MANSFIELD, Mass. – Unlike some of the other teams that Mansfield will face on its state tournament run, the Hornets are not reliant on one or two scorers to power the offense. Instead, Mansfield utilizes its depth and can turn to a number of different players to score in its motion offense.
On Monday night in the nightcap of day one of the Roundball Classic against Brockton in the Albertini Gym, the Hornets showcased that depth with three players in double digits and 10 players on the scoresheet. Mansfield beat the Boxers 66-42 and advanced to the final of the tournament to face Weymouth.
“I’ve been out scouting the past couple days,” explained Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “Everyone’s talking about, it’s the single players versus the depth of the team and I think our scout is that the depth of our team is ultimately going to make this a potential team that can make a run.”
Even though a balanced attack is Mansfield’s strength, the Hornets also know that when they need baskets they can turn to senior Sam Goldberg. The forward put in another strong performance with a game-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
“I told him that he’s playing at an MVP-level right now,” said Vaughan. “He’s getting into a great rhythm, he’s not forcing it, he’s letting the game come to him.”
The Hornets controlled the game in the first quarter, but could not take advantage of the dominance because they could not make shots. Mansfield missed several layups and open looks from deep but still held a 12-6 lead behind four points each from Goldberg and classmate Phil Vigeant.
Mansfield broke the game wide open in the second. The Hornets closed out the half with a 13-2 run that opened up a 17-point lead by the break. Senior Benjamin Albanese got the run started with an offensive rebound in traffic, kicked it out to Max Boen who fired a pass to Vigeant for the layup.
Albanese added the next five points and then assisted on a three by Boen. Christian Weber finished the run with a drive to the basket for his lone hoop of the first half.
Vaughan said, “Their athleticism, I think, bothered us a little bit in the first quarter and probably made us play a little faster than we wanted. We settled down and saw the ball go through the bottom of the net a few times I think it changed the way we played.”
Brockton made a run to try and keep it close in the third quarter behind nine points from Quran Harris, but Mansfield continued to make the shots it needed, including Vigeant (12 points) drilling a three off a Weber pass to extend the lead back to 13.
“Phil’s just been steady all season,” said Vaughan. “He seems to be making a big shot when we need it the most. Tonight, we kind of felt like nothing was going right and then, bang, Phil steps up and knocks down a three at two different points of the game.”
Weber added a three-pointer and then Sam Hyland tossed an alley-oop to Goldberg. With just six seconds on the clock and the ball under the Brockton hoop, Mansfield turned to Weber to close out the quarter. The senior raced up court, weaved through traffic and hit a floater at the buzzer for a 46-30 lead.
“We had to talk to him at halftime and let him know that 1-for-6 and a couple of turnovers is not the way he needs to play,” said Vaughan. “He kept trying to force things to the basket…Once he made the three at the top of the key then everything started going for him.”
Weber (six assists) added five more of his 12 points in the fourth and Vigeant drilled another deep three. Ryan Otto and Goldberg each added four as the Hornets cruised to the victory and a spot in the final.
Mansfield (19-2, 15-1) will face Weymouth, coached by former Franklin head coach Dean O’Connor, in the final on Wednesday at 7:15.