Panthers Pull Away in First Half to Beat Bombardiers

Franklin girls basketball
Franklin sophomore center Ali Brigham scored 22 points (16 in the first half) and pulled down 20 rebounds to lift the Panthers to a 63-51 victory over Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – During the first half, the Bombardiers had little answer for the dynamic inside-outside combination of Franklin sophomore center Ali Brigham and junior guard Bea Bondhus. The duo combined for 30 points before the break to push the Panthers to a 21-point halftime lead.

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Although Attleboro turned up the energy in the second half, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, the lead proved too great to overcome and Franklin stayed within one game of the Kelley-Rex division leaders with a 63-51 victory.

Bondhus opened the paint by knocking down a pair of threes in the opening half and spreading the Attleboro defense out with 14 of her 18 points coming before the break. With the outside threat giving Brigham a little space with which to work, the sophomore showed off an array of offensive moves on the post and stepping away to face the basket.

She scored 16 of her 22 points in the first half and also added 12 of her game-high 20 rebounds. Brigham was also a force on the defensive side with four blocks.

“She’s worked so hard in the offseason to become a much more complete player and we’ve really worked on getting her the ball in scoring positions,” said Franklin coach John Leighton of Brigham. “I think early in the year, we tried to force it when it wasn’t there and now we’re trying to get her in positions to be successful and I think her teammates are doing a good job of that.”

Breanna Atwood got the game started for Franklin, which got right into its dribble-drive offense and full-court press. Atwood (10 points) buried a corner three and scored five points in the first. Then Brigham got going. She scored with a short jumper, an offensive rebound, and a jumper with a foot on the three-point line.

The Panthers kept pressing and Bondhus nailed a corner three and got free for a layup off an inbound pass by Calen Frongillo. Franklin led 21-8 after the first and kept the offense rolling into the second.

“I thought we ran a lot of tempo today,” explained Leighton, “which opens up a lot of stuff. It makes the defense react quicker. We started getting good looks and then you can’t just double on Ali if we’re moving it and finding people.”

Attleboro cut the lead to eight with a transition layup from Nyah Thomas (six points) and a three by Sam Pierce, but then Brigham scored with a drive on the baseline and hit a floater. Bondhus followed with her second three of the half and the lead grew to 17.

“In the first half it kind of got away from us,” said Attleboro coach Marty Crowley. “We were able to reel them back in but they had a spurt at the end of the half to extend it. I’m proud of my kids though because they kept fighting and it’s still an early learning curve for us.”

Brigham added six more points on a jumper, a hook shot going to her right and a put back bucket, while Bondhus got two when she cut to the basket and was found by Atwood and then got a steal and transition basket to put Franklin ahead 42-21 going into halftime.

Coming out of the break, the Bombardiers played with a lot more energy. Junior guard Jordyn Lako provided a spark on the defensive end with two steals, two blocks, five assists, and eight rebounds. Attleboro also started to get the ball into the hands of Pierce, who would score 19 of her game-high 24 points in the second half.

Brigham was limited to six points after halftime (all in the third), as Attleboro gave Mackenzie Roberts more help trying to contain her in the post. Crowley said, “I don’t know if you can really contain her, but our rotations were better than they were in the first half. I thought Kenzie did a pretty good job on her for the most part but that’s why she’s a top caliber player.”

Attleboro trailed by 22 heading to the fourth, but the Bombardiers never let up. Pierce completed a traditional three-point play off a Lako assist, went 5-for-5 from the line, and scored 11 points in the fourth. Liv McCall buried a pair of threes and Attleboro got as close as 10 points in the final minutes.

“They’re tough,” said Leighton. “Sam is a tough kid and when she can get people on her back then she’s tough to defend. A well-coached team, Marty’s always tough and he’s got kids that play real ‘D’ and work hard.”

Crowley said, “We were a little flat here or there. We had a little more energy coming out of halftime and in the second half. We need to play with a little more of a sense of urgency to start games and not expend so much energy coming back.”

Despite a youthful lineup, Franklin trails Mansfield and Oliver Ames by only one game in the league standings and Leighton sees improvement from the start of the season.

“I’m proud as can be,” he said. “We rolled out four sophomores and a junior tonight and that’s only because my freshman (Elizabeth Wilson) is hurt. They’re all buying in, there’s a real work ethic, practices have been competitive, and we’re so young there’s a lot of room for growth.”

Franklin (7-4, 5-2) will put its four-game win streak on the line against King Philip on Friday, while Attleboro (5-6, 3-4) faces a trip to Taunton.

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Attleboro Storms Past OA With Second Half Comeback

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Bryant Cicco (right) attempts to drive past Oliver Ames’ Noah Fitzgerald in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For two and a half quarters, Oliver Ames’ zone defense frustrated Attleboro’s offense and limited its high-power offense to just 27 points.

But once the Bombardiers found their rhythm, due in part to an improved defensive showing, Attleboro was nearly unstoppable the rest of the way.

Attleboro outscored Oliver Ames 44-16 over the final 12 minutes of play, erasing a double-digit deficit and turning it into a double-digit win, 71-57.

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“I think it started with our defensive energy,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “Early on, they kind of had their way, they had some transition baskets early. In the second half, we did a better job of getting back and not letting up any easy baskets. It was a physical game.

“We finally started penetrating their zone on the offensive end, which got us some open looks, and we were able to penetrate and go inside to [Qualeem Charles]. It took a little while to get the rhythm going, we really didn’t have it. Once we did that then we felt more confident and knock down some shots.”

The Bombardiers were limited to 10 points in the first quarter and 11 points in the second. Meanwhile, Oliver Ames senior Jack Spillane (career-high 34 points) was getting almost everything he wanted. He scored 18 of the Tigers’ first 19 points and helped OA take a 31-21 lead at the break.

Attleboro started hot in the third quarter, quickly getting the game within six but then went cold from outside. Big Blue missed from three-point range on six straight possessions, allowing Oliver Ames to get out in transition and convert, taking a 41-27 lead with 3:35 to go in the third quarter.

But on the ensuing possession, Attleboro finally got the ball in low as junior RMff (eight points, six assists) found sophomore Qualeem Charles (13 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks) who converted plus the harm. Charles’ traditional three-point play set the Attleboro offense in motion.

“You want to have some balance there but we weren’t getting the ball inside enough,” Houle said. “With any zone, there are some gaps and once we started penetrating with guard play to get into them, that created some opportunities for our bigs. When you play a zone you can get a three anytime you want, but when you’re not hitting them you have to get some paint touches.”

Senior Nate Douglas (17 points, four rebounds) and sophomore Jason Weir (seven points, five rebounds) made back-to-back baskets, and then Weir came up with a putback off of a missed three to keep the momentum with Attleboro.

“Jason Weir was one of the guys that came off the bench for us and had a terrific game,” Houle said. “Not only scoring but he got some key rebounds and some second-chance opportunities for us. And he played a physical game for us. We talked at halftime about how we needed guys to step up and he was one of them.”

After an Oliver Ames miss, sophomore Bryant Ciccio (career-high 18 points, five rebounds, five assists) went coast to coast, finishing with a nice up and under move high off the glass. Big Blue got another stop and this time fed Charles at the top of the key, sucking the defense in which allowed the sophomore to find Ciccio for a three-pointer.

Douglas hit a pull up on the baseline shortly before the buzzer to cap a 16-2 run, tying the game 43-43 at the end of the third.

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With the game in the balance over the final eight minutes, Attleboro finished the job.

Spillane gave OA an early lead with a nice take to the basket, but Charles hauled in an offensive rebound and converted a putback to tie it. Charles scored on another offensive rebound only for OA’s Noah Fitzgerald (six points, three assists) to respond.

Attleboro put the game away over the next two and a half minutes with a 14-2 run. Ciccio started the surge with a layup and then Houle picked off a cross-court pass and went in alone for a layup, plus the foul, for the traditional three-point play.

Spillane brought OA within three with a pair of free throws but Douglas and Kevin Velazquez drained threes to extend the lead to 58-49. Charles finished the run with a free throw and yet another putback.

“Nate Douglas played his best game of the season, he was aggressive on offense and made impact plays for us on both ends of the court,” Houle said. “He played like a senior and we needed him to perform like he did for us to come back and win the game.”

After shooting 40% in the first half (50% from three-point range), the Tigers shot just 30% from the field in the second half and hit just one triple.

“Part of it is offensively we did more [in the first half],” said OA head coach Don Byron about the first half effectiveness of the zone defense. “They’re taking the ball out of bounds, we’re setting our defense every time. Once it turns into a more free-flowing game, we’re at a disadvantage then.

“We worked hard it but our efficiency in the second half wasn’t as sharp, We threw some passes away, made some simple, unforced mistakes. We just didn’t shoot the ball as well. And a couple of guys that we kept quiet early found themselves and we weren’t able to knock them off their stride at that point.”

Attleboro boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 7-2 overall) is back in action on Tuesday in a key Kelley-Rex division showdown with first place Franklin; a battle of the division’s top scoring team against top defensive team. Oliver Ames (2-4, 4-5) hits the road to take on Taunton on the same day.

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Attleboro Clamps Down in Fourth Quarter to Beat KP

Attleboro girls basketball
Jordyn Lako (12) scored all 14 of her points in the second half and added nine rebounds to help the Bombardiers pull away in the fourth quarter and beat King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro was clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against King Philip, but the Bombardiers shut down the Warriors over the final eight minutes, allowing only six points and two made field goals from the visitors to pull away for a 52-41 victory.

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“I think this is our most complete effort, front to back, all year,” said first-year Attleboro coach Marty Crowley, who was facing KP for the first time since leaving the Warriors during the off-season.

He added, “I think we played 32 minutes tonight. We had a great win against Durfee, down by 13 in the third quarter and we came back to win by 12 last game, and the light kind of came on for us. I kind of put us in a hole early with my defensive scheme, but we switched and the kids really dug in.”

Attleboro scored the first five points of the fourth on drives to the basket by MacKenzie Roberts (her only basket of the game) and sophomore Nyah Thomas (seven points, six rebounds). Faith Roy scored on a drive and Shannon O’Connor hit a free throw to cut the lead to 41-38, but Abby Struminski added a pair at the line and Sam Pierce (14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) scored in the paint to extend the advantage back to seven points.

“Sam obviously is a phenomenal player, she’s one of the best players in our league,” Crowley said about getting the senior forward involved offensively. “We’re working on recognition when to give Sam the ball and when not to and I thought we move the ball pretty well tonight.”

Pierce followed with a kick-out pass to junior Jordyn Lako for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 11. Lako scored all 14 of her points in the second half and the point guard also chipped in with nine rebounds. After O’Connor knocked down a late three for KP, Thomas scored in transition and Lako got a steal and layup to seal the win.

First-year KP coach Amy Siggens said, “We don’t go very far in our bench and we’re very guard heavy. The guards we have are very good, so I think it comes down to is trying to get people subs and rest where we can. We just runs out of steam, but that’s something that can be fixed.”

O’Connor, the Boston University-commit, started the game on fire, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Crowley admitted that the Bombardiers had to change things up defensively to slow down the junior guard, who he had coached for the past two seasons.

“Shannon is such a special player,” said Crowley of using Lako, Thomas, and Pierce to guard O’Connor. “The three of them did a nice job on her and we just tried to take her out of the equation and for the most part it worked in the second half. First half, they ran some good stuff for her but we made some adjustments at halftime.”

Pierce kept Attleboro in the game in the first quarter with seven points and Liv McCall gave Attleboro a much-needed perimeter threat with all nine of her points coming in the first half (on three shot from beyond the arc).

The Warriors were also forced to play without starting forward Faye Veilleux for the majority of the game after the sophomore twisted an ankle in the first quarter.

“It really hurt us,” said Siggens. “She’s really been fighting hard to work on her positioning and getting better as a player. She was really starting to get it and to go down like that is too bad.”

The teams went into halftime tied at 25 apiece and the third quarter was back-and-forth. Julia Leroux (nine points, six rebounds) gave KP a brief lead and O’Connor scored four points in the quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Leroux added a pair from the line to give the Warriors a lead at 33-32.

“She never stops playing,” said Siggens of Leroux. “She’s fun to watch and she really wants to go get it. I couldn’t ask anything more of her tonight.”

Christina Hathaway scored inside to put KP ahead by three points, but the Bombardiers rallied behind Lako, who scored eight of the team’s 11 points in the third. She buried a three off a Rory Hopkins pass to tie the gam and added a free throw to give Attleboro a slim edge heading to the fourth quarter.

KP was also hamstrung heading into the fourth after O’Connor picked up her fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third. “Foul trouble seems to be what we’re getting into but I’ll take it because it means they’re playing hard,” Siggens said. “We’ll figure out all the little things and controlling it better later.”

For almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Attleboro held KP to just three points, pushing the lead and securing a third league win in four games this season.

Crowley said, “We really clamped down in the fourth quarter when we had to, but we put ourselves in position where we didn’t have to scramble from behind and once we kind of took off there in the beginning of the fourth quarter that was the difference in the game.”

Attleboro (5-3, 3-1) will travel to Mansfield on Wednesday just one back in the win column of the Hornets in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (2-4, 1-3) will host Oliver Ames looking to get back on track.

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Late Goal Ends Improbable Attleboro Third Period Rally

Attleboro hockey
Attleboro senior forward Jake Parker scored a pair of goals during the Bombardiers’ third period comeback from three goals down against Weston. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Heading into the third period of an early season game trailing by three goals, Attleboro could easily have gone through the motions for the final 15 minutes of Thursday night’s non-league Div. 3 game against Weston at the New England Sports Village.

Instead, the Bombardiers came out flying and dominated the third period to create a remarkable ending.

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Attleboro came all the way back to tie it thanks to a pair of goals from senior Jake Parker and a shorthanded breakaway goal by junior Cam Littig with just 1:15 remaining, but Weston tacked on a power play goal 30 seconds later to pull out a thrilling 4-3 victory and hand the Bombardiers their second dramatic one-goal loss of the season.

“It was just a matter of winning the third period,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about the team talk in the second intermission. “I just told the guys, ‘You could’ve lost the game 10-0 but you didn’t. It hurts right now because, for the second time this year, you were a minute away.’ ”

He added, “It was an exciting game and there was no give-up and if they hold that attitude we’re going to be sitting in that locker room on the other side of things.”

The first period was mostly uneventful with both teams held to just five shots on goal apiece. The Bombardiers’ depleted defensive unit, senior Ed Noel, junior Kyle McCabe, and sophomore Sam Flynn, were pushed by the Wildcats, who had plenty of zone time in the period, but clogged shooting lanes and limited the looks on goalie Evan Andrews.

In the second period, Attleboro found its groove on offense, but it was Weston that found the back of the net. The Bombardiers held an 11-4 edge in shots in the second, but the Wildcats scored three times on their four shots.

Thomas Burke had the opening goal with 11:15 left in the period on a one-timer from the slot after a perfect pass by Cooper Griffin, who scored a pair of goals and assisted on Weston’s two other scores. With 5:30 left in the second Griffin got on the board with a power play goal off a Burke assist and then added another with 26.2 on the clock after a defensive mistake allowed him to skate free into the zone down the right wing.

Attleboro had more than its fair share of scoring opportunities in the period. Freshman Aidan Diggin had the first chance with a backhand after beating his marker on the left circle but sophomore Zack Korbin (32 saves) made the stop. Diggin had another chance a few minutes later off a Ryan Morry pass but the one-timer was knocked aside.

Littig also saw a one-timer from the slot, set up by good work around the crease by Liam McDonough, miss just wide of the post.

“They were good shots,” said Homer. “They were good opportunities. Any one of those pop in at a certain time then it’s a different game but they’re creating those opportunities.”

The third period was a continuation of the second, as Attleboro was on the offensive from the start. The Bombardiers would hold a 19-6 advantage in shots in the period and 35-15 for the game.

McDonough hit a one-timer into the chest of Korbin early in the period, but then went to the box for a holding call. Down a skater, Attleboro had a clean breakaway when Diggin jumped the play at the blue line and stole the puck, but Korbin stood tall to deny the chance. Another penalty extended the Weston power play but again Attleboro’s shorthanded unit created offense.

Parker this time stepped up to make the defensive play and get free behind the Weston defensemen. He was hauled down just as he was lining up his shot and was given a penalty shot. The team’s leading scorer faked forehand and roofed his backhand to get Attleboro on the board with 9:04 to play.

The Bombardiers went on the power play a minute later and 20 seconds into the man advantage nearly cut the lead to one. Parker’s shot from the point through traffic was kicked aside at the last second by Korbin, who then managed to get a blocker to Littig’s rebound effort. Two minutes later, Parker struck the post trying to pick the top corner off a face-off win.

As time was winding down and it seemed like the Bombardiers’ effort would get them no closer, Parker went one-on-three against the Weston defense. He dropped his shoulder and managed to split a pair of players and again went top shelf with a backhand to cut the lead to 3-2 with 2:09 left.

“He’s our best player,” Homer said of Parker. “He’s got to do those things; it’s his job really. We’ve got to look to the veterans to do those kind of things, especially early in the season. Jake has to be our goal scorer, he has to be. We’re looking to him for that.”

Parker was called for a controversial penalty with 1:24 left that left the Attleboro bench furious and the Bombardiers without their best player on the ice for the remainder of the game. Again Attleboro did not give up. Weston won the face-off in the attacking zone, but Littig beat the defense to the puck on the blue line and he scored his breakaway chance to tie the game.

Homer explained, “I’ve got some quick guys out there and we work on anticipating, not just on the PK, having that jump ahead of the play and knowing what’s coming next.”

Thirty seconds later and the excitement in the rink was subdued by a Weston winner. Griffin fired a shot from the left circle that Andrews could only parry and Michael Sacco was stationed on the back post to tap the rebound into an empty net. Littig nearly answered back just a few seconds later, but the Wildcats managed to clear the puck and claim the two points.

“We’re so excited,” said Homer of the final goal, “the emotions overtake them and each one of them is out there trying to do their best and you get out of position and leave two guys open. It’s just those little things that make a difference in that situation.”

The coach was proud of the fact that the team found a way back into the game in the third period. He said, “It just shows that the team is willing to face the adversity and battle. These guys will battle.”

Attleboro (3-2) will not play again until Jan. 6 when the Bombardiers are on the road to open Hockomock League play against Foxboro.

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