score it. He’s a very unselfish player, he’d rather pass to his teammates but for us to be successful, we need him scoring in there.”

While the Bombardiers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, they were on the verge of doing so in each of the previous two quarters but the Rocketeers continually made timely shots and stops to stay in it.

Callahan (twice) and Ciccio both connected on early threes for the Bombardiers but Brody Rosenberg (eight points), Edan Kelley, and Ethan Friberg (11 points, eight rebounds) were equal to the task. A bucket from Lorenzo Wilson and two free throws from Ciccio had Attleboro up 15-13 at the end of one.

Another triple from Callahan opened the second quarter, Charles finished off a three-point play, and Callahan sank yet another three as Attleboro started the frame strong. But a triple from Rosenberg and another from Friberg kept the Rocketeers in the game.

After a Callahan putback, the Rocketeers closed the first half on a 7-0 run with Ladd scoring down low, Friberg connecting on his third trifecta of the half, and Tommy Whalen finishing off a nice pass from Josh Porter to make it 26-26 at the break.

“They shot very well tonight, they had nine threes,” Houle said. “When they hit them back-to-back, you can’t get over that hump to pull away. They started to miss some shots but I think our defense started forcing some different things. And then they started over-penetrating a little bit and we swallowed them up.”

Timmy carried us in the first half, he was terrific. And he needed that because he’s had some good looks throughout the season and he really stepped up tonight.

Attleboro created some room with a 9-4 run capped by a Ciccio three to start the second half but Whalen answered with a triple and Jared Vacher hit back-to-back threes as North Attleboro surged ahead for the first time, 39-37.

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But North closed the quarter with a pair of misses and three straight turnovers, the latter turning into a bucket from Alvin Harrison that gave Attleboro a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth.

“I think it was a combination of them having a concerted effort on where to attack us,” Mulkerrins said of the fourth. “We were mixing up man and zone, I have to see it but my feeling is that we got a little tired and got stuck watching. You can’t be late against that quality of a team.”

Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) will host King Philip on Friday. North Attleboro (2-3, 3-5) will try to bounce back when it hosts Milford on Friday.

Second Half Turnaround Sends Mansfield Past Foxboro

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen drives to the basket in the second half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FOXBORO, Mass. – What’s the best remedy for a struggling offense?

For the Mansfield boys basketball team, it started with a ramped-up defensive effort.

The Hornets, limited to less than 20 points in the first half with 10 turnovers, turned the tables on host Foxboro by using a much improved defensive effort to kick start its offense, and that combination resulted in a 50-42 victory.

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It was Foxboro’s defense that stole the show for the opening 16 minutes, frustrating a dangerous Hornet offense. The Warriors allowed just three field goals made in the second quarter and had one stretch where they forced the Hornets into five straight turnovers.

But it was truly a tale of two halves as Mansfield controlled for the final 16 minutes. While its turnover woes didn’t disappear right away, with two early second half turnovers, the Hornets’ defense kept Foxboro scoreless for nearly four minutes and without its second make of the period until the final seconds.

That defense led to some easy buckets to kickstart the visitors on the offensive end. An 8-0 run to start the third tied the game and an 8-2 run to close the third put the visitors in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.

“We were significantly more locked defensively in the second half,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “To hold them to a five-point third quarter obviously made a huge difference for us, that probably made the difference in the game. The fourth quarter was a little more even but if we don’t have that third quarter where we come out locked in. At half we said, ‘they’re good defensively and we’re going to grind out our possessions. We’ll get a basket or two throughout a good possession. But we need to defend better.’”

“With the exception of [Kevin] Gallagher hitting two 75-footers from the parking lot, I thought we did a really good job defensively. You take those six points out of the fourth quarter and now you have two back-to-back quarters where we defended well. I thought we did a better job offensively in the second half being patient, setting better screens, getting more people touching the ball and cutting, and being efficient with the ball, as opposed to standing around and watching one guy go against five good defenders.”

The Hornet defense doubled its turnover total in the second half, forcing 11 takeaways in the second half. Foxboro shot nearly 50% from the floor in the opening half but hit at just over a 30% success rate against Mansfield’s active defense in the second half.

Meanwhile, Mansfield cut its turnover number almost in half and shot almost 60% from the field in the second half.

“I thought our defensive intensity and focus was outstanding in the first half,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We really made things difficult for them and we were really locked in on the defensive end. I think the biggest key offensively in the first half is that we did a great job of taking care of the ball and limiting our turnovers. I thought we played with a lot of poise and it was a good tempo.

“But in the second half, unfortunately, they knocked down some threes and offensively, we got a little more stagnant and got away from what made us successful in the first half, we had some costly turnovers that gave them easy scoring opportunities. Credit Mansfield, obviously they turned their defensive intensity up to another level in the second half and Mike made some really good adjustments to disrupt us, so Mansfield deserves a lot of the credit.”

Senior Sam Stevens (14 points, four rebounds) and junior Matt Boen (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals) knocked down early threes, and Boen hauled in a defensive rebound and found classmate TJ Guy running ahead for an easy two as Mansfield opened the second half on an 8-0 run to knot the score at 27-27.

Foxboro countered with a triple from Will Morrison to stay ahead but Drew Rooney came up with a steal for an easy two, Boen converted a pull jump on the right wing, and then hit a deep contested three. A free throw from Cincere Gill (four points, three assists) helped Mansfield take a 35-32 lead into the fourth quarter.

Gallagher’s deep three kept the Warriors within two but Guy finished after a nice up-fake and the Mansfield defense kept Foxboro at bay for nearly four minutes.

Guy scored in low again, the Mansfield defense forced a turnover with a five-second violation, and Gill drained a three late in the shot clock for a 44-35 lead with 2:42 to play.

“I think [Cincere] gave us a boost,” Vaughan said. “We made the adjustment with Drew to shadow [Brandon] Borde a little bit more which minimized his opportunities. I thought between the two of them, and just coming out of the locker room with a new mindset. Cincere was definitely a spark coming off the bench and he hit the big three too that helped create some separation. It was really a great possession to get an open look for him.”

Stevens put a cherry on top of the comeback with a contested corner three to put the Hornets up 47-37 with two minutes to play.

“I think anytime you can defend people to a satisfactory level, your offense is a heck of a lot easier,” Vaughan said. “You’re not always going down on the defensive end looking at the scoreboard and coming back on the offensive end thinking every basket matters so much. Now you have a little bit of freedom on the offensive end to take some chances, take some risks.”

Borde (15 points, six rebounds, five assists) was a big reason for Foxboro’s strong start to the game. While Stevens, Jason See, Rooney, and Guy each scored for the visitors, Borde scored Foxboro’s first nine points. Ryan Hughes scored to tie the game and Gallagher came off the bench to sink a late triple to give Foxboro a 14-11 lead after one.

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Boen nailed a three to open the second quarter but two more from Borde and another three from Gallagher put the hosts ahead 19-14. The lead hovered at five points for a good stretch before senior Dylan Barreira hit an open three and Gallagher hit his third of the opening half to put Foxboro up 27-19 at half. Freshman Chris Hill’s three-pointer was Mansfield’s lone basket of the final five minutes of the second quarter.

“Mansfield is a great team, they are one of the best programs in the state and they don’t lose very often for a reason,” Gibbs said. “They are very, very good at what they do. We wanted to take the game on quarter at a time…you know a team like that has runs in them. You’re not going to beat Mansfield with one big knockout punch, one big home run play. It’s going to be a 32-minute grind, and in the end, they were able to make a few more plays then we did and they deserve credit for that.”

Mansfield boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it continues its road trip with a visit to Milford. Foxboro (1-3, 3-4) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts Oliver Ames on Wednesday.

Milford Survives Sharon Surge With Overtime Win

Milford boys basketball Jordan Darling
Milford junior Jordan Darling goes up for a layup in the first half against Sharon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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SHARON, Mass. – A typical high school basketball game will feature plenty of momentum swings and runs over the course of 32 minutes.

The Sharon and Milford boys basketball teams managed to fit all of the drama into the fourth quarter and overtime on Sunday afternoon. Although the Eagles managed to erase a large second half deficit, and another Milford lead in the final seconds, the Hawks prevailed with a 79-78 overtime victory on the road.

“That was just a classic, wild high school basketball game, that’s the only way to sum it up,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver.

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The Hawks’ lead ballooned to as much as 18 halfway through the third quarter, and the advantage sat at 55-42 with the visitors just eight minutes away from a win.

The Eagles had other plans, however, dominating the fourth quarter to the tune of an 11-0 run over the first four minutes, putting the Hawks’ lead in serious jeopardy. Despite a timeout to try and stop the bleeding, Sharon continued on, pushing the run to 17-0 to seize a four-point lead with two minutes to play.

But as shocking as the run from the Eagles was, so was the response from the Hawks, which was a 9-0 burst in a one minute span, turning a four-point deficit into a five-point lead. Again, Sharon refused to fold by rattling off a 7-2 burst over the final 20 seconds, capped by sophomore John Baez’s ridiculous three-pointer that beat the buzzer to force overtime.

“That was mostly just effort,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson of the comeback. “We got down 18 points in the third quarter so we called a timeout, switched up our defenses a little bit. The kids worked unbelievably hard on the defensive end, we found some shots on the offensive end with it. But it comes back to their effort and hard work.”

Sharon senior Andrew Burton (24 points, five rebounds, six assists) gave the hosts the lead in the overtime period before Milford senior Colby Pires (19 points, nine rebounds) answered with his fifth three-pointer of the game to put the visitors in front.

Baez knotted the score with a free throw before Ralph Franklin Jr. sank one of his own to put the Hawks back in front. Junior Matt Baskin (career-high 27 points, eight rebounds) sank a pair from the line on one end but a foul on the box out allowed Jordan Darling (22 points, 14 rebounds) to reciprocate on the other end for a 72-71 lead.

Baskin drove through the lane for two more for a lead with 1:20 to play but it was Darling again who had the answer, finishing over good defense down low. Tyler Wetherbee and Darling combined for three free twos as the Hawks’ defense picked up key back-to-back stops on defense.

Caleb Gayle brought the Eagles within two but Ben Blanchard (20 points) converted two huge free throws in the final seconds. Senior Aidan Kane sank a three at the buzzer to bring the final score to a one-point game.

“Give [Sharon] all the credit,” Seaver said. “We played well enough to build a double-digit lead, I think we got it up to 18 at one point. And they are the ones who hit shots in the fourth quarter and more importantly got stops. It took us forever to finally get a basket to fall. At the end of the day, a win is a win in this league. Everybody you play on any given night is good and you have to be ready to go. But a win is a win.”

Blanchard was a big reason that Milford got off to a strong start, hitting three trifectas in the opening eight minutes, slashing to the basket for another two for 11 of Milford’s 20 first quarter points.

The Hawks used an 11-3 burst in the second quarter to create the separation it carried into the fourth quarter. A three-pointer from Kane brought the Eagles within one possession at 22-19 but Darling hit four straight free throws, Pires knocked down a three, Blanchard scored again, and Ralph Franklin Jr. finished at the rim for a 33-22 advantage.

While Milford’s offense continued its normal pace in the third quarter, Sharon got a huge boost from Baskin. The junior wing scored 12 of his points in that quarter, keeping the Eagles within shouting distance entering the fourth quarter. He hit twice from three-point range and had three buckets driving to the hoop.

“We think he can be a very good player in this league and he’s gaining confidence in each practice, in each game,” Ferguson said about Baskin, who transferred into the program this season. “We’re in his ear about it. He creates a lot of mismatches with his height, length, and offensive ability. If they put a big on him, he can take them off the dribble or if they put a smaller guy on him, we can put him in the post and he made some nice post moves today. He really asserted himself for the first time this year.”

Burton sparked the fourth quarter with four straight points and Baez added a free throw. The Eagles took advantage of a foul and a technical foul, making two of the four three throws and Cam Baker (10 points) scored on the ensuing possession to make it 55-51.

“Their zone really slowed us down,” Seaver said. “We tried to get it to the high post, we tried to dump it down and we actually had a lot of good looks from the outside but we just went ice cold for a long stretch. That translated to a poor defensive end during their comeback but credit Sharon. Credit their zone, they did a good job changing the pace on us. In the end, we made one more play, hit one more free throw, and that’s what we needed.”

Kiran Chandrasekaran took a feed from Burton and finished to make it 55-53 and Burton tied the game after a fast break. Burton gave the Eagles the lead with a free throw and Baskin pushed it to 59-55 with a three-pointer with two minutes left.

Pires played the role of hero for the Hawks. After Darling hit a free throw, Pires sank two technical foul free throws and then drained a corner three on the ensuing possession. After the Hawks drew a charge, Pires sank another triple and Milford suddenly had a 64-59 lead.

“Colby is a three-year varsity player, a two-time captain, a two-year starter and he’s kind of the heart and soul of this program,” Seaver said. “He made senior plays and he made winning plays. That’s who he is, that’s what he does and most importantly he showed it on the court today for us.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Baskin hit two free throws with 20.3 seconds left only for Blanchard to answer with two of his own with 11.5 seconds left. Burton drove to the hoop for two and the Eagles were able to create a turnover on Milford’s inbounds pass. Baez beat the buzzer with a three to force overtime.

“It’s a matter of mentality,” Ferguson said of what can turn games like this into a win. “Yeah, maybe this group hasn’t won a lot of basketball games but they want to win basketball games. We saw that there. I have to coach it better, we have to get a little better with our execution, and we have to maintain our emotions. I think that hurt us today. Hopefully, these experiences are building the confidence that will help us in the long run.”

Milford boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) moves into sole possession of first place in the Davenport with the win and will be back in action on Wednesday against Mansfield. Sharon (0-4, 0-5) will host Taunton on Tuesday in search of its first win.