FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro’s loss on Monday to fellow Div. 2 state title hopeful Hopkinton, which ended a 10-game win streak, delayed the Warriors booking a place in the state tournament, but the wait only lasted about 24 hours.
The Warriors seemed to have a renewed energy coming off the loss and rolled to an 85-27 victory over visiting Taunton on Tuesday to book a spot in the postseason earlier than in any other of head coach Lisa Downs’ seven seasons in charge. The win also marked a milestone for Downs, who earned her 100th victory as coach of the Warriors.
“I haven’t really had much time to think about it because all I’ve been thinking about is that loss last night to tell you the truth,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very lucky. There’s no way I would have 100 wins without the talent I’ve had coming through the ranks.”
After a trip to the TD Garden last winter, Downs believes that this year’s team has the potential to be the best in her time as coach thanks to the talent and the togetherness in the squad.
She explained, “This year I have the unique situation of having all those talented kids on the floor. The team chemistry we have, and it’s definitely obvious on the court, and there’s nothing like that. They all want to see each other do well.”
Senior Ashley Sampson, the Adelphi University-commit and reigning Hockomock MVP, was the star again on Tuesday with 26 points, six steals, and five rebounds, but the Warriors also got 19 points and nine rebounds from freshman guard Katelyn Mollica, eight points and five boards from Chelsea Gibbons, and six points and 10 assists from senior Lily Sykes.
He added, “They’re so talented, they’re long, they play good defense, they trap well, they make basketball plays and they’re going to do well in the state tournament.”
Hannah Moniz (10 points) drilled a three off an assist by Jaelyn Fernandez early in the first quarter that cut the Foxboro lead to 5-3, but, as they have so many times this season, the Warriors turned it one and broke the game wide open. Foxboro went on a 12-2 run to close the quarter and then added the first 10 points of the second.
Sykes knocked down both of her threes during that run and then assisted on a Sampson three. Sampson picked up a steal and raced down for a layup and Mollica knocked down a shot off another Sykes assist.
Moniz hit a three and scored all five of Taunton’s points in the second but Shannon Smally added four points in the post, Lizzy Davis scored on an offensive rebound, and Mollica drilled a three to push the Foxboro lead to 41-10 at the half.
The third quarter was even more prolific for the Warriors. Sampson scored plus a foul to kickstart a 10-point third, while Mollica buried a pair of threes in the quarter. Grace Tamulionis drilled a three and Abby Hassman scored four points, as Foxboro got points from nine different players.
Sykes continued to be the catalyst for the Foxboro offense, which has been highlighted by the extra pass to find open shooters. Downs said of Sykes, “She loves it. She would rather pass it to someone that’s open than take her threes. She’s just such a smart, heads up player, but she finds the girls that most other guards would not.”
Taunton continued to play hard into the fourth quarter, despite trailing by more than 50. The Tigers were starting three freshman and brought a freshman and eighth grader off the bench. Sonya Fernandez scored and got fouled on a drive, Tori DaRosa knocked down a pull-up jumper in the lane and eighth grader Abigail Souza (who also played in the freshman and JV games on Tuesday) buried a straightaway three for her first varsity points.
“You’ve got to take the positive from it over the last couple days, between injuries and everything going on,” said Harrigan about facing two of the top 10 teams in the state in a span of three days (the Tigers faced Coyle & Cassidy on Sunday).
He continued, “Hopefully this will help us become a little deeper and we still have a good shot at the state tournament and we’re going to work to get there. We had to get through some of these games and it’s unfortunate that we had to get through with a couple of injuries.”
Nine of the 11 wins for the Warriors this season have been by at least double digits and six wins have been by more than 30 points. Monday against Hopkinton was the second loss of the season (and first to count in the MIAA standings) and Downs saw it as motivation for the second half.
“We are going to have games like we had tonight and that’s honestly not going to prepare us for the Hopkinton game, but they realize they’re human, they’re beatable, and if we don’t show up any given night then that could happen,” she said.
“The sky’s the limit with this team and they hold their own destiny.”
Foxboro (11-2, 9-0) will put its unbeaten league record on the line against Oliver Ames on Friday, while Taunton (6-8, 4-5) will try to get back to .500 in the MIAA standings when it hosts Canton on Thursday.