Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Boys Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Devin Foster, Canton
Hockomock League All Stars
Bryant Ciccio, Attleboro
Qualeem Charles, Attleboro
Mason Houle, Attleboro
Devin Foster, Canton
Kevin Gallagher, Foxboro
Brandon Borde, Foxboro
Chris Edgehill, Franklin
Jalen Samuels, Franklin
Bruce Saintilus, King Philip
Thomas Dooling, Mansfield
Sam Stevens, Mansfield
Matt Boen, Mansfield
Brendan White, Milford
Ethan Eckstrom, Oliver Ames
Obinna Ugwuakazi, Stoughton
Dante Law, Taunton
John Martins, Taunton
Kevin Velazquez, Attleboro
Ryan Lentol, Canton
Anthony Mollica, Foxboro
Will Harvey, Franklin
Alex Fritz, King Philip
Damani Scott, Mansfield
Danny Corsini, Milford
Josh Montague, North Attleboro
Sean O’Brien, Oliver Ames
Aidan Kane, Sharon
Kevin Dixon, Stoughton
Michael Quinn, Taunton
TAUNTON, Mass. – For the first 16 minutes of the 2019 Division 1 South Sectional Final, the second-seeded Mansfield Hornets couldn’t seem to do anything right.
Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Tigers of Newton North played about as good as they could have hoped, combining eight made three-pointers with 14 Hornet turnovers for a 40-24 lead at halftime.
But there was no quit in the Hornets. Mansfield dominated the third quarter, making it a two-point contest — anyone’s game — with eight minutes left to go in the game.
The Tigers stood tall, though, never surrendering the lead and coming up with answer after answer to come away with a 74-64 victory, claiming the program’s first sectional title since 2006.
“I thought we did a good job disrupting them and taking stuff away,” said Newton North coach Paul Connolly. “We knew they’d have a run, and they had a huge run and came right at us. We responded, we made baskets when we needed them. We regained our poise (at the end).
”They are such a prolific offensive team, they really dissect people. We really worked on not allowing them to do what they do, to try and disrupt and take things away. They still scored 64 points. I told the guys at halftime Mansfield plays for 32 minutes. Even at the end, in the final seconds…they can score 10 points in their sleep.”
Mansfield looked like a completely different team in the third quarter, ramping up the aggressiveness and attacking the basket with a purpose. And on the defensive end, the Hornets played with a renewed sense of purpose that limited the Tigers to just seven points in the eight-minute stretch.
The surge mostly came over the final three minutes of the third. The defense limited Newton North to just three points over the first five minutes, but the Hornets were still trailing by double-digits, 45-34, with under three to go.
Sophomore Matt Boen (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists) hit a three-pointer and Damani Scott (17 points, six rebounds) came up with a steal that led to two free throws. The Hornets sandwiched a pair of stops around a free throw from Jack Mousette, and then junior Sam Stevens (14 points, four rebounds) drained a triple to make it a three-point game, down 46-43 with just under a minute to go.
Newton North added a free throw but Tommy Dooling (10 points) finished a contested layup at the buzzer to bring the Hornets — once down 19 points in the first half — within two, 47-45, entering the final quarter.
“Just play harder,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan of what went into the third quarter turnaround. “I told the guys at halftime we’re going to come out and play hard defense, move the ball with our 50 action, we’re not calling quick hitters, we’re not having personnel on certain kids. And it worked. Hindsight, we probably should have done that from the start, but we’re a little more of a finesse team and like to get out in space and trick teams a little bit. They did such a good job preparing for us, we weren’t going to out-trick them tonight. We needed to be more aggressive.”
Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t carry over right away in the fourth quarter. The Hornets reverted to the bad habits of the first half, mainly turnovers.
Mansfield committed four turnovers in the opening two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. After Newton North’s Kyle Ray-Canada (28 points) opened the quarter with the three, Mansfield missed a three and then was whistled for back-to-back offensive fouls after getting stops.
Khalil Lofton came up with a steal for an easy layup for the Tigers, the Hornets missed a triple, and Ray-Canada finished at the rim to cap a quick 7-0 spurt that gave Newton North breathing room up 54-45.
The Hornets once again made a push to get back in it. Dooling sank two free throws, Drew Rooney added another, and Boen, playing with an injured wrist, used a nice fake and lay-in for two to make it 56-52 with just over three minutes to go.
But Canada-Ray earned a trip to the line for two on back-to-back possessions, the Hornets had another turnover, and Lofton sank two more free throws to push the lead to 62-52 with two minutes left.
“It was everything going back to passive, reverting to what we were back in the first half instead of being aggressive,” Vaughan said. “Paul is one of the best [coaches] for a reason. There were times when we cut it to like four, where maybe in some other games, they made not have had an answer. But Paul had something drawn up, he had the right play, he had the right switch, and you can only do that when you’re at his level. He had answers for everything we did, hats off to how he coached and how his kids responded.”
Newton North had a terrific fourth quarter, taking advantage of some forced and some uncharacteristic Hornet turnovers. Mansfield gave the ball away nine times, and the Tigers hit nine field goals, include three from three-point range to race out to a 21-9 lead through eight minutes.
“They were very aggressive, they made us play 23-feet away from the hoop and they never really let us get comfortable,” Vaughan said. “It seemed like every pass we threw, every cut we made, every action we did, they were sitting there waiting for us. When the physicality is allowed that much, and we’re not matching it, it makes it a real grind it out first half.”
The Tigers’ three-point shooting only improved in the second quarter. Newton North connected on five more triples, including one from Ray-Canada with under a minute to go to push the lead to 40-21. Boen gave Mansfield some life with a late three and block on the final shot to make it 40-24 at halftime.
“I thought us playing from behind could create some nerves,” Vaughan said. “In the third quarter, we took the pressure off of thinking and just let them go out and play. I think it made the game so much easier for them, and you can only do that for so long and for so often. We almost were just kind of trying to play pick up and let the game freely go.
“I was happy with our young guys played. I thought Damani and Tommy played their hearts out, what more can you ask of them? In the end, I think the team that was a little more prepared, playing a little more hungry and with more effort won the game tonight.”
Mansfield boys basketball finishes the season at 22-5.
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton Tigers were on the verge of a big upset.
With just over two minutes to go in a tied game, Taunton senior Wesner Charles found an open lane for an easy layup to give the 14th-seeded Tigers a 58-56 lead. And on Mansfield’s ensuing trip up, Charles came up with a block that gave the Tigers the ball back and all of the momentum in front of a packed crowd inside the Rabouin Field House.
But the Tigers couldn’t slam the door shut on the second-seeded Hornets, as a potential dagger three rimmed out. And there aren’t many teams better at making you pay than the Hornets.
Senior Tommy Dooling (19 points) launched a corner three that bounced twice off the rim before falling, putting the Hornets up by one with 1:34 to go. Taunton couldn’t answer as a three-point shot was off the mark, and Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (career-high 19 points, eight rebounds) concerted off his own miss with 44.5 seconds left to put Mansfield up 61-58.
“We started the second half pretty well but [Taunton] came back and the crowd got pretty loud,” Dooling said. “We kept telling each other it was going to be okay, we stuck with what we do well. Sam Stevens had a nice screen and Damani [Scott] had a nice pass and I shot the three, it hit every part of the rim then finally went in, that felt great.”
The Hornets got the stop they needed, Guy broke free for another layup and Mansfield came out with a hard-fought 65-59 win over a gritty Tigers team.
With the win, the Hornets advance to their third straight Division 1 South Sectional Final, and seventh appearance in the last 10 years in the game.
“When the wheels started falling off, with this atmosphere, I was a little nervous with how some of our young guys, guys that haven’t been here before, were going to respond,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We looked panicked there for a little bit. But I reminded them ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, come out and do what we do’ and we needed a couple of possessions of basket, stop, basket, stop, and we were able to do that.
“Taunton is playing really good right now, they were not going to go down easy. They were ready for the big moment, and a couple of bounces things might go the other way. Taunton did some good things in that second half.”
It was a close game throughout as the Hornets had a brief eight-point advantage in the first half, and led by only seven at one point early in the second half. Taunton had an early 11-8 advantage but didn’t take another lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer from Sam Stevens that came off an offensive rebound had the Hornets up 51-48 entering the fourth quarter. Free throws from Taunton senior John Martins (14 points) got the Tigers within two but Damani Scott answered with a strong take for the Hornets. A free throw from Lou Vendrell followed by a steal and bucket from Naz Kenion (career-high 20 points) knotted the score at 53-53.
Kenion continued his stellar play with a nice move baseline to give the Tigers a 55-54 lead, their first advantage of the second half. Kenion came up with a steal to get Taunton the ball back, but the Tigers missed a three. A free throw from Kenion extended the lead to 56-54, and Charles knocked away a pass to get the Tigers another chance to extend the lead, but Taunton’s layup was off the mark. Mansfield tied the game on the other end as sophomore Matt Boen had a layup off a feed from Drew Rooney.
“I thought we played great defense. It felt like we took them off the three-point line for the most part, which is a lot of their offense, But as usual, they adjust and they didn’t panic. If you’re not composed for 32 minutes, you make a mistake, they take advantage of it, that’s Mansfield.
“A game of inches, I think it came down to three plays in the end. Two offensive possessions on our end that we didn’t do well with, and one blown defensive possession. All of a sudden, it’s six points, and that feels like an insurmountable lead against them.”
The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening quarter with Taunton jumping ahead 11-8 behind a three-pointer from Dante Law (nine point, seven rebounds) but Dooling had a pair of triples and Guy added six points to help the Hornets take a 17-14 lead after one.
Mansfield extended its lead to 22-14 — the largest lead of the game by either side — but Taunton clawed back into it. Sophomore Tyler Stewart came off the bench and scored four points, Law added four more, and Kenion scored his first seven points of the game, including a late three-point play to bring the Tigers within two, down 31-29 at half.
Martins sank two free throws to open the second half to tie the game but the Hornets grabbed momentum back with a 10-3 spurt. Stevens converted a putback, Boen and Dooling hit consecutive threes, and Guy scored down low for a 41-34 advantage.
Taunton ramped up its defensive pressure to get back into the game. Martins scored off a steal, and minutes later, Kenion and sophomore Danny MacDougall had back-to-back takeaways that led to layups to tie it at 46-46 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
“They were a lot more disciplined. Sometimes you can get them on back cuts or dribble handoff action, and we didn’t get any of those,” Vaughan said of Taunton’s defense. “We really had to score the old fashion way and gut through some possessions. Even on offense too, this was probably the most disciplined Taunton team I’ve seen on both ends of the floor, they really bought in to what [Coach Dacey] was selling. It made it brutal. When guys do that, you can’t go on runs, you can’t create separation, it makes it tough.
“All the threes we got were either contested, or we got them off half broken plays.”
For Taunton (15-9), it was an end to a playoff run that saw upsets over league rival Attleboro and former league rival Bridgewater-Raynham.
“We discovered something, I don’t know exactly what it was,” Dacey said. “We work, work, work a lot on defense in practice. It clicked against Attleboro, then again against B-R, it’s something we’ve been looking for all year long.
“It hurts, it should hurt, and hopefully it’s a lesson for the underclassman. We have to get kids to want to be in the gym in the offseason. This was fun, so I hope the guys coming back realize it and say we can be here [again], but you have to put the work in.”
Mansfield boys basketball returns to Taunton High on Friday to take on #5 Newton North (20-5). Newton North defeated the Hornets in the regular season on February 10th. The D1 South Final is set to tipoff at 7:30.
TAUNTON, Mass. – When Taunton senior guard John Martins needed his teammates to pick him up, they were there. And in the most crucial time of the game, when his teammates needed him, Martin delivered.
The senior scored five of his nine points, and five of the Tigers’ nine points in overtime, including three clutch free throws inside the 30 seconds to help 14th-seeded Taunton earn a 62-57 win over rival and 11th-seed Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I had a rough night, I couldn’t really find a rhythm,” Martins said. “But the guys stuck with me, they kept fighting, and they kept pushing and motivating me. I couldn’t find a better group of guys to go out here with.
“I like those situations. I like shooting free throws, in practice and in games. It helps get me in a rhythm, And when I’m not in one, just get to the line.”
The two rivals went head-to-head for the first time since 2012 when they were both apart of the Old Colony League. Taunton joined the Hockomock League in the fall of 2012, and the two schools had only played once — softball in 2013 — since then, but the rivalry picked up where it left off.
“It’s about survival at this time of year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey, who went head-to-head with former player and assistant Doug Alves, the coach of the Trojans, for the first time. “It’s not going to be pretty at times but it’s about who comes out on top.
“It was like the old days, a little bit like a street fight. It’s not exactly classic basketball but its two teams going after it. They have their strengths, we have ours, and in the end, we made one or two more plays. In a game like this you just wait for the break and fortunately, we were the ones who got it.”
Taunton had a chance to pull away when it pushed the lead to nine, 44-35, early in the fourth quarter but the Trojans hung around. The lead was 47-40 with five minutes to play but an 8-2 burst from the Trojans made it a one-point game with just under three minutes left.
Junior Dante Law (14 points, four rebounds, four assists), who missed nearly the entire first half with an ankle injury suffered with five minutes left in the first half, converted a pull up to put Taunton ahead 51-48. A free throw and then a putback from B-R’s Ryan Rubenskas tied the game with a minute to go.
Martins hit two free throws to put Taunton up and the Tigers got the initial stop on defense, but an offensive rebound and score from Karl Aikiens knotted the score. Taunton was whistled for a carry on the ensuing trip up the court, giving B-R a chance to win it with 12 seconds to go.
But Law provided good defense and B-R’s Jack Armstrong slipped and had to force a contested three that was off the mark, and the putback from Connor Rubenskas was after the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
Taunton scored on the opening possession of the extra period, and never trialed. Mike Quinn (13 points, five rebounds) found Naz Kenion (nine points) cutting to the basket for two. The Trojans tied it, but Kenion found Law in the post and his turnaround baseline jumper put the Tigers back up, 57-55 with under two minutes to play.
The Tigers forced a turnover and capitalized, as Martins sank a 10-foot pull up in the paint to make it 59-55, a lead that was as important mentally as on the scoreboard for Taunton.
“Going up can just physiologically deflate a team,” Dacey said. “Now they’re going against the clock and they’re behind so it was big for us to go up early. And then if I could hand pick one guy to go to the foul line, it’s John, and fortunately, that’s who ended up there.
“The kids are pulling together late in the year. We’ve had ups and downs but all of a sudden, we’re gelling. They’re respecting one another, they are playing together, they’re playing hard for each other. Defensively we’re getting better. It’s an odd time to gel at this point but its better late than never.”
B-R missed a three giving the Tigers a chance to extend the lead but a corner three rimmed out. The Trojans missed on three chances up the court next time, the last a blocked three by Quinn and Taunton took possession back. Taunton beat the press, but Jadyn Rosario (18 points) came from behind to steal the ball and then sank two free throws to make it 59-57.
Martins was fouled and went to the line and calmly sank both chances, making it a two possession game with 28 seconds left. B-R was off again on another three and Martins connected on another free throw in the final seconds to secure the win.
While it was a bright finish for the Tigers, it was quite the opposite to start the game. Not only was Taunton limited to just one field goal in the first quarter (1-for-11 shooting), Law went down with an ankle injury with five minutes left and did not return for the rest of the second half.
Trailing 9-3 to start the second quarter, the Tigers turned to Quinn, and the senior captain gave his team life. Quinn buried a three off an offensive rebound from Wesner Charles (nine points, 13 rebounds) and classmate Lou Vendrell followed with a steal and assist to Charles for two to get within one.
“We know Dante is huge for us, but we needed guys to step up,” Martins said. “All the guys out there, pushing each other, and knowing we all need to take of business ourselves.”
Quinn went on to add eight more points in the quarter, including two three-pointers, sophomore Josh Lopes came off the bench and hit a pair of shots, including a putback on an offensive rebound, and Charles scored off a feed from Martin to give Taunton a 22-21 lead at half.
“To their credit, they didn’t get deflated and kept fighting,” Dacey said.”They could have really got down but they fought their way out of it. I’m not surprised Mike had 11 points that quarter, he plays on emotion, he plays so hard. It’s so much hustle.”
Law did return to begin the second half, making his presence known with a big block a minute in. Six Tigers scored in the third quarter, with Danny MacDougall, Quinn, and Martins each scoring two and Kenion dropping seven of his nine points. Kenion converted a three-point play and Law followed with a three-pointer to make it 38-32.
B-R got within three but once again Law drained a triple and Vendrell scored on a fast break to give Taunton a 43-35 lead heading into the fourth.
“It’s a nice competitive situation, two close communities, the kids respect one another,” Dacey said. “This one took place in the tournament, maybe regular season down the road. I like Doug, I like his players, a nice competitive game like that is good for the kids.”
Taunton boys basketball (15-8) will face off with another familiar foe in the D1 South Semifinal as they will host league rival #2 Mansfield (21-4) on Sunday at 4:00. Taunton was a predetermined site for the D1 South semifinal before the tournament started.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – After the game ended, after the bulk of the crowd had filed out of the gym that only a few minutes before had been packed to capacity, and after speaking with his team in the locker room, Franklin coach C.J. Neely was left to reflect on how different the emotions were for his players this year compared to the last time that the Panthers faced Algonquin.
“It’s total shock,” he explained. “I told the guys that I feel bad because you go into the locker room and try to gather your thoughts somehow and tell them how proud you are of them and how good they played all year and you’re just never really ready for the moment to break that down.”
Last season, Franklin (16-5) beat the Tomahawks to win the Div. 1 Central title on its way to a second straight state championship game appearance. This year, the Panthers hosted Algonquin in the opening round of the tournament and the Tomahawks took advantage of the opportunity to avenge that loss, pulling out a 63-60 thriller.
The visitors made their share of huge shots, whether it was freshman Alex Karaban burying a deep three in the fourth quarter to push the lead to four points or senior Sean Cullen ignoring the Franklin fans behind the basket to drain a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining.
But, the Panthers were also their own worst enemies, shooting only 13-of-25 from the free throw line. In a game that came down to the final possession, those missed opportunities were the difference.
“It’s a killer,” Neely admitted. “It’s been kind of an Achille’s heel all season in the games that we’ve lost. We joked around a lot that we’d be undefeated if we made free throws and here we are again. I think we can chalk up another one that we lost at the free throw line, unfortunately.”
When the game tipped off, there was still a long line of people waiting to get in the door, as the atmosphere felt more like a final than the opening round. The teams came out firing like it was a final as well, with Algonquin jumping out to an early 6-0 lead before Franklin answered with six straight of its own.
Sean Leonard scored four points in the first and Jalen Samuels (15 points,10 rebounds, and four blocks in his final game) got the Panthers within one when he drove baseline and finished with a one-hand slam. Chris Edgehill (team-high 20 points) gave Franklin its first lead with a deep three in the final seconds of the quarter.
Algonquin used a 4-0 run to grab a 17-16 lead but Samuels scored back-to-back buckets to get the lead back for the hosts. Another three from Edgehill opened up a five-point lead and then Jack Rudolph hit a pull-up jumper in the lane.
After Edgehill knocked down three free throws, Franklin led by seven, but Karaban scored on an offensive rebound and Brian Duffy (game-high 24 points) buried a three to cut the lead to just two. Samuels drove to the basket to finish the half with Franklin up 32-28, but the Panthers went only 5-of-10 at the line in the quarter and 8-for-16 in the half. Those points that were left on the board would prove costly in the end.
In the third quarter, Rudolph got things started by knocking down a three off a set play. It felt like Franklin was on the brink of breaking the game wide open but instead Brian Duffy (game-high 24 points) caught fire. He knocked down three free throws, drilled a three, and then hit a jumper. His personal 8-0 run put the Tomahawks up one.
Edgehill got into the lane to set up Will Harvey for a layup and then Rudolph hit his second three of the quarter before setting Harvey up for another layup. Rudolph and Harvey combined for all 12 of Franklin’s points in the third, keeping the Panthers up by three heading to the fourth.
“Those guys have been good for us,” Neely said about Rudolph and Harvey. “[Will’s] always been that kind of grinder who doesn’t get the notoriety because he does everything but when you’ve got Chris and Jalen scoring the way they do then you don’t get the chance to score the way he can.”
Duffy continued to have the hot hand in the fourth, tying the game with a three, but it was an unlikely source of offense that gave Algonquin the lead. Cullen had only two points through three quarters and was largely a passenger on offense, but he drilled a three to give the visitors a lead and then scored on a three-point play to extend the lead to four. He scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth.
Franklin kept battling back. Rudolph stole an errant pass, fed Leonard in the paint and he dished it off to Samuels for a layup that made it 52-51. Edgehill hit a pair at the line to make it 58-57 only to have Karaban come down and bury a deep three to make the deficit four.
Neely said, “That was a big three, NBA distance, from Karaban there at the end and we knew that coming in that he does that. It wasn’t a surprise shot or anything like that but it’s just big guts to take it and make it at that time.”
Edgehill answered with a deep three that made it 61-60, but on the other end he committed a foul with just 13 seconds left on the shot clock and 22 ticks left in the game. Cullen stepped to the line and seemed unfazed by the moment, hitting both right in front of the Franklin student section. While Franklin was struggling at the line, Algonquin was 8-of-10 at the stripe in the second half following Cullen’s makes.
Franklin ran the clock down to 11 seconds before Edgehill hit front rim on a very deep three.
“Chris has made some big shots for us and sometimes if you call that timeout the defense really gets the chance to set itself,” Neely said of the decision not to call a timeout on that possession. “I thought he had been able to really create space for his own shot tonight and made some big ones and it’s always that question mark whether you call it or not and let the game play out.”
A foul on the rebound put Algonquin at the line with a chance to seal the win. Ironically, the visitors missed them both and Franklin got one last chance to extend the game.
Samuels snatched the inbounds pass away from a defender at mid-court, but he couldn’t get an off-balance heave to the rim and the Tomahawks bench stormed onto the court to celebrate.