Not only did the Warriors keep pace with the once-beaten Trojans, King Philip outplayed the hosts at times and opened the second half with an 8-4 run, claiming its first lead since the first minutes of the game.
Just seconds after King Philip took a one-point lead midway through the third, the Trojans closed the rest of the quarter with a 12-2 burst that gave Bridgewater-Raynham the separation it needed, the end result a 68-50 win over the Warriors.
“I think we got a little tired and we let up a little and they took advantage of that,” said King Philip head coach Amy Siggens. “They are a disciplined, tough team. We are proud we were able to hang with them the way that we did. I think we could have hung a little bit better.”
A three-pointer at the halftime buzzer from KP sophomore Brianna James (seven points, four rebounds) cut the deficit to just three at the break, 28-25, and the Warriors’ defense helped spark an early run to start the second quarter.
Back-to-back forced turnovers helped KP get off to a good start in the second half. Faith Roy (six points, five rebounds) and Faye Veilleux (10 points, eight rebounds) got the Warriors within one and King Philip got back-to-back stops. KP jumped in front on a putback from Roy but B-R answered right away with a bucket from sophomore Kenzie Matulonis.
The Warriors had an answer back as James drove to the basket for two for a 33-32 advantage midway through the third quarter, but B-R freshman Shay Bollin (22 points) gave the Trojans a huge boost. Bollin hit back-to-back threes, the second off an offensive rebound, Bella Calvani scored off a KP turnover, Bollin scored on a fast break, and Calvani converted a putback to give B-R a 44-35 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Bridgewater-Raynham had 18 offensive rebounds, eight of which came in the third quarter that helped the Trojans overcome King Philip’s strong start to the second half.
“KP runs some fantastic sets,” said B-R head coach Cheryl Seavey. “Obviously she has coaching in her genes, I played with her sister in college, so coming in I knew they were going to be very well coached. Their five out sets, whenever they went to the three-point line they got something backdoor. They are a very technical team so we had to reinforce some defensive things so were important for us to be successful.
“Playing Newton North and now [King Philip] in this round, the South [tournament] is deep. These were definitely the two toughest teams we’ve faced this season.”
To start the fourth quarter, B-R’s Marisa Beauvias sank a triple to put the Trojans ahead 47-35. In the 15-2 run over the course of the final four minutes of the third and first minute of the fourth, Bridgewater-Raynham hit three of their four second-half threes.
“They have don’t just have or two shooters, their entire team can shoot and they can go deep,” Siggens said. “It’s constant wear and tear on you. We really pride ourselves on defense and getting into that help, and we were focused on [Brolin] and some of those kickouts, we were just a little slow and late on rotations. We played tough but we just got a little tired.”
The Trojans’ lead ballooned to as much as 14 but the Warriors continued to battle back. Caroline Aaron (six points, six rebounds) found Taylor Butler on an inbounds play on the baseline and Butler converted the layup plus the foul for the three-point play. Shannon O’Connor (15 points, six rebounds), who missed most of the third quarter in foul trouble, sank a jumper to make it 53-42, but B-R responded with a 7-2 run.
“They are a very tough group of kids, they don’t get intimidated often,” Siggens said. “I think in the beginning of the year we might have, but when they saw they could hang with these teams and beat teams like Foxboro and Mansfield, they started to believe more and more in themselves. They put a lot of work in this season and it just shows what these kids are all about.”
King Philip had nine turnovers in the first quarter alone but the Warriors’ defense prevented the Trojans from building a big lead early. James, O’Connor, Roy, and Aaron all scored in the first and the Warriors trailed just 12-8.
In the second quarter, the Trojans had a seven-point, and a six-point lead but King Philip kept it close with successful shooting at the free throw line. The Warriors went 10-for-11 from the charity stripe in the opening half to keep pace with B-R’s successful shooting.
King Philip girls basketball finishes the season at 14-8.
TAUNTON, Mass. – When Taunton senior guard John Martins needed his teammates to pick him up, they were there. And in the most crucial time of the game, when his teammates needed him, Martin delivered.
The senior scored five of his nine points, and five of the Tigers’ nine points in overtime, including three clutch free throws inside the 30 seconds to help 14th-seeded Taunton earn a 62-57 win over rival and 11th-seed Bridgewater-Raynham.
“I had a rough night, I couldn’t really find a rhythm,” Martins said. “But the guys stuck with me, they kept fighting, and they kept pushing and motivating me. I couldn’t find a better group of guys to go out here with.
“I like those situations. I like shooting free throws, in practice and in games. It helps get me in a rhythm, And when I’m not in one, just get to the line.”
The two rivals went head-to-head for the first time since 2012 when they were both apart of the Old Colony League. Taunton joined the Hockomock League in the fall of 2012, and the two schools had only played once — softball in 2013 — since then, but the rivalry picked up where it left off.
“It’s about survival at this time of year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey, who went head-to-head with former player and assistant Doug Alves, the coach of the Trojans, for the first time. “It’s not going to be pretty at times but it’s about who comes out on top.
“It was like the old days, a little bit like a street fight. It’s not exactly classic basketball but its two teams going after it. They have their strengths, we have ours, and in the end, we made one or two more plays. In a game like this you just wait for the break and fortunately, we were the ones who got it.”
Taunton had a chance to pull away when it pushed the lead to nine, 44-35, early in the fourth quarter but the Trojans hung around. The lead was 47-40 with five minutes to play but an 8-2 burst from the Trojans made it a one-point game with just under three minutes left.
Junior Dante Law (14 points, four rebounds, four assists), who missed nearly the entire first half with an ankle injury suffered with five minutes left in the first half, converted a pull up to put Taunton ahead 51-48. A free throw and then a putback from B-R’s Ryan Rubenskas tied the game with a minute to go.
Martins hit two free throws to put Taunton up and the Tigers got the initial stop on defense, but an offensive rebound and score from Karl Aikiens knotted the score. Taunton was whistled for a carry on the ensuing trip up the court, giving B-R a chance to win it with 12 seconds to go.
But Law provided good defense and B-R’s Jack Armstrong slipped and had to force a contested three that was off the mark, and the putback from Connor Rubenskas was after the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
Taunton scored on the opening possession of the extra period, and never trialed. Mike Quinn (13 points, five rebounds) found Naz Kenion (nine points) cutting to the basket for two. The Trojans tied it, but Kenion found Law in the post and his turnaround baseline jumper put the Tigers back up, 57-55 with under two minutes to play.
The Tigers forced a turnover and capitalized, as Martins sank a 10-foot pull up in the paint to make it 59-55, a lead that was as important mentally as on the scoreboard for Taunton.
“Going up can just physiologically deflate a team,” Dacey said. “Now they’re going against the clock and they’re behind so it was big for us to go up early. And then if I could hand pick one guy to go to the foul line, it’s John, and fortunately, that’s who ended up there.
“The kids are pulling together late in the year. We’ve had ups and downs but all of a sudden, we’re gelling. They’re respecting one another, they are playing together, they’re playing hard for each other. Defensively we’re getting better. It’s an odd time to gel at this point but its better late than never.”
B-R missed a three giving the Tigers a chance to extend the lead but a corner three rimmed out. The Trojans missed on three chances up the court next time, the last a blocked three by Quinn and Taunton took possession back. Taunton beat the press, but Jadyn Rosario (18 points) came from behind to steal the ball and then sank two free throws to make it 59-57.
Martins was fouled and went to the line and calmly sank both chances, making it a two possession game with 28 seconds left. B-R was off again on another three and Martins connected on another free throw in the final seconds to secure the win.
While it was a bright finish for the Tigers, it was quite the opposite to start the game. Not only was Taunton limited to just one field goal in the first quarter (1-for-11 shooting), Law went down with an ankle injury with five minutes left and did not return for the rest of the second half.
Trailing 9-3 to start the second quarter, the Tigers turned to Quinn, and the senior captain gave his team life. Quinn buried a three off an offensive rebound from Wesner Charles (nine points, 13 rebounds) and classmate Lou Vendrell followed with a steal and assist to Charles for two to get within one.
“We know Dante is huge for us, but we needed guys to step up,” Martins said. “All the guys out there, pushing each other, and knowing we all need to take of business ourselves.”
Quinn went on to add eight more points in the quarter, including two three-pointers, sophomore Josh Lopes came off the bench and hit a pair of shots, including a putback on an offensive rebound, and Charles scored off a feed from Martin to give Taunton a 22-21 lead at half.
“To their credit, they didn’t get deflated and kept fighting,” Dacey said.”They could have really got down but they fought their way out of it. I’m not surprised Mike had 11 points that quarter, he plays on emotion, he plays so hard. It’s so much hustle.”
Law did return to begin the second half, making his presence known with a big block a minute in. Six Tigers scored in the third quarter, with Danny MacDougall, Quinn, and Martins each scoring two and Kenion dropping seven of his nine points. Kenion converted a three-point play and Law followed with a three-pointer to make it 38-32.
B-R got within three but once again Law drained a triple and Vendrell scored on a fast break to give Taunton a 43-35 lead heading into the fourth.
“It’s a nice competitive situation, two close communities, the kids respect one another,” Dacey said. “This one took place in the tournament, maybe regular season down the road. I like Doug, I like his players, a nice competitive game like that is good for the kids.”
Taunton boys basketball (15-8) will face off with another familiar foe in the D1 South Semifinal as they will host league rival #2 Mansfield (21-4) on Sunday at 4:00. Taunton was a predetermined site for the D1 South semifinal before the tournament started.
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan couldn’t recall exactly what he said throughout his self described “eight-minute rant” during halftime of the Hornets’ matchup with Bridgewater-Raynham.
But whatever he was selling, his kids bought it.
The Hornets turned a 13-point deficit at halftime into an 11-point win with a dominant second half performance spearheaded by an active and energetic defensive effort. Mansfield limited the hosts to just 16 points in the second half to earn a 66-55 decision to conclude the 2018 calendar year.
“I don’t know what I said exactly but something along the lines of ‘It was unacceptable, it’s not how we do things around here, and it’s not a level I want to play at,’” Vaughan said.
“I’ll lose but we have to go down fighting. We didn’t fight in the first half.”
With Mansfield struggling to find consistency on both ends of the court, a good Bridgewater-Raynham team took full advantage. The Trojans shot 7-for-12 from the field in the opening quarter to jump out to a 17-12 lead.
And then Bridgewater-Raynham cashed in on a handful of open looks, taking of advantage of some switches and went a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range in the frame. The Trojans scored 22 points in the quarter and opened up a double-digit lead, 39-26, after 16 minutes of play.
“The whole halftime…it wasn’t about winning or losing, it’s about looking like we know what we’re doing,” Vaughan said. “I told the kids I was a little embarrassed by the way we played in the first half, just from a technique standpoint. I thought the kids responded well and I thought our technique and attention to detail in the second half was significantly better. We have to get better in a lot of areas on the defensive end and sometimes just playing a little harder helps.”
The Hornets went to a full-court man-to-man press, using traps and double teams to get the energy going. The result was exactly what Vaughan was looking for and Mansfield worked its way back into the contest.
After making just one three in the first half (on 1-for-8 shooting), the Hornets came out right away and ran a set play for Tommy Dooling (12 points), and he sank a three. Mansfield forced a turnover on B-R’s first possession, and although it didn’t turn into points, the tone was set.
Mansfield forced seven turnovers in the third quarter, limiting B-R to just nine points. A strong take from sophomore TJ Guy (13 points) on a feed from Damani Scott (game-high 23 points, 10 rebounds) brought the Hornets within seven (39-32) but a 7-2 spurt from the hosts stretched the lead to 12 with two minutes left to play in the third.
The Hornets had a strong response over the final moments of the quarter, going on an 8-2 run. Scott sandwiched a three-pointer between single free throw makes. Dooling drained a three from straight away with less than 10 seconds left to pull within six, 48-42, heading into the fourth quarter.
“I think at the end of the day, we were either going to lay over and continue to get our butts kicked or we were going to start to play hard,” Vaughan said. “I think we started to play hard and the full court pressured allowed us to do that, to hold them accountable for longer parts of the possession. It just boiled down to us having to play harder, play with an identity. It’s been a while since we allowed that many uncontested shots, and B-R is a good team, they are going to make those shots. They didn’t have many bad shots in the first.
“For us, we had to do something. We had to figure out our identity…were we going to let them do what they want? Or were we going to take some things away.”
Mansfield forced five more turnovers in the final quarter and held the Trojans to just one made field goal. While the defense did its part, Mansfield’s offense finally got in gear and poured in 24 points in the quarter.
The Hornets opened on a 7-1 run to take the lead with 5:21 to go in the game. Makhi Baskin started things off with a steal and easy layup and Guy used a nice spin move in the post to give the Hornets the advantage, 50-49.
Scott finished off his own miss and the Hornets defense got a stop with Matty Boen being fouled while rebounding the ball. Boen drained two free throws to go extend the lead to 54-49 with 4:24 left.
B-R countered with two free throws from Conor Rubenskas (21 points) and drew an offensive foul to get possession back. Both teams had empty trips before Rubenskas hit a tough baseline shot to make it a one-point game, 54-53, with 3:25 to play.
Mansfield quickly answered as Dooling found Guy for two and the Hornets press paid off, forcing a turnover. Scott hit one of two from the line to make it 57-53. Mansfield’s defense got a stop and got the ball in the hands of Scott. Scott, who had his way getting to the basket for the majority of the game, garnered a lot of attention and alertly handed a ball off to Boen for a left-handed take.
After the teams traded turnovers, the Trojans missed a triple on one end and on the other end, Boen penetrated the defense, forcing B-R to collapse. Boen alertly kicked the ball out and Guy drained a wide open three to make it 62-53 with a minute to go, securing the win. Guy had 10 of his 13 points in the final quarter.
“The fight in the second half was significantly better, the kids really tried,” Vaughan said. “I don’t want to say they didn’t try in the first but they sat back and waited for everything to happen. In the second half, we took things away…we challenged them, we made things difficult.”
Mansfield boys basketball (4-1) returns to action Friday night for a key Kelley-Rex division battle against rival Franklin in a rematch of last season’s D1 State Final.
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – After a slow start, the game and season seemed lost for fifth seeded Oliver Ames (16-6), which had fallen behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and trailed 44-30 after Shannon Lynch (14 points) nailed her third three-pointer of the third, but it turned out to be the moment when the Tigers finally got going.
OA rallied with an 18-2 run, sparked by league MVP Kayla Raymond’s 11 points in the third and a strong performance off the bench by freshman Caroline Flynn (15 points), which put the Tigers improbably ahead by two and provided an exciting finish to a game that fourth seeded Bridgewater-Raynham had largely controlled.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Trojans had a comeback of their own and it proved decisive.
Raymond (19 points) scored to put OA ahead 53-51, but the Trojans responded with the game’s final 10 points and pulled out a 61-53 victory that sends them into the Div. 1 South semifinal to face top seed Newton South and ended OA’s first tournament run since moving up to D1 this winter.
“They were just a little bit anxious,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was the first time for all of them, with the exception of Kayla, to have experience in the postseason after the first round. I think the fact that there was some level of inexperience, but that’s just trying to get the jitterbugs out.”
She added, “You’ve got to play the whole game and we didn’t.”
Although OA would lead 9-8 after the first quarter, it was a sluggish start for the Tigers. Turnovers would plague OA for the entire first half, as it racked up 18 of them, many of which were unforced. Raymond and junior Alex Sheldon, the team’s two leading scorers were held to just one basket apiece in the first, sophomore Erin Holmberg picked up early foul trouble and senior Abby Reardon went to the bench for a spell due to an injury.
It was not the start that the Tigers were hoping for and gave the Trojans the opportunity to build an early lead. Sheldon (10 points and 10 rebounds) drove to the basket for an old-fashioned three-point play that tied the game at 17-17, but B-R closed the half with nine straight, including five from Kaleigh Matulonis (19 points).
“Once we settled down, we played our game,” said Clement-Holbrook. “I just thought in the second quarter, for whatever the reason was, we weren’t focused. We brought it back and we were starting to show signs of who we are. We missed a close out in the corner, [they] hit a couple threes, because we were helping on penetration.”
The Tigers showed flashes early in the third quarter of being able to get back into the game. Raymond got a three-point play off a Katie Flynn inbound pass, Caroline Flynn hit a runner on the baseline, and Raymond closed the gap to eight with a steal and transition bucket, but each time the Trojans had an answer from deep.
When Raymond ended the third with a corner three off a Holmberg pass, it cut the lead to 44-33 and gave the Tigers a little bit of energy, but it did not seem at the time that it would kick off a furious comeback.
Meg Holleran added a three to start the fourth quarter and Sheldon followed with a finish in traffic and then another dive to the rim plus the foul that made it a four-point game. The traveling OA fans were making a ton of noise, the bench was fired up, and the Tigers were back in a game that seemed over just a few minutes earlier.
“I think it was just the confidence of let’s do what we do, let’s do what got us here,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “Move the ball, get the ball inside. We settled for way too many outside shots early in possessions without making them work defensively.”
Raymond got out in transition for two and Reardon tied the game off a Sheldon assist before Flynn gave the Tigers their first lead since the second quarter with a pair of free throws.
“You were hoping we would have gotten that kind of play from everybody,” said Clement-Holbrook about the play of Caroline Flynn. “She’s a gamer and she’s going to give you everything she has. In terms of her development from the start of the season, she’s come miles.”
After two B-R free throws, Victoria Dacey gave the Trojans back the lead with a three, but Flynn answered right back with a three to tie it and Raymond got open on another inbounds pass for a layup with a little more than two minutes to play, putting OA in front.
On the next B-R possession, the Trojans got into the lane forcing OA to help off the three-point line, which left Matulonis alone for a big shot to regain the lead. Kylee Piche would add four straight points to make it a five-point edge and the Trojans hit free throws to seal the win, while OA struggled to knock down shots on the other end in the final minute.
Clement-Holbrook remarked, “They were playing a little too cautiously with that extra stress on them and they just didn’t handle the pressure well.”
In a rematch of last year’s D1 South Sectional semifinal, Mansfield did just that. The Hornets built an early lead and never looked back, capping 2017 with a 60-47 win over Bridgewater-Raynham.
“It’s huge,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “B-R has become one of the top teams in D1 South, we know we could potentially see them again in March.
“To give up the game against BC High where I thought we had some chances to close the gap late and didn’t…I thought tonight we did a much better job closing the game out, managing the clock better and things we needed to do to sustain.”
Mansfield created the necessary separation in the first quarter, outscoring the Trojans 16-6. The Hornets scored two more points than B-R in each the second (18-16) and third (12-10) quarters to stay ahead.
While seniors John McCoy (22 points and 11 rebounds) and Justin Vine (career-high 21 points) propelled the Hornets with their scoring, Sam Hyland had a terrific all-around game with nine points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals to highlight terrific defensive performance.
“He’s kind of our silent unsung hero through the end of 2017,” Vaughan said of Hyland. “He did a little of everything and his efficiency rating is off the charts right now. He’s shooting high percentages, he’s playing at such a good pace, he’s not turning the ball over, he doesn’t pick up stupid fouls. He’s just steady for us.”
Hyland also helped limit Bridgewater-Raynham’s top scorer, senior Doug Alves, to just five points on 1-for-9 shooting. Alves picked up two early fouls that kept him out for the final six minutes of the first quarter but was held in check by Hyland the rest of the game.
“He’s our go-to guy [defensively] for guards,” Vaughan said. “He doesn’t foul a lot, he doesn’t do stupid things, he doesn’t gamble, he just makes it very difficult [for opponents]. Tonight I thought he did a really good job on Alves and made it difficult for him. Alves got two fouls early unfortunately which probably took him out of his rhythm but Sam did a nice job.
Hyland helped restore Mansfield’s 14 point lead at the end of the third quarter, coming up with a steal and an easy layup. After B-R drained a three to open the fourth quarter, Hyland came right back down the other way and converted a traditional three-point play to prevent the Trojans’ from rattling off an early run in the quarter.
McCoy was the catalyst for the Hornets in their best quarter. The senior scored nine of his 22 points in the opening frame. McCoy’s back-to-back layups put Mansfield up 6-2; he then scored the Hornets’ final five points of the quarter, including a three in the final minute, to create the double-digit lead.
In the second quarter, the Trojans put together their best stretch of the game — an 11-2 run — but that only brought B-R within nine. That’s because Mansfield opened the second quarter with an 8-0 burst of its own.
“We had to stop turning the ball over,” Vaughan said of stopping B-R’s surge. “We go into moments where offensive rebounds are automatically theirs, and when they trap us we give them the ball. We’re trying to get the guys to find the open guy. We’ve thrown some passes that get some gasps from the crowd because it’s almost a turnover. That’s not how we want to play, we want to pass open. When they double, someone has to be open.”
Vine, who started his first game for Mansfield, sandwiched a pair of triples around a layup from McCoy to put the Hornets up 24-6. When Bridgewater-Raynham made its run, cutting it to 26-17, Vine drew a foul while shooting a three. He hit two free throws to halt the run, and then canceled a triple from B-R’s Connor Rubenskas with a trey of his own.
“He’s been doing a pretty good job in practice trying to find his rhythm and a role on this team,” Vaughan said of Vine. “I think today, getting that starting nod, playing with a chip on his shoulder and playing with confidence went a long way for him. When you have guys like Johnny and Sammy, Justin gets some open looks. The longer rotations get going to leave him more open and I think he did a good job of capitalizing.”
Senior Ryan Otto added seven points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who won the battle on the boards 38-30.
Mansfield boys basketball (3-0 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) begins the 2018 calendar with a tough test, opening division play at home against Taunton (2-1, 5-1) on Friday, January 5th.
But they’re a pretty good defensive team as well — and the top-seeded Hornets proved that on Monday night.
In a game with points coming at a premium, Mansfield’s defense shined and its offense made just enough plays down the stretch to pick up a 43-39 win over #4 Bridgewater-Raynham in the D1 South Semifinals.
The Trojans came into the contest averaging 67.5 points per game. It marked just the second time that B-R was held under 50 points — the only other time was when Mansfield beat the Trojans (52-45) back in January.
“Talk about a fantastic game on both ends, by both teams on the defensive end,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I don’t know if we can say our offense or their offense was bad, I think the defense on both ends was that good. We had to have a great game plan [defensively] and I think our guys executed it. B-R had a great game plan and they executed it too. I think it came down to a few late baskets, a couple of free throws down the stretch, a couple of big rebounds we were able to secure that put is in a position to win the game.
“What tremendous effort by B-R and what they took away from us. I’m proud as hell of our guys that they were able to execute our game plan, even in a grind. Sometimes it gets hard, you lose focus or you lose track. Every defensive possession mattered and I don’t think we gave up one that were I said OK we did what we had to do our best to minimize their opportunities.”
Though there weren’t many big runs, one of the most important stretches of the game came at the midway point of the final quarter. Bridgewater-Raynham used a 5-0 spurt to tie the game 35-35 on a three point play from EJ Dambreville (18 points, 13 rebounds) and a basket from John Tesson (eight points, eight rebounds) with 3:33 to play.
On the ensuing possession, with the shot clock in single digits, Mansfield had its response on the other end. Max Boen (eight points) drained a three to put the Hornets back up, 38-35, with just over three minutes to play. It was just Mansfield’s second three-pointer of the game. After making their first attempt of the game, the Hornets missed 15 straight until Boen’s shot.
“The three by Boen was huge, that was just a huge basket for us,” Vaughan said. ”Especially considering he missed some in the first half, a couple uncontested ones. He was bummed out a little in the locker room and I just said to him ‘Just go get one, shoot like yourself.’ And he did it. That’s what seniors do, that’s what good basketball players do. They find opportunities and he made it.”
The Hornets came up with a big stop on the other end as Dambreville was called for an offensive foul. On the offensive end, Mansfield used up the majority of the shot clock before Christian Weber found Sam Goldberg (11 points, 11 rebounds) down low. Goldberg was fouled and added a three throw to put Mansfield up 39-35 with just over two minutes to play.
On the defensive end, Sam Hyland came up with a big block for the Hornets. The Trojans got possession back but Bobby Long was whistled for an illegal screen to give Mansfield the ball back. Mansfield took all 30 seconds of the shot clock, unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
But once again, Mansfield was disciplined on defense and stepped in to take a charge from Hesson.
“[B-R] is good and they’re talented and they can put five guys on the floor at any time that can score,” Vaughan said. “We preached for a couple of days at practice this week that we had to be disciplined, we had to keep the ball in front of us. This wasn’t the same B-R team we played a month and a half ago. I thought the guys answered the test. Guys had to take on some matchups – we had some mismatches in the post, we had help, guys got beat off the dribble, help defenders slid in to take the charge. Overall, what a great defensive effort from both teams and I’m proud of our guys that we were able to maintain that for 32 minutes.
Mansfield missed on the other end at the end of the shot clock but B-R couldn’t convert either. Goldberg hauled in the rebound – his fifth of the second half – and was fouled. He made both to put the Hornets up 41-35 with 20 seconds to play. B-R scored on the other end but Phil Vigeant (nine points, three rebounds), iced the game with two free throws with 11.7 seconds to play.
“I thought defensively they did a tremendous job of keeping us away from the hoop,” Vaughan said. “In the second half, I thought we did a better job of loosing them up and getting some back cuts scoring behind them. A couple times we didn’t score but we got fouls, which gave us opportunities late in the game to get to the line being in the bonus. Overall I was just happy with the focus, by both teams but more that we were able to maintain it for 32 minutes.”
Mansfield’s started the game with a terrific first possession, filled with plenty of ball movement and then a three from Vigeant. But that would be their last made three point until the final minutes of the game. The Hornets were just 1/9 from three point in the opening quarter.
However, Mansfield got an offensive boost from an unlikely source. Evan Christo, who had been one of the top defenders for the Hornets, came alive with four points and four rebounds in the opening quarter. Christo put Mansfield up 5-0 with a put back and then 9-4 with another late in the period.
He scored the opening basket of the second quarter and added a huge block in a one-on-one situation in the fourth quarter while Mansfield held on to a four point lead.
“He’s by far one of the most underrated players we’ve had here in terms of his contributions because he doesn’t score a lot of points night in and night out,” Vaughan said of Christo. “But talk about a big block, taking the guy one on one and then secured the rebound so it wasn’t a loose ball, it was our ball. Just the stuff he’s bringing to the table night and night out. He doesn’t need much praise to do it either. He’s just a tremendous young man who’s playing at a high level right now and defensively, he’s kind of our anchor right now.”
After taking a 16-15 lead into halftime, the Hornets fell behind twice in the third quarter, and even were tied with a minute to play in the third. However, John McCoy found Goldberg cutting to the basket and the senior drained two free throws to give the Hornets a four point lead (30-26) going into the fourth.
“We just had to stick to what we did well all year,” Goldberg said. “Shots weren’t falling but we had to just keep shooting and attacking the basket, get down hill. B-R did a great job of getting up on us so we utilized back door cuts and slips in the second half.
“They have a similar build that we do in that they’re athletic, medium sized guys. I thought our best strength defensively was being able to switch on everything. Being able to match their intensity and athleticism was huge for us.”
Goldberg scored nine of his 11 points and five of his 11 rebounds in the second half.
“I thought in the first half he was passive,” Vaughan said of the Hockomock League MVP. “When we came out of the locker room [at halftime] I told him this isn’t how you want to end your career. In the second half, I thought he did a better job of asserting himself on both ends, both offensively and defensively. Just a few points here and there, a couple of free throws, or a couple aggressive drives to the basket can swing a game like this either way. We just happened to be on the winning end.”
Mansfield boys basketball (23-2) advances to the D1 South Final to take on #3 Needham (19-4). It marks the fourth time since 2011 that the Hornets have reached the sectional final while this is Needham’s first ever appearance. The teams will square off on Friday at Taunton High. The time has yet to be announced by the MIAA.