TAUNTON, Mass. – In the middle of the D1 South Sectional championship game, the Mansfield boys basketball team put on a clinic in front of a jammed pack crowd inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High.
For over eight minutes, the Hornets dominated on both ends of the court. It started with terrific defense, and more often than not, ended with an extra pass and an open look. The result was a runaway win for the top-seeded Hornets, a 78-65 decision over #2 Brockton.
It’s Mansfield’s second D1 South Sectional title in the past three seasons.
“The guys seemed locked in,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “Anything they threw at us, we seemed to have an answer for it. I thought the ball movement was tremendous. Our ball movement is really good and when we move the basketball, I think a lot of different guys can contribute and that definitely happened in the second quarter.
“We start working on [the ball movement] in December, and around mid-January, I thought we were a kind of lackadaisical and guys were trying to get their own instead of running the offense. We just have to grind through those possessions to try and get to a point where it all seems to click. We always talk about playing our best in March and so far we are doing that.”
The momentum started with a 9-1 surge to end the opening quarter. After Brockton’s Isaac Lane drained a three-pointer to make it a two-point game at 13-11, the Hornets created a double-digit advantage with its late run.
Junior TJ Guy (six points, six rebounds) dished out one of his eight assists, finding classmate Brendan Foley wide open cutting to the basket for two. Junior Cincere Gill was fouled driving to the basket and hit two from the line, and junior Matt Boen (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored five straight points for a 22-12 advantage through eight minutes.
“A lot of times you see a team with that size, with that length, and that athleticism and guys seem to back up,” Vaughan said. “We want to go at them and find opportunities to score. Use the ball as your friend to move and get going in the offensive end.”
After finding success cutting to the basket, Mansfield found some space on the perimeter as both senior Sam Stevens (29 points, seven rebounds) and Boen drained early threes. That afforded Drew Rooney (10 points, six rebounds) space up the middle for a strong take and Guy turned an offensive board into a traditional three-point play, capping an 11-4 run for a 33-16 lead.
The Boxers converted a steal into points but Mansfield answered in the form of an 11-0 surge. Stevens started it with two free throws, Gill joined the three party with a triple of his own, and then Stevens splashed two more triples for a 44-18 lead.
Boen took a feed from Jack Colby and drained a three before Stevens added another one from deep as the Hornets took a 50-27 lead into halftime. In total, Mansfield hit nine first half three-pointers, including four apiece from Boen and Stevens.
“For us, we just have to trust the process,” Vaughan said. “If we do that, allow the game to come, we’ll settle into what we need to do and I think that makes a big difference for our comfort level. Then kids can go out there and make plays. It felt like we could score on every possession in the first half.
“They wanted to take away the perimeter, take away Matty and deny Sammy the ball. That let Drew get some easy baskets early, TJ could have had a couple more. That allowed more of our guys to get comfortable. Once they get comfortable, Sammy and Matty can get going.”
Brockton played better in the third quarter, hitting six field goals from the floor including three from deep. But Mansfield was quick to match the Boxers, as Stevens accounted for 10 of the Hornets’ 16 points in the quarter.
Freshman Chris Hill had a pair of finishes at the end of the press break and Rooney added a putback for the Hornets, Stevens had a three, hit five free throws, and drained a contested elbow jumper at the buzzer as Mansfield carried a 66-44 lead into the fourth.
“Sam has had a great second half of the year and a lot of that is from settling in and trusting his teammates,” Vaughan said. “It’s about understanding that he can pass up on an early shot to get one going. Once he starts doing that and feeling good, you trust him to take that early shot. And when he’s making them, you can play off of him a little bit and that makes a big difference.”
Mansfield’s lead hovered around 20 for the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter, a bucket from Hill on a feed from Boen giving the Hornets a 70-51 lead.
But Brockton kept it interesting with a bit of a late run. An 8-1 run made it 71-59 with just over two minutes to play, and the Boxers in possession. Brockton hit just one of two from the line and Boen came down the other end and converted through contact, completing a three-point play to essentially ice the win.
Mansfield boys basketball (advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the D1 North champion on Tuesday at the TD Garden at 7:15. Lowell (22-0) and Lynn English (21-2) meet on Saturday night in the D1 North Sectional final.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Needham got the benefit of a layup right at (or just after) the halftime horn and went into the locker room with a little bit of momentum. The Rockets added a layup early in the third quarter and trailed by just two points in Sunday afternoon’s Div. 1 South semifinal at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House.
It felt like a game that would go down to the wire. At least it did, until Mansfield clicked into gear and put in arguably its best quarter of the season.
The Hornets went on a 16-0 run to take control and won the third quarter 24-4, dominating on both ends of the floor. Thanks to that big run after halftime, Mansfield rolled to a comfortable 73-52 victory and a fourth straight sectional final.
“Based on the margin and what we did defensively and offensively that it’s got to be up there with one of the better quarters we’ve had,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “We just did everything right. There were very few mistakes in that quarter.”
He added, “My biggest critique at the half is that we didn’t want to move the basketball and anytime we moved the basketball in the first half we got whatever we wanted. Once we did that in the third quarter, we looked like an all-star team.”
Chris Hill got the first basket of the third, which was matched by a layup from Jacob Hammermesh. Hill then assisted on a three by Matt Boen (15 points and 12 rebounds). TJ Guy (17 points and five assists) grabbed a defensive rebound and turned into a layup on the other end and then followed that with a drive to the rim plus a foul to put Mansfield up 10.
After Boen swerved his way through traffic for a tough layup, Sam Stevens (game-high 20 points) took over. He buried a three in the corner in front of the Mansfield bench and added a second one from the opposite corner in front of the Mansfield student section. After a Will Dorion free throw, Stevens answered with a drive to the basket and a 51-32 lead.
Dorion (16 points) added another free throw, but then Drew Rooney, who was tasked with matching up against Needham’s star on the defensive side, drove baseline for a layup.
It was a complete performance by the Hornets in the third and put them on the brink of the final.
“I think we just committed a lot more on the defensive end, make sure we’re talking a lot more,” Stevens explained. “A couple of the guys that aren’t used to being in this environment and are on the quieter side had to speak up and that helped us out. In transition, we did a good job getting back and calling out our guys.”
To secure the win, Mansfield needed to make sure and not let a 22-point lead slip over the final eight minutes, but that looked precarious a couple minutes into the fourth when Needham used a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 15 and forced Vaughan to take a timeout.
“I thought at the start of the fourth we went into a mode of like just trying to hang on,” he said. “After that timeout, I thought we came out and had three good possessions, both ends of the floor, that kind of knocked them in the face a little bit.”
Boen got free for a three-pointer late in the shot clock that restored the lead to 18. Stevens set up Hill for a layup and Guy added back-to-back finishes at the rim. Stevens added six more in the fourth and, despite Dorion scoring nine points in the quarter, the Hornets were able to see out the victory in style.
“I thought everything we wanted to do defensively, for the most part, worked,” said Vaughan. “Obviously, it starts with Drew containing Dorion and keeping him kind of in check and once you get to the second level I thought the other guys stepped up. We closed out possessions by rebounding the ball well.”
Mansfield’s offense got into high gear right from the opening tip, as the Hornets scored 22 points in the first to grab a six-point lead. Stevens got things started with a pair from beyond the arc, Guy scored six points in the paint (while dishing out three assists) and Boen added five. Brendan Foley also came off the bench and hit a big three.
Needham hung around thanks in part to seven points from Johar Singh, but the senior wouldn’t score again until he added a fourth quarter free throw.
The fluidity of Mansfield’s offense ground to a halt in the second, as Needham held the Hornets to just nine points. Tim Reidy had a pair of steals that turned into layups on the other end, but a Guy offensive rebound put the Hornets back up 28-27 and then Foley drilled a three off a Rooney assist.
Dorion attempted a long three at the buzzer that fell short and Matt Fernandez grabbed the rebound and scored. It appeared that the layup was after the buzzer and the Mansfield bench was furious, but the score was 31-29 at the break.
Eight minutes of game time later, the Hornets were up by 22 and heading to another South final.
“I think we’re a tough matchup,” said Vaughan. “Who do you put on TJ? Who do you put on Sammy or Matty, who’s been playing great, who do you put on him now that he’s bringing the ball over?”
Stevens and the Hornets have plenty of experience on this stage and this particular court and that comfort level was obvious on Sunday. He said, “If someone’s dribbling too much or trying to take it to the rim too much, he makes sure to get us back and work the ball around, make sure everyone touches the ball.”
Mansfield (21-3) will face the No. 2 seed Brockton on Friday night at Taunton in a rematch of the 2018 South final that the Hornets won on their way to a state title.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Just minutes after a thrilling high school game between Hockomock League rivals Mansfield and Attleboro, Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan summed it up perfectly.
“You could have charged double and people still would have gotten their money’s worth.”
In front of a packed standing-room-only crowd inside James Albertini Gymnasium, the third meeting between the Hornets and Bombardiers proved to the best of the series. And in the end, it had the same result as the first two with top-seeded Mansfield clawing out a 54-52 win over Attleboro in a D1 South Quarterfinal clash.
How it played out, however, was far different from the two regular season meetings between Kelley-Rex foes. This go-around, Mansfield had to dig itself out of a 12-point hole in the second half, and after struggling from the free-throw line all game (11-for-26), sank clutch shots from the charity stripe in the final seconds and held their breath as a near full-court heave from the Bombarders just missed at the buzzer.
“Just play harder, play with a sense of urgency,” Vaughan said of the turnaround. “I talked with the two seniors Sammy [Stevens] and Drew [Rooney], told them they weren’t going to go out this way and to put it all on the line, leave it on the table and see what happens.”
What happened was a new aggressive approach from junior TJ Guy (11 points, seven rebounds), attacking the basket with a purpose. And while that set the table for the comeback, the space it created allowed junior Matt Boen (22 points, four rebounds, four assists) to carry the Hornets over the hump and into the lead.
Attleboro’s Nick McMahon (13 points, seven rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 37-25 edge with 4:49 left in the third quarter, the first time the Bombarders pushed the advantage to 12 points. Guy sliced through the defense for two, was fouled after collecting his own rebound after getting to the basket again, and once again attacked the basket for a traditional three-point play.
“I thought TJ did a good job coming out in the third and being aggressive to the basket and that opened things up and guys had to make shots,” Vaughan said. “We needed multiple people in the room to fight and he took it to heart. And what I was proud of TJ about is when they started to adjust to what he was doing, he came down three straight possessions and distributed the ball, so we didn’t end up just watching him every time.”
Nonetheless, McMahon answered with a triple on the other end and Attleboro once again had a 12-point advantage, this time at 42-30 with 3:23 left to play.
After four straight takes from Guy, the Hornets found space on the perimeter and Boen sank a triple to get the run going. An Attleboro turnover resulted in another triple from Boen after a feed from Guy. A handful of empty possessions from both sides preceded yet another three from Boen with just 12 seconds left in the third and the Hornets cut the deficit to just 42-39 entering the fourth quarter.
“TJ is a special player for them and he’s got quick feet, he got to the rim a couple times in the third quarter,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “And that matchup favored them when TJ had the ball in those situations and he kind of took the game over. He’s a very good player, and once he gets his, we started to collapse a bit and then they start kicking it out and Boen went off. They have some terrific players and when they needed it, those guys stepped up.
“That kind of changed the flow of the game and it coincided with their defensive pressure too.”
Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio (11 points, three assists) pushed the Bombarders’ lead to 44-39 to open the quarter but a 5-0 spurt from the Hornets — a free throw from Boen, two from Stevens at the line, and a steal from Brendan Foley that led to a bucket from Boen — tied things up with 5:52 to play. Both Foley and junior Jack Colby gave the Hornets strong minutes defensively in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Matty was awesome in the third quarter and we needed someone to step up and start playing,” Vaughan said. “I think Matty was kind of holding back [in the first half] for some reason, whether it was the atmosphere or the first playoff game where he’s ‘the man.’ It’s our first tournament game, some guys have more experience. I think he just needed a half to figure out how he could be effective and once the first one falls, he started to play with confidence.
The Bombarders missed on a pair of three-point chances before Rooney went up and under for two, only for Attleboro senior Qualeem Charles (10 points, nine rebounds) to answer on the other end.
“They forced some turnovers in the second half,” Houle said, the Bombardiers with eight turnovers after the halftime break. “I thought our rhythm on offense was pretty good early but they got us to turn the ball over and really pressured us. You get energy off of the defense and that’s what they did.
“We like to be in these grind it out games, I had a lot of confidence we would find a way to tie it up and get the win, but [Mansfield] has some terrific players too.
Stevens came up with a big block in the lane and Boen hit his sixth triple of the game to put the Hornets ahead with 3:29 to go. Attleboro once again was off the mark from three, and then had a possession in which they missed two more. Stevens deflected a pass that led to a steal from Boen, but Attleboro got the stop and McMahon hit a little runner in the lane to make it 49-48 with 1:16 to go.
Attleboro got the turnover it needed but came up just short on a baseline layup take. Stevens hit both from the line with 23.3 left for a 51-48 lead and Guy added another for a 52-48 advantage.
McMahon made two at the line to get within two before Stevens hit another for a 53-50 lead. McMahon kept the Bombarders in it with two more from the line before Boen pushed the lead to 54-52 with 3.7 seconds left. Attleboro’s heave at the buzzer was off the back of the rim.
“I’m certainly very proud of our guys and the effort we had tonight and throughout the season, especially our seniors and the amazing crowd we had tonight,” Houle said, with at least half of the crowd at Mansfield clad in Attleboro blue. “You see that many kids and that many fans there before a game, it really shows how much like this group and that made me proud. This has been a terrific group.”
Mansfield built a 15-13 edge after one quarter due to some strong shooting from the perimeter. Boen, Rooney, and freshman Chris Hill all hit from deep while Guy and Stevens had success down low. Attleboro kept pace by going to the hoop, as both Charles and Lorenzo Wilson had four points each.
The second quarter belonged to the Bombardiers, outscoring the hosts 14-2 in the frame to build a double-digit lead by halftime. The Hornets had four turnovers against a strong Attleboro defense and went 0-for-8 from the floor. Mansfield’s only points came at the line, although they missed six straight at one point.
On the flip side, Jason Weir hit his first of three made three-pointers and Ciccio went off his nine points in the quarter, including an impressive bucket to beat the buzzer where he split a pair of defenders and nailed a pull up jumper.
“I thought in the first quarter we were okay,” Vaughan said. “I think we were ahead as many as five and then we get to the second quarter and we scored two points. When’s the last time we scored just two points in a quarter? I think we just had to find our rhythm.”
Mansfield boys basketball (21-3) advances to the D1 South Semifinal against #4 Needham, who took down #5 Newton North 59-46. The Hornets and Rockets will tipoff at 3:30 on Sunday at Taunton High. Attleboro finishes the season at 17-7.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – When Mansfield went up by 13 in the third quarter of Monday night’s Roundball Classic opener against Needham at the Albertini Gym, there was a sense that the Hornets were going to cruise to a big win. The Rockets had other ideas, eventually trimming that lead down to as few as two points late in the fourth quarter.
One of the things that has made Mansfield so successful in recent years is its ability to find ways to win close games against good teams. Monday was no different, as the Hornets got a big stop, Sam Stevens knocked down a pair of clutch free throws, and Mansfield walked away with a 63-58 victory.
Matt Boen was once again the star man for the Hornets, leading the way with 23 points, but also pulling down 12 rebounds and being an impact player on both ends of the court.
“It’s Matty being Matty at this time of the year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “He’s been playing great the last couple of games, he steps in and makes big plays, and keeps us at a good pace on offense. I thought his play was exceptional.”
It was Boen that got the Hornets off and running in the opening quarter, scoring 12 points in the first. He buried a three while being hit to make it 7-5, then drove and took contact before finishing at the rim for a 10-10 tie, and grabbed a steal and turned it into a layup to make it 15-10.
“When a guy can go from the point guard position, cover on the perimeter, and find ways to go and get 12 rebounds, it says a lot about his game plan and how he conducts himself,” Vaughan added about Boen’s all-around game.
TJ Guy added four points, including a tough and-one off a dish by Brendan Foley that pushed the lead to five. Needham’s star guard Will Dorian drilled his third three of the first quarter to close the gap to 18-16 after one. He scored nine of his team-high 19 in the first but only made two more shots from the field for the remainder of the game.
The Rockets were using a 1-3-1 zone in the first half and Mansfield was able to move the ball well enough to get good looks both on the perimeter and with Guy (10 points, five rebounds, and four assists) in the paint.
“He’s special too,” Vaughan said about Guy. “He’s pretty dominant and when he gets inside like that we’re a pretty tough matchup. It’s just a matter of him being consistently dedicated to get himself in those positions.”
Stevens (16 points) scored six in the second and Chris Hill stepped up with five off the bench to help Mansfield build the lead to nine at the break. Hill and Boen hit back-to-back threes and Guy scored with a strong post move to make it 34-21, but Tim Reidy scored six points in the closing minutes to pull Needham back to single digits.
In the third quarter, Needham clamped down defensively, holding Mansfield to just eight points, but the Rockets only managed 10, so only cut two points off the halftime lead.
Mansfield had the lead back up to 13 when Stevens got a steal and transition layup. Then Boen turned a defensive rebound into a runner plus contact on the other end to put the Hornets ahead 44-32, but Needham scored the final five points of the third to cut the lead to seven.
Dorion continued the comeback at the start of the fourth with a corner three to make it 44-40. After a pair of Guy free throws, John Hood (16 points) nailed a three but that was quickly matched on the other end by a corner three from Hill (eight points).
Reidy (11 points) hit from the outside and the lead was 50-46, but Stevens answered with a three in front of the Mansfield student section. Foley also drilled a clutch three that put the Hornets back up by 10 points, 58-48.
Vaughan said, “That’s what we’ve kind of been built on over the years is trying to find that diamond in the rough kid who can give us anything off the bench and a spark when they start taking away your main three. They have the confidence to step up and hit a big shot.”
Four straight at the line kept Needham in the game and then Hood got free for his fourth three of the game and the lead was right back down to four. Johar Singh drilled another three, the 11th of the night for the visitors, to make it 60-58. After a timeout with a little more than 26 seconds remaining (21 on the shot clock), Needham elected to foul Stevens and send him to the line for a one-and-one.
Stevens capped his senior night by making both at the line to make it a two-possession game. The Hornets made one more stop to seal the victory.
Mansfield (20-2) will face the winner of Brockton and Whitman-Hanson in the Roundball Classic final on Wednesday night.
Attleboro, 63 @ Taunton, 71 – Final – Taunton sophomore Tristan Herry poured in a career-high 26 points and sophomore Trent Santos added 18 points as the Tigers outlasted Attleboro to get the win. The Tigers held a 50-49 lead after three quarters before finishing strong to close out the win. Herry accounted for half of Taunton’s 10 three-pointers, hitting four in the first half as he netted 18 points in the opening two quarters. Santos (four three-pointers) did most of his damage after the break with 13 points in the second half. Junior Tyler Stewart scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half for Taunton. Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio scored a team-high 26 points, hitting on 10 two-point field goals, while senior Qualeem Charles added 18 points for the Bombardiers.
North Attleboro, 60 @ Canton, 46 – Final – North Attleboro sophomore Brody Rosenberg connected on three of his four three-pointers in the final quarter to help the Rocketeers pull away with the win. The visitors led after each the first three quarters (13-9 after one, 27-19 at at half), taking a 39-32 advantage into the fourth before putting together its best offensive quarter (21 points). Junior Edan Kelley joined in on the three party, connecting from downtown five times to finish with a career-high 19 points, including four trifectas in the second half. Junior George Ladd was a consistent on the offensive end for the Rocketeers with 15 points. Canton’s Eric Mischler sank three triples and finished with a team-high 13 points while Lanse Dorcelus added 11 points for the Bulldogs.
Sharon, 58 @ Foxboro, 74 – Final – Foxboro created separation with a big second quarter offensively and extended the lead with a big defensive quarter in the third, rolling to a win over Sharon. The win, coupled with Stoughton’s win over Milford, pulls the Warriors into a three-way tie with the Black Knights and Scarlet Hawks for first in the Davenport with one game to go. Foxboro had five players reach double figures for the first time this season with senior Brandon Borde leading the way with a team-high 21 points. Ryan Hughes, Kevin Gallagher, and Will Morrison each added 11 points for the Warriors while Donald Rogers finished with 10 points. Sharon’s Andrew Burton scored a team-high 15 points while Kiran Chandrasekaran added nine points for the Eagles.
Franklin, 59 @ Oliver Ames, 52 – Final – Franklin senior Chris Edgehill scored a team-high 16 points and in the process became the program’s all-time leading scorer. Edgehill tied Matt Palazini’s record of 1,306 with seven points in the first half and then broke the record in the third. Jack Rudolph hit four first half three-pointers, finishng wiht 12 points while both Steven Karayan and Brayden Sullivan chipped in 11 points for the Panthers, who totaled 10 three-pointers as a team. It was close throughout as Franklin held a five point lead after the first (17-12) and second quarters (30-25), and a four-point advantage (45-41) heading into the fourth. The Tigers cut the deficit to two (49-47) with 3:37 left but Franklin pulled away in the end for the win.
King Philip, 44 @ Mansfield, 62 – Final – Mansfield trailed by three after a quarter of play but surged ahead with a 21-point second quarter and never looked back in a win over King Philip. The Warriors had a 13-10 edge after eight minutes but the Hornets had six players score in the second to race in front, leading 31-23 at half and pushing the lead to 10 (46-36) going into the fourth. The Hornets limited to KP to 13 or fewer points in each quarter. In the second, junior TJ Guy scored eight of his team-high 20 points, Matt Boen added five of his 13 points, Drew Rooney and Chris Hill both scored from the floor, and Brendan Foley and Sam Stevens (10 points) each chipped in from the free throw line. Hill added five more in the third while Boen, Rooney, and Stevens each hit fourth quarter three-pointers to pull away. KP senior Tommy Donahue had a team-high 15 points while classmate Alex Fritz added 12 points.
Taunton, 51 @ Attleboro, 65 – Final – The Bombardiers celebrated senior night with a big win that moves them back to .500 on the season and one win from booking a return to the state tournament. Nyah Thomas was Attleboro’s top scorer with 18 points and also added five assists. Meghan Gordon scored 16 and Ryan Johnson added 10, as the Bombardiers had a balanced attack. Attleboro led by 13 at halftime and pushed the lead to 17 heading to the fourth quarter. Bombardiers coach Marty Crowley praised the effort of senior Jackie MacDonald and added, “It was a great way to send our Seniors off in their last home game.” Attleboro closes the season with trips to Franklin and North Attleboro to try and get the tournament-clinching win. Freshman Kameron St. Pierre led all scorers with 21 points and the Tigers also got nine points from eighth grader Sam Lincoln.
Foxboro, 51 @ Sharon, 28 – Final – The Warriors had four players scored in double digits, as they picked up another win to build their seed for the upcoming playoffs. Katelyn Mollica, fresh of getting to 1,000 career points last week, scored 16 to pace Foxboro. Shakirah Ketant, Abby Hassman, and Lizzy Davis all scored 10 points in the win. Leah Fandel scored a team-high 15 points and Ally Brown chipped in with nine for the Eagles.
Oliver Ames, 36 @ Franklin, 70 – Final – The Panthers swept the season series with the Tigers, clinched the outright Kelley-Rex division title, and will have the chance to run the table in league play when they host Attleboro on Thursday. Ali Brigham dominated in the middle, leading all scorers with 22 points and Olivia Quinn scored 13. Meghan O’Connell also had a big night, scoring 13 for the Panthers. OA had a tough time breaking down the Franklin defense. Jess Erlich had seven points to lead the Tigers and Hailey Bourne added five.
Mansfield, 37 @ King Philip, 61 – Final – KP got hot from deep to split the season series with the Hornets and book its spot in the state tournament. The Warriors made 10 threes as a team. Faye Veilleux scored 18 points in the win, Brianna James scored 13, and Faith Roy added 12.
Stoughton, 50 @ Milford, 47 – Final – In a close game from start to finish, Stoughton picked up a key victory on the road over the Scarlet Hawks. Stoughton led by seven after a quarter (15-8) and by six at halftime (30-24) before Milford cut into the deficit and made it a four-point game (41-47) heading into the fourth. Shyanne Trinh paced Stoughton with 20 points, Aliyah Wright added 18 points, and Jess Maddalena added six points and 11 rebounds for the Black Knights.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – After reviewing film of the first meeting between the Franklin and Mansfield boys basketball teams, Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan came away with two main focus points for the second installment.
“Our whole game plan was to run them off the three-point line and no easy layups, and offensively, pound the ball into the post and play out of it,” Vaughan said.
It turned out to be the recipe for success for the Hornets, using the size of forwards TJ Guy (6’5) and Sam Stevens (6’4) to their advantage in the paint while halving the Panthers’ success rate from three-point range, resulting in a 56-48 win to split the season series.
The first time out, a meeting at Franklin High in early January, the Panthers shot 47% from three-point range and its defense held the Hornets under 50 points, the lone time that’s happened this season.
This time around, Mansfield’s strong closeouts saw the Panthers shoot 27% from the three-point line. And a heavy emphasis in paint touches resulted in a 50% success rate from two-point range plus more free throw attempts, where the Hornets went 13-for-17.
“Once every 15 years we throw the ball in the post.,” Vaughan joked of how rare it is the Hornets make that the focus of their offense. “Our style of play can sometimes hold a player back and I thought throughout the year there’s been times we’ve held TJ back in terms of what he can be good at. Watching film, I saw an opportunity with his size against whoever is going to play him. And in the first game, [Jack] Rudolph did such a good job covering Sammy the first time on the perimeter, so if we got that again, we got [Stevens] inside the post and make them defend inside and out. That created some opportunities for us.
“They are so good defensively, you have to do something to break them down a little bit and I thought that was our best chance.”
The Panthers had the most success from three-point range in the opening quarter of the game with Steven Karayan, Chris Edgehill, and Thomas Gasbarro connecting from downtown, but the Hornets stuck with the game plan and the visitors made just four more threes the rest of the way.
One of those threes came on the first possession of the second quarter when Andrew Byfield (seven points, six rebounds) hit from deep and followed with an easy layup for a 20-15 lead. But the Hornets hit on a 10-0 run over the final 4:30 of the half, a surge the put the hosts ahead for good.
Guy (13 points, 11 rebounds) converted an offensive rebound, Jason See knocked down a three off an offensive board from Guy, who then scored with a nice move in the post for a 22-20 lead.
“They know what we do, we know what they do, what they’re trying to do,” Guy said of the familiarity. “They try to get a lot of shots up, we were trying to get in the post but we both defend each other really well. We felt like we had mismatches inside, and these are the games I like, physical type games. They really shut us down the first game so we knew we had to come in, lock in and get this ‘W.’”
The Panthers took a three before the buzzer and the Hornets cashed in as junior Matt Boen (15 points, five steals, four rebounds) hauled in the defensive rebound with five seconds left, sprinted to half court and unleashed a buzzer-beater that put the Hornets ahead 25-20 at the break.
“After we played them last time where it felt like they bombed threes and everything went in, our focus was to run them off the three-point line and don’t let them blow by for uncontested layups,” Vaughan said. “Make them make plays in the intermediate part of the game and I thought we did a really good job of doing that.
“We kind of settled in, they missed a couple [after making their first couple of shots], I thought we did a really good job of minimizing their opportunities over the final 28 minutes of the game and I thought that was the difference. I thought we did a good job switching everything, keeping everyone in check. We didn’t let them get into a rhythm and everything was contested and difficult.”
Mansfield put Stevens (17 points, seven rebounds) on the block on its first possession of the second half and he scored on a feed from Boen. After Declan Walmsley (17 points) answered with a triple for the Panthers, the Hornets went on a 13-3 surge.
Boen had a steal and layup, Brendan Foley drained a three off the bench, Boen converted a traditional three-point play, Guy scored from the block, and Drew Rooney picked up a steal and went in for a layup to put the hosts ahead 40-26.
“Having a different look, and I really think getting the ball into the post was definitely a different look,” Vaughan said. “And we even had a zone ready, we just didn’t feel there was a time to use it. I know those two things would have thrown a wrinkle because those are two things we don’t typically do that we had prepared, that we thought could give us an advantage from the first time we played them.
“We practiced it for two days, we practice it in individual drills so it’s not foreign throwing the ball in the post but we really stressed it the last couple of days. We haven’t really had them sit down there before but if we were going to gain an advantage today, we felt like it was there. And I even think we had some opportunities to get out of it but we weren’t completely used to being in it.”
Franklin senior Brayden Sullivan finished through contact, Gasbarro hit a free throw, and Walmsley drained a late three for a late surge that put the Panthers in striking distance down 40-32 after three quarters.
“We talked about being something they’d probably do, and for the most part, I didn’t think we did a terrible job, I don’t know what they shot in there,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely on Mansfield’s emphasis on the post game. “They have some big bodies, [Guy] is a Division 1 football player and we don’t have that kind of guy to match up. We did our best, I thought at times we did a good job. Just a couple plays down the stretch here and there, we just didn’t close the deal on some of the defensive possessions and they’ll make you play.”
Stevens hit his lone three of the game and one of Mansfield’s five total triples to open the final quarter and Cincere Gill cut to the basket hard, taking a pass from Stevens as he posted up, for an easy two. Two possessions later, Guy once again put his back to the basket and converted on a feed from Boen for a 47-34 lead with 6:25 to play.
But Franklin refused to go away with Edgehill finding Walmsley on the break for two, Byfield making a nice extra pass for a three from Walmsley, and then four straight free throws from Rudolph made it 49-43.
Rudolph made a nice play for a steal after a Hornet entry pass to the post and sprinted down the court before dishing it off for Byfield for an easy two. Stevens answered with a tough take through traffic but Sullivan scored quickly down the other end as the Panthers got within four, 51-47.
Franklin got three straight stops and Edgehill hit a free throw to make it a one-possession game with two minutes to go. Mansfield missed a three and came up empty on the offensive rebound before the teams traded quick turnovers, and Franklin had the tying three go just long.
Boen hit two free throws with a minute to go to extend the lead back to 53-48 and the Hornets went on to get stops and hit their free throws to earn the 56-48 win.
“They were doing a good job switching a lot of screens and gave us trouble for a significant portion of that second quarter and some of the second half,” Neely said. “I thought when we moved the ball, did what we talked about doing, and got some cutters, I thought we opened them up a little bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t think we had enough patience on the offensive end, we started forcing some stuff early.
“I’m proud of the guys, no question. They aren’t going to give up, they are a great group of kids that have worked hard all season. They aren’t going to roll over and get blown out so I’m proud of them.”
Mansfield boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 16-2 overall) holds a one-game lead over Attleboro in the division race with three games to go, starting with a visit from Oliver Ames on Friday. Franklin (10-3, 13-3) falls two games back and will host Taunton on Friday.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Sam Stevens swung the ball around to the corner, making the extra pass to get an open look, and Andrew Rooney lined up a three-pointer. The shot hit the front of the rim, the back of the rim, bounced high up into the air, and then scraped the rim on its way through the net.
It was a moment that epitomized Mansfield’s 77-65 victory at Attleboro. The Hornets hit seven three-pointers in the second half (10 for the game) and seemed to knock down every open look and had a response every time that the Bombardiers threatened to get back into the game.
“Rooney’s shot cost me about five years off my life just hitting the rim 17 times,” joked Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan, whose team moved a game ahead of the Bombardiers in the Kelley-Rex standings. “We made the ones we had to. We really stepped up, Sammy did a good job, Matty hit a couple of tough ones, and then Rooney’s ultimately put the icing on the cake.”
Attleboro coach Mark Houle added, “We had some really good opportunities to play good defense but then they would hit a tough shot. Those are backbreakers, those are momentum busters, and they did it a few times tonight. I like our toughness, but at the end of the day they played better for 32 minutes.”
The Bombardiers, spurred on by a loud home crowd, got off to the perfect start, riding their two senior stars. Bryant Ciccio scored 10 of his 23 points in the opening quarter and Qualeem Charles (11 rebounds) scored eight of his team-high 24. Attleboro led 11-3 and 20-12, but Rooney (11 points) beat the buzzer at the end of the first to cut the lead to 20-15 after one.
After a dominant start to the game, Charles picked up his second foul of the half on a reach-in. Once the Attleboro center went to the bench, Mansfield was able to take advantage and eventually extended its run to 18-5 to grab the lead for good.
Matt Boen caught fire in the second and spearheaded the Mansfield attack. He started the second with a three. Following baskets by Brendan Foley and TJ Guy (13 points), Boen stole a pass at midcourt and raced in for a layup and then he grabbed a defensive rebound and beat the Bombardiers up the court for another layup.
“When we become a perimeter team,” Vaughan explained, “we struggle to grind out possessions, but when Matty is getting to the rim it opens up TJ a little bit and Chris Hill can get more comfortable inside and then it opens up Sammy a little bit more, it allows us be way more efficient.”
Nick McMahon kept Attleboro close in the second. He drilled a three to make it 26-25 and then he hit a wild, shot clock-beating jumper while being fouled to pull the Bombardier within 30-28 at the break. After his big first quarter, Ciccio was held to just two points in the second.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Houle said. “Whether they’re face-guarding him or playing team defense, they knew where Bryant was at all times on the court.”
Vaughan noted, “After about the six-minute mark of the first quarter, I thought we played with great energy. I thought we did a lot of the things we practiced for the last two days to prepare for this team and having two special players like Q and Ciccio to go against. I thought after that point Ciccio really had to earn everything he got.”
Boen started the third with a triple, as Mansfield went on an 8-2 run and started to get some separation. Guy scored on a feed from Boen and then Stevens (16 points) hit a three on an assist from Cincere Gill (five assists).
Attleboro needed a spark and turned to Charles in the post. He scored nine points in the third quarter, twice finishing at the rim on assists from McMahon. Ciccio continued to find it difficult to get going against the Mansfield defense, but Justin Daniels stepped up off the bench with eight points, including a pair of threes, to keep Attleboro within three points.
Boen (10 points in the third) stretched the lead to six with a late three-pointer and then Mansfield started the fourth with eight straight points over the first 90 seconds of the quarter and pushed the lead to 14.
Stevens knocked down a jumper, Boen turned a steal into a layup and the foul, and then Guy snagged an offensive rebound and was able to score through contact. Charles answered with an and-one on the other end, but again Stevens had the response with a straightaway three.
Attleboro cut the lead to as little as nine points, 66-57, after a basket by Charles, who scored seven in the quarter. Ciccio also found some openings again, scoring nine points in the fourth. But, the Hornets just made too many shots for the Bombardiers to overcome. Gill drilled a three, then Rooney followed with his three that bounced around for ages and essentially sealed the win by putting the Hornets back up by 13.
“We want to be playing our best in February and March,” said Vaughan. “Tomorrow’s February and we’re playing pretty good. Are we playing where we need to be to make a run in March? Absolutely not. But we’re getting there.”
Mansfield (15-2, 11-1) will have another first-place showdown on Tuesday when the Hornets try to split the season series with Franklin. Attleboro (12-3, 10-2) will try to keep the pressure on the league leaders when it hosts Oliver Ames.
Milford, 70 @ Canton, 51 – Final – Milford junior Ben Blanchard (14 points) connected on four three-pointers in the second half, three in the third quarter alone, as the Hawks turned a one-point halftime lead into a comfortable win on the road at Canton. Milford held a 31-30 advantage at halftime before outscoring the hosts 19-9 in the third, with Colby Pires (14 points) adding a three of his own and Jordan Darling (23 points) scoring five in the frame. Darling scored 16 points in the first half, Milford having a 17-13 lead after a quarter. Nick Cushman scored a career-high 20 points for the Bulldogs, connecting on five three-pointers, while Eric Mischler added 15 points for Canton.
North Attleboro, 46 @ Foxboro, 63 – Final – Foxboro used a late surge at the end of the first half to create separation and pulled away with a solid second half to beat North Attleboro. The Warriors led 16-15 after a quarter and then turned defense into offense late in the second, Ryan Hughes scoring in transition plus the foul and Donald Rogers converting a layup after a steal from Brandon Borde, to take a 28-25 lead. Foxboro pushed the lead to 46-36 after three and scored 17 more in the final frame to secure the win. Borde scored eight of Foxboro’s 12 points in the second quarter and then hit a pair of threes in the third, totaling nine of his game-high 24 points in the frame to help Foxboro extend its lead. Hughes added 13 points and Rogers finished with 12 points in the win. Edan Kelley led North with 11 points and Brody Rosenberg added 10 points.
Oliver Ames, 64 @ King Philip, 72 – Final – Oliver Ames cut a 16-point half deficit down to seven entering the fourth quarter but King Philip connected on 14-of-23 free throws over the final eight minutes to hold on for the win. Alex Fritz hit five of those free throws and finished with a game-high 22 points, Andrew McKinney was 4-for-4 in the fourth from the line and had 16 points, and Chris Roy made four free throws and chipped in with 13 points. Fritz scored eight in the opening quarter to help KP build a 19-9 lead, while McKinney, Roy, and Tommy Donahue (eight points) each scored in the second to push KP’s lead to 36-20 at halftime. OA’s Owen Friel scored seven of his 17 points in the third, Amari Brown added 16 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, and Jay Spillane chipped in with seven of his 10 points in the second to help the Tigers get back in it. Ryan Burkett added 11 points for OA.
Sharon, 54 @ Stoughton, 71 – Final – Stoughton recorded an important division victory at home on Friday night with three players scoring in double figures. Senior Obinna Ugwuakazi led the way with a team-high 16 points while classmates Ahmad Jahed and Myles Grigalunas-Powell each scored 13 points.
Taunton, 51 @ Mansfield, 65 – Final – Taunton had a strong start to the game, building a 17-6 lead through eight minutes of play but it was all Mansfield over the final three quarters. The Hornets exploded for 24 points in the second to take a 30-26 lead by halftime, and then added 20 more points in the third to seize a 52-36 advantage through three quarters. TJ Guy scored seven of his 10 points in Mansfield’s big second quarter, Matt Boen added five of his 12 points in the second, and Brendan Foley (eight points), Cincere Gill, Chris Hill, and Sam Stevens (18 points) all scored in the second to help Mansfield take a lead it never relinquished. Stevens added eight points in the fourth quarter to help Mansfield close the door. Taunton junior Josh Lopes scored nine of his 14 points in the opening quarter while junior Tyler Stewart scored all 13 of his points in the second half.
Franklin, 73 @ Attleboro, 41 – Final – The Panthers continued to dominate, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and remained unbeaten and one game up in the Kelley-Rex standings. Ali Brigham put up 20 points to lead Franklin, which also got 12 points apiece from sophomore forwards Olivia Quinn and Emma Sousa.
Canton, 53 @ Milford, 29 – Final
Foxboro, 61 @ North Attleboro, 33 – Final – The Warriors added some distance between themselves and second-place North Attleboro with a big road win. Katelyn Mollica continued her progress towards 1,000 points for her career with 16 on Friday. Shakirah Ketant added 14 and Lizzy Davis and Morgan Sylvestre each scored nine points. Abby Hassman was a force on the glass, pulling down 13 rebounds. Defense was the story in the first half, as Foxboro held North to just two points in the first quarter and led 31-13 at the half. It was a second straight tough shooting night for the Rocketeers but Amanda Kaiser scored nine to lead North. Summer Doherty added six and Olivia Forbes had five. North coach Nikki Correia said, “The girls are having a tough time putting the ball in the basket. We need to get back on track and play together and run the offense.”
Mansfield, 49 @ Taunton, 57 – Final – The Tigers were able to build a double-digit lead over the middle quarters and held on for a rare win against the Hornets. Freshman Kameron St. Pierre led the way for the Tigers with 19 points, but Taunton also had great balance with Sonya Fernandez adding 13 points and Jaelyn Fernandez and eighth-grader Sam Lincoln each scored nine. Ashley Santos was the game’s top scorer with 22 and Kayla Vine added 17 for Mansfield, but the Hornets only got 10 points total outside of its top two scorers. Taunton coach Amy Siggens said, “All of the things we have been working on came together,” and she praised her team’s composure down the stretch. It is Taunton’s first win in the series since the Tigers swept Mansfield in 2012-13, ending a streak of 12 straight wins for the Hornets.
Stoughton, 29 @ Sharon, 38 – Final – Leah Fandel scored 10 points and Kaitlyn Wallace and Trinity Payne each scored nine to lead the Eagles to an important division win. Mackenzie Manning paced the Black Knights with 10 points.
Franklin, 3 @ Algonquin, 3 – Final
Silver Lake Quad (Oliver Ames) – Oliver Ames went 3-0 on the day, picking up wins over South Shore Voc (54-24), Quincy/North Quincy (52-15), and host Silver Lake (48-24). Jason Trifiro, Grady Morrison, and Brantley Holmes all picked up their first varsity wins for OA.
Foxboro @ Canton, 6:30
Mansfield @ King Philip, 7:30
Sharon, 86 @ Stoughton, 64 – Final
Foxboro @ Canton, 6:30
Mansfield @ King Philip, 7:30
Sharon, 88 @ Stoughton, 63 – Final
Boys Indoor Track
Mansfield, 83 vs. Attleboro, 17 – Final – Mansfield’s Andrew Williams set a new school record in the high jump, breaking a 42-year old record with a leap of 6-06.00 in the high jump as the Hornets rolled to a win. Williams set the previous mark of 6’5 set by Mark Colby in 1978 and added wins in both the 55M hurdles (8.26) and the long jump (20-03.25). Joe Cappelletti (19-10.50) and Jake Wall (19-07.00) took second and third, respectively, to give the Hornets a sweep in the long jump while Dylan Buchanan (8.66) and Wall (8.82) finished the sweep in the 55M hurdles. Wall added a win in the 55M dash (6.95), Jack Rivard won the 300M (37.33), Peter Oldow crossed first in the 600M (1:28.50), Owen Mullahy was the winner in the 1000M race (2:41.34), Mike Mullahy crossed first in the 1 Mile (4:50.18), and Chris Leonard took first in the 2 Mile (10:55).
Canton, 80 vs. Foxboro, 19 – Final – Canton’s Deyontai Dennis won three events while Jonathan Chery and Kyle Downing each won a pair of events to lead the Bulldogs past Foxboro. Dennis won the 600M (1:36.36), the long jump (20-07.25), and the high jump (6-00.00), Chery took first in the 55M (league-best 6.73) and the 300M (league-best 36.92), and Downing was the top runner in each the 1 Mile (5:00.22) and the 2 Mile (11:04.19). Elias Jabbour won the 1000M for the Bulldogs, while Cam Sanchez (shot put, 55M dash), Junior Sainvil (long jump, high jump), Jack Hernon (1 Mile, 2 Mile), and Andy Butler (55m hurdles) all had second place finishes for Canton.
Oliver Ames, 49 vs. Franklin, 51 – Final
North Attleboro, 24 vs. Sharon, 76 – Final
King Philip, 39 vs. Taunton, 61 – Final
Stoughton, 78 vs. Milford, 22 – Final
Girls Indoor Track
Mansfield, 71 vs. Attleboro, 29 – Final – Cassondra Stuger was a double winner for the Blue Bombardiers and Kamsi Igbobi had a win and one second place finish in a loss to Mansfield. Stuger clocked in at 7.90 to win the 55M dash, and crossed the finish line in 43.04 to take first place in the 300M, qualifying for divisionals in the process. Igbobi won the shot put with a PR throw of 32-01.00 and placed second in the long jump (15-00.25, PR).
Canton, 26 vs. Foxboro, 74 – Final – Canton’s Leah Murphy set a new PR and Kayla Wong took first in the 1 Mile but the Bulldogs fell to Foxboro. Murphy set a new PR in the high jump at 4-10.00 to take first while Wong clocked in at 6:05.10 to win the 1 Mile race. Rosano Cho (long jump), Kiley Hanlon (55M), and Morgan Quinn (600M) had second place finishes for Canton.
Attleboro, 69 @ New Bedford, 68 – Final – Down by three in the final minute of the game, the Bombardiers made all the right plays to steal a win on the road over the Whalers. Senior Bryant Ciccio (20 points) sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 68-68 and senior Lorenzo Wilson stepped in to take a charge on the other end to get the visitors the ball back. Ciccio sank one of two from the line with 1.2 seconds left and New Bedford’s half court shot was off the mark. Qualeem Charles scored a team-high 23 points while Jason Weir added 10 points, hitting a pair of three-pointers in the second half.
King Philip, 45 vs. Xaverian, 60 – Final – A close game through three quarters and for the beginning of the fourth quarter, King Philip’s offense went ice cold down the stretch as the Hawks avenged their loss to the Warriors from earlier this season. KP led 38-37 going into the final frame and were tied 45-45 before going cold, allowing Xaverian to close the game out with a big run. Senior Alex Fritz had a team-high 15 points, Tommy Donahue added 10 points, and Chris Roy chipped in with nine points for KP.
Mansfield, 79 vs. Schalmont (NY), 56 – Final – Mansfield junior Matt Boen recorded his first career triple-double to lead the Hornets to a win over Schalmont out of New York. Mansfield scored over 22 points in the first quarter and 24 more in the second to seize a 46-32 advantage by halftime, extending that lead by seven more points going into the fourth. Boen had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists as well as five steals while Sam Stevens (16 points), TJ Guy (15 points), Jason See (15 points), and Brendan Foley (10 points) all scored in double figures for the Hornets.
Sharon, 45 vs. Archbishop Williams, 64 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Archbishop Williams used a 17-2 surge in the second quarter to create the separation and then held on when the Eagles rallied to make it a single-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. The Bishops’ big run led to a 34-19 lead at halftime before Sharon came out and cut into the lead with a strong quarter, trailing 46-36 heading into the fourth. The visitors opened the final quarter with a 14-2 run to seal the game. Andrew Burton led Sharon with 12 points and five rebounds.
Foxboro, 61 vs. Bishop Feehan, 49 – Final – The Warriors extended their win streak to four games by holding off Feehan in a non-league game. Foxboro jumped out to a 20-9 lead after one quarter and then extended the advantage to 19 by halftime, holding the Shamrocks to just 15 points in the first 16 minutes. Feehan rallied in the third, scoring 18 points, and got back within 12 heading to the fourth, but the Warriors matched them with 16 points apiece in the final quarter to earn the victory. Katelyn Mollica was the top scorer with 18 points and Shakirah Ketant had a double-double of 16 points and 17 rebounds. Abby Hassman added 12 points.
2018-2019 Record: 18-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mark Houle
Attleboro fulfilled high expectations last year with a terrific regular season but had its postseason run cut short in the opening round of the tournament. With an experienced, battle-tested, and deep group of seniors, the Bombardiers are hoping to take the next step during the 2019-2020 season.
The Bombardiers have seven seniors on the roster with six having plenty of valuable minutes at the varsity level. It all starts with a pair of four-year varsity players and captains Bryant Ciccio and Qualeem Charles. Both have played over 60 games for head coach Mark Houle and earned HockomockSports.com First Team honors a year ago. Ciccio (14.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) is like a coach on the floor and Charles (13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg) is a matchup nightmare and one of the most dominant post players in recent years.
But there is much more to the Bombardiers, such as senior captain Tim Callahan. Callahan had a strong junior season with 7.7 points per game and can change a game with his outside shooting. He will also be relied upon to anchor the defense. Guard Nick McMahon and forward Lorenzo Wilson provided a spark off the bench last season and will be key pieces this season. And senior Jason Weir is back in the mix after missing last year due to injury. Weir showed flashes during his sophomore season, a versatile player that can play in the post or step outside and knock down a three.
Attleboro has a variety of weapons on the offensive end and that will make them difficult to defend. They have a couple of good weapons that can score down low and then a handful of shooters, so the inside-out game will be a big part of the game plan. Charles gives the Bombardiers protection around the rim while all five players are the court will have to contribute on the boards to eliminate second-chance points.
“We will rely on a battle-tested group of seniors, but we will need our underclassman to continue to develop and be ready to step in and play important roles on the team,” said head coach Mark Houle. “We have a hard-working group of players who compete and challenge each other every day in practice.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-10 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Ryan Gordy
After winning back-to-back Davenport division titles, the Bulldogs know it will be a grind to try and get a third with a big target on their backs.
Gone is the program’s all-time leading scorer and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devin Foster, who was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league over the past two seasons. That means there is going to be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up for the Bulldogs. Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said this year’s team will be a “much more space and paced” orientated team. Gordy is expecting a more spread out opportunistic approach that will feature contributions from anyone who checks in.
While Foster graduated, the Bulldogs do have a handful of talented and experienced players back on the roster. Senior Kyle Fitzgerald is the top returning scorer from a year ago, netting double figures in six contests. He is also a workhorse on defense and will be one of the leaders on the court. Robbie Gallery, Matt Giglio, and Eric Mischler were all starters at some point during the 2018-2019 season so Gordy will have some veterans to lean on during the year. Gallery, Giglio, and Mischler all showed the ability to come up with a big shot at any time and will help space the floor.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are looking at their versatility and depth to give them flexibility. Gordy believes he has a strong mix of players that will allow him to switch things up and adjust each and every game. Sophomore Lanse Dorcelus earned minutes for the final month of last season and could be a key piece this season.
“We feel like our program is healthy and players have made a commitment to growth,” Gordy said. “This season we are going to focus on the process and maximizing the strengths of our players. Our culture and direction has been a bright spot as we focus on the player person and team development each practice and game. We’re excited to see where we are and where we can get too.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Gibbs
There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Foxboro boys basketball team this season. The good news is that the Warriors expect to once again be one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. The bad news is for the rest of the Hockomock League as Foxboro boasts an improved offense, and combined with their traditional tough defense, has the Warriors in position for a Davenport division title.
With four of their five top scorers back this season, including senior Brandon Borde (team-high 15.3 ppg) and junior Kevin Gallagher (12.9 ppg), the Warriors are looking to ride a balanced approach on offense to improve their scoring after finishing 10th in scoring in the Hockomock League last season (54.4 points per game). Borde is one of the most experienced players back in the league and has the ability to create his own looks as well as lead the team as the floor general. Gallagher had a breakout sophomore season and can really fill up the scoring column, especially from deep.
Borde and Gallagher will also get help from senior Will Morrison, who can catch fire from deep, and senior Ryan Hughes, who can give opponents trouble in the paint. All four players are returning starters from a season ago, so that gives Foxboro an advantage, especially defensively. Head coach Jon Gibbs called the defense the “foundation” of the team. Foxboro has consistently been very fundamentally sound and disciplined on the defensive end.
Seniors Dylan Barreira, Michael Devlin, Liam Devlin, and Donald Rogers all played important minutes last season and will provide a lot of depth for Foxboro.
“We have been making progress each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been very competitive so far as guys work hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we stay hungry, humble, and unselfish, it has the potential to be a very successful season.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central Quarterfinal Coach: CJ Neely
Ever since the Hockomock League split into two divisions, Franklin has entered each season as one of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex and that looks to be the case yet again this year.
As it does each and every season, defense comes first for the Panthers. Franklin was the best defensive team in the Hockomock League last year, allowing just 48.9 points per game. Not only did the Panthers lead the league in that category, they were the lone team to keep opponents under 50 points on average. It’s the second straight year they’ve had the best defense in the division and third straight year they are in the top three. There are a lot of talented individual defenders on the team but year in and year out, Franklin’s team defense gives them a chance to win.
Offensively, the Panthers boast the top returning scorer in the league in three-year starter Chris Edgehill. Edgehill, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last season, is an absolute handful to deal with on the offensive end of the court. He can score in a variety of ways, and on top of that, he is very good at getting teammates involved (four assists per game last year). Seniors Jack Rudolph and Steve Karayan are also back after playing valuable minutes last season and will be relied upon on both ends of the floor.
“We have a lot of guys who worked really hard in the offseason to improve and are excited to get on the court,” said head coach CJ Neely. “It’s a great group of people who have a lot of fun together. We need to stay aggressive and share the ball. We hope that strong team defense will continue to be something that defines our program.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dave DeStefano
With a solid group of players returning from last season, second-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping to guide his Warriors back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Warriors showed flashes throughout last year, including an upset win of Kelley-Rex champions Mansfield on the road. But they were also on the wrong end of a handful of close games, losing five games by five or fewer points. With a year of experience in DeStefano’s system, and for a lot of players their first year of varsity under their belts, King Philip is hoping to turn those close games into wins.
KP boasts two returning starters in Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney, both standing at 6’3. Fritz had a breakout junior campaign and was the fourth-highest scorer in the Hockomock League with 15.5 points per game. He was able to score in a variety of ways, including through contact at the rim, and will be a vital piece this year. McKinney was fifth on the team in scoring last year, scoring in double-figures in five contests, including a career-high 19 points at Stoughton. Senior Tommy Donahue looks to give the Warriors a strong presence in the post while classmates Owen Conlin and Chris Roy look to be in the mix. Seniors Robbie Jarest and Tom Weir are back in the mix after a year away from the program.
Defensively, King Philip will be relying on its size and physicality. While Donahue (6’5) will be the main rim protector, having long guards and forwards will help KP make life difficult for opponents. The Warriors will need to improve on the defensive end after surrendering a division-high 63.7 points per game last year. DeStefano is looking to get some contributions from junior juniors Donte Barros, Cole Breen, Joe Cullen, Evan Stephens, Will Kinney, and Jake Silveria while sophomores Charlie Grant and Braeden Sottile will likely be in the mix too.
“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commitment on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2018-2019 Record: 22-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Mike Vaughan
The Hockomock League continues to run through Mansfield.
The Hornets have won the Kelley-Rex division title in eight of its nine years, and it looks like Mansfield will be the team to beat again this year. Three players that burst onto the scene last year – Sam Stevens, TJ Guy, Matt Boen – are now three of the top players in the Hock heading into this season. Mansfield certainly graduated a lot of talent in Tommy Dooling, Damani Scott, and Khristian Conner, but with those three starters back plus seniors Drew Rooney and Makhi Baskin, as well as a handful of newcomers ready to make an impact, Mansfield is poised for another deep tournament run.
Stevens (11.2 ppg) will be one of the toughest players to stop with his ability to finish around the rim as well as deadly three-point shooting, Guy (10.9 ppg) is very good in the post on both ends of the floor, and Boen (9.5 ppg) can score in a variety of ways. All three are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night. Baskin provides a lot of energy and can change the game with his effort while Rooney showed last year that he can matchup with some of the top players in the league on the defensive end.
Juniors Brian and Jason See are both strong shooters that work tirelessly on both ends of the floor and should be in the mix for the Hornets this year. Juniors Jack Colby and Brendan Foley will be looking to bring a spark off the bench while sophomore Matt Hyland and freshman Chris Hill are promising young players that could contribute right away.
“I think our depth and ability to play different styles will be a strength of this team,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I’m excited to see where this team can get to as they continue to work hard in practice and mix their individual talents to form our team identity. Transition play, scoring inside and out will be strength on offense. Playing solid man to man and uptempo defense with our depth could create some issues for our opponents.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paul Seaver
After a season of ups and downs, the Milford Scarlet Hawks are hoping last year’s growing pains transition into a playoff berth this season.
With a large group of returnees, the Hawks will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title. While head coach Paul Seaver returns the majority of his team, he will need some of the those players to step up on the offensive end the fill the void left by graduation. The Hawks graduated its top three scorers, including the second-highest scorer in the league in Brendan White (18.2 ppg). That means there will be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up and contribute.
Junior Jordan Darling (7.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and senior Colby Pires (6.1 ppg) are the top two point producers back this year while junior Dom Schofield also returns after starting as a sophomore. Darling started 19 games this year and was selected to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team after a strong season on both ends of the court. Pires is a leader both on and off the court and plays well in all aspects of the game, and Schofield gives Milford a strong post presence on the defensive end, recording a team-high 38 charges taken last season.
Ralph Franklin Jr., Matty Varteresian, Tyler Whetherbee, and Ben Blanchard all saw time throughout last season and could all be in line for bigger roles this season.
“Our depth will matter, our balance will matter, our chemistry is this group’s most important attribute,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We were the youngest team in the league last season and this group has a lot of players back who are attacking this year with a chip on their shoulder. This group defines what Milford basketball is and that’s a testament to who these kids are hard workers and higher character individuals. I could not be any more excited to coach and work with these kids on a daily basis.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
There are going to be a lot of new faces dawning the Big Red uniform this winter. After losing nine seniors to graduation, head coach Sean Mulkerrins has just three players back from last year’s nine-win squad.
With a large amount of new players comes a large amount of opportunities. The Rocketeers graduated its two top scorers but bring back senior Ethan Friberg (7.0 ppg) and junior George Ladd (7.4 ppg) to lead the charge offensively this year. Friberg, standing at 6’5, can cause problems in the paint but also van step out and play along the perimeter. Ladd had a breakout sophomore season and was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team. He is a little of a throwback player that is very fundamentally sound on the offensive end. Senior Josh Porter, the third returner, saw an expanded role at the end of last season and played well.
Defensively, the Rocketeers will be focusing on limiting opponents to one shot per possession. With some size in the frontcourt, North will try to make it difficult to finish at the rim, and with all five players committed to rebounding, try and minimize second-chance points.
“There will be a lot of new faces with opportunities to make an impact on this year’s team,” Mulkerrins said. “There will definitely be some growing pains and the sooner the new faces adjust to the rigors of varsity basketball, the better we will be.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Don Byron
Last season, Oliver Ames came up just one game shy of the state tournament. Goal number one for the 2019-2020 season is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
With a strong mix of experienced players and hungry new additions, Oliver Ames is ready for the grind that is the Kelley-Rex division and the Hockomock League.
“The expectation is to always get [to the tournament], that’s our first goal,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “We’re pretty optimistic but we know it’s going to be a grind, you have to show up every night, you can’t take a night off.”
Byron has been impressed with his guard play so far this preseason, and that will likely mean featuring three guards in the lineup for the majority of the time. Senior Jay Spillane is a returning starter while classmate Owen Friel and junior Amari Brown were top options off the bench a season ago. Spillane can score in bunches, especially from the outside, while Friel combines a solid shooting game with a hard-nosed defensive approach. Friel’s ability to guard a variety of position makes him a valuable piece in the lineup while Brown is a crafty player that does a nice job getting teammates involved.
Senior center Evan Craig (6’5) will be joined by classmate Ryan Burkett (6’2) in the frontcourt. Both picked up valuable minutes at the varsity level last year and Byron is hoping that will help with their expanded roles this year. Senior guard Adam Cann and junior forwards Trey Buggs and Drew Nickla will provide depth for the Tigers.
“It takes some time to get accustomed to the varsity speed and what we expect at this level,” Byron said. “All of these kids gained experience with us last year, and that year of experience is invaluable.”
2018-2019 Record: 3-17 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrew Ferguson
After a couple of down seasons, the Eagles will be making a strong push to get back into the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
Sharon boasts a number of players who gained varsity experience that will be looking to help the program bounce back. The first being senior Aidan Kane, the team’s leading scorer last season with 11.5 points per game. When he’s on from keep, Kane is one of the top three-point shooters in the league. He has the ability to change a game very quickly if he gets hot from deep. Senior Andrew Burton emerged as one of the Eagles’ top players last year and could be poised to have a breakout year. Sophomore John Baez will start at the point after joining the varsity team for the final month and a half last season.
The Eagles will be relying heavily on its frontcourt to step up on both ends of the court. Senior Caleb Gayle is a traditional post player that will compete hard on both ends of the court, senior Cam Baker is fundamentally sound and a reliable option and junior Hank Ward picked up valuable minutes as a sophomore and will be an important part of the rebound game as well as defensively. Senior Aaron Karten will be in the mix as well, giving the Eagles an athletic frontcourt.
Junior Jordan Barboza should give the Eagles a spark off the bench this year and head coach Andrew Ferguson will look for him as an important defensive piece. Kiran Chandrasekaran had flashes of the strong play off the bench last year and should see an expanded role this year, while junior transfer Matt Baskin could provide a needed scoring punch.
“This group has worked tremendously hard in the offseason and the preseason and is looking to translate that into success throughout the regular season,” Ferguson said. “Many of the players have gained valuable experience at the varsity level over the past two years and our senior class are tremendous leaders who provide a great example for our younger players.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-11 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: John Gallivan
Stoughton ended its playoff drought last season and with a good amount of those players back again this year, the Davenport division title and a deep playoff run could be in the forecast this season.
The Black Knights have their leading scorer back in 6’5 senior forward Obinna Ugwuakazi, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game with nine double-doubles last year. His athleticism and ability to finish through contact made him a tough matchup for opponents, and he will be at the forefront of the Stoughton offense again this year. Fellow senior Tahkwan Gates Brown, who also stands at 6’5, is also back and we could see the duo play together at times which will certainly make life tough for opponents.
Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell is back for his third year on varsity. After improving each of the past two seasons, the 2019-2020 season could be a breakout year for Grigalunas-Powell, who can score from three-point range but is also a crafty finisher attacking the rim. Ahmad Jahed had flashes of strong play last year and will be back in the mix again this year, and the same goes for Tommy Sanda. Juniors Brett Pendenza and Jake Queeney are also back after earning some minutes last year.
“We feel like we can score this year both from downtown and from down low,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “And with our size in the paint, we hope to make it difficult for opponents to score consistently.”
2018-2019 Record: 15-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Charlie Dacey
After a strong regular season, the Taunton boys basketball team flipped a switch in the tournament and made a run to the D1 South Semis, nearly knocking off powerhouse Mansfield. With a taste of postseason success, the Tigers are hoping to replicate that success this year with another impressive playoff stretch.
The Tigers boast speed, skill, and depth this season and will be in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. While Taunton lost a lot of production from last year (Lou Vendrell, Mike Quinn, John Martins, Wesner Charles), there are a handful of players battling to earn their chance at minutes in the Tigers’ lineup. One constant in that lineup over the past couple of years is senior Dante Law, who enters his fourth year with the varsity group. Law was Taunton’s leading scorer a year ago with 14.1 points per game but none of the other returners were over five points a game, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up.
Seniors Fabio Goncalves (6’6) and Aiden Pelot, as well as junior Tyler Stewart (6’6) make up the frontcourt for the Tigers. All three played at the varsity level last year and will be key pieces at helping the Tigers defend and win the battle on the boards. Law will be joined by junior Josh Lopes, who showed flashes during his sophomore season, DaeDae Kenion, and sophomore transfer Tristan Herry as key pieces of the offense.
The Tigers are also excited about the depth on the team this year. Junior Danny MacDougall earned starting minutes last year and is a reliable option in a variety of roles while Trent Santos, Logan Lawrence, and Jonathan Torres will all be in the mix for Taunton.
“With this team, press and run should be ‘Plan A’ although there are skills available to play at a slower pace,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.