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)
 
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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.”

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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.

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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.

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Dominant Third Quarter Pushes Panthers Past Tigers

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Jalen Samuels goes up for a shot against Taunton’s Malik Charles (35) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Franklin boys basketball team had little trouble finding its defensive identity this season, which is a big reason why the Panthers have won six of their first seven games.

The search for an identity on the offensive end, however, has taken a little bit longer. But the Panthers seemed to find the balance they need in a 72-60 win over Taunton on Tuesday night.

The Panthers exploded for 27 points in the third quarter, turning what was just an eight-point lead into a comfortable 20-point cushion with just eight minutes left.

“I think we were just more aggressive and shared the ball,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “When we play aggressive and guys look to attack the paint, and then when they get in there and make good decisions that can be the difference.

“I think early on in the season we were aggressive in the paint but not making good decisions. And then we started to pass too much. Now we’re finding the balance between driving and scoring and driving and finding a teammate, and I think that was the big difference offensively.”

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The Panthers nearly doubled their score from the first half with the big quarter. After scoring 28 points on 42% shooting from the floor (10-for-24), Franklin exploded for 11 field goals (3-for-5 from three) in the third on 65% shooting with just one turnover.

Senior captain Paul Mahon scored eight straight points for the Panthers, part of a 14-3 run that Franklin used to open the second half. Mahon splashed a three from the corner and then hit one from a couple steps beyond the line. Franklin got out on a fast break but missed, only for Mahon to come in uncontested for one easy putback and a 36-24 lead just 90 seconds into the second half.

After Mahon got things started, sophomore Chris Edgehill (23 points) and junior Jalen Samuels (16 points, nine rebounds) did the rest for the Panthers in the quarter.

Samuels and Edgehill scored back-to-back baskets and then Samuels followed up his own miss with an easy putback. After Taunton stopped the streak with a free throw, Edgehill drained a three after the Panthers hauled in an offensive rebound.

Taunton’s Naz Kenion, who had a solid game off the bench with 11 points and six rebounds, corralled a three-point miss and scored to cut the deficit to 45-30, but Samuels added to Franklin’s second chance points with an assist from Edgehill. Samuels added two more free throws and Edgehill closed the quarter with four straight points.

“It’s always good to get Paul going,” Neely said. “We didn’t come out with a focus on getting him going specifically but we always want to get him involved offensively. He only took five shots [on Sunday] against Oliver Ames and that’s a problem. We need him to score for us. And we asked Jalen to be more aggressive for us tonight too, and both guys respond. Jalen had 16 and Paul had 13…that’s where we need to be. We need multiple scorers, we can’t just rely on one player.”

Franklin raced out to a 14-7 lead in the first quarter as the Tigers struggled from deep (0-for-10 from beyond the arc). In the second quarter, Taunton cut the deficit to five three separate times but couldn’t get closer.

Back-to-back buckets from Lens Esquil (17 points, nine rebounds) cut it to 16-11, but Matt Elias (13 points) answered for the Panthers with a triple. Lou Vendrell splashed a three to get Taunton within 21-16, but free throws from Jack Rodgers and Elias, followed by a bucket from Samuels stretched Franklin’s lead back to 25-16.

Esquil again rattled off four straight points to bring Taunton within 25-20 in the final minute of the quarter, but Elias drained another triple to give Franklin a 28-20 lead at the break.

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Taunton’s up-tempo trap defense paid dividends in the final quarter, forcing seven turnovers in the final frame (50% of Franklin’s turnovers). That led to 25 points in the final frame, but the Panthers never let the game get within single digits.

Behind eight points from freshman Diamond Blakely (11 points total) and four points apiece from Kenion, Esquil and Malik Charles, Taunton cut it to 10 with a minute to play but that was as close as they would get.

Taunton finished the game 2-for-17 from beyond the three-point line.

“Obviously [Taunton] can really slash and get to the rim and bother you that way, but they definitely have some guys that can light it up from the outside so it’s difficult to defend,” Neely said. “We put a lot into one on one defending and not helping off guys like Vendrell and [Dante] Law. They got some looks in the first half, and then they also made some tough shots too. If they were going to continue to make those contested shots then we had to live with it.”

Taunton falls to 5-4 overall with its third straight loss and 2-3 in league play. The Tigers will try to bounce back when they return to action on Friday for just their third home game of the year against King Philip. Franklin boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 7-1 overall) will host rival Mansfield (5-0, 7-1) in a key Kelley-Rex division showdown.

Mansfield is riding a three-game win streak at Franklin, and are 2-0 in the new gym.

“You don’t have to get the guys fired up for a Mansfield game,” Neely said. “I think they’re already excited for it. I think as soon as we broke the huddle tonight, that was one of the first things the guys talked about it. It’s a big game for both teams. It’s still early in the season so we’re just trying to get better as is but those games are always battles, always tight. Hopefully, we can come out on top this time.”

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Mansfield Escapes With Win After Late Taunton Surge

Mansfield boys basketball
Taunton’s Malik Charles looked to make a pass while being defended by Mansfield’s Nick Ferraz. (Ryan Lanigan/HocomockSports.com)

MANSFIELD, Mass. – Taunton’s comeback would probably have been enough to beat most teams in the league, and most teams in the area.

But the Tigers learned the hard way that you can’t leave the door open, even slightly, against Mansfield.

Taunton overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead – its first advantage since the opening quarter – but it was the Hornets that made the plays down the stretch to earn a 61-56 victory.

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Mansfield held a 15-point point lead (44-29) in the first minute of the second half after Sam Hyland drained a three, and led 50-42 going into the final quarter.

But Taunton’s full-court pressure started to pay dividends in the final quarter. Sophomore Prince Brown converted a layup and junior Lou Vendrell (16 points) finished a traditional three-point play to get the Tigers within three.

Mansfield’ John McCoy (16 points, five rebounds) snapped the run with a bucket, but Taunton sophomore Dante Law (12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) took a feed from freshman Diamond Blakely and splashed a three to get the visitors within two, 52-50, with five minutes to go.

The three sparked a 9-0 run for the Tigers as Vendrell followed with a triple of his own to give Taunton the lead. Mansfield missed a pair of threes and a putback attempt on the offensive end. Blakely hit the front end of a one-and-one to create a two-point margin, and senior Lens Esquil (19 points, 10 rebounds) forced a travel with a good defensive play to get Taunton the ball back.

Vendrell cashed in on a feed from Blakely to put Taunton up 56-52 with just under three minutes to play. But that would be the end of the Tigers’ night offensively.

Despite getting back-to-back stops defensively, Taunton had a turnover on the offensive end and was whistled for a travel on the defensive rebound. Mansfield’s cashed in when Hyland drove baseline for an easy two, making it a one-possession game.

The Tigers once again had a turnover with Khristian Conner sniffing out a pass, but the junior couldn’t convert at the free throw line. Taunton went to the free throw line on the other end but missed the front end of the one-and-one situation.

Once again, Mansfield seized the opportunity with McCoy taking his man one-on-one and finishing nicely at the rim to tie the game with a minute to go. Taunton’s offense once again went without a shot as a loose ball was pounced on by Hyland, giving the Hornets possession with 42 seconds to play.

On the ensuing possession, Hyland ended up with the ball on the way to the basket but after sucking the defense in, he dished to senior Justin Vine in the corner, who buried the go-ahead triple with 21 seconds to go. Taunton’s attempt at a tying three came up short and Conner iced the game with a pair of free throws.

“Taunton had a game plan and a method of what they were trying to accomplish,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I thought we did a good job of dealing with it, I thought they disrupted our rhythm a little bit. We were still able to build a lead and get the ball to drop some. I thought defensively we did a really good job through three quarters and that helped us build that lead. I think their style of play wore on us. I think fatigue, mental fatigue, it all started to kick in.

“I think that was probably as good of a game plan that Taunton has had that they stuck with. Charlie [Dacey] has those kids playing hard and they did a lot of really good things. I’m happy and feel fortunate we got out of here with a win. If that game went on another minute or two, I’m not sure if its the same result. A couple of bounces, a couple of calls that went our way in the final minute helped move us in the right direction.”

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After giving up 25 points in the second quarter, the Tigers limited Mansfield to just 22 points in the entire second half. Until the final minute, Mansfield had just four points in the fourth quarter

“I think we got the tempo to go our way,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey of the comeback. “We wanted to trap them but you have to be really careful trapping [Mansfield]. Even if you don’t make a mistake and you do trap them, they can send the ball all the way across the court, they are very smart. We were supposed to be trapping in certain places late and we didn’t execute. We had about three straight unwise decisions on the offensive end, and we’re back running our defense against their offense. I thought we did a halfway decent job against them. I don’t think we closed down the three-point shooting very well.

“That’s the way we have to play the game. We don’t score very easily, we just have to commit to full-court transition offense.”

It was only fitting for the Hornets that Hyland (13 points, seven rebounds) had the ball in his hand for Mansfield’s biggest possession, just moments after he came up with the loose ball on the other end to give the Hornets possession.

“We trust him so much,” Vaughan said of Hyland. “It wasn’t the play we drew up, the play was broken down. We want to share the basketball and get the best shot. We did a good job of reversing the basketball. He could have easily forced the shot up the middle, he could have gotten his own, Law was right there with him…but instead he dishes the ball out. Justin hadn’t really shot the ball, was in foul trouble in the first half so never really got into a rhythm, steps up and buries a big shot. That’s the part of winning an ugly game, guys step up.”

For Taunton, the comeback was doomed after the offense struggled after it took the lead. After going up 56-52 with just under three minutes to play, the Tigers had four turnovers, went 0-for-1 from the free throw line (missing the front end of a one-and-one) and missed its final shot after the Hornets took the lead.

“We just had to be better executing in the offensive end,” Dacey said. “We had it going our way, and then they started to press us and trap us, and that opened the court up for us and I thought we could get a layup but we struggled.”

A back-and-forth first quarter ended with the Hornets up by a pair, 14-12, with five different players scoring for the home team.

The separation came in the second quarter when Mansfield outscored Taunton 25-15. The Hornets closed the quarter on an 8-1 surge with buckets from Hyland, McCoy, a free throw from Damani Scott – who scored all eight of his points in the frame – and a late three from Ryan Otto. Otto’s three was Mansfield’s third shot (and third three-point attempt) of the possession after hauling in a pair of offensive rebounds.

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Taunton cut into the deficit by outscoring the Hornets 15-11 in the third quarter. After going down 15, Taunton rattled off a mini 7-0 run behind Esquil and Law. McCoy had his own 6-0 in response but the Tigers finished the frame with a 6-0 run, with Esquil and Law accounting for all scoring.

“You come off the break, you go right into Taunton, Attleboro, Franklin, KP…there’s not a night off in the next week,” Vaughan said. “The games all mean something to every single kid, no matter where anyone is in the standings. Everyone is trying to knock each other off right now because this gives you a jump start to the second half of the year. We’re going to give everyone our best shot and we’re going to get everyone’s best shot in the next week, including tonight. The league prepares us for the postseason, a game like tonight will help later. It’s always good to play ugly and get a win.”

Mansfield boys basketball (4-0 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to play Attleboro. Taunton (2-2, 5-3) will try to bounce back when it takes a trip to Franklin. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 6:30.

Oliver Ames Surges Past Taunton In Second Half

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Carter Evin (right) drives to the basket in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron looked up at the scoreboard and felt a little bit of deja vu as his side took on Taunton.

Just like the first meeting, his team had a 12 point lead with the fourth quarter set to begin. In the first game, Taunton roared back to erase that deficit and get the win.

Not this time around.

Oliver Ames kept its lead throughout the final period, walking away with a 73-61 win and a berth in the Division 2 State Tournament. It marks the eighth straight year under Byron that the Tigers are postseason bound.

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OA broke the game open with a big third quarter. After taking a one-point lead (39-38) into the locker room at halftime, the visitors doubled up Taunton with a 22-11 third quarter.

“They shot very, very well in the first half — and from deep,” Byron said. “Even if you tell the kids they can shoot from very deep, the kids take some time to adjust. I thought we did a better job on that in the second half, I thought cut down on the penetration more and when we did that, the kick outs weren’t there as much.”

Taunton hit an impressive nine three pointers (of 13 total field goals made) in the first half but were limited to just four in the second half. Taunton went just 1/7 from deep in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Oliver Ames was an efficient 9/14 from the floor, getting all of its offense from its starting lineup.

Nick Welch (19 points, four assists) hit a layup, Carter Evin (16 points, six rebounds), Dylan Mahoney (17 points, seven rebounds) converted in the post and Jack Spillane (19 points, four rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a put back to put Taunton up 48-41.

“We didn’t want to look at it as having to get one out of five games left, we wanted to look at it just one game at a time,” Welch said of earning the playoff berth. “We didn’t get it Friday against Attleboro so we were extra motivated to get it tonight. It was a good win against a good team.

Another three point play from Evin — who found a home in the post against Taunton’s defense — a three from Welch, two more from Evin, a trifecta from Spillane and suddenly Oliver Ames had a 59-45 lead late in the third quarter.

“We wanted to play inside-out,” Byron said. “I thought Carter and Dylan did some good stuff on the block. And Nick’s been terrific…the whole year but specifically the second half of the season.

“[Taunton] plays small. We have chase guys on the perimeter on the defensive end and maybe that’s a disadvantage for us but we’re not particularly big. We really have five perimeter guys out there. Carter’s a little bit bigger but he’s really just a stretched out three, Mahoney the same thing. We wanted to play inside out though so it helped with our size.”

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The visitors deployed a press coming out of halftime. Although it didn’t force any turnovers, it wasn’t designed to. Instead, it was aimed to slowing Taunton down.

“That’s what it’s for,” Byron said. “We didn’t want them screaming up and down the court. It’s designed to keep the game at a pace that we’re comfortable in. If we can get a trap on the side and get a turnover, it’s a bonus.”

Oliver Ames led 61-49 going into the fourth quarter.

“I think it was almost the same lead. We talked about how we had been here before but we weren’t going to do what we did the last time,” Welch said. “We just took that message and went out and got it done. They can get hot quickly so we had to contain the three point line and we wanted to keep the lead at 10.

“All five of our starters can hit the three. Then Carter and Dylan can get down low, getting offensive rebounds. It distracts the defense a little, my man has to help, Jack’s man has to help so it gives us an extra step to get the shots off.”

Taunton cut the deficit to nine early in the fourth quarter on a three from Dimitri Barbosa and then to eight on a free throw from freshman Dante Law (19 points, nine rebounds) but that would be as close as the home side would get.

Evin pushed it back to 10 with a nice move in the post and OA’s defense kept Taunton off the board for three minutes. A three from Spillane extended the lead to 13 with 3:21 to play only for Taunton’s Tommy MacLean (nine points, six rebounds, six assists) to answer with a three of his own.

“You have to get to Mahoney, you have to get to Spillane, you have to get to them all…and we didn’t,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And then we came down the other end and we panicked. We were looking for the five point shot. It was not wise basketball for us on either end of the floor.

“[The nine three pointers in the first half] was fools gold. You’re not going to win the game from the three point line, I don’t care who you are. We got seduced by that and started taking the quick early threes rather than working it.

Oliver Ames’ defense was able to limit Taunton to 23 points in the second half after surrendering 38 to the hosts in the opening half.

“We’ve had good games with Taunton but we haven’t beaten them in the last couple of years,” Byron said. “We had the buzzer beater [two years ago], the last one was a one possession game at the end. We didn’t do much right in the fourth quarter the first game. It was remarkably similar tonight. It was essentially the same difference going into the fourth quarter. It was an easier sell to tell the kids to keep the focus because Taunton can score in bunches.”

Sophomore Luis Vendrell added 19 points for Taunton while Barbosa finished with eight.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (11-8 overall, 9-6) will try to improve its record for tournament seeding on Friday with a visit to Kelley-Rex champion Mansfield Hornets. Taunton (13-7, 8-7) looks to bounce back with a trip to Attleboro on the same night.

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Law, Vendrell Help Taunton Bounce Back At Stoughton

Taunton boys basketball
Taunton freshman Dante Law puts up a shot in the second half at Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Taunton sophomore Luis Vendrell kept his team afloat in the first half and freshman Dante Law took control in the second half to lead the Tigers to an 80-61 win at Stoughton.

Vendrell scored 11 big his career-high 17 points in the first half as the Tigers took a 32-29 lead into half. Law – who drained a three before the halftime buzzer to give the Tigers that slim lead – went on to score 15 of his career-high 22 points in the second half.

It was a stark comparison in performances for Taunton, who were limited to just 36 points on Monday in a game at Franklin.

“It was better [than Monday] but we are just not doing a good job rebounding,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “With our size, OK that’s an issue but still you have to lay a body on someone and keep them off the boards. It’s almost like they saw our game on Monday, decided to sell out on the boards and send six, seven guys on the boards.”

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After a back and forth first quarter – a period that featured five lead changes and three ties – the Tigers held 14-11 lead. A three from Tommy MacLean (nine points, eight assists, four steals, four rebounds) stretched Taunton’s to six but Stoughton rattled off a quick 6-0 run to tie the game again.

The teams traded baskets until the final seconds, when Law drained his free throw just before the buzzer off an inbounds play.

The teams stayed within possession or two of each other for the first half of the third quarter and Colin Sanda’s (career-high 13 points, five rebounds) bucket brought Stoughton within three, 40-37 with just under fourth minutes to go.

But that’s when Taunton was able to gain some separation, rattling off a 14-4 run to conclude the quarter. Freshman Naz Kenian (11 points) got the run going, Law drained a three and Vendrell drove the lane for a quick 7-0 spurt. Stoughton freshman Ajahn Rue converted a three point play for the Black Knights but Vendrell got back to back baskets inside the final minute and Law beat the buzzer once again with another three to hand Taunton a 54-41 lead through three.

“The threes loosened it up a bit for us,” Dacey said. “But our gym is such a comfort zone for us. We play so differently. This gym and Attleboro are the two bugaboos for us.” Taunton shot just 6/22 from three (26/45 from 2PT).

The Tigers had their best offensive quarter of the game in the fourth, dropping 26 points.

Stoughton cut the lead to nine with three minutes to play but Taunton responded with a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach. Kenian drained a three, Lens Esquil (14 points, 10 rebounds) converted a layup and a pair of three throws and Vendrell his a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up 73-55.

Matt Valle added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Black Knights while sophomore Josh Cocchi chipped in with a career-high 10 points. Cam Gomes had eight points and eight rebounds.

Taunton boys basketball (12-6 overall, 7-6 Hockomock) is scheduled to be back in action on Friday when they host King Philip. The Warriors won the first matchup 70-51. Stoughton (3-12, 2-11) will host North Attleboro on the same night.

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Macchi, Panthers Land Big Win Over Visiting Taunton

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Connor Peterson goes for a layup in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Before Franklin hosts Mansfield this coming Friday in a game that will likely decide the Kelley-Rex title, the Panthers had a big test against a visiting Taunton squad on Monday night.

The Panthers passed with flying colors.

Franklin took a two-point lead at the end of the first quarter and blew the game wide open with dominant second quarter, eventually walking away with a 78-36 win over Taunton.

While Franklin got nearly everything it wanted inside in the first quarter (7/9 from 2PT) and put up 16 points, Taunton freshman Dante Law had 10 points to help the Tigers keep pace.

Leading 16-14 to start the second quarter, Franklin senior Josh Macchi completely took over on the offensive end. The Panthers defense forced nine turnovers alone in the second quarter and Macchi dominated the boards to help Franklin build a big lead.

“We’re always emphasizing defense but we felt like the past few games, leading up to this we got a little sloppy,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely.”We’ve been really focusing on it in practice and really focused on protecting the paint. In terms of rebounding, we have a lot of long bodies, a lot of athletic guys that can get int he paint and make things happen and we have to start doing it. We hadn’t been creating second opportunities until tonight.”

Macchi started a 10-2 run with an easy putback and senior Connor Goldstein drained a three on the following possession. Connor Peterson (20 points) grabbed an offensive rebound and converted a quick layup and Macchi hit a free throw the next trip down after hauling in an offensive rebound.

Macchi (17 points, 12 rebounds) pulled in one of his seven offensive rebounds on the next trip, but it was the only time that the Panthers didn’t score on a second opportunity. On the defensive end, Macchi came away with a steal and then found junior Alex Klowan for a three. A free throw from Jack Rodgers capped Franklin’s 10-2 run over the first five minutes.

“I thought Josh had a tremendous game again for us tonight,” Neely said of Macchi He’s been playing out of his mind. The past seven or eight games, he’s been in double-digits each time and he’s just killing it on the boards. He’s our one senior starter, and he’s really stepped up.

The Panthers weren’t done there though, scoring 13 points over the final three minutes of the quarter. Macchi was responsible for six himself – four from putbacks – and assisted on another three from Klowan. Sophomore Jalen Samuels (nine points) converted a putback and hit a layup in the final moments to give Franklin a commanding 43-18 lead at halftime. Franklin outscored Taunton 27-4 in the quarter.

“Just a disaster,” relayed Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey regarding the second quarter. “The transitions…the complete and utter failure to block out killed us. They weren’t running spectacular sets, but they just cleaned up every time. It seemed like a lot more offensive rebounds in that quarter than eight.”

Even more impressive for the Panthers was their dominate quarter came without junior captain Paul Mahon. Mahon, who entered the game tied for the team lead in scoring, picked up his second foul early in the quarter and was forced to the bench.

“I thought Klowan came in and gave us some good minutes, Matt Elias does a good job in there,” Neely said. “Sometimes Paul is done for the half when he gets the two fouls, sometimes he isn’t. I told him we’ll see how it goes. The guys stepped up and did a great job without him. I’m pretty proud of the guys for stepping up and extending the lead.”

Franklin quickly put to bed any thought of a super comeback, rattling off a 9-2 run in less than three minutes.

The Panthers went to work down low with Peterson converting a three point play to begin the half, Macchi driving for two and Peterson getting two more field goals in the paint.

“We thought we had a mismatch inside with CP,” Neely said. “Sometimes they were doubling, sometimes they weren’t. We wanted to get him the ball to see what would happen. If he had single coverage, just go at them. If they brought the double, guys had to be ready to shoot and guys hit some shots.”

After surrendering 14 points in the opening quarter, Franklin’s defense allowed 10 or less points in the final three quarters. Taunton scored just 22 points over the final three quarters. Law finished with a team-high 12 points, junior Tyler Medeiros had 11 rebounds and freshman Naz Kenian added seven points.

Franklin boys basketball (14-3 overall, 12-1 Hockomock) hosts rival Mansfield (15-2, 12-1) on Friday night at 6:30. The Panthers and the Hornets are the lone two teams left that can win the division and Friday’s contest will determine who’s in the driver’s seat. Taunton (11-6, 6-6) is back in action on Wednesday at Stoughton.

“Obviously it’s a big rivalry and we know what it’s about,” Neely said. “But we have to treat it like every other game. Their a good team so hopefully we can execute as well as we did tonight and come out on top.”

Late Comeback Propels Taunton Past Oliver Ames

By Anthony Rinaldi, HockomockSports.com Contributor

NORTH EASTON, Mass.- The Taunton boy’s basketball team went on a 14-3 run in the fourth quarter to erase an eight point deficit and beat Oliver Ames on Tuesday night in Nixon Gymnasium.

The game really picked up in the third quarter. Down 28-20 at the half, Taunton came out with an 8-0 run in the first minute of the quarter to tie the game. Coming out of an OA timeout, senior Nick Welch (17 points) hit a three to put OA up three.

Oliver Ames took a 51-42 lead into the final quarter, but Taunton surged back. Down 56-48, Taunton’s Tommy MacLean and Dante Law (from MacLean) hit back to back threes and a free throw from Lens Esquil cut the deficit to one.

After a stop, Luis Vendrell took the ball down the floor and drove to the basket to give Taunton a 57-56 lead with 2:20 to go. From there it was defense and foul shots. Taunton hit three free throws to go up 60-56 before a deep three from Dylan Mahoney cut it to one. MacLean hit two more free throws to go up by three and Taunton forced a turnover in the final seconds to ice the game.

Rebounding and strong defensive effort helped the visiting Tigers turn the game around.

When asked what changed for them defensively Dacey said, “We just picked up the intensity. That was it, there was nothing by the way of X’s and O’s, it was just let’s get up let’s pick up the intensity. Sometimes it is that simple.”

When talking about Taunton out rebounding OA in the fourth quarter Dacey said, “I thought that’s where the game changed.”

Oliver Ames’ original lead stemmed from a hot third quarter from Welch. The senior went a perfect 4/4 from three point range, scoring 12 of his 17 points in the third.

“He’s done a lot for us this year,” OA coach Don Byron said of Welch, “He’s pretty much making every decision for us over 32 minutes. He’s been very very good for us all year.”

Taunton also shared the basketball well against a tough 2-3 zone, having three players in double figures: MacLean with a team-high 14 points, freshman Law with 13 points and Vendrell with 12 points.

“That’s what we have to do. We share the ball we’re fine. On the days we’ve struggled we haven’t shared the ball enough. But tonight we did that well,” Dacey said.

For Oliver Ames, Dylan Mahoney led all scorers with 22 points and Jack Spillane added 15 points.

Taunton (7-4, 3-4 league) looks to make it two in a row when they face Attleboro at home Friday night at 6:30 while Oliver Ames (6-5 4-3 league) looks to bounce back against Mansfield at home the same night.

Balanced Attack Helps Taunton Sink New Bedford

Taunton boys basketball
Taunton junior Tyler Medeiros goes up for a shot in the second quarter against New Bedford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – It wasn’t a perfect game, and at times it was far from pretty but an inexperienced Taunton team still came away with a 65-46 road win at New Bedford.

With just one player back with any legitimate varsity experience this year, things have been a bit inconsistent for the Tigers through the three games thus far this season. It was more of the same on Thursday night.

“It came in spurts, it’s in our DNA – we are schizophrenic,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “The kids are still figuring themselves out, they don’t all have a ton of confidence so they’re tentative when they should go, and they go when they should be tentative. It’s about experience and how fast can we get it? We’re just not at the level we want to be at yet.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A pair of New Bedford free throws brought the Whalers within one with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter. That’s when Taunton’s offense came back to life, rattling off a 7-0 run to end the frame. Luis Vendrell hit one free throw and then freshmen Naz Kenian and Dante Law connected on three pointers in the final minute – both on on a pass from Tommy MacLean – to take a 19-11 after the first quarter.

That cushion gave the Tigers a little room for error, which they needed in the second quarter. MacLean, who had six points and three assists at the time, was whistled for his second foul, forcing him too the bench.

Dacey elected to put in 6’4 junior Tyler Medeiros and the Tigers made him the focal point of the offense. While Taunton’s defense held up its end of the bargain, holding the Whalers to just nine points in the quarter, the offense was able to come up with just 11 points. However, Medeiros was responsible for six of those, going 3/5 from the field to keep the Tigers ahead, 30-20 at the break.

“We had to get points, he was able to carry us over,” Dacey said of Medeiros. “With Tommy out of the game, points have to come from somewhere. Tyler did a nice job tonight.”

Taunton’s offense was back at it again in the third quarter, dropping 18 points in the frame. New Bedford pulled within six early in the second half at 32-26. The Tigers rattled off an 8-0 run in just over a minute, with MacLean driving to the basket on to start and finish the run.

MacLean finished with a team-high 15 points and seven assists.

“He’s the guy out there,” Dacey said of MacLean. “He has a high basketball IQ and he has to demonstrate that because with the inexperience with the other players comes a lower basketball IQ. They’re working hard, they’re playing hard but we’re making too many mistakes still.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Back to back threes from Kenian followed by a take from Law stretched Taunton’s lead to 48-28 in the final minute of the third quarter.

While Taunton held that lead for the majority of the final quarter, the Whalers did make a small run to get within 14 but Lens Esquil (eight points, nine rebounds) converted a put back and then took a feed from MacLean for another basket.

Kenian finished with nine points and three rebounds, Medeiros had 10 points and five rebounds and Law had eight points, six rebounds and three assists. John Martins added six points, four assists and three rebounds.

“It’s a learning experience, that’s the way we look at it,” Dacey said. “It’s a chance for us to get more experience.”

Taunton (3-1, 2-1) will be back in action after the holiday when they travel to Durfee High School for the Skip Karam Tournament to take on Hope.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boys Basketball: 2016-17 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Mansfield boys basketball
(Tom Madigan/Photo).

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2015-2016 Record: 7-15
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Houle

After missing out on the playoffs a year ago, Attleboro will be relying on its senior leadership to try and earn a trip to the state tournament.

Captains Jake Dunkley and Andrew Milliken will help anchor the team along with classmates Lucas Boucicaut, Berlyns Abraham and Robby Peirce. Dunkley was the second leading scorer in the league last year with 18 points per game while Milliken is another top scoring option for the Bombardiers.

Boucicaut and junior Nate Douglas will pair up in the backcourt while freshman Bryant Ciccio will likely see plenty of minutes after his performance on opening night on Friday. Abraham provides length and athleticism down low and can make life difficult in the post for opponents.

“We need to defend and rebound to create transition opportunities and execute with a focus on details,” Attleboro head coach Mark Houle said. “Our strength will be our senior leadership.”

Franklin

2015-2016 Record: 19-5
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D1 Central Final
Coach: CJ Neely

There is no rebuilding when it comes to Franklin, just reloading. Despite graduating a handful of talent, including the Hockomock League MVP Tim Prunier and a couple other strong players, the Panthers are still in a spot to challenge for the Kelley-Rex title.

Two big reasons for that are juniors Paul Mahon and Connor Peterson. Both players started last year and were important pieces as the Panthers claimed a division title. With at least year of experience for both, look for both to be key players this season. Mahon has developed as a shooter to compliment his strong defensive game while Peterson continues to be one of the top big men in the league,.

The Panthers will look to move the ball as much as possible on offense and hope to have a balanced scoring attack so defenses can’t focus in on just a player or two. Franklin has been on the better teams defensively in recent history and will look to continue that trend for the 2016-2017 season.

“We are very excited about this group of guys,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “Having a good balance of talent has made our practice games very competitive, everyone has really been pushing each other hard. Each year our goal remains the same, we will focus on day to day improvement and let the results take care of themselves.

“We want to be defined as a hardworking group that plays aggressively and shares the ball offensively. I think if we can stay committed to trusting each other and consistently competing on both ends of the floor we can have a good year.”

King Philip

2015-2016 Record: 5-15
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mark Champagne

The Warriors are returning a strong group of players from last year’s squad with one noticeable addition — new head coach Mark Champagne.

Champagne will have a group of experienced players to work with this season. Tom Madden, Noah Goodwin, Kyle Layman, Will Weir, Seth Sullivan, Pharaoh Davis and Justin Vine all saw either starting minutes or valuable time off the bench a season ago. Matt Lehoullier and Noah Bradley will also factor int this season to provide the Warriors with depth.

Goodwin and Weir have the most experience and will captain the team along with Sullivan. Madden impressed last year as did Layman during his rookie campaign. Between Goodwin, Weir, Madden and Layman, King Philip will have plenty of size to use down low. Davis and Sullivan are both strong with the ball while Vine provides KP with a shooting threat.

“We are very excited as a coaching staff to compete in the Hockomock League,” Champagne said. “We are fortunate to have a hard working group of players who are hungry for success.”

Mansfield

2015-2016 Record: 20-5
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal
Coach: Mike Vaughan

Even though Mansfield won the Kelley-Rex division a year ago, the Hornets still might be bringing back the most talent in the league this year. After only graduating three seniors, Mike Vaughan has nearly all of his weapons at his disposal again this year.

HockomockSports.com First Team selection Sam Goldberg (11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG) leads a strong group back that includes Christian Weber, Matt Ehrlich, Max Boen, Phil Vigeant, Tyler Boulter and Evan Christo. Expect the likes of John McCoy, Sam Hyland and Kristian Conner to also factor in for the Hornets.

It doesn’t matter who it is listed above, almost all of them are capable of being “the guy” on any given night, which makes Mansfield incredibly hard to defend. Weber, Ehrlich, Vigeant, Boen and Boulter are all strong from beyond the arc but also have no problem making the extra pass to find a better shot.

“We’re looking forward to a fun season with seven seniors and a great group of underclassmen, we should have plenty of depth to stay competitive,” Vaughan said. “The league looks loaded again with talent so we shouldn’t have any nights off.”

Oliver Ames

2015-2016 Record: 11-11
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Don Byron

The Tigers will face a steep challenge because of the switch to the Kelley-Rex division but bringing back a strong core of players will be a big help.

Seniors Carter Evin, Dylan Mahoney, Nick Welch and Mike Graziano are all back as are juniors Matt Muir and Jack Spillane. All six players saw time last year, including some who started all season long.

Between the returning players, the Tigers will be able to score from multiple positions. Evin, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection, led the Tigers in scoring with 13.4 points per game – and did so in a variety of ways. Mahoney is able to shoot or attack the hoop while both Welchn and Graziano showed the ability to get hot from deep.

“We have a number of players back who played quite a bit last year and showed marked improvement during the course of the season,” Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron said. “We’ll be leaning on them as we develop depth from a number of kids who played jv last year. Our schedule will be a challenge as we make the move to the Kelly-Rex division of the league and our non-league schedule won’t provide any breaks either.”

taunton

2015-2016 Record: 16-7
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Charlie Dacey

While there will be some changes for Taunton this year, there will also be some similarities to last year. The Tigers will aim to use their speed and athleticism to their advantage and try to make up for their lack of size and experience.

The youthful Tigers will by led by the very experienced Tommy MacLean, who has played varsity minutes since his freshman year. Junior Tyler Medeiros is back after suffering an injury early last year while junior Lens Esquil also got some minutes a year ago.

Junior Malik Charles, sophomores John Martin and Luis Vendrell and freshmen Dante Law and Naz Kenan are all likely to factor in for Taunton this season. Another positive early on for Taunton is shooting, boasting a handful of players that can consistently knock down shots from deep.

“Our immediate strengths are speed and shooting,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “Hopefully, our speed can counter our youth and allow us to play an uptempo game.”