Lancaster Swinging for NEWMAC Title at MIT

Max Lancaster
Former Attleboro star and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Max Lancaster and the MIT baseball team are aiming for a NEWMAC title this spring. (MIT Athletics)

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On Friday afternoon, the wind was whipping, temperatures were in the mid-30s, and snow was blanketing fields across the region. It was April 6. For baseball (and softball and lacrosse) teams across New England, the start of the spring season is about flexibility. Grass fields that are not covered in snow are typically water-logged and teams spend as much time working on drills in the gym as outside on the fields where the games will actually take place.

This is not just a high school problem. College teams also struggle to find a rhythm at the start of the spring as games get spread out and players try to find their swing between soft toss in the gym and live pitching on those rare nice days at the end of March.

“Every New England baseball team, high school or college, knows the struggle,” said former Attleboro standout and current MIT senior Max Lancaster. The former HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and one of only two players on the MIT baseball team who call New England home, was speaking after finishing up an indoor practice that had to be scheduled when rain forced the postponement of a game against Clark University.

“When we get out there in the spring and these guys from Arizona turn to me and say, you play baseball in this?” Lancaster joked. “Our first game it’s probably snowing or something and they look at us and say, ‘This is not baseball.’ I kind of look back at them and it’s like I’ve been doing this my entire life. This is how we play baseball around here.”

Lancaster and the Engineers started the season slowly, winning the season opener but then losing three straight. MIT has turned it around with four straight wins and now sits at 8-4 on the season heading into Saturday’s NEWMAC doubleheader against Emerson. The winning streak started with a bit of history, as MIT battled through a 17-inning marathon against Springfield College at Fran O’Brien Field that ended on Lancaster’s first career walk-off hit.

“That is the longest game I’ve ever played in in my life,” Lancaster said. He compared it to a similar experience in the final game of his high school career when Attleboro battled Norwood over 14 innings in the Div. 1 South semifinal. “This one obviously blows that one out of the water because we came out on top.”

MIT rallied twice in extra innings to pull out the victory. After Springfield scored a run in the top of the 12th, the Engineers manufactured a run to tie it. “One of the things that a game like that shows is just how contagious hitting is because we were pretty much lifeless offensively the entire game,” Lancaster said.

No one scored again until the 17th, when Springfield put up two in the top half. In the bottom of the inning, MIT scored a pair of runs on single by David Heller to tie the game and then Lancaster doubled to left center to bring in the game-winning run and spark celebrations. It was Lancaster’s third double of the game; he leads the team with seven this season.

Lancaster explained, “Once they went up two we came into the dugout and said, ‘Alright are we really going to play 17 innings of baseball just to lose the game?’ Once one or two hits are strung together than the floodgates are opened. Hitting is so contagious.”

With the weather wreaking havoc on games and practices, a win like that could be the spark that the Engineers, who have played a very difficult schedule so far including three games against the top team in Div. III, Trinity College (Texas), needed to get going.

“One of the things that you need and can be hard to get to in New England when you’re all over the place, indoor, outdoor, really cold, it’s hard to get that swagger that you need to win a lot of baseball games,” Lancaster said. When the team fell behind in game two of the doubleheader (which was eventually delayed by darkness with an inning to play), the Engineers rallied to take a 6-4 lead heading to the ninth.

“We went down in the second game,” Lancaster said, “but there was a new kind of confidence that we knew that we could comeback and string a few hits together and being down one, two, three runs, doesn’t really matter that much.” On Thursday, MIT battled back again with a four-run seventh inning to beat Tufts.

He added, “This middle part of the season will be really important for us to get our guys into a groove to take us far into the season. It looks like it’s going to happen. It looks like things are starting to fall into place for us and hopefully we can start to string some wins together.”

It has been a winding road for Lancaster since he came to Cambridge. He was a shortstop as a senior at Attleboro and also played third, but when he got to MIT he was playing behind two-time NEWMAC Player of the Year Austin Filiere, who was picked in the eighth round of last year’s MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs. That forced Lancaster into the outfield for the past two seasons in order to get a regular spot in the lineup.

“I remember, there was a guy on second and I got a fly ball, I was in rightfield, and I was camped under the ball ready to throw the guy out tagging from second to third and I just completely missed it,” he recalled. “I didn’t even touch the ball, just completely whiffed on it. It was my first time ever stepping foot in the outfield.”

Things improved from that first attempt at playing outfield, but this season Lancaster is back in familiar territory as a second baseman, while also batting cleanup for the Engineers. The two-time NEWMAC All-Academic honoree is a career .285 hitter and has hit eight homers and driven in 64 runs during his first three years at MIT, including a career-high 27 RBI in 33 games last spring.

“The biggest challenge for me was just how to fit baseball into the myriad of things I had to do all the time, including classes and extracurriculars and stuff like that,” Lancaster remarked. “It was the first time where baseball didn’t feel like the absolute top priority.

“One thing I’m grateful for is this place has taught me to take ownership for what I want to achieve and to really work as hard as I can towards the success I want to have.”

During his freshman season, MIT came within two wins of reaching the Div. III College World Series. Lancaster believes this year’s team is good enough to make a similar run and, after being a bench player his rookie season, he is thrilled at the chance of experiencing a tournament run as a starter.

“I was a freshman, wasn’t even playing at the time, and I had a ton of fun being with the entire team in that atmosphere, so that’s exactly what we want to get back to this year,” he said. “I can’t even imagine how I’d feel this year being in the thick of things in each of those games.”

Unlike his former teammate, Lancaster is not expecting major league baseball to come calling at the end of his collegiate career. In fact the computer science major has already lined up a job with a startup in New York City once he graduates and he joked that “maybe some beer league softball” is probably as close as he will get to playing after college. So, he is enjoying one last competitive season on the diamond.

“I like the way we’re playing and things are starting to click for us,” he said. “I’m counting down my swings now. My swings are limited so I’ve got to make the most of each one.”

(Editor’s Note – MIT extended its win streak to six games with a sweep of Saturday’s doubleheader against Emerson (11-1 in game one and 4-1 in game two) and is now 10-5 on the season. Lancaster belted his first home run of the season in game one and went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. He added his second homer of the season and the day in game two, driving in three of MIT’s four runs with another 2-for-4 game.)

2018 Hockomock League Boys Lacrosse Preview

2018 Hockomock League Boys Lacrosse Preview
Foxboro’s Jake Addeche makes a save in the playoffs last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock League Boys Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 8-10
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kevin Koppy

After coming up just one game shy of the postseason, Attleboro is aiming to make the playoffs for the first time in program history in 2018.

The Bombardiers doubled their victory total from 2016 to 2017, going from four to eight in the win column. Attleboro returns 11 players from last year’s squad and has a total of 12 seniors on the team. Now in its fourth year, interest in the program is growing rapidly with 17 combined freshmen on either varsity or the JV roster.

There will be a lot of experience on the defensive end for Big Blue. Junior captain Trevor Koppy is back for his third year as the Bombardiers’ starting goalie. He turned away 306 shots last year with a 64% save percentage. In front of Koppy, senior captain Dan Perry is back to anchor the defensive unit which features all seniors.

“Dan is a physical defender that has excellent field awareness and leads by example,” said AHS head coach Kevin Koppy. “He’s constantly hustling and fighting hard for loose balls.”

Perry is joined by classmates Jim Nordberg and Chris Reynolds on close defense while Matt Potter will man LSM and Matt Jiminez brins an extra long pole presence to the defensive unit. Another returner is senior Kyle Henry, resuming his role as the team’s primary faceoff man. Henry had a successful 2017 season in that role and Big Blue will rely on him to spark the offense once again.

Seniors Jimmy Burke and Aidan McKenna, junior Cam Littig, and sophomore Thomas Shipman return to the midfield for Attleboro. Big Blue will have some new faces on the attack with seniors TJ Infante, Shane Joubert, and Aidan Downey leading the way. Freshman Mike Strachan and Matt Perry will also be involved in Attleboro’s attack.

Canton

2017 Record: 8-10
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Bill Bendell

The Bulldogs found themselves in an unfamiliar position at the end of last season: on the outside looking in for the postseason.

Canton is looking to get back into the postseason this year after coming up just one game shy of qualifying. The Bulldogs won three straight to give themselves a chance but fell just short on the road against Abington in the final game of the season.

Using that as motivation, look for the Bulldogs to be right back in the mix this season. Leading the way will be senior captains Kevin Albert, Charlie O’Connor, and Griffin Roach. All three patrolled the midfield last season but could see time in other spots depending on how the lineup comes together.

O’Connor will step in to handle faceoffs but could miss some time early along with defensemen Brian Ghostlaw and Brendan Albert. Until Canton gets back to 100%, it will rely on senior Gabe Galeotos, junior George Kent, and sophomores Nick Mackay and Jace Emma to provide protection in front of sophomore goalie Jack Connolly. Connolly had a superb freshman season in the cage for the Bulldogs and will try to build upon that his season.

Junior Mike Shaw is back for his third year on attack for Canton, providing experience and leadership up front. Juniors Matt Martin and Dan Cohen, along with sophomores Chris Lavoie and David Allen will also figure into the Bulldogs’ offense this season.”

“We have a great group of kids this year with a nice blend of experienced players and new faces,” said CHS head coach Bill Bendell.

Foxboro

2017 Record: 11-9
2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round
Coach: Matt Noone

It’s safe to say Foxboro head coach Matt Noone is optimistic about the 2018 season.

The Warriors graduated just three players total and return their starting goalie, the entire defensive unit, and top three scorers from a season ago. Foxboro’s record was a bit deceiving based on how much talent they had, with five one-goal losses and two two-goal losses. The Warriors were dropped in the opening game of the playoffs by just one goal after holding a multi-goal lead in the second half.

With so much of the line up back, Noone is hoping to turn those close losses into wins.

“We’re going to be a better team than we were last year,” Noone said. “We have to play within our system, and do the simple things…if we do that, we will be very good and very tough to beat. If they don’t, we’ll be losing those one-goal games again.”

It all starts with defense in Foxboro with Jake Addeche returning in the cage for his third season. Addeche (185 saves) is one of the best goalies in the region and will have a very experienced defense in front of him. Senior Pat Kaveny and junior Pat Stapleton will anchor the defense, both with equipped with plenty of skill and experience, while sophomores Ronnie MacLellan and Matt Lathrop each already have a year of varsity experience under their belts.

Junior Brendan Tully (24 goals, 15 assists) will pace the Warriors in the midfield (“His lacrosse IQ is off the charts,” Noone notes). Tully can help transition Foxboro from defense to offense, and his ability to keep possession helps the Warriors control the tempo. Tully is complemented in the middle by seniors Louis Blake and Mike Collins while both Shayne Kerrigan and Bobby Yerardi will be in the mix as well.

Offensively, the Warriors look to be well-balanced with Louis Piccolo (25 goals, 13 assists) back this year along with senior Mike Moses (18 goals, 20 assists), junior Pete Conley (15 goals, 23 assists) and senior Andrew Whalen.

Franklin

2017 Record: 16-5
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Lou Verrochi

Expectations are high for the 2018 season based on the talent the Franklin Panthers boast this year.

“We return a very good team,” said FHS head coach Lou Verrochi. “We have a very good and deep bench too, we’re looking forward to the season.”

The long list of returning talent starts with All-American and 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Eric Civetti. Civetti (Rutgers commit) has been tormenting opposing defenses since his freshman year. He scored 70 goals and notched 24 assists as a sophomore, and then netted 79 goals and 21 assists last year, totaling 194 points between the two years. The Panthers will also boast senior Zach Alexander and freshman Matt Lazzaro on attack.

The midfield will be loaded with two talented lines available. Captains Kyle McEniry (10 goals, 21 assists) and Chase Tanner (29 goals, 10 assists) will be joined by the speedy Nitin Chaudhury (24 goals, 10 assists) on the Panthers first unit while Jake Davis, Johnny O’Glishen, and Owen Palmieri give Verrochi an incredibly talented second unit.

As if the midfield wasn’t loaded enough, the Panthers have 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jacob Alexander back to dominate the faceoff X. Alexander, who is committed to play at Bryant University, has dominated at the X for the past two years and really gives the Panthers an advantage in terms of getting possession. “He’s arguably the best FOGO in Mass,” Verrochi noted.

The defense will be anchored by junior Patrick Morrison (Rutgers commit) along with Trevor Raffin, Jack McGrath and Spencer Briggs. Sean Lazzaro will be our top LSM while the Panthers have plenty of talent as SSDM with Will Harvey, Ben Kolb, and Aaron Mollo in the mix. Backstopping the team in goal will be Colorado commit and captain Connor O’Rourke (169 saves, 64% save percentage).

King Philip

2017 Record: 13-9
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Hal Bean

The Warriors will be looking to replicate the success they had in the 2016 season again this year.

After finishing 9-2 in league play (second in the Kelley-Rex), the Warriors had an impressive postseason run, competing with top-seeded and eventual sectional champ BC High in the D1 South Quarterfinals.

A big reason why KP has had a lot of experience over the past four years is goalie Paul Macrina. Macrina is now manning the cage at Drexel University, so there are big shoes to fill in the cage this season for KP.

King Philip also has to find replacements for the production lost by LSM Zach D’Amico, attack Tim Watson (56 goals, 28 points – second in the Hockomock League), and defenseman Connor Khung – the first two selected to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team and Khung apart of the Second Team.

All is not lost though as the Warriors have junior Colin DeVellis back to spearhead the attack. DeVellis was fourth overall in the Hockomock League in points last season, scoring 22 goals and notching 36 assists (58 points). Another key piece will be senior Nate Minkwitz, who can make an impact on both ends of the field. Minkwitz had 13 goals and five assists last season and will aim to improve on that. Expect LSM Wesley Bishop and midfielder Aidan Bender to factor in this season as well.

Mansfield

2017 Record: 12-7
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Frias

Mansfield returns a good amount of talent from last year’s playoff squad so the Hornets will certainly be looking to book a return trip as well as compete for a Kelley-Rex title.

The Hornets return one of the most dangerous attackmen in the area in senior Hunter Ferreira. Ferreira’s combination of size, speed, and strength – as well as finishing ability – make him a must-watch for opposing defenses. Most will dedicate two defensemen his way but Ferreira still finished fifth in the league in points with 34 goals and 19 assists. Ferreira will be joined by returners Aidan Sacco and Mike Reed, giving the Hornets an experienced three-headed monster on offense.

The midfield is also loaded with experience behind returning starters Joe Cox (19 goals, 14 assists) and Danny DeGirolamo (17 goals, 15 assists). Cox, who was named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team, muscles his way through opponents, while DeGirolamo can use his speed to cause problems. Haig Megerdichian, Brett Kessler, Connor Quirk, and Brad Grant will all see time in the midfield as well.

Tommy Donnelly will anchor the defensive unit but the Hornets will have some new faces in back. Dan Plugis and Chris Copponi will both see a lot of minutes for the Hornets in front of goalie Jack Munroe, who stepped in last season and impressed in the cage.

“Our strength this year will be at the midfield with lots of legs,” said MHS head coach Tim Frias. “We should be good in transition as well.”

Milford

2017 Record: 4-13
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jacob Scordato

Milford hasn’t had a ton of success overall since it joined the Hockomock League, but new head coach Jacob Scordato is hoping to change that going forward.

Scordato takes over a team that had just four wins a year ago and is the third coach in the past three years for the program.

“Our players are focused on making our program a successful one,” Scordato said. “Boys lacrosse in the Hockomock is known for being a tough league, and Milford lacrosse is going to be making a lot of noise from here on out.”

Although the Hawks don’t have an incredibly deep roster, the optimism stems from the experience returning on offense. UMass Boston commit and senior captain Andrew Gallagher (16 goals, 7 assists) will be a key weapon up front along with junior captains Ryan Hazard (41 goals, 10 assists) and Josh Ligor.

Scordato also expects junior newcomer Brendan White, who has had successful football and basketball seasons so far this school year, to make a big impact on offense for Milford. Defensively, Milford will rely on senior captain and midfielder Chase Blanchette.

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 16-3
2017 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Kevin Young

North Attleboro graduated a lot of talent from last year’s squad, so it’s no surprise head coach Kevin Young believes this season will be a big challenge for his young squad.

Although he expects it to be a challenge, the Rocketeers have built a strong program and will likely be in the mix for the division title with Foxboro. Big Red will be anchored by defenseman and captain Tom Lockavitch (Roger Williams commit) and senior LSM Max Fontes. Both Lockavitch and Fontes had tremendous junior seasons and were both honored by HockomockSports.com (first and second teams, respectively). Sophomores Brett Labonte and Will Yeomans will round out a strong defensive unit.

One of the biggest tasks will be filling the void left in goal with Hock MVP and long-time starter Dan MacDonald now graduated. The Rocketeers have three goalies in the mix with Young noting all are working hard to claim the starting spot. Junior Jack Puccio and sophomores Nate D’Amico and Jake McNeany will all be in the mix.

Captain Tommy Lindstrom (Springfield commit) will pace the offense with the help of sophomores Jack Connolly and Andy DeMattio. Faceoff specialist Jason McNeany (Cocker College commit) is also back and will be a key piece of the offense. Nick Ward, Damien Curtis, and Dan Conroy should carry the transition in the midfield with help from Ryan Rajotte and Matt McSweeney.

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 8-10
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ben Devlin

Oliver Ames nearly made it two straight years in the postseason but came up just one game shy of qualifying in 2017. So the goal is simple for the Tigers in 2018: get back to the tournament.

The Tigers return their top six scorers from last season, and now with a year more experience under their belts, should be ready to take on some of the top defenses in the league.

Assistant coach Ben Devlin takes over the reigns of the program, and the familiarity should help make for a smooth transition. Senior captains Eric LeBlanc (30 goals, 13 assists) and Owen Gallagher will spearhead the attack while senior captain Jack Lang will make an impact on both ends of the field while also handling faceoff duties. Junior Colin Bourne and sophomores Sam Stevens and Shane Kilkelly give the Tigers varsity experience in the midfield. Sophomore Frankie Ireland and freshman Remi Creighton will also figure into the mix on offense.

Devlin will have holes to fill on the defensive end but its excited about the skill that the Tigers have. Shane Murphy, Cullen Gallagher, and Matt Saba will be relied upon to carry the defensive unit while Rory Madden will handle LSM duties after missing last season. Nick Gillis will take over for Sean Cosgrove in net after impressing at the JV level.

“We are a couple years into rebuilding this program, which is difficult while playing in such a tough conference against some of the best players and coaches in the state,” Devlin said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but talented on defense. All I can ask is for my kids to play to their capabilities. If we do that I think we can win enough games this season to reach our goal.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 7-11
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Jon Shocket

New head coach Jon Shocket is excited and optimistic that the 2018 season will be a successful one on the lacrosse field for the Sharon Eagles.

Shocket believes the Eagles have the lacrosse IQ and skill to get back to the postseason after missing out on qualification by two wins. A big reason for the optimism is the senior class.

“I have a really good senior group,” Shocket said. “If everyone buys into the system and trusts the process, this should be a fun season. This year, we have to make better decisions and move the ball around. It’s about working as a team instead of as individuals.”

The Eagles have experience at all positions on the field, starting with returning goalie Johnny Greenberg. Greenberg enters his third year as the starting goalie and will have good size in front of him. Both Sam Spencer and Coleman Loftus stand at 6’2 and look to be key pieces in the Eagles’ defensive unit.

In the midfield, Jimmy Fitzhenry, Chase Waxman, and Spencer Hall give the Eagles a well-balanced and experienced group. The three provide a combination of speed, strength, and skill that will help Sharon transition from defense to offense. Junior Matt Callan will handle faceoff duties while freshman LSM Tyler Freidman will be in the mix as well.

Senior Brett Litner brings a strong shot to the offense and will be tough to stop on the inside. Classmate Kadin Nestler gives the Eagles speed on the outside and makes the move from midfield to attack this year. Freshman Drew Litner rounds out the Eagles’ attacking unit.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 4-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Pat Healey

After winning four games in its inaugural season at the varsity level, Stoughton boys lacrosse is hoping to continue heading in the right direction this spring.

The Knights picked up wins over Milford twice, Taunton, and Norton and will look to be in competition with those squads again this year. Leading the blue collar group will be captains Justin Ly, Sean Doherty, and Danny Nakhili. Ly is a three-sport athlete that is willing to do the dirty work, Nakhili provides a lot of leadership in the midfield and uses his speed to give the offense a boost, and Doherty will handle the faceoff duties and provide an offensive punch.

Twins Nate and Alex Wilson bring skill to the long poles, Marty Barrett and Josh Cohen will be key pieces on defense, and Charlie Morgan, Luke Bainton, and Mike Tracey will all be in the mix offensively.

“I’m hoping for more wins,” said SHS head coach Pat Healey said in an interview with Stoughton Media Access. “Last year we got four under our belt which is great for a first-year program. We brought up a lot of freshmen this year from the youth program. But baby steps, this is a tough league so we’ll do as best as we can.

Taunton

2017 Record: 0-18
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Brendan Chambers

Now in its third year as a varsity program, Taunton is aiming to progress day by day to continue to build the program.

The Tigers went without a win last season but bring seven starters back with another year of success on their belts. Junior goalie Ryan Williams returns in cage to give the Tigers a familiar face on the defensive end. Williams has been manning the cage for Taunton since the team moved to a varsity schedule.

In front of Williams will be junior Justin Demoga, a captain, that handles close defense. Head coach Brendan Chambers noted Demoga is great with positioning, takes a great approach, and is willing to learn and improve every day. Chambers noted Demoga will be tasked with menacing opponents’ best attack throughout the season.

In the midfield, junior captain Dylan Nichols provides leadership and experience for the Tigers. Nichols has the speed to make an impact on both ends of the field and Chambers is hoping for some offensive production out of the junior. Nichols will be joined by senior Chris Kanabayashi who will contribute to the offense with his hard shot.

Junior Noah Kuczewski is making the jump from JV to varsity and will be one of the Tigers’ main pieces on attack. Chambers is also relying on junior captain Joel Delgado, who put a lot of time in during the offseason to improve, to be an important part of the offense.

“Our goal this year is to continue to build on what we did last year,” Chambers said. “We want to increase our lacrosse IQ and try to be more competitive in all our games. Ideally, we’ll win a couple games and get better every day.”

2018 Hockomock League Girls Lacrosse Preview

2018 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview
Franklin won another league title in 2017 and the rest of the Hockomock will be trying to bring down the Panthers as a new season gets underway. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 2-16
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Kevin Patton

Attleboro went into 2017 with an inexperienced lineup and first-year head coach Kevin Patton tried to bring together a roster that had essentially never played together at the varsity level. With all but two players back for this spring, Patton is expecting the Bombardiers to be improved in all facets of the game and to be more competitive in the league.

Leading scorer Kyra Lyons is back for her third varsity season and the junior midfielder will be a key player, as the Bombardiers look to improve on last season’s league-low 88 goals. The offense will be bolstered by senior Emily Patton, who is a four-year varsity player, and fellow senior Alison Wall. Junior Alex Compton will also be back for a third season to make an impact for Attleboro. On defense, seniors Graycen Cassidy and Kim White will provide much-needed leadership for a unit that allowed 273 goals last year.

“Because we only lost two players to graduation last year, we have a lot of varsity experience on both sides of the field,” Patton said. “I am looking for the upperclassmen to take a leadership role and am looking forward to seeing the girls in essentially their second year all playing together on varsity.”

Canton

2017 Record: 6-12
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Laurie Chabot

Canton has a new coaching staff this season that will try to build on a talented crop of underclassmen to get the Bulldogs back into the postseason. Laurie Chabot has taken over this spring and the coaching staff is excited to get the season underway and see what this Bulldogs roster, which has only three seniors, can accomplish.

Senior midfielder Molly Colburn will be the leader for the Canton attack this season, while fellow captain Colleen Boucher provides vocal leadership in the defensive zone to keep everything in check. Senior Jess Powers is still battling an injury, but Canton has a host of younger players that can step in, including juniors Maggie Connolly, Lauren Fitzpatrick, Maggie Malloy, and Leah McLellan and sophomore Alexa Maffeo, who all had success with their winter teams.

Chabot said, “With three seniors (all captains) we are looking at a young but skilled and talented group of girls. With speed and a strong stick skillset our girls are ready to compete.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 17-5
2017 Finish: Reached D2 East Final
Coach: Brittany Sherry

Last season, Foxboro reached the Div. 2 East final for the first time in program history, continuing the program’s upward trend as one of the top D2 teams in the state. The loss to Walpole in the final has left the Warriors, who had only four seniors on last year’s roster and return 10 starters, wanting more and the team comes into a new season experienced, battle-tested, and loaded with talent, including 2017 league MVP Sophia DiCenso, who in her two varsity seasons has already made quite an impression with her all-around game.

Joining DiCenso in the potent Foxboro attack is fellow junior Meghan Curran, who is coming off a breakout season and is capable of finishing against the best defenses. Senior Caroline Boudreau returns as one of Foxboro’s biggest threats on the draw and classmate Christina Rogers is back to lead the defensive unit, which is an aggressive group that puts a lot of pressure on the opposition. Sophomore Sara Addeche is back in goal after a very strong rookie season.

“Going into this year we’re looking to pick up where we left off,” said Foxboro coach Brittany Sherry. “Losing to Walpole in the sectional finals left us wanting more. These girls are ready to progress to the next level. They’ve dedicated their off-season and preseason to preparing our comeback.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 22-2
2017 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino

Franklin has emerged not only as the top program in the Hockomock League but in recent seasons as one of the top programs in the state. The Panthers have won the Div. 1 East title in three of the past four seasons, although they have yet to find a way past the state semifinal and get the opportunity to play for a state championship. Despite being a team loaded with underclassmen again this spring, Franklin comes into the new season once again as the team to beat in the league and with state title aspirations.

Reigning Underclassman of the Year Annie Walsh is back to spearhead the Franklin attack and create scoring opportunities for herself and for her teammates. One of the teammates that benefits is her sister Erin. The sophomore is a creative finisher around the crease and will be a top scoring threat again this year. Sophomore Gianna Cameron is back in goal for the Panthers after an impressive rookie campaign and senior Grace MacCallum is back to lead Franklin’s stingy defensive unit. Sophomore Kelsey MacCallum will be a player to watch in the midfield, while freshman Katie Jones is a newcomer that could make an instant contribution.

“We are definitely still young, but now our youth has experience,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “The team is doing a great job so far of playing fast, smart and together. We have some excellent leadership in our senior class, and we are working hard every day to get better!”

King Philip

2017 Record: 10-11
2017 Finish: Reached D1 East Semifinal
Coach: Kourtnie Wilder

It was an up-and-down spring for King Philip in 2017, but it certainly finished on a high as the Warriors pulled off a pair of upsets in the state tournament to reach the Div. 1 East semifinal and a rematch with rival Franklin. The Warriors will have a new coach, Kourtnie Wilder takes over this season, and a number of returning players to make a run at unseating the Panthers from the top of the Kelley-Rex division, including senior attacker Katie Crowther, who comes into the season with more than 200 goals for her career.

One of the strengths for KP this season will be the defense, which is loaded with experience and vocal leaders. Christina Hathaway and Victoria Tormey will be the key defensive returners along with Caroline Watson, who has been one of the league’s top goalies for the past two seasons. The midfield will chip in on defense and help Crowther in the attack. Dana Truini, Alli Meehan, and Caroline Klim will all be back to solidify the midfield unit.

“We are going into the season with a clean slate and working to improve each week and being focused at practice,” said Wilder. “This is a hard-working and dedicated team and it will be exciting to see their hard work pay off.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 10-9
2017 Finish: Reached D1 East First Round
Coach: Alexis Kobey

Mansfield got back into the tournament last season and gave Bishop Feehan all it could handle in the first round. The Hornets come into this spring motivated by unfinished business, as they look to not only get back to the postseason but also to make a deep tournament run. The first week of the season will provide a good early test with Mansfield facing Natick, Sharon, and North Attleboro, all 2017 playoff teams, right out of the gates.

The Hornets return four seniors from last year’s team and they will be expected to provide the leadership to push a talented group of juniors. Ann Maher will be back to add steel to the midfield and will try to get the ball forward to senior attacker Lauren Whitman and junior Katie Garvin. The defense will be as strong as its ever been, according to head coach Alexis Kobey, anchored by senior Danielle Skinner and with senior Hannah Sternberg back in goal.

“Making the tournament last year but losing by two to Bishop Feehan, we are definitely coming into the season with a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” said Kobey, “and want to improve on our record from last year and want to make it deeper into the playoffs.”

Milford

2017 Record: 4-14
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Tim Dowd

In his second year in charge, Milford head coach Tim Dowd said that his team is focused on trying to outwork teams this season and to be “scrappy on the field,” as the Hawks look to make a move up the standings and compete with what has developed into a very deep league. The Hawks return several key players and have a few freshmen that will be added to the mix and given the opportunity to contribute right away.

Junior Emily Haley is the leader of the attack and Dowd said that he is expecting her to “have an incredible season.” Joining Haley in the midfield and attack are senior Jadyn White, junior Brianna Maietta, and sophomore Annie Flanagan. The defense has several players back from last season, including seniors Emily Condon and Alexa Lancisi, who provide the necessary vocal leadership to keep the defensive unit organized. Dowd added that there are a number of underclassmen that will play important roles this season, as the Hawks use their team speed to cause problems.

“We’re looking to be the team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field,” said Dowd. “One of the things I’m looking for is improvement every day. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 13-7
2017 Finish: Reached D2 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Colleen Carchedi

North Attleboro has achieved quite a bit in the past few seasons, including its first home playoff game and its first playoff victories, and new coach Colleen Carchedi, who comes over from Sharon after achieving similar success in building that program up, is hoping to continue the Rocketeers’ upward trajectory. North will have a tough non-league schedule to prepare itself to make a deep tournament run.

One of the key players that North will rely on this season is senior midfielder Mackenzie Rosenberg, who was in the league MVP conversation last season and has been one of the league’s top scorers for the past two seasons. Senior Alaina Mello and senior goalie Kayla Moulin will lead the defensive effort along with classmate Caroline Vigorito. North will have plenty of speed to call on in the midfield this season with senior Julia Tolfa and sophomores Katie Lindstrom and Lindsey Spratt. The attack will be led by seniors Camille Pizarro and Julia Dakin, who are part of a very experienced roster that wants to lift North beyond the second round for the first time.

“These girls have been working really hard in the off-season and we are not willing to settle,” said Carchedi. “I have found that this team plays with passion and if we can continue to play with that energy and determination we are up for a great season.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 8-12
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Nicole Lang

Oliver Ames is another developing program that has added depth to the Hockomock League in recent seasons and the Tigers are poised to make a breakthrough into the postseason as first-year coach Nicole Lang takes over this spring. While the coach is one of several new faces for the Tigers this season, Lang believes that OA will be able to build on its successes from the past few years to continue building the program.

Senior goalie Ariana Waldorf, fresh off a trip to Israel this winter to help spread the game of lacrosse, will be back between the pipes this spring for the Tigers, one of many talented goalies across the league. Chloe Kilkelly and Olivia Piazza, who was named to the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, will provide leadership and be counted on to step up in all phases this year.

Lang said, “Our girls have been preparing harder than ever for the upcoming season. We have a lot of new faces to the team and are looking to our seasoned players to lead the way to a potential playoff berth.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 15-5
2017 Finish: Reached D1 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Shara Ginthwain

Sharon has been a program on the rise for the past several seasons, including best-ever second-place finishes in the Davenport division, the program’s first playoff appearance, and last spring the Eagles added a first playoff win as well. While Sharon will move on this year with a new coach and without leading scorer Alex Rabb, the Eagles still have the talent to make a run at the postseason and new coach Shara Ginthwain has been an assistant at Sharon for the last three years, so it should be a smooth transition for the players.

Senior Sabrina Robbins is back to add dynamism to the midfield in both defense and attack and she will be joined by junior Emma Eberhardt, who adds speed, size and finishing ability from the middle of the field. Senior Abbi Solomon is back in the attack and junior Bridget McManus will be back in the heart of the defense. With 10 returning players, experience will be a strength for the Eagles, particularly on the defensive side where goalie Rose Wald also returns. Freshman midfielder Jenna Goldstein is a newcomer to watch for Sharon this year.

“Having our first playoff win in program history last season really lit a fire for a lot of these girls, it’s clear that the girls put in a lot of work in the off-season and they are ready to go!” Ginthwain said. “The girls are really motivated to work hard and to win. They are determined to be competitive in the Hock and into playoffs.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 7-11
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Kerry Northup

Taunton is still a relatively young program and it enjoyed its best season in 2017 with seven wins, including a pair of wins in the league, and now the Tigers are going to try to build on that despite the loss of several players that had significant impacts. The focal point for Taunton this spring will be freshman midfielder Alana Tavares, who put together a stellar rookie campaign as an eighth grader and was one of the league’s leading scorers.

While much of the attention will, deservedly, be on Tavares and the attack, senior goalie Lorna Li is also back to give the defense some solidity after a really strong junior season. Seniors Hannah Moniz, Diana Brens, and Kayla Phillips will also be back to try and chip in with goals and leadership, while sophomore Kamryn Li could take on a larger role after the graduations of Abbey Kingman and Delaney Powell. Freshmen Anastasia Lajoie and Rosemary McGrath also saw time with Tavares as eighth graders last year and could step in to contribute more this season.

“We lost some talented seniors but have a lot of promise in some of our younger players,” said Taunton coach Kerry Northup. “We are excited to see what they can bring to the team this year.”

2018 Hockomock League Softball Preview

2018 Hockomock Softball Preview
Milford won the Div. 1 state championship in 2017 and brings back six starters to try and repeat, but the rest of the Hockomock League will be aiming to take down the Hawks this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Hockomock Softball Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 9-10
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Mark Homer

Attleboro made a return to the state tournament last spring thanks to a no-hitter from McKenzie Bergdoll in the final game of the regular season and now the Bombardiers, who lost only three players from last year’s roster, are looking to build on that success to make another run at the postseason this year. Bergdoll, a junior, will be back in the circle again this season as well as one of the big bats that Attleboro will rely on to make it back-to-back playoff appearances.

Senior rightfielder Casey Whelan will add experience to a relatively young outfield unit and fellow seniors Vanessa Dancer and Adrianna Elel will provide leadership. Juniors Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti are back to contribute to the Bombardiers playoff challenge and there are high expectations for a talented group of sophomores that includes Makenzie Killough, Ashley Macia, and twin sisters Emma and Jenna Gittle.

“With the loss of only three seniors last year, our season has several impact returning veterans along with some new freshman that will fill the holes quite nicely,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “This season’s early player roster looks very promising but it will be the leadership of the team that will determine our direction and state the facts at the end of the season.”

Canton

2017 Record: 1-19
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Jennifer Robillard

Canton is coming off a difficult 2017, after winning one game under first-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, but both the coaches and players have a year of experience to build on and an infusion of young talent, with five freshmen being added to the varsity roster, has the Bulldogs looking at 2018 as a year to get the program heading in the right direction.

Sophomore Caroline Hughes will be the starting pitcher and will bat third this season and the coaches are confident that she can provide a lift to the team. Senior Hannah Jerrier will also be back in the middle of the order, after missing almost all of last season after breaking her hand during basketball, and should give the Bulldogs some added pop in the lineup. Senior Katie Halloran will be back in the middle of the infield and senior Evelyn Carrington returns in center. Unfortunately, injuries have struck again with sophomore Jackie Howard lost for the season, but Robillard believes that several of the new faces can come in and contribute right away.

“As a first-year varsity coach, last year was a learning experience for both myself and the girls,” Robillard said. “I am confident that we will make great strides towards success this season.”

Foxboro

2017 Record: 5-16
2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Mark Maguire

Foxboro earned a playoff berth through the Sullivan Rule a season ago, despite 15 losses in the regular season, but the Warriors were much better than their overall record and No. 20 seed may have suggested. Out of the 16 games that Foxboro lost in 2017, six were by two runs or less, including a 2-0 loss to Ursuline Academy in the tournament, and those close games are what head coach Mark Maguire is hoping his team can turn into wins this year to make a run at the playoffs.

The Warriors will be looking to senior catcher Hannah Davis to provide the offensive punch, as the perennial league all-star has been among the Hockomock’s best hitters for the past three seasons. Classmate Lexi Buckner will also add some offense in the middle of the order and the lefty will be moving from second base to first this year. Senior Kelly McCarthy will be back in center and at the top of the order, while Chelsea Gibbons will be at third and Camryn Willis will be back at shortstop. Foxboro also has experience in the circle as third-year starter Emma Rohan will get the ball again for the Warriors.

“We have good senior leadership,” said Maguire about the team’s strengths. “Right down the center of the field we have vocal leaders to help the defense. We’re a good hitting team and I think fielding and pitching should be even better this year.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 10-12
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Kate Fallon

Franklin missed the playoffs a season ago and have a relatively young roster this season, with just one senior in the squad, so the Panthers are flying under the radar as the season gets underway, but they don’t mind if teams overlook them at the start of the season as they try to get back into the postseason.

While there are a number of new faces for Franklin this season, the battery of junior pitcher Jackie Cherry and junior catcher Ally Shea are back, which gives the Panthers a strong foundation on which to build. Junior shortstop Tara Hartnett is also back to give Franklin strong middle of the infield defense and sophomore Anna Balkus will be in center. Senior Meg Caron, the lone upperclassman on the team, will add versatility playing at third and some outfield this season.

“We’re looking to make it back to the tournament this season,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “Ally Shea and Meg Caron will provide excellent leadership for our up and coming athletes and no doubt in my mind they will be an integral part of our successes this season!”

King Philip

2017 Record: 18-7
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Norm Beauchemin

Despite a lot of turnover in the lineup last spring, King Philip followed up its 2016 state championship by winning the Kelley-Rex division title and reaching the quarterfinal of the Div. 1 South sectional. With 10 returning players this season, KP has typically high expectations and one of the state’s perennial powers seems poised to make another run at a league title, which would be its 11th in the past 12 seasons, and to go deep in the state tournament.

The biggest change for the Warriors this season will be in the circle where senior Elise Pereira takes over as the primary starter after the graduation of Jenn Hutnyan. Pereira saw plenty of action last year too, but will have to shoulder the majority of the innings this season, backed up by Faith Turnese. Brianna Lacy will be behind the dish, returning as one of the league’s top defensive catchers. Senior Hailey McCasland returns at second base and junior Meghan Gorman is back at shortstop after a breakout sophomore season. Jess Bonner returns at third and senior Sydney Phillips will once again be in centerfield.

It is a loaded lineup with a ton of speed and a strong defensive unit, according to KP head coach Norm Beauchemin. He added, “This is a very hungry team that should compete for the Kelly-Rex and make a strong run in the playoffs.”

Mansfield

2017 Record: 13-9
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Lori Letendre

After booking a return to the state tournament last spring, Mansfield returns 10 players, including five starters, to try and make it four playoff appearances in a row. The Hornets are relatively young with only three seniors on the roster and have some holes to fill, including two-thirds of the outfield, but there is a lot of confidence that the program will be able to compete with the best in the league.

Sarah Cahill took over as the starter during the season last year and she will be back in the circle again this spring trying to build on an impressive debut. Cahill will be throwing to her battery mate, as Caty DeMassi is back behind the plate. While the corner infield spots are open this year, Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo are back to fill the other infield spots and give the Hornets strength up the middle. Junior Mady Bendanillo is also back to patrol centerfield and fill one of the middle of the order spots, as one of the league’s most dangerous hitters. Freshman Elle Veheggen joins the team this spring as a newcomer to keep an eye on.

“We are a young team,” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre. “The girls have been working hard in the off-season and came into tryouts well-prepared.”

Milford

2017 Record: 25-1
2017 Finish: Won D1 State Championship
Coach: Steve DiVitto

The defending Div. 1 state champions look loaded for another run at the title with nine returning players, including six starters, back from last season’s tournament run. Kelley Reichert will take over for Ali Atherton in the circle after seeing time as a reliever and starter in each of the past three seasons. The lineup looks just as potent as last year with senior shortstop Emily Piergustavo back after being named HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and league MVP.

Senior first baseman Jess Tomaso is back to add power in the heart of the order and senior Kate Irwin, fresh off reaching 1,000 points in her Milford basketball career, will return to set the table as the lead-off hitter and emotional spark plug. Senior second baseman Maddy Bonvino, senior rightfielder Shannon Cormier and junior catcher Emily Hartman will add depth to a fearsome lineup that features lots of power and speed.

“This year’s team is focused on the here and now and not the past,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “Each year a new page is turned over, and the focus this year is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season.”

North Attleboro

2017 Record: 14-7
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Bill Wallace

The Rocketeers had a young squad last season but managed to surprise a few people by reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal, including an upset of league rival Taunton, and after that year of experience North Attleboro is expecting to be competitive again this spring. Sophomore pitcher Bella Erti is back in the circle after a strong freshman campaign and will be throwing to classmate Ashley Cangiano with the hope of improving on her breakout season.

Olivia Capobianco is back in centerfield after turning in a strong season and she will also be one of the table-setters for the lineup. Abby Gallagher and Katherine Munley will join Capobianco in an experienced outfield for the Rocketeers. Annabelle Hebard, Katy Daby and Abby Warren will play the corner infield positions, while Andrea Miceli is back at second base after a strong year at the plate and in the field. Stephanie Inglese and freshman Emily Nardelli will compete for the shortstop position.

North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace said, “If we want to repeat the success of last year we will need to find some power in the middle of the lineup lost to graduation last year.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 4-16
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lindsey Allison

Oliver Ames will have plenty of experience this spring as it makes a run at a return to the state tournament. The Tigers have 10 players back from last year’s roster, including six seniors, highlighted by junior pitcher Kayla Georgeu, who will take the ball as the primary starter again this spring and who head coach Lindsey Allison thinks is ready to “come into her own” both in the circle and at the plate.

The strong senior class includes infielder Alexis Campbell, who will also chip in as a pitcher this year, outfielders Sarah Tetrault and Marissa Guarino, infielders Caroline Mahoney and Rachel Han, and catcher Antonia Peretti. Sophomore Katie Abreu had a strong rookie campaign and is expected to have an even better second season with the Tigers.

“The best thing about this team is their heart and determination – they show up to practice excited to work together and work hard every day,” Allison said. “They are coachable and strive to get better at every opportunity.”

Sharon

2017 Record: 6-14
2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Heather Poliferno

There is a change at the top for Sharon this spring and Heather Poliferno takes over for the Eagles, replacing Deb Parker after her move to league rival Stoughton, and the new staff is confident that the experienced players on the roster will set the tone for the team and give the Eagles a chance at booking a place in the state tournament.

Seniors Jamie Kessler and Jenika Patel and junior Rebecca Clayman are the captains this season and will provide leadership that Poliferno called “key to our success this season.” Junior Alli Small and freshman Julia Earley are players to keep an eye on this season for the Eagles as they could be big contributors in the field and at the plate. Junior outfielder Courtney Sollis brings an accurate arm and consistent contact at the plate.

“Our passion for the game and drive to compete is why we will be a strong contender in the Hock this year,” Poliferno said.

Stoughton

2017 Record: 10-11
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Deb Parker

After back-to-back playoff appearances, Stoughton welcomes a new coach this spring to take over a roster filled with experience and talent. Deb Parker has made the move across the Davenport from Sharon to take over the Black Knights with an eye at another run at the postseason and with senior pitcher Gina Carafa back in the circle and the middle of the order there is plenty of optimism for a strong spring.

Joining Carafa in the Stoughton lineup is junior Jordan Lyons, who Parker called a “standout” third baseman. Lyons is one of a group of talented juniors that Stoughton will be counting on this season, including second baseman Nikki Coppola, shortstop Karly Estremera, and catcher Brianna Ferrandiz. Sophomore Lexi Baptista will add versatility to the lineup and Parker is excited about the freshmen class and expects that they will be able to contribute as well.

“The energy of this team is infectious!” said Parker. “ I am looking forward to this season and have very high expectations about what this team will be able to accomplish.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 17-5
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Dave Lewry

Even with a host of underclassmen in the lineup, this is an experienced Taunton roster that will be trying to put together a run not only at a league title but also at a deep tournament run, after seeing the last couple of seasons end earlier than expected. With 10 returning varsity players, including seven starters, the Tigers will have high expectations and the key to reaching those goals will be replacing pitcher Courtney Fisher, as freshman Kelsey White and sophomore Jaylin Couto will step into the circle as regular starters this season. Junior Alexa White will also see time at pitcher.

The lineup is loaded again this spring, starting with senior catcher Kya Enos, who added power to her game last year. Junior Jaime Brown is in her fourth year on varsity and is coming off a season in which she was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Freshmen Hanna Aldrich and McKenzie McAloon stepped right in at the middle infield positions last year and will be building on that experience this year. Senior Lianna Duarte is back in center and senior left-fielder MacKenzie Handrahan will bring power to the middle of the lineup as well.

“I think we should have a solid infield defense,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Offensively we have the capability of putting runs on the board with a deep and experienced lineup.”

Brockton’s Defense Overwhelms Attleboro In Opener

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro junior Mason Houle drives to the basket in the first half against Brockton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – For the first 16 minutes of the game, the 13th-seeded Attleboro Bombarders went punch for punch with the third-seeded Brockton Boxers.

But the second half was a different story.

The Boxers amped up their defensive pressure, leading to turnovers and transition baskets and a 71-48 win in the opening round of the D1 South tournament.

Attleboro trailed by as much as five but held a 9-8 lead at the midway point of the first, and used a late three to knot the game 15-15 at the end of one.

Sophomore Bryant Ciccio (13 points) scored six straight for Attleboro early in the second quarter, each bucket erasing a deficit to tie the game.

A banked three from junior Mason Houle gave the Bombardiers a 24-23 edge, and two free throws from senior Nate Douglas (eight points) put Big Blue back in front 26-25 at the midway point.

But late in the first half, the Boxers switched their defense up to apply a halfcourt trap. From that point, Attleboro scored just two points over the final four minutes, a bucket down low off the hands of sophomore Qualeem Charles (eight points, nine rebounds).

Although trailing 32-28 at half, the Bombardiers seemed to be in a good spot, shooting nearly 50% from the floor despite missing some transition layups.

“We were okay at halftime,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought if we came out in the second half and played a little bit better…we did some really good things in the first half we just had to hit some transition baskets on our own side. But we really never put the pressure on them to keep it close. Their defense in the second half just swarmed us. Even our good looks didn’t seem as good.”

“I just said to Coach Houle that I thought [Attleboro] controlled the game in the first half,” said Brockton head coach Bob Boen. “We were playing at their pace, we were doing what they wanted to do. I thought we were lucky to be ahead by four the way the first half went. I just decided we couldn’t play that way any longer, we had to get out and start pressing and pressuring in the half court.

Unfortunately for Attleboro, it was the Boxers who dominated the second half.

The halfcourt trap continued to bother Attleboro, who had more turnovers (seven) than field goals made (five) in the third quarter. Brockton’s active pressure led to easy transition buckets.

“[The pressure] made the difference,” Boen said. “It really got us lively and kind of took them out of their offense. They made a couple of threes against us but not much else. We did a real nice job with it, we were active and covered up when they made good passes.”

Kevin Velazquez hit an early triple to cut the deficit to three, and Douglas drained one from deep to get the Bombardiers within six with five minutes left in the third. But Attleboro couldn’t find consistency in its offense due to the trap and Brockton rattled off eight straight points over the next two and a half minutes.

“We did some good things early in the game obviously,” Houle said. “Even in the first half we had some opportunities to get them out of the 1-3-1 but we missed some shots and missed on some inside outs. We had a couple of chances in transition to really kind of force them into some different things. I thought if we got a couple of baskets against the 1-3-1 early on they might not have stayed in it, it definitely gave us fits there.”

Charles snapped the run with a putback of his own miss to get it back to 10, but Brockton created plenty of separation with a 9-3 run to finish the quarter, taking a 57-41 lead into the final quarter.

“They are long, they are quick and they got into the passing lanes, and we didn’t come to the ball,” Houle said. “When we did have opportunities to make plays, we didn’t play with as much confidence in the second half. I think that’s what it came down to. We were a little less confident as the game went on.”

It was more of the same in the fourth for Attleboro. The Bombardiers only managed seven points in the final quarter and didn’t score until two minutes left in the game. Ciccio hit two free throws, Lorenzo Wilson scored in the paint and Jornell Abadia drained a three.

“One of the things we had to do tonight was play through contact, and we didn’t do that,” Houle said. “And they had their run outs, and we didn’t want to let them get out in transition. So two things right there hurt us, especially in the third quarter. That opened the lead a little bit.”

Attleboro boys basketball finishes the season 13-10.

Attleboro Rides Big Second Half Past North Attleboro

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio attempts a layup against North Attleboro in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The six of the last seven contests between rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro have been decided by 10 points or less, and the Rocketeers have walked away victorious in all of them.

Attleboro was ready to buck the trend.

After being limited to 18 points in the first half, the Bombardiers made the necessary adjustments to get the offense in gear and picked up a 60-38 win over Big Red. It marked Big Blue’s first victory over their neighbor since January 2004.

“Anytime it’s Attleboro against North Attleboro, we want to play our best,” said longtime AHS coach Mark Houle. “We had an opportunity to go out and cement a victory against a good team. I think our kids did a nice job executing in the second half and I was really proud of them.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Bombardiers relied upon improved rebounding (a 22-11 advantage in the second half), transition offense, and improved three-point shooting (six triples in the second compared to one in the first half) to turn a two-point deficit at halftime into an eight-point lead entering the fourth and a 22-point win.

And the biggest reason for a lot of that was Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (17 points). The 6’5” sophomore hauled in 10 of his 14 rebounds in the second half, which help set up the transition game. And on offense, Charles demanded the attention of North’s defense, which helped open things up on the perimeter.

“I think Mark [Houle] did a great job at half, they adjusted to our fronting and double teaming of Charles,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “To his kids’ credit, [Kevin] Velazquez and a couple other guys hit some open threes in the weak side corner. It was a little frustrating because we know its the read and we know its the counter to our counter, so maybe we just need to recognize it a step sooner on the skip pass.

“Hats off to Attleboro, they out-executed us in the second half. I feel for our two seniors, tough to go out this way. But Attleboro is a well-coached team and they have a lot of kids that can put the ball in the hoop.”

A triple from sophomore Bryant Ciccio (nine points, four rebounds) helped tie the game, 23-23, with under five minutes left in the third quarter. From there, the Bombardiers rattled off a 12-2 run to seize control of the game.

Nate Douglas (10 points, eight rebounds) went baseline for two, Ciccio hit a pair of free throws, Charles converted a putback and Mason Houle and Tim Callahan each hit a three-pointer to stretch Attleboro’s lead to two.

A putback at the buzzer from North’s Matt Seavey (eight points, three rebounds) cut the deficit to single digits heading into the fourth quarter, 35-27.

That’s when things clicked for Attleboro.

Charles scored down low on a feed from Ciccio, and then Attleboro took advantage of North bringing weak side help on the big man. Douglas found Velazquez (14 points, three assists) on skip passes into the weak side corner for back-to-back three-pointers.

Then the Bombardiers got out in transition with Velazquez threading the needle with a long bounce pass for an easy two for Jason Weir.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We were just going too fast so we just slowed it down on offense,” Houle said. “We were trying to attack the rim and everything was clogged. They were switching on defense so our motion offense really wasn’t doing anything. So we went to some of our quick hitter stuff.

“They really looked to front Q and bring help from the weak side. If we couldn’t get it into Q, we could skip it and get some good looks and Kevin was able to hit them. And then after that, we finally got Q inside on the seal. Those were the adjustments we worked on and it was good to see them execute in the second half.”

North’s Derek Shanks (nine points, six rebounds) had six consecutive points for the hosts but Attleboro had an answer each time. Ciccio sandwiched a pair of buckets around another triple from Velazquez in the weak side corner to give the Bombardiers a 52-36 lead with 3:40 to play.

Charles scored down low on two consecutive possessions while Douglas put an exclamation point on the win with a breakaway dunk.

“When he’s inside like that, he’s a mismatch,” Houle said of Charles. “North is big and long but he’s still a mismatch because he’s so good with his hands and his feet. They have to put another body in there, and when we can hit the shots, it works well. Fortunately for us, we hit the shots. If we don’t hit the shots then they are winning those possessions.”

North Attleboro raced out to a 6-0 lead after hitting its first three shots of the game but Attleboro closed the game with a 6-2 run over the final six minutes.

Shanks tied the game, 12-12, in the second quarter with a pair of free throws, Josh Montague (eight points) hit a triple, Jake Petersen (eight points, four rebounds) converted a putback and Nate Gonsalves hit a three late to give North a 20-18 lead at halftime.

“I thought we defended fairly well in the first half. We knew where they wanted to go and with the exception of one set play they ran, we didn’t feel like they ever got their first option. Second half, they made a couple of extra buckets and we had some empty possessions, and I think we started losing a little bit of confidence we had in the first half.”

Attleboro boys basketball (12-9 overall) will close out its regular season when it hosts Durfee on Wednesday night at 6:30. Attleboro (8-11) concludes its season when it travels to rival Bishop Feehan on the same night at the same time.

“It’s North Attleboro and Feehan so I shouldn’t have to say much to motivate our guys,” Mulkerrins said. “It’s the last game for our two seniors and our manager so there’s motivation to play for those three games. When they know it’s their last game, I’m sure the kids will have a little extra motivation.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.