Hornets Make It Clean Sweep of Attleboro to Advance

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield senior guard Jen Peel scored the Hornets final eight points of the night to hold off Attleboro and advance to the Div. 1 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – As the final seconds ticked off and Attleboro sealed its first round win against Brockton on Tuesday night, the Attleboro student section started a “We want Mansfield” chant, directed at the Hornets who had come to watch the game as a team. After two losses to the Hornets in the regular season, the Bombardiers believed that the third time would be the charm.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After three quarters of Thursday’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal in the Albertini Gym, it looked like Attleboro may just pull off the upset of the league champion and top seed. That was when Mansfield senior guard Jen Peelstarted to get going.

Peel scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth, Mansfield’s final eight points of the game, and helped the Hornets gut out a 33-31 victory, earn a three-game sweep of the season series, and advance to the South final for the third season in a row.

“It’s always tougher the third time around,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “It’s funny, 33-31 and you say what an ugly game, but it was intense, it was well-played, just no easy shots. We each took each other’s best players away. I told them at one point that a four- or five-point lead is like a 15-point lead, if you get a two-possession lead you can win.”

With the Hornets trailing by three to start the fourth, Peel drew the defense and found an open Ann Maher for her second three of the game to tie it. On the next possession, Meg Hill tracked down the rebound of a wild three by Peel and then fed it to the guard who drove to the basket for a layup.

After Attleboro tied it with a layup by Sarah Deyo (five points, 14 rebounds), Peel used a pump fake to get her defender to fly by and drilled her second three of the night to make it 30-27. Following a hustle rebound by Deyo, Julia Strachan (14 points) answered with her fourth three of the night to tie the game again with 3:50 remaining.

Again it was Peel that had the response for the Hornets, getting around a double screen into the corner and drilling her third from beyond the arc for what turned out to be the game-winner.

“Im going to see Jen Peel in my nightmares,” Attleboro coach Rick Patch joked. “She’s a clutch player. She’s an MVP-player in this league and she really makes that team go. She wants the ball when the game’s on the line.”

Peel said, “They’re a great team, they’re great defenders, and I knew from the start they were going to be up in my face. I knew this game it wasn’t going to be as easy, so we just made sure our screens were strong and I got around them.”

Deyo made one of two from the line and Attleboro had several chances on drives to the basket but were not able to get the tying basket. With one last chance, the Bombardiers tried to get the ball into Deyo at half-court, but it was tipped by Hill and chased down by Mady Bendanillo to seal the win.

“Our defense was brilliant for the most part,” said Patch, “and I think the girls just had a little bit of heart and they wanted to win and move on. We had our chances, we a bunch of layups at the end, but just couldn’t convert.”

Peel started the game with a deep three that prompted Attleboro to switch over to a triangle-and-two defense. After scoring four points, Hill picked up her second foul and sat for the rest of the half. Shortly after, Maher joined her on the bench as well, but Mansfield held the 9-4 lead after the first quarter.

With two key players on the bench, the Hornets went cold in the second, shooting 0-for-14 from the field and scoring only four points on 4-of-8 from the line.

Also, with Maher on the sidelines, Strachan got loose and found the range from deep. Strachan buried three from beyond the arc in the second and Jordyn Lako added a basket and an assist. The visitors led 17-13 at the half and Mansfield was looking for someone to knock down shots.

“All of a sudden you’re asking kids who haven’t taken a lot of shots all year to take big shots in a quarterfinal game,” said Redding of the struggles offensively for the Hornets against the Attleboro defense.

Stephanie Kemp hit a jumper to get the third quarter started, but Grace Mayer knocked down a three off a Deyo assist to extend the lead to five. It was the largest lead for either team in the second half.

Maher got free for a three-pointer and then Hill snagged an offensive rebound on the baseline and with the shot clock buzzer about to go off hit a 13-foot jumper that gave Mansfield the lead. Lako made sure it was short-lived, as she nailed a three on the other end to give Attleboro a slim lead heading to the fourth. She also scored on a layup to open the final quarter.

“She was excellent when it came right down to it,” said Patch of Lako. “She listened to what we were telling her and attacked the basket. Grace Mayer did a good job. We were just wearing Jen down…and did pretty good at it, but just not quite good enough.”

Peel came through with the points in the fourth to lift Mansfield to the win, but it was the other end of the floor that drew praise from her coach. Redding said, “She played 32 minutes and she played very good defense…Sometimes she takes some possessions off, but she played hard on the defensive end, got some big rebounds, gave us some great help.”

“I know it too, I’m not the best defender…I tend to think get the outlet and just run,” Peel joked. “I think our defense saved us in that first half and then we were just like, this is our home court, our gym, our game, let’s just show them that’s how we play.”

The loss ended a remarkable career for Deyo, who finishes as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,341 points. Despite being on crutches before the game, after suffering an injury against Brockton, she still managed to pull down 14 rebounds and block three shots against the Hornets.

“Sarah, just a gutsy effort on a badly sprained ankle,” said Redding. “She’s on crutches for two days and comes in and plays her heart out. I’m not going to miss defending her, but I’m going to miss watching her play. She plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen.”

Mansfield (19-2) will face No. 4 seed Wellesley in the semifinal at Massassoit Community College in Brockton at a date and time to be determined.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Attleboro Falls Just Short At Bridgewater-Raynham

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro freshman Bryant Ciccio looks to make a pass against Bridgewater-Raynham. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – After weathering a tough opening quarter, Attleboro took a lead into halftime and held onto it until the midway point of the fourth quarter.

But the Bombardiers never landed the knockout punch, never fully took control of the momentum, leaving the door slightly open for Bridgewater-Raynham.

The fifth-seeded Trojans pounced, using a 9-0 run over a two minute span that erased a deficit and turned it into a lead — one they wouldn’t relinquish in a 74-71 win over 13th-seeded Attleboro.

“In the postseason, every possession matters, offensively and defensively,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought we had some good momentum on offense but then we’d give up a transition basket. Our momentum was short lived because they came back and got something quick a lot of the time and I think that was a huge difference tonight.

“It wasn’t for a lack of effort, the effort was certainly there tonight. I just think [B-R] did a great job of executing what they needed to do to win the basketball game.”

After trailing by as much as nine in the first half, the Bombardiers used a successful second quarter to take a two-point lead into half. That two-point lead grew to a five-point advantage heading into the final frame and stayed at the point until midway through the quarter.

“It was a hell of a tournament ball game,” said B-R head coach Doug Alves. “Two good teams going at it and luckily we were the team that came out on top. I think we made one or two more plays than they did and that made a different in the fourth quarter.”

Jake Dunkley (17 points, eight rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to give Attleboro a 61-55 lead with just under six minutes to play but the Trojans were ready with a response.

Bridgewater-Raynham senior — and former Taunton standout — EJ Dambreville drained a deep three on a kind bounce to cut the deficit to three. After getting a stop on the defensive end, B-R took advantage of an offensive rebound, eventually finding the hands of Griffin Perry. His trifecta tied the game at 61-61 with just our four minutes to play in the game.

The Bombardiers were tripped up while going to the basket on the next play, one of the few times there wasn’t a whistle on the play. The teams combined for over 40 fouls and 61 free throw attempts.

Bridgewater-Raynham took advantage of the no-call when Darrius Hyppolite drained his third three of the contest to give the Trojans a 64-61 advantage.

“We kept that six point lead in the second half and it seemed when they would get it to four, we kept pushing it back to six or eight,” Houle said. “There was a couple of possessions in a row they got some threes, Dambreville had one from deep, then they got one to tie it and then they hit one to go ahead. THat’s when they got the momentum, it really went in their favor. It ended up being somewhat of a difference when they got over that hump. Down the stretch, they executed their transition offense better than we executed our defense.

“B-R’s a good team, they played hard, they played physical, everything was challenged.”

Attleboro snapped its near three minute scoreless streak with a pair of free throws from Dunkley to cut the deficit to two but B-R answered with a baseline jumper from John Tesson, who had a team-high 18 points.

Bombardiers’ freshman Bryant Ciccio (14 points, four assists) answered with a pull up jumper from the foul line to get with two again. Attleboro for the miss it needed but Dambreville went up, got a slight tough of the ball and pulled the rim down, allowing the ball to fall in for two.

“We knew they’d come out and pressure us, we had to take care of the basketball,” Houle said. “There were times they were able to get some deflections, get some steals and get the tempo to their liking. They scored a lot of points in transition offense. We’d make a big shot and then turnaround and they’ve come right back and get to the foul line or score or we just didn’t stop the ball. They won that battle tonight.”

The teams each traded a free throw as the B-R advantage stayed at four (70-66) with under two minutes to play. Attleboro had two looks to cut the deficit but missed the front end of a one and one and a missed on a drive to the basket. B-R then hit free throws down the stretch. Andrew Milliken (14 points) hit a late three to get to the final score.

The Trojans built an early lead through high pressure, forcing Attleboro into turnovers or quick shots. B-R took an early 11-3 lead and went up 16-7 on a three from Perry. Attleboro got back into the game with an 8-2 run – a bucket from Dom Victor and three point plays from Milliken and Qualeem Charles (seven points, eight rebounds). But Perry hit a late three and then Dambreville got on to go just before the buzzer from just over half to put the Trojans up 24-15 after one.

Ciccio took over in the second quarter for Big Blue, scoring 10 points in the quarter to help the Bombardiers go from behind to ahead. Over the first four and half minutes of the quarter, Attleboro went on a 13-4 run with Ciccio hitting a pair of free throws to tie the game. Ciccio’s lone field goal – which turned into a traditional three point play – of the quarter put Attleboro ahead by two. Lucas Boucicaut drove to the basket for two, giving Attleboro a 36-29 lead. B-R close the quarter on a 6-1 run to get within two at half.

“Bryant has had a real solid freshman season,” Houle said. “I think that second quarter, he really took over and showed what he can do offensively creating space and creating opportunities for us to score. His energy level and his ability to get by a defender is a great skill. Being freshmen, him and Q, they’re only going to get better.”

Attleboro boys basketball finishes the season 13-10 overall, tied four fourth in the Kelley-Rex. The Bombardiers will graduate four players, including Dunkley, who finished with over 900 career points. Houle had high praise for all four of the seniors.

“Jake Dunkley is such a hard worker, he’s so passionate about the game of basketball. He works hard on both ends of the court. He’s a terrific leader for us. Andrew Milliken is another leader. He’s done anything and everything we’ve asked of him this year, playing guard or playing a big, his heart and effort is what we take pride in. Lucas Boucicaut has been playing varsity since his sophomore year. He’s had his ups and downs but I’ll tell you he’s grown a lot as a young man. He’s been a pleasure to coach and he’s given us everything he had. Robby Pierce, this year came in and was probably our best worker in practice and did all the little things. His game time might not be as much but his effort and attitude is something you really want your seniors to have. I’m really proud of all four of them.”

Strachan Steps Up in Big Spot, Attleboro Edges Brockton

Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro senior Julia Strachan knocked down a long jumper with 57.4 remaining in the game for what turned out to be the game-winning points in a 63-58 playoff victory against Brockton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Entering the state tournament, Attleboro had been struggling to find the consistent form that got the Bombardiers off to an 8-0 start to the season. Blown leads and close losses in rematches against Franklin and North Attleboro in the final week highlighted what was a 7-7 run over the last 14 games.

In the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s playoff opener against Brockton, it seemed like Attleboro would once again struggle to pull out a win in a close game. The Boxers rallied from as many as nine points down in the second half to take the lead on a Jade Wilt (10 points) jumper with a minute remaining.

This time, Attleboro did not fold. Senior guard Julia Strachan capped off a 24-point night by driving up the court and pulling up for a jumper with her toe on the three-point line that put the Bombardiers ahead 59-58 with 57.4 on the clock.

A pair of free throws from Sam Pierce (11 points, six rebounds) and two from Jordyn Lako (six points) sealed a 63-58 victory for Attleboro, which avenged a first round playoff loss to the Boxers in 2014 and sets up a third meeting with league champion Mansfield, the top seed in Div. 1 South.

“I thought they did a great job handling the adversity this time,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When Brockton took the lead, we didn’t wilt. Strachan came down and made a big shot.”

Patch was asked about the difference it makes for Attleboro when Strachan (five three-pointers) starts knocking down shots from the outside. He responded, “Just for her to get her confidence like that, she is a bona fide shooter. She likes to shoot the ball, she’s very good at it and she feels like she can’t be stopped.”

He added, “That’s a kid who wants to win and who is an offensive threat inside and out.”

The Bombardiers needed Strachan to be on fire early, as Attleboro was slow out of the gates against an aggressive Brockton team that dominated on the glass and in hustle plays for much of the first half. Strachan had nine of Attleboro’s 14 first quarter points, but the Boxers held an 18-14 lead after one.

In the middle of the quarter, Patch called a timeout and laid into his team to try and wake the Bombardiers up. He explained, “We were getting beat to every loose ball, every rebound. They must have had six offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and that was the discouraging part. We called timeout to challenge them.”

The challenge was not accepted right away and, after a layup by freshman Alexandra Giannaros (team-high 14 points), Brockton led 28-20 in the closing stages of the second quarter. Attleboro finally responded with eight straight points to end the half tied.

Pierce drilled a three and scored off a nice bounce pass by Grace Mayer (three assists). Pierce then assisted on a basket by Sarah Deyo, who added a free throw to even the scores.

“As a staff, we were going into half thrilled that it was 28-28,” said Patch. “Last time we played them, they were up two. We knew if we could come out in the second half and get two or three positive possessions it would help.”

The Bombardiers came out of halftime determined to grab the lead and to gain control of the glass. Deyo scored 10 of her 18 points in the third, twice scoring on offensive rebounds and also a three-point play on another Mayer assist. Deyo started to dominate the boards and finished with 19 rebounds.

“Sarah is literally a rebounding machine,” Patch said. “She gets anything within six or eight feet of her, which is great. It’s what I was emphasizing to everyone else to just get your five rebounds this half, get the rebound.”

Strachan nailed her third three to put Attleboro ahead by five, then Pierce scored off an inbounds pass by Mish Logie, and Madison Brown came off the bench to snag her only rebound and turn it into her only basket to push the Bombardiers in front by as many as nine.

The lead was six heading to the fourth, as the Boxers just would not go away. Jalani Jackson (12 points) assisted on a three by Makayla Robinson to start the final quarter, but that was quickly answered by a long-range shot by Strachan, who also matched a three by Wint to keep the lead at eight points.

Brockton crept back into the game at the line. The Boxers went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the second half and were helped by going 7-for-8 at the line, including two clutch free throws by Giannaros that cut the Attleboro lead to one.

Strachan provided the heroics for the Bombardiers and sent Attleboro into the next round for a heavily-anticipated third meeting with Mansfield. The Hornets won both meetings in the regular season and there is little mystery between these rivals.

“The good thing is we have one day to prepare for them and we’ll see what happens,” said Patch. “We have our work cut out for us.”

He smiled when asked if there was anything specific that the Bombardiers would try to do differently the third time around. “Score more points than they do,” he quipped.

Patch added, “We’ve tried a lot of different things and the last couple times they seemed to be a step ahead of us, so we expect a great challenge ahead of for sure.”

Attleboro (16-7) will travel to Albertini Gym on Thursday night at 6:30 to face Mansfield (18-2).

Hockomock Girls Basketball State Tournament Preview

State Tournament Preview
Attleboro’s Sarah Deyo (32) and Mansfield’s Meg Hill (31) could meet for a third time in the second round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Six girls’ basketball teams will begin their quests for a state championship when the state tournament begins this week. League champions Mansfield (Div. 1 South) and Foxboro (Div. 2 South) both earned the top seed in their respective brackets, but neither will have an easy road with league rivals like Attleboro, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro posing major threats to bringing home a trophy. Milford will also represent the league as the lone Hock team in Div. 2 Central.

As usual, Div. 1 South is a loaded bracket with some of the top programs in the state, including defending state champion Bishop Feehan and perennial powers Braintree and Newton North. Mansfield (18-2) earned the top seed in a coin flip with the Shamrocks, who beat the Hornets in an exclusion game during the regular season. More important than the seed, Mansfield will now avoid the Shamrocks, the Wamps, and the Tigers until the South final.

Led by senior guard Jen Peel and junior center Meg Hill, the Hornets like to slow the pace down and focus on strong defense, which held teams to a league-best 38.0 points per game. Mansfield is young this season, but deep and versatile and head coach Mike Redding’s squad should match up well against the teams on its side of the bracket, including potential semifinal opponents Wellesley or Marshfield (which Mansfield beat 52-47 in December).

In order for the Hornets to get to the semifinals, they may have to go through Kelley-Rex rival Attleboro (15-7), which claimed the No. 8 seed and will host Brockton (Attleboro beat the Boxers 63-55 in December). The Bombardiers have scuffled down the stretch, losing seven of its final 14 games of the regular season, but closed it out by putting 94 points up on Durfee in the season finale.

With seniors Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan, Attleboro has a potent inside-out combo and has been one of the top offensive teams in the league this year, averaging a league-best 61.4 points per game. The issue for the Bombardiers will be trying to slow down Jen Peel and Mansfield in the quarterfinal, if they can get past a dangerous Brockton team in Tuesday’s playoff opener. Attleboro struggled in two losses to Mansfield in the regular season, but will be hoping third time is the charm to set up a potential rematch with Wellesley, which knocked the Bombardiers out of last year’s tournament.

Foxboro (18-2) has been on fire to close out the season, winning 12 in a row entering the playoffs, including a 20-point win over North Attleboro to claim the league title and an impressive overtime win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the end-of-season tournament. The Warriors will be led by league MVP Ashley Sampson, who scored 31 in that win over L-S and nailed a three-pointer that forced OT, but a strong supporting cast includes Lily Sykes and Grace Tamulionis. The scary part is that all three are juniors and will be back next winter as well.

The Warriors will not have an easy path in Div. 2 South, which is another loaded bracket, and will have to face one of the two finalists from 2016, either Hingham or Oliver Ames, in the quarterfinal and could potentially face the Rocketeers for a third time in the semifinal. Westwood, Nauset, and Falmouth, which knocked Foxboro out of the tournament last year, could wait in the sectional final.

Oliver Ames (13-7), the defending Div. 2 South champ, has had an up and down first season in the Kelley-Rex but managed to claim second in the division and is a sleeper to retain its South title. The Tigers will have a very difficult road to try and repeat with a trip to last year’s South finalist Hingham waiting in the first round and a potential meeting with Foxboro looming in the quarterfinal (the Warriors won the league meeting between the teams 51-35).

Kayla Raymond will be the focus of all of OA’s opponents, but trying to slow down the junior forward is easier said than done. If the Tigers can get support for Raymond from senior Niyera Mitchell and find consistent outside shooting, then OA will be a tough matchup. Losing sophomore guard Sadie Homer during the season and senior Francesca Calabraro prior to it has made things tougher but no one will take head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook’s team lightly.

North Attleboro (16-6) is another sleeper in Div. 2 South. Last year, the Rocketeers were knocked out in the first round by OA on a last second Raymond basket and could have made a similar run to the Tigers if they had made it through. This year, North comes in with six losses, but only one to a team in Div. 2 and that was the league final against Foxboro. Despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern to injury, North earned an impressive come from behind win against Attleboro in the final week and has the potential to make a deep run this year.

The Rocketeers are loaded with experienced seniors, including forward Caroline Collard and guards Samantha Taggart and Emily Schromm, who have shown the ability to win close games against good teams this season. North beat Foxboro in the first meeting, beat Oliver Ames by one, and has also beaten potential tourney opponents Hingham and Westwood this year. North faces Madison Park to start and likely will face Duxbury in the quarterfinal to try and get a rubber match with Foxboro in the semifinal.

Milford (10-10) qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2012 and has shown immense progress in head coach T.J. Dolliver’s second season in charge. But, the Hawks have also struggled down the stretch, albeit against a tough stretch of league opponents including North Attleboro and Foxboro twice, OA, and Attleboro. The Hawks will be in Div. 2 Central and will likely face Marlboro in the playoff opener, which is a team similar to the Hawks that shoots a lot of threes and does not have a true post presence.

The Hawks will be counting on a big game from junior guard Kate Irwin, who has been among the league’s top scorers this season, but Milford has a lot of versatile players that can cause teams problems on the perimeter and in the paint, including senior Nicole Dahlgren. If the Hawks do get through the first round, then they will travel to No. 3 seed Groton-Dunstable and could face a couple of Eastern Mass. transplants in Hopkinton and Medfield.

North Edges Attleboro On McCarthy’s Buzzer Beater

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro players swarm Kyle McCarthy following his game-winning buzzer beater against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro senior Kyle McCarthy took the inbounds pass with 5.7 seconds to go and streaked up the right side of the court. He switched the ball to his right hand before crossing back to his left as he hit the three point line. He found space between a pair of defenders, rose up and released.

The ball seemed to take a deflection off a defenders hand, hit the front end of the rim, took a bounce and fell through the net as time expired.

The result was a 56-54 win for North Attleboro in a non-league contest with rival Attleboro, giving the Rocketeers a season sweep of the Bombardiers.

“I saw a couple of defenders in front of me but coach wanted us to attack the hoop,” McCarthy said. “I got to the rim, put it up, it might have been tipped in but it went in, that’s what matters. It was just a great team win. North Attleboro against Attleboro, we couldn’t have scripted it better, it was just an unreal game to be apart of.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Both sides traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter, with Attleboro taking a 50-49 lead with just over three minutes to play on a jumper from Nate Douglas. But North had an answer right away as Hacmoni Cuevas took a pass from McCarthy and drained a three near the end of the shot clock to put North ahead 52-50.

The teams traded misses before McCarthy came away with a steal and went down for a layup. His shot rimmed out but senior Jonny Friberg (22 points, 12 rebounds) was there to clean it up with the put back with 1:22 to play.

“When it comes down to it, they made some big plays down the stretch,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “That three by Cuevas was a big one. And then McCarthy is just a gamer, he made a nice play. We were trying to get a sub in to get a matchup but we didn’t get it in. Bottom line, we needed to stop the ball and we didn’t do that. Our kids battled, I think we did a better job on Friberg than we did the first time. Brent’s a terrific player, you can’t make mistakes on him. For them to go back to back and beat two teams is not easy.”

Attleboro senior Jake Dunkley (20 points, 10 rebounds) cut the deficit in half with a pair of free throws with 1:01 to play. The Bombardiers came away with a stop on the defensive end and sprinted ahead to try to find the tying bucket, but North came away with a steal to take possession with 28 seconds to play.

Attleboro was forced to foul its way into the bonus, sending the Rocketeers to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. North missed the front end, giving the Bombardiers a final chance with 12.9 to go.

Douglas navigated his way around a screen and drew the foul to head to the line with two shots. North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins called a timeout before the shots to draw up the play.

“We wanted to get the ball to either Kyle or Brent [Doherty] off the inbounds, get Jonny down for a rebound and then get Moni and Chad [Peterson] set up for a shot,” Mulkerrins said. “We wanted to penetrate and have two guys ready for a shot or Jonny for the rebound. I think there might have been a little luck involved in the shot going in but Kyle did a nice job and we’ve been on the other side of that a couple of that so I think our kids deserved it.”

The largest lead of the entire game was nine, coming midway through the first quarter when Attleboro raced out to a 15-6 lead. Back to back threes from Cuevas and McCarthy helped the Rocketeers cut the deficit down, trailing 17-12 after one quarter.

North surged back to take the lead on back-to-back baskets from Doherty (17 points) and McCarthy but a quick 6-2 surge from the Bombardiers gave the hosts a slim 29-27 advantage at half.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We knew after the first game this season, they’d come at us with everything,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought Mark [Houle] and his staff did a tremendous job being without a starter or two or at least kids that can play starter minutes. Coming out, they were so intense defensively and that led to some good offense opportunities for them. Coming off a back to back, we came out a little slow but to our kids’ credit, their mental toughness, we punched back after the first and kept it close.”

It was a see-saw third quarter with Andrew Milliken (eight points, seven rebounds) hitting a three to put Attleboro ahead only for Doherty and Friberg to hit back to back buckets to take the lead back. Dunkley converted a three point play, Friberg responded with two free throws to tie it and then Dunkley drained a three for another three point lead.

Friberg added two but baskets from Dunkley and Lucas Boucicaut created a five point separation. Doherty cut into that with a three, Attleboro’s Elvin Sam (13 points) pushed it back to four with a layup, Friberg answered again but Dunkley had the final basket of the quarter to give the Bombardiers a 46-42 edge heading into the final quarter.

“For us, playing Attleboro at their place, regardless of or record, or scenario or situations, it’s always a tough game,” Mulkerrins said. “It’s one of my favorite places on our schedule to play because the people of Attleboro love basketball. There’s always a great atmosphere and you can’t play in a better gym to get more prepared for the tournament.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (14-7 overall, 10-6 Hockomock) will conclude the regular season on Wednesday when they host Bishop Feehan. The Rocketeers have a chance to earn a home playoff game with a win. Attleboro (12-9, 8-8) will finish the regular season with a trip to Durfee on Wednesday in a showdown of two D1 playoff teams.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Scott Stands Tall To Help Stoughton Beat Attleboro

Stoughton hockey
Stoughton sophomore AJ Scott watches a shot go wide in the third period against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BROCKTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jon Lessa and sophomore Sean Doherty each recorded a pair of points and sophomore goalie AJ Scott had an impressive performance in net as the Black Knights beat Attleboro, 2-1.

Less than a month after the Bombardiers beat the Black Knights in a league game by the same score, Stoughton flipped the script this time around to get two points in a non-league clash.

Scott made 34 saves, including 16 in the first period, while Lessa and Doherty took turns setting each other up for go-ahead goals for the Black Knights.

“And Attleboro has a great offense, the first time we played them we couldn’t stop their chances,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark on Scott’s play. “They have some good forwards. I thought overall we did a pretty good job. We gave up 35 shots but it went progressively down each period.”

The Bombardiers struck first in the team’s meeting back in January, building a 2-0 lead in the second period.

This time around, Stoughton took the lead, not wasting much time on the game’s first power play. An interference call put the Black Knights on a man advantage opportunity and just over a minute in, Stoughton took the lead.

Lessa, a captain, raced past a defenseman and dropped a shot on target as he wrapped behind the net. The puck popped free right in the middle and Doherty pounced, firing one in from close range to put Stoughton up 1-0.

But less than a minute after taking the lead, the Black Knights took a penalty. Attleboro needed just 10 seconds to tie the contest.

Attleboro won the face off, senior PJ Elliott ripped a shot from the slot that Scott was able to stop but sophomore Cam Littig came flying around the back of the net and tucked the rebound chance in from a tight angle to make it 1-1.

The Bombardiers nearly carried that momentum into the second period with a big chance early on but Scott stood tall for Stoughton. Just over a minute into the middle frame, the Bombardiers won an offensive face off and the puck ended on the stick of Littig for a close range bid but Scott got just enough to turn it aside.

The save turned out to be a big one as the Knights regained the lead just a minute later.

This time Doherty played the role of helper and Lessa took on the role of finisher. The sophomore staked past a defenseman towards the boards behind he net, but slammed on the breaks, turned back and fired a centering pass for a one timer that Lessa roofed to put Stoughton up 2-1.

“They played well today,” Mark said of his first line of Lessa, Doherty and junior Brendan Campbell. “They created a lot of good opportunities. I thought their goalie [Evan Andrews] played really well too. That breakaway save was huge.”

The breakaway Mark was referring to came at the midway point of the second period. After the Bombardiers hit the crossbar on a shot from Jake Parker, the two teams traded penalties.

That gave Attleboro a man advantage opportunity but it was Stoughton that came away with the best scoring chance.

Campbell broke free and was able to go in alone on goal but Andrews stood his ground and denied the bid with a leg save.

Scott had one his best sequences near the end of the middle period. Both Parker (20 goals on the season) and Littig had shots through traffic that somehow Scott was able to get with a piece of his glove (on Littig’s shot) and then blocked the second with his chest.

Neither side found the back of the net in the third period, both Scott and Andrews making big saves in the frame.

First it was Scott, as Parker raced around a defenseman and fired a tight angle shot but the sophomore made the stop with his paddle.

While on a power play, Lessa found Doherty on the doorstep but Andrews was quick to react to deny the sophomore. A minute later, Doherty and Lessa used a quick give and go in the attacking area with the latter releasing a close range shot but it sailed wide.

Attleboro had its best chance to level the game with 30 seconds to play, skating six players with the goalie pulled. Elliott ended up with the puck in the slot for an open shot but Scott made the point blank save to preserve the win.

“We’re not used to being in that position so sometimes the kids get nervous but I thought they kept their composure pretty good there at the end,” Mark said.

Attleboro finished with a 35-20 advantage in shots on goal.

“I thought we played well to the point where we had a lot of offense zone times,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer said. “It’s one of those frustrating games where you feel like you outplayed the other team but the other team’s goalie makes all the stops. Kudos to [Scott]. Similar to the OA game, when it was 1-0, OA didn’t get to the hard parts of the ice in front of the net and we did the same thing tonight. We had chances but we didn’t take advantage of them.”

Stoughton hockey (4-11-2 overall, 1-7 Hockomock) hosts Bellingham on Tuesday while Attleboro (6-11-1, 2-7) will host Shawsheen on Wednesday. The Bombardiers need two points against either Shawsheen or Dighton-Rehoboth to qualify for the state tournament.

Peel Powers Hornets Past Attleboro and to League Title

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield senior Jen Peel (14) scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Hornets to a season sweep of Attleboro and clinched at least a share of a second straight league title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last winter Mansfield edged Attleboro on the final night of the league campaign to earn the program’s second Hockomock title. Coming into this season, the Hornets were young with only two seniors on the roster and a host of talented, if inexperienced, underclassmen.

Hornets coach Mike Redding knew his team would still be good, and would get better over the course of the season, but he had no idea that with three games left to spare Mansfield would have the chance to win back-to-back titles for the first time in program history.

That is exactly what the Hornets accomplished on Monday night. Led by senior point guard Jen Peel, who scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds despite being the focal point of the Attleboro defense, Mansfield pulled out a 54-47 victory in the James Albertini Gym to sweep the season series against the Bombardiers and clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title.

“If you told me we’d clinch a share of the title with three to play, I’d say no way,” said Redding. “I think we were hoping we’d be hanging around at this point and the girls have played above and beyond all year. They played really high-level basketball beyond their years.”

Peel came out firing and buried a pair of threes, as the Hornets jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. She added seven points in the second to give Mansfield a halftime lead and in the fourth quarter Peel knocked down the final two of her five three-pointers on the night to extend the Hornets’ lead to as many as 11 and seal the victory.

“I think the bottom line is Jen Peel took over the game. She hit some big threes, was driving and creating, and played great,” said Redding. He added, “She’s just so good with the ball and her vision is great, she finds open people, and she’s the difference tonight.”

Mansfield got off to a quick start in the first, but Attleboro answered back with an 11-0 run take the lead for the first time. Julia Strachan found Sarah Deyo open in the corner for her second three-pointer of the quarter and a piece of program history.

With that basket, Deyo recorded her 1,222nd career point, which moved her past Becky Hardt (Class of 1994) on the school’s all-time scoring chart. Deyo, who finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds on the night, is now the highest scoring female player in Attleboro history.


“That’s a great testament to her hard work,” said Rick Patch of Deyo’s accomplishment. “She takes a beating, she does a lot of little things, and she’s worked hard for that since elementary school. It’s great for her to see her hard work pay off.”

After Deyo’s slice of history, Kara Bendanillo answered back with a three of her own to tie the game at 11-11. Following a pair of free throws by Sam Pierce (eight points), Bendanillo drove and kicked a pass to Meg Hill (eight points, eight rebounds) for a 15-foot jumper that tied the game at 13 apiece after one.

Despite being in the double bonus for the majority of the second quarter, Attleboro struggled to get consistent offense. Strachan was held scoreless for the entire first half and Deyo had no points in the second. The teams traded baskets with Kim White (eight points) knocking down a jumper and Mish Logie and Jordyn Lako scoring on drives that gave Attleboro its last lead of the game at 21-19.

Erin Daniel came off the bench to give Mansfield a spark, assisting on a Mady Bendanillo (eight points, nine rebounds) three and knocking down a long jumper to tie the game. After a Peel free throw, Ann Maher drove to the basket and Peel hit three from the line to close out the half with a six-point advantage.

Attleboro hung around in the third quarter. Grace Mayer banked in a long jumper from a tough angle, Deyo scored on an offensive rebound, and Strachan hit her only shot from the field to cut the lead to 34-32. Mansfield saw Hill head to the bench with her fourth foul with five minutes remaining in the third, but the Bombardiers struggled to take advantage.

Senior Olivia Broyles gave the Hornets a huge lift with a putback and, after Deyo got a three-point play, she scored on a layup off a Peel assist. Those were her only four points of the game, but Broyles also played an important role as a defensive substitute for Hill down the stretch.

“The hidden hero of the game was Olivia Broyles, just playing unbelievable defense and rebounding when Meg got into some foul trouble,” said Redding.

Patch said, “There was no offensive sync. It was like we were playing downhill; we were playing at a breakneck speed. I think we went like 1-for-8 in the next eight possessions. That would’ve been a point to regain momentum, take the lead, and…we didn’t.”

Maggie Danehy and Hill scored the opening four points of the fourth to give Mansfield a little cushion and then Peel put the game away for the Hornets with three-pointers on back-to-back possessions that extended the lead to 11 at 50-39.

“Jen Peel was just on fire when she needed to be,” said Patch. “She hit big shots when she needed to and that’s why she’s an MVP-caliber player. She makes that team go.”

Redding added, “These are two very, very good games and I’m just praying we don’t play again in D1 South, which could happen and if it does it will be another battle.”

Mansfield (14-2, 12-1) can clinch the outright title on Friday night and avenge its only league loss of the season against Franklin. Attleboro (13-4, 9-4) will also look to avenge an earlier defeat and take control of second place in the division with a trip to Oliver Ames.

Sampson Powers Foxboro to Critical Win at Attleboro

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro junior Ashley Sampson (5) put up a game-high 27 points to lead the Warriors to a road win at Attleboro that keeps them tied with North Attleboro atop the division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Over the past couple of games, Foxboro has been able to turn to some of its supporting cast for big nights. Lily Sykes scored 19 in the win over Oliver Ames and on Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center it was Grace Tamulionis who stepped up with a career-high 20 points to beat Sharon.

On Wednesday night at Attleboro, the now league-leading Warriors were able to turn to star Ashley Sampson. Not only did the junior guard scored a game-high 27 points and snag seven steals, but she also took turns guarding Bombardiers star forward Sarah Deyo. It was the kind of all-around performance that head coach Lisa Downs has been counting on from Sampson.

“She was a leader on the court tonight, which is what I’ve been asking of her pretty much from day one,” Downs explained. “She took control of the offensive end and she had the tough defensive matchup…so it wasn’t like she got to take a rest on the defensive end.”

Sampson’s big night helped Foxboro pull out a 58-46 victory over the Bombardiers and keep the Warriors in a first place tie with North Attleboro atop the Davenport division standings. Meanwhile, the defeat dropped Attleboro two games behind Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex.

“It all comes with preparation and we’re not preparing ourselves well enough for a team that’s aggressive and fast like that,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When you get off to a slow start and get down a little bit, it’s hard to come back against a team like that.”

After the game, Downs called the first half defensive performance by the Warriors as their best of the season. Foxboro used its team speed, depth, and versatility to stymie the Bombardiers. The Warriors held Attleboro to just 17 points as a team in the half and held Samantha Pierce and Julia Strachan scoreless over the opening 16 minutes of play.

Downs added, “That was the key. We had to keep fresh legs on Strachan and they did a fantastic job holding her to zero points in the first half and then Deyo is a matchup nightmare, so we had to know whoever we put in there had to be as physical as they can be, which is not always our strong suit.”

Foxboro added Lauren Flahive to the starting lineup on Wednesday, going smaller but adding speed. It paid dividends immediately, as the Warriors used a 13-0 run to break the game open in the first quarter. Sampson scored seven in the first and Kristen Bortolotti added four. Tamulionis (team-high nine rebounds), fresh off her career-high on Sunday, buried a pair from beyond the arc for six of her 12 on the night.

Deyo had four in the first and assisted on a three by Jordyn Lako to close out the quarter but the Bombardiers trailed by 12 points. Deyo, who finished with 15 points an 15 rebounds, added another six points in the second, but she was struggling to get the ball in good positions and four of her five baskets in the first half came from offensive rebounds.

“We go up and down too,” said Patch, ‘and my whole point with [the girls] was push the ball, go to the basket, and get points in the paint. That’s how we beat them last year with all our kids down and this year it was the game plan but it just wasn’t happening.”

Sampson buried a three off a Shannon Smally kick out and then stole the ball from Deyo, who was also bringing the ball up the court at times, and went in for a layup. Sykes (10 points) drilled a three and it was a 31-17 lead at half for the visitors.

“We knew we had to play our best defense to beat a quality team like Attleboro,” said Downs. “They’re going to fight you tooth and nail every possession, so if you can take care of business on the defensive end and hold their offense lower than they have in recent game then we knew we’d be in decent shape.”

Coming out of halftime, Attleboro started to pick up the pace and tried to cut into the lead, scoring as many points in the third as it had in the entire first half. Deyo twice got the ball at the rim for easy baskets, Grace Mayer (five points) buried a corner three, and Pierce (eight points) finally got going with four in the quarter.

Foxboro held onto a double digit lead through the third thanks to eight more points by Sampson, including a baseline drive to the basket plus the foul that pushed the lead to as many as 17 points. Bortlotti (seven points) ended a mini-run by the Bombardiers to give Foxboro a 47-34 lead heading to the fourth.

Attleboro gave the Warriors a scare in the fourth by scoring the opening eight points to cut the lead down to as little as five. Pierce had four of those points and Lako scored in transition from a Mish Logie assist. The home crowd was making noise and the bench was fired up, but the Warriors forced a pair of turnovers and took back control.

After Sykes knocked down a couple of free throws, Sampson took the ball baseline and got to the rim and then on the next possession again got into the heart of the Attleboro defense for another layup that put Foxboro ahead 53-42. Sykes closed out the game going 5-of-8 from the line.

“We just lost our poise, had two or three turnovers that resulted in two baskets on the other end that made it 11 and it’s hard to overcome that,” Patch said. “It’s definitely discouraging but we’ve got to get better preparation.”

This was a big win for Foxboro to stay level with the Rocketeers, which beat King Philip earlier in the night.

Downs said, “It was huge. Before tonight we were tied with North but head-to-head they were one up on us, so we knew we had to win this game. It was a big one.”

Foxboro (10-2, 9-2) will look to extend its win streak to five games at Sharon on Friday. Attleboro (12-3, 8-3) will try to bounce back at home against King Philip.