HANOVER, Mass. – After a back-and-forth competitive first half that featured seven lead changes and a pair of ties, it was only a matter of time until one team put together a game-changing run over the final two quarters.
#18 Oliver Ames wasn’t going to wait around and let #15 Hanover hit first.
The Tigers, trailing by one at the halftime break, opened the second half with a 15-2 burst over the first five minutes of the third quarter to create a double-digit advantage and Oliver Ames never looked back, earning a 62-51 win on the road in a D2 South Preliminary Round matchup.
Oliver Ames’ largest lead of the opening half was five, accomplished midway through the second quarter when senior Ryan Sullivan came off the bench and drained a three for a 20-15 lead. But true to how the rest of the first half went, the Indians crawled back into it and scored the final four points of the half to seize a 24-23 lead at the break.
Due to foul trouble, OA’s starting five didn’t play many minutes together in the second with junior Amari Brown (15 points, four rebounds, three assists) holding two fouls. But in the second half, the Tigers had its top lineup available and ramped up the defensive effort to start the third.
“We had all of our weapons to start the second half and I thought we did a really good job on the defensive end,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “The [Patrick] Damon kid is an exceptional player, a 1,000-point player with a tremendous career and throughout that entire game, I thought Owen [Friel] was unbelievable just manning him up. We schemed a couple of things on their ball screens that I thought we did well.
“I think we played it somewhat conservative in the first half, we protected Amari [Brown] (foul trouble), who is probably our best on the ball defender arguably, though Friel does a good job of it too. Losing one of those two for a good chunk of time… we survived it okay, and we were happy down just one at that point.”
Oliver Ames senior Ryan Burkett (19 points, 10 rebounds) opened the second half with a traditional three-point play that gave the visitors the lead for good. Defensively, the Tigers drew an offensive foul, and both Burkett and Brown had back-to-back steals, the latter taking the turnover the length of the court for a bucket plus the harm. The free throw put OA u 29-24.
Hanover’s Jack Fleming hit a pair of free throws but OA senior Jay Spillane (six points, six assists, four rebounds) splashed a three in response, and after back-to-back stops defensively, Burkett took down a defensive board on one end and converted at the rim, forcing a Hanover timeout at 34-26.
The break didn’t stop the bleeding though as Burkett stood in to draw a charge out of the timeout, and then cleaned up a miss with a putback. Burkett came up with another steal and went in uncontested for two more as the Tigers capped a 15-2 surge out of the halftime break.
“You never really know how they are going to react when the bright lights come on,” Byron said. You get a sense for it, we had a good practice yesterday but you never really know. We came out and hit them first in the second half.
“We rebounded well and we had a couple of shots fall. We hit them with that first blast early in the first half that I think set them back a little bit. And from there on, I thought we were pretty efficient.”
Junior Solomon Fife gave OA a boost off the bench with some strong minutes defensively down low and added a free throw and a bucket in the post to help the Tigers take a 41-29 lead into the final frame.
Fleming scored early and Damon drained a deep three early in the fourth to get the Indians within single digits, 42-34, but yet another Tiger stepped up to answer the call. Senior Evan Craig (11 points) hit a baseline jumper on a feed from Friel for his second straight basket and then scored off an offensive rebound one possession after Burkett converted at the rim.
Friel then knocked the ball free and went in alone for a layup to give OA a 50-34 edge, the Tigers’ largest lead of the night, with 4:37 to play.
“That’s huge, just to be able to capable of having a third or fourth guy that can score, that need to be guarded,” Byron said. “If someone comes and tries to take one guy away, there’s another guy out there capable for us. Teams don’t have that every year, but we have some kids that can make baskets. Burkett came out very strong from the beginning, Craig had that baseline spot up and a couple of finishes off penetration.”
Hanover applied a full-court press to try and get back into it but the Tigers were able to navigate past it, and then hit their free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
Oliver Ames boys basketball (12-11) advances to the D2 South First Round to take on #2 Westwood (20-2) on Thursday at 6:30.
North Attleboro, 50 @ Attleboro, 62 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The game remained tight until the closing minutes, as North stayed within three at the half and trailed by only six heading into the fourth quarter, but the Bombardiers scored 22 points in the final eight minutes to earn their 16th win of the season. Bryant Ciccio scored 11 of his game-high 21 in the fourth, including three shots from beyond the arc, to lift Attleboro to the win. Qualeem Charles added 14 points and 12 rebounds and Tim Callahan had 11 points in the win. George Ladd matched Ciccio with 21 points, 15 of them in the first half, to lead North. Edan Kelley added 12 on four three-pointers and Ethan Friberg had nine on a trio of shots from deep.
King Philip, 59 vs. Hanover, 51 – Final – King Philip outscored Hanover in three of the four quarters, and were even in the other, building an early lead and riding that to a win in the Blue Raider Classic final at Somerset Berkley. KP took a 12-9 lead at the end of the first and kept a three-point lead (28-25) going into halftime. The Warriors extended the lead by two (40-35) going into the fourth and finished strong to get the win. Senior Alex Fritz scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the second half, classmate Tommy Donahue added 15 points, and Andrew McKinney chipped in with 12 points in the win. Held to just one three-pointer through three quarters, both Fritz and Chris Roy connected from deep in the fourth to help ice the win.
Oliver Ames, 81 vs. Southeastern, 27 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Oliver Ames’ offense poured in 23 points in the first quarter and 25 more points in the second, seizing a 48-14 lead at halftime and never looked back, rolling to a win that qualified the Tigers for the state tournament. Senior Jay Spillane connected on eight three-pointers and went for a career-high 32 points along with five assists, four rebounds, and four steals. Adam Cann hit four three-pointers and finished with a career-high 16 points and senior Amari Brown had 13 points and four assists in the win.
Mansfield, 59 vs. Whitman-Hanson, 72 – Final – After falling behind by 20 points through three quarters of play, the Hornets rallied to get within eight points late but ran out of time in a loss to Whitman-Hanson in the Roundball Classic finals. Mansfield had a 10-9 lead but the Panthers had a strong second and took a 27-23 lead into the halftime break. That momentum carried into the second as Whitman-Hanson used a 13-4 surge to start to pull away. Senior Sam Stevens scored a team-high 24 points while TJ Guy added nine points for Mansfield.
Milford, 49 vs. Wellesley, 45 – Final – With the game tied 45-45, Milford senior Colby Pires connected on a turn around jumper with 3.5 seconds left to give the Scarlet Hawks the lead for good. The Raiders missed on the front end of a one-and-one on the other end and Tyler Wetherbee sank two free throws to ice the win, denying Wellesley a spot in the state tournament. Pires scored six of his 11 points in the final quarter for the Hawks while junior Jordan Darling had a team-high 15 points.
Taunton, 66 vs. New Bedford, 44 – Final – Taunton finished the regular season on a high-note, running away with a big win over New Bedford. The Tigers built a 33-19 lead at halftime before pushing the advantage to 60-32 at the end of the third quarter. Sophomore Trent Santos scored 19 of his team-high 21 points after the break to help the Tigers pull away with the win. Junior Tyler Stewart added 15 points, junior Josh Lopes added 11 points, and sophomore Tristan Herry sank a pair of threes, finishing with eight points.
Mansfield, 37 vs. Natick, 68 – Final – Natick won the Roundball Classic title with a strong defensive performance. Ashley Santos scored seven points and Becca Hottleman scored six points, dished out five assists, and had three steals for Mansfield. Santos and Hottleman were both named to the all-tournament team.
Oliver Ames, 51 @ Norwell, 63 – Final – Oliver Ames took a 44-42 lead into the final quarter but the Clippers clamped down defensively, holding the Tigers to just seven fourth quarter points, pulling away to get the win. The teams were tied 15-15 after one, and Norwell had a 28-23 lead at halftime before the Tigers surged ahead with a 21-point third quarter. Caroline Peper led OA with 16 points, Caroline Flynn added 10 points, and Tori Harney chipped in with nine points.
Franklin, 4 vs. Weymouth, 0 – Final – Franklin scored twice in the first period and then once in each of the next two to skate to a 4-0 win over Weymouth in the first round of the Coach Melchiono Showdown. Tom Tasker got the Panthers on the board with a power play goal (assisted by Kyle Hedvig and Declan Lovett), while Kyle Hedvig (from Colin Hedvig and Joe LeBlanc) doubled the lead in the first. LeBlanc picked up his second assist, setting up Justin Abely in the second to make it 3-0. Ben Jarosz scored his first career goal, unassisted, in the third period to cap the scoring. “[Ben] made the most of [his opportunity],” said Franklin coach Anthony Sarno, noting Jarosz’s hard work to earn a varsity spot after starting the year on JV. “Perfect example of a JV player never giving up and working hard no matter what.” Franklin will take on Marshfield in the tournament final on Thursday at 5:00.
Mansfield, 6 vs. Barrington (R.I.), 2 – Final
Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Stoughton, 2 – Final – Senior Cam Perron scored twice and classmate Brad Powers registered three assisted to help Oliver Ames skate to a win over Stoughton/Brockton in a battle of teams that call Asiaf Arena home. Senior Matt Nosalek scored his first career goal in the win while classmates Jake Gottwald and Hunter Costello each scored once. Sophomore Wes Towers recorded his first varsity assist in the win for OA. Senior Owen Connor posted a first period shutout while freshman Brandon Burke took over for the second and third to earn his first career win. Joe McNulty and Colin Alessi each lit the lamp once for Stoughton/Brockton.
Taunton, 3 @ Somerset-Berkley, 1 – Final – Taunton picked up a win in the final game of the regular season to earn a trip to the state tournament, marking their fourth postseason appearance in the past five years. Nathan Fernandes scored a pair of goals while Michael Albert scored once to lead the offensive charge for the Tigers. Jack DeMoura and Brady Nichols each had two helpers while Cam Faria, Loran Corcoran, and Ethan Ross each finished with one assist. Sean Bunker made 19 saves in net to get the win.
Canton, 4 @ Walpole, 0 – Final – Olivia Maffeo scored a hat trick and Meg Aldrich added one, as the Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season. Carolyn Durand made 23 saves to earn her 13th shutout of the season. Canton heads into the playoffs with just one loss.
Franklin, 7 vs. Leominster, 2 – Final
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 2 @ LaSalle Academy, 4 – Final – A day after taking down one of the top teams in Massachusetts in Westwood, the MOA Warriors came up just short against LaSalle Academy, the top team in Rhode Island. MOA got within one goal, down 3-2, in the third period but the Rams scored less than a minute later to regain a two-goal lead, one it held until the final buzzer. Lily O’Brien (from Emma Pereira and Reese Pereira) put the Warriors up 1-0 in the first period but LaSalle Academy tied the game before the end of the period, and scored twice in the second to seize a 3-1 lead. Melissa Shanteler (from Kylie O’Keefe and Emma Pereira) fired a wrist shot in to make it 3-2. MOA needs one point from its final game against Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake on Thursday.
Milford, 57 @ Attleboro, 61 – Final (OT) – Attleboro went 8-for-12 from the free throw line in the overtime period to outlast Milford, who used a furious fourth quarter rally to get back into the game. The Bombardiers got all of their overtime points from the line with senior Nick McMahon going 6-for-8, finishing with 13 points in the game, and senior Qualeem Charles hitting 2-of-4, recording a team-high 20 points in the win. The Bombardiers got off to a terrific start with seven players scoring in the opening quarter, including three-pointers from Justin Daniels, Tim Callahan, and McMahon to seize a 17-5 lead. Attleboro kept its distance, holding a 28-18 lead at halftime and senior Bryant Ciccio scored eight of his 13 points in the third to push the lead to 42-29 with just eight minutes to play. But Milford rallied in the final frame as Ben Blanchard (11 points) connected on three three-pointers, Tyler Wetherbee added one, and Colby Pires (11 points), Jordan Darling (eight points), Max Martin, and Ralph Franklin Jr. (eight points) each converted to force the overtime period. The Hawks connected on seven threes in the game but did not attempt a free throw.
Canton, 61 @ Oliver Ames, 74 – Final – Oliver Ames junior Amari Brown scored 15 of his team-high 24 points in the first half and senior Jay Spillane connected on three three-pointers in the opening 16 minutes as the Tigers built a double-digit lead by half and never looked back. The Tigers scored 17 points in each of the first three quarters and added 23 more in the fourth to get the win. Holding a 17-9 lead through one quarter of play, Brown had nine points in the second and Spillane hit two threes to help the Tigers extended the lead. Ryan Burkett scored nine of his 11 points in the second half, Adam Cann and Owen Friel each hit a three in the third, and Evan Craig finished with 12 points for OA. Junior Eric Mischler hit five three-pointers in the second half and scored a career-high 36 points for Canton.
Foxboro, 68 @ King Philip, 72 – Final (OT) – Foxboro erased a six-point deficit to start the fourth quarter but King Philip’s Owen Conlin hit a pair of three-pointers in the overtime period, punctuating a terrific shooting second half for the Warriors in an important win. KP built a 16-11 lead through one quarter before Foxboro closed it to a one-point game, 30-29, at halftime. KP senior Alex Fritz scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the third as the Warriors pushed the advantage to 47-41 but Foxboro senior Brandon Borde netted 10 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth to bring the visitors level. Conlin (11 points) hit a three a minute into the extra period and added another a minute later, pushing it to a six-point lead that KP held onto for the rest of the way. The Warriors connected on seven three-pointers after the halftime break while Foxboro totaled just two makes from downtown. Tommy Donahue scored seven of his 13 points between the fourth and overtime and had some key blocks for KP while Robert Jarest added 15 points, connecting on three trifectas. Donald Rogers added 16 point and Ryan Hughes chipped in with 12 points for Foxboro.
Sharon, 50 @ Franklin, 64 – Final – Franklin got off to a strong start in the opening quarter and built on that lead throughout the game to knock off visiting Sharon. Seniors Brayden Sullivan (21 points), Jack Rudolph, and Steven Karayan each hit a three in the opening frame to help the Panthers race out to a 17-9 lead. Sullivan added eight more in the second and senior Chris Edgehill (15 points) connected from three as the Panthers pushed the lead to double-digits, 33-22, at half. Sharon kept pace in the third, down 46-35, but Franklin put the game away with an 18-point fourth quarter. Declan Walmsey added 10 points for Franklin. Andrew Burton led Sharon with 14 points while Aidan Kane added 10 points.
North Attleboro, 60 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – Mansfield nearly doubled up on North Attleboro in the first half but had to convert key free throws in the final seconds to hold off a second half comeback from the Rocketeers. The Hornets built 33-17 lead at halftime behind a 20-point second quarter but North Attleboro made it interesting with a 20-point third and then a 23-point fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to just one in the final minute of play. Sophomore Brody Rosenberg (17 points, all in the second half) drained a three and hit a pair of free throws to make it a four point game and North’s full court press paid off as junior George Ladd (27 points) got a steal and a layup to make it 59-57. Mansfield junior Matt Boen (17 points) made a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to make it 61-57 but Rosenberg answered with a three to make it 61-60. Sam Stevens (23 points) hit a pair from the free throw line to push the lead back to three and North was just off the mark on the tying three and Boen hit two more from the line in the final seconds to get the win 65-60.
Attleboro, 67 @ Milford, 43 – Final – Four players scored in double figures for a balanced Attleboro attack. Nyah Thomas was the top scorer for the visitor with 18 points, but Liv McCall also had 15 and Emma Reilly and Meghan Gordon both put in 11. Emma Lawrence led the Hawks with 18 points and Jillian Michelson chipped in with 14.
Oliver Ames, 50 @ Canton, 67 – Final – Canton trailed by two points at the half, but turned things around with a dominant second half, outscoring the Tigers 40-21 after the break. The Bulldogs held OA to just three points in the fourth quarter and shot 10-of-17 from three-point range to pull the upset. Kiara Cerruti was the game’s top scorer with 20 points for Canton. Sydney Gallery had 14 and Fay Gallery added 13, while Samya DaSilva scored 11 and Kayla Albert finished with nine. Caroline Peper led a shorthanded OA squad with 19 and Kelsey Yelle had 10 points.
King Philip, 48 @ Foxboro, 69 – Final – Foxboro won for the second straight game, as Katelyn Mollica scored a game-high 25. Yara Fawaz added 12 points and Shakirah Ketant had 10 in the win. Abby Hassman continued to be a force on the glass, pulling down 13 rebounds.
Franklin, 53 @ Sharon, 20 – Final – Franklin put in another full-team effort to get the win on the road. Ten Panthers scored in the game, led by Ali Brigham’s 12. Nicole Teven and Trinity Payne each scored five to lead the Eagles.
Mansfield, 58 @ North Attleboro, 71 – Final – Amanda Kaiser and North Attleboro roared out to a huge first quarter and rode that big lead to victory. North led 30-12 after eight minutes, as Kaiser knocked down five threes and scored 17 of her 20 points in the first. Mansfield was able to cut the lead to 11 at the half by scoring 21 points in the second and switching to a box-and-one to try and slow Kaiser down, but North kept the lead at double digits after the third and won the fourth to seal the victory. Summer Doherty, Regan Fein, and Eliza Dion all scored a dozen points for North. “We came out aggressive from the jump and Amanda was hitting everything,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “I am so proud of how hard they battled and played for four quarters tonight on both ends!”
Attleboro, 126.10 @ Canton, 116.40 – Final
Attleboro, 126.10 @ Sharon, 100.35 – Final
Canton, 116.40 @ Sharon, 100.35 – Final
Vault: 1. Stella Krawiec, Att – 8.6 | 2. Aly Legere, Att – 8.0 | 3. Ali Dennehy/Amanda Burns, Att – 7.9
Bars: 1. A. Legere, Att – 7.4 | 2. S. Krawiec, Att – 7.3 | 3. A. Dennehy, Att – 7.2
Beam: 1. Talia Aidlin-Perlman, Sha – 8.2 | 2. S. Krawiec/Parker Sweeney, Att – 8.0 | 3. Lauren Raffa, Att – 7.8
Floor: 1. Erin Glearson, Att – 8.8 | 2. A. Burns, Att – 8.7 | 3. T. Aidlin-Perlman, Sha – 8.6
Attleboro, 54 @ Durfee, 46 – Final – Senior Tim Callahan sank the Bombardiers’ first three-pointer of the game with just over a minute left to push the visitor’s lead to four, helping Attleboro earn a non-league win on the road. Senior Qualeem Charles dominated the paint with 19 points and 14 rebounds, senior Bryant Ciccio added 10 points, and both Callahan and senior Jason Weir chipped in with nine points for Attleboro.
Foxboro, 67 @ Bishop Feehan, 60 – Final – Foxboro senior Brandon Borde scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and classamte Donald Rogers dropped a career-high 20 points to help the Warriors pick up a non-league win on the road at Bishop Feehan. After just one field goal in the opening half, Borde exploded for 10 points in the third and added eight more in the fourth to help the Warriors close the game. Rogers hit a three in each the first and second quarters as the visitors claimed a 30-27 lead by the break. The Warriors scored 18 points in the third, getting buckets from Ryan Hughes (11 points) and Kevin Gallagher (nine points), to extend the lead to 48-38 going into the fourth.
Franklin, 63 @ St. Peter Marian, 53 – Final – The Panthers used a strong first half to go on the road and secure a win over a potential playoff foe in St. Peter Marian on Monday evening. Franklin put up 16 points in the first quarter and then outscored the Guardians 19-8 in the second frame to take a 35-19 advantage into the halftime break. Eight different players scored in the opening half to help the visitors create the double-digit lead with Chris Edgehill (16 points) scored five in the first, Brayden Sullivan (eight points) added four in the first, and both senior Steven Karayan (11 points) and Declan Walmsey (six points) hit a pair of second quarter three-pointers to give Franklin the lead. Andrew Byfield scored eight of his 10 points in the opening half as well. Edgehill sank a pair of fourth quarter triples to help the Panthers keep the lead.
King Philip, 46 @ Plymouth North, 58 – Final – King Philip held Plymouth North to just 10 points in each the third and fourth quarters, owning a double-digit advantage in the second half but the Warriors were unable to overcome a 24-point second quarter by the hosts, falling on the road without leading scorer Alex Fritz. King Philip managed just 15 first half points with senior Andrew McKinney scoring six of his nine points in the opening 16 minutes. Senior Owen Conlin finished with a team-high 12 points while senior Tommy Donahue added 11 points.
Mansfield, 71 @ Lynn English, 79 – Final (OT) – Mansfield junior Matt Boen knocked down a three with 10 seconds left in regulation, and Lynn English missed a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime but the Bulldogs outscored the Hornets 12-4 in the extra period to get the win. The defending state champions led by as much as nine in the second half but Boen, who scored a career-high 32 points, scored eight straight at the end of the third to keep the visitors in the game. The Hornets committed 30 turnovers in the loss. Boen hit on five three-pointers and went 7-for-7 at the free throw line, hauling in eight rebounds. Junior Jason See added 15 points and five rebounds while junior TJ Guy chipped in with 11 points.
Oliver Ames, 75 vs. Barnstable, 22 – Final – The Tigers’ smothering defense didn’t allow the Red Raiders into double-figures in any quarter while the offense combined to score 51 points between the second and third quarters to blow the game open. Oliver Ames held an 11-6 lead after eight minutes before dominating the second, scoring 28 points while surrendering just one field goal and three points total to grab a 39-9 lead at halftime. OA poured in 23 points in the third quarter to take a 62-16 lead into the fourth. Junior Amari Brown scored 10 of his game-high 18 points in the second quarter while Solomon Fife, Jay Spillane, Will Whiteside, Kevin Duggan, Owen Friel (10 points), and Evan Craig all added to the 28-point second quarter. Adam Cann drained a third quarter three while Ryan Burkett and Drew Nickla scored to highlight the big third quarter. The Tigers had 13 players score in the win.
Sharon, 69 @ Archbishop Williams, 80 – Final – Sharon erased an early nine-point deficit to get within two at halftime (37-35) and only trained 56-51 heading into the final quarter but the Bishops had their best offensive quarter (24 points) in the fourth to pull away for the win. Senior Andrew Burton scored six points in the second and seven more in the third to keep the Eagles in the game, finishing with a team-high 18 points. Senior Aidan Kane sank three three-pointers to added 16 points while Caleb Gayle had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Eagles.
Stoughton, 82 vs. Fenway, 55 – Final – Stoughton bounced back from a close loss on Friday to Attleboro with a big win at home against visiting Fenway. Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell paced the Black Knights with 19 points and six assists while classmate Obinna Ugwuakazi finished with 18 points in the win.
Attleboro, 78 vs. Durfee, 42 – Final – Nyah Thomas scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Bombardiers to their first win of the season. Liv McCall added 12 points and Jackie MacDonald had 10 as Attleboro dominated the visiting Hilltoppers.
Franklin, 44 @ Holy Name, 40 – Final – The Panthers trailed by as many as eight at several points but were able to rally in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. Erin Quaile came up with the big defensive play in the final 10 seconds, stealing the ball and making a pair of free throws to seal the win. Ali Brigham scored 24 points to lead Franklin, while Olivia Quinn added 11.
Foxboro, 1 @ Silver Lake, 2 – Final
Mansfield, 5 @ North Attleboro, 2 – Final
Stoughton, 1 @ Bellingham, 3 – Final
Taunton, 5 vs. Durfee, 0 – Final – Five different Tigers found the back of the net as Taunton skated to a dominating 5-0 win over the Hilltoppers. Taunton held a 59-4 advantage in shots on goal while Michael Lucier, Noah Gravel, Colton Scheralis, Loran Corcoran, and Michael Albert each found the back of the net. Jack DeMoura added three assists in the win.
King Philip, 0 vs. Duxbury, 2 – Final
Franklin, 48 @ Ashland, 19 – Final
Applin Team Tournament (King Philip), 10:00 (@ Montachusett Tech)
Franklin, 136.75 @ Norton, 122.6 – Final – Franklin sophomore Kate Rudolph took All-Around honors for the second straight meet, helping the Panthers pick up a non-league win over Norton. Rudolph was the top Panther in each event, earning All-Around score of 35.4.
Results: Floor – Kate Rudolph 8.9, Caroline Woelfel 8.5, Ashley Hammann 8.3, Lexi Lupien 8.15; Beam – K. Rudolph 8.8, A. Hammann 8.4, L. Lupien 8.15, Elizabeth Schirduan 8.2; Bars – K. Rudolph 8.5, Emma Nelson 8.3, A. Hammann 8.3, E. Schirduan; Vault – K. Rudolph 9.2, L. Lupien 9.1, C. Woelfel 8.9, Maia Keohane 8.3.
2018-2019 Record: 18-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mark Houle
Attleboro fulfilled high expectations last year with a terrific regular season but had its postseason run cut short in the opening round of the tournament. With an experienced, battle-tested, and deep group of seniors, the Bombardiers are hoping to take the next step during the 2019-2020 season.
The Bombardiers have seven seniors on the roster with six having plenty of valuable minutes at the varsity level. It all starts with a pair of four-year varsity players and captains Bryant Ciccio and Qualeem Charles. Both have played over 60 games for head coach Mark Houle and earned HockomockSports.com First Team honors a year ago. Ciccio (14.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) is like a coach on the floor and Charles (13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg) is a matchup nightmare and one of the most dominant post players in recent years.
But there is much more to the Bombardiers, such as senior captain Tim Callahan. Callahan had a strong junior season with 7.7 points per game and can change a game with his outside shooting. He will also be relied upon to anchor the defense. Guard Nick McMahon and forward Lorenzo Wilson provided a spark off the bench last season and will be key pieces this season. And senior Jason Weir is back in the mix after missing last year due to injury. Weir showed flashes during his sophomore season, a versatile player that can play in the post or step outside and knock down a three.
Attleboro has a variety of weapons on the offensive end and that will make them difficult to defend. They have a couple of good weapons that can score down low and then a handful of shooters, so the inside-out game will be a big part of the game plan. Charles gives the Bombardiers protection around the rim while all five players are the court will have to contribute on the boards to eliminate second-chance points.
“We will rely on a battle-tested group of seniors, but we will need our underclassman to continue to develop and be ready to step in and play important roles on the team,” said head coach Mark Houle. “We have a hard-working group of players who compete and challenge each other every day in practice.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-10 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Ryan Gordy
After winning back-to-back Davenport division titles, the Bulldogs know it will be a grind to try and get a third with a big target on their backs.
Gone is the program’s all-time leading scorer and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devin Foster, who was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league over the past two seasons. That means there is going to be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up for the Bulldogs. Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said this year’s team will be a “much more space and paced” orientated team. Gordy is expecting a more spread out opportunistic approach that will feature contributions from anyone who checks in.
While Foster graduated, the Bulldogs do have a handful of talented and experienced players back on the roster. Senior Kyle Fitzgerald is the top returning scorer from a year ago, netting double figures in six contests. He is also a workhorse on defense and will be one of the leaders on the court. Robbie Gallery, Matt Giglio, and Eric Mischler were all starters at some point during the 2018-2019 season so Gordy will have some veterans to lean on during the year. Gallery, Giglio, and Mischler all showed the ability to come up with a big shot at any time and will help space the floor.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are looking at their versatility and depth to give them flexibility. Gordy believes he has a strong mix of players that will allow him to switch things up and adjust each and every game. Sophomore Lanse Dorcelus earned minutes for the final month of last season and could be a key piece this season.
“We feel like our program is healthy and players have made a commitment to growth,” Gordy said. “This season we are going to focus on the process and maximizing the strengths of our players. Our culture and direction has been a bright spot as we focus on the player person and team development each practice and game. We’re excited to see where we are and where we can get too.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Gibbs
There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Foxboro boys basketball team this season. The good news is that the Warriors expect to once again be one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. The bad news is for the rest of the Hockomock League as Foxboro boasts an improved offense, and combined with their traditional tough defense, has the Warriors in position for a Davenport division title.
With four of their five top scorers back this season, including senior Brandon Borde (team-high 15.3 ppg) and junior Kevin Gallagher (12.9 ppg), the Warriors are looking to ride a balanced approach on offense to improve their scoring after finishing 10th in scoring in the Hockomock League last season (54.4 points per game). Borde is one of the most experienced players back in the league and has the ability to create his own looks as well as lead the team as the floor general. Gallagher had a breakout sophomore season and can really fill up the scoring column, especially from deep.
Borde and Gallagher will also get help from senior Will Morrison, who can catch fire from deep, and senior Ryan Hughes, who can give opponents trouble in the paint. All four players are returning starters from a season ago, so that gives Foxboro an advantage, especially defensively. Head coach Jon Gibbs called the defense the “foundation” of the team. Foxboro has consistently been very fundamentally sound and disciplined on the defensive end.
Seniors Dylan Barreira, Michael Devlin, Liam Devlin, and Donald Rogers all played important minutes last season and will provide a lot of depth for Foxboro.
“We have been making progress each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been very competitive so far as guys work hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we stay hungry, humble, and unselfish, it has the potential to be a very successful season.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central Quarterfinal Coach: CJ Neely
Ever since the Hockomock League split into two divisions, Franklin has entered each season as one of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex and that looks to be the case yet again this year.
As it does each and every season, defense comes first for the Panthers. Franklin was the best defensive team in the Hockomock League last year, allowing just 48.9 points per game. Not only did the Panthers lead the league in that category, they were the lone team to keep opponents under 50 points on average. It’s the second straight year they’ve had the best defense in the division and third straight year they are in the top three. There are a lot of talented individual defenders on the team but year in and year out, Franklin’s team defense gives them a chance to win.
Offensively, the Panthers boast the top returning scorer in the league in three-year starter Chris Edgehill. Edgehill, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last season, is an absolute handful to deal with on the offensive end of the court. He can score in a variety of ways, and on top of that, he is very good at getting teammates involved (four assists per game last year). Seniors Jack Rudolph and Steve Karayan are also back after playing valuable minutes last season and will be relied upon on both ends of the floor.
“We have a lot of guys who worked really hard in the offseason to improve and are excited to get on the court,” said head coach CJ Neely. “It’s a great group of people who have a lot of fun together. We need to stay aggressive and share the ball. We hope that strong team defense will continue to be something that defines our program.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dave DeStefano
With a solid group of players returning from last season, second-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping to guide his Warriors back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Warriors showed flashes throughout last year, including an upset win of Kelley-Rex champions Mansfield on the road. But they were also on the wrong end of a handful of close games, losing five games by five or fewer points. With a year of experience in DeStefano’s system, and for a lot of players their first year of varsity under their belts, King Philip is hoping to turn those close games into wins.
KP boasts two returning starters in Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney, both standing at 6’3. Fritz had a breakout junior campaign and was the fourth-highest scorer in the Hockomock League with 15.5 points per game. He was able to score in a variety of ways, including through contact at the rim, and will be a vital piece this year. McKinney was fifth on the team in scoring last year, scoring in double-figures in five contests, including a career-high 19 points at Stoughton. Senior Tommy Donahue looks to give the Warriors a strong presence in the post while classmates Owen Conlin and Chris Roy look to be in the mix. Seniors Robbie Jarest and Tom Weir are back in the mix after a year away from the program.
Defensively, King Philip will be relying on its size and physicality. While Donahue (6’5) will be the main rim protector, having long guards and forwards will help KP make life difficult for opponents. The Warriors will need to improve on the defensive end after surrendering a division-high 63.7 points per game last year. DeStefano is looking to get some contributions from junior juniors Donte Barros, Cole Breen, Joe Cullen, Evan Stephens, Will Kinney, and Jake Silveria while sophomores Charlie Grant and Braeden Sottile will likely be in the mix too.
“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commitment on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2018-2019 Record: 22-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Mike Vaughan
The Hockomock League continues to run through Mansfield.
The Hornets have won the Kelley-Rex division title in eight of its nine years, and it looks like Mansfield will be the team to beat again this year. Three players that burst onto the scene last year – Sam Stevens, TJ Guy, Matt Boen – are now three of the top players in the Hock heading into this season. Mansfield certainly graduated a lot of talent in Tommy Dooling, Damani Scott, and Khristian Conner, but with those three starters back plus seniors Drew Rooney and Makhi Baskin, as well as a handful of newcomers ready to make an impact, Mansfield is poised for another deep tournament run.
Stevens (11.2 ppg) will be one of the toughest players to stop with his ability to finish around the rim as well as deadly three-point shooting, Guy (10.9 ppg) is very good in the post on both ends of the floor, and Boen (9.5 ppg) can score in a variety of ways. All three are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night. Baskin provides a lot of energy and can change the game with his effort while Rooney showed last year that he can matchup with some of the top players in the league on the defensive end.
Juniors Brian and Jason See are both strong shooters that work tirelessly on both ends of the floor and should be in the mix for the Hornets this year. Juniors Jack Colby and Brendan Foley will be looking to bring a spark off the bench while sophomore Matt Hyland and freshman Chris Hill are promising young players that could contribute right away.
“I think our depth and ability to play different styles will be a strength of this team,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I’m excited to see where this team can get to as they continue to work hard in practice and mix their individual talents to form our team identity. Transition play, scoring inside and out will be strength on offense. Playing solid man to man and uptempo defense with our depth could create some issues for our opponents.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paul Seaver
After a season of ups and downs, the Milford Scarlet Hawks are hoping last year’s growing pains transition into a playoff berth this season.
With a large group of returnees, the Hawks will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title. While head coach Paul Seaver returns the majority of his team, he will need some of the those players to step up on the offensive end the fill the void left by graduation. The Hawks graduated its top three scorers, including the second-highest scorer in the league in Brendan White (18.2 ppg). That means there will be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up and contribute.
Junior Jordan Darling (7.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and senior Colby Pires (6.1 ppg) are the top two point producers back this year while junior Dom Schofield also returns after starting as a sophomore. Darling started 19 games this year and was selected to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team after a strong season on both ends of the court. Pires is a leader both on and off the court and plays well in all aspects of the game, and Schofield gives Milford a strong post presence on the defensive end, recording a team-high 38 charges taken last season.
Ralph Franklin Jr., Matty Varteresian, Tyler Whetherbee, and Ben Blanchard all saw time throughout last season and could all be in line for bigger roles this season.
“Our depth will matter, our balance will matter, our chemistry is this group’s most important attribute,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We were the youngest team in the league last season and this group has a lot of players back who are attacking this year with a chip on their shoulder. This group defines what Milford basketball is and that’s a testament to who these kids are hard workers and higher character individuals. I could not be any more excited to coach and work with these kids on a daily basis.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
There are going to be a lot of new faces dawning the Big Red uniform this winter. After losing nine seniors to graduation, head coach Sean Mulkerrins has just three players back from last year’s nine-win squad.
With a large amount of new players comes a large amount of opportunities. The Rocketeers graduated its two top scorers but bring back senior Ethan Friberg (7.0 ppg) and junior George Ladd (7.4 ppg) to lead the charge offensively this year. Friberg, standing at 6’5, can cause problems in the paint but also van step out and play along the perimeter. Ladd had a breakout sophomore season and was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team. He is a little of a throwback player that is very fundamentally sound on the offensive end. Senior Josh Porter, the third returner, saw an expanded role at the end of last season and played well.
Defensively, the Rocketeers will be focusing on limiting opponents to one shot per possession. With some size in the frontcourt, North will try to make it difficult to finish at the rim, and with all five players committed to rebounding, try and minimize second-chance points.
“There will be a lot of new faces with opportunities to make an impact on this year’s team,” Mulkerrins said. “There will definitely be some growing pains and the sooner the new faces adjust to the rigors of varsity basketball, the better we will be.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Don Byron
Last season, Oliver Ames came up just one game shy of the state tournament. Goal number one for the 2019-2020 season is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
With a strong mix of experienced players and hungry new additions, Oliver Ames is ready for the grind that is the Kelley-Rex division and the Hockomock League.
“The expectation is to always get [to the tournament], that’s our first goal,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “We’re pretty optimistic but we know it’s going to be a grind, you have to show up every night, you can’t take a night off.”
Byron has been impressed with his guard play so far this preseason, and that will likely mean featuring three guards in the lineup for the majority of the time. Senior Jay Spillane is a returning starter while classmate Owen Friel and junior Amari Brown were top options off the bench a season ago. Spillane can score in bunches, especially from the outside, while Friel combines a solid shooting game with a hard-nosed defensive approach. Friel’s ability to guard a variety of position makes him a valuable piece in the lineup while Brown is a crafty player that does a nice job getting teammates involved.
Senior center Evan Craig (6’5) will be joined by classmate Ryan Burkett (6’2) in the frontcourt. Both picked up valuable minutes at the varsity level last year and Byron is hoping that will help with their expanded roles this year. Senior guard Adam Cann and junior forwards Trey Buggs and Drew Nickla will provide depth for the Tigers.
“It takes some time to get accustomed to the varsity speed and what we expect at this level,” Byron said. “All of these kids gained experience with us last year, and that year of experience is invaluable.”
2018-2019 Record: 3-17 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrew Ferguson
After a couple of down seasons, the Eagles will be making a strong push to get back into the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
Sharon boasts a number of players who gained varsity experience that will be looking to help the program bounce back. The first being senior Aidan Kane, the team’s leading scorer last season with 11.5 points per game. When he’s on from keep, Kane is one of the top three-point shooters in the league. He has the ability to change a game very quickly if he gets hot from deep. Senior Andrew Burton emerged as one of the Eagles’ top players last year and could be poised to have a breakout year. Sophomore John Baez will start at the point after joining the varsity team for the final month and a half last season.
The Eagles will be relying heavily on its frontcourt to step up on both ends of the court. Senior Caleb Gayle is a traditional post player that will compete hard on both ends of the court, senior Cam Baker is fundamentally sound and a reliable option and junior Hank Ward picked up valuable minutes as a sophomore and will be an important part of the rebound game as well as defensively. Senior Aaron Karten will be in the mix as well, giving the Eagles an athletic frontcourt.
Junior Jordan Barboza should give the Eagles a spark off the bench this year and head coach Andrew Ferguson will look for him as an important defensive piece. Kiran Chandrasekaran had flashes of the strong play off the bench last year and should see an expanded role this year, while junior transfer Matt Baskin could provide a needed scoring punch.
“This group has worked tremendously hard in the offseason and the preseason and is looking to translate that into success throughout the regular season,” Ferguson said. “Many of the players have gained valuable experience at the varsity level over the past two years and our senior class are tremendous leaders who provide a great example for our younger players.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-11 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: John Gallivan
Stoughton ended its playoff drought last season and with a good amount of those players back again this year, the Davenport division title and a deep playoff run could be in the forecast this season.
The Black Knights have their leading scorer back in 6’5 senior forward Obinna Ugwuakazi, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game with nine double-doubles last year. His athleticism and ability to finish through contact made him a tough matchup for opponents, and he will be at the forefront of the Stoughton offense again this year. Fellow senior Tahkwan Gates Brown, who also stands at 6’5, is also back and we could see the duo play together at times which will certainly make life tough for opponents.
Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell is back for his third year on varsity. After improving each of the past two seasons, the 2019-2020 season could be a breakout year for Grigalunas-Powell, who can score from three-point range but is also a crafty finisher attacking the rim. Ahmad Jahed had flashes of strong play last year and will be back in the mix again this year, and the same goes for Tommy Sanda. Juniors Brett Pendenza and Jake Queeney are also back after earning some minutes last year.
“We feel like we can score this year both from downtown and from down low,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “And with our size in the paint, we hope to make it difficult for opponents to score consistently.”
2018-2019 Record: 15-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Charlie Dacey
After a strong regular season, the Taunton boys basketball team flipped a switch in the tournament and made a run to the D1 South Semis, nearly knocking off powerhouse Mansfield. With a taste of postseason success, the Tigers are hoping to replicate that success this year with another impressive playoff stretch.
The Tigers boast speed, skill, and depth this season and will be in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. While Taunton lost a lot of production from last year (Lou Vendrell, Mike Quinn, John Martins, Wesner Charles), there are a handful of players battling to earn their chance at minutes in the Tigers’ lineup. One constant in that lineup over the past couple of years is senior Dante Law, who enters his fourth year with the varsity group. Law was Taunton’s leading scorer a year ago with 14.1 points per game but none of the other returners were over five points a game, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up.
Seniors Fabio Goncalves (6’6) and Aiden Pelot, as well as junior Tyler Stewart (6’6) make up the frontcourt for the Tigers. All three played at the varsity level last year and will be key pieces at helping the Tigers defend and win the battle on the boards. Law will be joined by junior Josh Lopes, who showed flashes during his sophomore season, DaeDae Kenion, and sophomore transfer Tristan Herry as key pieces of the offense.
The Tigers are also excited about the depth on the team this year. Junior Danny MacDougall earned starting minutes last year and is a reliable option in a variety of roles while Trent Santos, Logan Lawrence, and Jonathan Torres will all be in the mix for Taunton.
“With this team, press and run should be ‘Plan A’ although there are skills available to play at a slower pace,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.
Franklin, 27 @ Oliver Ames, 6 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (F) Thomas Gasbarro 73-yard pass to Jake Davis, Parker Cheuvront XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 21-yard pass to J. Davis, P. Cheuvront XP good; (F) P. Cheuvront 29-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 50-yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Cheuvront XP good; (F) P. Cheuvront 34-yard field goal.
4th Quarter: (OA) Jake Grimaldi 12-yard pass to Adam Cann.
North Attleboro, 19 @ Milford, 45 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (M) Colby Pires 62-yard pass to Max Martin, CJ Cerrella XP good; (M) C. Pires 23-yard pass to M. Martin, C. Cerrella XP good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Carter Scudo 2-yard rush, C. Cerrella XP good; (M) Herrick Louis 28-yard fumble return, C. Cerrella XP good; (NA) Tyler DeMattio 1-yard rush, Evan Vigorito XP good; (M) C. Pires 64-yard pass to C. Scudo, C. Cerrella XP good.
3rd Quarter: (NA) T. DeMattio 44-yard pass to Russell Dunlap, XP failed; (NA) T. DeMattio 59-yard pass to Alex McCoy, 2pt pass failed; (M) C. Cerrella 25-yard field goal; (M) Luke Rosa 10-yard rush, C. Cerrella XP good.
Foxboro, 0 @ Sharon, 2 – Final – Sharon scored a pair of goals in the opening 20 minutes and used that to earn two points at home against visiting Foxboro. Sharon senior midfielder Michael Baur had a terrific game for the Eagles, recording a pair of assists. Baur first set up Viktor Schneider, who scored in the third minute. Baur then found Mason Benton in the 17th minute for a 2-0 lead. Freshman Matthew Baur played well in net for the Eagles.
Taunton, 1 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Canton took the lead midway through the first half and added another tally early in the second to pick up a win over Taunton. Jacob Crugnale and Colby Ciffolillo each scored in the win for the Bulldogs.
Game of the Week – Football
Attleboro, 13 @ Milford, 20 – Final – Click here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game. 1st Quarter: (A) Michael Strachan 1-yard rush, XP no good.
2nd Quarter: (M) Luke Rosa 5-yard rush, CJ Cerrella XP good; (M) Max Martin 1-yard rush, XP no good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 87-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, Colby Briggs XP good; (M) Colby Pires 21-yard pass to Carter Scudo, C. Cerrella XP good.
Franklin, 28 @ Andover, 25 – Final 1st Quarter: (A) Josh Ramos 1-yard rush, XP good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Thomas Gasbarro 8-yard pass to Jake Davis, Parker Cheuvront XP good. (F) T. Gasbarro 15-yard pass to J. Davis, P. Cheuvront XP good; (A) Shamus Florio 31-yard field goal.
3rd Quarter: (F) T. Gasbarro 20-yard pass to J. Davis, P. Cheuvront XP good; (A) J. Ramos 16-yard rush, J. Ramos 2pt rush.
4th Quarter: (A) J. Ramos rush, XP good; (F) T. Gasbarro 38-yard pass to Jack Nally, P. Cheuvront XP good.
Oliver Ames, 20 vs. Concord Carlisle, 21 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. 1st Quarter: (OA) Nathan Cabral 5-yard rush, 2pt rush failed; (CC) Christian Gemelli 49-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (CC) C. Gemelli 5-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good; (OA) N. Cabral 8-yard rush, 2pt rush failed.
4th Quarter: (CC) Cam Ladd 3-yard rush, C. Gemelli XP good; (OA) Cam Perron 18-yardpass to Adam Cann, N. Cabral 2pt rush good.
Oliver Ames, 2 @ West Bridgewater, 0 – Final – Oliver Ames turned 17 penalty corners into 25 shots on net, mustering two first half goals to beat West Bridgewater. Haley Gilman put the Tigers ahead 1-0 on an assist from Maggie Woods less than two minutes into the game. Cassie Gennis scored on a penalty corner from Ellie Waters just before the midway point of the first half to make it 2-0.
Attleboro got off to a strong start to the 2018 season, jumping out to a 4-1 record with its only loss coming against eventual D2 South champ King Philip, and allowing only five points per game. But a last-minute loss in a shootout against Mansfield and a fourth quarter comeback by Franklin the following week sparked a six-game losing streak to close out the season. The Bombardiers come into 2019 looking to turn that around and use its experience to make a run at the Kelley-Rex title.
Offensively, the Bombardiers will be led by senior quarterback Jason Weir. At a bruising 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Weir is a punishing runner and has a big arm to make plays downfield in the passing game. Junior Justin Daniels will be the starting tailback with senior Isaac Guidel and a big offensive line trying to open holes for the running game, led by senior Qualeem Charles (6-foot-5 and 325 pounds), who has a host of colleges recruiting him. Senior Ethan Cameron will provide a weapon on the outside, while junior Michael Strachan offers another threat over the middle from his tight end position.
Charles will dominate the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball as well, but the strength of the Attleboro defense will be its experienced linebacker corps. Strachan, a three-year starter who is getting looks from some Div. I colleges, will be joined by Guidel and senior Nolan Jaeger. Weir will play strong safety, after two seasons at defensive end, and will be counted on to step in to help stop the run. Cameron will be at free safety and giving the cornerbacks help over the middle. Attleboro has a large contingent of sophomores who could step in to contribute right away, including Alvin Harrison, Chris Leonardo, Adam Pearlstein, and Freddy Wheaton.
Attleboro coach Mike Strachan said, “We are looking forward to the season getting underway and with the leadership of our four captains we are looking to be explosive on offense and very physical defensively. The Hockomock League is one of the best leagues in the state with some great teams. We will have to play our very best each week if we are going to compete at a high level.”
Franklin nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the 2018 season when the Panthers forced perennial power Xaverian to double overtime in the Div. 1 South semifinal. It was a big step forward for the program and head coach Eian Bain hopes it will be a building block for even more success in 2019.
Offensively, the graduation of quarterback Nick Gordon will be a big loss for the Panthers but senior Thomas Gasbarro saw a lot of time under center last year and he will step in and take the starting job. Gasbarro will have plenty of weapons to choose from, as the Panthers have plenty of speedy, athletic players in the skill positions. Senior Jack Nally is a threat out of the backfield or split out wide and his classmate Jake Davis is a solid receiver over the middle or downfield. Senior Matt Lazarek is a potential target from the tight end position and Owen Palmieri is another dangerous ball carrier. Junior Parker Cheuvront emerged last season as one of the top kickers in the Hock and is another weapon that the Panthers can count on if a drive does stall.
The defense is an experienced group. Senior Evan Wertz has been one of the league’s tackle leaders for the past two seasons and he is the team’s top playmaker from his linebacker position. Nally, Davis, Palmieri, and senior Ben Greco give Franklin a tough secondary to throw against and all are capable of coming up with the big turnover to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. Luke Cunningham and Dom Natale will give the Panthers strength at the line of scrimmage.
“The challenge for this group is to continue to improve and build the program,” said Bain. “They need to add their own chapter and their own stamp on the program. We have the right people in the room. We need to play with the swagger and confidence of a contender, but be humble in our preparation. If we stay true to the process, we have great potential.”
Despite not winning the league title last year, the target on King Philip’s back continues to grow.
The Warriors might have missed out on the Kelley-Rex crown, but they won their third straight sectional title and made their this straight appearance in the state final, this time falling to North Andover (6-0). While this year’s senior class knows other than Super Bowl appearances, head coach Brian Lee says this group is focused on taking it one game, starting with the opener against North Attleboro. KP has a strong core of players back on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Robbie Jarest and running back Ryan Halliday. Both players had really strong junior seasons and should be the leaders of the group this year. The offensive line includes returners Nolan Gunning (left tackle), Sean Piller (center), and Pat Zarba (right guard) while Wyatt Manzi, Jack Collentro, and Griffin MacKay are in the mix to fill the remaining spots. Having an experienced line bodes well for the KP run game that will heavily feature Ryan Halliday plus fullback Shawn Conniff and halfbacks Sam Callanan and Crawford Cantave.
The Warriors’ defense has been one of the best units in the state in recent years, and while the expectations remain high for the group, there will be a lot of new faces. KP graduated its entire secondary so the Warriors are turning to senior Brian Wasserug and Cantave, a sophomore, to take on starting spots. Halliday and Callanan, both captains, will handle outside linebacker duties with Mike Malatesta in the mix for the middle spot. Gunning and Manzi will also see action on the defensive line alongside Conniff. Dillon Conti takes over kicking duties for the departed Cole Baker.
“These kids know how much work, how much effort it takes to get where we want to be,” Lee said. “But it’s all about going game by game, starting this week with a team [North Attleboro] that we have a ton of respect for.”
Looking at the long list of returning players, it is no surprise that expectations around Alumni Field are sky high this fall. Mansfield enters the season with experience at just about every position and with the bitter taste of last year’s South final loss to rival King Philip still stinging. Despite a rash of injuries that forced running back Aidan Sacco to play as an emergency quarterback for most of the season, Mansfield still won a league title and this year’s team may be even more talented, which has ramped up the hype and put the target squarely on the Hornets’ backs.
The line of scrimmage will be a strength for the Hornets on the offensive side of the ball, as they return four of five starters from last year’s unit that allowed the team to rush for more than 2,600 yards. Senior Jason Comeau and reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year TJ Guy will be two key cogs in the line, while senior Noah Jellenik and junior Jake McCoy are also back. Senior Andrew Cowles will step into the fifth spot. They will seek to protect senior quarterback Jack Moussette, who had a cameo under center last year before an injury forced him to miss the bulk of the season. The skill positions will be loaded with athletes. Cincere Gill had a breakout sophomore season at running back and senior Nick Marciano is back after an injury cut short his junior season. Senior Michael DeBolt was one of the top kickers in the league but also gives Mansfield another weapon on the edges, while senior Vinnie Holmes adds a bruising presence coming out of the backfield.
Holmes is the headliner on the defensive side of the ball. Along with fellow linebackers Marciano, DeBolt, and senior Joe Plath, Holmes will be expected to make big plays all over the field. The defensive line will be strong with three returning players: senior Chris Graham, McCoy, and Guy. Junior Nico Holmes will step in as the fourth man on the line. Much like on offense, speed will be a strength and the secondary is loaded with playmakers, including Gill, junior Matt Boen, and senior Makhi Baskin.
“We have a bunch of experience all over the field, but we really have to develop depth with the second team to handle a tough schedule and challenges every week,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “This is one of the fastest group of skill guys we’ve ever had and we could be explosive on offense. We lack a little size up front on defense, but we should be able to overcome that by flying around with pursuit to the ball with our speed.”
There was no question that 2018 was a tough season for the Tigers. Oliver Ames lost by a point in the season opener to Concord-Carlisle and didn’t earn its only win until the penultimate game against Durfee. The Tigers will hope to turn things around quickly with an infusion of young talent under new head coach Ed DeWitt.
On offense, the players will be learning a new system, but there is experience in the backfield to try and implement different schemes. Senior running back Nathan Cabral figures to see plenty of the ball again this year after his breakout junior season in which he ran for more than 1,100 yards. He will be joined by senior quarterback Cam Perron and senior running back Sam Stevens to give the Tigers a strong core. Seniors Harrison Webster and Adam Cann (who is coming off an injury) will give Perron weapons to utilize on the outside.
There will be a lot of new faces on the defensive side, as DeWitt can call on three or four returning starters and will need a number of players to provide contributions on both sides of the ball. The linebacking corps was particularly hit by graduations, although senior Tyler Campbell can provide some experience and leadership in that position and Cabral brings athleticism to the role. Max Anderson and Anthony DeCosta will be important at the line of scrimmage, while Stevens will step into the secondary along with senior corner Nick Gillis and junior corner Jadon Ricci.
“The competition in camp has been great,” DeWitt said. “The players have committed to the program and bought into the day to day work that we need to do. We are focusing on making sure we treat every day as an opportunity to improve and string together some positive momentum.”
The Tigers started last season with three straight wins and then finished with three wins in their final four games to end 2018 with a winning record. Taunton enters this fall with a relatively inexperienced roster, but one that is looking to continue the momentum in the program and try to push forward so it can challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be under center. Noah Leonard was the starter for three seasons, but junior Danny MacDougall will take over this year. MacDougall will also see time at receiver to try and take advantage of his athleticism. He will be joined in the backfield by classmates Bretton Heggs and Josh Lopes, who both got time at running back as sophomores. Juniors Kedrick Santos and Devante McPhail will be the primary weapons at receiver. Up front, the Tigers have decent size. Senior Mike Murray will be at center, senior Hussein Kassab at one tackle, junior Marquis Dalomba at the other tackle, and junior Jordan Manning at guard.
Similar to the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers lack experience on defense and are still learning the schemes, but physical scrimmages have helped prepare them for the season. Senior Woudanly Danger is a force at the line of scrimmage and will require attention from opponents and senior Jackson Wellman has been one of the team’s top tacklers from linebacker. Junior defensive end Deandre McPhail adds to the strength of the line. Senior Curt Marshall and MacDougall will be the safeties and senior Cam Carroca will be at corner.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and trying to get better and to be competitive in the league,” said Taunton coach Brad Sidwell. “We’re definitely inexperienced, but physically we have guys who can do it and we need to coach them up so they’ll be ready to go once the season gets started.”