NORTH EASTON, Mass. – As a freshman, Franklin forward Olivia Quinn got to experience life on the varsity team, spending every practice going up against the Panthers star center Ali Brigham during the team’s run to a Div. 1 Central title. That experience seems to have paid off handsomely for the Panthers because Quinn has taken her game to another level this winter.
In a showdown at the Nixon Gym of the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division, Quinn was unstoppable. She poured in a career-high 32 points, including 23 in the second half, and knocked down five three-pointers, including all four that she took after the break.
Quinn and Brigham combined to score 37 of Franklin’s 41 points in the second half, as the Panthers rolled to a 71-41 victory and grabbed control of first place in the division.
“I thought on offense we executed at a high level, especially in the second half,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “We got under control, we didn’t kick the ball around the gym, stopped fouling, and just got good possessions. When they doubled Ali, we moved the ball and kids knocked down open shots.”
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook added, “We just didn’t do the little things we needed to do to stay afloat. Give them credit. They’re the real deal, they certainly are, and I’m grateful that we get another chance because there are certainly things we need to work on. That’s the level that we’re trying to achieve.”
While Brigham, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, will always be the primary focus for opposing teams, but the Panthers showed right away that there are other weapons for teams to deal with. Kaleigh Houlihan knocked down a pair of threes in the first quarter, including one in the corner off an inbounds pass from Elizabeth Wilson to put Franklin up 14-8 after one.
Tate Hadges knocked down a jumper and Caroline Peper (nine points) knocked down her only three of the game, and Hailey Bourne (seven points) hit a jumper off a Meg Holleran assist, as the Tigers tried to keep it close in the second.
Wilson scored all four of her points in the second quarter, Brigham (22 points and three blocks) added four more and Quinn started to find the range with seven in the quarter to help Franklin build the lead. A Quinn corner three on a Houlihan assist made it 30-18, but OA got Caroline Flynn free inside for a layup to cut the lead back to 10 heading into the locker room.
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to break the game wide open, as the Tigers simply couldn’t contain Brigham in the third. The George Washington-commit scored 12 points in the quarter on a variety of post moves on both sides of the rim and even stepping back to drill a three that put the Panthers up 41-26.
“It’s nice having a Div. I kid sitting there,” Leighton said, “but it creates good spacing and (point guard) Erin [Quaile] did a good job creating, getting to the rim when we needed her to. It really puts the defense in peril when everyone is getting touches. No kid can be a spare part.”
When OA did get the ball out of Brigham’s hands, Quinn was there to create another difficult matchup. She scored with a lefty scoop, nailed a three off a Quaile assist, and then hit another from the corner, as Franklin led by as many 22 in the third. Quaile also got to the rim for the only two points not scored by Quinn or Brigham in the quarter.
“As a freshman, I had a lot less confidence,” said Quinn, who entered the week as the fourth leading scorer in the league at more than 15 points per game. “This year, I’m taking on a bigger role in the team and they’re all helping me out and it’s been a great season so far.”
Leighton noted, “Her playing time what it was but she worked her tail off. Going at that speed, going against Ali every day in practice, makes you better. The big thing is confidence. Tonight it all came together. They had a hard time closing out and it gave her the look and she knocked it down.”
Franklin’s defense was preventing OA from keeping the game close, holding the Tigers to just three made field goals in the third. Tori Harney got a jumper after Flynn (10 points and eight rebounds) snagged an offensive board and swung the ball around to the forward. Flynn also scored inside and Bourne managed to slip through the defense on a drive, but it was Franklin by 20 heading to the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, Quinn took over. Quaile set her up for a three and then, after Brigham got a bucket inside, she buried a second one on a kick-out. An offensive rebound for two and the layup plus the foul in transition after a Meghan O’Connell steal put the Panthers up by 27. Another basket on a Brigham assist and a pair at the line completed an impressive night for Quinn and the Panthers.
“We got beat off the dribble repeatedly, we didn’t cover three-point shooters, and I said to them that they’re not 30 points better than we are, but they are today. We didn’t execute any part of our game plan and we didn’t learn from our mistakes.”
Quinn said, “Them being the only other undefeated team in the Hock, this was a big game for us and we really came ready to play with a lot of intensity and gave it to them early.”
Franklin (9-0, 8-0) will be back home on Tuesday in another showdown, this time against Davenport division leader Foxboro. Oliver Ames (8-2, 7-1) will try to bounce back from its second loss when it hosts Milford.
MILFORD, Mass. – Early in the second quarter, Taunton and Milford was a back-and-forth game and neither team was able to wrest control from the other. The largest lead for either team to that point was just three points. Then the visiting Tigers locked down on the defensive end and put themselves in the driver’s seat.
Taunton scored 14 straight points and dominated the second quarter, outscoring Milford 21-6 in the frame, to provide the separation it needed to pull out a 54-40 road victory. Nine different players scored at least two points for the Tigers.
“I think they just got confident,” said Siggens about what prompted the big run. “We changed up our defense a little and they got one or two picks and then they just started feeling it. We were taking care of the ball, making good passes, good decisions, and I think the way these kids fight they get the love from the bench and the adrenaline gets flowing.”
Things were even at the end of the first. Both teams had five different players get on the score sheet in the opening eight minutes and no player had more than four points.
Brooke Ferreira and Jillian Michelson each knocked down threes in the quarter, Carly Ferreira scored on a drive to the rim, and Jess Douglas tied the game at 12-12 with a transition basket after Brooke Ferreira’s defensive board.
Taunton got four points from freshman Maddie Michenzie in the first and started to dominate the glass, with put-backs by Kameron St. Pierre (five points, six rebounds, six steals, and three assists) and Sonya Fernandez (five points and 13 rebounds).
“We’ve been really working on playing together and moving the ball and I thought we did that really, really well once we settled into that first half,” said Siggens. “This is stuff that we’re still learning but the way they stepped up and improved, we just keep adding things onto that stuff.”
Michelson scored first in the second quarter, off an assist by Emma Lawrence (nine points and 11 rebounds), but Jaelyn Fernandez tied it with a lefty scoop. St. Pierre drilled her only three of the game to put Taunton up by three and then Lawrence made it a one-point game with a pair at the line.
Milford only managed two more points in the quarter, as Taunton broke the game wide open. Abby Souza (five points) got the run started with a three and Braeley McDonald added four points. Eighth grader Sam Lincoln finished the 14-0 run with a drive and lefty finish. She also added a basket after an offensive rebound, finishing with six of her team-high 10 points in the quarter.
“They’re young and they’re coachable,” Siggens said of Lincoln and Michenzie, who were both recently called up to varsity. “They want to be here and they want to learn, so anything we tell them to do they try to do it. You just have to throw them to the wolves to get that experience that they need to play in this league.
Turnovers and rebounding were the story for the Hawks in the first and they struggled to try and get back into the game after Taunton’s big run.
“We’re just not built to go on big runs,” said Milford coach TJ Dolliver. “We turn the ball over way too much. There’s a lot of little things that we need to get better at. There’s a lot of types of turnovers that drive me nuts on the sidelines because you didn’t have to make that decision.”
In the third quarter, the Tigers continued to use balanced scoring to extend the lead. Jaelyn Fernandez (seven points) scored three, Souza added a bucket after Sonya Fernandez’s steal and assist, Kristy Gorman chipped in with four, and Lincoln and Michenzie each scored two points.
The only thing keeping the game from getting completely out of hand was Michelson. The junior guard scored 10 of her team’s 11 points in the quarter, twice getting baskets off of steals, and finished with a game-high 18 total.
“She’s done so much better this year scoring the ball,” Dolliver explained. “She’s slowly progressing as a player. Last year, as tough as a battle as it was for us, all of the girls that are still on the team were only sophomores and they’re still only juniors. Without a senior in the program, it’s about just getting better and then going after it.”
Offense was at a premium in the fourth quarter, as the teams combined to knock down four shots from the field. Brooke Ferreira (seven points) hit three free throws and assisted on a Michelson three, as the Hawks managed to hang around and cut the lead from 22 back down to 14 at the final whistle.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Through its opening five games, Foxboro had proven to be far more than its opponents could handle. The lowest margin of victory for the unbeaten Warriors was 31 points back in the season opener. Coming into Tuesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, they were the top scoring team in the league and the top defensive team.
As the first quarter was winding down, it looked like business as usual. Foxboro led 15-7 and was lining up another three-pointer to try and extend the advantage. Caroline Peper blocked the shot (one of three blocked three-pointers for her in the game) and Caroline Flynn snatched the rebound. Flynn took off up court and laid a pass off to Peper for a three of her own.
It was the start of a 23-5 run to close out the half that gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. OA held the Warriors to single digits in the second and third quarters, locking down defensively and controlling the glass, to pull out a 54-39 win that keeps them unbeaten in the league and in a first-place tie with Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division.
“These kids have basketball IQs and they’re not afraid to work hard and to be physical,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I was just so proud of their effort and it didn’t come from just one player. The depth is really significant for us. They’re better now at recognizing where our strengths are.”
It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors, who remain a game ahead of North Attleboro in the Davenport division, and a reminder of the way they have to play in order to have success this season.
“We think we’re better than we are,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We can be very good but we need to do the little things that we’ve done so far and tonight we kind of forgot those things.”
Foxboro got off to a strong start. Lizzy Davis (11 points, five rebounds, four steals) was everywhere in the first quarter. She scored six points, burying a corner three and scoring in traffic on an inbounds play, and took a pair of charges. Katelyn Mollica drilled a three to make it 12-5 and it looked like the Warriors would have a comfortable edge after one.
Then Peper blocked Davis’ three and turned into three points on the other end of the floor. The momentum from that play carried over after the timeout.
Peper (game-high 14 points) sliced through the defense for a layup. After a couple of free throws, Flynn snagged an offensive board and swung it around to Peper for a quick-release three that put OA on top 17-16. Shakirah Ketant (11 points) answered on the other end to regain the lead, but it would be the last lead of the night for the visitors.
“All of a sudden we were just playing hectic basketball and no one was relaxed,” Downs explained. “When they got the ball everyone was trying to do their own thing.”
Jess Erlich (10 points) hit four straight at the line to put the Tigers in front again, Hailey Bourne (seven points) drove to the cup for two, and then Peper buried her third shot from downtown to put OA ahead 26-19. Flynn assisted on a Erlich layup and then Bourne set up Tate Hadges (nine rebounds) for a basket in the post.
Leading by 10 at the break (30-20), Clement-Holbrook urged her team to keep its foot on the gas. “Coming out in the third quarter, just maintaining that defensive intensity,” she explained. “I wasn’t comfortable until the final buzzer went off because you can’t not play defense against Foxboro for the whole 32 minutes.”
Bourne scored on a drive and Erlich knocked down a corner jumper off a Flynn assist to get OA right back into the swing of things in the third. Peper’s fourth three of the night put OA up 40-22. After Jordyn Collins got a steal and layup and Yara Fawaz scored in the paint, it looked like Foxboro might have a comeback in it but Flynn grabbed an offensive board and scored to make it a 16-point game after three.
Downs admitted, “We got killed on the boards, which is something that we’ve been priding ourselves on, crashing the board offensively and getting defensive rebounds, and we didn’t do that.”
The offense was working well for the Tigers, but the story was the defensive effort that OA put into stopping Mollica. One of the league’s leading scorers, she was held to just six points and one made field goal. The combination of Bourne and Erin Holmberg never allowed Mollica the time or the space to get off her shot or get Foxboro into its sets.
“Hailey did an amazing job on Mollica and then Holmberg went in and there was not a single drop-off defensively,” said Clement-Holbrook. “[Erin] was amazing and this was the first chance for her to be a factor and knowing what she’s been through it’s just an example for everybody.”
Foxboro never really made a dent in the OA lead in the fourth, only getting as close as 13, after an Abby Hassman steal led to a layup for Davis and then her own drive to the basket made it 52-39. Flynn added four points in the quarter, as did Meg Holleran, and the Tigers comfortably finished the game off.
Oliver Ames (6-1, 5-0) will be back in action again on Friday when it travels to Mansfield. Foxboro (5-1, 4-1) will be on the road again, when the Warriors pay their first visit to the new Stoughton gym.
SHARON, Mass. – For the better part of three quarters, Sharon was able to keep North Attleboro off the glass, chased the Rocketeers off the three-point line, and kept North from getting out in transition. But down the stretch, the visitors turned up the pressure and made just enough plays to pull out the win.
North Attleboro came up with enough defensive stops, including an important steal and layup by Amanda Kaiser, and knocked down five free throws in the closing two minutes to earn a 49-40 road victory in an early season meeting of two contenders for second place in the Davenport.
“We needed that,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “They’re a tough team and she coaches them well. They started to get a little tired, we gutted it out, and we were able to finish strong.”
Sharon was a little shorthanded coming into the game, as several players were out sick, but the Eagles continued to battle and stay close in the fourth quarter, even after an injury forced Kaitlyn Wallace (nine points) to the bench.
“We had a couple big turnovers that led to points for them and that was the difference in the game,” said Sharon coach Sandy Lombardi. “We battled. We’re short on the bench, we’re short players, and the kids go out there and play as hard as they can and that’s all you can ask for. We’re going to keep on working.”
North led by three points going into the fourth quarter and started to hit the glass to get crucial extra chances on the offensive end. Regan Fein grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Kaiser (13 points and seven rebounds) for a big three-pointer. Sharon answered back on the other end with a three by Ally Brown to make it 37-34.
Fein hit a jumper on a Kaiser drive-and-dish to extend the lead to five. After a Sharon free throw, Siobhan Weir twice saved a possession by snatching an offensive rebound and Summer Doherty swung the ball around the perimeter for a clutch three by Olivia Forbes (eight points).
“There was one possession that they had five or six shots and then they hit a big shot and it was just like, where are we,” Lombardi joked. “It’s a battle every single night.”
Trailing 43-35 and with Wallace on the bench, Sharon could have folded and looked ahead to Sunday’s game with Milford, but instead the Eagles battled back again. Leah Fandel (10 points and nine rebounds) sliced through the North defense for a finish at the rim and, after North missed the front-end of a one-and-one for the second time, Nicole Teven got the ball to Brown (12 points) for her fourth three of the night.
Last time out against King Philip, North struggled at the line, Fein stepped up and buried two and then Kaiser came up with a steal in the backcourt and finish to stretch the advantage to seven points. Eliza Dion knocked down two more at the line to close things out for the Rocketeers.
Sharon got off to a strong start to the game. Trinity Payne (nine points and eight rebounds) scored on an offensive rebound and Brown buried her first three-pointer. After North got back within two, Payne had a steal and basket and Brown hit another from deep for a 12-5 lead after one.
“She did a great job [against the press],” Lombardi said of Brown, who played the full 32 minutes. “She had a couple big threes for us that made it close and we ended up just having a couple turnovers late that were costly.”
The Rocketeers turned things around in the second to tie the game going into halftime. Fein was the key to North getting points against Sharon’s half-court zone. She scored six of her game-high 16 in the second, showing off her mid-range jumper.
Correia said of Fein, “She’s a finesse player and for the last few years we were trying to get her to go inside, but it’s not her game. We said, you’re a senior now, this is what your game is, those little 10 footers, the jumper from the corner, the free throw line, and she’s starting to get comfortable in her game and how she can play.”
Kaiser gave North its first lead of the night when she corralled a long rebound and instantly went up for a corner three. Doherty nearly had a steal to keep possession but stepped on the sideline. With four seconds left in the half, Brown raced up court and dished for Fandel to score at the buzzer and make it 19-19.
Things continued to be back-and-forth after the break. North scored five straight, including a three by Kaiser, but Sharon answered right back thanks to Wallace, who finally got going. She drilled a corner three and tied it with a baseline drive. After Fein knocked one down from beyond the arc, Wallace again matched it with a drive plus the foul and then assisted on a Payne bucket that put Sharon up 29-27.
Freshman Ava McKeon had a steal and assist on a Fein jumper and Kaiser extended North’s lead to 32-29 with a steal and layup. After a pair of Fandel free throws, McKeon came back with a drive to the rim that put the Rocketeers ahead 34-31 heading into the final eight minutes.
“They had a good game plan to slow us down,” Correia admitted. “We came out very flat and very soft and we struggled with the zone.
“We were able to get Amanda open. We scratched the offense we were running and run something higher up. I think sometimes our girls think you can’t screen against a zone, but you can and once we started to pin the girl she got comfortable and knocked down a few.”