MANSFIELD, Mass. – Throughout the first half, the Mansfield boys basketball used a swarming defense and unselfish play on offense to build a double-digit advantage and looked poised to run away with a win.
But Foxboro refused to go away, scoring more points in the third quarter than the entire first half while holding the Hornets to just seven points to get back into the game.
And the Warriors used a 6-0 burst early in the fourth quarter to cut Mansfield’s 22-point lead down to just seven with the chance to make it a two-possession game, down 43-36.
“Every time you play Foxboro, they don’t give up,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “They take things away, they challenge you for 32 minutes and they just play so hard. It’s a good lesson for our guys because we can look at the effort they gave, and now we have to match it.”
The Hornets were able to get a stop to keep the lead at seven and sophomore Matt Boen (seven points, 10 rebounds) converted a traditional three-point play on the other end of the court to extend the lead back to 10 and Mansfield closed out the final five minutes strong to earn a 57-42 win over the visiting Warriors.
“I thought in the first half we had moments of being very consistent moving the ball and when they cut it to seven, we had a couple of possessions where we did what we like to do and they all resulted in a basket or a foul shot,” Vaughan said. “We went back [to what worked] and settled in. When you give up a lead like that, typically it’s by playing a little more selfish or being lazy with the ball, and we had to clean that up.”
Mansfield forced a turnover on the defensive end, just one of three Foxboro turnovers in the second half compared to 17 in the opening 16 minutes. That resulted in a free throw from sophomore TJ Guy (10 points, five assists).
Foxboro cut it back to 10 with just under three minutes to go but Boen drained a corner three with two minutes to go to end any comeback hopes.
“At halftime we took a deep breath and just told them to shoot when they are open and we talked about turnovers and the second half was much better offensively but it ended up being too big of a hole,” said Foxboro head coach Job Gibbs. “I was really proud of the character we showed in the second half, facing a big deficit on the road against a good team. It would have been easy to quit but they kept battling and we made a game of it. Hopefully we can build off that second half moving forward.”
After being held to just 5/17 shooting from the field and forced into 17 turnovers in the first half, Foxboro looked like a new team in the second half. The Warriors were able to turn a 19-point deficit at halftime (33-14) into a 10-point game after the third quarter.
Sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored six of his career-high 14 points in the third frame while juniors Ryan Hughes and Will Morrison (nine points) each chipped in with five points in the third to help Foxboro get back into the game.
And defensively, the Warriors only allowed seven points on 3-for-11 shooting while forcing six Hornet turnovers. Gallagher and Morrison each hit a triple over the first four and a half minutes of the quarter, but Foxboro made its big run with a 10-4 burst over the final three minutes of the quarter.
Hughes made a putback and converted a free throw for a three-point play, Gallagher hit another three, Hughes scored on a breakaway after a nice defensive play, and Morrison hit two free throws as the buzzer expired to make it 40-30.
In the first half, it was almost all Mansfield. Each team had just one three-pointer after four minutes of play but Mansfield rattled off a 12-0 run in just 90 seconds to change the game early. Guy and Damani Scott (16 points, 11 rebounds) each had a pair of buckets and Dooling hit a triple in that stretch while Foxboro turned it over six times.
Michael Devlin gave Foxboro a lift with a couple of nice defensive plays and had back-to-back baskets to make it 15-7 at the end of the first.
In the second, it was more of the same for Mansfield. The Hornets forced six more turnovers in the second quarter and shot 5-for-11 from the field to create a double-digit lead by halftime.
“Obviously it wasn’t a pretty first half for us offensively. I thought our half-court defense was solid, but unfortunately, they got a ton of points off of our turnovers. Offensively, we looked like an inexperienced team, guys were tentative and not trusting themselves, passing up wide open shots they make in practice, and obviously turning the ball over too much.
“Playing Mansfield on the road in the first game, it’s a baptism by fire. It will let you know real quick where you are and what you have to work on. It’s a good learning experience for some of the guys.”