MANSFIELD, MASS. – Mansfield used a run that stretched over the final minutes of the third and the early minutes in the fourth to beat Brookline, 49-40, and knock Brookline out of the playoffs for the third year in a row and advanced into the semifinals.
With just a couple minutes left to go in the third quarter, a basket from Dan Gittelman-Egan gave the Warriors just their third lead of the contest at 28-27. But Brookline’s one point lead quickly turned into a six point deficit going into the final eight minutes.
Mansfield went on an 11-4 to close out third to push the score to 37-31 at the end of the frame. Ryan Boulter converted an and-one, Mike Boen added four as he made a pair of free throws and put back off an offensive rebound, and Sam Goldberg and Matt Ehrlich each added two during the run.
The third quarter run extended into the fourth quarter which helped the Hornets create their first ten point lead at the 6:50 mark. Nick Baskin found Boen with room beyond the arc and the senior captain drained the three to make it 40-31. On Mansfield’s ensuing possession, Boen found Goldberg driving to the hoop and the captain fed the sophomore with a nice pass and Goldberg laid it in to make score 42-31.
Brookline went on a 5-2 run in hopes of making a feasible comeback as time winded down but the Warriors couldn’t cut the deficit to below eight. Boen came down with five rebounds in the quarter, which let the Hornets use the clock and hold Brookline off of the board. Despite an unusually poor shooting performance, Mansfield picked up the 49-40 win and will now face off against Kelley Rex foe Taunton in the teams’ third matchup of the season in the D1 South Semifinals.
“We were never comfortable but that has to do a lot with how they played and how they coached and how hard they played. In that regard, it wasn’t easy. I think it had to do with a lot of just sticking with what we do and getting different guys different looks and hitting shots,” Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan said. “But defensively not giving up easy baskets and I don’t think they had an easy basket all night. When you hold a team in the 40’s, you have to like it. We played great defensively.”
Both teams started off slow in the first quarter – only making a combined five baskets. Brookline was three of eight from the floor and had seven rebounds while Mansfield was 2-11 and had five rebounds. Baskin put the first two points on the board at the 5:57 mark but the Hornets had to wait nearly three minutes later until Boulter added a basket. A 5-2 run for the Warriors including a three pointer from Jack Moyer that put Brookline up 9-6 going into the second.
Mansfield countered with a 12-1 run to establish an 18-10 lead at the midway point of the second quarter. Boulter chipped in seven of his team high 19 points during the run while Baskin made two free throws and Boen adding a three pointer. The Warriors stormed back with seven consecutive points to make it just a one point deficit. Brookline’s Tyler Patterson exchanged baskets back and forth with Boen to finish the half. The score at half was just a one point lead for the Hornets at 22-21.
Coming out of the break, Patterson was still hot as he found himself in the middle of a basket exchange with Boulter. The two had four each before Mansfield went on their run which eventually turned out to be the game’s difference maker.
“Offensively, we grinded and came up with some big plays in the third quarter to create some separation. We’re a tough team when we have a little lead because defensively we sit down and buckle down,” Vaughan said. “We don’t take any chances and when we do those things, I think we are great.”
“We’re as good as they’re going to be on the offensive end,” Vaughan said of his captains Boulter and Boen. “Boen kind of struggled with the ball offensively, had a lot more turnovers than usual. He continued to stick with it and stay in the game and not lose sight and comes out in the fourth quarter and hits that huge three pointer. Makes free throws down the stretch so that’s what we are going to get.”
Mansfield advances onto the D1 South semifinal and their opponent is a rather familiar one. The Hornets will face off against Taunton for the third time this season on a date and venue to be announced. Mansfield swept the season series with the Tigers as the first game was a tight battle in which they won 84-76 and the Hornets picked up a comfortable 78-51 win in the second contest.
“It’s a nightmare. It’s not easy,” Vaughan said of what it’s like to play a team three times in a season. “Just keeping your kids focused and making sure that we still come up with a game plan. They’re going to make adjustments and you don’t know what the adjustments are going to be and you’re going to come back and make adjustments that are going to work on your end.”