MILFORD, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game at Milford, most of the attention was on Foxboro guard Katelyn Mollica approaching the 1,000-point mark for her career and once the game tipped off both teams remained preoccupied with either reaching or denying that milestone.
The Hawks regularly sent two or three defenders at Mollica all night, chasing her off the three-point line and giving her no room to maneuver. Ordinarily the Warriors would punish a team for putting that much attention on one player, but Foxboro looked hesitant and uncharacteristically turnover-prone.
In the end, Foxboro found enough of its offensive groove in the second half and dominated the glass to pull out a 44-17 road win that clinched at least a share of a fourth straight league title.
Although it was a win and another goal reached, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than thrilled at the final whistle. “That’s why she needs to get to 1,000 points because she’s trying to do way too much,” Downs admitted. “She’d be tripled and still kept dribbling, and that’s not her. They’re going should I take it or should I pass it, and then it’s an airball.”
The tone was set right from the opening tip, as it took more than three minutes for the opening basket of the game. Mollica drilled a three to open the scoring, but when freshman Brooke Ferreira got her fifth steal of the quarter and turned it into a fast break layup, Milford led 4-3 inside the final 30 seconds of the first.
Hassman added the first four points of the second quarter too, including a transition basket after Yara Fawaz (four points and 10 rebounds) got a steal and assist. Ferreira (team-high 10 points, six steals) drove to the basket to keep Milford within three, but Foxboro went on an 8-0 run to grab control.
Shakirah Ketant (game-high 14 points and 13 rebounds) hit a pair of shots and Fawaz added a basket to help Foxboro pull away.
Mollica, who came into the game needing 24 points to reach 1,000, hit a pair of free throws in the second and had five points at the break. She finished with 12 on the night and was hounded from start to finish by Emma Lawrences, with help from Jillian Michelson and others.
Milford assistant Tim Walsh, who coached the team in the absence of head coach TJ Dolliver, praised his team’s defensive effort. Few teams have held Foxboro to 17 points in a half or 44 for a game. He said, “You don’t want 1,000 scored on your home court, so we did all that we could to take that away.”
Walsh added, “The effort was just unbelievable tonight. I thought we hustled and played as hard as they’ve played all season. It was the best they played all season in that first quarter. We had the lead and I thought we were going to win the quarter but then they scored at the end.”
Foxboro came out of the break with more cohesion on offense and put the game away. After scoring 17 in the first half, the Warriors scored 16 in the third quarter alone.
“They probably out-rebounded us three or four to one and they’ve got some girls inside,” said Walsh. “You take one away and they’ve got four others who can shoot, so it’s tough.”
Mollica got it started with a steal and layup, good ball movement got Fawaz a bucket, and then, after a layup by Carly Ferreira, Fawaz kicked out a pass for a Hassman jumper. Ketant added four points in the third and Aislinn Servaes, who has been injured for most of the season, got a steal and layup.
Brooke Ferreira added four of Milford’s seven points in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks couldn’t score enough to get back into the game. Mollica scored five in the fourth and Ketant had four more to seal the win for the Warriors. Jamie DeVellis grabbed her 10th board, the fourth Foxboro player to get double digits rebounds.
“We should have been dominating inside,” said Downs. “Our bigs should’ve all had 16 points and some of the things we were doing…nothing was good.”