MANSFIELD, Mass – Stoughton held Mansfield’s leading scorers Brendan Hill and Ryan Boulter to a combined 18 points.
A defensive battle, right?
Not exactly, as senior Greg Romanko dropped 18, sophomore Michael Boen had 13, and junior Kevin Conner added 12 as Mansfield escaped a pesky Stoughton team, 72-57.
“I was happy the way our kids responded in the second half,” Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan said. “I thought we did a good job coming out in the second half and getting some key stops on key possessions and getting a couple of easy baskets.”
The Hornets needed a strong second half, as Stoughton only trailed two at the halftime break, 34-32.
Both teams came out shooting, specifically from behind the arc. After Stoughton took their first lead at 8-7, Mansfield responded with a 9-0 run to make it 16-8 before finishing the quarter up 24-17.
The Black Knights clamped down defensively in the second quarter, only allowing 10 points from Mansfield while dropping 15 of their own to close the gap at the break.
“We’re just so pleased with the effort to come in here and play one of the best teams in the state [and] not back down,” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan said.
Mansfield started the second half on a 12-0 run with six points coming from Connor and 4 from Romanko.
“I was happy the way our kids responded in the second half,” Vaughan said. “I thought we did a good job coming out in the second half and getting some key stops on key possessions and getting a couple of easy baskets.”
Mansfield quickly called a timeout to regroup, and their rebuttal sealed the deal. On the next play, Rocky DeAndrade’s floater broke Stoughton’s run and two back-to-back defense stands paved the way for another DeAndrade jumper and a Boen three.
“Boen’s three and Rocky’s back-to-back jumpers against the triangle-and-two were huge possessions,” Vaughan said.
Stoughton took their chances with Mansfield’s guards, knowing the scoring ability of Hill and Romanko.
“You take a gamble that some of these guys aren’t going to hit shots,” Gallivan said. “[Rocky] hit some great shots in the mid-fourth. He hit a runner that looked like an old school runner. We were able to match them for a while but it’s hard to play from behind against a team like that.”
Stoughton was able to get it to six again at 63-57, but Mansfield ended the game on a 9-0 run.
Brendan Hill and Ryan Boulter are no longer surprising teams with their scoring abilities, but it’s also becoming an obvious that Mansfield is incredibly deep.
“We can play really good defense on a team with one scorer and with two scorers – OK,” Gallivan said. “But they have so many guys. It reaches a point where it’s ‘watch him, no watch him, no watch him – okay watch everybody’ Now what do you do? We tried the kitchen sink approach and threw everything at them that we could. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t.”
“It’s really important,” Boen said. “We have a lot of depth on our team. Everyone can score and get a basket.”
For Romanko, Vaughan believes this is something he could be doing each game.
“He’s capable of that every night,” he said. “He’s rebounding the ball for us, he’s playing solid defense. He’s making them when he’s getting open looks.”
As for Boen, Vaughan agreed it was a solid performance for the sophomore.
“Tonight he matched a complete game with some scoring,” he said. “They came at crucial times. He’s just solid. He doesn’t turn the ball over often, he can get the three and he can get to the rim. He usually get’s everyone’s best offensive player.”
Even when team’s are focused defensively on Hill, he can hurt you in other ways. The sophomore grabbed 13 rebounds and added a few nifty assists in the second half.
Mansfield will host a double header on Friday as both the girls and boys teams will play North Attleboro at Mansfield High. Tuesday’s game against Stoughton will be a good reminder to not take any team lightly.
“That’s just how this league is,” Vaughan said. “North Attleboro is going to throw everything at us on Friday and I don’t expect any different effort than what we got out of Stoughton.”
Stoughton will play their first of two games against heated rival Oliver Ames. Both the Black Knights and Tigers have faced their ups and downs this year and the past two seasons have proven that anything can happen on a given night.
“You know how those OA games are, nice and quiet,” Gallivan joked.
“This league’s ridiculous and if you take a night off you lose.”
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