2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
The new girls basketball season promises to be as competitive as ever with a number of teams jockeying for a place in the state tournament. Here is our team-by-team breakdown. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2018-2019 Record: 8-14
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Martin Crowley
Attleboro was three wins shy of reaching the postseason last year, despite a roster filled with inexperienced players, and the Bombardiers demonstrated the potential in the squad by upsetting Franklin late in the season and handing the Panthers their only league loss. This winter, the Bombardiers will be looking to turn potential into reality and make a jump into the playoff picture.

Six players are returning from last year, including seniors Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall, who give Attleboro a talented backcourt on both ends of the court. Thomas adds length and slashing ability, while McCall is a sharpshooter who will be the team’s primary ball-handler. Sophomore Meg Gordon has taken a big leap from last year and head coach Marty Crowley thinks that she is ready for a breakout season on the wing.

Juniors Gabby Bosh and Emma Reilly will both be back to add some nous to the lineup, while sophomores Hailey and Lindsey Perry add grit and toughness. Junior Ryan Johnson will add size to the frontcourt, while sophomore Lillian Froio and juniors Jackie MacDonald and Laura McVeigh add depth and physicality. Overall, it is a much deeper, more experienced group for Crowley to build lineups with this season.

“For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound,” Crowley said. “Nyah and Liv I am sure are going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone, however, we feel as if we have the players in place who will contribute offensively.”

Canton

2018-2019 Record: 14-7
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Jim Choquette
Youth was served for the Bulldogs last season, as a talented trio of freshmen jumped into the starting lineup and helped Canton have one of its most successful seasons in program history, with 14 wins and a return to the state tournament. There were still some learning curves to overcome, but now a more experienced group is play with speed and get out on the break as often as possible to give Foxboro a challenge in the Davenport title race and bring home a postseason win.

Although Canton is still a relatively young team, the talent on the roster is undeniable. Sophomores Kiara Cerruti and Sydney and Fay Gallery all had impressive rookie campaigns, showing off their skills on the wing, from three-point range, and in the paint. They will face even more pressure this season, as teams know what they like to do and will be even more determined to take them out of their games.

Sophomore Carly Fitzgerald will be one of the players stepping into the point guard role vacated by the graduation of Julia Hamilton and will be the facilitator getting Canton into its offense. In the paint, Canton has size and athleticism in senior Lilah Milton and junior Kayla Albert, who are both active rebounders and finishers at the rim and both have shown the ability to knock down the occasional jumper as well. Juniors Angie Elias and Sam Lamarr and sophomore Annie Hoban all have experience from last year to add to Canton’s depth.

Canton coach Jim Choquette said, “Each day we will try to improve as a coaching staff and a program. By the end of the season, our hopes are to be playing at our best.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 20-3
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Lisa Downs
The two-time defending Davenport division champions return all but one player from last year’s roster, so Foxboro remains the team to beat for the league title and expectations are very high heading into a new season. After a trip to the Div. 2 South semifinals last season, the Warriors will be aiming for even more this winter, trying to regain the top spot not just in the Hock but also in the South sectional.

Junior Katelyn Mollica was the team’s leading scorer last year and is already closing in on 1,000 points for her career. The team’s primary ball-handler and one of the best shooters in the league, Mollica will be one of the top offensive threats in the league. She will have plenty of help. Senior guard Lizzy Davis and senior forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman will also return to the starting lineup this season and add athleticism, speed, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, taking some pressure off Mollica with their ability to score in the open court.

Senior Shakirah Ketant came on strong at the end of last season and gives Foxboro a different, more physical look in the paint. Junior Jordyn Collins is a tough on-the-ball defender and has speed to burn. Seniors Jamie DeVellis and Julia Kelley both saw time on the floor last year and will add to Foxboro’s depth. Sophomore center Hannah Blake is a new face that could provide more strength in the post.

“The Hockomock League continues to produce teams, which make every night a tough one – there are really no teams that you can take lightly,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The preparation required to compete in this league really benefits teams that get to the postseason.”

Franklin

2018-2019 Record: 21-4
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal.
Coach: John Leighton
Franklin is coming off its best season in program history and the Panthers have the talent returning to potentially surpass that success this winter. After winning the program’s first sectional title and coming within minutes of reaching the state title game, Franklin returns three of its starters and a host of bench players ready to step into bigger roles this year.

The key to it all is senior Ali Brigham. The George Washington-commit controlled the paint on both ends of the floor last season and remains the league’s most dominant star, as she continues to expand her game to make it even more difficult for the opposition. Teams can’t focus only on Brigham, as senior forward Meghan O’Connell showed in the playoffs the problems she can present with her ability to score and rebound and sophomore Olivia Quinn is another forward with size that teams will struggle to match up with.

Junior point guard Erin Quaile is a tenacious defender and a solid ball-handler, who is developing her outside shot. Senior Sydney Garilli and juniors Elizabeth Wilson, Teagan Collins, and Carissa Alers all saw time last season and will be in the backcourt rotation. Franklin will also add several newcomers, who could step right in and contribute, including juniors Katelynn Taylor and Kaleigh Houlihan and sophomores Emma Sousa and Stefany Padula. On balance, the Panthers look likely to be the team to beat again in the Kelley-Rex.

“I am excited by what I have seen to date,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They are a very motivated group who have bought into their team motto ‘We Over Me.’ They are good teammates who seek team success over individual glory.”




King Philip

2018-2019 Record: 14-8
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip had a breakout season in 2018-19, winning 13 games and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. Returning seven players from last year’s roster, new head coach Dan Nagle takes over a program in solid shape and is looking to build on last season’s success and try to challenge Franklin at the top of the league standings this winter.

Senior Faye Veilleux spearheaded KP’s breakout season when she emerged as one of the top post scorers in the league. Her versatility and her ability to get out in transition will be crucial to Nagle’s fastbreaking style. Senior Faith Roy will give the Warriors a clutch outside shooter and classmate Taylor Butler adds physicality to the guard or forward position.

Junior Emma Glaser will be expected to take on a bigger role after a strong sophomore season on the wing and junior point guard Brianna James demonstrated the ability to get into the lane at will and finish even against taller opponents. Juniors Caroline Aaron and Courtney Keswick are also back from last year to provide depth on the wings and 6-foot-3 freshman Emily Sawyer will give KP much-needed size in the post, as they try to combat Franklin’s Ali Brigham. The Warriors are going to try and break teams down with aggressive defending and their speed in transition.

Nagle said, “It has been a great start to the year with this group of kids. From top to bottom our roster is full of girls who love the game of basketball and are enjoying the process of improving day to day here in the early going. I think we will be a fun team to watch this season, and I look forward to the challenge of having our kids compete night in and night out in an excellent league like the Hockomock.”

Mansfield

2018-2019 Record: 17-6
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Mike Redding
Mansfield has consistently been one of the top programs in the Kelley-Rex division but even the best programs are going to need time to overcome the graduation of 10 seniors. The Hornets will lack experience, but head coach Mike Redding will be looking for improvement over the course of the season and will be hoping to have the team playing its best basketball as the tournament rolls around.

Senior Becca Hottleman was recently cleared after knee surgery and will be back at the point for the Hornets. Hottleman is one of only two players that got starts last year. Junior forward Ashley Santos is the other and she will be one of the players expected to see her numbers take a jump, as she should expect to get a few more looks on the offensive end. Senior Kelly Doherty and junior Kayla Vine will jump into starting roles on the wings, while junior Sara Dooling will be a starter at forward.

While there is a lack of varsity playing time on the roster, there are plenty of upperclassmen that will be expected to contribute. Junior Sarah Sacco will back-up Hottleman at the point, while junior Ally Prentis and senior Grace Benton will add depth at the wing. Senior Grace Maher and juniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking will see time in the frontcourt and freshman wing Abby Wager should get opportunities to build experience this season.

“This group has very limited varsity basketball experience overall because we had that large and talented group of 10 seniors last year, but we’re not young and will rely on senior leadership and a deep junior class and all have varsity experience in other sports,” said Redding. “We have good size and depth in the post and all of them can shoot, handle the ball, and play like guards, which should cause some problems for the defense. It will be a work in progress and we’ll have to battle for wins in a very good league but this will be a good basketball team by February when the tourney rolls around.”

Milford

2018-2019 Record: 1-19
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Last year was a tough one for Milford. After graduating the bulk of the roster, an inexperienced group struggled through the season, but never lost the work rate and closed out the winter with its first win. The Hawks are still relatively young, but head coach TJ Dolliver is approaching the new year with optimism because of his team’s continued growth.

Four juniors are entering their third varsity seasons and the Hawks will be counting on them to provide necessary leadership on and off the court. Emma Lawrence, Jillian Michelson, Carly Fereira, and Katie Maietta have all gotten plenty of playing time last year and the hope is that experience will serve them well this winter.

This will be a guard-heavy lineup, especially with no player over 5-foot-8. Junior Elise Fauerbach will add some physical play to the frontcourt and sophomore forward Jill Araujo is a newcomer that can add some depth in the paint.

“There is a lot to pay attention to but what I care about the most is how we do this together,” said Dolliver. “I have a great group of girls and a great coaching staff and I believe this season will be very rewarding.”

North Attleboro

2018-2019 Record: 7-14
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Nikki Correia
It has been a tough run over the last few seasons for North Attleboro, which won seven games and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but there are still positives to take away as former assistant Nikki Correia takes over for her first year in charge. North has several experienced players returning to try and push Big Red back up the standings.

The backcourt should be a plus for North with senior point guard Olivia Forbes back to run the show and keep the Rocketeers getting into the transition game that Correia prefers. She will be joined at the guard position by junior Amanda Kaiser, who emerged as not only a threat from deep but also as a tough defender who gets her hands into the passing lane. Juniors Siobhan Weir and Lydia Santos will add to the depth at guard to help with the full-court pressure that North will turn to this year.

North hasn’t had much height in the past few seasons, but there are several forwards who can compete on the glass. Senior forward Eliza Dion is an aggressive defender and can take her defender off the dribble. Senior Regan Fein will add extra depth in the paint. Freshman guard Ava McKeown and sophomore guard Summer Doherty are two newcomers that could make an instant impact.

“I am looking forward to being apart of watching this team and this program grow this year,” Correia said. “There are six returning seniors, so that veteran play will be very helpful, as well as returning a great shooter and adding an athletic sophomore and freshman to the mix.”




Oliver Ames

2018-2019 Record: 13-9
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames had a lot of new faces last year, but the success was very familiar. The Tigers finished with 13 wins and reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal, giving Wellesley all it could handle on the road. A year of experience and the return of a strong core of players means expectations are even higher for OA this winter.

Sophomore Caroline Peper will be the player that is going to draw the most attention at the start of the new season. As a freshman, Peper was one of the league’s top scorers and its top shooters. Junior Caroline Flynn was also an all-star last year. She runs the point, is one of the top passers on the team, and also one of its top rebounders. Her overall game helps the Tigers control games. Also in the backcourt will be seniors Meg Holleran and Erin Holmberg, who is coming back after surgery cost her almost all of last season.

Senior Tate Hadges will be on the front line, giving OA another strong defender and rebounder. Sophomore Hailey Bourne, while undersized, gives the Tigers a lot of effort in the post even when matched up against some of the best frontcourt players in the league. Junior Jess Erlich and Tori Harney and sophomore Anna Murphy will add to the team’s depth on the wing.

“As always, the Hock will present with a very high level of competition,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We are looking forward to being capable of putting together a variety of strong personnel combinations which will provide us with depth as we face those challenges.”

Sharon

2018-2019 Record: 9-11
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Sandra Lombardi
Sharon narrowly missed out on its first playoff appearance under head coach Sandy Lombardi, finishing just one win away from a tournament berth. With three returning starters and several younger players who got significant playing time last year, the Eagles will be eyeing that elusive postseason berth.

Three seniors will be counted on to lead the team at both ends of the floor. Point guard Ally Brown will be expected to get the Eagles into their offensive sets and is a strong defender on the other end, keeping pressure on the perimeter. Shooting guard Kaitlyn Wallace is the team’s top outside threat, stretching the defense with her range and also being a strong passer off the dribble. Forward Telishya Herbert led the team in scoring last year and is a matchup nightmare in the paint with her aggressive play going to the basket.

The starting lineup will be rounded out by junior Leah Fandel and sophomore Trinity Payne, two athletic forwards that will give Sharon decent size on the front line. Senior Nicole Teven, juniors Julia Early and Gaby Cabral and freshman Tess Letendre will all see plenty of playing time this season and will look to contribute to the team’s success.

“Ally, Kaitlyn, and Telishya have the most varsity experience and I expect great things from them this year,” Lombardi said. “We have a young team and I am hoping some of the younger players are able to step up this year as well.”

Stoughton

2018-2019 Record: 7-13
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
A new era will begin this winter, as Stoughton moves into its brand new gym with a lot of new faces on the roster, hoping to get the Black Knights back into the playoff race this season after missing out on the tournament last year.

The key for the Black Knights will be its senior leadership. Although Sydnee Hyacinthe has moved on to Milton Academy, they still return a strong core led by senior Aliyah Wright. The point guard can be a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, sparking Stoughton on defense and breaking down the opposition off the dribble. Senior Shyanne Trinh is healthy to start the season and will be the team’s top outside threat, with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. Senior forward Lexi Baptista is an athletic post threat who can also step back and knock down the mid-range jumper.

Senior Hannah Pagano and juniors Brooke Bulger, Mackenzie Manning, and Catherine Downey will add to the team’s depth, especially in the backcourt. Sophomore Makaiyah Singleton Rivera and freshman Kyla Sheedy-Goff will be two of the newcomers to the roster that could make a name for themselves this season.

“Despite being somewhat young this season this group of ladies worked really hard in the off-season,” said Stoughton coach Charmain Steele Jordan. “The sky is the limit this season and our Black Knights are going compete hard until the final whistle blows.”

Taunton

2018-2019 Record: 7-15
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens
After a number of seasons under coach Walter Harrigan, Taunton has turned to former King Philip coach Amy Siggens this year and she has brought plenty of energy into her first preseason with the Tigers, trying to push the program back into the playoff hunt.

As Siggens and the players become more comfortable with each other, the Tigers will count on their returning starters to get things off to a good start. Juniors Sonya and Jaelyn Fernandez and Kelsey White will be the players to watch this season after strong sophomore campaigns. All three have good size, with both Sonya and Jaelyn providing strong presences on the boards and out on the break and White causing match-up issues on the perimeter. All three will need to step up on the defensive end and keep the Tigers running.

Taunton also has depth, although it will be relatively inexperienced. Seniors Liz Crisman and Jaylah Chaves and junior Tori DaRosa will add more depth in the backcourt. Sophomores Braeley McDonald and Abby Souza (who has helped out on varsity since she was an eighth-grader) and freshman Kameron St. Pierre will also chip in this season.

“Any coaching change brings lots of challenges and, this season, we will be faced with our share,” said Siggens. “I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far. Our bench is young and talented but how quickly a good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start.”

Taunton Names New Girls Basketball, Soccer Coaches

Taunton girls basketball
Taunton sophomore Sonya Fernandez and the Tigers will have a new coach next season, as former King Philip coach Amy Siggens was announced as the replacement for the retired Walter Harrigan. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Taunton athletic director Mark Ottavianelli confirmed this week that the Tigers have filled two coaching positions for the upcoming school year. Joe Rocha has been hired as the new girls soccer coach and Amy Siggens will be the new head coach of the girls basketball program.

Rocha replaces Edith Dixon, who had been coach since 2014 and led the program to its first playoff victory in 2015. Siggens, who is moving across the Hockomock League from King Philip, will take over from Walter Harrigan, who stepped down after 12 years as the head coach.

Siggens spent two years as the head coach at KP, her first high school head coaching position, where she compiled a record of 18-24. She was formerly an assistant at Wellesley High. After an injury-plagued first season, Siggens led the Warriors to a record of 14-8 this past winter, including 10-6 in the league, and KP reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal before a loss on the road at top seed Bridgewater-Raynham.

“I’m patient enough and understanding enough to know it’s going to be a process,” said Siggens about the new opportunity in Taunton, “and I probably have way more than can get done immediately but I’m excited for the challenge. I think the longevity of this position is going to help me get to do what I want to do.”

Taunton finished last season at 7-15 (2-14 in the Hockomock League), but brings back a young lineup. The Tigers graduated four seniors but there is only one player from this year’s roster that will be a senior next season. In addition, Taunton had four freshmen and five sophomores on the varsity roster and Siggens is excited to develop that young core.

“You see that they work hard and they want to play,” she said. “I hope they’re ready for the challenge that I’m going to face with them. I want to have a lot of fun but I really want to develop these young women and these athletes and give them the confidence and show them something different that they haven’t seen for a long time.”

Siggens is excited about the new challenge and is already working on plans to get involved from the youth leagues on up. She said, “We’re jumping feet-first in ready to get dirty. Talking about any way to get involved – summer league, camps, clinics – I’m throwing everything at them to see what we can start.”

Rocha is a familiar face in Taunton. He coached the boys soccer team from 2002-2010, helping to revitalize the program, including the addition of a freshman team, which is a goal that he has set for the girls as well, according to an interview this week by the Taunton Gazette.

The Tigers have struggled since winning their only playoff game, having only won 11 games in the three years since that afternoon in Wellesley. This past fall, Taunton was 3-16-0, including 1-15-0 in the ultra-competitive Hockomock League, and scored only 16 goals over the course of the season.

King Philip Knocked Out By Top-Seeded Trojans

King Philip girls basketball
King Philip sophomore Caroline Aaron drives to the basket in the second quarter against Bridgewater-Raynham. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – For two and a half quarters, eighth-seeded King Philip had top-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham on upset alert.

Not only did the Warriors keep pace with the once-beaten Trojans, King Philip outplayed the hosts at times and opened the second half with an 8-4 run, claiming its first lead since the first minutes of the game.

Just seconds after King Philip took a one-point lead midway through the third, the Trojans closed the rest of the quarter with a 12-2 burst that gave Bridgewater-Raynham the separation it needed, the end result a 68-50 win over the Warriors.

“I think we got a little tired and we let up a little and they took advantage of that,” said King Philip head coach Amy Siggens. “They are a disciplined, tough team. We are proud we were able to hang with them the way that we did. I think we could have hung a little bit better.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A three-pointer at the halftime buzzer from KP sophomore Brianna James (seven points, four rebounds) cut the deficit to just three at the break, 28-25, and the Warriors’ defense helped spark an early run to start the second quarter.

Back-to-back forced turnovers helped KP get off to a good start in the second half. Faith Roy (six points, five rebounds) and Faye Veilleux (10 points, eight rebounds) got the Warriors within one and King Philip got back-to-back stops. KP jumped in front on a putback from Roy but B-R answered right away with a bucket from sophomore Kenzie Matulonis.

The Warriors had an answer back as James drove to the basket for two for a 33-32 advantage midway through the third quarter, but B-R freshman Shay Bollin (22 points) gave the Trojans a huge boost. Bollin hit back-to-back threes, the second off an offensive rebound, Bella Calvani scored off a KP turnover, Bollin scored on a fast break, and Calvani converted a putback to give B-R a 44-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Bridgewater-Raynham had 18 offensive rebounds, eight of which came in the third quarter that helped the Trojans overcome King Philip’s strong start to the second half.

“KP runs some fantastic sets,” said B-R head coach Cheryl Seavey. “Obviously she has coaching in her genes, I played with her sister in college, so coming in I knew they were going to be very well coached. Their five out sets, whenever they went to the three-point line they got something backdoor. They are a very technical team so we had to reinforce some defensive things so were important for us to be successful.

“Playing Newton North and now [King Philip] in this round, the South [tournament] is deep. These were definitely the two toughest teams we’ve faced this season.”

To start the fourth quarter, B-R’s Marisa Beauvias sank a triple to put the Trojans ahead 47-35. In the 15-2 run over the course of the final four minutes of the third and first minute of the fourth, Bridgewater-Raynham hit three of their four second-half threes.

“They have don’t just have or two shooters, their entire team can shoot and they can go deep,” Siggens said. “It’s constant wear and tear on you. We really pride ourselves on defense and getting into that help, and we were focused on [Brolin] and some of those kickouts, we were just a little slow and late on rotations. We played tough but we just got a little tired.”

The Trojans’ lead ballooned to as much as 14 but the Warriors continued to battle back. Caroline Aaron (six points, six rebounds) found Taylor Butler on an inbounds play on the baseline and Butler converted the layup plus the foul for the three-point play. Shannon O’Connor (15 points, six rebounds), who missed most of the third quarter in foul trouble, sank a jumper to make it 53-42, but B-R responded with a 7-2 run.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“They are a very tough group of kids, they don’t get intimidated often,” Siggens said. “I think in the beginning of the year we might have, but when they saw they could hang with these teams and beat teams like Foxboro and Mansfield, they started to believe more and more in themselves. They put a lot of work in this season and it just shows what these kids are all about.”

King Philip had nine turnovers in the first quarter alone but the Warriors’ defense prevented the Trojans from building a big lead early. James, O’Connor, Roy, and Aaron all scored in the first and the Warriors trailed just 12-8.

In the second quarter, the Trojans had a seven-point, and a six-point lead but King Philip kept it close with successful shooting at the free throw line. The Warriors went 10-for-11 from the charity stripe in the opening half to keep pace with B-R’s successful shooting.

King Philip girls basketball finishes the season at 14-8.

Warriors Used Balanced Attack to Knock Off Quincy

King Philip girls basketball
KP senior Shannon O’Connor scored 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter to hold off Quincy in the first round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. -What has made King Philip tough to beat all season is that the Warriors can count on multiple players to come through on the offensive end. It is hard to defend a team with multiple players that can put the ball in the basket. That continued on Monday night in the opening round of the state tournament against Quincy as KP had three players hit double figures, and each stepped up in different quarters, to make it a successful return to the playoffs following a five-year absence.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Faye Veilleux scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the first half, Faith Roy scored eight of her 10 points in the third quarter, and Shannon O’Connor scored 10 of her 13 points to close out the game in the fourth to seal a 63-52 victory.

“Everybody had their quarter and everybody stepped up a little bit,” said second-year coach Amy Siggens, who was coaching her first tournament game. “I think this was really great teamwork that we’re constantly drilling into them. We have kids that just step up and we’re ready for anyone to have their day and we love that feeling of, if you’re not going to do it we’re going to find someone else who will.”

“It feels great,” said O’Connor, who was playing in the postseason for the first time. “We put in a lot of work in practice to prepare for this game, so I’m really happy we won for all my teammates too who hadn’t gotten to experience this yet.”

Quincy is a team that likes to run and press and turn the game into a track meet. In the first quarter, the Warriors tried to match them stride for stride and it created a frenetic, fast-paced game, but one that suited the visitors.

Veilleux knocked down a jumper off a Roy assist and O’Connor drilled a three to get the Warriors off to the perfect start, but the Presidents got back into it with their speed in the open court and tenacity in the press. Brianna James scored off a Roy rebound and dish to keep KP in front 11-8 but an 8-2 run put Quincy up three after one.

“We just kept telling them that we’re better than this,” Siggens said. “We were going for steals we shouldn’t have been and they were going right by us and we got our kids in foul trouble because they’re cutting middle and we just wanted to fix it.”

In the second quarter, it was KP that clamped down on defense by slowing the tempo and forcing the Presidents to try and score in the half court. Emma Glaser (eight points and 11 rebounds) knocked down a jumper and Caroline Aaron came off the bench to knock down a three. Veilleux hit a pull-up jumper in transition to tie the game at 20-20.

Roy got on the board with a runner and Veilleux scored after Glaser hit her with a bounce pass on the break. Six free throws later and KP went into the break leading 30-23, having limited the Presidents to just seven points in the second.

“We really pride ourselves on our defense,” said Siggens. “They were really fast, maybe faster than we thought, so our rotation wasn’t as we normally would have it, but it is what it is, you just have to adjust sometimes on the fly.”

Aaron (seven points) got things going in the third with a transition basket and Roy knocked down a shot off an O’Connor pass to push the lead into double digits for the first time. Roy caught fire in the third, scoring half of KP’s points in the quarter, including a three-point play off an inbounds pass from Kendall Mason that got the Warriors a 13-point lead.

KP was up 11 heading to the fourth quarter, but Quincy kept hanging around. Twice the Presidents would cut the lead to as few as eight points in the final eight minutes, but each time O’Connor had an answer.

“With the game coming to an end, what could possibly be my last game, I was really trying to make things happen,” O’Connor explained. “My teammates set great screens for me, so I got a couple of open shots.”

She knocked down a pair of jumpers, scored on an offensive rebound, assisted on a Veilleux layup, and then hit 3-of-4 at the line in the closing minute. When O’Connor needed some help, fellow senior Julia Leroux stepped up and drilled a straightaway dagger three to answer one by Quincy on the other end and make it 61-50.

With the win, King Philip (14-7) faces a trip to the top seed in Div. 1 South, Bridgewater-Raynham, on Friday night. Both coach and player were excited at the prospect of taking on the top team in the bracket.

Siggens said, “We’re ready. We’re excited to be in the tournament. It’s about survival and getting to the next game. We did it tonight and we’ll see what happens on Friday. We’d love to get the upset, but they’re a good team.

“Not only is the pressure higher but it’s also more fun as the rounds go on,” O’Connor added. “We’re going to have a tough week of practice preparing for them and I’m excited for what we can do.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Strong First Half Propels Mansfield to Win at KP

Mansfield girls basketball
Senior guard Sydney Mulkern had another strong performance for Mansfield, with a game-high 20 points, including four three-pointers, and helped the Hornets hold off KP on the road. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip came into Friday’s game on a high after scoring 73 points and winning by 42 on Tuesday, but the shots that all seemed to go in against Stoughton mostly stayed out against Mansfield. The Hornets, on the other hand, were on fire. They knocked down six three-pointers through three quarters and built their lead to as many as 21 at one point in the third.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield rode that quick start to a 53-44 victory that keeps the Hornets two games back of league-leading Franklin and alone in second place in the Kelley-Rex division.

“We didn’t think we could play zone the whole night but they never forced us out of it,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “Foul trouble impacted them a little and we kind of played our regular rotation and took advantage of that. Both teams have a lot of great athletes and both of us need to work to score points but we did a good job making open shots when we got them.”

Sydney Mulkern was the spark for the Hornets on Friday, scoring a game-high 20 points, including 14 in the first half. She got off to a quick start, knocking down a three and driving to the basket for a quick 5-0 lead. Mulkern scored on the break, following a pinpoint pass by Becca Hottleman, and added a layup in traffic off an inbounds pass by Kara Bendanillo (four assists).

KP’s offense struggled to get into any rhythm and wasn’t helped by first quarter foul trouble for top scorers Faye Veilleux and Shannon O’Connor.

“That really affects us because they’re both leaders, they allow us to have a flow to the game, they keep us calm, and when they’re together it’s really something special,” said KP coach Amy Siggens about the early foul trouble. “They’ve been getting used to that the last couple of games (following O’Connor’s return from injury) and in a tough game like this they needed to lean on each other.”

O’Connor scored four points in the first and assisted on an Emma Glaser basket that cut the Mansfield lead to two, but the Hornets got four quick points to lead by six after one.

Mulkern kept the hot shooting started with a three in the second and then Emily Vigeant added a pair of threes before halftime as well. In between, Maggie Danehy got started on the offensive end by crashing the boards and getting five points in the quarter. KP tried to hang around by getting a spark off its bench, with sophomores Caroline Aaron (eight points) and Glaser contributing.

Mansfield led by 15 points at the break and looked to put the game away in the third. Danehy hit a couple of jumpers and Mady Bendanillo scored on a put-back. Mulkern added two more threes and the Hornets pulled away to take a 44-23 lead.

“They’re the fastest team we’ve seen so far,” Siggens said, “and I think we’re shell-shocked a little first half and I think we adjusted second half. It just wasn’t falling for us the way it was the other night. Sometimes it’s that and you just have to pick it up in other places.”

KP tried to climb back into the game and make things interesting down the stretch. The Warriors went on an 8-0 run to close out the third with O’Connor hitting a pull-up jumper, Aaron getting to the basket, and Veilleux finally able to get some touches around the basket.

The momentum the Warriors gained during that stretch couldn’t carry over to the fourth because they just couldn’t find the range from the outside. Veilleux hit a jumper off a Faith Roy assist and O’Connor hit a mid-range shot on an inbounds pass from Kendall Mason, but KP wasn’t able to significantly cut into the Mansfield lead.

“We played really well on offense in the first half and the start of the third we were great but then we kind of went dead and the defensive intensity for them picked up,” Redding explained. “I liked the way we played, they battled back and we had to fight our way through the fourth quarter with all the pressure.”

Danehy tried to keep the Warriors at bay when she created three chances on one possession before scoring on an offensive rebound for the third time in the game. “Maggie is just so active on the boards,” Redding said. “Meg [Hill] dominated the boards for us but Maggie does it in a very different way with athleticism and great instincts and gets us those extra points.”

After knocking down six three-pointers on Tuesday night, Julia Leroux made KP’s first three of the night with the game’s final shot and got the Warriors as close as they had been since the second quarter.

“This is the first time we’ve seen it,” Siggens said about Mansfield’s ability to stop KP from getting out on the break. “I think we outscored them in the second half and that’s good, but I attribute a lot of the first half to that shock of how tough they are, how fast they are.”

The Hornets continue to hang around in the league title race, trailing Franklin by two games with one head-to-head meeting left on the schedule.

“This was a huge road win,” Redding remarked. “Every game is like an elimination game. You can’t have a hiccup or you’re done, so this is a big one for us.”

Mansfield (7-3, 6-2) will stay on the road on Tuesday night with a trip to Stoughton, while King Philip (6-3, 5-3) will head to North Attleboro to face the streaking Rocketeers.

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Canton Closes Strong at the Line to Beat KP

Canton girls basketball
Canton freshman Fay Gallery (32) scored 13 points to help Canton hold off King Philip and win a fourth straight game. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – King Philip kept fighting back in the second half, closing the gap to as little as five points in the fourth quarter, but for the second time in three games Canton went to the free throw line and sealed a victory.

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Five days before, Canton came from behind to beat division rival Stoughton with nine free throws in the final minutes. On Tuesday night, at home, the Bulldogs were at it again, shooting 11-of-12 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to hold off the Warriors and pull out a 53-41 victory. It is a fourth straight victory for Canton.

“It’s tough for other teams because if they foul one girl she’s making her free throws and if they foul another girl, she’s hitting her free throws,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We’re doing a good job moving the ball, getting it to the right girls at the right times and the girls are really doing it – they’re executing from the line and it’s obviously something that puts us in situations to win.”

The Warriors needed to come from behind with a strong fourth quarter to beat Taunton last time out and got off to another tough start on Tuesday. Canton jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter. Julia Hamilton scored six of her game-high 14 points in that run, knocking down a pair of three-pointers, and freshman Fay Gallery scored five of her 13 points to get Canton off to the perfect start.

“Frustration got us,” said KP coach Amy Siggens about the tough start. “If someone misses a shot, they’re young kids and we’re teaching them that you have to move on and get over it and it’s been a struggle. We had a 14-day break and we’ve been on the road since and it’s been tough.”

KP did cut into the lead as leading scorer Faye Veilleux (14 points and 12 rebounds) knocked down a corner three and then a pull-up jumper in transition, but Lilah Milton’s offensive rebound and putback put the Bulldogs up 17-9 after one.

The second quarter was a defensive struggle. Kiara Cerruti (10 points) nailed a three off a Hamilton assist to start the scoring but Canton managed only eight points in the quarter. Gallery also hit a three and Erin Devine scored on an offensive rebound, but that was all.

Despite the lack of scoring, Canton extended its lead by a couple of points because its defense held the Warriors to just six points in the second. Caroline Aaron scored on a back-cut and nice dish from Emma Glaser and then Faith Roy (five points) drilled a three, but it was a 10-point lead for Canton at the break.

Things picked up offensively for both teams in the third quarter. Cerruti started the third with a three but KP cut the lead down to just eight. Catherine Cummings, Glaser, Julia Leroux, and Taylor Butler all scored buckets to get the lead down to single digits.

“We came back into it in the second half,” Siggens said. “I was impressed with how they came out and fought for it a little more than we did in the first half. We saw some different combinations and we’re still figuring it out day to day and see what works.”

Cerruti scored off a steal and then Hamilton drilled another one from beyond the arc to get the Bulldogs back on track and give them an 11-point cushion heading to the fourth.

KP scored the first six points of the final quarter, as the game got even more frenetic. Veilleux scored twice and Butler knocked down a jumper to make it 38-33. Canton answered right back with a 6-0 run. Hamilton sank a pair at the line, Sydney Gallery (six points) got a layup, and Fay Gallery (five steals) got an offensive rebound and scored.

Choquette explained, ,”One of the strengths for us this season is different people doing different things during games. Kiara has led us in scoring a number of games and tonight she guarded Roy and held her scoreless in the second half. [Roy’s] having an amazing year and I told Kiara that this was a terrific defensive performance.”

Brianna James scored and got fouled. She missed the free throw but KP got the offensive board and Veilleux swung it around to Courtney Keswick for a basket. Trailing by nine, Veilleux managed to fire a pass from halfcourt to James for another layup. It was KP’s last basket.

“It really comes down to fundamentals,” said Siggens. “They’re a great team, they outplayed us and they out-hustled us.”

Sydney Gallery and Maggie Connolly (nine rebounds and four steals) each hit a pair at the line and Canton walked away with a fourth victory in the last seven days.

“This is our fourth game in seven days, so towards the end of the game I’m not surprised if people are a little tired,” Choquette said. “We come out and do wonderful things and then get a little tired, which is why I think one of the strengths of our team is the entire team, it’s 13 girls, it’s the bench, it’s everyone coming in and contributing.”

Canton (5-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday night at Sharon, while King Philip (4-2) will try to bounce back at Attleboro.

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King Philip Starts Quick To Run Past Milford

King Philip girls basketball
King Philip junior Faye Veilleux (21) scored a game-high 25 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter and the Warriors pulled away for a big win against Milford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip took control of the game from the opening tip, starting the game on a 20-4 run, and with Milford still hanging around at halftime, the Warriors put the game away by starting the third quarter with an 18-4 run that ensured there would be no comeback for the Hawks.

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Riding those quick starts, King Philip took home a 79-39 victory that moves the Warriors back over .500 on the season and was a good bounce back from the team’s struggles against Franklin last time out.

“When we played Franklin, we did the right things but we couldn’t finish, so it was kind of redemption in that this is how we can play and should be playing,” KP coach Amy Siggens said. “They’re just coming together as a team. I couldn’t be prouder of how hard and how fast they’re playing.”

Faye Veilleux was KP’s leading scorer for the second straight game, as she scored 11 of the Warriors 22 in the first quarter on her way to a game-high 25 points. The junior forward has established herself as a consistent scorer, who can take the pressure off senior Shannon O’Connor (six points and three assists) while she is battling an early season injury.

Siggens said of Veilleux’s start to the season, “We’re pushing her and she’s stepping up into a leadership role. Faye is great to keep the team level and calm on the floor. I’m really, really impressed with how she’s come out this season.”

The Warriors got off to a running start, pushing the tempo and using the team’s speed to its advantage. Veilleux got out on the break a couple of times in the first quarter and senior Julia Leroux (nine points) knocked down a three in transition. Veilleux made it 20-4 by grabbing a defensive rebound and racing forward for a layup on the opposite end (plus a foul).

“We have fast kids, so why not use them?” Siggens asked with a chuckle. “They read the floor well and they just anticipate. It’s on a good flow.”

Milford did claw its way back into the game behind sophomore guard Emma Lawrence. A steal led directly to a layup and then she buried a three to cut the KP lead to 13 (22-9) after one. She continued that momentum into the second, banking home another three to make it a 10-point game. She scored 12 of her team-high 24 in the second quarter.

Milford coach T.J. Dolliver said, “Being able to be on our team last year and learn from the group of seniors I had, I had four freshman on the team and that’s why. I was hoping they’d be able to take out of it.” Lawrence missed the second half of her freshman year with a wrist injury but Dolliver sees the growth from last year. He added, “Emma hasn’t skipped a beat. She’s playing hard and she’s a good leader; she leads by example.”

KP’s offense continued to click, as the Warriors dominated the glass and continued to have success in transition. Veilleux scored six, including a layup off a dribble drive and underhand dish by Brianna James (four assists), O’Connor scored four, and Courtney Keswick buried a pair from beyond the arc.

The Warriors scored 22 in each quarter and led by 21 at the half, despite 19 points from Lawrence. There was no let up at all coming out of halftime, as KP built an insurmountable lead with an 18-4 run.

“It’s kids pushing kids too,” said Siggens. “Some of the kids we put in off the bench were playing hard and it pushed some of the veterans to come out and play hard too. We’re not backing down, no matter what is going on. We want to set the tone.”

Veilleux was at the heart of things again with eight points in the third. She scored on a great feed by forward Catherine Cummings, another off a feed from Emma Glaser, and then another layup following a steal. Leroux also came out aggressive, scoring off a steal and then burying her second three of the night.

The Hawks were getting offense off the dribble, getting to the basket and creating opportunities at the free throw line. Milford shot 24 free throws and made 17 of them. Lawrence was 10-of-12 at the line.

In the fourth quarter, Jillian Michelson helped out her classmate by taking the ball to the rim and creating good looks. Michelson scored all six of her points in the fourth.

“We need a lot of work in terms of the fundamentals, like boxing people out and just having that urgency to go after the basketball,” said Dolliver. “If we can start to get better at the little things like that it will show in the game.”

KP kept finding the range from deep in the fourth, as Keswick (nine points) made her third of the game and junior Nicki Lovenbury came off the bench to knock down a pair, while Cummings (six points) scored four in the paint.

Despite the final scoreline, Milford continued to bring energy to the final whistle, something that made Dolliver proud. We said don’t ever let you effort go down, the bench needs to be into it at all times,” Dolliver said. “Those are the things we’re looking for. That’s where we start and then everything else will fall into place as we get more practice time.”

King Philip (2-1) will step out of the Hock on Sunday when it makes the trip to Dartmouth. Milford (0-3) has a 10-day break before it is back on the court against Hopedale.

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2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
Foxboro sophomore Katelyn Mollica will try to keep the Warriors on top in the Davenport division, as the new Hockomock League girls basketball season gets underway. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 9-13
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.

The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.

Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.

“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”

Canton

2017-2018 Record: 10-11
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round.
Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.

While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.

Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.

“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 26-2
2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship.
Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.

Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.

Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.

Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”

Franklin

2017-2018 Record: 15-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round.
Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.

Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.

The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.

“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”

King Philip

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.

O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.

The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.

There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”

Mansfield

2017-2018 Record: 20-6
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final.
Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.

The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.

Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.

It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”

Milford

2017-2018 Record: 13-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal.
Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.

While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.

The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.

Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”

North Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.

Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.

The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.

“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”

Oliver Ames

2017-2018 Record: 16-6
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal.
Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.

Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.

Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.

OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”

Sharon

2017-2018 Record: 2-18
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Sanda Lombardi

It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.

Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.

Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.

“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”

Stoughton

2017-2018 Record: 13-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal.
Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.

It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.

While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.

“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”

Taunton

2017-2018 Record: 7-15
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.

Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.

Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.

“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”

Stoughton On Brink of Tourney After KP Win

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe (4) had a big night on the perimeter to help the Black Knights move within one win of clinching a tournament berth. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Exactly a month ago, Stoughton earned its first league win of the season on the road at North Attleboro. Following the game, Black Knights coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said that she was looking forward to a strong second half of the season from her team. She turned out to be right.

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On Monday night, behind strong performances from freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe and sophomore Aliyah Wright, the Black Knights beat King Philip 61-49, making it eight wins in the last nine games. After starting the season 1-7, Stoughton is now just one win from clinching a spot in the state tournament.

“It’s exciting to see how the program has evolved,” said Steele Jordan about the progress of the youth on the roster. “We have young guards, but that makes for promise for the future. We’ve got a lot of youth coming up and I’m excited where the program is going. I feel like we’re a fun group to watch and when we’re on, then we’re on.”

The game got off to an even start. Wright got a steal and layup off the Stoughton press and Lindsay McDonald (eight points) knocked down a jumper after an offensive rebound for an early lead. Faith Roy (nine points) completed a three-point play to tie the game at 5-5, but Hyacinthe (15 points) knocked down the first of her five three-pointers and Wright (17 points) got one of her eight steals and turned it into a layup for a 12-8 lead after one.

KP was playing without leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, who was injured in the last game against Taunton, and the Warriors offense stalled a little at the start of the second quarter.

“It’s an adjustment for the team, for the coaches, for everybody,” said KP coach Amy Siggens. “We did alright and I think someone needs to step up into that role and I don’t think they know who that is yet. Everyone had to contribute and we started off a little slow but then we started to figure it out as the game went along.”

The Black Knights ran off the first eight points of the second with sophomore Mariah Harris (10 points) knocking down a pair of jumpers and senior Val Whalen (11 points and 15 rebounds) adding four as well. Roy tried to bring KP back with a pair of threes that cut the lead back to five. Hyacinthe answered with a three but, after free throws from Stoughton, Julia LeRoux (nine points) hit a three to keep KP within nine at the half.

In the third quarter, Stoughton continued its hot shooting to break the game open. Hyacinthe was particularly accurate from downtown, nailing three from beyond the arc in the third, while McDonald also buried a pair of deep jumpers, as the Black Knights scored 22 as a team in the quarter.

“It’s great to see those girls knocking down shots,” said Steele Jordan. “They’ve been working on their games all season and it’s nice when it finally rolls over into a game and they’re being consistent and shooting with confidence.”

While the offense was clicking, Steele Jordan was also pleased with the defensive effort. The Stoughton press was forcing turnovers that led to baskets for Harris and Wright in the quarter.

“We’re fueled off our defense,” she explained. “When we’re moving our feet, we have active hands, and we’re anticipating, we have several girls who can be a step ahead of the pass and see where it’s going. It’s nice to see them use their athleticism and get those deflections.”

Christina Hathaway tried to keep the Warriors in the game with four points in the quarter and junior Catherine Cummings scored five of her team-high 11, but KP trailed by 17 heading to the fourth.

Stoughton continued to tack on to its lead, eventually extending it to as many as 23 points after a jumper by Wright and a three from Harris.

“We work a ton on our help and doubling down because we knew how good their bigs were and…you’ve got to give up one or the other and we just weren’t able to close out,” said Siggens. “I can’t take anything away from how well they shoot and how quick they are.”

KP continued to battle in the final minutes and would cut into the lead behind six points from Cummings, who knocked down a pair of jumpers and finished an offensive rebound. Freshman Emma Glaser also added three points for the Warriors.

“She’s worked really hard all season to work on those moves,” said Siggens of Cummings. “She’s due for a monster game, so it’s nice to see those going in for her.”

Stoughton (9-8, 8-6) will try to clinch its state tournament berth on Tuesday night when it hosts Sharon. King Philip (4-12, 3-11) will be right back in action on Tuesday with the visit of league champ Mansfield.

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Quick Start Launches Rocketeers to Win Against KP

North Attleboro girls basketball
North Attleboro senior Emily Haskell (3) drives to the basket against King Philip. Haskell scored 14 points in the Rocketeers win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro came storming out of the gates to jump all over King Philip in Wednesday night’s game at the Kenneth Pickering Gym. The Rocketeers held KP to just four points in the first quarter and led by 19 heading into halftime.

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Things got much closer in the second half, as the Warriors stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to as few as six points, but North held its nerve and held off the KP charge to pull out its first league win of the season, 57-48.

“Ultimately, we talked about the last couple days about being aggressive on both ends of the court,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “That first half, I think, was the best we’ve played all year. We were very aggressive.”

Utilizing a full-court press from the opening tip, North was able to keep the Warriors from getting into any rhythm on the offensive end. Four points from Julia Santos and four from Julia Feid put the Rocketeers ahead 8-0 to start and a three by Emma Noreck helped extend the lead to 12-4 after the first quarter.

In the second, North’s pressure continued to create offense. Despite four points apiece from Shannon O’Connor and Julia Leroux in the second, KP continued to fall further behind. Eliza Dion steal led to an easy basket for Feid (10 points, all in the first half) who followed it up with a steal and layup off the ensuing inbound pass.

“We played a little sloppy,” said KP coach Amy Siggens, “and it comes down to a lot of finishing for us, which we work on every day but we’ve just got to keep working on.”

North had no problem finishing in the second. Sophomore Julia Kleczkowski drilled a pair of threes in the quarter, freshman Amanda Kaiser hit one, and senior Emily Haskell scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the second, including a pair from beyond the arc. North went into the break leading 35-16.

Things looked drastically different in the second half. North made only one shot from the field, a layup by Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) off one of Olivia Forbes’ six assists, and finished the third with six points.

“I said in the second half they’re going to come out aggressive and we have to match that aggressiveness and we didn’t right away,” said Herber. “We had to kind of find ourselves on offense. The third quarter was ugly and that’s kind of how we’ve been. We can’t score and then we can’t set our press, be aggressive, and do the things we want to do.”

KP crept closer behind eight points from O’Connor and a strong effort from the whole team on the glass (Christina Hathaway and Catherine Cummings each had seven rebounds). O’Connor, a Boston University-commit, got free for a pair of layups, both assisted by Faith Roy, scored on an offensive rebound, and a pair of free throws. O’Connor finished with a game-high 22 points and pulled down a game-high 15 boards.

The Warriors were within 13 heading to the fourth and Siggens credited better ball management against the press for being able to get into the offense easier.

She explained, “We just readjusted. We usually create our 1-3 cross and we just had to adjust and bring people back and I think we get caught up very fast and kind of panic. We kept our composure a little bit better in the second half.”

The tough shooting stretch continued into the fourth quarter for the Rocketeers and KP continued to close the gap. O’Connor knocked down a three that made it 47-41, the closest the Warriors had been since the opening quarter. Santos got a scoop in traffic to go to push the lead back to eight, but Leroux (seven points) scrambled in a rebound that made it a six-point game again.

“I called a timeout and said this is what we need to do, we’ve been practicing this, we’ve got to be smarter and we need to play through all this stuff,” Herber explained. “We fought through all that and I’m so proud of the way we played tonight.”

Kaiser made a back-cut and received a nice dish from Forbes for a layup and she and Santos each hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead back out to double digits. O’Connor hit her second three of the quarter, but it was not enough to get KP all the way back.

“They really stepped it up,” said Siggens of her team’s second half comeback attempt. “We just couldn’t convert on a couple of ones we should’ve to really cut into that lead, but I’m very proud of the way they played second half. I couldn’t ask for more.”

North Attleboro (2-11, 1-10) will try to build on its first league win when it travels to Canton on Friday. King Philip (3-9, 2-8) will look to bounce back when it hosts Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.