MANSFIELD, Mass. – The game seemed over in the third quarter. Mansfield had found another gear defensively and used an 18-0 run either side of halftime to take control against BC High in Tuesday night’s Div. 1 South first round game in the Albertini Gym.
It is not often that the Hornets let what grew to as much as a 18-point lead slip, but the Eagles are not a typical No.15 seed and they came storming back. The lead was down to single digits by the end of the third quarter and only four points early in the fourth.
Each time, Mansfield found a response to keep the Eagles at bay, but with only a 1:34 left the lead was just five, and with 34.8 on the clock it was down to just two. While the Hornets are the defending state champions and come into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, there is still a learning curve for a number of players who are seeing their first significant tournament action.
As it turned out, the Hornets had just enough to get the win. Tommy Dooling got into the lane and dropped a pass off to T.J. Guy for the layup with just seconds left that put Mansfield back up four and that was how it would finish, a 57-53 win that could also serve a message about having to finish off an opponent when on top.
“They’re more like a 14-6, second round, opponent,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “Hopefully this game will help us and make these guys understand the value of, in the state tournament a 12-point lead can be gone in under a minute and you need to stay committed to doing the right thing. When we do the right thing, we’re tough to beat.”
When these two teams met back in December, Mansfield won by 22 points, but the Eagles were without 6-foot-8 junior center Ozzy Trapilo. The Eagles were without him for large portions of the first half on Tuesday as well because the Hornets went right at the big man from the start and got him into early foul trouble (three fouls in the opening five minutes).
“We didn’t really have a game plan to go at him,” said Vaughan, who admitted that Mansfield may have benefited from some calls early. “We really wanted to neutralize him in terms of giving Sam [Stevens] the opportunity to get shots because he had to come out and play him and then get T.J. screening and moving.”
Guy (14 points) took the ball into the body of the BC High center and earned a three-point play for Mansfield’s first basket. Sam Stevens (11 points) added a three-point play on an offensive rebound and Dooling (13 points) twice got to the rim, but the Hornets allowed eight points to Noah Rothhaar and were tied 12-12 after one.
The game stayed tight in the second and the Eagles took a 20-19 lead following a jumper by Kevin Keenan. BC High wouldn’t score again until midway through the third quarter. Mansfield closed the half on an 8-0 run. Stevens put the Hornets back in front with layup off a Damani Scott assist, Dooling drilled a three off a Matty Boen assist, and then Scott got to the rim on a drive to make it 27-20 at the break.
Mansfield kept its foot on the gas in the third quarter. Scott (game-high 15 points) got the crowd fired up with a steal and two-hand slam and that was followed by Guy picking off a pass and finishing with the first dunk of his career. After a pull-up three by Boen, it was suddenly 40-22 and the game was on the verge of getting out of hand.
It was on the verge but the Eagles made sure that it never fully got away. BC High answered Mansfield’s 21-2 run with a 14-3 run of its own, capped by Mike Loughnane’s third three of the night, and the Eagles got the lead back down to just seven.
“I thought the biggest momentum swing for and against us was T.J.’s dunk,” Vaughan explained, “because it excited the crowd, the place was rocking, it was awesome. We come down three straight possessions and it was like, let me do that now. Stay focused on what we do.”
He added, “It’s just a commitment to playing the team game. When we play the team game, we’re very difficult to defend because we have five guys who can play. When we start trying to go one-on-one, then we’re easy to defend.”
The lead was nine heading to the fourth, but a floater by Gavin Larnard and then a three-point play by Keenan had the Eagles down just four points and the visiting bench fired up. Stevens, who had been quiet for most of the game, sprung into action and drilled back-to-back threes to extend the advantage back to 10.
Larnard came right back with a three of his own, but Scott got an open look at a jumper off a Guy feed. A pair of free throws and a layup for Loughnane, off a steal by Korey Reynolds, got the Eagles to within five at 53-48. The home crowd was starting to get a little antsy.
Dooling drained a pull-up jumper to calm the nerves temporarily, but Keenan hit a turn-around baby hook from the left block and then Reynolds got free on the left wing for a clean look at a three and with only 34.8 remaining Mansfield got the ball over half and called timeout.
BC High elected to play the defensive possession out rather than foul and Dooling managed to get into the lane as the shot clock was winding down, drew the defense, and laid off a pass to Guy, who was able to get the ball up over the rim for the basket that sealed the win.
Mansfield (19-4) will host 10th seed Xaverian, which beat Needham, in the D1 South quarterfinal on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the seventh-seeded Franklin boys soccer team, it was the 10th-seeded BC High Eagles that were on the right end of things.
The Eagles scored a goal in the final seconds of the first half to level the match, and then just minutes after Franklin had a golden chance, BC High scored the go-ahead goal and earned a 2-1 decision on the road at Pisini Field.
“It was frustrating but we had our chances to score too, and it was frustrating that we didn’t finish there. I think in the end, probably the better team won, they were bigger and more athletic than we were. But I thought our kids played really hard and gave it their best shot. I’m really happy with the team and the season. They really turned it around the second half of the season, which I hope will give the returning players motivation to build off of next year.”
While BC High came out with all the energy, it was Franklin that struck first, opening the scoring just over 15 minutes into the contest.
In just their second foray into the attacking third, the Panthers cashed in. Junior Lucas Moura collected a clearance attempt and alertly played the ball in behind a pair of defenders. Senior Ethan Bowenmade the run onto the ball, getting a touch to the ball just as the BC High keeper came sliding out. The keeper got a piece of the shot but not enough as Bowen’s touch found the back of the net and gave Franklin a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute.
After the Eagles had controlled the game, the goal from the Panthers seemed to instill some confidence and the game equaled out in terms of possession and chances as halftime approached.
In fact, best chance over the next 20 minutes belonged to the host Panthers. In the 29th minute, senior Nick Barry switched the field of play with a nice cross to an open Tim Duval but his shot from atop the area went over the bar.
Just as it looked liked the Panthers would take a lead into the halftime break, the Eagles leveled the match. Off a corner kick in the final minute, BC High had its initial bid parried away by junior keeper Jack Rudolph but the rebound fell to the feet of Eagles’ senior Luke Reid and he buried the loose ball to knot the score.
“There’s no question, our goal clearly changed things,” Bositis said of his team getting confidence from the first goal. “There’s no doubt we played with more confidence after that. But giving up the goal right before halftime, that was the killer for me. Giving up a goal with 30 seconds in the half, that’s a big momentum swing.”
While BC High gained some momentum at the break, the Panthers quickly reasserted themselves in the game, having their best three chances of the second half in the first 20 minutes of the frame.
In the 45th minute, Duval found junior Donny Tappin and his first touch put him through a pair of defenders but his off balance bid was over the bar.
Two minutes alter, the Panthers continued to apply the pressure as Barry ripped a hard cross that forced a diving save in the area from the keeper to prevent the ball from finding a recipient.
And then in the 58th minute, Franklin had its best chance to take the lead back. Duval battled his way past a defender on a long ball from Nitin Chaudhury to get into the area. He beat another defender and cut past the oncoming keeper to have a look at the net but his bid with the outside of his foot rolled wide of the frame.
The Panthers found themselves on the end of an unlucky call just minutes later after the ref in front of the play allowed the play to continue, but the official on the opposite side of the field called Franklin for a foul.
The Eagles sent the free kick into the area and a scrum ensued before Anatoliy Berezyuk got the final touch on it for a 2-1 lead.
The Panthers finish the season 10-7-2.
“Our goal was to get into the tournament,” Bositis said. “I wasn’t sure how many games we’d win but I was very happy for them to get 10 wins. The first half of the season didn’t go as we expected, I thought we’d be a bit better. But at the halfway point, they turned it around and went 7-1-1 down the stretch, they had some really good games. And they worked their butts off tonight too.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan mentioned that sometimes when senior Tyler Boulter misses his first three point attempt, it can sometimes take him a while to even attempt a second.
That was not the case on Saturday night at Taunton High School.
After missing his first look on the opening possession of the game, Boulter connected on his next eight trifectas, shooting 13-for-16 from the field overall en route to a career-high 35 points, leading the top-seeded Hornets to a 71-58 win over #8 BC High.
“He started the year hurt and he’s had to grind and battle and get his legs underneath him,” Vaughan said of Boulter. “He missed his first, and sometimes when he misses his first it takes him a while to shoot his second whether it goes in or not. He stuck with it and what a performance.”
It wasn’t until 2:42 left in the opening quarter when senior Sam Hyland hauled in an offensive rebound off a miss and dished it out to a wide open Boulter that the senior got it going.
That three created a 12-5 advantage for the Hornets but the Eagles quickly put up six straight to cut it to one.
Once again, Boulter came up big with a three, sparking a 7-0 run (Hyland putback, Khristian Conner layup) to end the quarter with Mansfield up 19-11.
“I think we struggled a little bit in the first game against [BC High] so I felt I could help in that regard,” Boulter said. “And just defensively, picking up the energy and getting out there and running the floor. I just wanted to create some energy.”
The Eagles started the second with an 8-1 run to get within a point again, but Boulter had yet another answer dropping his third triple of the game. And on the ensuing possession, Boulter picked off a pass and went in alone for an easy layup.
“The thing with Tyler, he left last season as a possible league MVP candidate at the level he’s capable of playing at,” Vaughan said. “I think it took him enough trust in his body, and then get his basketball legs under him. He’s just been able to get into a nice rhythm and he’s played big for us in key moments.”
He added a free throw and another transition bucket later in the quarter as well. BC High cut the deficit to five with two minutes left but Hyland converted down low and Boulter hit a triple, giving the Hornets a 36-27 edge at the break.
Although Boulter had an impressive first half (6-for-8 FG, 3-for-4 3PT), he had more to offer in the second half, and his shooting became contagious.
Boulter opened the half with a three out of a set play but the Eagles landed a counter punch in the form of a 7-0 run to get within three.
Of course it was Boulter who put a run to a halt, hitting a trifecta to bump the lead to six. When BC High got it within four, Boulter hit yet another triple off a feed from Hyland and then senior Ryan Otto joined in on the fun with a three of his own to make it 48-38.
“I had a moment of deja vu,” Vaughan admitted. In the team’s first meeting, the Eagles used a run early in the third quarter to create the separation they needed to win. “I think we came down and got back to back baskets that got it back to 10 so we kind of weathered it. We talked about how BC High is capable of scoring points in a hurry. [BC High’s Travis] Evee (25 points) is obviously one of the best players in the state and he’s going to get his.
“But you have to come back down and capitalize on the other end. I thought we did a nice job of capitalizing tonight when our backs were against the wall. When they cut it four or six, I thought we did a good job of getting a good possession, not just any possession.”
Hyland got in on the action with a three, and a few possessions later, Scott deposited his first triple of the game, giving Mansfield a 56-44 lead through three quarters of play. In the third quarter, Mansfield shot 6-for-8 from deep.
“It’s about doing what we do within our team structure,” Vaughan said of getting the outside looks. “We’ve seemed to be a better team in the second half of the year when we control the tempo of the offense. Historically we’ve liked to score in transition. This team has found more opportunities running in the half court. They really do a good job of helping each other out and making each other better by setting screens or cutting hard, or just little things that creating more space.
“I think three of [Boulter’s] threes were off offensive rebounds. We weren’t doing anything to be offensive geniuses there, that’s just doing a really good job on the glass. That was one of our focuses today, rebounding. We didn’t think we did a good job the first time, I thought we were much better this time and we got some key baskets. I’m not sure how many offensive rebounds we had but I’d say most of them resulted in baskets.”
Boutler’s three with 6:23 to play made it 62-46, and then he converted through the contact at the rim to make it 66-53. After a monstrous block from McCoy on one end, Boulter took a nice pass from Scott and finished for an easy two.
After a steal by Hyland on the defensive end, Boulter put a bow on the win by draining his eighth trifecta of the game.
“Our goal was to win the three point line,” said BC High coach Bill Loughnane. “Needless to say we did not succeed in that. We were trying to take it away but they did a nice job of running their stuff, getting to that option and all of a sudden there’s a guy standing there by himself and they didn’t miss tonight.”
Mansfield boys basketball (23-2) advances to the D1 South Sectional Semifinals. The Hornets will take on #4 Newton North (18-4) on Monday at 7:30 at Taunton High.
The difference ended up being the Warriors converting in the half they had the majority of control while its defense kept the Eagles at bay when the visitors dictated the pace; King Philip picking up a 1-0 decision in the D1 South Quarterfinals.
“We struggled to score a little bit today but you expect a battle at this point in the season,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. “I think if a couple of those went in, we would have been better off but I have a lot of respect for BC High. They are a good program historically and they were a good program again this year.
“We were prepared to battle. We made it a little bit more difficult on ourselves but not scoring more goals but at the same time, I love the heart and character my guys had today.”
King Philip was in control from the opening whistle, notching a pair of serious scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of the game and adding good looks on a pair of corner kicks.
In the sixth minute, Larsen Keys and Anthony Bozza connected with a one-two sequence before Keys delivered a service into the area. Thomas Lugten rose up and met the cross with his head, forcing BC High keeper Mike Ball to leap and tip the ball just over the bar.
In the 15th minute, Bozza served in a corner that senior Cam Mullins jumped up to meet, nodding his header towards the near post but Ball was quick to get down and make the stop.
In the 28th minute, senior Colby Koch did well to get some space from his defender, took a touch to his left and hit a low shot that was deflected but Ball did well to recover and make the diving save.
Finally, after a handful of early chances, the Warriors were able to break through just before the half hour mark. The ball bounced out to the top of the area in front of Lugten and he connected on a volley. The ball hit the bottom of a BC High defender who had jumped to block the shot. That deflection put the ball right inside the far post, sneaking under Ball to put KP up 1-0.
The Warriors were unable to find a second before the halftime break. From the opening whistle of the second half, the Eagles seized control of the game. Using a kick and run direct style of play, BC High tried to expose a weakness in KP’s defense but were unable to.
“We made defense a priority today because we’re going to have to be a good defensive team to keep good opponents from scoring goals,” Gale said. “We tried to create as many transitional opportunities by winning the ball back quickly. Defense was definitely a priority.
“[BC High] played direct balls quite a bit [against Quincy] – we knew that’d be tough to defend against all the time. That late offsides call was a blessing. Overall we defended well though. At this point in the season, you have to be able to defend the direct play.”
King Philip’s defense was strong in the air, continually clearing away long balls from the Eagles.
The Warriors did have some chances in the second half, but Ball was fantastic in net for BC High.
In the 58th minute, a long throw fell to the feet of Koch, who was on the edge of the six yard box. Koch tried to turn and shoot but Ball made the save in close. In the 60th minute, Keys flashed a header just wide off a corner kick from Bozza.
BC High finally had a service sneak through King Philip’s defense in the 63rd minute but Warrior goalie Eli O’Neill was quick off his line and gobbled the loose ball before an Eagle could get a touch.
Mike Rowe made a nice cut inside the area to get free in the 67th minute but his shot was denied by Ball. The rebound fell to the feet of Koch but he was unable to get around it before BC High cleared it.
As the final minutes ticked away, BC High pushed number forward, allowing KP to get off on a break. Tyler Mann fed Koch in alone on goal. Koch did well to wait for Ball to make his slide and tried to elevate the ball over the keeper but an impressive one hand saved knocked the ball down. The rebound fell to Koch but before he could slot it in, Ball dove back into position and handled the follow up.
Seconds after Ball’s double save, it looked as though BC High had found the equalizer. After a service was cleared out, the Eagles dropped another ball back in behind the defense. The ball deflected its way to a wide open Ryan Cuozzo behind the defense, who buried the ball at the far post but the refs whistled for offsides. KP was able to kill off the last minute without another threat.
“It was a little frustrating at times but I told the guys they had to be disciplined,” Gale said. “At this point in the tournament, it’s going to be frustrating sometimes, you’re not going to win every single battle. It’s important to continue to make sure your disciplined in what has brought you success all season long.
King Philip boys soccer (17-1-2) advances to the D1 South Semifinal to take on #4 Braintree on Wednesday at 5:30 at Brockton High School. The Wamps beat Attleboro 2-1 on a goal late in the game to reach the semifinal.