Eagles Honor Cronin With Comeback Victory

Sharon boys basketball
Sharon junior Andrew Burton makes a move against a Norwood defender in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SHARON, Mass. – Before Sunday’s matinee meeting between Sharon boys basketball and Norwood, the Eagles honored former longtime coach Basil Cronin, who passed away last year.

Cronin coached basketball at Sharon High for 37 years, including a 17-year stint as varsity head coach from 1983 to 1999. The Eagles won four league titles in the span and climbed to the top of the mountain in 1991 with a Division 2 State Championship.

While this year’s Sharon squad continues to grow, it honored Basil the best it could, orchestrating a gritty come-from-behind 70-66 win over the visiting Mustangs.

“That was the goal, we wanted to get a win after recognizing Coach Cronin,” said current Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “Our freshmen coach Larry Yaffe, who played here for Basil, did such a great job setting everything up. We had a lot of alumni here, Mrs. Cronin was here, so getting a win was really a cherry on top of a great afternoon.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Eagles trailed after both the first and third quarters, faced a seven-point deficit early in the fourth, and were behind with under 30 seconds left. Sharon outscored the Mustangs 13-3 over the final three minutes, and 6-1 the final minute, to secure the victory.

Norwood led for the majority of the fourth quarter, answering anytime the Eagles made a bucket to try and get back in the game. With Sharon trailing 63-57, junior Andrew Burton (13 points, eight rebounds) sliced through the defense for a layup. The Eagles got a key stop and Andrew Strong (13 points) converted a pair of free throws to get Sharon within two.

The Mustangs had two chances to extend the lead but couldn’t convert against Sharon’s defense, and Burton hauled in a big defensive rebound and converted on the other end with another strong take to tie it at 63-63 with 1:23 to go.

Sharon briefly took the lead when Burton sank a free throw, but Norwood cashed in on a foul away from the basket, hitting both free throws to retake a 65-64 lead with a minute to go. The Eagles missed on the ensuing possession and even sent Norwood to the line, but the Mustangs only hit one of two free throws.

Ferguson put in a lineup of shooters for the ensuing possession, and the spread offense worked out. The Eagles moved the ball around the court with a lot of off ball movement, the rock ending up in the hands of Ben Kaplan (11 points) in the corner. The senior didn’t hesitate and drained a three to put Sharon up 67-66 with just 22 seconds left.

“It was a three or we’d get someone going downhill for a layup,” Ferguson said. “With the guys we had one the court, we’re able to spread the floor and didn’t have a post presence. We wanted to spread them out and a senior made a big play on a big shot. Aidan is our best shooter but we have enough trust in all the guys on the floor to make that shot.”

Sharon forced a travel on Norwood’s ensuing possession and Aidan Kane (10 points) pushed the lead to two with a free throw. The Mustangs were whistled for an illegal screen on their next possession and Burton iced the game with a pair of free throws in the final seconds.

Norwood had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter and capitalized on the second chances to put together an 11-4 run. Sharon sophomore Kiran Chandrasekaran drained a three in the final seconds to pull the Eagles within four, down 16-12 at the end of one.

Sharon kicked it into gear in the second quarter, opening the frame with a 13-0 run to take the lead. Strong set the tone with a steal and traditional three-point play on the first play of the quarter. Alec Filipkowski added a three pointer, sophomore Hank Ward (eight points, four rebounds) converted a putback, Kaplan got a kind bounce on a corner three and then converted after a Norwood turnover for a 25-16 advantage.

The Eagles led 30-25 at the halftime break.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the third, the Mustangs opened with an 8-2 run to take the lead before Burton scored to take it right back. A Norwood three was answered by a bucket from Chandrasekaran off a feed from freshman John LaraBaez. Senior Alex Kaufmann put the Eagles ahead 42-41 with a traditional three-point play, but the Mustangs closed the quarter with an 8-4 run to seize a 50-45 advantage after three.

“It felt similar to the Walpole game but this time we had to fight back,” Ferguson said. “It shows a lot about these guys, especially the younger guys on the floor for some of those runs. It shows they’re going to be able to step into this spot down the road. And we had a couple of seniors made some big plays for us. It’s a good mix of kids and our younger kids are learning from our seniors. Now we have to take that next step.”

Sharon boys basketball (2-15 overall) will try to make it two in a row when it hosts Foxboro on Tuesday at 6:30.

Sharon Holds On To Earn First Win Over Walpole

Sharon boys basketball
Sharon’s Aaron Strong goes up for a shot in the first quarter against Walpole. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WESTWOOD, Mass. – While there are plenty of different coaching philosophies in the game of basketball, you can essentially split coaches into two groups: those who foul up by three late in the game, and those who don’t.

You can count Sharon’s Andrew Ferguson among the former group.

Right after Sharon senior Aaron Strong (career-high 19 points) sank two free throws to make it 61-58 with 5.2 seconds left, the Eagles fouled, sending Walpole to the line to shoot two with 3.3 to go.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The strategy worked out, as the first free throw was off, forcing the Rebels to purposely miss the second. A loose ball ended up with a jump ball with 0.3 left, and Walpole’s last-second desperation three was off the side of the backboard, giving the Eagles their first win of the season.

“We were very worried of Matt Falvey getting open and hitting a three,” Ferguson said. “We wanted to put them on the line, and then if he missed it, have to make that decision to miss the second. Nick Stamm knew exactly what we wanted to do right away, he did such a great job in the fourth quarter on [Falvey]. We felt fouling was the best strategy for us in that spot. With under 10 seconds left, didn’t want to get caught on a switch on a screen and it ended up working out.”

Ferguson’s concern about Falvey was beyond warranted as the senior guard scored a game-high 29 points, keeping the Rebels within striking distance until their fourth-quarter push that nearly stole the game.

Sharon had a 12-point lead at halftime and entered the final quarter with a 51-42 advantage and control of the game. The Eagles had an answer for Walpole’s early push as Caleb Gayle (eight points, seven rebounds) had back-to-back baskets and Stamm drove to the hoop to put Sharon ahead 57-46 with just under six minutes to go.

Walpole refused to go quietly, hitting a three after Sharon missed a pair of free throws. The Rebels got a turnover on the ensuing inbounds and converted a three-point play to make it 57-52.

After an empty trip, Falvey scored his lone two points on the final quarter with a nice take to the basket.

“That was Nick Stamm’s job, I told him ‘Don’t let him breath’ in the fourth quarter,’” Ferguson said. “Nick knows what his role is and he’s embraced it. He really stepped up to help us in the fourth.”

Sharon had a chance to answer but missed two more free throws. After trading misses over the next two minutes, Walpole made it a one-point game on two free throws from Brian DiPasca (18 points).

Sharon once again failed at the free throw line but forced a turnover on the defensive end to keep the lead. Despite a missed three, Sharon got the offensive rebound and Strong hit one of two chances at the line to push the lead to 58-56 with 1:32 to play.

With 30 seconds to play, Walpole came out of a timeout with a play to try and get level. It looked like the play was going to work when Connor McDonough got free on a curl but Ben Kaplan made a terrific block from behind off the backboard and Strong grabbed the rebound.

“We thought we could pressure them a little bit,” Ferguson said of the defense early on. “They have a young point guard so we were very successful with Ben [Kaplan] and Aaron [Strong] at the top of that 22. But Falvey was really killing us so we switch to the box-and-one and we really shut him down in the fourth quarter. Other guys stepped and hit shots for them but I’m proud of the defensive effort from my guys tonight.”

Strong hit one of two from the line to push the lead to 59-58, but Walpole sophomore Jack Connell drove to the basket for two, cutting the lead to one again. Sharon was almost called for a 10-second violation in the backcourt but Ferguson called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Strong got the ball, was fouled, and hit two free throws to seal the win.

“I told Aaron that I trusted him, that I trusted he would make the free throws,” Ferguson said.

Sharon trailed twice in the early minutes of the game but went ahead 14-10 by the end of the first quarter and never relinquished the advantage.

The Eagles had their best stretch of the first half at the very end of the second quarter. Holding a 22-18 advantage, Sharon closed the first half with an 11-3 run.

Aidan Kane (18 points) drove to the rim for two, Gayle hit a mid-range jumper and Kaplan took it strong to the basket for a 29-19 lead. Strong had one of his six steals and converted an easy two and Kane drilled a three on a feed from Stamm just before the buzzer to make it 33-21.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sharon’s lead expanded to as much as 15 when Strong converted a layup with five minutes to go in the third quarter, but Walpole rallied to get within seven with under two minutes left in the period. JuniorAlec Filipkowski drilled a three to push the lead back to double digits.

“They ramped up their defensive intensity, they were cutting off the lane really well and we just weren’t making our foul shots,” Ferguson said of what changed in the fourth quarter. “We got to the free throw line but just didn’t cash in there. We’re going to shoot a lot of foul shots tomorrow in practice. Mike [Masto] does a great job with Walpole and they really ramped up their defensive intensity. We have a young group experience wise so we will work on that in practice and get better.”

Sharon boys basketball (1-4) returns home for a Hockomock League game against Davenport division rival North Attleboro on Friday, January 4th at 6:30.

King Philip Pulls Away From Sharon In Second Half

Sharon boys basketball
King Philip junior Chris Roy (22) goes up for a shot against King Philip’s Andrew Burton (33) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – First year King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano made it clear that defense was a priority when he took over the reins of the Warriors’ program.

So it’s no surprise that at halftime, trailing 32-21 to Sharon, that DeStefano challenged his team to make a big commitment to the defensive end of the floor for the final 16 minutes.

His team delivered.

The Warriors held the Eagles to just four points in the third quarter, creating a double-digit lead that it used to come away with a 73-53 decision over Sharon.

“It was all about the defensive effort,” DeStefano said of the big third quarter. “The guys really committed to the defensive end, they boxed out well and didn’t give up a lot of rebounds. I challenged them at halftime to be better on the defensive end and they responded.”

King Philip’s defense was strong from the get-go of the second half, forcing a turnover on Sharon’s first possession, resulting in a putback from Sam Sesay (10 points, seven rebounds).

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While Sharon took the lead back on a bucket from Andrew Burton (six points, six rebounds), King Philip outscored the Eagles 16-2 over the final 6:24 of the period.

After a turnover, Tim Nault (seven points, seven assists) converted a layup to re-take the lead, Sesay converted another putback on KP’s third shot of the possession, and Sesay scored again on a feed from Chris Roy (13 points) after another Eagle turnover.

Holding a 39-34 lead, the Warriors forced back-to-back turnovers, the first resulting in a bucket from Tyler Nault, the second two points from Sesay off a feed from Tim Nault.

Bruce Saintilus (six points) set up Andrew McKinney (five points, five rebounds) for a bucket and then took advantage of another Sharon turnover for two points while being fouled. Although he missed the free throws, the Warriors grabbed two offensive boards, the second resulting in two more from Saintilus and a 49-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

After hitting six triples in the first half, the Warriors adjusted and attacked the basket more in the third quarter. KP went 9-for-17 from two-point range in the frame and didn’t hit a three.

“I told the guys at half that we can’t rely on the three all game and we’d have to take it to the hole more,” DeStefano said. “We’re not going to be able to sustain the shooting, we needed to attack. We still took too many threes in the second half, and they weren’t all bad but we needed to attack more.”

A big reason for the success from in close was Sesay, who scored eight of his 10 points and grabbed six of his seven rebounds in the third quarter alone.

“He’s a physical specimen. He gives us toughness down there. He knows his role on the team, he doesn’t try and do anything out of his comfort zone. He’s there to bang down low, get boards, a lot of little things and he’s accepted that role, and he played well tonight. And he’s been huge in practice with challenging guys, he’s really become a leader for this team.”

Sharon made it interesting by opening the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run to make it a seven point game, down 50-43 with 6:38 to play in the game. Aidan Kane (career-high 22 points) scored on a feed from Ben Kaplan (10 points), Burton hit a pair of free throws, and Kane sank a triple on a pass from Alex Filipkowski to get close.

The Eagles had two chances to get closer after forcing a KP turnover and getting a stop on defense, but a missed triple and then a steal and layup from Warrior junior Alex f (career-high 18 points) swung the momentum back with the hosts.

A triple from Fritz extended the advantage to 12 for the Warriors but Sharon kept it close, and a putback from Kiran Chandrasekaran (nine points) made it a single-digit deficit but KP answered right away when Tyler Nault buried a three.

“We stopped attacking the basket,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson of what changed in the third quarter. “We’ve been preaching going downhill on offense and we kept going side to side. It was a little reminiscent of the first quarter against Mansfield, we looked a little intimidated and they ramped up their defensive pressure. Unfortunately a couple of shots didn’t fall, a couple of loose balls they beat us to, and we have to get better at those things but I think we will.”

King Philip had a strong shooting night overall, hitting 42% of its shots from the field. But the Warriors were particularly successful from three-point range early on.

The Warriors hit four of their first five attempts from deep in the opening quarter with Roy leading the way. The teams traded early threes, with Sharon holding an 8-7 advantage after a bucket from Aaron Strong. Roy put KP ahead with a layup, extended KP’s lead with a jumper and hit his second three of the frame with a minute to go to help KP lead 17-14 after one.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Eagles battled back in the second quarter, limiting KP to just two triples in the frame. The Warriors led 25-16 with 5:28 to go, but Sharon closed the with a 16-6 surge to take the lead at the break. Kane had back-to-back triples to get within two and Kaplan drained a triple later in the quarter to take the lead. Sharon led 32-21 at the half.

“We had come in with a plan to switch up defenses with them and they really shot us out of our zone early,” Ferguson said. “We went to the man, and did a really good job with it at the end of the first quarter and the entire second quarter. But third quarter, we seemed to get a little tired and had some foul trouble. We lost Aaron Strong to injury, and it just wore on us a bit. They killed us on the offensive glass, getting second and third opportunities. And on top of that, they shot really, really well tonight and we couldn’t keep up.”

King Philip boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 1-2 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it takes on New Mission at Auburn High. Sharon (0-3, 0-3) will try to bounce back when it takes on Hingham at Westwood High on Friday evening.

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Houle

Expectations are high for the Attleboro Bombardiers, who return all but one player from last year’s squad that won 13 games and qualified for the D1 South tournament. While the majority of the roster is made up of juniors (eight), the Bombardiers have a wealth of experience with almost all players having played at least one year, with a handful with two.

With experience comes options for veteran head coach Mark Houle. The Bombardiers expect to be able to play fast in transition but also slow down and execute in the half court. Attleboro boasts some of the top big men in the league and will look to use that to its advantage. Junior Qualeem Charles (6’5) was selected as a Hock All Star last year and will be a key piece on both sides of the ball with fellow big men Jason Weir, Lorenzo Wilson and Nolan Jaeger looking to factor in.

Junior Bryant Ciccio, also a Hockomock All Star last season, will be the quarterback of the offense from the point guard position. With two years of varsity experience already, Ciccio could be poised for a big season. Seniors Mason Houle and Kevin Velazquez both made big splashes last year and will be key pieces in the frontcourt this year. Velazquez provides high energy and can be a big threat from deep while Houle is a strong two-way player that will make plays on both ends of the court.

“We have several returning players with one or two years of varsity experience and will rely on them to be consistently working hard on both ends of the court,” said Mark Houle. “Our strength will be a strong inside game on offense…[and] our guard play will have multiple players able to handle pressure, score and contribute.”

Canton

2017-2018 Record: 16-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Ryan Gordy

The Bulldogs are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory. This season, the Bulldogs will be looking to improve each day and adjust to a new style of play that fits the personnel best.

While three starters are gone, one starter that is back is Devin Foster, a Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection a year ago. Foster is a dynamic player that can be a nightmare for opposing defenses trying to stop him. He can shoot the three and really improved on his ability to finish around the rim last year.

Senior Paul Corcoran and junior Kyle Fitzgerald both had starts last season and head coach Ryan Gordy is looking for both players, along with versatile guard Ryan Lentol, to take a big step on the court this season. Corcoran is a strong defender, Fitzgerald will handle the point, and Lentol will do a little bit of everything for the Dogs. All three have a good amount of varsity experience and will be relied upon to be leaders on the court.

“Our culture in our foundation, and our veteran leadership sets the tone for the program,” Gordy said. “If we stay growth oriented this could be a fun season, players are committed to continuous improvement and that’s a pleasure to coach.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 19-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jon Gibbs

Foxboro had a memorable 2018 season, earning 19 wins and sharing the Davenport division title with Canton. But with four of the five starters from that team gone, the 2019 Warriors will try to create their own identity while trying to replicate the success.

The one starter back is junior Brandon Borde (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and his two years of experience on varsity will be vital as role players switch to starters and new role players emerge. Borde is a talented guard that can hurt teams in a variety of ways but his strength allows him to finish around the rim in tough situations.

Senior Anthony Mollica had a bit of a coming out party during the end of last season, emerging as an offensive threat for the Warriors. Head coach Jon Gibbs expects more of that throughout this season and will be looking for the likes of Will Morrison, Liam Devlin, Ryan Hughes, and Kevin Gallagher — all players with varsity experience, to step up this year. While Foxboro will likely rely on its defense again this year, three-point shooting should be a strength on the offensive side.

“Right now the focus is on getting better each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been competitive. Guys are fighting hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we can continue to defend and rebound at a high level, we have a chance to be very successful.”

Franklin

2017-2018 Record: 23-4
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 State Final
Coach: CJ Neely

The Panthers have reached the D1 State Final each of the past two seasons and it looks like they have the tools to try and make a third straight appearance. Franklin brings back two of the top players in the Hockomock League in senior Jalen Samuels and junior Chris Edgehill.

Both Samuels (13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Edgehill (17.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) have a wealth of varsity experience that the Panthers will rely on as others battle for minutes in the rotation. Edgehill is one of the most dangerous guards offensively and can score in a variety of ways while Samuels can present a matchup problem for most teams. Will Harvey also has varsity experience and will likely see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season.

The rest of the rotation is up for grabs but there is a lot of choices for head coach CJ Neely, who noted there is a strong amount of depth and balance on this year’s squad. Unsurprisingly, Franklin will be focused on causing problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers have been known as a gritty defensive squad and they are looking to continue that tradition this year. Offensively, Neely is hoping unselfishness and outside shooting will help replicate the success of previous seasons.

“It will be a season long battle for minutes and guys will have to earn our trust through defensive intensity and unselfish play on offense,” Neely said. “Our goal is to focus on the process of competing hard and improving each day and the results will reflect our daily effort and attitude.”

King Philip

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave DeStefano

First-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping hard work in the offseason will translate into success on the court this year for the King Philip Warriors. DeStefano is the Warriors fifth head coach in the last eight seasons but his familiarity with the Hockomock League (former JV coach at Foxboro) should give him a boost right away.

While the Warriors had only four wins last year, half of their 16 losses came by six points or less, including to D2 State Champions Tech Boston (74-71) and division foes Attleboro and Taunton. King Philip is hoping it can be on the right side of those contests this season. Bruce Santillus and Timmy Nault are the two returning starters from last year, and both showed they are capable of taking over games on the offensive end. Santillus is a versatile player that can score in many ways and is tough in one-on-one matchups. Nault provides a lot of energy on both ends and can give the team a spark when needed.

DeStefano is looking for seniors Tyler Nault, Ian Khung, and Michael O’Brien to build on their minutes from last year and have increased roles for 2018-2019. Junior Andrew McKinney showed a lot of promise last year and could be a big contributor for the Warriors this year. Senior Terry Jacobs-Baston gives KP a nice post presence along with junior Tommy Donahue (6’5) and senior Sam Sesay (6’2). Juniors Alex Fritz, Chris Roy, and Adam Nicastro will all be in the mix for minutes as well.

“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 commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops.”

Mansfield

2017-2018 Record: 27-2
2017-2018 Finish: D1 State Champions
Coach: Mike Vaughan

While the D1 State Championship is in the rearview mirror, expectations are still sky high for Mansfield, who has won six straight Hock Kelley-Rex titles, tying a streak from OA in the 1980s for the longest title run. With a handful of players back and a strong mix of new faces Mansfield will be aiming for its seventh straight.

The Hornets will rely on their most experienced players early on with Damani Scott, Tommy Dooling, and Khristian Conner back. All three have starting experience, and beyond that, a wealth of varsity minutes in the regular season and postseason. Scott had a terrific playoff run last year and could be one of the top players in the Hock this year. Dooling is a talented guard that can hurt teams from deep while Conner can score from all over the floor.

Beyond that trio, there are a handful of new faces trying to establish time in the lineup and rotation. Junior Sam Stevens and sophomores Matt Boen and TJ Guy are top candidates to find time in the rotation. Stevens and Guy both have good size and will give the Hornets a presence in the post while Boen is a crafty guard that will likely contribute offensively right away. Expect Makhi Baskin, Jack Mousette, and Drew Rooney to be in the mix as well.

“We’re looking forward to getting the season started with new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We’ll have our early challenges getting the new faces up to speed with the varsity level of play, but it’s a talented group, they are working hard, and they are getting better each day. It should be an exciting year as the league looks to be super competitive as always.”

Milford

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal
Coach: Paul Seaver

While the Hawks have some experience back this year, it will be key for the new faces to get up to speed as Milford looks to compete for a Davenport division title. Seniors Brendan White, Brendon Sailer, and Steve Sutherland are all back after either starting or playing a lot of minutes last season and will be relied upon, especially early, to guide the Hawks through a difficult schedule.

White was Milford’s leading scorer last season with 14 points per game in the regular season so he will be a key piece for the Hawks again this year. Sailer is a good ball handler and will handle point guard duties. He’s a strong defender and can distribute the ball well, but he is also able to get to the rim or shoot from deep. Sutherland provides the Hawks with an experienced presence in the post but can step out and hit shots as well.

Junior Colby Pires is coming off a successful season on the gridiron and will see a lot of minutes on the court and senior Danny Corsini can provide a spark on the offensive end with his shooting. Sophomore Dom Schofield stands at 6’5 so he can be a matchup problem for some teams in the league while classmate Jordan Darling can do a little bit of everything and could have a breakout year for the Scarlet Hawks.

“Our goal is to simply get better with each passing day,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We have a lot of newcomers this season and are facing one of our toughest schedules in years. Our goal is to build chemistry and work towards qualifying for the state tournament for a fourth consecutive season.”

North Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 9-11
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

After just missing out on the postseason a year ago, North Attleboro is hoping a strong senior class can help the Rocketeers return to the postseason and compete for a Davenport division title. Big Red boasts nine seniors, including three starters and a handful of guys that played plenty of minutes a year ago.

Leading scoring Josh Montague (13.7 points per game) is back and will be one of the top guards in the Hock. He plays well on both ends of the court but really came into his own as a scorer as the season progressed last year. Senior Jacob Petersen, standing at 6’6, will be one of the toughest matchups in the league and his ability to play as a true post player gives North an advantage over other teams. He is also a force on defense that can prevent easy buckets in the paint. Senior Nate Gonsalves improved throughout last year and could be poised for a breakout season for Big Red.

Senior Evan Rosenberg will likely be tasked with guarding some of the top players in the league because of his strong defensive play. Seniors Adam Falcone, Jonathan James, Joe Milosh and Matt Seavey all played last year and that experience will be key as they factor into the rotation again this year. Junior Ethan Friberg got valuable minutes last year and can score in a variety of ways while also giving Big Red size at 6’4. Sophomore George Ladd will be making his varsity debut but is expected to provide North with a spark on offense.

“We are extremely excited about the 2018-2019 season,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Led by our nine seniors, we hope we can build off of last year’s momentum. We have an extremely intelligent group of players that is coachable, hardworking, and determined. We believe our cohesiveness and depth will allow us to be successful.”

Oliver Ames

2017-2018 Record: 8-13
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Don Byron

The Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar place at the end of last year – on the outside looking in for the postseason. This year, Oliver Ames is hoping to blend a mix of returners, role players, and new faces — both from JV and transfers — into a competitive group that will look to begin a new postseason streak.

A major challenge will be replacing Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Jack Spillane, who led the Hock in scoring during the regular season with 22.3 points per game. The Tigers will aim to have a much more balanced approach this season players that can contribute at each position. It will begin with returning starters Ethan Eckstrom and Jake Erlich, both seniors. Both Eckstrom and Erlich will spend the majority of their time in or around the paint and will be key defensive pieces as well. Sean O’Brien, who mostly came off the bench but was one of the team leaders in minutes, is a high-energy player that contributes on both ends of the court.

Senior Harry DeChellis was slated to be a big contributor for the Tigers last year before suffering a season ending injury so OA is hoping he will step right in and be a leader. Jay Spillane and Ryan Burkett both had successful seasons on JV a year ago and will factor in the rotation while transfers Amari Brown, a sophomore guard, and Evan Craig, a junior forward, both will be impact players right away.

“We should be a lot more balanced on offense, it should spread around,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “It’s one of those teams where we have the ability to score at all positions, as well as the guys off the bench. It might change each night but we have a lot of guys that are capable of contributing.”

Sharon

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

The Eagles are aiming to improve on both ends of the court this year and are looking to compete for the Davenport title and a trip to the state tournament. After missing out on the playoffs each of the last two seasons, the Eagles are looking to ride a mix of experienced players to try and get back to the postseason.

Sharon will rely heavily on its three senior captains: Aaron Strong, Ben Kaplan, and Alex Kaufmann. Strong is a versatile guard that can be a pest on the defensive end of the court; Kaplan makes a lot of things happen on both ends and was having a strong season as a junior before seeing it cut short to injury; and Kaufmann is in his third year on varsity and is capable of having big scoring games any given night.

Athleticism will be something the Eagles rely on this year on both sides of the ball. Beyond the three senior captains, juniors Andrew Burton, Aidan Kane, and Alec Filipkowski all saw varsity minutes and should be factors as their roles increase this season. Juniors Cameron Baker and Caleb Gayle will also factor into the rotation in the frontcourt.

“This is a very tight knit, energized group and they are continually pushing each other to get better every day,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have a good mix of experience and youth to provide depth at multiple positions. We are replacing a lot of offense from last year and have a lot of players vying for those opportunities.”

Stoughton

2017-2018 Record: 6-14
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

The Black Knights are hoping a balanced attack on offense and a commitment to defense will result in 10 wins and a trip to the state tournament. Stoughton has five players back with varsity experience so the Knights will lean on those players early as head coach John Gallivan tries to fit a handful of new faces from JV and outside the program into the rotation.

Senior captains Zak Paquette, Josh Cocchi, and Kevin Dixon will be key not only for their contributions on the court but for their leadership as well. They are all experienced players that Gallivan will lean on as he figures out what the best rotations will be.

Senior Ajahn Rue is another returnee and brings a lot of talent to the point guard position while junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell got his feet wet on varsity a year ago and could see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season. After those five, Gallivan is looking for some new faces to step up and establish themselves as go-to options for the Black Knights.

“We are hoping to have more of a balanced attack on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor than we have had in the past,” Gallivan said.

taunton

2017-2018 Record: 12-11
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Charlie Dacey

This year’s version of the Taunton Tigers will be relying on tempo to try and run past the competition in the Hockomock League. Taunton boasts speed throughout the lineup and is hoping that it can use that — offensively and defensively — to its advantage this year. But if necessary, the Tigers can also slow it down and execute in the half court.

Senior guard John Martins and junior forward Dante Law are returning seniors from a season ago and both are quick players that bring experience to a team that is looking to use its speed to emphasize its open court skills. Martins is a steady player that can do a lot of things on both ends of the court and Law is looking to take the next step forward after some strong outings as a sophomore.

Senior Lou Vendrell is back and had a lot of offensive skill that the Tigers will need, especially his outside shot. Similar to Law, junior Naz Kenion had some breakout moments a year ago and Taunton will be looking for more production out of him this season. Prince Brown brings a year of varsity experience back and can provide an offensive spark with his shooting. Senior Mike Quinn rounds out the backcourt while Wesner Charles and Tyler Stewart provide the Tigers with size down low.

“Tempo will be the key this year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “The roster has some depth and there is speed at every position.”

Football: 2018 Davenport Division Preview

Davenport
Canton’s Gersom Rivera and the Bulldogs will try to compete for the Davenport title this season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Davenport Football Preview

Canton

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Bohane

Key/Returning Players: Brendan Albert, Sr., HB/LB; Johnny Hagan, Jr., QB; Kyle Fitzgerald, Jr., HB/FS; Ben Seaman, Sr., OL/DL; Gersom Rivera, Jr., RB/HB; Jack Connolly, Jr., OL/DL; James Murphy, Jr., LB; Brian Campagna, Sr., OL/DL; David Allen, Jr.,SE/DB;

Outlook: After playing plenty of sophomores last season, the Bulldogs will be looking to boast a balanced, experienced team aiming to compete for the Davenport division title in 2018.

Canton brings back six starters on offense and seven starters back on the defensive side of the ball. The Dogs are one of the few teams with their starting quarterback returning as junior Johnny Hagan continues under center after a solid sophomore season. He showed the ability to pass and run with the ball, and he has almost all of his running back options back to work with. Gersom Rivera had a terrific sophomore year and will be counted on to be a big piece of the offense during 2018. Rivera’s athleticism and speed will be complemented by the hard nose running and blocking of junior Kyle Fitzgerald and senior Brendan Albert.

Junior Jack Connolly will anchor the offensive line and will be joined by senior Brian Campagna and junior Lucas Bryant at the center position. Ryan Lentol, who came on strong at the end of last year, picked up right where he left off and will be a top option at split end.

The strength of Canton’s defense is its linebacker group, which is full of experience and talent. Albert is back at one of the outside spots after earning Hock All Star last year while senior Ben Seaman is back on the other side. Junior James Murphy will fill in the middle after impressing last season and junior Robbie Gallery has impressed early on as the other inside option. Canton will also rely on a seasoned secondary with Fitzgerald and David Allen returning as starters. Ryan Colby should see time in the secondary and Owen Lehane is in the mix for the defensive line.

“We’re very excited for the season,” said Canton head coach Dave Bohane. “The kids have put the work in, we think we can play with anyone in the league but its a very good league so you have to be on your ‘A’ game every night. Every team is well coached and competitive so any time you can win in the Hock, its a success. We have to take it game by game, do the best we can, and keep plugging.

Foxboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D5 South Semifinal
Coach: Jack Martinelli

Key/Returning Players: Tom Cullen, Sr., OC; Andrew Longa, Sr., OT; Liam Foley, Sr., QB; Hunter Williams, Sr., OG/LB; Mike Luong, Sr., RB; Aidan Dow, Jr., OG; Shawn Teixeira, Sr., DT; Bill McNeil, Sr., DT; Martin McElroy, Sr., LB; Russell Neale, Sr., K; Pat Stapleton, Sr., SE;

Outlook: The Warriors are aiming to make it two straight years in the postseason and will use a mix of returning players and new faces to try and get it done.

Foxboro graduated 35 seniors last year so there are some spots that need to be filled, but the Warriors are off to a good start with Liam Foley back in the fold at quarterback. The senior saw time under center last season along with Devin Hassett. And Foley will be in good shape as the Warriors have a lot of experience on the offensive line. Senior Tom Cullen is back in the middle of the line as the center, senior Andrew Longa and sophomore Sean Ferguson take on the tackle positions, and senior Hunter Williams and junior Aidan Dow will fill out the interior of the line.

Mike Luong got touches as a junior out of the backfield last season and will be a main part of the offense this season. Pat Stapleton is a returning split end, classmate Rob Fay will step into the same role, and junior Shayne Kerrigan will a top target for Foley.

The Warriors have experience and good size up front on defense, led by returning starting tackles Shawn Teixeira (6’4, 260) and Bill McNeil (6’0, 265). Senior William Ogbebor and Anton George will be called upon to fill out the defensive line on the ends while Williams and Martin McElroy will be joined by Mike Sheehan at linebacker. Russell Neale is back as the place kicker after a strong junior season.

Milford

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D3 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Anthony Vizakis

Key/Returning Players: Brendan White, Sr., WR/S; Ryan Pearl, Sr., QB; Josh Ligor, Sr., OL/DL; Kevin Pyne, Sr., OL/DL; Hugo Lopes, Sr., RB/S; Shapel Feaster, Sr., WR/CB; Sean Lehane, Sr., WR/K; Colby Pires, Jr., QB; Luke Rosa, Jr., RB/LB; CJ Cerella, Jr., OL/LB;

Outlook: After reaching the quarterfinals last season, the 2018 version of the Scarlet Hawks are aiming for a deeper run into the postseason. And not just that, the Hawks are looking to be serious contenders for the Davenport crown.

Milford has a strong core of returning players back, a group of eager new faces looking to make an impression, and big new piece on the line. Kevin Pyne (6’8, 280) transferred to his hometown high school and will anchor what looks to be a big, physical line. Pyne is rated as the top recruit for his class and holds D1 offers from over a dozen schools including Notre Dame and Michigan. Senior Josh Ligor returns as a starter on the line while sophomore Nick Yohn will also be a two-way lineman.

The Hawks bring back both their quarterbacks: senior Ryan Pearl handled the team’s ‘WAR’ package while junior Colby Pires stepped in when Milford spread it out. Junior Luke Rosa will step in as an option at halfback along with sophomore Dominic Schofield. Brendan White (WR/S) brings toughness to both sides of the ball for the Hawks.

Shapel Feaster is one of the most experienced defensive backs in the Hockomock League and should be an important piece of the 2018 Hawks’ defense. Junior CJ Cerella will step in to anchor the linebacking group. On special teams, Sean Lehane is one of the strongest kickers in the area and will try to give Milford a spark at wide receiver this season.

“The goal of the 2018 football season for the Milford Scarlet Hawks is simple: start fast, play physical, and be the toughest team on the field on Friday nights,” said Milford head coach Anthony Vizakis.

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 11-2 (Davenport Division Champions)
2017 Finish: Reached D3 State Final
Coach: Don Johnson

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Clemente, Sr., OL/DL; Nicholas Raneri, Sr., QB/RB/LB; Jonathan James, Jr., OL/DL; Jack Puccio, Sr., OL/DL; Brendan McHugh, Sr., RB/DB; Omar Jasseh, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Gaumond, Sr., SE/DB; Ryan Boyle, Sr., RB/DB;

Outlook: The target on North Attleboro’s back continues to grow. Coming off their third straight league title, including two straight Davenport titles, the Rocketeers made it all the way to the D3 State Final before falling, 35-33, to St. John’s Shrewsbury.

Big Red is hopeful it can continue its string of success but knows it will be tested with a difficult schedule, including a non-league game with two-time defending state champion King Philip. The biggest challenge will be finding a replacement for three-year starter Chad Peterson, who graduated with a handful of program records and three Hock titles as the starter. Seniors Nick Raneri and Luke LaBonte are both in the mix, and both saw time last year throughout the season. Raneri started all 13 games at tailback but also filled in at QB at times.

Whoever ends up getting the nod at quarterback will have one of the best offensive linemen in the entire state with senior Ryan Clemente anchoring the protection unit. Clemente is joined by senior Jack Puccio as returning starters on the line while seniors Joe Larkin and John Nally, and juniors John Kummer, Ethan Friberg, Trevor Hewitt, Montrel Jackson, and Ethan Mottinger are all competing for time. The Rocketeers also have solid skill options back with senior Brendan McHugh (14 total touchdowns) back at the starting slot back. Omar Jasseh offers size and speed at split end while Ryan Gaumond’s quickness gives the Rocketeers another option down field.

North Attleboro returns six starters on the defensive end, including McHugh, Gaumond, and Jasseh in the secondary. Clemente will be a big piece of the defensive line while Raneri and captain Jonathan James, who will also see time at tight end, will lead the linebacker unit. Russell Dunlap, Puccio, Mike Carty, Friberg and Jackson are all in the mix for defensive end spots while Ryan Boyle, Tom O’Neill, Duane Bryant, and Owen Harding are competing for time at linebacker.

“We expect a very challenging schedule, opening with KP on our new turf field and then an improved Bishop Feehan team in Week 2,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The Davenport division will be extremely competitive this year, with several teams able to beat anyone on any given night. We have a nice core, but if we are going to compete at a championship level, then we are going to need several new faces to mature very quickly. There’s a lot of work still to be done, and not a lot of time to do it.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave Morse

Key/Returning Players: Chris Gong, Sr., WR/DB/KOR; Coleman Loftus, Sr., OL/DL; Aaron Strong, Sr., RB/DB; Jeremy Ruskin, Sr., QB; Alec Filipkowski, Jr., WR/DB/KOR; PJ McManus, Jr., WR; Kiran Chandrasekaran, Jr., DB; Nic Marrero, Jr., LB;

Outlook: For the first time in Sharon, there will be football on Friday nights.

With the installation of lights at the high school field, the Eagles will be hosting teams on Friday nights instead of Saturday afternoons. And the 2018 Eagles are hoping to put a show under those lights. Sharon brings back a handful of key returning starters on both sides of the ball, and with one more year experience under their belts, will be looking to compete in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons top to bottom in the Davenport.

Sharon averaged nearly 20 points per game in its six non-league games last year and is hoping to carry that over into Davenport play this season. Senior quarterback Jeremy Ruskin (six total touchdowns) is back under center to lead the offense and last year’s starting running back Aaron Strong (three touchdowns) also returns to give the Eagles a solid 1-2 punch on offense right away. Coleman Loftus’ size and strength will be a vital part of the line on both sides of the ball while Chris Gong and Alec Filipkowski return as Ruskin’s main two targets.

Not only goes Gong give Sharon options on offense because of his speed, he is one of the most dangerous kick returners in the state. He had an 80-yard punt return touchdown and a 99-yard kickoff return last season so opposing special team units will have to pay a lot of attention.

Despite the numbers, the Eagles had a strong defense last season. This season, Sharon boasts a lot of speed (on both sides of the ball) and is looking to use that to be more aggressive. Juniors Kiran Chandrasekaran will step in to be a big part of the secondary while classmate Nic Marrero will be relied on to anchor the linebackers.

“With a lot of returning starters and a sprinkle of new talent, I am expecting this team to take a huge step forward from last year’s inexperienced team,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 6-5
2015 Finish: Reached D3 South Semifinal
Coach: Greg Burke

Key/Returning Players: Jeff Grier, Sr., RB/DB; Cian Swierzewski, Sr., WR/SS; Alex Iverson, Sr., RB/LB; George Currier, Jr., QB; Matt Piana, Sr., OL/DL; Ajahn Rue, Jr., WR/DB; Josh Cocchi, Sr., CB/K; Ali Awad, Sr., OL/DL; Evan Jackman, Sr., OL/DL; Frank Derbes, Sr., TE/DL; Malachi Green-Hightower, Sr., RB/LB; John Burke, Soph., QB;

Outlook: It feels like a fresh start for the Black Knights after graduating a bunch of players that had multiple seasons of experience under their belts.

But the focus remains the same for the Black Knights, who are aiming to be in contention for the Davenport title and make another appearance in the state tournament. Similar to previous seasons, Stoughton will have talent in the backfield and that will be the focal point of the offense. Jeff Grier is one of the fastest players in the league and will make defenses pay when there is space. Alex Iverson is a shifty option out of the backfield, Malachi Green-Hightower brings power to the run game, and sophomore Chris Ais could emerge as a playmaker for the Black Knights.

Junior George Currier and sophomore John Burke will battle it out for the starting quarterback position while Matt Piana, Ali Awad, and Evan Jackman have solidified spots on the offensive line. Frank Derbes will factor into the offense as a tight end and junior Ajahn Rue is back as a receiver.

Defensively, Iverson and Green-Hightower will be right in the heart of the lineup as linebackers while Grier will help as a member of the secondary. Cian Swierzewski has impressed throughout the offseason and the preseason and will be a key piece of the defense from the safety spot. Stoughton is looking for other names to step up and help anchor its hard nose defense.

Eagles Grounded By Late Spellman Comeback

Sharon football
Sharon senior Jake Romanow (34) and junior Coleman Loftus (54) try to bring down a Cardinal Spellman runner on Saturday afternoon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


SHARON, Mass. – The Sharon defense had held firm for more than 40 minutes without allowing a point, shutting down Cardinal Spellman twice inside the red zone, but as the fourth quarter wound down the Eagles were feeling the impact of the heat and humidity.

Spellman spread the ball around on offense, using four different running backs behind a sizable offensive line, and it started to pay dividends. The Cardinals were not trying to be tricky, just pounding the ball straight ahead and suddenly they were in the end zone with three minutes remaining. Only a minute later, they had the ball back again deep in Sharon territory and took advantage.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After 40 minutes without an offensive point, Spellman scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 3:21 of the game and stunned Sharon by pulling out a 21-14 victory on Saturday afternoon, denying the Eagles a perfect record heading into the start of Davenport division play next weekend.

“I thought we played well, we did a lot of good things,” said Sharon coach Dave Morse, “but it’s my fault not having these guys in shape and we wore down at the end. It’s something we’ve got to correct in the next week at practice and develop over the course of the season. It;s something we can control and we should have been in more control of that.”

It was the home team that struck first. Sharon faced third and 10 from its own 10 and junior Jeremy Ruskin (7-21, 240 yards) looked down the far sideline for sophomore Alec Filipkowski, who went up and pulled the pass away from the Spellman defensive back. He raced 67 yards before being pushed out at the Cardinals’ 23.

On the next play, Ruskin got his pass over the top of an outstretched defender and into Austin Dodes, who made a diving grab just across the goal line with fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

“We’ve got our guys and we think that’s a strength of our team,” said Morse. “We’ve got to be a little more balanced, a little more consistent, but we like our guys out there and we think all of them can make plays.”

Spellman drove deep into Sharon territory on its next possession, getting as far as the Eagles’s 10, but Dodes broke up a pass play that would have set up first and goal and then Drew Naisuler (who also blocked a punt and was a constant menace on the edge) and Ahmed Sean stuffed the running back for a three-yard loss. On fourth down, Sean stopped a keeper for a short gain.

The momentum from the defensive stand only lasted six plays before the Cardinals tied the game. Ruskin’s second down pass was a little behind Naisuler, who got a hand to it but could not haul it in. The deflection fell to Spellman’s Jack Kingston and he returned the interception 40 yards for a touchdown.

The score stayed tied into the third quarter. Sharon’s first possession started at its own six-yard-line and Aaron Strong lost a yard on first down. Facing third and 11 from the five, Morse called for a middle screen and the Eagles executed it to perfection. Ruskin hit Chris Gong in a ton of space and the junior running back took off up the field, getting a couple of key blocks along the way, and scoring a 95-yard touchdown that shocked the Cardinals.

“It was definitely the best screen pass we’ve ran since I’ve been here,” said Morse. “We’ve got some kids and that’s an example of taking that step forward. We had linemen down field blocking, which is tough for those young linemen.”

Spellman put together a long drive early in the fourth quarter, once again reaching the Sharon red zone. Jaden Williams-Thomas and Jake Romanow stopped a run at the 18, setting up third and four. Naisuler stuffed a keeper for no gain and on fourth down, the Eagles stopped a pass play just short of the marker.

Unfortunately, the offense could only run a couple minutes off the clock before giving the ball right back. The defense looked winded as Spellman broke off runs of 15 and 11 yards straight up the gut and Jovan Marrero bounced a run off-tackle to the right and beat the Sharon defenders to the goal line to tie it 14-14.

Sharon went three-and-out on its next possession and the punt went only two yards, setting up the Cardinals at the Eagles’ 26. Marrero was again the primary back and five plays later he pushed the ball across from the one with just 38 seconds remaining.

Ruskin completed passes to Dodes and Filipkowski but then a spike and two incompletions ended the game.

“I told the guys we took two steps forward throughout the game but always took one step back,” said Morse, “and we are a young team and the quicker we can eliminate that step back than the better shape we’ll be in to move forward and get more wins.”

Sharon (1-1) will open league play next week by hosting defending league champion North Attleboro on Saturday afternoon.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.