Mansfield Edges Taunton In D1 South Semifinal Clash

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy goes up for a layup in the second half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton Tigers were on the verge of a big upset.

With just over two minutes to go in a tied game, Taunton senior Wesner Charles found an open lane for an easy layup to give the 14th-seeded Tigers a 58-56 lead. And on Mansfield’s ensuing trip up, Charles came up with a block that gave the Tigers the ball back and all of the momentum in front of a packed crowd inside the Rabouin Field House.

But the Tigers couldn’t slam the door shut on the second-seeded Hornets, as a potential dagger three rimmed out. And there aren’t many teams better at making you pay than the Hornets.

Senior Tommy Dooling (19 points) launched a corner three that bounced twice off the rim before falling, putting the Hornets up by one with 1:34 to go. Taunton couldn’t answer as a three-point shot was off the mark, and Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (career-high 19 points, eight rebounds) concerted off his own miss with 44.5 seconds left to put Mansfield up 61-58.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We started the second half pretty well but [Taunton] came back and the crowd got pretty loud,” Dooling said. “We kept telling each other it was going to be okay, we stuck with what we do well. Sam Stevens had a nice screen and Damani [Scott] had a nice pass and I shot the three, it hit every part of the rim then finally went in, that felt great.”

The Hornets got the stop they needed, Guy broke free for another layup and Mansfield came out with a hard-fought 65-59 win over a gritty Tigers team.

With the win, the Hornets advance to their third straight Division 1 South Sectional Final, and seventh appearance in the last 10 years in the game.

“When the wheels started falling off, with this atmosphere, I was a little nervous with how some of our young guys, guys that haven’t been here before, were going to respond,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We looked panicked there for a little bit. But I reminded them ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, come out and do what we do’ and we needed a couple of possessions of basket, stop, basket, stop, and we were able to do that.

“Taunton is playing really good right now, they were not going to go down easy. They were ready for the big moment, and a couple of bounces things might go the other way. Taunton did some good things in that second half.”

It was a close game throughout as the Hornets had a brief eight-point advantage in the first half, and led by only seven at one point early in the second half. Taunton had an early 11-8 advantage but didn’t take another lead until midway through the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer from Sam Stevens that came off an offensive rebound had the Hornets up 51-48 entering the fourth quarter. Free throws from Taunton senior John Martins (14 points) got the Tigers within two but Damani Scott answered with a strong take for the Hornets. A free throw from Lou Vendrell followed by a steal and bucket from Naz Kenion (career-high 20 points) knotted the score at 53-53.

Kenion continued his stellar play with a nice move baseline to give the Tigers a 55-54 lead, their first advantage of the second half. Kenion came up with a steal to get Taunton the ball back, but the Tigers missed a three. A free throw from Kenion extended the lead to 56-54, and Charles knocked away a pass to get the Tigers another chance to extend the lead, but Taunton’s layup was off the mark. Mansfield tied the game on the other end as sophomore Matt Boen had a layup off a feed from Drew Rooney.

“I thought we played great defense. It felt like we took them off the three-point line for the most part, which is a lot of their offense, But as usual, they adjust and they didn’t panic. If you’re not composed for 32 minutes, you make a mistake, they take advantage of it, that’s Mansfield.

“A game of inches, I think it came down to three plays in the end. Two offensive possessions on our end that we didn’t do well with, and one blown defensive possession. All of a sudden, it’s six points, and that feels like an insurmountable lead against them.”

The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening quarter with Taunton jumping ahead 11-8 behind a three-pointer from Dante Law (nine point, seven rebounds) but Dooling had a pair of triples and Guy added six points to help the Hornets take a 17-14 lead after one.

Mansfield extended its lead to 22-14 — the largest lead of the game by either side — but Taunton clawed back into it. Sophomore Tyler Stewart came off the bench and scored four points, Law added four more, and Kenion scored his first seven points of the game, including a late three-point play to bring the Tigers within two, down 31-29 at half.

Martins sank two free throws to open the second half to tie the game but the Hornets grabbed momentum back with a 10-3 spurt. Stevens converted a putback, Boen and Dooling hit consecutive threes, and Guy scored down low for a 41-34 advantage.

Taunton ramped up its defensive pressure to get back into the game. Martins scored off a steal, and minutes later, Kenion and sophomore Danny MacDougall had back-to-back takeaways that led to layups to tie it at 46-46 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.

“They were a lot more disciplined. Sometimes you can get them on back cuts or dribble handoff action, and we didn’t get any of those,” Vaughan said of Taunton’s defense. “We really had to score the old fashion way and gut through some possessions. Even on offense too, this was probably the most disciplined Taunton team I’ve seen on both ends of the floor, they really bought in to what [Coach Dacey] was selling. It made it brutal. When guys do that, you can’t go on runs, you can’t create separation, it makes it tough.

“All the threes we got were either contested, or we got them off half broken plays.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For Taunton (15-9), it was an end to a playoff run that saw upsets over league rival Attleboro and former league rival Bridgewater-Raynham.

“We discovered something, I don’t know exactly what it was,” Dacey said. “We work, work, work a lot on defense in practice. It clicked against Attleboro, then again against B-R, it’s something we’ve been looking for all year long.

“It hurts, it should hurt, and hopefully it’s a lesson for the underclassman. We have to get kids to want to be in the gym in the offseason. This was fun, so I hope the guys coming back realize it and say we can be here [again], but you have to put the work in.”

Mansfield boys basketball returns to Taunton High on Friday to take on #5 Newton North (20-5). Newton North defeated the Hornets in the regular season on February 10th. The D1 South Final is set to tipoff at 7:30.

Taunton Takes Down Rival B-R In Overtime

Taunton boys basketball Mike Quinn
Taunton senior Mike Quinn goes up for a layup in . the first half against Bridgewater-Raynham. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Taunton Upsets Attleboro With Second Half Surge

Wesner Charles Taunton boys basketball
Taunton senior Wesner Charles dunks the ball in the fourth quarter against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Those who were in attendance for the clash between #3 Attleboro and #14 Taunton certainly got their money’s worth.

The Bombardiers and Tigers, playing for the third time this season, traded punches back-and-forth for the entirety of Tuesday night’s contest, one that felt at times more like a final than an opening round game. And just when it looked like Taunton was ready to land a knockout blow, the Bombardiers valiantly battled back.

But in the end, Taunton’s second-half run, punctuated with clutch free throws in the final minute, proved to be enough as the Tigers earned their first win over Attleboro this year, 61-56.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“They knew they could perform at a higher level,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey of his team. “It’s good that they got it going at this stage of the season. I think the key tonight was they we spread the points around. Our half court offense was a little unorganized but when situations broke down tonight, we had guys hit some shots in some key situations.

“It certainly helps we’ve seen them twice before. We pulled apart the game film from the first two games. We didn’t do much with it in the first half, but we knew what was coming in the second half so it’s nice when you can predict some of the offense.”

Besides Attleboro’s brief eight-point in the second quarter, the first 24 minutes of the contest was mostly a one or two possession game. It wasn’t until the late in the third quarter and early in the fourth that Taunton made its move.

Trailing 43-31, senior Lou Vendrell (10 points) hauled in an Attleboro miss and alertly pushed the ball up in transition, finding classmate John Martins (eight points) for an easy layup. Two minutes later, just a player after drawing an offensive foul, Vendrell took a handoff from Wesner Charles (10 points, nine rebounds) and drained a three, giving the Tigers just their second lead of the half.

With under a minute to go, Taunton’s defense got another stop, senior Mike Quinn grabbed the rebound and hit Dante Law (22 points, 12 rebounds) on an outlet pass and the junior used a two-handed slam to put Taunton up 48-43 heading into the fourth quarter.

Attleboro opened the fourth with a bucket from senior Mason Houle (12 points, five assists) but Taunton’s run continued as Charles hauled in an offensive board and found Law for a three. Houle answered with a free throw but Law came back down and hit another three to make it 54-46.

“It was timely shots, good stops, all of the above,” Law said. “We trust each other with the ball, so we’re able to spread it around. We talked about getting 10 points from everybody, and that’s what we what did tonight.

“We were excited to get another chance at them. Coach talked about how it’s hard to beat a team three times so we went out there and just gave everything we had.

After a scoreless two minute stretch from both sides, Charles put an exclamation point on Taunton’s run. The senior took a pass in the corner, found space on the baseline and drove to the basket, rising up and finishing with a two-handed slam while being fouled. His free throw gave Taunton a commanding 57-46 lead with 4:30 to play.

“Wesner is pretty athletic, he’s pretty strong, and he’s willing to fight,” Dacey said. “I felt like that was the key to the game was not letting [Qualeem] go off on us and Wesner made some plays for us.”

But the Bombardiers refused to go quietly, getting a spark from a pair of reserves. Lorenzo Wilson converted back-to-back offensive rebounds, and Nick McMahon finished a layup after a pull-up jumper from Bryant Ciccio (13 points, eight rebounds) to make it 57-54.

Taunton was called for an illegal screen, and the Bombardiers quickly got the ball into Qualeem Charles (14 points, six rebounds) for two, cutting the deficit to just one at 57-56 with a minute to go.

Junior Naz Kenion (11 points, five rebounds, three assists) was fouled as he drove to the basket, connecting on both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 59-56. Attleboro had a look to tie it with 20 seconds to go, but it was off the mark and Law came down with the board. Kenion was fouled again, and he sank the first or two to extend the lead to 60-56 with 12.5 seconds to go. Law tacked on a free throw in the final seconds.

“The big thing playing Taunton is transition defense, getting stops, and rebounding,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle. “They out-rebounded us, especially on the offensive glass and that translated into a lot of opportunities for them. In a big game like this, you can’t give good teams second and third chances. And their defensive pressure was good tonight, it was good all night long. That pressure, maybe in the second half, forced us into some quicker shots than maybe we wanted to.

“Defensively [Taunton] got after it tonight. It’s tough to simulate that in practice. They did a nice job of keeping the ball on one side of the court and got into the passing lanes. They really made us work. They got that lead and I think it was because of their ball pressure.”

Attleboro opened had four players connect on a three-pointer in the first quarter with Ciccio, Houle, Kevin Velazquez (six rebounds), and Tim Callahan all hit from deep. Taunton kept pace though as Martins had a triple and Law attacked the basket with success, scoring eight points as the Tigers trailed 17-13 after one.

Qualeem Charles and Callahan scored on back-to-back possessions to give Attleboro its largest lead of the game at 21-13. Taunton responded with an 11-1 run to take its first lead of the game. Kenion slashed to the basket, Vendrell hit a three and then a free throw and Martins connected on his second triple of the game. A free throw from Qualeem Charles tied it but Kenion was fouled and hit two free throws of his own to make it 24-22.

The teams went on a bit of a scoring spree, trading three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. First Houle drained one from deep only for Vendrell to answer seconds later. Ciccio stepped up to sink one for a 28-27 advantage but Law responded on the other end to put Taunton up 30-28.

Attleboro closed the half on a 7-2 run. Houle and Qualeem Charles converting at the rim while Ciccio broke a tie game with a triple to put the Bombardiers up 35-32 at half.

The Bombardiers shot 7-for-12 from three-point range in the first half.

“At halftime, we stated firmly to get them off of the three-point line, we don’t care what you do but get them off,” Dacey said. “We had some bad , but luckily we were able to force them further out into deeper threes.

Taunton’s pressure on the perimeter worked as the Bombardiers connected on just one three in the second half, having a couple of open looks rim out as well.

“I think we forced some shots in the second half from deep,” Houle said. “I don’t think we worked the ball around, we didn’t get as many passes per possession that we like to get. I think we settled for some outside shots and we weren’t getting offensive rebounds, and they were. They won the loose ball battle too. Those 50/50 balls and offensive rebounds, in a close game like this, that’s going to be the difference.”

Attleboro closes the season at 18-5, finishing second in the Kelley-Rex division. It was the first loss at home of the season for the Bombardiers.

“This team has been resilient all year, we’ve had a good attitude in every game,” Houle said. “I knew in my mind, if we could have gotten a little momentum we’d be right back in it, and we did. It came down to the last couple possessions, and we had some opportunities but we weren’t able to get it tied or take the lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“This was a really good group of young men that battled every night. We have a lot to be proud of. This strings, especially as a home game which is something we worked hard to get, but nothing is guaranteed in the state tournament and that’s a lesson we all learned.”

Taunton boys basketball (14-8) advances to the D1 South Quarterfinal to take on rival Bridgewater-Raynham (13-8), marking the first team the two teams have played since the Tigers left the OCL and joined the Hockomock League in 2012. The game is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 at Bridgewater-Raynham.

“I think this is huge for this team,” Dacey said. “It’s been a tough season, up and down year, a fight every day. Now they are believing and they are in a good place.”

Vendrell Sparks Taunton To Win Over Stoughton

Taunton boys basketball Lou Vendrell
Taunton senior Lou Vendrell drives to the basket for a layup in the fourth quarter against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – A shorthanded Taunton team has seen a pair of seniors step up over the past two games. Tuesday night on the road against Stoughton, they had a third senior rise to the occasion.

Following in the footsteps of John Martins (30 points against Canton) and Ryan Sullivan (27 points against Mansfield), senior Lou Vendrell came off the bench to provide a big spark for the Tigers, leading Taunton to a 70-61 win on the road.

Vendrell scored a season-high 20 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter, to help the Tigers secure an important win as they inch closer to a postseason berth.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It was a huge win, being shorthanded,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “These guys that have carried us for three games are all good kids, they’ve done a nice job.”

Without three starters, the Tigers posted a 1-1 record last week so Tuesday’s road trip to Stoughton was an important one. Martins had another solid effort for the Tigers, dropping 15 points and hauling in eight rebounds while sophomore Josh Lopes came off the bench and scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half.

Taunton built a 10-point lead by using a 13-4 run over the final 2:15 of the first half. In the second half, Stoughton continued to push back into the game but the Tigers never surrendered the lead.

The Black Knights kept the visitors scoreless for the first 4:13 of the third quarter but could only muster six points of their own. Martins scored off a turnover and assist from Vendrell to get Taunton on the board, up 37-31. A three from Lopes extended that advantage to 40-31 with three minutes left in the third.

But Stoughton continued to chip away. Four points from Obinna Ugwuakazi (21 points, 11 rebounds) and two from Tahkwan Gates Brown (six points, five assists) got the Black Knights within five but a three-point play from Lopes kept Taunton ahead, 43-47, going into the final quarter.

“Those two guys are learning to play together,” Gallivan said of Ugwuakazi and Gates Brown. “At the beginning of the season we were playing one at a time, but they’re learning. They are looking for each other too. It’s not always pretty, but it can be effective.”

Taunton’s lead ballooned to 12 when sophomore Tyler Stewart come up with a steal then found Vendrell on the break early in the fourth quarter. Vendrell returned the favor to Stewart for two and a 51-40 lead, and then Stewart found Quinn in the corner for a three and Vendrell converted on a breakaway to make it 56-42 with 4:38 to play.

The 14-point lead was far from safe, however, as Ugwuakazi converted down low, Kevin Dixon splashed in a triple, and sophomore Jake Queeney came off the bench to drain a three to make it 58-50 with 2:14 to play.

“Queeney did a nice job, came off the bench and hit some shots,” Gallivan. “He’s played a couple of varsity quarters, he had one quarter of eligibility left tonight so we put him in and he did well.”

A free throw from Ugwuakazi cut the deficit to seven, but Vendrell responded with a jumper in the paint to put the Tigers up 60-51.

“If he starts off playing well, he does well for the game,” Dacey said of Vendrell. :He was confident tonight. He had a lot of momentum and was participating on both ends of the floor too which I think factored in.”

Ugwuakazi and Quinn traded two points apiece and Queeney hit another triple to get Stoughton within six, 62-56, with 1:29 to go. Each team had an empty trip, and Lopes raced out for a layup and a 64-56 lead.

“14 points out of a sophomore in a pressure situation like that? He’s a worker,” Dacey said of Lopes. “He’s worked his butt off, he’s in a good spot right now, and he deserves it.”

With under a minute to go, the Black Knights were forced to foul and Taunton was able to hold on for the win.

In the first half, Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (13 points, five rebounds, four assists) helped the Black Knights jump ahead 12-8, but Taunton closed the opening quarter with a 6-0 run (two each from Krishon Nairne, Martins, and Vendrell) for a 14-12 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the second quarter, Martins took control of the offense and scored eight points in the quarter. A three-pointer from Ajahn Rue brought Stoughton within one at 22-21 with under three minutes to go but the Tigers finished the quarter strong with a 13-4 run.

Martins made back-to-back triples, Vendrell added in five straight, and Martins converted shortly before the buzzer for a 35-25 lead at the break.

“[John] makes good decisions out there,” Dacey said. “We’re trying to run some things, and he manages to settle it down and occasionally takes care of business himself. That’s the senior leadership we need.”

Taunton boys basketball (7-4 Hockomock, 10-5) begins a three-game home stand when it welcomes Oliver Ames on Friday night. Stoughton (4-7, 7-8) has its second straight home contest when it entertains North Attleboro.

Franklin Grinds Out Close Win Over Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Will Harvey (33) defends a shot from Taunton’s Michael Quinn (2) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – After seeing a large first half lead disappear, the Franklin boys basketball team was on the verge of letting a second half lead evaporate as well.

Holding a five-point lead with 1:30 to, Franklin’s advantage quickly shrunk to just one after a putback from Taunton senior Michel Quinn and a strong take from Lou Vendrell with 39.8 to go.

The Panthers, after scoring 20 points in the first quarter, had been limited to just 30 over the next 23 minutes and were in need of a spark. After a timeout, Franklin got the ball into the hands of junior Chris Edgehill (13 points, five assists), and he took advantage of a Taunton miscommunication after a double screen to get enough separation for a three with 20 seconds left, helping secure a 50-45 win over Taunton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It was absolutely a grind,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Getting off to a great start helps a lot especially when you aren’t playing your best in the middle quarters. The second and third quarters we got really stagnant on offense. We stopped doing everything we did in the first quarter that was working. We weren’t running the floor as hard, we weren’t cutting or screening as hard, we weren’t reacting off screens really well. The motion got stymied, we weren’t moving the ball.”

Franklin was nearly flawless in the opening quarter, racing out to an 18-2 lead over the first six and a half minutes finishing with a 20-6 advantage after one. The Panthers shot 54% from the field and forced seven turnovers to build a big lead.

What looked like a potential blowout slowly turned into a dogfight as the Tigers scratched and clawed their way back in the game. Taunton’s defense stepped up to limit Franklin to just nine points in the second quarter while its offense found a grove, scoring 17.

Quinn (13 points) and John Martins (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists) each hit a three, preceded by a bucket by Vendrell. Two free throws from Dante Law (who missed the majority of the game with foul trouble and fouled out with 5:36 left on a questionable call) cut the deficit to four, 22-18, before Franklin answered with three straight points. Law, Edgehill, Vendrell, Jalen Samuels, and Naz Kenion all missed minutes on the second due to foul trouble.

Taunton’s bench was able to provide a spark with Tyler Stewart (six points, five rebounds), Josh Lopes, Fabio Goncalves, and Krishon Nairne (two rebounds, block) coming to to give the Tigers some valuable minutes. A late three-point play from Jack Rudolph extended Franklin’s lead to eight but Martins responded with a triple. Franklin led 29-23 at half.

“That first quarter was one of the best quarters we’ve had all season,” Neely said.”I think what happens is you get that lead early, you start feeling like you don’t have to work as hard. You start taking some bad shots and then they hit a couple and make a couple of hustle plays, and all of a sudden it’s a close game. Those guys play hard, they are a good team, they have a lot of pride. I give them a lot of credit, they battled back and took a lead on us after going down big. Taunton did a good job, I was impressed with their fight.”

Quinn sandwiched two buckets around one from Martin to knot the game early in the third, and a bucket in low from Stewart gave Taunton its first lead at 31-29.

“In the second and third quarters, we did a nice job defensively,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “But with our offense, we have to maximize our opportunities and I felt like we had too many quick shots tonight. We have to be more patient and run our stuff.”

That’s when the Panthers turned to Samuels (12 points, eight rebounds), a senior captain, to weather the Tigers’ push. Samuels answered with a nice take to tie the game, and then used a two-handed flush to put Franklin back ahead. Samuels made a heads up play on defense, intercepting a pass and going the length of the court for a bucket while being fouled. His free throw completed the three-point play and put Franklin up 36-35.

“That’s a classic Jalen game, when we need him most he shows up,” Neely said. “Those takes to the rim late were huge for us. Defensively, he just finds a way, I know his back is killing him but he had some nice rebounds. I thought he made all the big plays for us down the stretch for us besides Chris’ three.”

Taunton closed the third with a mini 4-0 run – a free throw from Kenion, a layup from Stewart, and a technical free throw from Martins – to make it 36-35 heading into the final frame.

Will Harvey (12 points, seven rebounds) scored early and then capitalized on a Taunton turnover by adding a free throw to put Franklin up 39-37. Thomas Gasbarro and Kenion traded buckets before Samuels extended Franklin’s lead to four with 3:38 to play.

Taunton had three looks but couldn’t convert but Quinn pickpocketed Edgehill at half court and went in for two to make it 43-41. Harvey hit a free throw after being fouled on an offensive rebound and Gasbarro drove to the basket for two after a Taunton turnover to make it 46-41 with 1:30 to go.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We just talked about what’s made us great over the years and that’s defense and that’s what we have to rely on now,” Neely said. “So down the stretch I went with more of a defensive lineup so we could get some stops. Putting Tom and [Jake] Macchi in there, they really grinded it out. Tom made some big plays for us, got some turnovers and gave us a huge lift defensively.

Quinn scored on a putback after a missed three Franklin got a stop and Vendrell drove to the basket for two with 39.8 left but Edgehill’s triple sealed the win.

Franklin boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 6-3 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to North Attleboro. Taunton (4-2, 7-3) will try to bounce back when it travels to Milford on the same day.

Late Run Helps Foxboro Get Past Taunton

Foxboro boys basketball
Foxboro’s Brandon Borde (right) goes up for a shot against Taunton’s Wesner Charles (21) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – Through three quarters of play, both Taunton and Foxboro boys basketball teams had spurts on the offensive end, but neither side was able to build a run to take control of the game.

The Tigers had one of those spurts to open the final quarter, putting up six straight points to go ahead by a point, 39-38. But Foxboro had a response, orchestrating a 14-5 run over the next three minutes to seize control and grab a 56-49 win over Taunton.

“Throughout the first three quarters, we got some good looks but didn’t make them,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I don’t think we did anything different [in the fourth] but luckily we have some really talented players on this team that stepped up and knocked them down. Kevin [Gallagher] and Brandon [Borde] stepped up and hit some huge, huge threes when we really needed them.”

Foxboro held a 36-33 advantage going into the final quarter and extended it to 38-33, but Taunton rattled off a 6-0 run to take the lead. Senior Wesner Charles scored down low on a feed from senior Michael Quinn, and senior John Martins converted a fast break after Quinn caused a turnover. Senior Lou Vendrell (12 points) cashed in on a steal to put Taunton up 39-38.

But as quickly as its lead disappeared, sophomore Kevin Gallagher gave the hosts the lead back. Gallagher drained a three, and junior Will Morrison hauled in a defensive rebound on the other end while being fouled, sinking two free throws to make it 43-39 with 3:54 to play.

Taunton answered with a three from Quinn to get within one, but just seconds later, junior Brandon Borde (19 points) drilled a three on a feed from Morrison to keep the Warriors up. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Gallagher sank a deep triple to make it 49-42.

Junior Dante Law (13 points) scored in traffic to make it a five-point game, but Borde sank another three on the other end to make it 52-44 with 1:51 to go.

The Tigers didn’t go quietly as Law finished at the rim and drew an offensive foul on the inbounds. Taunton cashed in on a second chance three from Vendrell to make it a three-point game, 52-49, with 30 seconds left.

Foxboro was initially trapped in the backcourt but used a timeout, got the ball in successfully and senior Anthony Mollica eventually sank both ends of a one-and-one to extend the lead to 54-49. The Warriors got another stop and Borde hit two free throws to seal it.

“We have good shooters on this team,” Gibbs said. “We finally had a game at home where we’re shooting on the rims we shoot on every day at practice. These guys bury shots in practice, and we always tell them to shoot with confidence. It was nice to see some of them knock those shots down in the second half and hopefully, we can keep them going and get some guys in a rhythm.”

Taunton had leads in three of the four quarters, including the final frame, but couldn’t put together a run to turn a small lead into a large advantage.

“Ball movement and defense, the magic formula,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “There was a lot of it for them and a lack of it from us. We have guys that want to do it themselves too much. They kept moving the ball, moving the ball and we’d have a lousy close out, or we left a gap open, and they took advantage of it.”

After scoring the first two points of the game, Taunton watched as Foxboro went on a 12-2 run for the rest of the quarter. The Tigers didn’t help themselves with four missed layups. Borde had five points in the opening frame, and Mollica hit a triple to give Foxboro a big lead early.

The second quarter was a different story as Taunton had a run to get back into the game. The Tigers opened with a 12-0 run, highlighted by points from five different players. Law hit a three, sophomore Tyler Stewart converted in close, Martins and Quinn each scored, and Vendrell capped the run on a nice pass from Law.

But Foxboro closed the quarter with a 7-0 burst, including a late three-point play from Mollica to give the Warriors a 23-21 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, Foxboro extended its lead to seven when Gallagher hit a triple after an offensive rebound from junior Ryan Hughes (11 points), up 30-23. Taunton outscored the Warriors 10-6 the rest of the rest to make it a one-possession game going into the fourth.

“Our guys battled,” Gibbs said. “We knew coming into the game we needed to win the physical battle, really rebound strong. We know that Taunton is a phenomenal offensive rebounding team, they attack the glass from every position. We had our guards ready and in a mindset that they had to be physical. And I think that carried over to our post defense and made them take some tough shots.”

Foxboro boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 1-2 overall) is back in action on Friday night when it hosts Bishop Feehan. Taunton (2-1, 2-1) will try to bounce back when it hosts city rival Coyle & Cassidy on Thursday.

Taunton Survives Comeback Bid From Oliver Ames

Taunton boys basketball
Taunton’s Dante Law dunks the ball in the second half against Oliver Ames. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Halfway through the third quarter, Taunton was in position to pull away with a win after extending its lead to a game-high 13 points at 39-26.

But Oliver Ames refused to go away, closing the frame on a 12-2 run to make it a one-possession game with one quarter to play. The host Tigers carried that momentum into the final frame, tying the game on a triple from Jay Spillane (nine points) and going up 44-41 on a layup from Spillane and a free throw from Ethan Eckstrom (11 points, nine rebounds).

After turning a 13-point lead into a three-point advantage with just under six minutes to go, it appeared all of the momentum was with the hosts.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But Taunton delivered an immediate response as senior John Martins (nine points, three assists) converted a three from the corner while being fouled, essentially equalizing the momentum.

Although Martins missed the free throw, he did connect on his next six attempts from the line to help Taunton come away with a 53-50 win over Oliver Ames.

“It energized us for sure and deflated them a little bit,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey on Martins’ first made triple of the game. “We needed to be more patient in the second half. But it was a good test today. We’re far more mature this season. Part of it is the personalities and part of it is the senior leadership John and Mike Quinn are good leaders, excellent students, and good quality kids. And the others seem to be buying in to what they are saying.”

After tying the game, Taunton got a stop with Martins hauling in the rebound while being fouled. He sank both attempts to go up 46-44. After the teams traded empty possessions over the next two minutes, OA’s Jake Erlich (eight points, five rebounds) converted down low to tie the game with 2:56 to play.

Martins drove a blocking call on the other end and hit both free throws to make it 48-46. OA had an inbounds pass just over half court but high pressure resulted in a loose ball and Quinn (11 points) pounced on it and went down the court for a layup and a 50-46 lead with 2:28 to play.

Erlich got OA within two and Eckstrom tied the game with two free throws with just under a minute to go. Taunton ran a play to get Martins an open layup on the back side and he was fouled, again going to the line and hitting two free throws to make it 52-50.

“I don’t expect any different from them,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron about his team’s comeback efforts in the second half. “They practice really well, they don’t cheat you on the effort end. We’ve been in those situations, we were in it against Stoughton. We tell them to expect to get hit in the mouth twice in each half. Someone’s going to make a run and you have to be able to withstand it. We’d knew Taunton would have spurts but we told them to just keep playing and to their credit, they did.”

Taunton got another stop with Wesner Charles (eight points) hauling in one of his game-high 18 rebounds and Lou Vendrell hit one of two attempts from the free throw line with 23 seconds left to make it 53-50.

Charles’ dominance on the boards helped Taunton win the battle of the boards, 34-22, and held OA to just six offensive rebounds.

“He’s a tough kid, he works his tail off and he doesn’t score about getting points,” Dacey said of Charles. “How many times do you find that in a high school kid? We need a player like that.”

OA had two chances in the final 15 seconds to try and tie it but one three was off the mark and a turnover three as the buzzer was wide.

Taunton opened the second half on an 11-4 run to turn a two-possession advantage into a 39-26 lead. Oliver Ames responded with pressure on the defensive end, extending its press out to create some chances offensively.

The other switch came early in the quarter but paid off throughout the frame as the host Tigers elected to post some of their guards, manly senior Sean O’Brien (13 points), up in the post. After a bucket from Eckstrom, O’Brien scored five straight points to half the deficit. Eckstrom converted a putback to make it a four-point game only for Taunton junior Dante Law (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) to answer with a thunderous two-handed slam on a breakaway,

OA’s Ryan Burkett converted a traditional three-point play with under 30 seconds left in the third to make it a one-possession game.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We went 2-2-1 [press] three quarter and had a couple of things happen that worked well for us,” Byron said. “We got them into a couple of trap areas and converted off of that. We played a smaller lineup for a good portion of that, going with three guards.

“O’Brien [posts up] pretty well for a little guy, he carves out pretty well. He gives away from size but its worked for us with him there.”

Taunton led by one, 13-12, after the first quarter with Quinn and O’Brien each hitting a pair of triples. The visiting Tigers outscored OA 15-10 in the second quarter to lead 28-22 at the break.

Taunton boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to take on Foxboro (0-2). Oliver Ames (1-1, 1-1) is also on the road, traveling to play North Attleboro (0-2).

Franklin Rides Balanced Scoring Attack Past Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Paul Mahon drives to the hoop in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – With the playoffs nearing closer and closer, the teams that make the deepest runs are usually always armed with multiple weapons.

The Franklin boys basketball team is looking like it’s going to be one of those teams.

The Panthers had three players score 15 or more points, building a 12-point lead at halftime, going up by as much as 21 in the fourth quarter and then had to fend off a late charge from Taunton’s reserves to earn a 63-51 win on the road.

Sophomore Chris Edgehill scored eight of his 15 points in the opening quarter, senior Jack Rodgers netted seven of his game-high 17 points in the second quarter and senior Paul Mahon spread his 15 points out equally across the second, third and fourth quarters to pace Franklin.

“I thought as long as we shared the ball like we can, and have four or five guys touch it we would be in good shape,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “It’s about trusting each other and trusting the offense. We talked a lot in practice about trusting each other, screening for each other, believing in what we’re doing. If we do everything we need to, we’re going to get good looks. I think they did a nice job tonight of not caring who scored. Having three guys with 15 or more points is a great way to share it. That makes it so you can’t stop one guy.”

Edgehill got the offense going early, accounting for over half of the Panthers’ 15 points. He opened Franklin’s scoring with a layup, hit a three, and later converted a traditional three-point play.

The Panthers quickly turned their three-point lead to nine with an early 6-0 spurt in the second quarter. Rodgers scored back-to-back buckets, both on assists from Edgehill, and Alex Klowan capped the run on another feed from Edgehill.

Mahon hit an open three and Klowan converted an offensive rebound to keep the lead at 10. A layup from Mahon and a triple with under a minute to go from Rodgers pushed the lead to 14 but Prince Brown answered for Taunton to cut the deficit to 12 (32-20) at halftime.

“When you play a team like that, you have to step up,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “You have to focus and it’s happened all year long, at some point we lose our focus. Either take a bad shot, make a defensive error, and then the run begins for no other reason than we made one mistake. Then it becomes two mistakes, then it snowballs and all of a sudden you’re down a decent margin. It’s frustrating.”

“[Franklin] plays such a sound, simple game like Mansfield does. We’ve got athletes too. I’m impressed so much by the simplicity of the game of Mansfield and Franklin. We go off the rails, and we just can’t produce points automatically…we have to work, work, work.”

The game opened up in the third quarter with a much faster tempo, which typically favors the Tigers. Taunton scored 14 points in the frame — its best period so far. But Franklin was equally as comfortable with the speed of the game, having its best offensive quarter with 20 points.

“Taunton’s very fast and when you turn the ball over, they make you pay for it,” Neely said. “We talked a lot about taking care of the basketball and not letting them get offensive rebounds. When they those things happened, they hurt us. But we thought we could get some points in transition ourselves. When we had the chance, we looked for it.”

Edgehill and Naz Kenion traded threes to open the third, then Kenion and John Martins combined for five points to cut it to 42-30. Mahon then connected on five straight points, Lens Esquil and Dante Law answered with two apiece but three from Rodgers and two from Paul Rudolph gave Franklin a 52-34 lead at the end of the third.

“Franklin can go fast, they can go slow,” Dacey said. “Even without [Jalen] Samuels, they don’t seem to skip a beat. They still have the shooting, they still set the screens. They can still produce points from other places.

Mahon gave the visitors a 21-point lead on two free throws (58-37) with three and a half minutes to play. That signaled for both teams to go to the benches for their reserves. Taunton’s second unit made the base of the opportunity.

Michael Quinn drained a three, Brown scored with a strong take, Alex Midouin got to the free throw line for one after an offensive rebound and Malik Charles converted a putback for a traditional three-point play, finishing a 10-1 run over two minutes.

Franklin put its starters back into the game at that point. Quinn scored again to make it a 10-point game and after an Edgehill free throw, Midouin scored down low to cut it to nine. But Mahon hit two free throws and added another after a Taunton miss to ice the game.

“They scrapped, good for those kids,” Dacey said of his reserves. “I have to give it to them, made them put their starters back in. But you just don’t want to be so far out of it against the quality teams. It seems like we’re playing catch up the whole game, and that’s tough to do in high school.”

Lens Esquil led Taunton with 14 points and six rebounds while Brown and Quinn each had six points apiece.

Franklin boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 15-1 overall) stays in a tie atop the Kelley-Rex division with the win heading into Friday’s colossal clash with Mansfield. Taunton (6-7, 10-8) will try to bounce back when it travels to King Philip.

Defensive Adjustment Helps Canton Hold Off Taunton

Canton boys basketball
Canton junior Devin Foster drives to the basket against Taunton in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – After leading by as much as 20 points, a second-half resurgence by Taunton saw Canton’s lead shrink to just six early in the fourth quarter.

Taunton sophomore Dante Law (12 rebounds, three blocks) drained the Tigers’ only three of the game with five minutes left in the game, bringing the visitors within two possessions at 42-36.

Coming out of a timeout, the Bulldogs decided to switch things up. After playing man-to-man defense for the majority of the game, the hosts switched to a 1-3-1 zone.

The result was a scoreless stretch of over four minutes for Taunton, allowing Canton to regain its footing and get just enough separation for a 48-38 win. It marks Canton’s first win over Taunton since the Tigers joined the Hockomock League.

“I thought we had to change the momentum of the game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy of changing defenses. “They had us on the ropes a little bit, they were making a good comeback. I just like we had to change something. They were taking us off the bounce a little bit and doing a good job attacking our guys. So we decided to change the defense to see if we could get a few stops in a row and it worked.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton built a 14-4 lead after one quarter and took a commanding 30-11 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.

“We were ready to play but we need to be able to play like that for four quarters on offense,” Gordy said. “I still don’t know if we’ve played our best basketball game yet for a full game. We’ve been an inconsistent team throughout the course of the season. When we take quarters off and allow teams back into the game, it becomes a rock fight. So we have to do a better job of being more consistent throughout the court of a 32-minute game.”

But Taunton had its best quarter of the game in the third, putting up 14 points while holding the hosts to just seven points. The Tigers attacked the basket with purpose and got to the line nine times, sinking eight of those attempts.

Taunton closed the third with a 10-2 run including a layup and two free throws from freshman Diamond Blakely (six points) and four free throws and a late layup from sophomore Naz Kenion (14 points).

The Tigers continued that run into the fourth with a 9-5 run capped by Law’s three, prompting Canton’s defensive switch. Against the 1-3-1 zone, Taunton’s offense sputtered, going 0-for-5 from the floor with two turnovers.

“It slowed us down and made us think,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. In the first half, the Tigers shot just 14% from the floor on 14 shot attempts while having 12 turnovers. “It stifles [the offense], it absolutely stifles it. That was a stifled, stagnant offense out there. It’s not like we haven’t worked on it, you have to slip the screens when they switch. We’ve worked on it, but we didn’t hit a slip screen all day long.

“We picked it up defensively in the second half. And that’s how we have to play. We have to get into the open court and finish.”

For Canton, Tony Harris (11 points, 10 rebounds) hit a free throw, Jake Verille hit a free throw and Robbie Gallery converted a fast break with a minute left to help the Bulldogs pull away.

Before that final stretch, junior Devin Foster (23 points) was responsible for keeping the Dogs ahead. He scored seven points in the opening quarter to help the hosts build a double-digit lead and scored eight more in the second period as Canton took a 30-11 lead into the half.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

He hit an early three in the third quarter, and had Canton’s first five points, including a traditional three-point play, of the fourth quarter.

“I can’t say enough about what Devin does for us,” Gordy said. “He’s one of the best players in the league and he shows it every night. I’m really proud I have the opportunity to coach a kid like that. He’s a great kid, he’s a kid of high character so when he does well you get really excited for him.”

Canton boys basketball (8-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) will finish up its crossover games on Tuesday when the Bulldogs visit Oliver Ames at 6:30. Taunton (5-5, 9-6) will look to bounce back when it hosts Taunton on the same night at the same time.

Charles Helps Shorthanded Attleboro Get Past Taunton

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (left) battles with Taunton’s Malik Charles for position in the post. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It’s no secret that Attleboro’s 6’5 sophomore Qualeem Charles can be a game changer. But with opponents making him the focus of their defensive game plan, getting him the ball in the right spots can be a challenge.

For three and half quarters, Taunton nearly neutralized the big man, fronting him in its man-to-man defense, bringing weak side help and even double teaming when necessary. But over the final five minutes of play, Attleboro finally got Charles going.

The sophomore scored eight of his 11 points in that stretch, helping the shorthanded Bombardiers — playing without three starters — outscore the Tigers 16-7 and pick up a key division win, 57-47.

“Coming into this game we knew it was going to be a pretty big challenge for us as a program,” said AHS head coach Mark Houle. “I’m really proud of the team for stepping up. We had kids that haven’t played a lot come in and give us some quality minutes.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Holding a 41-40 led with five minutes to go, Charles (15 rebounds) finally got into a rhythm. He increased the lead to three of a feed from Nate Douglas (nine points, six assists). Charles had all 11 of his points in the second half after the Tigers held him without a point over the first 16 minutes.

“We were a bit slow getting the inside game going and I think we were forcing it too much,” Houle said. “In the fourth quarter we started doing a better job, we kept moving the ball and keeping the flow of the offense. We used the whole court and that really opened up the inside. It was really nothing more than just good ball movement.”

Kevin Velazquez scored on a floater in the lane only for Taunton sophomore Prince Brown to answer with a three, keeping the deficit at two. Sophomore Jason Weir, who was starting his first game, drained a pair of free throws on one end and Velazquez came away with a block from behind on the other end.

That allowed Attleboro get up the court and Velazquez dumped a pass over the top to Charles for an easy lay-in and a 49-43 lead.

Despite coming off with an offensive rebound on its next possession, Taunton turned the ball over. That led to another connection between Velazquez and Charles, the latter finishing after an up fake to extend the lead to eight.

An inbounds violation gave Attleboro possession back, and Charles hit one of two free throws on back-to-back possessions for a 53-43 lead with a minute to go.

“Taunton did a nice job early in the game taking away the inside presence,” Houle said. “We were forcing it to him early on the first pass. We realized that wasn’t working. The kids trusted the offense and kept moving it until we got a better look. We had a lot more passes per possession in the last six minutes of the game and that opened up the inside game.”

The Tigers and Bombardiers were near inseparable through three quarters. A pair of free throws from sophomore Dante Law (10 points, eight rebounds) helped pull Taunton into an 18-18 tie after the first quarter.

Both offenses cooled down significantly in the second, scoring just six points apiece to a 24-24 score at halftime.

Douglas converted on a feed from sophomore Bryant Ciccio (19 points, five rebounds) put Attleboro up six, and a free throw from Charles gave the Bombardiers their best lead, 37-28, with just over a minute left in the third.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton junior John Martins (eight points, three assists) scored five straight to get the Tigers within five at the end of three. The Tigers then used a 7-3 surge over the first three minutes of the fourth to get within one.

Lens Esquil (18 points, 10 rebounds) scored early to make it a three-point game, and Law followed up with a bucket down low against the zone to make it a one-point game. A free throw from Brown tied the game at 38 but Weir drained a triple to give Attleboro the lead back.

“Guys stepped up tonight…Jason Weir in his first career start, he played like an upperclassman today. He got some key rebounds, he was strong with the basketball,” Houle said. “Bryant Ciccio continued to be steady for us, putting teammates in good positions.”

Law scored again to make it a one-point game, but Charles took control over the final five minutes.

In the final five minutes, Taunton went 3-for-8 from the field with a pair of turnovers. Attleboro also had three offensive rebounds during the stretch.

“We got into these lulls, and we seem to crack under not so great pressure,” said THS head coach Charlie Dacey. “[Attleboro] scores easily and we don’t. And getting the ball to [Charles] is a pretty good way to score easily. We have to really work hard to get a good shot, and sometimes when we get a good shot and we miss it.”

With Attleboro playing a zone defense for the majority of the game, Taunton was held to its lowest scoring output of the season, including just 4-for-14 from three.

“With a short bench, we wanted the tempo tonight to be our tempo,” Houle said. “The kids did a nice job controlling the tempo of the game, not allowing too many transition baskets. We knew they’d be effective in their zone offense at times, but as the game kind of progressed, the zone kind of was shrinking with Lens getting it in the high post and Dante getting it in the short corner. But our guards did a nice job of shrinking the zone down. I know they hit some outside shots but fortunately not enough of them.”

Attleboro boys basketball (5-3 Hockomock, 8-3 overall) will look to make it two in a row when it hosts rival North Attleboro on Tuesday at 6:30. Taunton (4-4, 7-5) will look to bounce back when it travels to rival Coyle & Cassidy on Sunday at 1:00.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.