Taunton sophomore Dante Law (12 rebounds, three blocks) drained the Tigers’ only three of the game with five minutes left in the game, bringing the visitors within two possessions at 42-36.
Coming out of a timeout, the Bulldogs decided to switch things up. After playing man-to-man defense for the majority of the game, the hosts switched to a 1-3-1 zone.
The result was a scoreless stretch of over four minutes for Taunton, allowing Canton to regain its footing and get just enough separation for a 48-38 win. It marks Canton’s first win over Taunton since the Tigers joined the Hockomock League.
“I thought we had to change the momentum of the game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy of changing defenses. “They had us on the ropes a little bit, they were making a good comeback. I just like we had to change something. They were taking us off the bounce a little bit and doing a good job attacking our guys. So we decided to change the defense to see if we could get a few stops in a row and it worked.”
Canton built a 14-4 lead after one quarter and took a commanding 30-11 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.
“We were ready to play but we need to be able to play like that for four quarters on offense,” Gordy said. “I still don’t know if we’ve played our best basketball game yet for a full game. We’ve been an inconsistent team throughout the course of the season. When we take quarters off and allow teams back into the game, it becomes a rock fight. So we have to do a better job of being more consistent throughout the court of a 32-minute game.”
But Taunton had its best quarter of the game in the third, putting up 14 points while holding the hosts to just seven points. The Tigers attacked the basket with purpose and got to the line nine times, sinking eight of those attempts.
The Tigers continued that run into the fourth with a 9-5 run capped by Law’s three, prompting Canton’s defensive switch. Against the 1-3-1 zone, Taunton’s offense sputtered, going 0-for-5 from the floor with two turnovers.
“It slowed us down and made us think,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. In the first half, the Tigers shot just 14% from the floor on 14 shot attempts while having 12 turnovers. “It stifles [the offense], it absolutely stifles it. That was a stifled, stagnant offense out there. It’s not like we haven’t worked on it, you have to slip the screens when they switch. We’ve worked on it, but we didn’t hit a slip screen all day long.
“We picked it up defensively in the second half. And that’s how we have to play. We have to get into the open court and finish.”
Before that final stretch, junior Devin Foster (23 points) was responsible for keeping the Dogs ahead. He scored seven points in the opening quarter to help the hosts build a double-digit lead and scored eight more in the second period as Canton took a 30-11 lead into the half.
He hit an early three in the third quarter, and had Canton’s first five points, including a traditional three-point play, of the fourth quarter.
“I can’t say enough about what Devin does for us,” Gordy said. “He’s one of the best players in the league and he shows it every night. I’m really proud I have the opportunity to coach a kid like that. He’s a great kid, he’s a kid of high character so when he does well you get really excited for him.”
Canton boys basketball (8-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) will finish up its crossover games on Tuesday when the Bulldogs visit Oliver Ames at 6:30. Taunton (5-5, 9-6) will look to bounce back when it hosts Taunton on the same night at the same time.