Boys Basketball: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2015-16

North Attleboro has high hopes for the season with Brent Doherty, Ridge Olsen (5) and many more experienced players back. (Ryan Lanigan.HockomockSports.com)
North Attleboro has high hopes for the season with Brent Doherty, Ridge Olsen (5) and many more experienced players back. (Ryan Lanigan.HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO

2014-2015 Record: 3-19
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Houle
After winning just three games a season ago, the Bombardiers will be looking to make a push back to the postseason in 2015-2016. One big reason that Big Blue has high hopes for this season is a healthy Kyle Murphy. The 6’3 senior missed over half the season last year with an injury but looks primed to be a leader for the Bombardiers this season. When he’s on the court, Attleboro will have the rebounding advantage and he’s able to convert in the paint to help the offense.
Head coach Mark Houle will also have junior Andrew Milliken back this season, who has the ability to attack the rim and find success at the hoop. Houle said the 6’2 forward has improved his shooting range, which will help Attleboro spread the floor some. Jake Dunkley is another shooter that will help Attleboro while point guard Lucas Boucicaut is back with an improved skill set. Along with Milliken and Murphy, Houle has 6’3 forward Berlyns Abraham as another presence in the paint.
“We have been working hard and getting better everyday,” Houle said. “Our team is still developing but I really like how hard we are playing throughout each practice.   Our senior leadership has been very good.  I like our confidence in each other and overall team chemistry.”

FRANKLIN

2014-2015 Record: 18-6
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D1 Central Semifinal
Coach: CJ Neely
The Panthers were close to returning to the D1 Central Sectional Final last year but with four of the starters from that team graduated, there will be plenty of minutes to be had this season. Senior point guard Tim Prunier, who is one of the top players in the entire league, is the lone starter returning while forward Josh Macchi, who saw got some experience coming off the bench last year is also back.
But just because names like Marcus Giese, Dylan Reno, Markus Bohmiller and Shawn Hanley are gone doesn’t mean the Panthers won’t be competitive this year. In fact, Franklin will likely be in the thick of the Kelley-Rex division race. There will be plenty of new faces but they almost all have good size and can shoot the ball, two traits that will make Franklin a tough opponent. And unsurprisingly, the Panthers will likely be one of the top defensive teams.
“This is a team that only needs to focus on getting better each day,” head coach CJ Neely said. “Our goals are day to day improvement and we will let the results take care of themselves. We will pride ourselves on strong defense and tremendous effort and teamwork. Offensively, we have a lot of guys who are capable of playing well and as soon as we trust each other, make the extra pass and consistently compete together on both sides of the floor, I think we can have a good season. I have been very impressed with the team’s willingness to be coachable and get better each day. It should be a fun year.”

KING PHILIP

2014-2015 Record: 11-10
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Matt Coute
In the first year with Matt Coute at the helm, the Warriors made it back to the postseason after a two year hiatus. Now Coute will have a different looking squad with better outside shooting and a reliance on sound defense.
Senior Ben Smith and juniors Noah Goodwin and Will Weir will be the most experienced players for a young King Philip team. The Warriors know they could play the underdog role a bit more this season and that’s something they’re relishing. And while the Warriors might not have a ton of experience, there is still plenty of talent amongst the younger players.
Freshman Kyle Layman will look to make an immediate impact while sophomore transfer Pharaoh Davis and sophomore Tom Madden could see plenty of minutes this season.
“So far in the young season, I have been excited to come to practice and work with this young group everyday,” Coute said. “Despite the inexperience, they are showing signs of really coming together as a group. Our young guys are stepping up, our older guys are showing great leadership on and off the court, and our new additions will help us greatly leading forward. I feel as though the kids believe they have something to prove to people and they are coming to practice everyday with the right focus. We just need to continue to stay the course, especially with so many new pieces.”

MANSFIELD

2014-2015 Record: 23-3
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Sectional Final
Coach: Mike Vaughan
Over each of the past couple of seasons, the Hornets have had to deal with lots of turnover, including losing league MVPs, many all stars and plenty of other great players. Yet still, the Hornets have reached the D1 State Final, the D1 South Semifinal and the D1 South Finals in the last three years.
That run will be tested this year as once again Mansfield graduated a ton of talent, including Hockomock League MVP Ryan Boulter and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Michael Boen. But at the same time, head coach Mike Vaughan will be returning plenty of players that have a good amount of varsity experience.
Senior Nick Baskin and junior Math Ehrlich are both starting their third varsity season and along with seniors Kyle Swansburg and John Gouvalaris will be relied on to be the leaders for the Hornets this season.
Meanwhile, players like juniors Christian Weber, Sam Goldberg, Phil Vigeant and Max Boen all saw plenty of minutes of the past season and will try to fit into the rotation.
“Trying to replace guys like Boen and Boulter will be difficult, but I think we will do it by committee,” Vaughan said. “This is one of the deeper teams I have had where every guy can play and does things well. We will see different guys lead us each night.
“I’m expecting big things out of the three seniors who have waited for this to be their time, and Ehrlich, Goldberg, Boen, Vigeant and Weber are all underclassman with varsity experience who are ready to write their own two year chapter in the history books.”

NORTH ATTLEBORO

2014-2015 Record: 5-15
2014-2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
Expectations are high in Big Red country and for good reason. The Rocketeers have nearly everyone back from last year’s team and despite that team only winning five games, they were one of the few teams that were better than their record.
Junior Brent Doherty had a breakout campaign during his second season on varsity last year and could be one of the top players in the entire league this season. Doherty, a point guard, is mighty quick and despite only being 5’9, is able to slice through defenses to get to the rim. Sophomore Chad Peterson, a strong player who can shoot from the perimeter, will be looking to follow up on a strong rookie campaign and senior Kyle Gaumond that has good range on his shot and will be one of the Rocketeers top defenders this season.
On top of that, senior Ridge Olsen is one of the most experienced players in the league while Thomas Reynolds, Jonny Friberg and Kyle McCarthy all saw good minutes last year.
“We’re very excited about the upcoming season,” head coach Sean Mulkerrins said. “With a large amount of talented varsity players returning, we have high expectations for a tournament birth. We expect to compete each night in the Hockomock League for victories.”

TAUNTON

2014-2015 Record: 19-5
2014-2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Sectional Semifinal
Coach: Charlie Dacey
After making it to the D1 South Sectional Semifinal last season, the Tigers will be looking to make another postseason run this year. Senior Jose Mercado and junior Tommy MacLean, two of Taunton’s players last season, are back to run things for head coach Charlie Dacey this season.
The biggest question will be who fills the void left by Corey Green’s graduation. Mercado showed last season he can shoot as well as be a successful player in the post, both offensively and defensively. MacLean has improved each of the past two seasons and could make a big jump with more responsibility in his junior year.
Taunton will rely on players like Quandarius Roberson, who transferred in back from prep school, Carlos Borrero, Lens Esquil and other younger players to complement Mercado and MacLean. With the athletes that Taunton has, expect the Tigers to get out and run.
“We will be small but quick,” Dacey said. “Tempo is the buzz word this year. We have people who can play fast so that’s what we will try to do. If we can put some underclassmen around [Mercado and MacLean] we could be in the hunt again.”

 
Ryan Lanigan
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