Taunton Turns Up The Tempo, Pulls Away From Foxboro

Taunton boys basketball Jakari Innocent
Taunton freshman Jakari Innocent (4) goes up for a layup against Foxboro senior Sam Golub in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 TAUNTON, Mass. — After a slow start to the game on the offensive end, Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey turned to a defensive adjustment in search of an energy boost.

The Tigers extended their defense to full-court pressure from the second quarter on, and while it had some positives on the defensive end, its biggest impact was changing the pace to where Taunton wanted it to be.

That tempo kicked Taunton’s offense into gear and the hosts combined a strong finish to the third quarter with a hot start to the fourth to run away with a 64-52 win over visiting Foxboro.

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“We had to,” Dacey said of the decision to press. The Tigers had just three buckets in the first quarter, shooting under 20%. “I think we got into a good tempo [with the press]. We’re able to run around, we didn’t really turn them over but it sped the game up and got it to where we wanted it.”

The Warriors had their best stretch in the middle of the third quarter anchored by senior Alex Penders (21 points, 10 rebounds), who sat out the entire second quarter due to foul trouble. Penders sparked an 11-2 run for Foxboro, assisting or scoring on the first four buckets of the run while Sam Golub capped it with a three-pointer off an offensive rebound and assist from Ryan Cotter. That run presented Foxboro with its lone lead of the second half, 38-33.

Taunton took the punch and countered with one of its own, landing a 12-2 run in response. Troy Santos (17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) drained a three after an offensive rebound from Dimari Brown, and Chris Volcy (18 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals) turned a steal into a traditional three-point lead down the other end, giving the Tigers the lead back for good. Volcy and Santos each added two more and Chris Perault (22 points, 5 rebounds) capitalized on a turnover for two and a 45-40 lead going into the fourth.

“If we’re not shooting well, which we didn’t tonight, we have to find our points in other ways,” Dacey said. Taunton went 9-for-10 from the free throw line, scored 20 points off turnovers, and 17 second chance points. “It’s not the most attractive sometimes, but guys like Volcy will do the work to get them. Dimari had a couple offensive rebounds in his first varsity start.

“You have to piece it together because [Foxboro] isn’t easy to play. They’re disciplined. You get that element in your game, that makes you a better team.”

The Tigers carried the momentum into the fourth and duplicated that run, opening the fourth with another 12-2 surge. Perault opened the scoring and then converted a putback after an early turnover from the Warriors. Penders cleaned up his own miss to keep Foxboro within seven, but a steal from Volcy led to a three from Santos and then Volcy sank a triple of his own. After a Foxboro miss, Santos got a layup and suddenly the Tigers had a comfortable lead at 57-42 with four minutes to play.

“I thought mentally our response wasn’t as good as it needed to be when they went on that run,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We lost our focus and composure a little bit and didn’t stick to the plan as much as we needed to. When you do that against a team that is as explosive as Taunton, things can snowball really quickly. If you can’t focus on the one play that you’re on, the game can get away from you quickly and that’s what you saw tonight. We’re going to use it as a learning experience and it’s a good reminder we have to stay present and win the possession we’re on.

“I thought Taunton was able to get the game to the tempo they wanted in the second half, it was in their pace. Against them, we wanted to make it more of a half court game and their press sped us up. Even though there were a lot of possessions that we ultimately got good shots and good looks, it was in their tempo and over time, that favored them.”

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Penders scored half of Foxboro’s 14 first quarter points and hauled in three rebounds, but was hit with his third foul with 1:30 to go. Ryan Kelley added a first quarter three while Sam Golub (9 points, 6 rebounds) and Ryan Cotter also scored as the Warriors staked a 14-6 lead.

Nolan Gordon, Andrew Finn, and Ian Foley had second quarter buckets to keep Foxboro’s offense going but Perault erupted for 11 points in the frame as the Tigers jumped ahead, 24-23, at halftime.

Taunton boys basketball (8-3 Hockomock, 10-4 overall) hits the road to visit North Attleboro on Friday while Foxboro (5-6, 9-6) takes a trip to division-leading Mansfield.

Sophomores Assini, Kilroy Lift King Philip Over Taunton

King Philip boys basketball Jack Assini
King Philip sophomore Jack Assini, pictured here in the first half, poured in a career-high to help lift the Warriors past Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip sophomore Jack Assini hasn’t played many meaningful minutes so far this season as he splits time between varsity and JV, but head coach Dave DeStefano was looking for some help defense against a potent Taunton offense.

Not only did Assini deliver on the defensive end, he provided a huge spark offensively with a career-high 13 points and helped ignite a huge fourth quarter for the Warriors, who ran away with a 70-51 decision over the Tigers.

Assini hit three three-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter, while sophomore Tommy Kilroy hit four threes on his way to tying a career-high 21 points. Seniors Will Laplante and Tommy Martorano each sank three more triples as the Warriors tied a season-high with 13 made three-pointers on 43% shooting.

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“Jack’s shown some great improvement in practice and even in the games he’s gotten into, his defensive intensity has really shown,” DeStefano said. “We knew they’d look to attack a lot and he does a great job with on-ball defense so I knew he’d play. I didn’t expect to use him as much as we did but he was our team MVP tonight and we don’t win that game without him.

“He had a good shooting performance at practice yesterday and I just told him to do that again tonight. He shot with confidence tonight and as soon as that first one went in, he was feeling it.”

The Tigers spent the second half clawing back into the game. KP turned a four-point advantage at halftime (26-22) into a 13-point lead with an 11-3 surge in the middle of the third quarter as Laplante (19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists) hit a pair of threes, Kilroy had another, and Martorano (13 points, 7 rebounds) broke free in transition for an easy bucket.

Taunton rallied with threes from freshman Jakari Innocent and senior Al Morriseau (career-high 14 points, 5 rebounds) plus a layup through contact from junior Troy Santos (7 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds). But Kilroy answered with two and Assini sank his first triple with just seconds left to restore an eight-point advantage at 45-37.

The visitors once again clawed back into it with a 9-3 run to start the fourth with back-to-back buckets from seniors Chris Perault (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Chris Volcy (8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and a triple from Santos to make it a two-point game, 48-46, with six minutes to play in the fourth.

Kilroy answered with a triple on the other end and the floodgates opened for the hosts as they finished the game with a 22-5 run in the last five minutes.

“I think we completed the circle of learning to play with the lead,” DeStefano said. “You know teams are going to make runs, we knew Taunton would make one and it’s about how you respond. I think we did a good job of responding to it tonight. Now that we’ve learned that, I think we can have a nice little run the rest of the way.

“I think tonight was the first time we really had the threes in the flow of the offense. We take a lot of threes so there’s going to be times when we take them early and take them in transition but as long as they shoot with confidence, we’ll be in good shape.”

Kilroy stretched the lead with another three-pointer after a rebound from sophomore Tommy McLeish and feed from senior Grant Kinney (7 rebounds, 5 assists), and Assini scored five straight as KP’s lead ballooned to double digits. Like Assini, Kilroy finished with eight points in the fourth quarter.

“I think he’s definitely found his niche on this team,” DeStefano said of Kilroy, who is now third on the team in scoring. “Coming in we asked him to be a defensive guy, to do all the dirty work and do those things that don’t really show up in the scorebook. And I think now that he’s done that, he’s taken the next step on the offensive end. He’s starting to drive with confidence, shoot with confidence too.”

Taunton took a lead with a strong second quarter but had a cold spell to finish the half as KP rattled off an 11-0 run to take a lead into halftime as the Tigers were forced to put three starters on the bench with foul trouble. The Tigers didn’t lead at any point in the second half.

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“Our shot selection had to improve,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “There were times when we took some quick shots, not necessarily bad ones but quick ones and we made that run…but then we had a couple of quick shots in a row and then they opened it back up. Now they’re steaming and we’re stalled offensively. We had a little confusion on the offensive that turned into a turnover or a bad shot, and that’s stuff that we need to have better control of at this point in the season.

“We were rushing things, and there are times we can get away with it but tonight, anytime we made a mistake we paid for it. [KP] was pumped up, they were flying around tonight.”

King Philip boys basketball (6-4 Hockomock, 8-5 overall) faces a big test on Tuesday when it welcomes Mansfield. Taunton (7-3, 8-4) visits New Bedford on Sunday before hosting Foxboro on Tuesday.

Mansfield Keeps Taunton In Check To Stay Unbeaten

Mansfield boys basketball Trevor Foley
Mansfield junior Trevor Foley goes up for a dunk after a steal in the third quarter against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 MANSFIELD, Mass. — Mansfield hasn’t fully found its groove on the offensive end of the floor yet, but the way the Hornets are playing defense will give them a chance at winning every game.

Mansfield forced Taunton into over two dozen turnovers, limited the Tigers to under 30% shooting from the floor, and kept the visitors in check all night long en route to a 59-42 win on Tuesday night.

“Defensively, we’re long, we can move, we’re athletic,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I think the difference in the score was probably the defense turning into offense. I think score for score, we were close to even but we were able to get five or six baskets off the defense and we were able to build that lead.”

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Points were at a premium for the most part as Taunton’s defense was up to the task into the third quarter. While the Hornets searched for a rhythm on offense in the first half with just 25 points at the break, the defense did its job as it limited the Tigers (who were without second-leading scorer Chris Perault) to 14 points through 16 minutes.

A 7-2 start to the second half for Taunton made it a two-possession game but some key defensive plays sparked a big run to close out the quarter for the hosts.

Davon Sanders, who recorded a career-high 14 points, scored back-to-back buckets, the latter coming off one of his eight steals. Another Taunton turnover resulted in a three from Sanders, who assisted on Mansfield’s next bucket from Caden Colby.

“I thought Davon played great,” Vaughan said. “In that third quarter, he made a few plays that we really needed.”

JT Veiking (17 points, six rebounds) leaked out for two on a feed from Chris Hill following a miss, and Trevor Foley (13 points, five rebounds, four blocks) capped the quarter with a pair of big plays. First, he hauled in a defensive rebound and went the length of the court for two followed by a steal and a breakaway one-handed dunk to give the Hornets a 42-23 lead going into the fourth.

“We came out ready to play in the second half but then it changed. I don’t think they made any big adjustments, things just started to work for them…and when things were working for them, they weren’t working for us and it snowballed.

“We lost our heads at times. [Mansfield] plays so smart for a high school team. You try to work on it, and it works in a calm gym during practice but during the games it’s different.”

Veiking started the fourth with a personal 6-0 run, including a three-pointer on the first possession (after a steal from Sanders) as Mansfield’s lead peaked at 48-23.

Taunton senior Chris Volcy (career-high 24 points, 11 rebounds) and freshman Jakari Innocent (eight points) each had early three-point plays, and Volcy added a three but the Tigers never got within striking distance.

Mansfield held Taunton to single digits in scoring in each of the first three quarters.

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“I told them at halftime that we’d getting blown out if our defense wasn’t so good because we can’t sustain scoring right now,” Vaughan said. “The kids have to get out of their own heads, they have to get me out of their head, and just start playing and start making team-orientated decisions. We have guys that are trying to make the plays instead of just letting the offense come.”

The win marked the seventh double-digit win for the Hornets, and the seventh time (in nine games) they have held their opponent under 45 points.

Mansfield boys basketball (5-0 Hockomock, 9-0 overall) is back home again on Friday against Davenport division rival Sharon while Taunton (3-2, 4-3) will try to snap its current three-game skid at home against Attleboro.

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview Foxboro boys basketball Alex Penders
Foxboro’s Alex Penders goes up for a layup against North Attleboro last season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview


2021-2022 Record: 16-7
Coach: Mark Houle

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro has consistently been in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division in recent years, and if the Bombardiers are going to be there again this year, they will have to do so with a lot of new players to the varsity level.

Not only did the Bombardiers graduate a sizable senior class, but the majority of them were also key pieces in longtime head coach Mark Houle’s lineup and rotation. Add in the transfer of promising 6’5-forward Trevor White, and Attleboro has very few pieces left from last year. But that’s not to say Attleboro is without talent. Junior Neo Franco is coming off a very successful first year with the team, earning HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors. Jaiden Outland saw more and more minutes as the season went on and he showed what he’s capable of with a career-high 18 points in Attleboro’s win over Durfee in late February last year; he could be poised for a big year. Senior Michael Beverly is the third returner for the Bombardiers after picking up some minutes last year while newcomer senior Justin Hanrahan could be a key piece right away.

Another reason for optimism is that most of the new faces in the lineup this year played for the Bombardiers’ JV squad last season, which posted an impressive 19-2 record. Seniors Spencer Sherck, Zyeem Charles, Nathan Hodson, and Michael Alfonso will provide key leadership for Houle this year. Junior Max Crawford will join sophomores Dante Monestime, Hayden Crowley, and Brady Erwin as potential contributors for the Bombardiers.

“We need to continue our commitment to be a highly competitive defensive team, our communication, and understanding of defensive concepts is a priority and is a reason we were one of the top defensive teams in the league last year,” Houle said.


2021-2022 Record: 9-11
Coach: Eric MacKinnon
Canton surprised a lot of people on the outside of the program with a nine-win season that certainly was good enough for a playoff spot, but the Bulldogs have put that seeding drama in the rearview mirror and are now focused on surprising people again this year.

In order to do so, the Bulldogs will need new players to step up as second-year head coach Eric MacKinnon only has one returning starter from last year. Matt Chafin emerged as a top perimeter option, averaging 8.8 points per game last year (reaching double figures in just under half of the games). Although he isn’t returning from last year’s lineup, Julius Hicks provides a big boost for MacKinnon and Bulldogs, coming back after missing all of last season with an injury. Hicks would have certainly been in the rotation last year and will be a vital piece this year. Junior Zaza Francoeur is an athletic wing player that can impact the game on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs.

Defense emerged as one of Canton’s strengths a season ago as the Bulldogs bought into MacKinnon’s game plan. Canton allowed the least amount of points against in the Davenport division at 50.6, and they will look to replicate that again this year.

“With our personnel and style of play we have the ability to score from the perimeter and play inside-out at times,” MacKinnon said. “Our length and athleticism should allow us to get out in transition.”


2021-2022 Record: 12-10
Coach: Jon Gibbs

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Foxboro is one of the few teams in the league that has more familiar faces returning than not, and after only missing out on the Davenport title by one game last year, the Warriors are aiming to compete with defending champs Sharon and division newcomer Mansfield for the top spot this season.

The Warriors boast one of the better senior classes, anchored by HockomockSports First Team selection Alex Penders. Penders, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last year and recently committed to play at Ithaca next year, is joined by classmates Sam Golub, Ryan LeClair, and Andrew Finn. Golub and LeClair played a lot of minutes for head coach Jon Gibbs last season and both improved as the season went on. Having three experienced players will certainly give the Warriors an advantage, especially on the defensive side of the ball where Gibbs always has his teams prepared.

Penders can score in a variety of ways and will be a matchup problem for most teams in the league. Golub is a proven shooter that can get hot at any time while LeClair is a pesky defender, and as seen by his performance on the road at Stoughton last year, is a capable scorer. Penders will certainly be the focus of the offense but he’s a very unselfish player and Foxboro should have a good balance in the scoring column. While the Warriors have a strong senior class, they’re still a relatively young team. With only two juniors, the rest of the roster is filled by six sophomores and two freshmen. Junior Ryan Cotter and sophomores Ryan Kelley and Nolan Gordon will be names to keep an eye on.

“This is a very hard-working and coachable group that is improving on a daily basis,” Gibbs said. “We have a very exciting blend of experienced veterans and newcomers who are hungry to contribute. If we can defend and rebound at a high level, the potential is there for a very successful season.”

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview


2021-2022 Record: 21-4
Coach: CJ Neely
Entering the past two seasons, there was a lot of unknown for the Panthers after graduating a large senior class each year. It’s the opposite this year as Franklin graduated just three players and has the majority of last year’s squad that went 21-4 back in the fold.

After a third-place finish in the Kelley-Rex last season, Franklin could be the team to beat this go around. Junior Sean O’Leary highlights a talented and experienced group of long, athletic players. O’Leary, a 6-foot-4 forward that can score from anywhere on the court and was named to the HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team last year, will be one of the top players in the league this year. Junior Andrew O’Neill (8.8 points per game) is another returner and head coach CJ Neely will lean on a small but talented senior class that features Ben Harvey (HockomockSports All-Defensive Team), Justin Allen, Geino Scaringello, and Hayden Morandi.

Juniors Hansy Jacques, Bradley Herndon, and Andrew Benoit were all on the team last year and could see increased minutes this season. There will be more opportunities on offense for players to step up with the graduation of Sean Vinson (12.8 ppg) and last year’s leading scorer and HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Henry Digirogio (16.1 ppg) has opted not to play this year. And promising sophomore Caden Sullivan, who likely would have been in the rotation, will miss significant time due to injury.

“The preseason has been very competitive at practice,” Neely said. “We have a great group of guys who really care for each other. While we do have a good amount of returning players, there is a lot of playing time up for grabs and it will be a daily challenge for guys to earn roles. I have been most impressed with how committed and focused the players have been each day on the court and in film sessions to always look for ways to improve as a group. It will be fun to watch them grow and compete all year.”

King Philip

2021-2022 Record: 6-16
Head Coach: Dave DeStefano
King Philip brings back a good portion of its roster and is looking to book a spot in the tournament and contend for the Kelley-Rex division title.

The Warriors are one of the few teams in the league that brings back their leading scorer from a year ago in Will Laplante, a seasoned veteran that has averaged over 16 points per year in each of the last two seasons. Laplante is joined by senior Grant Kinney, who had some breakout games last year, and Tommy Martorano, who showed that at his best (a career-high 36 points) that he can score with the best players in the league. That trio is three of KP’s top five scorers from a year ago. Senior Colin Peck, a 6-foot-2 forward, will likely see an expanded role after playing some valuable minutes last year.

Juniors Tommy McLeish and Trevor Clyde, both 6-foot-3 forwards, have made a big jump from last year and will be key pieces for head coach Dave DeStefano this year. New additions Danny Silveria and Peter Cataldo, both juniors, look to factor in as key defensive pieces for the Warriors. Sophomore Tommy Kilroy didn’t see a ton of minutes early on last year but his role expanded as the season went on, scoring in double figures against Mansfield and in a win over Xaverian. Fellow sophomores Brandon Nicastro, Drew Laplante, and Jack Assini will all looking to contribute this season as well.

“The boys have really committed this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The limited practices so far have been really competitive. It’s no secret that our defense has to drastically improve to be competitive in the league. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview


2021-2022 Record: 21-5
Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield had its incredible streak of nine straight Kelley-Rex division titles come to an end last season, and now the Hornets start a new chapter as they begin their first season in the Davenport. Expectations remain sky-high for the Hornets, who are an immediate favorite for the division crown.

The Hornets have two of their best scorers back from last year in senior Chris Hill (12.5 ppg) and junior Trevor Foley (8.2 ppg), but Mansfield did graduate its leading scorer in Matty Hyland and lost five of its top seven scorers. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for new faces to step up. Hill has probably played more varsity minutes than anyone else in the league and he can compete at a high-level night in and night out. Foley really emerged as a top player by the end of the season, averaging over 16 points per game in March.

Senior Caden Colby was part of the rotation last year and will see a bigger role this year while classmate JT Veiking is a 6-foot-5 forward that can score on the perimeter or down low. Senior Michael Creedon rounds out the senior class and can provide a spark with increased minutes this year. Junior Eddie McCoy is poised for a breakout year, an athletic wing player that can attack the rim and cause problems for opposing defenses. Juniors Brandon Jackman and Davon Sanders should see time in the Mansfield backcourt this year.

“This season will be our tallest team in my tenure, it will be fun to see what different things we can do on the defensive end,” Vaughan said. “Offensively we should have plenty of power to put points on the board but the big question mark will be how quickly we can find our max compete level.”


2021-2022 Record: 2-21
Coach: Paul Seaver
Milford had an entirely new team last season and was the youngest team in the league. With just four seniors gone from last year, the Hawks are still a young team but head coach Paul Seaver believes his group learned a lot last year and is trending in the right direction.

The Scarlet Hawks have three of the top four scorers from last season back in the fold, including junior Jake Soares (8.0 ppg), sophomore Andrew Rivera (7.8 ppg), and senior Wyatt Zagami (7.1 ppg). Zagami, who can really fill it up when he’s on a hot streak, is joined by classmates Guy Saintyl, Jacob Ligor, and Joe Buckley to round out a small senior class for the Hawks. Soares was probably Milford’s most consistent player for the first two months before an injury ended his season early, and Rivera showed some glimpses of high-level play throughout the year.

Having a year of experience will be key, especially as a lot of other Hock teams are featuring a lot of first-year varsity players. Sophomore Luca Testa is another young player that saw a lot of minutes for the Hawks last year and will be a key piece during this campaign. Sophomore Gus Coutinho is a dangerous shooter and freshman CJ Farrell could be an impact player right away as well.

“Last season we were very young and very inexperienced,” Seaver said. “We learned how to compete while playing a tough schedule. Now with double digits returnees, we not only aim to improve on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball – we aim to improve in all aspects. Our goals and expectations will be what we make them and what we do with the opportunities that are given to us. I have a great crop of kids who are committed, hard-working individuals who continue to climb the ladder and do things the right way.”

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

North Attleboro

2021-2022 Record: 5-15
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
North Attleboro battled through an up-and-down season last year that featured some impressive wins — like a double-digit victory over Foxboro and a sweep of Stoughton — as well as some tough losses, like to Foxboro in overtime and to rival Attleboro by just three points. The Rocketeers graduated their two leading scorers from a year ago but return the majority of a roster that was playing their first varsity minutes last year.

Besides its four seniors last year, the rest of the Rocketeers were brand new to the varsity level. That means this year’s group will feature a bit more experience, albeit North is still on the young side. Givany Carney is North’s most experienced player and will be one of the go-to options on the offensive end of the court. Carney is a crafty player that does well getting to the rim with a good combination of speed and size. Senior Jack Munley is a tone-setter and can change the momentum of a game with his effort while senior Derek Maceda showed glimpses last season as a potential go-to guy offensively, both on the perimeter and attacking the basket.

Sophomores Ryan Bannon and Chase Frisoli both played some valuable minutes as freshmen and should see increased roles this year. Bannon is a solid defender and can be a contributor on the offensive end while Frisoli is a high-IQ player with range. Junior Chris Hanewich is another player that head coach Sean Mulkerrins is relying on to contribute on both ends of the floor. With some good experience, North will be looking to establish itself as one of the hardest-working teams in the league, which starts on the defensive end.

“We have a roster of kids who are working hard to improve and learn our system,” Mulkerrins said. “Our practices have been very competitive. We are very focused on building and maintaining our team culture so we are prepared to compete against the talented basketball programs in the Hockomock League.”

Oliver Ames

2021-2022 Record: 10-12
Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames is going to have a new look this year under second-year head coach Oliver Vil. The Tigers lost the majority of the team that won a preliminary playoff game last season and missed out on the Davenport division title by just a game.

Not only will the lineup feature new faces, but it will also feature a lot of new faces as the Tigers have a deep group this year. Senior captains Chris Elias and Ari Spiliakos are two returners that will be leaders for the team both on and off the court. Senior Nick Asiaf is a capable ball handler and can attack the rim while seniors Nick Rhodes and Jaden Graham provide key depth. Sophomore Cole Craffey played some meaningful minutes a year ago and will be one of the Tigers’ go-to options offensively this year. He’s very confident with the ball and can score inside and out.

With seven of their top eight scorers from a season ago gone, there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up. Freshman Solen Lolonga was in the starting lineup for the Tigers’ season-opening win over Southeastern and had a strong showing with 19 points. Vil also has a deep junior class that features Jake Willard, Daniel Casey, Andrew Sullivan, and David Rodgers, who all played in the win.

“Our strength this season on offense will be our ability to move the ball and create shots for one another,” Vil said. “We will have the same defense approach as last season, forcing our opponents into taking difficult shots and limiting transition offensive baskets. We now have minimal room for careless mistakes to compete in an already difficult conference. I am extremely excited to battle a plethora of well-coached disinclined teams every night we step on the floor to play a game this season.”

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview


2021-2022 Record: 12-9 (Davenport division champions)
Coach: Andrew Ferguson
Sharon won its first Davenport division title in eight seasons last year and with its top three scoring options back in the mix this year, the Eagles will be in contention to repeat that feat again this year.

Senior Matt Baur and juniors Jacob McLoughlin and Nate Katznelson give Sharon one of the top trios of players in the league. Baur, who earned HockomockSports First Team honors last year after averaging 15.1 points and 6 rebounds a game, is the heart and soul of the team. He leads by example both on and off the court and is the engine of the team. He doesn’t have to fill up the scoring column to have a big impact on the game. Both Katznelson and McLoughlin emerged as top players in their first season and will be vital pieces this year.

Senior captains Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman both came off the bench as key pieces for head coach Andrew Ferguson last year and will see increased responsibility this year. Bates is a pesky defender and a good floor general while Goodman can provide a spark with his shooting. Senior Dante James, an athletic wing player, comes over from Mansfield and should give the Eagles a big boost with their depth. Juniors Ryan Brown, Anthony Piron, and Cam Sherman provide backcourt depth while juniors Zach Wise, Jaden Segal, and sophomore Sam Letendre provide physicality to the Eagles’ frontcourt.

“With a small senior class, this team is blending experience with youth and has already begun to form a tight bond both on and off the court. Our practices have been super competitive and we look forward to competing against a very strong schedule.”


2021-2022 Record: 9-11
Coach: Evan Taylor
Last season, Stoughton entered the final stretch of league games right in the mix for the Davenport division title but ended up on the outside looking in finishing in a tie for fourth and just missing out on the postseason. With just a few returners back in the mix, the Knights will be looking for a new group of players to lead them into the tournament and contend for the division crown.

Stoughton has two major challenges to address this year, one on each side of the ball. The Black Knights lost their three top scorers from last year with Connor Andrews (19.9 ppg) and Cash Mathurin (5.9 ppg) graduating, and Rayan Sablon (18.3 ppg) transferring out. Head coach Evan Taylor will lean heavily on his four returning players to try and fill that void. Senior Jayden Costa Haywood played some meaningful minutes a season ago and has taken a big leap and the Knights will look for him to provide an offensive punch. Junior Liam Pearl (5.2 ppg) also worked his way into the rotation and made some key shots in clutch moments, including at Foxboro and at home against Canton. Sophomore Matthew Greenspoon (5.6 ppg) is the top scorer back from last year and will look to build on a strong debut season as a freshman.

The other challenge for Stoughton will be on the defensive end as the Knights look to make a drastic improvement after allowing over 60 points per game last year. On top of the returners, Taylor is looking for senior Tagh Swierzewski and junior Jarred Daughtry to make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Other newcomers include senior Obioma Dike, juniors Elijah Connor, and Nathan Figaro, sophomore Mykel Thomas, and freshmen Anthony Alessi and Aiden Rideout.

“Defense has been the main focus at the start of this season,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to be a top three defense in the league with a lot of great on-ball defenders and high IQ players on the


2020-2021 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex division champions)
Coach: Charlie Dacey
This season will mark a new chapter in the storied history of Taunton basketball. After back-to-back Kelley-Rex championships, including the program’s first outright title a year ago, the Tigers will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this year.

The biggest challenge will be replacing the production from one of the best trios in the Hock in recent history in Player of the Year Trent Santos, Faisal Mass, and Tristan Herry, who combined for just under 75% of the team’s scoring last year. One of the familiar faces returning to the starting group is junior Troy Santos, who has the most career points of anyone on the roster. Santos showed some flashes last year but will have a lot more looks this year. Seniors Chris Volcy and Alvinsky Morisseau, and junior Tyson Carter are also returners from last year and figure to see increased minutes this season.

Senior Chris Perault could be the biggest addition for the Tigers, a player that can score both from the perimeter and attacking the basket. Santos will factor in as one of the top shooters both on the team and in the league while Volcy has really improved from last year and could be a top scoring option for the Tigers. Longtime head coach Charlie Dacey is looking for Dimari Brown and Travis Johnson to provide a spark on the low block, plus some more faces to step up off of the bench.

“This year’s Taunton team will be very different from last year. This edition will be faster without a singular scorer, points can come from a variety of styles,” Dacey said. “Speed and aggressive defense will be the key to Taunton’s success this year.”

2022-2023 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Cold Stretch Dooms Taunton Against Wachusett

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos
Taunton senior Trent Santos goes up for a three-point shot in the second half against Wachusett. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 TAUNTON, Mass. — Three years ago, Trent Santos, Tristan Herry, and Faisal Mass were thrust onto Taunton’s varsity team and right into the lineup after the Tigers lost nearly all of its anticipated starters due to disciplinary issues.

Taunton boys basketball

Since then, they’ve been one of the best trios in the Hockomock League, capped by the program’s first outright Kelley-Rex division title this season.

That wild journey came to an end on Wednesday after as the Tigers couldn’t overcome a cold stretch that spanned the second and third quarters, and a relentless effort on the offensive glass from visiting Wachusett. The 11th-seeded Mountaineers emerged with a 62-51 win to end Taunton’s season.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It was a great stretch,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey of the past three seasons. “They measured up in every aspect. Practices have been great. They come in, full effort, they are committed. The off days, they don’t have to be here but they are. Just the right attitude, it’s been a real good three years.”

That trio led the Tigers to 34 league wins in the past three seasons, second only to Mansfield. Santos became the first 1,000-point scorer for the Tigers since 2014 and the trio combined to score over 2,100 points and played in four postseason games together, even without playoffs last year.

It was a game of runs in the first half, each team taking a turn with the wind in their sails. A 9-2 burst from the visitors to open the game was answered with a 14-7 run from the Tigers. Santos quickly matched his output from the first round in the opening minutes and drained a three inside the last minute but Wachusett’s Adam Bates was equal to the task with one of his own to make it 16-16.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton carried some of its offensive momentum into the second quarter and quickly built on it. Santos (19 points, three rebounds) ignited the offense, dropping in a floater and then finishing through contact for a traditional three-point play while senior Jordan Costa contributed to the run from the free throw line. He was then fouled on a three-point shot and made all of his free throws. Mass (17 points, nine rebounds) then got one to go from the block and the Tigers had an 11-0 run to start the second.

After trading some buckets, including a strong take from Herry (eight points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals), Santos picked up his second foul and was forced to the bench midway through the quarter. Taunton’s offense stalled while Wachusett responded with its own 11-0 run to finish the quarter, including a three-point play and a three-pointer from Tucker McDonald.

That run put Wachusett ahead by a point, 30-29, at the halftime break.

Wachusett’s run didn’t stop with the buzzer though. The Mountaineers opened the third with a 9-1 surge, taking advantage of three offensive boards and two forced turnovers. In total, it was a 22-1 run for the visitors as the Tigers went without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.

And to make things worse for the Tigers, Wachusett hauled in nine of their 13 offensive boards in the second half.

“We came back, we were up 11 and thought we could turn the corner,” Dacey said. “We missed a free throw, gave up a couple of threes, and all of a sudden the momentum was right back in their hands. It was simple mistakes that doomed us, stuff that has hurt us all year long. A missed block out, a bad closeout, bad decision making…stuff you can’t come tournament time and we paid for those mistakes tonight.

“[Offensive rebounding] was the game. They didn’t outsize us really but those are hustle points, that’s just hustle and effort. They committed to that and we didn’t match it. We didn’t respond to what we had to, I didn’t think it was a matter of size. Giving up those extra possessions just killed us.”

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton refused to go without a fight despite the long cold stretch. Santos drained a three just before the midway point of the third. Minutes later, Mass had a three-point play and then scored off a feed from sophomore Troy Santos and the Tigers trailed by just three, 41-38, going into the fourth.

Taunton boys basketball

The Tigers cut it down to one point on a pair of occasions in the fourth. A putback from Herry early on made it 41-40 before McDonald sliced down the lane for two. Herry then found Mass for two to get it back to one, 43-42 as the clock ticked under five minutes to go.

Wachusett got a huge three from Jake Chaisson, just his first bucket since a layup gave the Mountaineers a 4-2 lead in the opening minutes. Taunton came up empty on a take to the rim and Wachusett answered with another triple, this one from Nick Ciccone for his first points of the game, and suddenly the Mountaineers surged ahead 49-42.

Taunton cut it down to five twice, both on points from Mass, and the Tigers had three looks on one possession after a pair of offensive boards but couldn’t get a shot to fall. A stop led to a free throw from Mass to make it a four-point game, 51-47, with just under two minutes to go but McDonald went iso and sank a fadeaway three from the corner for the nail in the coffin.

“We went 19-3 and won the Hock championship, and like I told them, it ends this way for all but five teams,” Dacey said. “It’s too bad but that’s the reality of tournament play.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

As for the new tournament format, Dacey was in favor of the new matchups that it brings. A handful of early-round games wouldn’t have happened under the old sectional format, including this game and Franklin’s clash overtime clash with CM last night.

“I don’t have a problem with [the new format],” Dacey said. “There’s so much media out there, we got a good look at them and we had a scout at their last game. And just playing different people, that’s certainly more interesting than playing the same guys you play in the season. I kind of like the format…I’m not going to like the drive to Springfield some day but it makes it more interesting.”

Taunton boys basketball finishes the season at 19-3 and as back-to-back Kelley-Rex division champions, the latter their first-ever outright crown.

Taunton Escapes Upset-Minded Concord-Carlisle

Taunton boys basketball Faisal Mass
Taunton senior Faisal Mass splits a pair of Concord-Carlisle defenders for a second half basket. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 TAUNTON, Mass. — Survive and advance.

It might not have been Taunton’s motto heading into their clash with 38th seeded Concord-Carlisle, but after a stiff test from the visiting Patriots, it is now.

Behind a big performance from senior Faisal Mass, who tied a career-high with 25 points, and a boost off the bench from Cyrus Morissette and Jordan Costa, the 6th-seeded Tigers escaped with a 64-59 win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Concord-Carlisle proved to be a worthy challenger right out of the gate. The Patriots kept pace with the Tigers throughout the first half, and any time Taunton looked like it might create some separation, CC answered with a big shot paired with a defensive stop.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton took the lead at the end of the first quarter on a late bucket from Morissette, who had one of his best offensive performances of his young career with 11 points. The Tigers never trailed from that point on, though not without constant pressure from the visitors.

“They were mixing up their defenses,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. They had a triangle-and-two, a box-and-one, a 1-3-1, and they just kept mixing them up. We didn’t react to that well at all. We have set offenses for each of those defenses but one person always was out of place. Just a little bit of panic and that’s all it was, a lack of composure at times on our part. And then when you don’t close out on their three-point shooters, you got trouble.”

“They’re pretty good, they put a lot of stress on you offensively. Their ranking was misleading, they aren’t a 38-seed. That doesn’t look like a 38-seed.”

Mass (six points, four assists) really got going on the offensive end in the third quarter, putting up nine of Taunton’s 15 points as the Tigers built a 48-40 cushion going into the fourth. Costa had a pair of putbacks in the first few minutes of the final frame and Mass had a basket and a free throw as Taunton’s lead peaked at 55-43 with 4:51 to play.

But just as Taunton settled into its biggest lead of the game, the Patriots responded with their best stretch of the contest. A 2-2-1 press resulted in a pair of quick Taunton turnovers as CC’s Liam Harrington (19 points) and Tucker Barach (17 points) turned steals into easy layups.

Then came another Tiger turnover on the offensive end and the Patriots punished the hosts with a three from Benjamin Brown, to make it 56-51.

Taunton boys basketball

The Tigers finally broke the press and sophomore Troy Santos found junior Matt Small, who alertly found Mass down low for two to briefly stop the bleeding.

Carl Headges drained a three for the visitors while Small tacked on a free throw for Taunton. Troy Santos added another with 1:47 to go to extend the lead to 60-54 but Headges drove for two. Taunton stepped out of bounds on one end and then Headges drained another three — the Patriots’ 10th make on 36th attempt from deep — and Taunton’s once 12-point lead was down to one, 60-59, with 47.4 to go.

Taunton got the ball where it needed to as Mass took his man one-on-one and drew the foul, sinking both free throws with 22.1 seconds remaining. The Tigers got their first fortuitous bounce on the other end as the ball hit off a Concord-Carlisle player’s foot and went out of bounds. Senior Tristan Herry (eight points) sank two more free throws with 10.3 seconds left to ice it.

“That was a little bit of grit,” Dacey said of grinding it out at the end. “We had to get a stop and we had some loud turnovers before that to bring the game into a competitive state. All we had to do was get the ball over halfcourt, and again it came down to one guy being out of place. We have to tune it up.”

Although Taunton senior Trent Santos (five points, nine rebounds) got free and buried the first shot of the game, the Patriots’ had a clear plan on defense to try and deny the Hockomock League MVP the ball as much as possible. That meant opportunity for others, and Morissette and Costa (nine points, four rebounds) took advantage in the first half.

Taunton boys basketball

Morissette entered late in the first and closed the period with a strong drive to the basket for two just before the buzzer to put Taunton ahead 15-14.

Costa, who missed the last nine games of the season due to injury, made his return in the second and made an instant impact. He hauled in a missed three and converted a putback, and then played good defense on the other end and got the rebound.

Two plays later, Herry kicked it to Morissette for an open three that put Taunton ahead 22-16. The Tigers forced a turnover and Morissette battled through contact for two on the next trip. The Tigers got a key stop and then Mass found Costa for two more as Taunton opened up a 26-16 lead in the second.

“Costa was big, Cyrus too,” Dacey said. “Those were hustle points from those two, those are points that are always going to be there. But we have to refine how we run stuff against these junk defenses. We got a warning tonight and now let’s see how we handle the warning.”

Taunton had a slow start to the second half with just four points over the first four minutes, and the Patriots used a 10-4 burst to cut the deficit down to one possession.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mass responded with a strong take for a traditional three-point play and then Trent Santos finished a tough layup for just his second bucket of the game. Morissette added another basket and Mass finished with four straight points to close the quarter.

“He was taking it off the dribble, which will be open,” Dacey said of Mass. “When he gets that man-to-man look, he can go by them. That was our “adjustment” — give the ball to Faisal and take it to the rim. Given who was out there, he was the guy to go to in that late situation. A couple of other guys were in a funk and [Faisal] has always been confident, he wants the ball.”

Taunton boys basketball (19-2) advances to the Round of 16 to take on #11 Wachusett, who secured a 75-55 win over Bridgewater-Raynham. The MIAA has yet to post the date and time but the game is likely to be Wednesday.

Taunton Storms Past Mansfield For Share Of Kelley-Rex

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos
Taunton senior Trent Santos pulls up for a three in transition in the fourth quarter against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 TAUNTON, Mass. — Not many players in the state have the license to take a pull-up three on a fast break in any ordinary game, let alone a tie game in the fourth quarter with the league title at stake.

Taunton’s Trent Santos is an exception.

Santos drained the shot with 4:30 to go to put the Tigers ahead for the first time in the second half, a lead that never vanished as Taunton used a dominant fourth quarter to secure a 56-46 win, clinching at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title.

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Taunton boys basketball

Taunton can become the first team besides Mansfield to win the division outright since 2012 with a win over Milford on Friday. Santos finished with 11 of his 27 points in the final quarter along with seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

“I know coach wouldn’t have been too happy if I missed that shot but we were on a run and the momentum was crazy, I just felt it so I shot it and when it went in, I was relieved,” said Santos. “Franklin and Mansfield, all of their help defense and how they force you way out, they do a really good job with it. But that shot, we were on a run there so I felt it.”

Santos’ pull-up three was the midway point of a stunning turnaround for the Tigers. Mansfield’s suffocating defense held the hosts without a point for the final five minutes of the first half, and limited Taunton to 12 hard-earned points in the third quarter.

Going into the fourth, Taunton scored on back-to-back possessions just twice. Once in the first quarter on a putback from Santos and then a three from Faisal Mass (12 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks). And once in the second quarter, a three from Troy Santos (eight points, six rebounds) followed by a layup from Trent Santos. The Tigers didn’t have a significant run at any point through the first 24 minutes.

A commitment to an improved defensive performance and better rebounding (13-4 in the fourth) led to a spirited offensive performance over the final eight minutes as the Tigers opened the quarter with a 14-0 run, and in the end, outscored the Hornets 20-2.

“It was really our defense in the fourth quarter,” Santos said. “We all locked in and committed to rebounding and getting out on the break and we were able to hit some big shots to go on that run that won us the game. It feels amazing, the atmosphere in here was crazy, and in that fourth quarter, it was really fun to play basketball.”

The fourth quarter fittingly started with a stop for the Tigers, first a steal and then a miss from Mansfield. Although Taunton was off on its first shot, sophomore Cyrus Morissette came up with a pair of offensive boards to keep the possession alive and he found Tristan Herry for his lone make from the field, a three-pointer.

Another stop was hauled in by Herry, and he quickly pushed it up for Santos, who didn’t hesitate before draining a three. Out of a timeout, Taunton forced a shot clock violation, Mansfield got a stop of its own, and then Mass came down with a board after the Hornets missed again.

Morissette took a pass at the top of the key and bullied his way to the basket, banking it in to tie it at 44-44 with under five minutes to play.

Then came the steal from Santos, the pass from Herry, and the pull-up three from Santos that put Taunton ahead for good.

“They kind of just locked in collectively defensively,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “We got some stops and obviously came down the other end and hit some shots. Trent hit some shots, maybe not recommended shots but he’s been taking them and making them all year. And Tristan had a big three too, and Cyrus getting to the rim was another one. A lot of small things added up.

“They’ve been working hard all year long and we’ve been pushing them in practice, we really have. And they’ve responded. Other teams I’ve had in the past haven’t always done that. They show up every day and they go, and that’s unique in high school.”

Mansfield had a couple of chances to get back into it but had a travel to start and then missed on a pair of three-point attempts. They got a couple of stops but couldn’t get it going on offense, missing another three and then a pair of free throws.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton came back the other way and Santos got his man in the air on a fake, took a step to his right, and then drained another triple — his third of the quarter — to make it 50-44 with 1:43 to go.

“That momentum is huge for us, just huge. Success breeds success…it’s at that point, I’m hands off,” Dacey said. “It’s always Mansfield or Franklin, and then us. This year, now it’s us. It’s great for the kids, it’s good for the psyche of the school.”

Taunton boys basketball

Mansfield finally broke its cold spell when sophomore Trevor Foley (10 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks) converted a putback to cut it to four points. Mansfield scrambled on defense to try and double but Santos was able to find Morissette cutting to the basket for two and a 52-46 lead with under a minute to go, icing the win.

“I thought we did a really good job rebounding the and then we gave up the three to Herry off an offensive rebound, and then Santos came down and hit another one and I could see faces on my guys deflated,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I just said to them, when you wear this uniform, you always believe we’re winning. I felt like we played not to lose instead of going out to win. There were so many things in the last four minutes that weren’t what we typically do.

“I thought we did a good job contesting shooters and making them work for everything. I don’t know if they got an open look really throughout the game so I was happy with what I thought was high-level defense. If you’re holding them to 56, you’re doing a pretty good job defensively.”

Santos got off to a great start to the game. After being shut out in the first half during the first meeting in Mansfield, Santos exploded for 12 points out of the game as the Tigers staked a 15-13 lead after eight minutes.

“It’s my eighth time playing [Mansfield] and I get more sick of it every time I play them, they do such a good job moving the ball and forcing us into tough shots and getting us tired, that’s how they win,” Santos said. “For us to really just commit and lock in and finish strong, I think that’s really what won us the game.”

Mansfield took control of the game with a 13-0 run to end the first half. Matt Hyland (17 points, six assists, two steals, two blocks) sandwiched a pair of makes around a putback from Foley to tie the game. Hyland then found Foley for two, Hyland drained a three-pointer, and then a layup from Hyland following a block from Foley had the visitors up 31-24 at the break.

An early three from Troy Santos and a take from Mass got Taunton going early in the third but Mansfield countered with a free throw from Anthony Sacchetti and a transition bucket from Hyland. Chris Hill dropped in a baseline jumper, Sacchetti cut to the basket for two more, and another bucket from Foley had the Hornets ahead, 44-36, going into the fourth.

Mansfield is still mathematically alive for their 10th straight Kelley-Rex title but the Hornets would need to beat both Milford and Attleboro to close the week and would need the Scarlet Hawks to land an upset over Taunton on Friday.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton boys basketball

But if Taunton wins on Friday, it will give the Tigers the division title outright. It would be the program’s second straight (after sharing with Mansfield a year ago), and first outright Hock title.

“We still have to win on Friday against Milford, but we definitely had a sour taste in our mouth from last year in the loss at Mansfield, seeing them cut the nets down,” Santos said. “It really felt good to get one back here, against them especially.

Taunton boys basketball (14-1, 16-2) will host Milford on Friday for a chance to clinch the league crown, but the Scarlet Hawks will first travel to Mansfield (12-2, 15-4) on Wednesday night for a date with the Hornets.

Franklin Secures Statement Win Over Taunton

Franklin boys basketball Sean Vinson
Franklin senior Sean Vinson goes up for a shot against Taunton’s Faisal Mass in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 FRANKLIN, Mass. — The Franklin boys basketball team sent a message loud and clear to the rest of the Hockomock League and Division 1 on Tuesday night.

The Panthers are a serious contender.

Behind a near flawless opening three quarters, Franklin handed Taunton its first league loss of the season, and did so in emphatic fashion with a 77-48 win.

Franklin boys basketball

Franklin hit from deep early, which opened things up for the Panthers to successfully attack the basket, and the offense clicked on all cylinders the rest of the way. The hosts connected on 10 of their 11 three-pointers in the first three quarters and shot just under 70% from two-point range, carving up the Tiger’s defense.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With the win, Franklin extended its win streak to eight games, snapping Taunton’s 10-game unbeaten stretch in the process.

“That’s definitely our best game, no question,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Considering the opponent, considering the executing we had tonight. We challenged the kids to be more than a good team…but if you want to do special things in this league, you have to beat teams like Taunton and Mansfield.

“I thought tonight, the big difference was all the stuff that won’t make the paper…the extra slides, guys having each other’s backs, being there for rebounds. I thought top to bottom, everyone that went in the game gave us good minutes.”

Sophomores Sean O’Leary (25 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Henry Digiorgio (24 points, 12 rebounds) kickstarted things for the Panthers with back-to-back threes, O’Leary added another one and sophomore Andrew O’Neill joined the early three party.

Digiorgio capped the opened quarter with his fourth make from the floor and his second three just before the buzzer as Franklin jumped ahead 21-11.

Franklin boys basketball

With Taunton committed to closing out on the three-point line, the Panthers found success doing something they struggled with during the first meeting: attack the basket.

In the Tigers’ win in mid-January, Franklin didn’t have a two-point field goal in the first half and didn’t score one until just over three minutes left in the third quarter. That was far from the case this time around.

After two takes in the first quarter, the Panthers took advantage of the space in the paint it created from its three-point shooting.

O’Leary took it to the rim for two, senior Will Tracey found classmate Sean Vinson cutting to the basket for two, and after Taunton’s Trent Santos (20 points), who leads the league in scoring, scored his first bucket of the game, O’Leary went right through the defense to answer with a layup of his own.

Vinson, O’Leary, and Digiorgio all converted tough, contested takes and then Will Tracey splashed in a three as the Panthers pushed its lead to 20. Santos hit a late three to cut into the deficit but Franklin led 39-22 at halftime.

“It’s no secret we like to shoot from the outside, we challenged the guys in the offseason to improve there to open things up…but because of the first game against them, we emphasized getting a paint touch, attacking the rim a bit more and not being trigger happy,” Neely said, as Franklin shot 8-for-12 from two-point range in the second quarter. “I thought the guys responded well to the coaching and did a really good job of believing in each other, they’ve been focused in and it showed tonight.

“I thought our sharing of the ball and our aggressiveness to the rim…we attacked them. We didn’t try to just survive their pressure, we went right at them. They don’t go deep with their rotation so we wanted to run them up and down and get them moving the whole game.”

The third quarter turned out to be the most dominant from the hosts, though it didn’t start out like it. Santos hit an early three off a pass from Tristan Herry (12 points), and then grabbed a steal that led to an easy two.

But before Taunton could cut into the deficit any further, Digiorgio drained a three, Taunton missed from deep, and then O’Neill sank another triple to force a Taunton timeout as the lead jumped back up to 45-27.

“The thing I liked the most was the response to their run that they had right off the bat,” Neely said. “We talked about them being a really good team and we knew they’d come out and get after it. They have a lot of pride, they are an excellent team and I love some of the guys over there as far as how they compete and play the game. The response we had, that was a huge momentum swing for us.”

That ended up sparking a massive 29-2 run, as the Panthers continued to click on offense while Taunton couldn’t find any rhythm against the Franklin defense.

Franklin hit on 13 total shots in the quarter, O’Leary adding one more three while the Panthers continually pierced the defense for 11 two-point field goals. Overall, Franklin shot 18-for-25 from two-point range (72%) in the game while Taunton was just 12-for-48 from the field through the first three quarters, with Santos responsible for half of this makes.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton finished with just eight turnovers and but Franklin dominated on the boards (45-19) and doubled the number of assists the Tigers had.

“They were very much disciplined on the offensive end and we didn’t respond…close outs, rotations, just fundamentally we just didn’t show,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And they are tough, they make you execute. If you make a mistake on defense, they punish you. And we made enough and we got punished. It was a bit of a clinic, now how much are we going to learn from it?”

Franklin boys basketball (11-2 Hockomock, 15-2 overall) has another crucial Kelley-Rex clash this week when it welcomes rival Mansfield on Friday. Taunton (12-1, 13-2) is on the road against with a visit to Attleboro.

Taunton’s Big Second Half Proves Too Much For KP

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos
Taunton senior Trent Santos (34 points) goes up for a shot in between a pair of King Philip defenders in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 WRENTHAM, Mass. – After combining for over 150 points in their first meeting, it looked like Taunton and King Philip were set for another barn burner on Saturday night.

The two squads went toe-to-toe for the first two quarters, trading baskets back and forth with both sides finding success on offense, resulting in over 70 points through 16 minutes of action.

That offensive success only continued for one squad though as Taunton continued to light up the scoreboard and ran away with a 75-53 win after dominating the final two frames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I thought our defense led into our offense in that second half,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “It’s like every other team out there, when we play with confidence we play a lot better. Our confidence usually comes from the offense, but it should come from the defense because we work so hard on it.”

King Philip shot nearly 70% in the opening eight minutes en route to 21 points and hit a total of seven threes from the floor in the first half for a total of 34 points.

Taunton got stronger as the half went on, hitting five shots from the field in the first and then eight more in the second. Cyrus Morissette and Matt Small (nine rebounds) gave the Tigers necessary secondary scoring with King Philip’s defense zeroed in on Trent Santos, who still fought his way to 16 points in the first half.

Santos, who finished with 34 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the floor and 9-for-10 at the free throw line, picked up right where he left off and gave the Tigers a big boost early in the third, which turned out to be the game-changing quarter. Santos took a pass from Tristan Herry (10 points, six assists) and drained a three, and then Troy Santos stepped in to draw an offensive foul. On the ensuing possession, Herry found Trent Santos again for another triple as Taunton’s four-point edge at half quickly grew to 44-34.

Will Laplante (22 points, five rebounds) drilled a deep three, and Braeden Sottile (seven points, 11 rebounds) cleaned up his own miss to get KP within two possessions at 45-39 but the Tigers closed the final five minutes of the frame with a 10-3 run.

Faisal Mass, who missed the majority of the first half after picking up a pair of fouls, drove to the basket for two, and then Herry converted a putback after getting possession for the Tigers with a steal.

Sottile drained a three off a pass from Grant Kinney (eight points) but Santos answered with another triple of his own and then Mass showed off his range with a nice step-back three-pointer with just over a minute to go. And then Taunton drew another charge on the other end to get the ball back, taking a 55-42 lead into the fourth.

“It was Faisal,” Dacey said of the difference in the second half. Mass scored 14 points and hauled in all five of his rebounds after the halftime break. “Having him on the floor, he stabilizes things underneath. We’re a better rebounding team, we’re not a great rebounding team but we’re certainly better with him on the floor. Matt [Small] does everything he can but Faisal has some strength and some bulk underneath.”

The momentum continued for Taunton to start the fourth, this time in the form of a 12-4 run. Morissette attacked the offensive glass for two, Mass (19 points, five rebounds) dropped in an easy two after a nice pass from Herry, Santos drove to the basket for two and then added two free throws, and then Mass and Santos took turns with two points apiece as the Tigers’ lead ballooned to 67-47 just before the midway point of the fourth.

After King Philip put up 34 points in the first half, the Warriors had just 19 points in the second half. Taunton sophomore Troy Santos had a big showing defensively for the Tigers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I thought a lot of their shots in the first half, even ones they made, were contested tough shots,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “I thought we did a great job in the first half but they grabbed the momentum the first four minutes of the second half and we just couldn’t keep up. They hit a lot of tough shots on us, they did a great job on offense in terms of getting Trent open on a lot of action, and because of that, it got other guys involved.

“We got a little stagnant with our ball movement in the second half. I think we tried to do a little too much one-on-one, and I think we saw what they were doing offensively and we tried to hurry up to catch up when we didn’t need to, and that led to shots that weren’t the best for us, times we could have gotten better looks.”

Taunton boys basketball (12-0 Hockomock, 12-1) has a quick turnaround as they return home for a Sunday matinee with New Bedford at 2:00. King Philip (2-9, 4-10) also is right back in action on Sunday with its final crossover game on tap with a visit to Foxboro for a 1:00 PM tipoff.

Taunton Hangs On In Close Battle With Mansfield

Taunton boys basketball Faisal Mass
Taunton senior Faisal Mass (1) drives to the basket against Mansfield’s Chris Hill (31) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Taunton boys basketball has leaned on its offense to earn its first seven wins. The Tigers needed a defensive stop to get their eighth — and biggest — win of the year.

Holding a two-point advantage on the road at Mansfield with under 30 seconds to go, Taunton got the stop it needed as senior Faisal Mass stepped in to draw a charge along the baseline with 3.1 seconds left and the Tigers escaped with a 59-56 verdict over the Hornets.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton had its largest lead of the entire game at 52-44 with three minutes to play but the game came down to the final possessions after Mansfield rallied, but the Tigers never let their lead disappear.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Winning in an away gym in this league is tough,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And to get one here, that’s quite an achievement. We had some clutch shots and defensively we got some stops. It was a real choppy game but [Mansfield] makes you play that way. You have to fight for everything. It always comes down to one possession. But in the end, we gutted it out. That’s absolutely a character win.”

Junior Matt Small cleaned up a miss with a putback to give the Tigers their largest lead but Mansfield answered seconds later when junior Dante Jamtes converted a putback of his own.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton didn’t get a chance to extend its lead on the other end as Mansfield senior Matt Hyland came up with back-to-back steals, the first leading to a layup himself and the second to one from James to make it 52-50 with two minutes to play.

Mansfield drew an offensive foul with its full court pressure but couldn’t cash in, turning it back over on a travel. Out of a timeout, senior Trent Santos drained an off-balance three from the corner to keep the visitors ahead, 55-50.

The momentum was short-lived as Hyland found Chris Hill cutting baseline and the junior put down a two-handed jam to make it 55-52 with just over a minute to go. After a foul, there was a scramble off the inbounds pass but Taunton sophomore Cyrus Morissette got to it, found Small under the basket and he handed it off to senior Faisal Mass for an easy two.

Once again the Hornets answered as James found Hyland cutting the baseline for two, and Mansfield got the ball back with its full court pressure, leading to a layup from Hill to make it 57-56.

Trent Santos hit one of two from the line with 27 seconds left to give the Hornets a shot to tie or take the lead, but after running some action, Mass stepped in and took a charge on a floater attempt along the baseline to get the ball back.

Trent Santos added another free throw and Mansfield’s three-quarters court heave was off the mark at the buzzer.

“I don’t think we ever got comfortable offensively,” said Mansfield head coach Charlie Dacey. “Part of that is they did a good job defensively but the last few games we just haven’t really gotten into a good offensive flow. Maybe that’s the play calls or maybe it’s the focus on defense in practice. We had [BC High senior Mike] Loughnane the other night, we had Sharon who is scoring a ton of points, you had Santos coming in tonight, so we’ve really focused on the defensive end thinking the offense would take care of itself.

“We held Taunton below their average as a team and we held Santos below his scoring average, so when you hold a team like that to 59 points, you have to win. And how do you win? You gotta score points.”

Mansfield took advantage of slips and baseline cuts to jump out to an early lead with Hyland, Hill, and Jack Lasbury-Casey finding success at the rim. But an 8-0 run — highlighted by threes from senior Tristan Herry (16 points, five assists) and sophomore Troy Santos (eight points, three assists) — plus a late strong take from Mass had the visitors ahead 12-11 after a quarter.

The teams went back-and-forth throughout the second quarter with the Hornets getting the majority of their points attacking the rim while both Herry, Santos, and Small hit from midrange to keep pace. Hill’s three with just over a minute to go was Mansfield’s lone trifecta of the opening half.

Herry scored four straight but Hyland sank a late free throw to give Mansfield a 25-24 lead at the half.

Coming off a spectacular 46-point performance on Tuesday, Trent Santos was held scoreless throughout the first half with Hyland and the Hornets following his every move.

But a steal from Troy Santos led to Trent’s first basket of the contest — a three. Trevor Foley hit two from the line to put Mansfield ahead but Trent Santos hit two more threes in the frame and Troy added one from the corner to present Taunton a 40-37 edge going into the fourth.

Trent Santos finished with a game-high 17 points along with five rebounds and a pair of assists.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“As odd as it sounds, he lost his confidence a little but he’s not allowed to do that,” Dacey said. “He got it back it…he hit a couple of leaners and now he’s right back in it. Do I demand we run our sets all the way through? No, sometimes we go a little NBA style and let him do his thing because it generally works out.

“[Mansfield] just doesn’t beat themselves. You hope for a mistake and you hope for a mistake and you just don’t get it. They get a good solid shot every time down the floor and that’s all you can ask for out of a high school. They don’t rush the clock, they grind and grind, and if you make a defensive mistake, they make you pay.”

Taunton boys basketball (8-0 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) carries its five-game win streak to North Attleboro, who has won two straight, for a Tuesday night tipoff. Mansfield (6-1, 8-2) has its fifth game in 10 days on Sunday with an afternoon trip to King Philip.