Panthers Pull Away in First Half to Beat Bombardiers

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin sophomore center Ali Brigham scored 22 points (16 in the first half) and pulled down 20 rebounds to lift the Panthers to a 63-51 victory over Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – During the first half, the Bombardiers had little answer for the dynamic inside-outside combination of Franklin sophomore center Ali Brigham and junior guard Bea Bondhus. The duo combined for 30 points before the break to push the Panthers to a 21-point halftime lead.

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Although Attleboro turned up the energy in the second half, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the lead proved too great to overcome and Franklin stayed within one game of the Kelley-Rex division leaders with a 63-51 victory.

Bondhus opened the paint by knocking down a pair of threes in the opening half and spreading the Attleboro defense out with 14 of her 18 points coming before the break. With the outside threat giving Brigham a little space with which to work, the sophomore showed off an array of offensive moves on the post and stepping away to face the basket.

She scored 16 of her 22 points in the first half and also added 12 of her game-high 20 rebounds. Brigham was also a force on the defensive side with four blocks.

“She’s worked so hard in the offseason to become a much more complete player and we’ve really worked on getting her the ball in scoring positions,” said Franklin coach John Leighton of Brigham. “I think early in the year, we tried to force it when it wasn’t there and now we’re trying to get her in positions to be successful and I think her teammates are doing a good job of that.”

Breanna Atwood got the game started for Franklin, which got right into its dribble-drive offense and full-court press. Atwood (10 points) buried a corner three and scored five points in the first. Then Brigham got going. She scored with a short jumper, an offensive rebound, and a jumper with a foot on the three-point line.

The Panthers kept pressing and Bondhus nailed a corner three and got free for a layup off an inbound pass by Calen Frongillo. Franklin led 21-8 after the first and kept the offense rolling into the second.

“I thought we ran a lot of tempo today,” explained Leighton, “which opens up a lot of stuff. It makes the defense react quicker. We started getting good looks and then you can’t just double on Ali if we’re moving it and finding people.”

Attleboro cut the lead to eight with a transition layup from Nyah Thomas (six points) and a three by Sam Pierce, but then Brigham scored with a drive on the baseline and hit a floater. Bondhus followed with her second three of the half and the lead grew to 17.

“In the first half it kind of got away from us,” said Attleboro coach Marty Crowley. “We were able to reel them back in but they had a spurt at the end of the half to extend it. I’m proud of my kids though because they kept fighting and it’s still an early learning curve for us.”

Brigham added six more points on a jumper, a hook shot going to her right and a put back bucket, while Bondhus got two when she cut to the basket and was found by Atwood and then got a steal and transition basket to put Franklin ahead 42-21 going into halftime.

Coming out of the break, the Bombardiers played with a lot more energy. Junior guard Jordyn Lako provided a spark on the defensive end with two steals, two blocks, five assists, and eight rebounds. Attleboro also started to get the ball into the hands of Pierce, who would score 19 of her game-high 24 points in the second half.

Brigham was limited to six points after halftime (all in the third), as Attleboro gave Mackenzie Roberts more help trying to contain her in the post. Crowley said, “I don’t know if you can really contain her, but our rotations were better than they were in the first half. I thought Kenzie did a pretty good job on her for the most part but that’s why she’s a top caliber player.”

Attleboro trailed by 22 heading to the fourth, but the Bombardiers never let up. Pierce completed a traditional three-point play off a Lako assist, went 5-for-5 from the line, and scored 11 points in the fourth. Liv McCall buried a pair of threes and Attleboro got as close as 10 points in the final minutes.

“They’re tough,” said Leighton. “Sam is a tough kid and when she can get people on her back then she’s tough to defend. A well-coached team, Marty’s always tough and he’s got kids that play real ‘D’ and work hard.”

Crowley said, “We were a little flat here or there. We had a little more energy coming out of halftime and in the second half. We need to play with a little more of a sense of urgency to start games and not expend so much energy coming back.”

Despite a youthful lineup, Franklin trails Mansfield and Oliver Ames by only one game in the league standings and Leighton sees improvement from the start of the season.

“I’m proud as can be,” he said. “We rolled out four sophomores and a junior tonight and that’s only because my freshman (Elizabeth Wilson) is hurt. They’re all buying in, there’s a real work ethic, practices have been competitive, and we’re so young there’s a lot of room for growth.”

Franklin (7-4, 5-2) will put its four-game win streak on the line against King Philip on Friday, while Attleboro (5-6, 3-4) faces a trip to Taunton.

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Player of the Week – Kayla Raymond, OA Basketball

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Kayla Raymond
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Oliver Ames senior Kayla Raymond has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Jan. 7 through Jan. 13. Raymond is the 15th player selected for the 2017-18 school year and fifth player chosen during the winter season.

Raymond, the second straight girls’ basketball player to be selected for this award, recorded a pair of double-doubles last week and set a career-high for points in a game to lead the Tigers to a pair of 13-point league wins that keeps OA in a first-place tie with Mansfield atop the Kelley-Rex division. Raymond averaged 34 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and six steals per game this week

“Her influence both on and off the court is her greatest contribution to the development of her team,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook, “and that makes her contributions that much more meaningful.”

Against King Philip, Raymond scored 30 points, pulled down 13 rebounds, and blocked four shots, as the Tigers went on a big run at the end of the game to earn the victory. Three days later, Raymond set a new career-high with 38 points and also grabbed 11 boards against Attleboro. For the week, Raymond scored 68 of her team’s 114 points, nearly 60 percent of the Tigers’ scoring output.

The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.

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Eagles Grounded By Holliston in Overtime Thriller

Sharon girls basketball
Sophomore guard Allyson Brown (4) takes the ball to the basket during the first half of Sharon’s 57-56 overtime loss to Holliston. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – With only seven seconds remaining in overtime, Holliston guard Grace Dzindolet went to the line to try and put the Panthers back in front. The senior hit the first, but her second bounced off the rim and was rebounded by Evanjuline Elisma. The Sharon junior took off like a flash, racing up court with an opportunity to win the game for the Eagles.

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Elisma went straight at the basket. There was contact between Elisma and a Holliston defender but there was no whistle, only the final horn putting an end to a thriller that the Panthers pulled out 56-55 to sweep the season series by a combined four points.

“We had a chance at the end and was it a foul?” asked first-year Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi. “I don’t know. If the ref doesn’t blow his whistle then it’s not a foul.”

The Eagles seemed to be playing catch-up right from the opening quarter. Sophomore Allyson Brown (seven points) drilled a three to put Sharon ahead 10-8 in the first, but Holliston went on a 7-2 run to close out the quarter with the lead. Dzindolet scored seven of her team-high 14 points in the first.

Holliston extended the lead in the second, as Sharon was held to just one made field goal for the first six minutes of the quarter. Behind four points from Brooke Geoffroy (12 points and 16 rebounds), the Panthers led 25-16 and seemed on the verge of breaking the game open.

It could have been much closer, but for Sharon’s struggles at the free throw line. The Eagles shot just 6-of-14 at the line in the second and 10-for-24 for the game. Still, as the half was winding down, the Eagles were still in it. Miranda Cheung (seven points), the only senior on the Sharon roster, got a steal and a layup, which was followed by a traditional three-point play by Emma Eberhardt (15 points and 15 rebounds).

Sharon trailed by just one at halftime, but Holliston was able to push the lead to five at several points of the third quarter. Geoffroy had six in the quarter, but Eberhardt scored seven points and Kaitlyn Wallace drilled a three to keep it a two-point game with eight minutes left.

“We’re young, we’re inexperienced but they always play hard,” said Lombardi. “They always play aggressive. The other day we were down 17 at halftime and we came back to be down by one. They could have easily packed it in and gave up but they fought back.”

Wallace and Eberhardt went back-to-back on drives to the hoop to tie the game at 39-39 in the fourth quarter and then Elisma kicked out to Telishya Herbert to knock down a jumper from just inside the three-point line to give the Eagles their first lead since it was 10-8 in the first.

The lead was short-lived, as the Panthers proceeded to go an 8-0 run and seemed to have the game in control after Tess Powers completed a four-point play. Sharon answered. Brown picked up a steal and went the length of the court for a basket and then, off another Brown steal, Elisma got free in transition to make it 47-45.

Cheung battled for a loose ball underneath, grabbed an offensive rebound, and went right up to score and tie the game. Sharon got it back with 27 seconds left and the chance to win it with the final shot, but the Eagles turned it over. Dzindolet thought she had the game-winner on the break only for Wallace to block the shot and keep Sharon alive.

“In a game like this,” Lombardi explained, “it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that will come out on top. We missed too many layups. We missed too many foul shots and that’s been a thing all season long.”

Geoffroy put the Panthers in front to start overtime, but Herbert scored on a rebound to tie it. Threes by AbbyRae Wells and Kami Kozubal put the visitors up 55-51, but again the host came right back. Cheung had an offensive rebound to cut the lead to two and then Brown also scored with a putback to tie the game.

“They play hard,” said Lombardi of Chueng and Brown. “For little kids, they play hard, they’re physical, and that’s why they don’t come out of the game too often. I don’t think Ally came out of the game at all today.”

In the excitement after the tying basket, Sharon made a critical mistake. The Eagles fouled Dzindolet with 7.5 seconds remaining and sent her to the line for a pair of free throws.

“They played hard today,” Lombardi said of her team, “but in spurts we didn’t play smart and that was the difference in the game.”

Dzindolet made the first and Elisma had a chance off the missed free throw to get out and run. There was no call on the final attempt and the shot came up short.

“We’re trying,” said Lomnbardi. “We’re young…it’s a learning experience for some of these kids who haven’t played varsity basketball before. So, being in those situations and keeping the game close, hopefully next time we find a way to win.”

Sharon (2-8, 1-5) will try to bounce back on Tuesday when it hosts Stoughton.

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Whalen Double-Double Earns Stoughton Win at North

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton senior forward Val Whalen (14) scored 19 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to help the Black Knights earn their first league win of the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Friday night’s game at the Pickering Gym, Stoughton had lost four games by seven or less points, struggling to find ways down the stretch to pull out wins. When North Attleboro climbed back to within five points in the fourth quarter, it looked like that may happen again for the Black Knights.

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Instead of letting the game slip away, senior forward Val Whalen took over down the stretch. She scored 10 points, made 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint to help Stoughton close with a 17-6 run that sealed a 59-43 victory over North and ended the Black Knights’ winless start in the league.

“This is the best game of Val’s senior year so far and I know she’s going to continue to do great things,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “It was clutch. She stepped up to the line and knocked them down. Obviously, her offensive rebounds were important, but it was nice to see her do well from the free throw line.”

Whalen finished the game with 19 points and 19 rebounds, while also adding four assists and two blocks. North struggled to find an answer for the senior on either end of the floor.

“She’s a nightmare and causes a lot of problems,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “She can shoot a little bit and it drags you out and then you’ve got [Jordan] Motley to grab all the backside rebounds. So, you’ve really got to have two posts and if you don’t have two posts you’re always playing a matchup game.”

Stoughton took over on the boards right from the opening tap. Whalen pulled down nine rebounds in the first quarter and scored seven points, with both of her baskets coming on putbacks at the rim. Sophomore guard Aliyah Wright (13 points, nine rebounds) also chipped in with six in the first.

North tried to stay close with its perimeter game. Julia Feid (team-high 12 points) and Emily Haskell (eight points) each knocked down threes to keep North within seven (17-10) after one quarter.

The Rocketeers made only one shot from the floor in the second, but were managing to stay close thanks to 9-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Stoughton’s aggressive defense was giving North free points, but sophomores Shyanne Trinh (14 points) and Mariah Harris (seven points) each hit threes to keep the Black Knights ahead.

With North hanging around, down just eight inside the final few seconds of the half, Trinh took off on a coast-to-coast run that ended with a layup and a 30-20 halftime lead, which left North’s bench frustrated.

“We did okay with our game plan, but they’re a good team, they’re battle-tested, and they’ve got some kids who’ve been on varsity for two or three years now,” said Herber.

Fouls continued to rack up for Stoughton in the second half. North shot 12 free throws in the third and reached the bonus before the end of the quarter. Feid scored on an offensive rebound to cut the lead back to 10 and Julia Santos (eight points, 11 rebounds) added a putback as well.

Heading to the fourth quarter, Stoughton’s lead, which had been as many as 13 was down to just seven.

“We were in foul trouble and that really hurt us,” said Steele Jordan, “but we’ve had several close ones that we needed just a little bit more and I think those games helped us in this instance.”

North continued to battle early in the fourth. Sophomore Eliza Dion (seven points) drove through the Stoughton defense for a layup that made it 40-35 and, after a pair of Whalen free throws, Haskell drove on the other side for a bucket that again got the Rocketeers within five points. It was as close as North would get.

Herber said, “They fight, they fight and that’s why I feel so bad for them because they do fight. We’ve been in the last couple of games but we just couldn’t get that big shot.”

Wright scored on a runner in the lane and found Whalen leaking out in transition for an easy basket to push the lead back to nine. Whalen grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Trinh for an open three that put Stoughton up by double digits and then Whalen sealed the win with six free throws in the closing minutes.

“They can do some things in the post that we didn’t have any answers for,” Herber admitted. “Whalen and Motley (14 rebounds) down the stretch really gave us problems and we tried to get them in foul trouble but couldn’t at the end.”

Steele Jordan said, “It’s tough. You have a few tough losses back-to-back, but I have a fantastic team and they work hard for me every day. They dug down, played solid ‘D’, and took their time on offense and it showed today.”

After earning its first win in the league, Steele Jordan is hoping that the team can build off this performance. She said, “They’re young, but they’re coming into their own, which is nice because you always worry about peaking too soon. I’m glad my team is starting to turn the wheels now and really get going.”

Stoughton (2-7, 1-5) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night trying to make it two in a row in the Hock. North Attleboro (1-7, 0-6) will try to get its first win in the league on Tuesday at Milford.

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Big Night From Irwin Lifts Milford to Win Over Canton

Milford girls basketball
Milford senior guard Kate Irwin (11) scored a game-high 26 points, 17 in the second half, to lift Milford to a win over divisional rival Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Holding onto a seven-point lead with a little more than a minute remaining in Tuesday night’s game against Davenport division rival Canton, Milford moved the ball around the perimeter to run clock. Despite the pressure from the Canton guards, the Hawks were able to keep the ball moving until it got to senior guard Kate Irwin on the left wing.

The lefty point guard took two hard dribbles to get space and pulled up from just inside the three-point line. Irwin got a clean look and hit nothing but net on the last of her game-high 26 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

Irwin’s jumper effectively sealed a 49-38 victory for the Hawks, who move into a tie with the Bulldogs for second place in the division ahead of the visit of league leading Foxboro on Friday.

“We played that to perfection,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver of the team’s penultimate possession. “I’m happy to see that because when we played Stoughton we didn’t handle the end of game situation well and that bucket there is the difference in the game. We ran 25 seconds off and made a bucket.”

Irwin had only two points in the first quarter, as Canton junior Maggie Connolly made her work for every shot. The imposing figures of 6-foot-3 Erin Devine and 6-foot-1 Hannah Jerrier in the paint also made it difficult to find good looks at the rim.

Senior guard Emily Piergustavo picked up the slack for the Hawks in the first with seven of her nine points, including a a three and a basket from an offensive rebound. Devine led the Bulldogs with four and it was a three-point edge for the Hawks heading to the second.

That was when Irwin started to catch fire. She opened the second with a traditional three-point play off a steal, scored off a Piergustavo offensive rebound and assist and then got another steal and transition basket.

“Getting to the hoop in the half court was going to be difficult,” said Dolliver about his team’s desire to run at every opportunity, “so luckily we got our good looks in transition and we were getting to the hoop.”

Canton continued to keep the game close, despite only getting four points from Jerrier. The team’s leading scorer was blanketed by Milford’s 2-3 zone with all of the Hawks making sure to know where the senior was at all times. The zone opened up opportunities from the outside and junior guard Julia Hamilton (nine points) made a pair of threes, the second of which tied the score at 24-24 in the third quarter.

“We get into a lot of situations where we defer to the bigs because they’re talented and it’s part of our game plan to utilize them, so it’s nice to have Julia do one of the things she’s good at and help our team get us ahead in that area,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette.

Jerrier (10 points and 11 rebounds) scored off a Connolly assist to give the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead, but Milford went on a 9-2 run to finish the third with a five-point advantage. Irwin scored eight of those final nine points, hitting a pair of pull-up jumpers and scoring twice off of steals.

“She always makes the difference,” said Dolliver of Irwin. “She’s a tough kid too. I get on her now and then and she handles it well.”

The game remained tight in the fourth quarter. Jerrier scored on a putback to start the fourth, but Gillian Valanzola scored off an Irwin assist to answer. Hamilton got the ball into Devine for a basket at the rim and, after Jess Tomaso scored to push the lead back to four, Molly Ludwig scored off another Hamilton assist to make it 37-35.

Again, the Hawks were able to close a quarter strongly. Kate Lobisser rattled in her only basket of the night to get the run started and Irwin added three more with a finish, plus the contact, following a steal. After the teams traded a series of free throws, Irwin got open in the corner and hit the dagger jumper to ensure the win.

“We didn’t execute enough to win,” admitted Choquette. “You have to give credit to Milford…at the end of the day, they just made more of those little things that they had to right. The score’s not as close as the game was, but in a close game it comes down to the team that makes the extra play.”

Milford’s ability to compete with Canton’s size on the glass was also a factor in limiting the Bulldog’s offense. Tomaso and Valanzola each finished with six rebounds, while Irwin and Juliana Tracy each finished with five.

Dolliver explained, “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had but they had their fair share and they’re going to get their fair share in every game, but that was a point of emphasis before the game because that’s where a lot of their points come from.”

Milford (5-2, 3-2) will host league leading Foxboro on Friday night. Canton (4-2, 3-2) will be back home on Friday to face Sharon.

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Player of the Week – Hannah Jerrier, Canton Basketball

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Hannah Jerrier
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Canton senior Hannah Jerrier has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for Dec. 31 through Jan. 6. Jerrier is the 14th player selected for the 2017-18 school year and fourth player chosen during the winter season.

Jerrier had another great week for the Bulldogs, who beat Dover-Sherborn and North Attleboro to improve to 4-1 on the season. Jerrier has been the team’s leading scorer for each of the past two seasons and is off to a strong start this year, racking up double-doubles through the opening five games, including two in the last week.

“Hannah is the ultimate teammate that makes everyone better and cares about our overall success more than her own,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “She’s a great leader and teammate and has nothing but a high level of character that younger players can really look up to. She’s the perfect representation of our program and school.”

In the game against Dover-Sherborn, Jerrier scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to help the Bulldogs win by 23 over the Raiders. Jumping back into the Hockomock League, Jerrier was even better against the Rocketeers with 30 points and 17 rebounds as Canton beat North on the road.

The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.

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