CANTON, Mass. – King Philip kept fighting back in the second half, closing the gap to as little as five points in the fourth quarter, but for the second time in three games Canton went to the free throw line and sealed a victory.
Five days before, Canton came from behind to beat division rival Stoughton with nine free throws in the final minutes. On Tuesday night, at home, the Bulldogs were at it again, shooting 11-of-12 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to hold off the Warriors and pull out a 53-41 victory. It is a fourth straight victory for Canton.
“It’s tough for other teams because if they foul one girl she’s making her free throws and if they foul another girl, she’s hitting her free throws,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We’re doing a good job moving the ball, getting it to the right girls at the right times and the girls are really doing it – they’re executing from the line and it’s obviously something that puts us in situations to win.”
The Warriors needed to come from behind with a strong fourth quarter to beat Taunton last time out and got off to another tough start on Tuesday. Canton jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter. Julia Hamilton scored six of her game-high 14 points in that run, knocking down a pair of three-pointers, and freshman Fay Gallery scored five of her 13 points to get Canton off to the perfect start.
“Frustration got us,” said KP coach Amy Siggens about the tough start. “If someone misses a shot, they’re young kids and we’re teaching them that you have to move on and get over it and it’s been a struggle. We had a 14-day break and we’ve been on the road since and it’s been tough.”
KP did cut into the lead as leading scorer Faye Veilleux (14 points and 12 rebounds) knocked down a corner three and then a pull-up jumper in transition, but Lilah Milton’s offensive rebound and putback put the Bulldogs up 17-9 after one.
The second quarter was a defensive struggle. Kiara Cerruti (10 points) nailed a three off a Hamilton assist to start the scoring but Canton managed only eight points in the quarter. Gallery also hit a three and Erin Devine scored on an offensive rebound, but that was all.
Despite the lack of scoring, Canton extended its lead by a couple of points because its defense held the Warriors to just six points in the second. Caroline Aaron scored on a back-cut and nice dish from Emma Glaser and then Faith Roy (five points) drilled a three, but it was a 10-point lead for Canton at the break.
Things picked up offensively for both teams in the third quarter. Cerruti started the third with a three but KP cut the lead down to just eight. Catherine Cummings, Glaser, Julia Leroux, and Taylor Butler all scored buckets to get the lead down to single digits.
“We came back into it in the second half,” Siggens said. “I was impressed with how they came out and fought for it a little more than we did in the first half. We saw some different combinations and we’re still figuring it out day to day and see what works.”
Cerruti scored off a steal and then Hamilton drilled another one from beyond the arc to get the Bulldogs back on track and give them an 11-point cushion heading to the fourth.
KP scored the first six points of the final quarter, as the game got even more frenetic. Veilleux scored twice and Butler knocked down a jumper to make it 38-33. Canton answered right back with a 6-0 run. Hamilton sank a pair at the line, Sydney Gallery (six points) got a layup, and Fay Gallery (five steals) got an offensive rebound and scored.
Choquette explained, ,”One of the strengths for us this season is different people doing different things during games. Kiara has led us in scoring a number of games and tonight she guarded Roy and held her scoreless in the second half. [Roy’s] having an amazing year and I told Kiara that this was a terrific defensive performance.”
Brianna James scored and got fouled. She missed the free throw but KP got the offensive board and Veilleux swung it around to Courtney Keswick for a basket. Trailing by nine, Veilleux managed to fire a pass from halfcourt to James for another layup. It was KP’s last basket.
“It really comes down to fundamentals,” said Siggens. “They’re a great team, they outplayed us and they out-hustled us.”
Sydney Gallery and Maggie Connolly (nine rebounds and four steals) each hit a pair at the line and Canton walked away with a fourth victory in the last seven days.
“This is our fourth game in seven days, so towards the end of the game I’m not surprised if people are a little tired,” Choquette said. “We come out and do wonderful things and then get a little tired, which is why I think one of the strengths of our team is the entire team, it’s 13 girls, it’s the bench, it’s everyone coming in and contributing.”
Canton (5-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday night at Sharon, while King Philip (4-2) will try to bounce back at Attleboro.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip took control of the game from the opening tip, starting the game on a 20-4 run, and with Milford still hanging around at halftime, the Warriors put the game away by starting the third quarter with an 18-4 run that ensured there would be no comeback for the Hawks.
Riding those quick starts, King Philip took home a 79-39 victory that moves the Warriors back over .500 on the season and was a good bounce back from the team’s struggles against Franklin last time out.
“When we played Franklin, we did the right things but we couldn’t finish, so it was kind of redemption in that this is how we can play and should be playing,” KP coach Amy Siggens said. “They’re just coming together as a team. I couldn’t be prouder of how hard and how fast they’re playing.”
Faye Veilleux was KP’s leading scorer for the second straight game, as she scored 11 of the Warriors 22 in the first quarter on her way to a game-high 25 points. The junior forward has established herself as a consistent scorer, who can take the pressure off senior Shannon O’Connor (six points and three assists) while she is battling an early season injury.
Siggens said of Veilleux’s start to the season, “We’re pushing her and she’s stepping up into a leadership role. Faye is great to keep the team level and calm on the floor. I’m really, really impressed with how she’s come out this season.”
The Warriors got off to a running start, pushing the tempo and using the team’s speed to its advantage. Veilleux got out on the break a couple of times in the first quarter and senior Julia Leroux (nine points) knocked down a three in transition. Veilleux made it 20-4 by grabbing a defensive rebound and racing forward for a layup on the opposite end (plus a foul).
“We have fast kids, so why not use them?” Siggens asked with a chuckle. “They read the floor well and they just anticipate. It’s on a good flow.”
Milford did claw its way back into the game behind sophomore guard Emma Lawrence. A steal led directly to a layup and then she buried a three to cut the KP lead to 13 (22-9) after one. She continued that momentum into the second, banking home another three to make it a 10-point game. She scored 12 of her team-high 24 in the second quarter.
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver said, “Being able to be on our team last year and learn from the group of seniors I had, I had four freshman on the team and that’s why. I was hoping they’d be able to take out of it.” Lawrence missed the second half of her freshman year with a wrist injury but Dolliver sees the growth from last year. He added, “Emma hasn’t skipped a beat. She’s playing hard and she’s a good leader; she leads by example.”
KP’s offense continued to click, as the Warriors dominated the glass and continued to have success in transition. Veilleux scored six, including a layup off a dribble drive and underhand dish by Brianna James (four assists), O’Connor scored four, and Courtney Keswick buried a pair from beyond the arc.
The Warriors scored 22 in each quarter and led by 21 at the half, despite 19 points from Lawrence. There was no let up at all coming out of halftime, as KP built an insurmountable lead with an 18-4 run.
“It’s kids pushing kids too,” said Siggens. “Some of the kids we put in off the bench were playing hard and it pushed some of the veterans to come out and play hard too. We’re not backing down, no matter what is going on. We want to set the tone.”
Veilleux was at the heart of things again with eight points in the third. She scored on a great feed by forward Catherine Cummings, another off a feed from Emma Glaser, and then another layup following a steal. Leroux also came out aggressive, scoring off a steal and then burying her second three of the night.
The Hawks were getting offense off the dribble, getting to the basket and creating opportunities at the free throw line. Milford shot 24 free throws and made 17 of them. Lawrence was 10-of-12 at the line.
In the fourth quarter, Jillian Michelson helped out her classmate by taking the ball to the rim and creating good looks. Michelson scored all six of her points in the fourth.
“We need a lot of work in terms of the fundamentals, like boxing people out and just having that urgency to go after the basketball,” said Dolliver. “If we can start to get better at the little things like that it will show in the game.”
KP kept finding the range from deep in the fourth, as Keswick (nine points) made her third of the game and junior Nicki Lovenbury came off the bench to knock down a pair, while Cummings (six points) scored four in the paint.
Despite the final scoreline, Milford continued to bring energy to the final whistle, something that made Dolliver proud. We said don’t ever let you effort go down, the bench needs to be into it at all times,” Dolliver said. “Those are the things we’re looking for. That’s where we start and then everything else will fall into place as we get more practice time.”
King Philip (2-1) will step out of the Hock on Sunday when it makes the trip to Dartmouth. Milford (0-3) has a 10-day break before it is back on the court against Hopedale.
2017-2018 Record: 9-13 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.
The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.
Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.
“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-11 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.
While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.
Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.
“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”
2017-2018 Record: 26-2 2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship. Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.
Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.
Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.
Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 15-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round. Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.
Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.
The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.
“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.
O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.
The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.
There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.
The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.
Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.
It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.
While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.
The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.
Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.
Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.
The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.
“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”
2017-2018 Record: 16-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.
Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.
Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”
2017-2018 Record: 2-18 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sanda Lombardi
It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.
Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.
“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.
It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.
While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.
“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”
2017-2018 Record: 7-15 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.
Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.
Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.
“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Exactly a month ago, Stoughton earned its first league win of the season on the road at North Attleboro. Following the game, Black Knights coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said that she was looking forward to a strong second half of the season from her team. She turned out to be right.
On Monday night, behind strong performances from freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe and sophomore Aliyah Wright, the Black Knights beat King Philip 61-49, making it eight wins in the last nine games. After starting the season 1-7, Stoughton is now just one win from clinching a spot in the state tournament.
“It’s exciting to see how the program has evolved,” said Steele Jordan about the progress of the youth on the roster. “We have young guards, but that makes for promise for the future. We’ve got a lot of youth coming up and I’m excited where the program is going. I feel like we’re a fun group to watch and when we’re on, then we’re on.”
The game got off to an even start. Wright got a steal and layup off the Stoughton press and Lindsay McDonald (eight points) knocked down a jumper after an offensive rebound for an early lead. Faith Roy (nine points) completed a three-point play to tie the game at 5-5, but Hyacinthe (15 points) knocked down the first of her five three-pointers and Wright (17 points) got one of her eight steals and turned it into a layup for a 12-8 lead after one.
KP was playing without leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, who was injured in the last game against Taunton, and the Warriors offense stalled a little at the start of the second quarter.
“It’s an adjustment for the team, for the coaches, for everybody,” said KP coach Amy Siggens. “We did alright and I think someone needs to step up into that role and I don’t think they know who that is yet. Everyone had to contribute and we started off a little slow but then we started to figure it out as the game went along.”
The Black Knights ran off the first eight points of the second with sophomore Mariah Harris (10 points) knocking down a pair of jumpers and senior Val Whalen (11 points and 15 rebounds) adding four as well. Roy tried to bring KP back with a pair of threes that cut the lead back to five. Hyacinthe answered with a three but, after free throws from Stoughton, Julia LeRoux (nine points) hit a three to keep KP within nine at the half.
In the third quarter, Stoughton continued its hot shooting to break the game open. Hyacinthe was particularly accurate from downtown, nailing three from beyond the arc in the third, while McDonald also buried a pair of deep jumpers, as the Black Knights scored 22 as a team in the quarter.
“It’s great to see those girls knocking down shots,” said Steele Jordan. “They’ve been working on their games all season and it’s nice when it finally rolls over into a game and they’re being consistent and shooting with confidence.”
While the offense was clicking, Steele Jordan was also pleased with the defensive effort. The Stoughton press was forcing turnovers that led to baskets for Harris and Wright in the quarter.
“We’re fueled off our defense,” she explained. “When we’re moving our feet, we have active hands, and we’re anticipating, we have several girls who can be a step ahead of the pass and see where it’s going. It’s nice to see them use their athleticism and get those deflections.”
Christina Hathaway tried to keep the Warriors in the game with four points in the quarter and junior Catherine Cummings scored five of her team-high 11, but KP trailed by 17 heading to the fourth.
Stoughton continued to tack on to its lead, eventually extending it to as many as 23 points after a jumper by Wright and a three from Harris.
“We work a ton on our help and doubling down because we knew how good their bigs were and…you’ve got to give up one or the other and we just weren’t able to close out,” said Siggens. “I can’t take anything away from how well they shoot and how quick they are.”
KP continued to battle in the final minutes and would cut into the lead behind six points from Cummings, who knocked down a pair of jumpers and finished an offensive rebound. Freshman Emma Glaser also added three points for the Warriors.
“She’s worked really hard all season to work on those moves,” said Siggens of Cummings. “She’s due for a monster game, so it’s nice to see those going in for her.”
Stoughton (9-8, 8-6) will try to clinch its state tournament berth on Tuesday night when it hosts Sharon. King Philip (4-12, 3-11) will be right back in action on Tuesday with the visit of league champ Mansfield.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro came storming out of the gates to jump all over King Philip in Wednesday night’s game at the Kenneth Pickering Gym. The Rocketeers held KP to just four points in the first quarter and led by 19 heading into halftime.
Things got much closer in the second half, as the Warriors stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to as few as six points, but North held its nerve and held off the KP charge to pull out its first league win of the season, 57-48.
“Ultimately, we talked about the last couple days about being aggressive on both ends of the court,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “That first half, I think, was the best we’ve played all year. We were very aggressive.”
Utilizing a full-court press from the opening tip, North was able to keep the Warriors from getting into any rhythm on the offensive end. Four points from Julia Santos and four from Julia Feid put the Rocketeers ahead 8-0 to start and a three by Emma Noreck helped extend the lead to 12-4 after the first quarter.
In the second, North’s pressure continued to create offense. Despite four points apiece from Shannon O’Connor and Julia Leroux in the second, KP continued to fall further behind. Eliza Dion steal led to an easy basket for Feid (10 points, all in the first half) who followed it up with a steal and layup off the ensuing inbound pass.
“We played a little sloppy,” said KP coach Amy Siggens, “and it comes down to a lot of finishing for us, which we work on every day but we’ve just got to keep working on.”
North had no problem finishing in the second. Sophomore Julia Kleczkowski drilled a pair of threes in the quarter, freshman Amanda Kaiser hit one, and senior Emily Haskell scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the second, including a pair from beyond the arc. North went into the break leading 35-16.
Things looked drastically different in the second half. North made only one shot from the field, a layup by Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) off one of Olivia Forbes’ six assists, and finished the third with six points.
“I said in the second half they’re going to come out aggressive and we have to match that aggressiveness and we didn’t right away,” said Herber. “We had to kind of find ourselves on offense. The third quarter was ugly and that’s kind of how we’ve been. We can’t score and then we can’t set our press, be aggressive, and do the things we want to do.”
KP crept closer behind eight points from O’Connor and a strong effort from the whole team on the glass (Christina Hathaway and Catherine Cummings each had seven rebounds). O’Connor, a Boston University-commit, got free for a pair of layups, both assisted by Faith Roy, scored on an offensive rebound, and a pair of free throws. O’Connor finished with a game-high 22 points and pulled down a game-high 15 boards.
The Warriors were within 13 heading to the fourth and Siggens credited better ball management against the press for being able to get into the offense easier.
She explained, “We just readjusted. We usually create our 1-3 cross and we just had to adjust and bring people back and I think we get caught up very fast and kind of panic. We kept our composure a little bit better in the second half.”
The tough shooting stretch continued into the fourth quarter for the Rocketeers and KP continued to close the gap. O’Connor knocked down a three that made it 47-41, the closest the Warriors had been since the opening quarter. Santos got a scoop in traffic to go to push the lead back to eight, but Leroux (seven points) scrambled in a rebound that made it a six-point game again.
“I called a timeout and said this is what we need to do, we’ve been practicing this, we’ve got to be smarter and we need to play through all this stuff,” Herber explained. “We fought through all that and I’m so proud of the way we played tonight.”
Kaiser made a back-cut and received a nice dish from Forbes for a layup and she and Santos each hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead back out to double digits. O’Connor hit her second three of the quarter, but it was not enough to get KP all the way back.
“They really stepped it up,” said Siggens of her team’s second half comeback attempt. “We just couldn’t convert on a couple of ones we should’ve to really cut into that lead, but I’m very proud of the way they played second half. I couldn’t ask for more.”
North Attleboro (2-11, 1-10) will try to build on its first league win when it travels to Canton on Friday. King Philip (3-9, 2-8) will look to bounce back when it hosts Attleboro.
Franklin, 76 @ Attleboro, 72 – Final (OT) – Franklin erased a five-point deficit over the final 90 seconds to send the game into overtime and then outscored the Bombardiers 8-4 in the final period to earn the win. Paul Mahon hit the tying three with less than a minute to play and then hit another triple early in overtime to put Franklin up 73-68. Jalen Samuels poured in a career-high 28 points along with 17 rebounds to lead the Panthers. Samuels scored eight of his points between the fourth and overtime. Sophomore Chris Edgehill added 20 points for Franklin. For Attleboro, sophomore Bryant Ciccio had a career-high 19 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bombardiers build a lead. Kevin Velazquez added a career-best 14 points while sophomore Qualeem Charles had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Mansfield, 73 @ King Philip, 54 – Final – After leading by just three at the half (34-31), Mansfield outscored the Warriors by eight in the third and then dropped 21 points in the final quarter to pick up a division win. Senior John McCoy paced the Hornets with 20 points and seven rebounds while Khristian Conner dropped 16 points. Sam Hyland added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Hornets. KP’s Bruce Santillus scored a career-high 17 points.
Milford, 49 @ North Attleboro, 36 – Final – North Attleboro limited Milford to just 14 points at halftime, but could only score 16 of its own. The Scarlet Hawks offense came alive in the second half, outscoring North 35-20. Junior Brendan White scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter while Kayden Kelley had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Andrew Fraioli finished with nine points and nine rebounds. North Attleboro junior Josh Montague led the Rocketeers with 12 points.
Oliver Ames, 60 @ Taunton, 61 – Final – Taunton sophomore Dante Law hit a deep, contested three with just three seconds left to help Taunton earn a 61-60 decision over Oliver Ames. OA took the lead on a bucket from junior Ethan Eckstrom with 20 seconds left before Law hit the game-winner. OA held a 57-51 lead with five minutes to play but Taunton used a 7-1 run to tie the game. Taunton senior Lens Esquil had a game-high 19 points while junior John Martins had a career-high 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers in the second half. Law and Malik Charles each had 10 points. Jack Spillane led OA with 20 points while Matt Muir scored a career-high 16 points for the visitors.
Sharon, 65 @ Stoughton, 91 – Final – Stoughton connected on 16 three-pointers en route to its best offensive performance of the season. Senior Cam Andrews scored 26 points (five three-pointers) while classmate Colin Sanda (five three-pointers) added a career-high 17 points and sophomore Ajahn Rue (four three-pointers) had a career-high 18 points, seven assists, and seven steals. Malik Loruqet led the Eagles with 20 points.
Canton, 34 @ Foxboro, 79 – Final – Ashley Sampson poured in 28 points as Foxboro continued its unbeaten start in the league. Lily Sykes added 15 points and Katelyn Mollica had 11 for the Warriors.
King Philip, 28 @ Mansfield, 53 – Final – Meg Hill recorded another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds and also had four blocks. Ann Maher scored nine points and Maggie Danehy and Emily Vigeant each had seven for Mansfield. KP was led by Catherine Cummings with 11 points, while Faith Roy chipped in with five.
North Attleboro, 41 @ Milford, 51 – Final – Kate Irwin scored 19 points for the Hawks, who move back into a second-place tie in the Davenport. Emily Piergustavo added 13 points for Milford.
Taunton, 22 @ Oliver Ames, 66 – Final – Oliver Ames jumped out to a 32-18 lead at halftime and put on a dominant second-half performance to earn the win. OA senior Kayla Raymond continued her strong play with 28 points, five rebounds, and five steals while Ally Scolnick added 11 points in the win. OA head coach Laney Holbrook noted sophomore Erin Holmberg played great defense for the host Tigers.
Stoughton, 45 @ Sharon, 36 – Final – Stoughton junior Hailey Egan dropped a career-best 14 points to lead the Black Knights to a division win on the road at Sharon. Senior Val Whalen added a team-high 13 rebounds while freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe had a game-high five steals for the Black Knights.
Oliver Ames, 94.5 @ Attleboro, 72.5 – Final
Oliver Ames, 92.5 @ Attleboro, 70.5 – Final
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”
WRENTHAM, Mass. – A good offense needs ball and player movement to keep the defense guessing and someone that can get the ball into the hands of open shooters. Even when all of that goes right and the offense creates a clean look, in the end someone needs to knock down the shots.
It was the last part that King Philip struggled with on Wednesday night in a non-league game at home against Fontbonne Academy (Milton). KP moved the ball around the perimeter, drove into the lane to draw defenders, and had its fair share of open shots, but unfortunately for the Warriors few found the bottom of the net.
Fontbonne went on a 32-13 run over the second and third quarters to break the game open and had three players reach double figures in points (two of whom also had double digit rebounds) to pull out a 59-38 victory.
“Our kids played hard from start to finish,” said KP coach Martin Crowley. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight and that’s been our M.O. the last couple of games, but defensively I thought we did a pretty decent job most of the night and we just had that one quarter where we didn’t score many points.”
Offense was a struggle right from the opening tip, which Fontbonne won and turned into a lay-up for Arienne Sauvignon Howard (team-high 17 points). KP worked the ball around and found open players but shots just would not fall. The Warriors hung around with a tenacious full-court press and aggressive half-court defense in the first.
Shannon O’Connor (eight points) had a steal and layup to get KP on the board and then freshman Chloe Layne got to the basket for the first of her six points. Julia Leroux (six points) scored on a spinning drive and then freshman Faye Vellieux snagged an offensive rebound and assisted on a basket by Catherine Cummings before adding a basket of her own on another put-back just before the quarter ended.
KP went into the second leading 10-9, but Fontbonne would start to impose itself on the glass and find ways to break the KP press. Freshman Tasha Lima (11 rebounds) used her quickness to score seven of her nine points in the quarter and Annabelle Larnard (13 points, 15 rebounds) tallied a three-point play as the Ducks went into halftime leading 26-18.
Crowley said, “Sometimes we go small to combat our lack of offense and then we can’t rebound and if we can’t rebound then we can’t be as aggressive defensively as we like…it’s pick and choose what you want to do.”
Things did not get better for the Warriors in the third quarter. After an O’Connor pull-up jumper, Fontbonne went on another long run, this time 12-0, and pushed its lead to 41-20. Layne scored at the buzzer with a baseline scoop but the Warriors had been outscored 15-5 in the quarter and trailed by 18 points heading to the fourth.
“We move the ball, it’s just that we’re concentrating on knocking down some shots,” Crowley reflected. “We move the ball well, we’re unselfish, we play hard together and it’s not for any lack of effort on our part.”
The Warriors have only one senior on the roster, Courtney Kelleher, and start a freshman and two sophomores. Struggling like they were on Wednesday, they could have hung their heads but KP continued to compete throughout the fourth quarter. The Warriors just could not deal with the Ducks on the glass, continually giving up second and sometimes third chances.
“We weren’t knocking down shots and we weren’t getting many rebounds and if you’re not doing that then you’re not going to win too many games,” Crowley admitted.
Layne started the quarter with another drive to the rim and then Faith Roy (eight points) chipped in with an offensive rebound for a basket and knocked down KP’s only three of the night to cut the Fontbonne lead to 15. It was as close as the Warriors would get.
“We’re young and we’re much better about that now,” said Crowley about how his team did not let up in the fourth. “Every second on the floor for us will pay dividends down the road. We kept fighting and we battled and that’s all we can ask them to do.”
King Philip (5-10, 3-9) will get back into Hockomock League play on Friday when it hosts Taunton.
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Early in the second half of Thursday night’s finale of the 30th annual Rhode Island Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament, Ponaganset guard Jillian DelPrete hit back-to-back runners to put the Chieftains ahead 23-22 and force King Philip to call a timeout.
After the timeout, KP settled down and the Warriors defense clamped down. Ponaganset was held to only eight points over the final 12 minutes of the game.
Senior Courtney Kelleher scored all 10 of her points in the second half and also pulled in 14 rebounds on the night, while sophomore guard Shannon O’Connor scored 14 points and dished out five assists to help the Warriors pull away for a 49-31 win and the tournament title.
“They’re a scrappy, physical, tough team,” said KP Martin Crowley about the Chieftains. “We knew we’d have a tougher game today, but our kids responded really, really well.”
It did not start well for the Warriors, who came out flat and fell behind by as many as seven points in the first half. DelPrete (team-high 13 points) buried a three to make it 11-4, but KP responded with a 6-0 run to close the gap. O’Connor scored four of those points and Catherine Cummings (seven rebounds) grabbed an offensive board and put-back.
Trailing again by five, KP took control of the game with an 11-0 run. Julia Leroux (seven points) collected a lobbed pass from Faith Roy for a layup to get it started then O’Connor hit Roy for quick-release jumper to make it 16-15 and give KP the lead for the first time. Leroux assisted on a jumper by freshman Sophia McLaughlin and the Warriors went into the break leading 22-19.
“We were a little flat coming out but we closed the half strong and one of our goals was to keep them under 20 points for the half and in the second half we were even better defensively,” said Crowley.
O’Connor hit a pair of free throws to give KP back the lead at 24-23 then Roy hit her second jumper. That was when Kelleher started to assert herself on the boards and on the scoreboard. She scored on an offensive rebound then off an assist by Roy. Another put-back and another layup, this time on an assist by O’Connor, provided some separation between the teams.
“Courtney Kelleher was huge for us coming down the stretch,” said Crowley. “She’s the lone senior on this team and we needed senior leadership today and we got it.”
While Kelleher was controlling the paint (she also had three blocks), O’Connor was controlling the point guard position, especially after Leroux fouled out late in the second half. O’Connor continually got into the lane and had the vision to drop passes off to her teammates, including twice to Christina Hathaway as the Warriors put the game away down the stretch.
“Shannon is a good ballplayer,” said Crowley. “She’s the real deal. She doesn’t usually play point for us but this week she did. She did a good job handling the ball. She was under control and we put the ball where it needed to be.”
KP was able to rotate players down the stretch and got buckets from Kendall Mason and Grace Ely (off an assist by Faye Vellieux), as the closing minutes ended up being comfortable with a double-digit lead.
“You know, it’s a good win for us, on the road,” said Crowley, and it’s back to the battles next week and we’re off and running.”
When it was noted that the Hockomock League was doing well at the start of the season (8-of-12 teams have a winning record), including KP and Attleboro each going 2-0 in Rhode Island tournaments, Crowley responded, “Not that our league needs validation…but it’s a testament to the players and coaches we have in our league and how good they are.”