Boulter Shoots Mansfield to Win over OA

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For 16 minutes, the Oliver Ames game plan was working well. The Tigers aggressive 2-3 zone was cutting off passing lanes and keeping Mansfield out of the paint.

There was just one problem for the Tigers in the first half – Ryan Boulter.

The Hornets sophomore reserve forward knocked down five of seven three-pointers in the second quarter, on his way to 17 first half points (24 for the game), and provided a much needed spark to ignite the Mansfield offense. After scoring only nine points in the opening quarter, the Hornets piled in 28 points in the second to build a halftime lead.

Boulter’s spark off the bench and some inspiration from head coach Mike Vaughan led to a dominating second half performance that allowed the top-ranked team in the Hockomock to run away with an 82-54 win over Oliver Ames.

Vaughan spoke after the game about the Tigers zone causing problems for his team and praised the contribution of Boulter.

“I thought they had a really good game plan and they executed,” said Vaughan. “If Boulter doesn’t come alive there we might have been down 15 and dug ourselves a big hole. Early on they played with great intensity and we struggled to get into an offensive rhythm.”

Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron was also impressed with his team’s first half performance but was full of praise for his opponents.

“We managed to play and compete very well for 16 minutes and, outside of their one loss to New Mission, probably gave them the hardest time they’ve seen for a good half,” he explained.

Mansfield (6-1) outscored OA 46-23 in the second half as the Tigers switched into a man-to-man defense to counteract the three-point shooting of the Hornets. While the switch led to more contested looks from beyond the arc, it also opened up lanes to the basket for point guard Rocky DeAndrade and points in the paint for forward Kevin Connor.

Byron was impressed by the size and depth of the Hornets. He admitted after the game that there was little his team could do to match-up once Mansfield got into a rhythm on the offensive end.

“They just have so many weapons,” he remarked. “They have five guys on the floor that can handle the ball. Like I told the kids, they’re just advanced. Their timing is just impeccable, their spacing is good – all the things that generally don’t happen at the high school varsity game.”

Byron added, “The match-ups are real difficult. Boulter doesn’t even start and I think he’s their leading scorer. It’s just one player after another.  I’ve seen them play several times and this is what you get.”

For the Mansfield coach, it was about seeing his team respond to first half adversity and knowing that if the Hornets could go on a run OA may not have enough left to get back into the game.

“They delivered a pretty good punch at the start of the game and I’m sure that took a lot out of them physically and mentally to know that they delivered a good punch and we were still up going into the locker room,” Vaughan explained. “I think just creating the separation early in the third quarter ultimately ended the game for them.”

Boulter led the way for the Hornets with 24 points, but sophomore 6’5” forward Brendan Hill epitomized the versatility of the Mansfield attack with an excellent all-round performance. Hill finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists (many of those kick-out passes to Boulter).

In addition to the sophomores, junior guard DeAndrade 14 points, six assists, and six steals and senior forward Greg Romanko finished with 10 points (all in the second half). According to Vaughan, the Hornets depth is their biggest strength this season.

“I think it’s the secret to our success,” said Vaughan. “I think ultimately we’ll be as good as our depth. It keeps guys honest in practice, you know. Guys can’t take days off. I think the third quarter was a test of that. I challenged them in the locker room and the guys, I think, came out and took a little more pride in what we’re doing.”

The Tigers (4-2) were led by their own talented sophomore forward, Ryan Carney, who finished with 21 points (12 in the first half) and four rebounds. Senior captains St. Clair Ryan and Andrew Reardon each had 10 points on the night.

Mansfield next takes the floor on Tuesday in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week against undefeated Taunton. Oliver Ames plays host to Davenport division rivals Milford.

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