Taunton Turns Up The Tempo, Pulls Away From Foxboro

Taunton boys basketball Jakari Innocent
Taunton freshman Jakari Innocent (4) goes up for a layup against Foxboro senior Sam Golub in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 TAUNTON, Mass. — After a slow start to the game on the offensive end, Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey turned to a defensive adjustment in search of an energy boost.

The Tigers extended their defense to full-court pressure from the second quarter on, and while it had some positives on the defensive end, its biggest impact was changing the pace to where Taunton wanted it to be.

That tempo kicked Taunton’s offense into gear and the hosts combined a strong finish to the third quarter with a hot start to the fourth to run away with a 64-52 win over visiting Foxboro.

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“We had to,” Dacey said of the decision to press. The Tigers had just three buckets in the first quarter, shooting under 20%. “I think we got into a good tempo [with the press]. We’re able to run around, we didn’t really turn them over but it sped the game up and got it to where we wanted it.”

The Warriors had their best stretch in the middle of the third quarter anchored by senior Alex Penders (21 points, 10 rebounds), who sat out the entire second quarter due to foul trouble. Penders sparked an 11-2 run for Foxboro, assisting or scoring on the first four buckets of the run while Sam Golub capped it with a three-pointer off an offensive rebound and assist from Ryan Cotter. That run presented Foxboro with its lone lead of the second half, 38-33.

Taunton took the punch and countered with one of its own, landing a 12-2 run in response. Troy Santos (17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) drained a three after an offensive rebound from Dimari Brown, and Chris Volcy (18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals) turned a steal into a traditional three-point lead down the other end, giving the Tigers the lead back for good. Volcy and Santos each added two more and Chris Perault (22 points, 5 rebounds) capitalized on a turnover for two and a 45-40 lead going into the fourth.

“If we’re not shooting well, which we didn’t tonight, we have to find our points in other ways,” Dacey said. Taunton went 9-for-10 from the free throw line, scored 20 points off turnovers, and 17 second chance points. “It’s not the most attractive sometimes, but guys like Volcy will do the work to get them. Dimari had a couple offensive rebounds in his first varsity start.

“You have to piece it together because [Foxboro] isn’t easy to play. They’re disciplined. You get that element in your game, that makes you a better team.”

The Tigers carried the momentum into the fourth and duplicated that run, opening the fourth with another 12-2 surge. Perault opened the scoring and then converted a putback after an early turnover from the Warriors. Penders cleaned up his own miss to keep Foxboro within seven, but a steal from Volcy led to a three from Santos and then Volcy sank a triple of his own. After a Foxboro miss, Santos got a layup and suddenly the Tigers had a comfortable lead at 57-42 with four minutes to play.

“I thought mentally our response wasn’t as good as it needed to be when they went on that run,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We lost our focus and composure a little bit and didn’t stick to the plan as much as we needed to. When you do that against a team that is as explosive as Taunton, things can snowball really quickly. If you can’t focus on the one play that you’re on, the game can get away from you quickly and that’s what you saw tonight. We’re going to use it as a learning experience and it’s a good reminder we have to stay present and win the possession we’re on.

“I thought Taunton was able to get the game to the tempo they wanted in the second half, it was in their pace. Against them, we wanted to make it more of a half court game and their press sped us up. Even though there were a lot of possessions that we ultimately got good shots and good looks, it was in their tempo and over time, that favored them.”

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Penders scored half of Foxboro’s 14 first quarter points and hauled in three rebounds, but was hit with his third foul with 1:30 to go. Ryan Kelley added a first quarter three while Sam Golub (9 points, 6 rebounds) and Ryan Cotter also scored as the Warriors staked a 14-6 lead.

Nolan Gordon, Andrew Finn, and Ian Foley had second quarter buckets to keep Foxboro’s offense going but Perault erupted for 11 points in the frame as the Tigers jumped ahead, 24-23, at halftime.

Taunton boys basketball (8-3 Hockomock, 10-4 overall) hits the road to visit North Attleboro on Friday while Foxboro (5-6, 9-6) takes a trip to division-leading Mansfield.

Sophomores Assini, Kilroy Lift King Philip Over Taunton

King Philip boys basketball Jack Assini
King Philip sophomore Jack Assini, pictured here in the first half, poured in a career-high to help lift the Warriors past Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip sophomore Jack Assini hasn’t played many meaningful minutes so far this season as he splits time between varsity and JV, but head coach Dave DeStefano was looking for some help defense against a potent Taunton offense.

Not only did Assini deliver on the defensive end, he provided a huge spark offensively with a career-high 13 points and helped ignite a huge fourth quarter for the Warriors, who ran away with a 70-51 decision over the Tigers.

Assini hit three three-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter, while sophomore Tommy Kilroy hit four threes on his way to tying a career-high 21 points. Seniors Will Laplante and Tommy Martorano each sank three more triples as the Warriors tied a season-high with 13 made three-pointers on 43% shooting.

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“Jack’s shown some great improvement in practice and even in the games he’s gotten into, his defensive intensity has really shown,” DeStefano said. “We knew they’d look to attack a lot and he does a great job with on-ball defense so I knew he’d play. I didn’t expect to use him as much as we did but he was our team MVP tonight and we don’t win that game without him.

“He had a good shooting performance at practice yesterday and I just told him to do that again tonight. He shot with confidence tonight and as soon as that first one went in, he was feeling it.”

The Tigers spent the second half clawing back into the game. KP turned a four-point advantage at halftime (26-22) into a 13-point lead with an 11-3 surge in the middle of the third quarter as Laplante (19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists) hit a pair of threes, Kilroy had another, and Martorano (13 points, 7 rebounds) broke free in transition for an easy bucket.

Taunton rallied with threes from freshman Jakari Innocent and senior Al Morriseau (career-high 14 points, 5 rebounds) plus a layup through contact from junior Troy Santos (7 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds). But Kilroy answered with two and Assini sank his first triple with just seconds left to restore an eight-point advantage at 45-37.

The visitors once again clawed back into it with a 9-3 run to start the fourth with back-to-back buckets from seniors Chris Perault (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Chris Volcy (8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and a triple from Santos to make it a two-point game, 48-46, with six minutes to play in the fourth.

Kilroy answered with a triple on the other end and the floodgates opened for the hosts as they finished the game with a 22-5 run in the last five minutes.

“I think we completed the circle of learning to play with the lead,” DeStefano said. “You know teams are going to make runs, we knew Taunton would make one and it’s about how you respond. I think we did a good job of responding to it tonight. Now that we’ve learned that, I think we can have a nice little run the rest of the way.

“I think tonight was the first time we really had the threes in the flow of the offense. We take a lot of threes so there’s going to be times when we take them early and take them in transition but as long as they shoot with confidence, we’ll be in good shape.”

Kilroy stretched the lead with another three-pointer after a rebound from sophomore Tommy McLeish and feed from senior Grant Kinney (7 rebounds, 5 assists), and Assini scored five straight as KP’s lead ballooned to double digits. Like Assini, Kilroy finished with eight points in the fourth quarter.

“I think he’s definitely found his niche on this team,” DeStefano said of Kilroy, who is now third on the team in scoring. “Coming in we asked him to be a defensive guy, to do all the dirty work and do those things that don’t really show up in the scorebook. And I think now that he’s done that, he’s taken the next step on the offensive end. He’s starting to drive with confidence, shoot with confidence too.”

Taunton took a lead with a strong second quarter but had a cold spell to finish the half as KP rattled off an 11-0 run to take a lead into halftime as the Tigers were forced to put three starters on the bench with foul trouble. The Tigers didn’t lead at any point in the second half.

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“Our shot selection had to improve,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “There were times when we took some quick shots, not necessarily bad ones but quick ones and we made that run…but then we had a couple of quick shots in a row and then they opened it back up. Now they’re steaming and we’re stalled offensively. We had a little confusion on the offensive that turned into a turnover or a bad shot, and that’s stuff that we need to have better control of at this point in the season.

“We were rushing things, and there are times we can get away with it but tonight, anytime we made a mistake we paid for it. [KP] was pumped up, they were flying around tonight.”

King Philip boys basketball (6-4 Hockomock, 8-5 overall) faces a big test on Tuesday when it welcomes Mansfield. Taunton (7-3, 8-4) visits New Bedford on Sunday before hosting Foxboro on Tuesday.

Strong Defense Helps Mansfield Take Down Rival Franklin

Mansfield boys basketball Trevor Foley
Mansfield junior Trevor Foley, who scored a game-high 17 points, goes up for a layup in the fourth quarter against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 MANSFIELD, Mass. — Franklin and Mansfield are no longer competing for the same division title in the Hockomock League but that hasn’t changed anything in this rivalry.

The Hornets got off to a strong start offensively, locked in defensively all night long, and junior Trevor Foley had a big second half en route to a 56-46 win over the Panthers in the lone meeting of the season.

Mansfield hit five of its nine three-pointers inside the first eight minutes and forced Franklin into 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half, limiting the visitors to just four points in the second quarter.

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Foley had a quiet first half with just one make but roared to life in the second half, scoring 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor while hauling in eight rebounds. His one-handed slam gave Mansfield its largest lead (38-26) with three minutes to go in the third quarter, capping a 10-point quarter for the junior.

“It’s a lot less stressful that we don’t have to play them again in three weeks,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. It marks the first time in his tenure (2005) that the teams will only play once. “We’ll miss that, we want to play them a second time because this game brings so much out of everyone. The kids really care, it matters to them, it’s like a state tournament game. That’s why we do this, it’s not for the 40-point wins or losses, it’s for games like this that you can find a way to play your best and gut out a win.

“They’re a good basketball team, we knew they’d hit some shots so our job was just to minimalize it to the best of our ability, and I thought we did that. They had a strategy to try and offset things we were doing but we were able to rotate, force a few turnovers, and got a lot of deflections to disrupt what they were trying to do. That’s just guys having a high basketball IQ and being committed for 32 minutes. I think that was a difference, we were locked in the whole game.”

Early threes from Davon Sanders (nine points, five assists, four rebounds, four steals) and Caden Colby (five points, six rebounds) gave the Hornets the lead off the bat, and Franklin was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.

While the first quarter was more back-and-forth — which featured a pair of threes from Franklin senior Justin Allen (16 points, 5 rebounds) — a late triple from Sanders put the Hornets in front the rest of the way.

“I thought we played with pretty good pace, I just thought we didn’t take care of the basketball especially early in the basketball game,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We were flying up and down, and getting it up the court quick…but you can’t decide when it’s time to play. I thought we came out very soft and very slow, and a bit careless with the ball. We usually move the ball a lot better, but we didn’t get it moving side to side like we like to do, and we didn’t get a lot of paint touches and that’s a credit to their defense.

“The second quarter really did us in. The lead got to nine or 10 points, and it’s hard to come back against a team like Mansfield because they grind it out, you have to be perfect. Give them credit because they out-executed us tonight.”

The lead held up thanks in part to Mansfield’s swarming defense, which limited Franklin to just 2-for-10 shooting in the second and five turnovers. The Panthers were strong on defense as well as they held the Hornets to just 10 points. JT Veiking came off the bench and scored all eight of his points in the first half to help give his squad a 27-18 lead at halftime.

“A game like this, and they do the same thing, you start preparing for this one a week ago,” Vaughan said. “You’re starting to put some stuff in, starting to talk about certain things, and you’re not using names but talking about things that will happen tonight. What we do as coaches, we’re not going to allow our teams to fail at our expense and we’re going to do everything we possibly can. If we play this game 100 times, we win 50 and they win 50, that’s just how these games go.

“When you play them, you empty everything and then try to come up with new stuff for the second time around. It’s just a chess match. Even the stuff CJ did with us tonight, that they haven’t done before. We both do our base stuff but there’s a wrinkle here, a wrinkle there. At the end of the day, they didn’t shoot as well as they’d like and if they shot better, it’s a different game. But that doesn’t take away from how committed and how hard we played and the plays we had to make. Every game with them is its own war and you just come up with twists and turns and trying to figure out how to gain one more basket because that’s what these games come down to.”

Foley didn’t take long to get going in the second half, finishing off a steal from Eddie McCoy (8 points, 5 assists) for the first bucket of the third quarter. Sanders added his third triple and Brandon Jackman converted a putback through traffic, and then Foley broke loose for a one-handed slam with authority for a 38-26 lead.

“It meant even more than it usually does because we only play them once so it’s a sweet victory,” Foley said. “It was a team effort. We moved the ball quickly on offense letting us create some driving lanes to the basket. We doubled [Sean] O’Leary on defense because he’s a great player but it was just smart, disciplined basketball and a team effort.”

Allen, Bradley Herndon, and Ben Harvey all found success attacking the basket but Foley answered for the Hornets and kept the hosts ahead by double-digits, 42-32, going into the fourth.

The Panthers continued to claw back into it as Caden Sullivan splashed in a three early and had another three-point attempt in the air that just rimmed out that would have cut the deficit to four. Andrew O’Neill had a strong take to the rim to get it back to eight, but Foley answered on the other end.

“He missed some early ones that I thought would have created a little bit of separation, and he was frustrated with himself,” Vaughan said of Foley. “The thing you love about a kid like Foley is that he self-motivates. I don’t need to get on him about that, he knows how important a game like this is. I talked to him before the game about not fouling out and being able to cover a kid like O’Leary, and he did it. He stayed disciplined and he made everything difficult and that’s why we can win games because we have special players like him on the floor.”

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Sean O’Leary (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) converted through contact and Franklin’s defense forced a turnover with just under three minutes to go. A miss on the front end of a one-and-one gave Mansfield possession back, and after using nearly the entire 35-second shot clock, Chris Hill drained a triple to extend the lead back to 10 with just over two minutes left.

“That was the key to the game just trying to minimize what they want to do,” Vaughan said. “We wanted to slow [O’Leary] down because he’s an elite level player in the league and then not giving up anything uncontested. There was a play late when we ran three kids at the ball, that was the focus. Our defense made a big difference.”

Mansfield boys basketball (8-1 Hockomock, 13-1 overall) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Canton. Franklin (8-1, 9-1) will try to bounce back from its first loss at home against Milford.

Strong Start Keeps King Philip Ahead In Win Over North

King Philip boys basketball Brandon Nicastro
King Philip sophomore Brandon Nicastro goes up for a layup against North Attleboro senior Givany Carney in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip came out and landed a haymaker against North Attleboro, but the Rocketeers refused to go do without a fight.

The Warriors jumped out to a 17-point lead less than six minutes into the game but had to hold off a handful of comeback attempts from the visiting Rocketeers to eventually secure a 60-50 win on Friday night.

Senior Tommy Martorano hit a trio of three-pointers and scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the opening frame, Tommy Kilroy (10 points, nine rebounds, three assists) tossed in another three for the Warriors, and the hosts turned a quick 11-0 lead into a 19-2 advantage after a transition bucket from Trevor Clyde.

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While it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of the game, North Attleboro closed the first with a quick 7-0 burst and that would be a sign of things to come as the Rocketeers continually scratched and clawed their way back into the game.

“Any good team in this league, they are going to come back,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “It’s a game of runs and it’s about how you respond. We knew they would and they did a good job making us uncomfortable with their pressure, we struggled against it for long stretches and I thought that carried over into our defense and our intensity.

“I’m happy the boys were able to roll with the punches and find a way to get through it, and that’s what they were able to do tonight.”

The lead ballooned back to 17 in the third quarter (36-19) after Grant Kinney (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) cashed in on a North turnover with a layup and Tommy McLeish (three points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks) scored in the post. But once again, there was no quit in North Attleboro as they responded with a 15-3 run over the final five minutes of the quarter. Sophomore Chase Frisoli (career-high 16 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of threes and Jonnie Obuchowski (10 rebounds, four assists) added one after an offensive rebound from Ryan Bannon. Frisoli sank another triple after Obuchowski crashed the offensive glass and then beat the shot clock with a mid-range jumper. A free throw from Givany Carney (team-high 17 points) trimmed the once-double-digit advantage down to just five, 39-34, with under a minute to play in the third.

“That’s where the frustration stems from because it’s not our first rodeo at this point,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins about having to overcome the early deficit. “We’ve had too many instances where we aren’t ready to play or not ready to execute part of the gameplan. We put ourselves in holes, and to come back was good. I’m proud of them for that, it speaks to their character and their mental toughness, but sooner than later we have to learn it because we’re making it too difficult for ourselves.”

As the game continued to play out, the Warriors got the shot they needed to answer as Kinney buried a corner three with just seconds left for a 42-34 lead going into the fourth.

KP kept the momentum to start the fourth, landing yet another heavy punch that could have put North away. Martorano (four rebounds) sank another three and then found Clyde out in transition for two more to give the Warriors a comfortable 47-34 lead.

Jack Munley cut to the rim for two for an immediate response from the Big Red, Frisoli attacked the rim for two more, and Munley found Carney for a three on the next trip to get within two possessions at 47-41.

“I thought we were stagnant offensively, credit to KP because their defense was good,” Mulkerrins said. “They got in the paint a lot better than we might have expected and took away some of our drives. I thought the press just freed us up a little bit. We were pressing on offense because we were playing so poorly on defense. I think once they saw the ball go in, they relax a little bit and were able to play a little bit.

“And we had some guys come off the bench play well. I thought our senior captain Jack Munley came in and had the best game he’s had, not to say he hasn’t played well before but he wasn’t getting a lot of rotational minutes and tonight he was an instant spark for us.”

North nearly got closer but KP got a couple of stops and Kilroy snatched an offensive rebound and found Martorano for a much-needed three for KP. A baseline jumper from Kinney was true and once again the Warriors had a double-digit lead with just 2:33 to go.

Derek Maceda answered for North with a strong take and a KP turnover resulted in a layup for Frisoli. North Attleboro, which used a press for the majority of the game, forced another turnover and Obuchowski dished one to Carney in the corner for three, and suddenly the Rocketeers were within four — the closest they had been since the first minute of the game — with just 1:33 to play.

But before North could get established defensively, KP senior Will Laplante (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists) sprinted up the court and found a gap in the middle, dropping in a floater for two. Martorano helped force a turnover and Laplante punished the visitors with a triple with a minute to go, pushing the lead to 57-48, which proved to be the final punch the Warriors needed.

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“That was a big five points that Will had in the last couple of minutes. We had some guys hit some big shots when we needed it, and that’s what makes teams great when they can respond in those situations and they did a good job of that tonight.

“We’re still learning to play with the lead. It’s a work in progress and we’re still learning but it’s only the halfway point so we’re getting there.”

North’s 7-0 surge to end the first turned into a 14-3 run overall as the Rocketeers carried some momentum into the second to make it a six-point game. But as they would do the rest of the way, the Warriors responded when they had to as Laplante, Kilroy, and Martorano scored to give KP a double-digit lead, 31-19, going into the half.

King Philip boys basketball (5-3 Hockomock, 7-4 overall) hits the road for a visit to Canton on Tuesday while North Attleboro (0-8, 0-9) will visit Foxboro.

Fourth Quarter Surge Boosts Bulldogs Past Oliver Ames

Canton boys basketball Matt Chafin
Canton senior Matt Chafin goes up for a layup against Oliver Ames’ Ari Spiliakos in the second half on Friday night. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Canton’s Julius Hicks hadn’t attempted a field goal all game, but when the Bulldogs needed him in crunch time, the senior captain delivered.

Hicks hit all three of his attempts from the floor in the fourth, including a pair of big three-pointers, to help Canton capture a 48-39 win on the road over Oliver Ames.

There was little separation throughout the first three quarters, and points were at a premium with the sides even at half (21-21) and again after three quarters of play (29-29). After scoring just eight points in the third quarter, Canton erupted for an 8-0 run to start the fourth in less than two minutes.

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Sophomore Anthony Dilietizia drained a three off of the opening inbounds pass and a steal from senior Matt Chafin resulted in a pair of free throws for the senior captain. Another OA turnover, their third straight to start the final period, Chafin (15 points, 4 assists) penetrated the lane and dished it out to Hicks (10 points) for a triple to make it 37-29 just 1:46 into the fourth.

“I thought we executed a little bit better offensively, we played with more structure and more purpose,” said Canton head coach Eric MacKinnon. “We made sure to call something out every time. And defensively we got some deflections and got some steals and we converted. We really emphasized really getting organized and running something with a purpose.”

Oliver Ames sophomore Cole Craffey (17 points, five rebounds, three assists) hit back with a traditional three-point play to cut the deficit to five, but after some empty trips from both sides, Hicks took a pass from Zaza Francoeur (7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and hit a three from straightaway.

“He was ready,” MacKinnon said of Hicks. “He looked exhausted out there but he made them when it mattered. Like any high school team, when you make a couple of shots, it gets you a little more excited on the other end.

“I think they missed some shots they normally make but I thought when we got the steals and deflections, we made the right play instead of forcing something. It was good that when we built that lead, we kept it and didn’t let it go.

Caden Mirliani finished a tough layup through contact to give Canton the first double-digit lead of the game at 42-32, and even when OA answered, the Bulldogs broke the press and a long possession finished with a layup from Hicks.

“The start of the fourth quarter was the difference,” said Oliver Ames head coach Oliver Vil. “They hit a big three, we missed one, and that’s kind of been the story for us the last couple of games with these little runs and we don’t stop the bleeding when we should.

“We started to play hero ball a little bit, and that’s something you get when you’re a young team. Defensively we’ve done well, we were second in the league in points against. We’re just hurting a little bit on the offensive end, and hopefully, that comes with more experience.”

The first three quarters featured back-and-forth runs from both sides. Francoeur hit a three to open the game and converted his own miss as Canton jumped out to a 6-0 lead but the Tigers came alive and closed with a 13-0 run, including a pair of three-pointers from senior Chris Elias (9 points).

A layup from Ashton Cetoute and consecutive threes from Chafin gave Canton the lead to start the second with an 8-0 run, and a bucket from Lucas Massih kept the Bulldogs ahead.

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OA freshman Soren Lolonga (13 points, 7 rebounds) and Craffey combined for the final seven points to pull the Tigers level at the half, 21-21.

Lolonga was OA’s lone scorer in the third quarter, accounting for all eight of the Tigers’ points. Jamaal McConnell had success attacking the basket and had a late assist in the third to Mirliani, but Lolonga tied the game at 29-29 with a late free throw.

Canton boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 6-3 overall) hits the road on Tuesday with a visit to Franklin while Oliver Ames (1-5, 3-6) visits North Attleboro.

King Philip Stuns North With Last Second Goal

King Philip boys hockey
King Philip senior Sam Naggar (right) celebrates his game-winning goal with 5.8 seconds left. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 FOXBORO, Mass. – King Philip established control early in the game while North Attleboro asserted itself in the third period.

It looked like the Warriors and Rocketeers were destined to finish level, especially with the strong play of goalies Kyle Abbott and Nate Kelly.

The Warriors peppered Kelly for two periods but only lit the lamp once while North gained traction offensively in the third, including the tying goal early in the fame. But Abbott came up with two of his biggest stops with under a minute to go.

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With 21.9 seconds left in the game, KP senior James Boldy won a faceoff in the defensive zone back to classmate Sam Naggar, who whipped a clearance around the boards and out of the zone. North collected the puck in its own zone but heavy pressure from junior Rowan Boulger down low forced a turnover at the blue line.

With the clock ticking down, Naggar released a quick slap shot that deflected off a defenseman’s leg and through the five-hole with just 5.8 seconds left in the game to deliver King Philip a stunning 2-1 win over North Attleboro.

“Just put it on the net in that situation, good things will happen when it gets there,” said first-year King Philip head coach Toby Carlow. “The first half of the game we were better for sure. The third period, give credit to [North] because they came out and played very hard, they didn’t want to go home with a loss. In a game like this, one mistake ends up as the difference in the game.”

King Philip carried a 1-0 lead into the third period thanks to a second period goal from junior Tyler Douglas. The Warriors had a hefty advantage in offensive zone time and a large edge in shots on goal (29-10) entering the final period.

The chances for North started early in the final and snowballed from there. A weird bounce off the glass on a clearance from KP presented North senior Mark Ayvazyan with a good chance right in front but Abbott came up with the stop.

“I think the kids deserved a better fate,” said North Attleboro head coach Kyle Heagney. “Nate Kelly played very well for us. We had a very sluggish start but we got better as the game went on, got better each shift. The third period, I thought we controlled the majority of the puck but just a simple breakdown at the end destroyed our destiny.

“There’s always a lesson in a win and a loss, but there always seems like a bigger lesson in the loss. When you lose with five seconds in the game, as a coach, you’re always wondering what if, what if, what if. It comes down to inches and milliseconds…there were a lot of what ifs.”

The Rocketeers’ pressure was rewarded with a power play opportunity and despite having limited offensive zone time through the first 30-plus minutes, North wasted very little time cashing in.

Brody Gaulin took the faceoff, Joe Quinn skated in and dished the puck back to Ayvazyan at the blue line and his low shot/pass found Kaden Burns skating in front of the net all alone and he tucked away a low backhand shot into the back of the net just five seconds into the man-advantage situation to pull the Rocketeers level at 1-1 with 10:09 to go in the game.

North kept it going and had another power play chance just two minutes later but Abbott and the KP defense was up to the task. Boldy and Naggar had early clearances, and the line of Nate Garstka, Douglas, Cam Lehan-Allen, and Sonny Bianculli denied North any chances.

The best chance of the power play came when North defenseman Gavin Arabian ripped a deflected shot that took a bounce right in front of goal but Abbott gloved it comfortably and held on.

KP’s second penalty kill unit of Max Robison, Evan Trujillo, Naggar, and Ethan Sullivan killed the rest of the power play.

North had two good chances in the final two minutes. First, Dominic Bertino came flying down the right side but his wrist shot was snagged by Abbott. And right before the final face-off that sent KP to the win, Ayvazian had a good bid from a similar spot but Abbott had another stop.

“Kyle made two huge saves and he was ready for them,” Carlow said. “It’s tough sometimes when for the first half of the game, you’re not seeing a lot so you have to stay ready for when it does come and he was. Their goalie played outstanding too.

The Warriors came out on the front foot and registered 20 shots on Kelly in just the opening 15 minutes. Jack Gresham had two early chances, Evan Regan had a good shot after a feed from Trevor Pelkey, and Tim Mullen had a shot through traffic but all of KP’s chances in the first were turned aside by Kelly.

“Nate showed up and did his job,” Heagney said. “The defense and the forwards, we didn’t do our job for Nate tonight. I thought he played very well and he’s the reason we were in the game so late.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

KP’s breakthrough came just over a minute into the second period. Douglas won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Robison battled in front with a defenseman and Douglas came skating back through and finished a low shot from in close to make it 1-0 at 13:56 of the second.

“Give credit to KP, I thought they outplayed us, I thought they beat us to pucks, and I thought they were tougher on pucks,” Heagney said. “It just seemed like it was their night, I don’t think we put enough pressure on them or tested their goalie. In order to win a game, you need effort, energy, and execution and we were lacking in execution tonight.”

King Philip boys hockey (3-0 Hockomock, 7-1 overall) travels to Canton on Saturday for a big showdown with the Bulldogs at 6:20. North Attleboro (1-2, 4-3) has a non-league tilt at home against Dartmouth.