Taunton Rallies To Clinch Share Of First Hock Title

Taunton boys basketball Tyler Stewart
Taunton senior Tyler Stewart goes up for a layup against Attleboro in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. – It’s been a most challenging season for everyone, but with a delayed start and a one-week hiatus smack in the middle of its schedule, it’s been a bit tougher on the Taunton boys basketball team.

So it’s only fitting that the Tigers made clinching their first-ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title a bit more difficult than it needed to be.

A near-perfect start from visiting Attleboro coupled with a sluggish first eight minutes from the Tigers put the hosts in a double-digit deficit.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But as these Tigers have done all season, they responded. Despite starting their season two weeks after everyone else, Taunton opened the season with five straight wins. And when they were forced to the sideline for a week, the Tigers came right back and beat one of the best teams in the state in Mansfield with just one day of practice.

And on Thursday afternoon, in their fourth game in the five-day span, the Tigers dominated the final three quarters of play, not only digging out of the hole they were in but burying it and covering it with a mound of dirt in the form of a 76-57 win over the Bombardiers.

The Tigers’ game with King Philip will not be made up and the Hockomock League is expected to award Taunton with a win via forfeit for that game multiple sources told HockomockSports.com.

It marks Taunton’s first league title since 2008 when it won the Old Colony League.

“Everyone has gone through issues this year but this is an extraordinary group, I’ve said it many times,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “Across the board, not just the first five either, you go right down the roster. We’ve had no issues at all this year. There’s usually something but this group has been great, they really like each other too.

“When we got into our offense, we got the lead into double figures and that force them to pressure a little bit. Then we really started to figure out that if we can our offense, things were working. Once we’re relaxed, like any team, they get into a comfort zone and we really pulled away.”










Attleboro got whatever it wanted to start the game, hitting mid-range jumpers and getting to the rim on open layups. The Bombardiers shot 9-for-16 from the field for 20 points while their defense was on point too, the Tigers were forced to settle for contested looks inside and out. The result was a 20-9 lead, seemingly stunning Taunton.

“We had confidence from yesterday’s game and that carried over to today,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought the first quarter we played as well as we could have…defensively, offensively, transition baskets, we controlled the boards. They started rebounding better and we couldn’t stop them. We had them for 26 possessions in the second and third quarters and they scored on 22 of them. We tried to change it up as much as we could but they made plays consistently and we couldn’t stop them.

“Overall between yesterday and today we really battled but [Taunton] is a really good team.

The comeback didn’t come quickly, but it was steady. Attleboro scored to push its lead to 22-9 to start the frame and Taunton had three chances to get back on the board but went empty on two shots from the field and two from the line. The next play, however, might have been the spark that lit a fire for the Tigers.

Junior Tristan Herry, who scored a season-high 20 points, poked the ball free and won a foot race to the loose ball on the other end of the court. From there, Taunton went on to score on 12 straight possessions to erase the deficit and take a lead by halftime.

“Tristan was bustin’ on defense, he was trying to do all the right things on offense. I think that sunk into the other four, if he’s going to do it then we should do it. He was the catalyst in that turnaround for us. Tyler [Stewart] changes the flow of the offense because he demands attention, even if he’s not scoring. But Tristan got us going.”

Senior Josh Lopes (nine points, five rebounds) scored the first three points on a jumper and a free throw and Herry stepped up on the offensive end with his first three-pointer. A steal by Nigel Choate gave Taunton the ball back and an offensive rebound resulted in two points from senior Tyler Stewart (10 points, five rebounds).

Attleboro’s Justin Daniels (17 points) answered for the Bombardiers but junior Trent Santos (18 points, four assists) attacked the basket for two for the hosts. Herry sank his second three of the period to make it a four-point game but junior Evan Houle (nine points, four rebounds) answered with a triple of his own out of an Attleboro timeout.

The Tigers’ relentless offensive attack continued as an offensive board from Choate turned into a free throw from junior Faisal Mass (12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists). Joe Francois-Annevil took a feed from Alvin Harrison and scored down low but Herry drained another triple and a steal from Choate resulted in two after a putback from Mass.

Stewart had a big block and then found Choate for two down low, and after another Attleboro turnover, Mass finished through contact to put the hosts ahead for the first time, 32-31. Stewart then sank an elbow jumper and the Tiger took a 34-32 lead into halftime.

“I think we were a little fatigued from yesterday but going into the second, we talked with each other about how we felt we were the better team,” said Stewart, who is committed to play at Wentworth. “Tristan hit some big shots that really changed the momentum for us. Once he hit those shots, it got the rest of us going.

“Just a chance to play [this season] was really exciting for us. I think we’ve shown that this group plays really well under adversity. The amount of things we’ve had to go through to get to this point is insane, all the way back to the start of last year through this year, shows a lot about this group.”

Taunton’s offense wasn’t as effective in the third quarter, but it was pretty close. The Tigers picked up points on 10 of their first 11 possessions of the quarter to build a double-digit advantage.

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos Tyler Stewart Josh Lopes Tristan Herry Faisal Mass

Lopes and Daniels traded buckets to start and the Tigers finally had an empty possession on their second trip up court. Mass found Santos for a three and then Santos returned the favor to Lopes for two more. Attleboro cashed on its third shot of its next possession when Chris Holcomb sank a three to keep the deficit at four.

Santos and Mass each connected from downtown in a one-minute span and layups from Santos and Stewart pushed Taunton’s lead to 55-45 going into the final quarter.

“Herry kept them in it early and then after that, it was all of them, I think every single one of them played well today,” Houle said of the Tigers. “It was pretty spread out, and it felt like any time we did get a stop in the second or third they got an offensive rebound and got an extra opportunity.”

Attleboro cut into the lead early in the fourth as a strong take from Francois-Annevil make it 60-51 but Mass answered with two after a nice fake, Santos dropped in a floater, Herry hit on a pull-up, and Lopes scored after a turnover and the lead ballooned to 68-51 with just under four minutes.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After scoring just nine points in the first, Taunton scored 20 or more points in each of the second, third, and fourth quarters.

Taunton becomes just the third team to win the Kelley-Rex division in boys basketball since the Hockomock League split in two. Mansfield has won it 10 times, including a share this year, while Franklin won it outright in 2012 and earned a share in 2016.

Taunton boys basketball (8-1 Kelley-Rex, 8-1 overall) will host Sharon on Saturday at noon for its final game of the season. Attleboro (5-5, 10-5) will host rival North Attleboro on Sunday at 1:30.

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos Tyler Stewart Josh Lopes Tristan Herry Faisal Mass

Attleboro Holds On For Close Win Over Franklin

Attleboro boys basketball Evan Houle
Attleboro junior Evan Houle (1) looks to dribble past Franklin senior Zach Harvey. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
 ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In most games, it was a run that normally wouldn’t make headlines.

But in Tuesday night’s contest between Attleboro and Franklin, with points more valuable than GameStop’s stock, an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter from the hosts made all the difference.

Attleboro boys basketball

Attleboro senior Alec Eaton hit back-to-back three-pointers and junior Evan Houle added a jumper as the Bombardiers turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, an advantage they never relinquished — though it was close — in a 42-40 win over Franklin.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin made it a one-point game, 39-38, with just under a minute to go before Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (10 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of free throws. The Bombardiers’ edge grew by one, 42-38, after Daniels sank another from the line following a Franklin turnover.

Franklin got a second chance after a miss when Zach Harvey grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it to Andrew Byfield (12 points) for a long two (his foot was on the line) to make it 42-40 but there was just 3.4 seconds left.

The Bombardiers tried to kill the clock with a long pass down court but the ball slipped and went out of bounds, giving the Panthers one final chance. Without a timeout, Franklin ran a play for a contested three that was just off the mark and the off-balance putback attempt also missed as Attleboro held on.

“I think the message is that every possession matters in a game like that,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We had a couple of executions of plays and some good finishes we had in the second half and I think that was the difference.

Attleboro boys basketball

“[The 8-0 run] was the turning point when Alec his those two threes. That gave us the lead that we able to hold onto for the rest of the game.”










A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Bombardiers and Panthers combine for 30 points, the latter holding a slim 16-14 lead through eight minutes. With a total of seven three-pointers, it looked like the table was set for a barn-burner type game.

But instead, it was the total opposite. From the start of the second quarter, it turned into a game of stops instead of runs.

Defense shined in the middle quarters for both teams. A clean look at the basket became harder to come by than predicting the snow total from a New England winter storm. The teams combined for a total of just six points in the second quarter, going a combined 3-for-24 from the floor.

“Extremely frustrating,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I thought we had a lot of really good looks. To score 40 points and feel like you got a lot of good looks is a weird thing to say but it felt like we had our opportunities to extend our lead or make some shots that could have put us in a good position to win the game but unfortunately, we just didn’t finish. I know our shooting percentage wasn’t pretty. [Attleboro] played hard, they did a good job, they are a physical team that plays really hard. Hopefully we can make more looks on Thursday.”

While each offense found a little bit more rhythm in the third, both sides were limited to single-digit scoring once again. Byfield had half of the Panthers’ eight points, including a breakaway left-handed slam after a steal near midcourt. Attleboro’s Evan Houle (10 points) hit a three with less than a minute to bring his team within one, 26-25, going into the fourth. It was the first made three from either team since the first quarter.

Attleboro boys basketball

“We know [Franklin] is going to come in here and defend,” Houle said. “That’s a well-coached team and they are going to be tough on defense from start to finish. I thought we matched them on defense for a little while too. I give my guys credits for defending tonight, there were some times we had some lapses on some slips where they got some good looks that we have to work on. But I thought we battled hard on the inside. I thought both Jake Struminski and Chris Holcomb came in and played well for us. Those two guys played hard and made an impact in the game.”




Franklin seemed to grab the momentum to start the fourth, scoring on back-to-back possessions as Jake O’Brien (13 points, 10 rebounds) converted a pass from Ben Harvey, and senior Declan Walmsley (15 points, nine rebounds) knocked down a three. Two plays later, Harvey came up with a steal and O’Brien converted a putback, and the Panthers, who didn’t attempt a free throw in the game, had the momentum and a 33-29 lead.

After a timeout, the Bombardiers came out and hit the most important shot of the game. A skip pass from Houle found Eaton alone in the corner and he buried a three to make it a one-point game. Struminski gobbled up a rebound after a Franklin miss and this time Eaton took a nice pass from Alvin Harrison and drained another three, this from the opposite corner.

The Bombardiers got a stop after the Panthers used up nearly the entire shot clock. On the other end, Houle drove to his left and pulled up for a 10-footer with four seconds on the shot clock to make it 37-33 with three minutes to play.

“It doesn’t seem like much at first but that’s a lot in a game like this,” Neely said of the 8-0 run. “We helped off of a shooter when I didn’t think we needed to and credit to them, they did a good job skipping it over the top finding him and he made them.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think the frustration built a little bit inside the guys. Instead of moving on to the next play, it seemed like they were worried about the last miss they had instead of making the next shot. We have to be tougher than that mentally and be better than that.”

Walmsley made his second three of the quarter to make it a one-point game with just under two minutes to go. Daniels hit two from the line but O’Brien drove to the rim to make it 39-38, setting up the frantic finish.

Franklin (4-5 Kelley-Rex, 4-5 overall) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts the Bombardiers (5-2, 7-2) in a rematch on Thursday.

Attleboro boys basketball

Sunday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/31/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Attleboro, 71 @ King Philip, 58 – FinalAttleboro’s Justin Daniels hit a contested short from halfcourt to beat the buzzer a the end of the third quarter, giving the Bombarders a nine-point lead and a boost going into the fourth. Attleboro had its best offensive quarter of the game with 25 points in the final quarter to pull away from the hosts for the win. Daniels finished with a team-high 19 points while junior Evan Houle added 16 points and Alvin Harrison chipped in with 12 points for Attleboro, who led 35-29 at halftime and 46-37 at the end of the third. Sophomore Will Laplante led the Warriors with 21 points, Jake Silveria added 14 points, and Danny Clancy finished with 12 points for KP.

Sharon, 60 @ Mansfield, 77 – FinalMansfield exploded for 29 points in the first quarter and added 20 more points in the second to pull away from Sharon in a non-league contest. Senior Matt Boen netted a career-high 38 points, hitting six threes and going 8-for-8 from the line to go along with nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Senior Brendan Foley added 11 points and junior Chris Hill finished with 10 points. For Sharon, junior Sam Cohen hit six threes for a career-high 24 points while both Kiran Chandrasekaran and Matt Baskin chipped in with 13 points apiece.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 64 @ King Philip, 50 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Gymnastics
North Attleboro @ Mansfield, 3:00

Monday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/25/21

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Canton, 62 @ Attleboro, 67 – FinalCanton sank 14 three-pointers, including three in a row in the fourth quarter, but the Bombardiers did just enough to get the win over the visiting Bulldogs. In a game made day-of, the Bombardiers and Bulldogs battled back and forth all game with the visitors gaining a 20-16 lead after one but the hosts storming back for a 34-30 edge at half. Attleboro extended its lead to 42-33 but Canton answered with three straight threes to tie it, but the Bombardiers answered with a 9-2 lead to keep the lead for good at the end of the third. Junior Evan Houle tied a career-high with 17 points, Alvin Harrison added 13 points and Justin Daniels finished with 11 points. Canton’s Will Keefe connected on seven threes for a career-high 23 points while Steven Burbank added 16 points for the Bulldogs.

Boys Hockey
Attleboro @ Canton – Postponed to TBD.
Taunton @ Stoughton – Postponed to TBD.

Girls Hockey
Franklin @ Stoughton/Sharon – Postponed to TBD.

Boys Swimming
Mansfield, 72 @ Franklin, 85 – Final

Girls Swimming
Mansfield, 68 @ Franklin, 89 – Final

Gymnastics
Mansfield vs. Sharon, 3:00

Hornets Pick Up The Pace, Run Past Bombardiers

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield senior Matt Boen goes up for a layup against Attleboro in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For nearly the entire first half, the young, inexperienced Bombardiers of Attleboro High not only just keeping pace with the visitors from Mansfield, they were going toe-to-toe with the Hornets.

Mansfield boys basketball

But if you give these Hornets an inch, they’ll take a mile — and in a blink of an eye too.

First, it was a short burst from the Hornets in the final moments of the first quarter that prevented the hosts from boasting a surprising lead through eight minutes.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

And then when it looked like it would be a close game going into the halftime break, the Hornets stung the Bombardiers with a game-changing run that led to an advantage that never went below double digits the rest of the way.

In the end, Mansfield left with an 80-58 decision over Attleboro in the first matchup between the two teams this week.

“I thought the pace of play started to lean in our direction,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan, in the midst of his 17th year at the helm of the Hornets.

Mansfield erased a five-point second quarter deficit to pull even with the hosts, entering the final two-plus minutes knotted at 29-29. With the pace of play in their control, the Hornets closed the quarter with a 14-2 run.

Senior Matt Boen was once again a handful on the offensive end (30 points) and on the boards (six of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive glass), and was the catalyst for the run. It was his steal and fast-break layup that got things started. He scored six straight to start the run, getting assists from Brian See (12 points) and Matt Hyland (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) with the latter a traditional three-point play.










Brendan Foley hustled to track down his own miss, finding Hyland for a key three in the final minute, and Hyland returned the favor by hitting Foley on the break to cap the 14-2 run and give Mansfield a 43-31 lead at halftime.

“They missed a couple of easy ones, had some turnovers, and we came down and made some shots,” Vaughan said. “I thought Attleboro handled our pressure well so we went back to our base defense because I felt like we were giving up too many baskets without scoring. Once we got into more of our staple defense, we got the stops we needed and turned those into baskets.”

Mansfield boys basketball

Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (16 points) played a big role in helping his squad get off to a strong start, hitting a pair of threes in the opening quarter and adding another in the second. In the second, the Bombardiers showed no fear attacking the basket as sophomore Trevor White (13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks) scored seven of his 13 points, Alvin Harrison (six boards) had six of his 11 points, and Joe Francois-Annevil added two more with a strong take to the rim, his bucket making it 29-29 late in the second.

“I saw them play their two games against Milford and I came away thinking that team could beat anyone on any given night,” Vaughan said. “They have guys that can shoot, they have good guard play. The big kid [White] is impressive, he must have had five or six blocks, all of which looked like uncontested layups and he came out of nowhere. And he blocks to keep it in bounds so it’s almost like a block and a steal at the same time. They have some good pieces.”

Mansfield picked up the second half where it left off at the break. See sank a triple and sophomore Chris Hill took a freed from Hyland and drained one from downtown. Despite missing a three, Boen followed his shot came flying in for the offensive board, and converted the putback while being fouled for a three-point play, and a 53-34 lead.

On top of it all, the Hornets created the separation without their second-leading scorer in TJ Guy, who went out in the second quarter with an existing injury.




“Their transition game really took over,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle, a 26-year veteran on the Bombardier bench. “That’s one thing when you play against them, you have to be careful to not get into too much of a transition game. You have to take your opportunities when you get them, but you can’t let them get out and run. They can spread you out and they can shoot the ball. Matty [Boen] had a terrific game. They rallied around TJ when he went down.

“Their defense in the second quarter, the pressure…they decided to run and jump a little bit in the half court. It’s tough to simulate that in practice and that kind of put us a little bit on our heels.”

While it looked like the game was out of reach, the Bombardiers never quite quit and clawed their way back into the game over the next eight minutes. Helped along by a couple of big blocks from White on the defensive end, Francois-Anvil scored on the other end, and a breakaway dunk from White kept the hosts around.

Evan Houle hit two free throws and White completed a traditional three-point play at the buzzer of the third quarter to keep things interesting with Mansfield holding a 62-49 lead going into the fourth.

The Bombardiers were in the bonus for the entire fourth and free throws from Daniels and Alec Eaton early followed by a corner three from Chris Holcomb made it 66-56 with just over five minutes to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But instead of getting any closer, Mansfield slammed the door shut with yet another 14-2 run to close the game. Boen hit a pair of three-pointers while See and Hyland converted at the rim with Attleboro bringing double teams. The Bombardiers were held without a field goal the rest of the way.

“It’s a great challenge to play in this league and play against teams like Mansfield,” Houle said. “We’ve been successful recently and it’s because we play hard. I thought our effort was there tonight, we just made too many mistakes collectively.”

Attleboro (2-1, 2-1) on Thursday night at 7:00.

Mansfield boys basketball

Attleboro Rides Dominant Fourth Quarter Past North

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio (left) and Qualeem Charles (35) double team North Attleboro’s Edan Kelley (15) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For three quarters, not much could separate rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro on the hardwood inside Kenneth Pickering gymnasium.

A two-point lead for the visitors after a quarter, a tied game at the halftime break, and just a one-point advantage for the Bombardiers made it anyone’s game heading into the final frame.

And even two minutes into the final quarter, just one basket separated the rivals with Attleboro holding onto to a 45-43 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But just like that, the Bombardiers flexed their muscles on both ends of the court. Attleboro hit six of their next seven attempts from the floor with the lone miss hauled in for an offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws. And defensively, the Rocketeers missed three shots while committing four turnovers.

The result was an 18-0 run that turned the game on its head and a close contest into a comfortable 63-46 win for the Bombardiers.

“We made that run because we played defense,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “You can’t score 18 straight if you’re giving up baskets on the other end. We talk about being consistently good on defense and during that segment, we were very good.

“We went to a little different look on offense and we were able to spread them out a little bit. Obviously, when you make shots it changes everything. But we were stagnant on offense but it was because their defense kind of made us play like that.”

North Attleboro junior George Ladd (eight points, five assists) finished off a tough layup through contact to bring the hosts within 45-43 with 6:01 left on the clock.

Nick McMahon (nine points, seven assists) penetrated the North Attleboro zone and kicked it out to classmate Tim Callahan (17 points) for his fifth trifecta of the game, a shot that sparked the Attleboro offense.

Attleboro got a stop on the other end and senior Bryant Ciccio (15 points) sank a difficult baseline jumper before the Rocketeers had an empty trip. Ciccio took a pass from Jason Weir at the top of the key and sank another three for the Bombardiers, putting the visitors up 53-43 with just under four minutes to play.

North’s turnover woes (16 in total) factored in as Ciccio came up with a steal, the play resulting in two made free throws from Qualeem Charles (16 points, nine rebounds). It was near deja vu on the ensuing Rocketeer possession as Ciccio stripped the ball free and went in for an uncontested layup.

“We have to have more urgency at all times,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “When the moment gets big, we can’t change our focus level or let the scoreboard dictate how we play. It’s a hard lesson for our guys to learn but that’s back-to-back games, five minutes to play against a quality team…we’re not about moral victories, we have to be better. We have to do a better job coaching too.

“Credit to their better players, Ciccio stepped up in that fourth quarter, McMahon had a nice play, they hurt us inside on the glass. But selfishly from my end, we can’t turn the ball over and then have a breakdown defensively, it’s a double whammy. And then look up at the scoreboard and feel bad for yourself and let that dictate how you play. It certainly snowballed. Ultimately we have to step up and have more urgency.”

A travel gave the visitors the ball back, and despite their first miss of the stretch, Charles hauled in the board and was fouled going back up. He hit two more free throws while North’s cold stretch continued with a missed corner three.

McMahon capped the run with back-to-back strong takes to the rim sandwiched around a Rocketeer turnover after a double team from Ciccio and Charles.

“I thought Nick started feeling more comfortable towards the end,” Houle said. “He’s been terrific for us this year and against a zone, you can’t just pass it around the whole time you have to slip and look to attack a little bit. And then he started hitting wide open guys. So it was a win-win when you knock them down, you get a paint touch on the dribble penetration then kick it out.

“And for us in the second half, every time Q touched it we wanted him to score it. He’s a very unselfish player, he’d rather pass to his teammates but for us to be successful, we need him scoring in there.”

While the Bombardiers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, they were on the verge of doing so in each of the previous two quarters but the Rocketeers continually made timely shots and stops to stay in it.

Callahan (twice) and Ciccio both connected on early threes for the Bombardiers but Brody Rosenberg (eight points), Edan Kelley, and Ethan Friberg (11 points, eight rebounds) were equal to the task. A bucket from Lorenzo Wilson and two free throws from Ciccio had Attleboro up 15-13 at the end of one.

Another triple from Callahan opened the second quarter, Charles finished off a three-point play, and Callahan sank yet another three as Attleboro started the frame strong. But a triple from Rosenberg and another from Friberg kept the Rocketeers in the game.

After a Callahan putback, the Rocketeers closed the first half on a 7-0 run with Ladd scoring down low, Friberg connecting on his third trifecta of the half, and Tommy Whalen finishing off a nice pass from Josh Porter to make it 26-26 at the break.

“They shot very well tonight, they had nine threes,” Houle said. “When they hit them back-to-back, you can’t get over that hump to pull away. They started to miss some shots but I think our defense started forcing some different things. And then they started over-penetrating a little bit and we swallowed them up.”

Timmy carried us in the first half, he was terrific. And he needed that because he’s had some good looks throughout the season and he really stepped up tonight.

Attleboro created some room with a 9-4 run capped by a Ciccio three to start the second half but Whalen answered with a triple and Jared Vacher hit back-to-back threes as North Attleboro surged ahead for the first time, 39-37.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But North closed the quarter with a pair of misses and three straight turnovers, the latter turning into a bucket from Alvin Harrison that gave Attleboro a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth.

“I think it was a combination of them having a concerted effort on where to attack us,” Mulkerrins said of the fourth. “We were mixing up man and zone, I have to see it but my feeling is that we got a little tired and got stuck watching. You can’t be late against that quality of a team.”

Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) will host King Philip on Friday. North Attleboro (2-3, 3-5) will try to bounce back when it hosts Milford on Friday.

Franklin Defense Grinds Out Win Against Attleboro

Franklin football
Jake Davis (23) and the Franklin offense struggled to get going against Attleboro but managed to score twice in the second half to secure a 14-0 win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin has made a name for itself this season with a high-powered offense that is capable of a big play at any time, but in Friday’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Pisini Stadium the Panthers showed that there is another side to their game as well.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Franklin defense only allowed Attleboro to cross midfield once all night, allowing the Panthers to grind out a 14-0 victory on a pair of second half touchdowns and book a second straight appearance in the sectional semifinal.

“What I told the kids at halftime is this is going to be a character test,” said Franklin coach Eian Bain. “We’re going to define out character right here and you have to win these types of games this time of year.”

He added, “We needed to call a better game and get our guys in better positions, but I think once we went into the half we felt more comfortable with what they were in so we felt better about the calls we were making and had a better idea of how to attack them.”

The Panthers got the ball to start the second half and they put in their best drive of the game to score what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Franklin marched 66 yards on 13 plays, showing off a balance between the ground game with Owen Palmieri (14 carries, 65 yards) and its typically potent passing game.

It was a methodical drive. Until the Panthers got inside the red zone, no play went for more than 11 yards and they converted four third downs. Thomas Gasbarro (20-of-31, 187 yards) hit four different receivers on the possession, including Palmieri, who finished with more than 100 yards of total offense, Jake Davis (eight catches, 82 yards), and Jack Nally.

It was Nally (five catches, 48 yards) who made the big play, grabbing a pass on the near sideline and shaking the grasp of an Attleboro tackler to get into the end zone from 16 yards out.

“I think we were really good on third down in the second half and in the first half a couple times we got bogged down on the other end of the field,” Bain explained. “Part of that was trying to get us in better third down situations so it wasn’t third and eight all game and maybe more third and fours and fives.”

Attleboro quarterback Jason Weir was injured while playing defensive back on that drive, possibly after nearly sacking Gasbarro on the play preceding the touchdown, and sophomore Blake Garzaro stepped in to replace him.

Garzaro was one of several underclassmen that got significant playing time due to injuries. With regular starters like Michael Strachan, Isaac Gudiel, and Justin Daniels out, Kaiden Murray (13 carries, 59 yards), Adam Pearlstein, Freddy Wheaton, and Alvin Harrison all had the chance to take on bigger roles and Attleboro coach Mike Strachan was pleased with what he saw from the younger guys.

“I can’t be prouder,” he said. “We had five sophomores out there and went toe-to-toe for three quarters and a little more tonight. I thought we played physical, we didn’t quit, and they’ve got athletes everywhere but I thought we contained them. It’s something to build off for our young kids for sure.”

Franklin moved the ball well on its second possession of the half as well, but Gasbarro was sacked at the Attleboro 24 to end the third quarter and Qualeem Charles put pressure on the quarterback to force an incompletion on third down. Kicker Parker Cheuvront, who had missed from 27 yards in the first quarter, had his kick blocked and it remained a one-score game.

Again it was the Panthers defense that came through to get the ball right back. Austin Jordan sacked Garzaro for a 10-yard loss and on third down they were able top wrap Murray up on a 14-yard gain that came up four yards short of the marker.

“We knew if we have points, the way our defense has been playing we could do a lot of great things,” Bain said. “We just needed to get over the hump and get on the board. It also put more pressure on them because they were happy to grind the tempo down. “

Starting at midfield, Franklin put together a drive to seal the victory. Palmieri and Gasbarro each rushed for five yards for a first down and then Nally followed with back-to-back six yard sweeps for another. A seven-yard draw to Nally with 10 yards tacked on because of a personal foul got the Panthers to the Attleboro 11.

Charles came through with a big stop on Palmieri for a four-yard loss. Two penalties and a loss of yards on a Gasbarro scramble pushed Franklin back to the 17 for fourth and 16. Gasbarro tried to get to the marker with his legs and appeared to have the first down only for a holding call to bring the play back to the 23.

Again Franklin went for it and this time found the end zone. Gasbarro picked out Davis at the two-yard-line and the senior receiver twisted and stretched his way to pay dirt.

Davis then wrapped up the win with two minutes remaining when he made an acrobatic, juggling interception.

“We didn’t know what they were going to come out in because they could’ve gone a lot of different ways today,” Bain said of the Bombardiers. “I thought they had a great game plan on both sides of the ball and really gave us a hard time tonight.”

Franklin (6-2) advances to the sectional semifinal for the second straight season and will host Brockton in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that the Panthers won. Attleboro (3-5) will wait for the identity of its next opponent.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Football: 2019 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

King Philip football Ryan Halliday
King Philip’s Ryan Halliday carries the ball against Foxboro in the third quarter in 2018. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 4-7
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Qualeem Charles, Sr., OT/DT; Isaac Gudiel, Sr., OG/LB; Nolan Jaeger, Sr., WR/CB; Jason Weir, Sr., QB/DE; Michael Strachan, Jr., LB/TE; Ethan Cameron, Sr., WR/DB; Justin Daniels, Jr., RB/DB

Outlook:
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

2018 Record: 7-4
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Evan Wertz, Sr., LB; Jack Nally, Sr., WR/DB; Jake Davis, Sr., WR/DB; Dom Natale, Sr., OL/DL; Thomas Gasbarro, Sr., QB/DB; Owen Palmieiri, Sr., RB/DB; Ben Greco, Sr., WR/DB; Xander Honor, Jr., RB/LB; Austin Jordan, Sr., OL/LB; Luke Cunningham, Sr., TE/DE; Matt Lazarek, Sr., TE; Parker Cheuvront, Jr., K

Outlook:
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.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 9-3
2018 Finish: Reached D2 State Final
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Halliday, Sr., RB/LB; Sam Callanan, Sr., RB/LB; Nolan Gunning, Sr., OL/DL; Robert Jarest, Sr., QB; Sean Piller, Sr., OL/DL; Pat Zarba, Jr., OL/DL; Shawn Conniff, Sr., FB/DL; Brian Wasserug, Sr., WR/DB; Crawford Cantave, So., WR/DB;

Outlook:
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.”




Mansfield

2018 Record: 8-3
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Final (Kelley-Rex Champions)
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Jack Moussette, Sr., QB; Michael DeBolt, Sr., RB/LB/K; Vinnie Holmes, Sr., RB/LB; Makhi Baskin, Sr., RB/DB; Nick Marciano, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Graham, Sr., DL; Jason Comeau, Sr., OL/DL; TJ Guy, Jr., OL/DE; Cincere Gill, Jr., RB/DB; Dan Rapoza, Sr., SE/TE; Everett Knowlton, Jr., TE/DE; Matt Boen, Jr., WR/DB; Nico Holmes, Jr., TE/DL; Noah Jellenik, Sr., OC/NG; Andrew Cowles, Sr., DE/OG; Jake McCoy, Jr., OG/DT; Joe Plath, Sr., RB/LB

Outlook:
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.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 1-10
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ed DeWitt

Key/Returning Players: Cam Perron, Sr., QB; Sam Stevens, Sr., DB; Shane Kilkelly, Sr., WR; Nathan Cabral, Sr., RB; Harrison Webster, Sr., WR; Max Anderson, Sr., OL/DE; Anthony DeCosta, Sr., OL/DL; Nick Gillis, Sr., CB; Jadon Ricci Jr., CB; Tyler Campbell, Sr., LB; Noah White, Sr., OL

Outlook:
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.”

Taunton

2018 Record: 6-5
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Mason Frank, Sr., OL/DL; Danny MacDougall, Jr., QB/DB; Woudanly Danger, Sr., OL/DL; Marshall Curt, Sr., RB/DB; Mike Murray, Sr., OL/DL; Josh Lopes, Jr., RB/LB; Brett Heggs, Jr., RB/S; Everett Ferreira, Sr., WR/DB; Javon Franklin, Sr., WR/DB; Dylan Gookin, Sr., WR/DB; Kedrick Santos, Jr., LB/WR; Jackson Wellman, Sr., OL/LB

Outlook:
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.”