TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan mentioned that sometimes when senior Tyler Boulter misses his first three point attempt, it can sometimes take him a while to even attempt a second.
That was not the case on Saturday night at Taunton High School.
After missing his first look on the opening possession of the game, Boulter connected on his next eight trifectas, shooting 13-for-16 from the field overall en route to a career-high 35 points, leading the top-seeded Hornets to a 71-58 win over #8 BC High.
“He started the year hurt and he’s had to grind and battle and get his legs underneath him,” Vaughan said of Boulter. “He missed his first, and sometimes when he misses his first it takes him a while to shoot his second whether it goes in or not. He stuck with it and what a performance.”
It wasn’t until 2:42 left in the opening quarter when senior Sam Hyland hauled in an offensive rebound off a miss and dished it out to a wide open Boulter that the senior got it going.
That three created a 12-5 advantage for the Hornets but the Eagles quickly put up six straight to cut it to one.
Once again, Boulter came up big with a three, sparking a 7-0 run (Hyland putback, Khristian Conner layup) to end the quarter with Mansfield up 19-11.
“I think we struggled a little bit in the first game against [BC High] so I felt I could help in that regard,” Boulter said. “And just defensively, picking up the energy and getting out there and running the floor. I just wanted to create some energy.”
The Eagles started the second with an 8-1 run to get within a point again, but Boulter had yet another answer dropping his third triple of the game. And on the ensuing possession, Boulter picked off a pass and went in alone for an easy layup.
“The thing with Tyler, he left last season as a possible league MVP candidate at the level he’s capable of playing at,” Vaughan said. “I think it took him enough trust in his body, and then get his basketball legs under him. He’s just been able to get into a nice rhythm and he’s played big for us in key moments.”
He added a free throw and another transition bucket later in the quarter as well. BC High cut the deficit to five with two minutes left but Hyland converted down low and Boulter hit a triple, giving the Hornets a 36-27 edge at the break.
Although Boulter had an impressive first half (6-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 3PT), he had more to offer in the second half, and his shooting became contagious.
Boulter opened the half with a three out of a set play but the Eagles landed a counter punch in the form of a 7-0 run to get within three.
Of course it was Boulter who put a run to a halt, hitting a trifecta to bump the lead to six. When BC High got it within four, Boulter hit yet another triple off a feed from Hyland and then senior Ryan Otto joined in on the fun with a three of his own to make it 48-38.
“I had a moment of deja vu,” Vaughan admitted. In the team’s first meeting, the Eagles used a run early in the third quarter to create the separation they needed to win. “I think we came down and got back to back baskets that got it back to 10 so we kind of weathered it. We talked about how BC High is capable of scoring points in a hurry. [BC High’s Travis] Evee (25 points) is obviously one of the best players in the state and he’s going to get his.
“But you have to come back down and capitalize on the other end. I thought we did a nice job of capitalizing tonight when our backs were against the wall. When they cut it four or six, I thought we did a good job of getting a good possession, not just any possession.”
Hyland got in on the action with a three, and a few possessions later, Scott deposited his first triple of the game, giving Mansfield a 56-44 lead through three quarters of play. In the third quarter, Mansfield shot 6-for-8 from deep.
“It’s about doing what we do within our team structure,” Vaughan said of getting the outside looks. “We’ve seemed to be a better team in the second half of the year when we control the tempo of the offense. Historically we’ve liked to score in transition. This team has found more opportunities running in the half court. They really do a good job of helping each other out and making each other better by setting screens or cutting hard, or just little things that creating more space.
“I think three of [Boulter’s] threes were off offensive rebounds. We weren’t doing anything to be offensive geniuses there, that’s just doing a really good job on the glass. That was one of our focuses today, rebounding. We didn’t think we did a good job the first time, I thought we were much better this time and we got some key baskets. I’m not sure how many offensive rebounds we had but I’d say most of them resulted in baskets.”
Boutler’s three with 6:23 to play made it 62-46, and then he converted through the contact at the rim to make it 66-53. After a monstrous block from McCoy on one end, Boulter took a nice pass from Scott and finished for an easy two.
After a steal by Hyland on the defensive end, Boulter put a bow on the win by draining his eighth trifecta of the game.
“Our goal was to win the three point line,” said BC High coach Bill Loughnane. “Needless to say we did not succeed in that. We were trying to take it away but they did a nice job of running their stuff, getting to that option and all of a sudden there’s a guy standing there by himself and they didn’t miss tonight.”
Mansfield boys basketball (23-2) advances to the D1 South Sectional Semifinals. The Hornets will take on #4 Newton North (18-4) on Monday at 7:30 at Taunton High.