Bulldogs Offense Clicks Into Gear Against Taunton

Canton girls basketball
Canton sophomore guard Maggie Connolly scored 10 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Bulldogs scored a season-high 63 points in a win against Taunton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Canton has shown flashes of improvement on the offensive end this season, putting together strong stretches that kept the Bulldogs close with perennial powers like Franklin, Mansfield, and North Attleboro. While there have been good patches, Canton had only reached 60 points once this year, against Sharon, before Friday night.

The Bulldogs clicked on offense for four quarters against visiting Taunton, including a 20-point second quarter, had 10 players get on the score sheet, and had a season high for points in a 63-47 victory.

“We kind of have had spurts throughout the whole year where we show signs of being a good offensive team,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette, “but stretching it over four quarters has been the issue…Today, was all about execution.”

The Tigers had gotten off to a strong start to the game, building an 11-4 lead early on behind five of Lily Patnaude’s game-high 24 points and four from Hannah Moniz. Canton rallied with the final six points of the first quarter to close the gap to just one and had five players with two points apiece in the first, including a layup from Erin Devine, set up by Maggie Connolly.

MacKenzie Handrahan (eight points, nine rebounds) scored on a rebound to start the second and Patnaude buried her second three. Canton scored six straight to take the lead, including a three-pointer by Jess Powers, who was playing her first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury suffered during lacrosse season.

Abby Kingman knocked down a three to regain the lead at 19-18, but the Bulldogs closed out the half with 12 straight points to go ahead to stay. Taunton struggled against Canton’s height, particularly when Handrahan went to the bench with her third foul early in the second.

“It was a close game and we need her in there,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We need her leadership and just her hustle and determination and I thought we lost it when Mackenzie went out and we couldn’t regain it.”

Hannah Jerrier scored to give Canton back the lead and then assisted on a layup by Connolly (10 points, 14 rebounds), who added a jumper and pulled down eight boards in the first half alone.

“It’s hard to remember that she’s a guard because she’ll rebound more than anyone on our team, or on their team,” said Choquette. “She missed down here, was the last one down here, and raced back to block the girls’ shot. Her greatest attribute is she never gives up on a play; she’ll never give up for one second.”

Jerrier also assisted on a basket for Casey Shea (six point) in the second quarter, one of 18 assists for the Bulldogs on the night.

Choquette said of the ball movement, “We don’t try to put bigs in one spot or guards in one spot. It’s a motion-based offense where everyone has to be in the right positions and no matter where you are it’s fine for everyone to go.”

Canton kept pulling away in the third quarter, opening the lead out to 18 heading into the fourth. Jerrier was the key to the attack with nine of her team-high 19 in the third. Jerrier had all but five points in the paint (the other five were at the line) and Canton continued to get the ball into the paint, either off rebounds or over the top of the Taunton defense.

“They’re size absolutely killed us,” Harrigan admitted. “Many times we’d have them boxed out and they’d go right up and they’re just so much bigger than us. Give them credit, they were able to rebound well and that was really the difference in the game.”

Patnaude tried to keep the Tigers in the game in the second half, scoring eight points in each of the third and fourth quarters. Harrigan called it a “breakout” game for the sophomore.

“Lily came on strong and we’ve been waiting for that,” he said. “She’s been struggling a little bit this year, but this was a breakout game for her and we’re going to see a lot of good things from her going forward.”

The Canton offense continued to be unstoppable in the fourth. On back-to-back possessions, Shea popped out to the high post and hit Emma Murphy on back-cuts across the baseline for layups. Jerrier added six more in the fourth and Lindsey Barrett and Molly Ludwig came off the bench to knock down jumpers.

Choquette said, “I think a lot of it comes from playing really good defense. They like being aggressive, they like jumping out, they like trapping. When we’re playing defense like that and the excitement of being at home with the crowd and the band, all of that led to a really nice win.”

Canton (3-9, 2-8) will try to keep the momentum going on Sunday against Sharon at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Taunton (0-14, 0-10) will try to bounce back on Tuesday against Stoughton.

Girls Basketball: 2016-17 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Kelley-Rex Preview
King Philip’s Shannon O’Connor (32) and Taunton’s Abby Kingman (1) are two returning players hoping to give their teams a shot at the postseason this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Basketball Preview

ATTLEBORO

2015-16 Record: 21-3 (14-2)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal
Head Coach: Rick Patch

The Bombardiers came within one game of winning their first Hockomock League title last year and despite the loss of 2015-16 Player of the Year Emily Houle to graduation, Attleboro comes into this season as one of the favorites in the Kelley-Rex again this winter.

One reason for the high expectations for the Bombardiers is senior forward Sarah Deyo. The Southern New Hampshire-commit comes into the season just 68 points shy of 1,000 for her career and is a matchup nightmare for the opposition with her ability to score in the paint and from the outside. Fellow senior Julia Strachan returns from a knee injury that cost her all of last season and the Adelphi-commit adds another strong shooter and rebounder to the front line. The Bombardiers are loaded at the forward position with junior Sam Pierce coming back after a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her average nearly a double-double.

While the strength of the Bombardiers is in the post, Attleboro has experience in the backcourt with senior Mish Logie and sophomore Jordyn Lako returning as the primary ball-handlers and strong on-the-ball defenders. Juniors Grace Mayer and Kim White will add depth in the backcourt off the bench. Guard Liv McCall is another who could contribute this season, among a group of six freshmen that will be on the varsity roster.

“We are very excited about our program and how its progressed over the last three seasons,” said head coach Rick Patch, “and the positive, entitled-to-nothing culture we have established that best represents ‘Blue Pride’ and the Attleboro community.”

FRANKLIN

2015-16 Record: 13-8 (10-6)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central quarterfinal
Head Coach: John Leighton

Franklin has been consistently one of the top programs in the league and despite losing a strong group of seniors, the Panthers are once again in the mix for a league title and a return to the Div. 1 Central tournament.

Leading the way this season is a core of five experienced seniors that offer Franklin a good balance of interior and perimeter scoring. Carli Koffinke is in her third year on varsity and is a threat from the outside, taking advantage of the Panthers’ drive and kick style of offense. Point guard Margaux Welsh will take over the primary ball-handling role and will be expected to get the offense going. Izzy Faught and Grace McDermott will add depth in the backcourt and forward Erin Skidmore adds athleticism and quickness in the paint.

In order to stay consistently competitive, the Panthers have always been able to count on new players coming in to refresh the roster. This winter will be no different with junior forward Kate Morse in her first year on the team as well as sophomore point guard Shannon Gray and three-point threat Bea Bondhus, who had a team-high 11 points in the season opener. Freshmen Ali Brigham and Megan O’Connell will add to Franklin’s front-court depth.

“With so many younger and newer players, we are hoping to build team chemistry and improve each and every day,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “We are very encouraged with our depth and will lean on our seniors for leadership.”

KING PHILIP

2015-16 Record: 6-14 (4-12)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Martin Crowley

Under head coach Martin Crowley, King Philip has been a very tough team to play against, focused on high-pressure defensive effort and not letting up from the opening tip to the final whistle. This year, the Warriors are hoping to get a little more consistency on the offensive end to match that defensive intensity.

KP will not lack for athletes this winter beginning with returning starter Shannon O’Connor, who emerged as a potential scoring threat on the wing as a freshman last season. Classmate Julia Leroux also impressed in her rookie season and they are already go-to players on the offensive end. Junior forwards Hadley Zolak and Christina Hathaway and senior Courtney Kelleher will give additional scoring and rebounding as athletic forwards that can battle in the paint and get out and run the break.

There is also a youth movement at KP this year with a strong, athletic freshman class that has already put in a standout soccer season this past fall and is ready to contribute to the basketball team as well. Chloe Layne has stepped right in and will be an instant contributor at the point guard position and will be joined by classmate Faith Roy on the varsity roster.

“Youth will be served,” said Crowley, “however our goal is the same it is every season whether you have a veteran team or not and that is to qualify for the tournament in what I believe is the most competitive league in the state.”

MANSFIELD

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (15-1)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Redding

The Hornets are coming off the program’s first ever Hockomock League title, edging Attleboro in the final game of a dramatic league campaign, in front of arguably the biggest crowd to watch a game (male or female) in the league last season. This year, Mansfield has the challenge of trying to defend its title despite losing eight seniors from last season.

Mansfield’s title defense begins with senior guard Jen Peel, who has been limited by an injury in the preseason and will be moving from the point to the off-guard position this year. She is one of the best playmakers in the league and will have junior center Meg Hill to find in the half-court. Hill is a dominant force on both ends of the floor and should expect to get even more touches this year and needs to be aggressive looking for her shot.

The Hornets will have plenty of size beyond the 6-foot-3 Hill. Senior Olivia Broyles and junior Maeve Carney are both over six feet tall and sophomores Maggie Danehy and Emily Vigeant are just under six feet. Sophomore twins Mady and Kara Bendanillo will add speed to the roster with Mady having the experience of playing time as a freshmen, including a start in the South semifinal against Bishop Feehan. Junior Ann Maher is another player that can be expected to take on a bigger role this year at the shooting guard position.

“We may be more athletic than a year ago and we’ll run as much as we can and press more than we did a year ago,” said head coach Mike Redding. “It should be fun and with seven sophomores in our top 11 we should get better and better as they get experience and confidence.”

OLIVER AMES

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (13-3)
2015-16 Finish: Won Div. 2 South title
Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook

Oliver Ames is coming off a remarkable 2015-16 season that saw the Tigers reach the 20-win mark, claim the Davenport division title, make a run to the Div. 2 South title and a chance to play at the TD Garden, and celebrate the career of head coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook, who became the state’s all-time career leader in wins (finishing the season with 645). This year, OA will face the challenge of trying to match that level of success while taking on a new division after being moved into the Kelley-Rex.

The key to the Tigers putting in league title fight is junior forward Kayla Raymond, who is one of the most talented players in the Hock and one of the toughest match-ups with her combination of size, speed, shooting touch, and handle. Raymond will get help from senior guard Hannah Carroll, who became one of the team’s top shooters from the perimeter and can stretch opposing defense. Senior Niyera Mitchell is coming back from an off-season injury and has the size and touch to be a strong performer on both ends of the court.

OA lost only two seniors to graduation but then also lost shooting guard Francesca Calabraro to a knee injury during the soccer season. Senior Abby Reardon will be one of the backcourt players that will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack, while Clement-Holbrook will be hoping for senior Brenna Burkett and junior Sadie Homer to provide a scoring touch at the forward position.

“Moving to the Kelley Rex will be a tremendous challenge for us,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Our goals are the same as before: Compete to qualify for the tournament, challenge for the Hock title and go as deep as possible in the tournament.”

TAUNTON

2015-16 Record: 4-16 (2-14)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Walter Harrigan

Taunton is coming off a tough year in which the Tigers only managed four wins, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get valuable varsity experience and Taunton will be hoping to have it pay off with seven returning players on this season’s roster.

One of the exciting younger players that emerged last year was Lily Patneaude, who showed off athleticism and a range of offensive skills as a freshman. Junior Hannah Moniz is another wing player that can provide scoring off the dribble or from the perimeter. Junior MacKenzie Handrahan will add rebounding and defense on the post and eighth grader Sonya Fernandes could be a newcomer to watch on the Taunton front line.

The back court has a mix of experience and youth led by senior guard Abby Kingman, whose ball-handling and speed will be vital. Kingman’s classmate Jess Regan is returning after missing her entire junior year to an injury and will offer a steady hand at the point guard position. Junior Dominique Bradley and sophomore Alexa White will add depth to the guard positions.

“Taunton has a combination of experience and youth,” said head coach Walter Harrigan, “along with some skill and athleticism that has the makings for a fun and interesting year.”

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 05/02/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Attleboro @ Canton – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:15
Franklin @ Milford – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:15
King Philip @ Stoughton – Postponed to 5/5 at 3:30
Mansfield @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:00
North Attleboro @ Foxboro – Postponed to TBD
Taunton @ Sharon – Postponed to TBD

Softball
Canton @ Attleboro – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:00
Foxboro @ North Attleboro – Postponed to TBD
Milford @ Franklin – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:30
Stoughton @ King Philip – Postponed to 5/5 at 3:30
Oliver Ames @ Mansfield – Postponed to 5/3 at 4:00
Sharon @ Taunton – Postponed to TBD

Boys Lacrosse
Attleboro @ Norton, 3:30

Canton, 12 @ Braintree, 6 – Final – Canton raced out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back in a non-league contest at Braintree. Ben O’Neill scored four goals, including his 100th career goal, passing former Bulldog Pat Ward to become the third highest scorer in program history (103 goals, 49 assists). Shaun Kirby netted a hat trick and had an assist, Dan Dillon scored twice and Mike Shaw, Ryan Lodge and Charlie O’Connor each scored once for Canton.

Taunton, 1 @ King Philip, 20 – Final– The Warriors had 13 different players find the back of the net in the big win. Sam Agricola scored all five of his goals in the first quarter while Harry Fallon had one goal and five assists in the same frame. Zach D’Amico and Evan Megura each scored twice for KP while freshmen Aiden Bender and Tyler Bartlett scored their first career goals. Taunton’s Andrew Wellington scored the lone goal for the Tigers.

Mansfield, 16 @ Norwood, 10 – Final

North Attleboro, 4 @ Hopkinton, 12 – Final

Girls Lacrosse
Attleboro, 17 @ Norton, 5 – Final

Mansfield, 6 @ Canton, 9 – Final – Canton’s Kathryn Doody made 12 saves in net for the Bulldogs and freshman Leah McClellan netted a hat trick to pace the offense.

Foxboro, 9 vs. Ashland, 6 – FinalClick here for a recap from the game.

King Philip, 19 @ Taunton, 2 – Final – Bre Conlon and Abby Kingman each scored goals for Taunton and Kingman also had an assist.

Sharon, 12 vs. Ursuline Academy, 11 – Final

Boys Tennis
Attleboro @ Canton – Postponed to 5/10 at 3:45
North Attleboro @ Foxboro – Postponed to TBD
Franklin @ Milford – Postponed to 5/5 at 3:30
King Philip @ Stoughton – Postponed to 5/3 at 3:30
Mansfield @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to 5/10 at 3:30
Taunton @ Sharon – Postponed to 5/3 at 3:45

Girls Tennis
Canton @ Attleboro – Postponed to 5/10 at 3:45
Foxboro @ North Attleboro – Postponed to TBD
Milford @ Franklin – Postponed to 5/5 at 3:30
Stoughton @ King Philip – Postponed to 5/3 at 3:30
Oliver Ames @ Mansfield – Postponed to 5/10 at 3:30
Sharon @ Taunton – Postponed to 5/3 at 3:45

Boys Volleyball
Taunton, 3 vs. Brockton, 2 – Final – Taunton was just a point away from getting swept by the Boxers, trailing 24-20 in the third game after losing the first two games. But the Tigers clawed back with a 6-0 run to clinch the third game and went on to win the final two to get the win (20-25, 17-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-10). Taunton received a great all around effort from David Perry, Malik Charles, Lance Law, Lens Esquil, and Collin Hunter. Head coach Toby Chaperon credited Nate Grant for stepping up at setter after Ricardo DaFonseca departed with an injury. Chaperon also noted that Dawid Fusiecki and Jason Khang were solid on defense.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 04/19/16

Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Attleboro, 9 @ Sharon, 0 – Final – Senior Tyler Stowe struck out six in six innings of work, allowing just two hits to earn the win. Will Carter went 2-2 with two RBI and a pair of stolen bases while Pat Collins also added a pair of hits and scored two runs. Head coach Matt Bosh noted the strong defense from Nate Tellier at shortstop.

Canton, 5 vs. Fairhaven, 3 – Final – Griffin Jerrier went the distance on the mound, striking out one and issuing just one walk to get the win. At the plate, Jerrier was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Kevin Powers was 2-3 with a run scored and Joe Peccia was 2-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Jim Jenkins came through with a big hit in the third inning, knocking in a run for the Bulldogs.

Foxboro, 14 @ Dedham, 16 – Final – Jesse Galanti and Darren Kelly each had three hits for the Warriors and A.J. Cavossa added a pair of doubles and drove in three runs.

Milford, 1 @ Mansfield, 3 – Final – Jared Menzer tossed a complete game, scattering six hits and striking out four to earn the win for the Hornets. Jake Tryder went 2-2 with an RBI double and a run scored and Tyrone Pascual was 1-3 with an RBI triple and a run scored for Mansfield.

North Attleboro, 10 @ Central Catholic, 8 – Final – North Attleboro scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to break open a tie game and get the win. Brian Poillucci led off with a triple and scored on a single from Ridge Olsen. Brian Kleczkowski reached on a fielder’s choice and pinch runner Zach Levitsky advanced to second on a walk to Brett Cloutier. Pinch hitter Nick Pedro brought Levitsky home with a single and Bryan Harris plated Clouter with a double. Andy Katch tossed a complete game without issuing any walks, striking out five to earn the win. Sophomore Zach DeMattio paced the offense with three hits and four RBI while Poillucci also had a double in the game.

Taunton, 5 vs. Durfee, 4 – Final – Charles Hearrold III did it all for the Tigers on Tuesday morning. Hearrold III picked five innings, scattering five hits while allowing just one run. At the plate, he had a pair of hits and a pair of RBI. In the bottom of the seventh, he came home to score the winning run on a wild pitch.

Softball
Sharon, 2 @ Attleboro, 4 – Final

Canton vs. Boston Latin, 10:00AM

Canton vs. Boston Latin, 12:00

Foxboro, 4 @ Dedham, 1 – Final – Kelly Fisher went 3-3 with a pair of RBI for the Warriors and Emma Rohan threw a complete game, allowing only three hits and no earned runs.

King Philip, 5 vs. Cumberland, 7 – Final (9 inn.)

Stoughton, 16 @ Milton, 3 – Final – Stoughton had 19 hits in the first game of the doubleheader, including a 3-3 day from senior Sam Tullis, who had a homerun, three RBI, and scored four runs. Nicole Bodette added three hits and six other Black Knights had a pair of hits apiece. Gina Carafa picked up her first win, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out five over four innings.

Stoughton, 6 @ Milton, 3 – Final – Freshman Karly Estremara began the game with a lead-off homer. She finished 3-3 on the day and a single shy of the cycle, while scoring three times, and recorded her fourth straight multi-hit game. Sam Tullis had three hits in both games of the doubleheader and Shannon Flaherty threw a compete game, allowing two earned runs and striking out six Milton hitters.

Boys Lacrosse
Franklin, 14 vs. Masconomet, 3 – Final – After leading by just a goal at the halftime break, the Panthers pounced in the second half. Franklin held a 4-3 lead at half before winning the second half 10-0. Senior Austin Kent had six goals and two assists and sophomore Eric Civetti scored five goals with one assist. Connor O’Rourke made seven saves in net while freshman Jacob Alexander had another huge game at the face off X.

King Philip, 8 vs. Hopkinton, 7 – Final – King Philip trailed for the majority of the game but took the lead with 1:09 left in the game behind a goal from Anthony Truini on an assist from freshman Collin DeVellis. Hopkinton leveled the game with 42 seconds to play but John DeLuca scored the game winner for the Warriors with 20 seconds to go off an assist from Harry Fallon. “I’m really proud of the way our team responded after losing tough game against Feehan to come back here and play a strong game against a strong opponent,” head coach Jacob Kravitz said. Sam Agricola had three goals and an assist for KP while Tim Watson scored once and had two assists, Fallon had a goal and an assist, Truini and DeLuca each scored once and Conor Khung came up from the defense to score a goal.

Mansfield, 7 @ Hanover, 8 – Final (OT)

North Attleboro, 10 @ Taunton, 0 – Final

Oliver Ames, 3 @ Pembroke, 12 – Final

Sharon, 9 vs. Medway, 15 – Final – Matt Cancian and Mark Bloom each scored hat tricks for the Eagles in the first half. Medway scored the opening seven goals of the second half to break open a 7-7 tie at halftime. Brett Listner, Craig Titus and Jack Lesser also scored for Sharon and Dan Spelfogel made six saves.

Girls Lacrosse
Canton, 6 @ Norwood, 10 – Final

Sharon @ Milford, 10:30AM

Taunton, 2 @ North Attleboro, 17 – Final -Erin Holley led the way for the Rocketeers with six points, including two goals and four assists. Hana Caster and Mackenzie Rosenberg each scored hat tricks for North. Abby Kingman scored both goals for the Tigers and goalie Lorna Li made 16 saves in the loss.

Oliver Ames, 12 vs. Pembroke, 14 – Final

Boys Tennis
Mansfield @ Holliston, 11:00AM – Postponed to TBD.

Milford, 0 vs. Hopedale, 5 – Final

Girls Tennis
Milford vs. Hopedale, 1:00

Boys Volleyball
Taunton, 3 @ Norwood, 0 – Final – After dominating the first game, Taunton won a close second game and completed the sweep over Norwood in the third game. The Tigers won 25-12, 26-24, 25-18. Lance Law had 10 kills, three blocks and two aces and David Perry added eight kills and a pair of blocks. Lens Esquil contributed a strong all around game with 15 service points, five kills, four digs, three aces and three blocks for Taunton.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/31/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Lacrosse
Taunton, 6 vs. Bristol Plymouth, 7 – Final (OT)Taunton rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the fourth quarter in its first ever varsity game but fell to BP in overtime. Lee Gobin scored a pair of goals for Taunton while Andrew Wellington, Jason Stern, Griffin Speicher and Cam Welby each scored once. Ryan Williams made six saves in net.
Girls Lacrosse
Franklin, 14 @ Needham, 15 – Final (2OT) – Seven different players found the back of the net in Franklin’s opening game. Kenzie Pleshaw led the way with a team-high four goals and Emily Spath netted three goals. Sam Jones forced three turnovers on defense and had a pair of ground balls. Dani Lonati made seven saves in net. 
Taunton, 17 vs. Bristol Plymouth, 1 – FinalThe Tigers picked up a win in the program’s first ever varsity game. Layne Kingman led the way for Taunton with three goals and three assists. Delaney Powell scored five goals, Abby Kingman and Hannah Moniz each had two goals and an assist and Breanna Conlon and Kayla Phillips each scored a pair of goals.
Boys Tennis
Taunton, 3 vs. Durfee, 2 – Final – Brett Beaulieu picked up a marathon win at first singles (6-4, 5-7, 6-4), Mike Briggs won at a third singles (4-6, 6-1, 6-4) and Connor Briggs and Charlie Fiske teamed up for a 6-4, 6-1 win at first doubles. 
Girls Tennis
Taunton, 5 @ Durfee, 0 – Final – Jordan Pagliuca picked up a win at first singles (6-1, 6-2), Olivia Sweeney won at second singles (6-1, 6-0) and Delaney DeAvila rallied for a win at third singles (4-6, 6-2, 7-6). In doubles play, Emily Moor and Ashleigh Eason had a sweep at first doubles (6-0, 6-0) and Caroline Herbert and Jillian Pagliuca teamed up for a 6-1, 6-2 win at second doubles. 
Outdoor Track
Boys
North Attleboro, 105 vs. Oliver Ames, 31 – Final
Girls
North Attleboro, 73 vs. Oliver Ames, 63 – Final
Boys Volleyball
Taunton, 3 vs. Norwood, 0 – Final – The Tigers opened the season with a 3-0 sweep over Norwood, 25-11, 25-21, 25-16. Sophomore Lance Law led the way with 14 kills, 10 digs and three aces while Ricardo DaFonseca picked up right where he left off last year, notching 24 assists. Lens Esquil had five kills and a block, Malik Charles added four kills, three aces and a block and Nate Grant had four kills, and ace and a strong game at the net. Head coach Toby Chaperon praised the work of David Perry and Dawid Fusiecki during the game. 

Taunton Rallies Late to Beat Milford, Earn First Win

Alyssa Gibson
Senior forward Alyssa Gibson (24) scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Tigers to their first win of the season on Tuesday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

TAUNTON, Mass. – The Tigers have a young roster, one that has suffered through injuries and missing players during a difficult first half of the season, but on Tuesday night Taunton set aside the early season disappointments and found a way to get its first win of the season.

Senior forward Alyssa Gibson led the Tigers with 13 points and nine rebounds, including five points in the fourth quarter as Taunton rallied from from five points down to pull out a 44-40 victory over Milford.

“We needed to pick it up,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We needed a win. These girls have worked hard, we’ve been decimated with injuries and all the stuff going on this year, so they deserved it.”

At the start of the fourth, Milford had built a 34-28 lead behind nine of Kate Irwin’s team-high 12 points, but good ball movement against the Hawks’ zone got the ball to Jordan Wade (nine points) and the senior guard knocked down her third three of the game to cut the lead to just three.

After MacKenzie Handrahan scored her only basket of the game on a rebound putback, Emma Liskov answered with a layup that made it 36-33. Raquia Pate (eight points, 10 rebounds) scored on another offensive rebound to once again bring Taunton back within one.

“I thought we did a good job right from the beginning,” said Harrigan. “I thought we boxed out really well; offensively we’re just a little stagnant and we really weren’t getting the ball movement.”

After an Irwin free throw, Gibson twice was fouled taking the ball to the basket and each time made three of four free throws to tie the game at 38-38 with 2:15 remaining. It was the first time the game had been tied since the opening quarter. On Taunton’s next possession, freshman Lily Patneaude scored on a runner to give Taunton the lead  and then Gibson scored on a layup to extend it to four points.

Harrigan said, “We were hoping to get one run. We were hoping it would come early, but luckily we were able to get it late in the game.”

Irwin raced up the floor to score on a layup and cut it back to two and the Hawks managed to create a turnover on the sideline, but Jill Burley missed both free throws after the steal and Taunton claimed the rebound. Milford was only 3-10 from the line in the fourth and also missed several chances close to the rim.

“We couldn’t put the ball in the hoop and we couldn’t rebound,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver, “so it was kind of a combination of all of it. If you can’t make easy ones, can’t make free throws, then you have to rely on tough shots and that’s not the way you want to go.”

Patneaude made a free throw for the Tigers to make it 43-40, but missed the second. The ball bounced free and Hanrahan again chased down the rebound to save the possession. Maggie Sullivan was fouled and made a free throw to essentially ice the game up four in the final seconds.

“It’s just tough to watch because sometimes we just don’t have any fight,” Dolliver remarked. “We need to get angry sometimes and actually battle, but it’s something we need to work on as a team and I need to work on as a coach and try to figure out a solution.”

Milford took a 20-17 lead into halftime. Irwin and Gill Valanzola each scored five points in the opening half, while Pate led the Tigers with six and Gibson had four.

In the third quarter, the Hawks went on a run and jumped out to their largest lead of the game at 26-17. Irwin was proving difficult to stop for the Tigers, especially when she got into transition. Junior forward Nicole Dahlgren also provided an offensive spark with six of her 10 points coming in the third. Senior Jill Powers also chipped in with three.

The Tigers battled back to stay in the game heading to the fourth. Abby Kingman hit a jumper just as it looked like Milford may pull away. Gibson scored four points in the quarter, Hannah Moniz (five points) hit a perimeter shot and Wade knocked down a big three that cut the lead back down to two points.

Powers answered with a bucket on the other end and the Hawks went into the fourth with a five-point lead. It could have been another game in which the Tigers came close but Taunton showed resiliency to close it out and get its first win of the season.

Harrigan commented, “We’ve been close in a couple, but they’ve got to continue to work hard. We know what we have. We’ve got some senior leadership and then we’re very young and we’re going to continue to improve as the season wears on.”

Taunton (1-9, 1-7) will try to start a winning streak on Friday when it hosts North Attleboro. Milford (4-7, 1-7) will look to bounce back when it travels to Davenport leader Oliver Ames.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.