Experienced Rocketeers Hold Off Stoughton

“North
North Attleboro senior Ashley Ahern (13) scored a team-high 17 points, including 10 in the second half as North pulled out a win at Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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STOUGHTON, Mass. – The home team just would not go away. Despite trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter against Davenport division-leading North Attleboro, which came in with only one loss on the season, Stoughton continued to fight and twice cut the lead to as little as six points.

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There was no panic on the North bench. With four seniors in the starting lineup and eight players returning from last season’s trip to the state title, the Rocketeers have plenty of experience in close games on the road.

Senior Ashley Ahern scored five of her team-high 17 points and dished out an assist for a Julia Feid three, as North went on a 10-0 run to put the game away late. The Rocketeers continued their unbeaten start to the league campaign with a 59-47 and extended their lead in the division to 1-1/2 games over Milford and Foxboro.

“We had a lot of these games last year and they’ve learned from them,” said North coach Derek Herber. “They’ve learned all the bad things that can happen and they persevere and hit the tough shots, get the big rebounds and go from there.”

North led 43-34 heading into the fourth quarter, but after Feid knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Rocketeers ahead by double digits freshman Shyanne Trinh (six points) drilled a three off a Val Whalen assist. On the next possession, Lili Njiem, Stoughton’s lone senior in the regular rotation, snagged an offensive rebound (her 12th rebound of the game) and laid it in to cut the lead to six.

Caroline Collard (12 points, 10 rebounds) hit a pair from the line, but freshman Aliyah Wright (11 points, nine rebounds) answered right back for the Black Knights with a drive to the basket. After a turnover, Jordan Motley (19 rebounds) had a chance to cut it to four, but her free throws would not fall.

North got the rebound and took control. Samantha Taggart hit Collard on a roll to the basket for a layup, then Ahern drew the defense and kicked out to Feid for a three in front of the North bench. Julia Santos kicked out to Ahern for a deep three and then she added a pair from the line to push the advantage back to 16.

“They are veteran and they’re solid and they’re tough and they win close games,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan about North. “They got it done.”

There was plenty for the Stoughton coach to be proud of on Friday night. The Black Knights played with intensity from the opening tip, dominated on the glass, and kept the Rocketeers off-balance on the offensive end of the floor.

Steele Jordan said, “I as impressed with their effort and their intensity. They really played hard. There’s a lot of winnable games in the Hock and we just have to believe that we can get it done.”

North jumped out to a lead in the first quarter, showing off the team’s depth. The Rocketeers would have eight players on the scoresheet in the game, including junior Emily Haskell, who scored all four of her points in the first to help out North ahead 14-8. Trinh hit a three at the buzzer to cut the lead in half going to the second.

Thanks to four points apiece from Ahern and Collard and contributions off the bench from Santos and senior Liz Morehouse (six points), North extended the lead to 10 by halftime.

“She brings energy all the time,” said Herber of Morehouse. “She does so many little things for us, the rebounding, the boxing out, the taking a charge. She’s one of those kids who knows what we need to get out of her and she knows her role and plays it the best.”

Stoughton hung around in the third and kept the deficit to single digits thanks largely to the play of Whalen. The junior forward put in a monster performance, pulling down 23 rebounds on the night and scoring 15 of her game-high 20 points after the break, including nine in the third quarter alone.

“She just goes so hard,” said Steele Jordan of Whalen. “She’s a workhorse and she gives me effort every night. She’s definitely progressed a lot from last year to this year. She’s got that mentality that I can compete in the Hock and I’m one of the best post players. I love that about her.”

Njiem added a three in the third and Wright had four points in the quarter, but North kept a solid lead thanks to its seniors. Ahern had five, Collard had four and Morehouse and Emily Schromm each had three in the period.

Stoughton never backed down, but in the end North made the plays to come out with the win. Herber explained, “We knew going in that it was going to be one of those games. We play the same style of basketball they do, slow it down, make it a little ugly, play good defense, rebound and get opportunistic offense.

“We were able to get some offensive looks off our press and pull it out.”

Steele Jordan added about the Black Knights, “I couldn’t be prouder to coach them and I keep telling them we can do this. There’s still a ton of season left. They’re starting to buy into it and that’s important when you’re young.”

North Attleboro (8-1) travels to Cranston East on Saturday and then will take on the two teams tied for second in the Davenport, starting with Milford on Tuesday. Stoughton (1-7) will look for its first league win of the season on Tuesday against Sharon.

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Balanced Bombardiers Put Knights Away In Second Half

Attleboro girls basketball
Senior forward Julia Strachan (20) scored a game-high 14 points to lead four Bombardiers in double figures in a 30-point win for Attleboro against Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Before Friday night’s game, last year’s league MVP Emily Houle was honored for reaching the 1,000-point plateau and had her name added to the gym’s banner. Once the game tipped off all eyes were a current MVP candidate as she went in search of the same milestone.

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While much of the focus from the fans, and from the Stoughton defense, was on Attleboro senior forward Sarah Deyo, who came into the game needing 36 points to reach 1,000 for her career, the Bombardiers showed that they have other weapons to give opponents problems.

Led by a game-high 14 points from senior Julia Strachan, Attleboro had four players reach double digits and saw 10 players record at least a single point in an emphatic 65-35 victory over Stoughton. Deyo finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds on the night, leaving her 26 points short of the milestone.

“Even last year, we had the ‘big three’ and this year people are saying the ‘big three’ again but we think we have another three that can do that on any given night,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. He added, “We don’t even play polished basketball and we still win by 30.”

Stoughton jumped out to a 3-0 lead on early free throws and after a Jordan Motley layup led again at 5-3, but Attleboro took over and went on a 24-2 run to seemingly take control of the game. The Bombardiers knocked down four shots from beyond the arc in the opening quarter with Jordyn Lako (11 points and eight rebounds), Mish Logie (six points and six assists), Sam Pierce (11 points and six rebounds) and Strachan each knocking down one.

“For us it’s mentally we have to decide that we’re not going to let anyone outwork us,” said second-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The threes they got early were uncontested. Our hands were down and we’ve got to keep improving being long on defense.”

The Attleboro run continued in the second with Lako scoring off a Logie assist then feeding freshman Nyah Thomas for a layup. A Deyo putback and another Strachan three had the Bombardiers ahead 27-7 and forced a Stoughton timeout.

The Black Knights got themselves back into it after the breather. Motley (four points and 11 rebounds) got a putback basket and freshman Aliyah Wrightdrilled a three. Another three from senior Lili Njiem and a layup for freshman Shyanne Trinh (team-high 12 points) cut the lead to just 12. Deyo hit a corner three to stem the comeback, but the Black Knights were down just 13 heading into halftime.

“We were disappointed with the last three- or 3-1/2-minute stretch,” said Patch. “We made an emphasis at that point to call out the entire team for the effort and having the bench more engaged. When they’re in you really can’t skip a beat.”

The Bombardiers heeded the coaching staff’s message and put the game away in a dominant third quarter. Attleboro outscored Stoughton 19-2 in the third, held the Black Knights without a point for the first 6:30 of the half and extended the lead to 30 points heading to the fourth.

“We kept them to one-and-done and kind of dictated the play and put them in positions not to get great looks,” Patch explained. “None of them were layups.”

While the trapping defense of Attleboro certainly played its part against a very young Stoughton lineup that features three freshmen, four sophomores, and just two seniors, Steele Jordan also saw the Black Knights miss some looks that could have kept them in the game.

“We missed a lot of shots,” she said. “We had open threes that didn’t fall for us. We’ve just got to keep getting to the rim.”

Deyo got another rebound and putback to start it and then Strachan, who transferred from North Attleboro last winter but injured her knee in the third game and missed the rest of the 2015-16 season, knocked down a jumper. Pierce buried a three and freshman Liv McCall hit one as well to help Attleboro pull away. Lauren Berteletti had the lone bucket in the third for Stoughton.

In the fourth, Attleboro continued to pile on, eventually getting the lead to as many as 36 points. One of the question marks for the Bombardiers coming into the season was who would run the point for them and Patch credited Logie for working hard to make that position hers.

“This year she’s in much better shape,” he said. “We’ve demanded of her to shoot her shot. Last year she was very tentative but she’s much more confident.”

Stoughton’s biggest bright spot on Friday was the play of Trinh. Despite missing a large portion of the game due to foul trouble, she stepped up in the fourth quarter with seven of her 12 points, including a three and a runner in the lane. Steele Jordan admits it will be a steep learning curve for her young roster (especially with Oliver Ames and Attleboro as the opening two games) but she is still confident in the Black Knights’ potential.

“I’m excited for my whole team,” she said. “Everyone brings something different. Shyanne was bright spot and she works hard for us. There’s a lot of season left and we’re just going to keep grinding it out.”

Attleboro (2-0) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night, while Stoughton (0-2) continues its very difficult stretch by hosting Mansfield.

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Girls Basketball: 2016-17 Davenport Division Preview

2016-2017 Davenport Girls Basketball Preview
Shannon Smally (15) of Foxboro and Val Whalen (14) of Stoughton battle in the post in one of last season’s Davenport division meetings. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Davenport Girls Basketball Preview

CANTON

2015-16 Record: 6-14 (3-13)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Jim Choquette

The Bulldogs continue to add to the program both on the court and on the bench with former Canton and UMass Boston star Olivia Murphy joining the coaching staff this season to help out with the freshman team. It is a sign of the continued growth of the program under head coach Jim Choquette, who is hoping that the momentum built at the end of last season will carry over to this year.

Senior forward Emma Murphy returns after a league all-star season and will be joined on the front line by returning starters senior Casey Shea and juniorHannah Jerrier, who was an honorable mention for all-star last winter. Adding depth on the front line will be sophomore forwards Molly Ludwig and Erin Devine, who lacks inexperience but adds significant height.

Jess Powers is recovering from an injury suffered during lacrosse season and her return will add more scoring punch to a deep and quick backcourt group. Sophomore Julia Hamilton is back to run the point for the Bulldogs and will be joined by classmate Maggie Connolly, junior Lindsey Barrett, senior Taylor Carrington, and junior twins Lillian and Evelyn Carrington. This group will allow Canton to keep defensive pressure high all game long.

“Our strengths will be scrappy defense and rebounding on both ends,” said Choquette. “our goal is to improve each game and be playing our best headed into the last part of the season…the faster we find chemistry the faster we’ll find the win column.”

FOXBORO

2015-16 Record: 15-7 (11-5)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal
Head Coach: Lisa Downs

Despite a lot of youth in the lineup, Foxboro has been one of the top teams in the Davenport division for several seasons and this year should be no different, as the Warriors enter the winter with very high expectations and as one of the favorites for the league title.

A lot of the interest in the Warriors stems from the continued development of junior point guard Ashley Sampson, who has turned into one of the best all-around guards in the Hockomock and is the player that the Foxboro offense flows through. Sampson has plenty of help in the backcourt with classmate Lily Sykes, who offers scoring from the perimeter, and seniors Lauren Flahive, Riley Collins (back after an injury), and Hailey Maling, who are all strong on the ball defenders.

In the front court, Kristen Bortolotti is back after missing last year with an injury and will add speed and a strong mid-range game. Junior Grace Tamulionis is another matchup nightmare for the opposition with her size on the boards and on defense and her ability to step outside and shoot the three. Junior Shannon Smally continues to improve and gives the Warriors an inside presence, while newcomers Chelsea Gibbons and Abby Hassmancould make big contributions for the Warriors.

“The girls have been playing together throughout the summer and fall and this familiarity should work to our benefit this season,” said head coach Lisa Downs. “We will continue to focus on our running game and our defensive efforts and I am fortunate to have the players that not only buy into this system, but, also appreciate this pace.”

MILFORD

2015-16 Record: 9-11 (5-11)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver

After missing out on a playoff spot by one game a season ago under first-year head coach T.J. Dolliver, Milford enters this winter with high hopes of making the leap into the postseason with a deep and versatile roster that has gained a lot of experience together over the past few seasons.

The enthusiasm for the Hawks begins with dynamic junior point guard Kate Irwin, who has shown the ability to get to the basket at will, draw defenses to get open looks for her teammates and also be a pesky on the ball defender. With Irwin creating open shots, junior Emily Piergustavo’s return after missing last year with an injury will be a big boost on the perimeter along with senior guard Jill Burley.

Milford will also have plenty of players to contribute on the glass and in the paint. Senior Nicole Dahlgren, a two-year captain, is a strong rebounder but can also step out and hit threes as can junior Jess Tomaso. Five-foot-8 senior Christine Pye, 5-foot-11 junior Gillian Valanzola, 5-foot-8 senior Emma Liskov, and 5-foot-10 Juliana Tracy give Milford an imposing group of front line players.

“These girls have been playing together for a while and their team chemistry is amazing,” said Dolliver. “We are starting to learn the minor details of offense and defense in order to give our team a better chance of success.”

NORTH ATTLEBORO

2015-16 Record: 11-10 (9-7)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South tournament
Head Coach: Derek Herber

The Rocketeers head into their first season in the Davenport division with eight returning players from last year’s team that was two points away from a first round victory in the Div. 2 South tournament against Hock rival Oliver Ames.

Senior Ashley Ahern is a three-year starter at guard and was the team’s leading scorer last winter. Ahern will be the player that gets the offense going, but she will get plenty of help from her classmates, Emily Schromm and Samantha Taggart. Schromm was one of the top defenders in the league and can stretch a defense with her outside shooting and Taggart can play all three guard positions and led North in assists last year. In the paint, senior Caroline Collard is the team’s leading rebounder and showed a soft touch around the basket.

North can also look for improvements from sophomore Julia Feid, who got valuable minutes as a rookie last year, senior Liz Morehouse, who adds depth in the post, and juniors Julia Santos, who both brought athleticism off the bench at the wing positions. Sophomore forward Mackenzie Roberts is a newcomer who adds size and outside shooting and junior Emily Pastore can step in at all three guard positions.

The Rocketeers have plenty of experience on the roster and will be one of the favorites for the league title at the beginning of the season. While head coach Derek Herber can count on a number of returning players, he hopes to “mix in a few new faces into the lineup to help with depth.”

SHARON

2015-16 Record: 5-15 (3-13)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Cliff Tomassian

Sharon is another team that has been building with youth and has created a lot of depth on its roster and, despite losing three of its top four scorers from last winter, has garnered preseason hype as a potential sleeper to make a return to the postseason for the first time since the Eagles made a run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.

The Eagles will be hoping for an improvement on the offensive side of the ball, which was a challenge at times last winter. Junior point guard Shira Stoller, a three-year starter, is continuing to improve at limiting turnovers and looking for her own shot as well as setting up teammates. One of the players that benefits from Stoller’s ability to get into the lane is sophomore Emma Eberhardt, who was third on the team in points as a rookie and continues to develop into a consistent wing scorer.

Sophomore Veronica Wallace has emerged as one of the top backcourt defenders during the preseason and is one of the fastest players on the Sharon roster. Senior Ana Crosby, who is also a standout on the soccer and lacrosse fields, is another player that is continuing to improve and will have an increased role this season. Freshman Kaitlyn Wallace is a newcomer to watch and could have a bigger role to play over the course of the year.

“Our defense is going to have to be our key in order to compete, and our girls know that,” said third-year coach Cliff Tomassian. “We get our best looks on offense off of great defensive stands. Our girls are going to have to be patient and vigilant on both ends and be ready to take chances.”

STOUGHTON

2015-16 Record: 7-11 (7-9)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan

The Black Knights lost six seniors to graduation but this offers plenty of opportunities for a new crop of younger players to get playing time and learn the system of second-year head coach, and former Stoughton star, Charmaine Steele Jordan.

Two of the players that will be counted on most this season are junior forwards Val Whalen and Jordan Motley, who are two of the best rebounders in the league and can also get out on the break and score in transition. Their development in the half-court offense will be a key for Stoughton making a playoff push in the Davenport division this season. Senior Lili Njiem is another player that could make a big impact, as one of the team’s three captains.

The Black Knights will have as many senior as freshmen on this year’s roster (three) along with four sophomores and three juniors, so the foundation for the future is in place. Shyanne Trinh, Lexi Baptista, and Aliyah Wright are the three newcomers to the program who will be hoping to make an instant impact.

“So excited for the upcoming season,” said Steele Jordan. “We lost six seniors so there is lots of opportunity for our players to step up. Our returnees from last year will contribute for us despite being pretty young.”

North Gets Past Offensive Struggles to Beat Stoughton

Caroline Collard
North Attleboro struggled offensively at times, but found enough points, led By Caroline Collard’s nine, to beat Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh Perry

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Offense was in short supply in the Kenneth Pickering Gym on Tuesday night, as for long stretches North Attleboro and Stoughton looked like there was a lid over both baskets.

In the end, the home team had just enough spurts of scoring coupled with a strong defensive effort to hold off the Black Knights and pull out a 45-26 victory that puts the Rocketeers within one win from clinching a spot in the state tournament.

The game was essentially decided in the first half. North Attleboro ran out to a 13-1 lead after the first quarter with five players getting on the board, including Ashley Ahern who scored five of her seven points on the night.

It did not get much better in the second. With 4:22 remaining in the half, Stoughton had the lone point of the quarter on a free throw by Ava Seigel, who also scored the Black Knights’ lone point of the first. With 3:07 left in the half, Stoughton got its first field goal on a jumper by Sarah Quattrucci to cut the lead to 10.

“I think we were a little hurried, a little anxious,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “We only scored four points in the first half, so everyone is anxious to score and you’re doing things faster than you normally would.”

North put together a 9-0 run to close out the first half with all nine points coming in the final three minutes of the second. Caroline Collard (team-high nine points) knocked down three straight free throws and then the lid lifted for a couple of minutes to allow Emily Haskell and Julia Feid to knock down threes for their only points of the game.

“Right now, we play great defense, rebound, and just can’t score a basket,” said North coach Derek Herber. “I think we get a little frustrated because we’re not scoring.”

He continued, “The kids work really hard, just right now we got through those stretches where we have to hang our hat on defense and try to hang in…but we do need to get a little better on offense, more efficient.”

Stoughton came out of halftime and scored as many points in the opening 1:55 of the third quarter as it did in the entire first half.

“They fight,” said Steele Jordan. “We talked about that at halftime. It’s a clean slate; we’re not going to get it all back at once, but lets start in the third quarter and chip away. They just ran out of gas.”

Senior Alecia Quinones, who came in as the league’s leading scorer, suddenly found her groove driving to the basket and scored all of her game-high 11 points in the quarter and got the Black Knight as close as 12 twice.

Steele Jordan added, “We brought it to within 12 but we got shaky at our point guard position and when we’d turn it over they’d score or I felt like they got a million second chance opportunities. And the ball didn’t go in the basket and you need that too.”

Herber said, “Quinones is a matchup nightmare. You try to put a guard on her and she goes in the post and you put a post player out there and you’ve got some issues.”

North answered again. Emily Schromm picked up a steal and took it the length of the floor for a layup and Liz Morehouse came off the bench to score in the paint. Collard hit two free throws and then Samantha Taggart scored four quick points to end the quarter and send the Rocketeers to the fourth up by 16 (35-19).

The Rocketeers were like a boxer who knows when the end of the round is coming and always seemed to put together the spurt they needed to extend the lead.

Herber explained, “We can feed off of that defense and we can put in those runs. When we do find it then we can score some points, but it’s when we do find it.”

After Jordan Motley opened the fourth with a basket, Collard scored plus the foul and Schromm (six points) added a pair of layups to extend the lead out to 21.

Stoughton could not keep up with the Rocketeers offensively, but did hold its own on the boards. In a game with plenty of rebounds to be had, Val Whalen pulled down a game-high 16 and Motley added 10. North was led by senior Emily Peters who snagged 13 rebounds, while Collard had 11, Kiersten Bixby had nine and Haskell grabbed eight.

“They’re the team that’s most like us in the post,” said Herber. about the battle on the glass. “They’ve got three or four bodies that can go in there and they bang and there’s no one afraid of going in there.”

Stoughton will try to find its shooting touch before the visit of Canton on Friday. The Black Knights still need two wins to qualify for the postseason and Steele Jordan is confident the team will be able to put Tuesday night’s struggles behind it.

“They work hard, they fight, and I couldn’t be happier with where we are right now in the season.,” she said. “They all want it and I know they’ll be ready to go back to the drawing board tomorrow.”

Stoughton (7-6, 7-5) will be at Canton on Friday, while North Attleboro (9-5, 8-4) will be at Attleboro.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Historic Night as OA Coach Sets New Career Mark

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Laney Clement-Holbrook hugs captains Sam Bamford and Kaitlyn McCarthy after setting a new Massachusetts girls’ basketball record with her 634th career victory. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – She had tried so hard to hide the milestone, trying to keep it secret from her team, so that the players would not be worried about her looming record and could focus on continuing a league-leading start to the season.

Clearly, her attempts to hide it had failed, as signs adorned with ”634” started to filter through the Oliver Ames crowd like contraband, during the final minutes of Tuesday night’s 40-27 victory over King Philip. The printed signs, joined the multitude of homemade posters and even a giant photo.

As the clock ticked down and the win was assured, the crowd rose to its feet, roaring for the now winningest coach in Massachusetts girls’ basketball history. When the buzzer sounded, the intense scowl slowly disappeared and Laney Clement-Holbrook finally allowed herself to smile.

With Tuesday’s win, No. 634 in a career that stretches back 40 years (all with the Tigers), Clement-Holbrook eclipsed the previous career record held by another Bridgewater State alum, Vi Goodnow, who won 633 games in 40-plus seasons at Frontier Regional.

“It’s incomprehensible to me currently,” said Clement-Holbrook after the official on-court festivities had ended and she had a moment to speak with her team in the locker room.

She explained that while she knew Goodnow as a BSU graduate, she was unaware of the record or how close she was to it. She only discovered it after searching MassHoops.com to see if the site had put former star player Lauren Battista in its Hall of Fame.

“I was totally clueless,” she said. “I had no idea. If I hadn’t been snooping to make sure that LB got her just desserts, I would not even have known about it.”

In the past two weeks, as the record neared, news broke and the countdown began for staff, administration, and for players, which was something that Clement-Holbrook tried not to burden her team with.

“It wasn’t fair to them to be concerned about me because that’s the lesson you try to teach kids about a team – it’s not about any one individual,” she remarked. “It’s not about me; it’s a celebration of all of them. I’m just lucky, I landed in the right spot.”

Senior captain Samantha Bamford admitted that there was some pressure on the players entering Tuesday, especially with a packed house of alumni, including former players from all four decades of Clement-Holbrook’s career.

“We were a little shook up in the beginning because we had a lot going on in this game,” said Bamford. “There were a lot of tweets and stuff and then we found out the game before, but we tried not to focus on it.”

“We just couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Over the course of 40 years spent in one program and in one league, Clement-Holbrook has become a living legend but as Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “You measure yourself against her teams. OA has been the consistent measure of whether or not you’re doing well as a program in the Hockomock and in Eastern Mass.”

Redding has coached against Clement-Holbrook for more than a decade and in fact has coached against her longer than any other coach in the league. He also married one of Clement-Holbrook’s former players and he joked that when the Hornets face OA he is unsure for which team his wife is cheering.

“She’s such a class act on and off the court,” Redding said of Clement-Holbrook. “It’s more about the people than the Xs and Os.”

Last year, Redding hit a milestone of his own when he recorded his 200th career win, but he could only laugh when asked to put that in context with 634. He said, “Six hundred and thirty-four is beyond my imagination.”

On Friday, OA will travel to Stoughton and face first-year head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan, who is looking forward to her first battle of wits on the sidelines with Clement-Holbrook after playing against the Tigers for four years as one of the Black Knights’ all-time leading scorers.

“I’m excited to experience that again because for me as a player it was the one game on the schedule that I was really amped up for,” said Steele Jordan.

“The kids have great fundamentals, they respond, they can be coached and I think she does a great job putting effort into Easton basketball. Kids want to go there; they want to play there… Her fieriness and her passion for the game…I think her players really feed off that.”

Do not ask Clement-Holbrook to tell you about the first game that she won. She does not remember. She cannot remember the opponent, the score, or how the game went, simply that the Tigers came out on top.

She remembers the players though and many of them have stayed in touch for the past 40 years. One word keeps coming up when talking about the program and what has made the Tigers successful for so many years – family.

“She’s a mentor to all of us,” said senior captain Kailtyn McCarthy. “She puts her life into this program and we’re her family. She just loves us so much and it’s nice because we look up to her and she’s been there for us no matter what.”

In the preseason, Bamford was struggling as her father was hospitalized after an accident in his home (she said he is doing much better now) and Clement-Holbrook was there visiting the family in the hospital and allowing Bamford to miss practices to be with her family.

“She gets to know you really personally,” said Bamford. “ She’s just an amazing person and she tries to reach out and help everyone and she understands if something is going on in your life…I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

“I’ve been getting text messages all day long from kids that played for me in all the decades,” Clement-Holbrook remarked. “They’re like my family. From my perspective, I love them like they’re my own kids,” and then she smiled and added, “The only good thing is I didn’t have to take them home.”

When asked if some of the pressure was off now that the milestone had been reached, she quipped, “It’s a big deal. I’m going to be able to sleep now because I’m looking…a little ragged around the edges.”

When anyone thinks of Oliver Ames basketball, the two state championships, the eight 1,000-point scorers, the numerous league titles, there is always one name associated with thoseachievements, as much as she may hope to pass the attention on to others.

“It wouldn’t be the right thing to focus on that because that’s not we’re about here,” she said. “You walk into that gym and you see the banners on the wall and you know there’s a lot of pride and tradition here and it’s really important to all of us.”

“It’s not about me; it’s a celebration of all of them. I’m just lucky, I landed in the right spot.”

Oliver Ames basketball can count itself lucky too.

Laney Clement-Holbrook made her way down the hallway and back out onto the court to greet the dozens of alumni, friends, family, youth players, school staff, and former classmates who all waited for one more chance to say congratulations to a legend.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Fourth Quarter Rally Lifts Stoughton to Win at Sharon

Jess Greer
Senior Jess Greer (12) scored a game-high 18 points, including four three-pointers, as the Black Knights rallied from a four-point fourth quarter deficit to win at Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

SHARON, Mass. – Heading into the fourth quarter, first-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan let her team know that she was frustrated. Jordan, one of the program’s all-time top scorers during her playing days, urged the Black Knights to compete for the name on the front of the jersey.

Stoughton got the message and turned around a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter at Sharon on Friday night to pull out a 52-49 victory that leaves the team just two wins away from a return to the state tournament.

“I was trying to get them pumped up and motivated and to really get over that mental toughness hump,” said Jordan. “It was great to see them rise to the occasion and be like okay, we’re not backing down.”

The Black Knights came out of the huddle with renewed energy to start the fourth quarter and it did not take them long to get back into the game. Bridgette Whalen knocked down the first of two free throws to cut the lead to three and then Alecia Quinones (17 points and 11 rebounds) snatched the miss to save the possession.

Quinones swung the ball around to the top of the circle and senior guard Sarah Quattrucci, who banked in a three-pointer to tie the game at 42-42.

Sharon responded quickly to regain the lead. Sophomore Shira Stoller (five assists) threw a perfect pass through the Stoughton zone to classmate Angela Wallace who finished the layup and was fouled.

Once again it was Quinones that made a big play for Stoughton. The league’s leading scorer (averaging more than 20 points per game) snatched a crosscourt pass and took it the length of the court for a layup that cut the lead back to one.

“She does a nice job reading the quarterback’s eyes,” said Jordan of Quinones, “and she’s got a nice feel for the game, so I’m glad she’s wearing orange and black.”

Jess Greer (game-high 18 points) buried her fourth three of the game to give the Black Knights the lead and Quinones made one of two free throws to make it 48-45. After Alyssa Piazza (11 points, seven rebounds) made to from the line, Wallace knocked down a pair to give the Eagles a one-point advantage. Wallace finished with a career-high 15 points to lead Sharon.

“She was playing AAU in the spring and fall and gained more confidence there,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian of Wallace, who played on varsity as a freshman but was still mentally recovering from a torn ACL she suffered as an eighth grader.

“To see her come out tonight and finish like that and to hit her foul shots, which has been a real problem for her, was awesome to see.”

After an Ava Siegel free throw tied the game, Quinones snatched another defensive board and quickly looked ahead to Greer, who had leaked out, for an easy transition bucket that gave the Black Knights the lead for good.

“For us, there’s one thing I was screaming the whole game was we have to do it with our defense,” Jordan explained. “Teams are going to score but we still have to play tough defense and finish it with a rebound. It turned gears and clicked in and they were able to make it happen.”

When the game began, it looked like Stoughton might be able to run away with an easy win. The Black Knights jumped out to 7-0 lead behind four points from Quinones. Sharon, coming off a 40-point loss to Attleboro on Tuesday, looked shaky but after a timeout started to settle down and finished the quarter with a 7-0 run of its own.

The second quarter unexpectedly turned into a shootout. Sharon got off to a strong start thanks to two quick buckets from Stoller. The point guard started to look for her own shot and to find seams in the Stoughton zone off the dribble.

“I told her at halftime, I told her in the locker room, after halftime, after the game, look what happens when you go to the hoop,” said Tomassian. “When she steps up, we’re a lot better.”

Wallace also provided a spark in the second with six points, while freshman Emma Eberhardt added all four of her points in the quarter. Stoughton countered with its outside game.

Greer knocked down three of her four three-pointers in the second to give the Black Knights a spark and as halftime approached the visitors led by one, until Stoller knocked down a shot from just beyond half-court that put Sharon in front 28-26 at the break.

The third quarter was similar with the two teams trading blows. Quinones scored six in the third, but was matched by Piazza, who scored six of her 11 points in the quarter, and Stoller who knocked down a step-back, fall away jumper to put the Eagles up four.

“We got beat pretty good there in the second game of the season,” said Tomassian, referencing Stoughton’s 57-45 win in December. “I told them in the locker room that I couldn’t be more proud of how physical they played considering how out-matched we were. They battled the whole game.”

Stoughton (7-3, 7-2) rallied in the fourth quarter to pick up the win and to keep pace with Oliver Ames atop the Davenport standings. The Black Knights will face both league leaders next week starting with Mansfield on Tuesday. Sharon (3-8, 1-8) will try to bounce back against Fontbonne Academy on Sunday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Taking Stock of the Hock: Girls Basketball 2015-16

Sarah Deyo
Sarah Deyo (32) has been one of the top scorers in the league this season and is one of the main reasons that the injury-hit Bombardiers have started 10-1. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

With nearly half of the games gone for all of the Hockomock teams, our editors Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry take a look at where things currently stand for girls’ basketball.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Player of the Year?

Josh Perry – Attleboro has been snakebitten with injuries this season. Just two games in and Player of the Year candidate Emily Houle and senior starter Emma Vlashi were both knocked out with knee injuries (both have returned and been productive for the Bombardiers) and then in game three junior forward Julia Strachan went down with a season-ending injury. Despite losing three-fifths of the opening night starting lineup, Attleboro is currently 10-1 overall and just one game back of Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex standings.

Much of that success can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Sarah Deyo. The junior forward is second in the league in scoring with 18.2 points per game and has been a double-double machine even as teams turn all of their defensive focus on her. After missing a game due to an arm injury, Deyo returned to score 20 points in a big win over Taunton. Attleboro still has a chance of bringing home its first Hockomock title largely because Deyo has been able to carry the team during the first half.

Ryan Lanigan – Foxboro is just one game out of first place at the midway mark in a very tight Davenport Division race and a big reason has been because of the player of Ashley Sampson. The sophomore is third in the league in scoring with 15.6 points per game and has been a big player for Lisa Downs and the Warriors so far this season. Sampson has the ability to cut through defenses, which can open up a lot of looks for a young Warriors team that can really stroke it from deep. She’s also one of the better shooters in the league and is tough to get around defensively.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Underclassman of the Year?

Perry There are so many great choices from Kayla Raymond at Oliver Ames or Sam Pierce at Attleboro or Meg Hill at Mansfield, which is really just the tip of the iceberg for young talent in the league, but my pick right now has to be Foxboro sophomore guard Ashley Sampson. Coming off a breakout rookie season, Sampson grew a couple of inches in the off-season and seemed to grow even more confident in running the offense as well.

She is currently averaging 15.6 points per game and seems to be stepping right into the considerable hole left by the graduation of Kat Tamulionis. Sampson is the primary ballhandler and despite being the target of every team’s defensive game plan still manages to get to the basket and to find her teammates for open looks. She has also emerged as a strong on the ball defender, the spark for the Warriors run and gun style, and even a contender for Player of the Year.

Lanigan – Since I picked Ashley Sampson as my current Player of the Year, I’ll go in a different direction here and go with Attleboro’s Samantha Pierce as the top Underclassman at the halfway point. The Bombardiers have been ravaged with injuries but one of the few constants in the lineup for Attleboro has been Pierce. She can knock down shots from deep and is a very good rebounder, especially for just a sophomore. The combo of Pierce and Sarah Deyo make it hard for opponents to get much going at the basket but Pierce can also stop out and guard on the perimeter. When Attleboro has needed someone step up through its injury issues this year, Pierce has been a big help.

Midseason First Team

Perry
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Caroline Collard, North Attleboro
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Caroline Maher, Mansfield
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton

Lanigan
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Alyssa Piazza, Sharon
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton
G – Jen Peel, Mansfield

What has been the biggest surprise this season?

Perry I think that everyone expected Stoughton to get a boost this year from the hiring of Charmaine Steele Jordan. One of the program’s best ever players and all-time leading scorers, she brings plenty of on the court experience and a renewed energy around the team, but it would have been hard to predict coming in that the Black Knights would be 6-2 at this point, with a win over Attleboro, and with Alecia Quinones leading the league in scoring at more than 20 points per game.

Stoughton is only a few wins away from qualifying for a return to the state tournament and is tied for the league lead with Oliver Ames. While things could get tougher for the Black Knights in the next couple of weeks (North, Mansfield, a rematch with Foxboro, and two games against OA are still left on the schedule) but to be in this position at this stage is still a great accomplishment and a big turn around for the program.

Lanigan – When we released our preseason Hock 5 rankings, we had Oliver Ames at No. 5. With a couple nice pieces back, we thought the playoffs would be within reach. As of this past week, we have them at No. 2 and not only is a playoff spot possible, but a Davenport title is a possibility. Laney Clement-Holbrook has the Tigers playing at a great pace and with strong leadership from Sam Bamford and Kaitlyn McCarthy, a lot of the younger pieces like Francesca Calabraro, Niyera Mitchell, Kayla Raymond and Hannah Carroll have been able to step up and make big plays. Although OA making a run for the division title and possibly a deep postseason run is my pick, we should never be surprised when OA has success with Laney Clement-Holbrook on the bench.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Perry – There are a lot of teams that have the potential to make a run in the tournament this season. The Hockomock is one of the deepest girls’ basketball leagues in the state and certainly does a lot to prepare teams for the rigors of making a push in the postseason. However, D1 South is an absolute bear with the likes of Braintree and Feehan (the top two teams in the state), so the road is extremely difficult for Attleboro and Mansfield.

Oliver Ames is my pick right now for the team with the chance to go furthest as the Tigers look to have the balanced scoring and the defensive intensity to give teams in D2 South fits. Also, OA is coming off a solid win over Foxboro, which would probably be the second favorite to make a push for a return to the D2 South final.

Although I think OA is the team that will be go the furthest, keep an eye on Franklin in D1 Central. The Panthers have a habit of reaching sectional semifinals and after a big win over Holy Name in the season opener will have thoughts of challenging Westford, A-B, L-S, and Wachusett for the district title.

Lanigan – This is always a tough one and I truly believe that the Hockomock League is one of the toughest for girls basketball this season. Oliver Ames is likely to be a threat in D2 South and Franklin should be the most battle tested team in D1 Central.

But my pick is for Mansfield. The Hornets have faced a number of stiff tests so far this year and so far, they have come out on the winning side. They picked up wins on the road at North Attleboro, Oliver Ames and Franklin and then came home to beat Foxboro. Each time so far this season when you think that Mansfield might drop one to another team in the Hock 5, they have emerged victorious. They still have two big tests with Attleboro left and a date with a strong Stoughton team next week. If they can get a strong seed in the D1 South bracket, I can see them making a return trip to the South Semifinals.

If Attleboro can get healthy and avoid the injury bug, they will be another team to look out for in D1 South.

Foxboro Shows Physical Side to Beat Stoughton

Ashley Sampson
Ashley Sampson (5) scored 19 points, had six assists, and nine rebounds to lead the Warriors to a tough divisional road win at Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

STOUGHTON, Mass. – Coming into Monday’s trip to Stoughton, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs knew that her team was in a for a physical test. The Warriors were shorthanded (missing three players to injuries) and lacked the size of the Black Knights front line, but Downs urged her players to meet the challenge.

Holding a three-point lead early in the second quarter, the Warriors turned the game into a track meet and put together a 14-3 run to break the game wide open. Behind a near triple-double of 19 points, nine rebounds, and six assists by Ashley Sampson, the Warriors met the physical test and rolled to a 66-38 victory.

“Tonight we got a little more physical than normally would,” said Downs. “We held our box outs a little better in the second half and everybody contributed something tonight.”

It did not start well for the Warriors, as Stoughton imposed its style of play on the game and controlled the glass. Bridgette Whalen scored four of her team-high eight points in the first and Jess Greer scored all five of her points. Whalen (nine rebounds), her sophomore sister Val (eight points, 13 rebounds), and sophomore Jordan Motley (five points, 10 rebounds) were dominating the paint.

Foxboro needed a spark and turned to its shortened bench. Lauren Flahive came in to bank in a jumper and then stepped further back to bank in a three that gave Foxboro a 10-8 lead. After four straight from Stoughton, Sampson buried a three and then found Cassidy Harrison for a jumper to make it 15-14 after one.

In the second, Foxboro broke the game wide open. The Warriors forced 16 turnovers in the first half and started to play the game at the frenetic pace that they prefer.

Sophomore Grace Tamulionis provided the offensive spark. She knocked down a quick release jumper then followed it with a straightaway three off a Sampson offensive rebound. After Ava Siegel knocked down a shot from deep to cut the lead back to six, Tamulionis quickly answered with another three from the corner.

In addition to her eight points, Tamulionis also helped turn the rebounding numbers in favor of the Warriors with 16 boards for the game. Downs said, “I asked her to be more and more physical every game especially against a Stoughton team that has a little more size advantage.”

“She got a little frustrated at herself but reacted well to what I was asking of her.”

Harrison stepped in to finish off the half with a three and another jumper in transition and Foxboro held a 37-23 lead at the break.

When asked what changed in the second quarter to break the game open, first-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan replied, “For us I think it was the little things like talking on defense, help defense, rotating. Some of the shots that they got were second, third, fourth opportunities and for us it boils down to little things like five white jerseys rebounding.”

Stoughton was not helped by senior Alecia Quinones picking up two quick fouls and sitting most of the first half. She returned in the third but picked up her fourth foul just 40 seconds after halftime and was limited to just two points for the night.

“It just wasn’t her night tonight,” said Steele Jordan. “She had a target on her back with all those fouls so she couldn’t be as aggressive as she normally is, so that’s unfortunate.”

Stoughton scored the first four points of the third, including a layup for Quinones, but then Foxboro answered right back with an 11-0 run. Sophomore Shannon Smally scored all six of her points in the quarter and chipped in with five rebounds, as suddenly Foxboro had the edge in the paint.

Downs said, “You can never relax ever against Stoughton, but once we settled down a little bit and started building our lead coming out of halftime we gave up the first basket but then never looked back.”

Foxboro went into the fourth leading 49-29. In the final quarter, the Warriors turned to sophomore Lily Sykes, who scored all six of her points in the fourth and added four assists, and Harrison, who knocked down a pair of jumpers. Flahive also knocked down a jumper to finish with seven points, one of eight Warriors to score on Monday.

“We can never rely on one or two players a night,” said Downs, “but if we can come out with three or four or five players out there contributing we’ll be a tough matchup for most teams.”

Julia Foye and GiGi DeNapoli each hit threes in the fourth for the Black Knights, but Stoughton could never get momentum to try and cut the lead.

“Foxboro is good but I don’t think they’re 30 points better than us,” said Steele Jordan. “Our shots didn’t fall, we had a lot of turnovers, which we can improve on and I think they probably out-rebounded us.”

She added, “It’s the beginning of January so there’s a lot of basketball left to play. We’ll keep building.”

Stoughton (3-1, 3-1) will get a quick turnaround with a non-league game against Fontbonne Academy on Wednesday. Foxboro (4-1, 3-1) will get four days off to prepare for Friday’s meeting with Milford.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Defense and Rebounding Spark Stoughton Over Sharon

By Jarett Leonard, HockomockSports.com Contributor

STOUGHTON, Mass. – Stingy defense, effective shooting and dominant rebounding on both ends of the floor by Stoughton translated to a 57-45 win over Sharon on Friday night.

The Black Knights outrebounded the Eagles 40-26, including 16 offensive boards. Senior guard Alecia Quinones had 22 points and 12 rebounds against the Eagles for her second straight dominant performance, while sophomore forward Val Whalen added 10 points and nine rebounds for Stoughton.

“All I told them was let’s pick it up, let’s dig in on defense,” Stoughton head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said. “I think our defense allowed us to score. We scored on our transition points, so I think our defense is what sparked our offense.”

Leading just 11-8 after the opening quarter, Stoughton began the second frame with a 7-0 run. Quinones scored the final five Black Knight’s points during the run after Ava Siegel started the quarter with a basket.

“It’s her senior year and she’s making the most of the opportunities she’s had,” Jordan said of Quinones. “She’s playing hard and she’s being aggressive. I love her effort and her energy on both ends of the floor.”

Foul trouble allowed Sharon to chip away, as Alyssa Piazza scored six straight points, four from the free throw line, to pull the Eagles within five points in the second. But a GiGi DeNapoli three pointer followed by a Whalen basket gave Stoughton a 27-18 lead at halftime.

“We foul. If the refs are calling it tight, you have to just adjust to the refs. I still tell my team to stay aggressive, regardless of the fouls. If they foul out then they’re playing hard. I’m happy with that as a coach. I’m happy with the effort.”

Stoughton pulled away in the third quarter as Quinones, DeNapoli, and Julia Foye all hit three pointers to put the Black Knights up 43-27. Sharon won the fourth quarter as Ashley Mukasa scored seven points and Emma Eberhardt added six off the bench, but Stoughton held on for the win.

“I love their desire to learn every day and get better,” Jordan said of her team. “They’re focused, they’re ready, they really listen to what I am telling them, and I think it goes a long way. What I’m saying in practice is translating on to the court, which is great to see.”

Both teams will now prepare for cross-division matchups on Monday night, as Stoughton (2-0) will travel to Attleboro while Sharon (0-2) will head to North Attleboro.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 12/15/15

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Foxboro, 73 @ Attleboro, 49 – Final – Senior Jason Procaccini scored a game-high 17 points in his Warriors debut, junior Mark Clagg added 16 points and Alex DuBrow had 10 points. Junior Andrew Milliken led Attleboro with 12 points and junior Jake Dunkley added 10 points.

Canton, 24 @ Franklin, 61 – Final – The Panthers jumped out to a 19 point lead after the first quarter lead and never looked back. Senior Tim Prunier scored a game-high 19 points in the win for Franklin.

Stoughton, 74 @ King Philip, 61 – Final – After being outscored 17-4 in the first quarter, Stoughton won the second quarter 32-9 to take control of the game. Senior Brandon Teixeira had a game best 22 points and had nine rebounds and six assists. Jared Maher and Jared Costa-Haywood each came off the bench to score 15 points apiece for the Black Knights. King Philip’s Noah Goodwin scored 20 points and Seth Sullivan had 16 points for the Warriors.

Oliver Ames, 44 @ Taunton, 72 – Final – After leading by just three after the first quarter, Taunton ran away with the win. Jose Mercado had a game-high 28 points, which was a league-high on Tuesday. Junior Tommy MacLean chipped in with 15 points and senior Carlos Borrero added 10 points.

Sharon, 39 @ Mansfield, 51 – Final – Mansfield junior Matt Ehrlich scored a game-high 16 points (64% shooting), junior Max Boen had eight points and seven rebounds and junior Christian Weber had seven points, three boards and three assists. Sharon’s Matt Lowerre had 12 points and four rebounds, Ricardo Ripley added 11 points and Mitchell Sirota had 10 points and three rebounds. 

Girls Basketball
Franklin, 55 @ Canton, 31 – Final –  Carli Koffinke led the Panthers with 14 points. Lauren Rudolph chipped in with nine, Kristen Donaghy and Margaux Welsh each had eight for Franklin. The Bulldogs were led by Shannon Foley with seven points, while Meaghan Hunter and Hannah Jerrier each had six. 

Attleboro, 53 @ Foxboro, 52 – Final – Sarah Deyo led all scores with 24 points and added eight rebounds for the Bombardiers. Sam Pierce added 18 points and six blocks and freshman Jordyn Lako had six points and took a crucial charge with 15.2 seconds remaining that helped Attleboro pick up the win. Foxboro was led by senior Cassidy Harrison with 17 points, including five three-pointers, while Lily Sykes and Ashley Sampson each had nine points.

King Philip, 45 @ Stoughton, 55 – Final – Alecia Quinones scored 25 points and added nine rebounds for the Black Knights and Jess Greer added 16 to give head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan a win on her debut. KP was led by Sam Madden with nine points.

Mansfield, 57 @ Sharon, 32 – Final – Sharon senior guard Charlotte Ransom led all scorers with 16 points.

North Attleboro, 62 @ Milford, 37 – Final – Senior Kiersten Bixby scored a career-high 21 points for the Rocketeers, who also got 15 points from junior Caroline Collard. Milford was led by senior Jill Powers, who scored 10 points. Jess Tomaso scored eight and Kate Irwin had seven for the Hawks. 

Taunton, 17 @ Oliver Ames, 48 – Final – Oliver Ames had a big lead at the half and never looked back to pick up the win. Kayla Raymond led Oliver Ames with 11 points and Hannah Carroll had nine points. Kaitlyn McCarthy’s six points in the first half helped create a big lead. Freshman Sadie Homer had five steals in her varsity debut. 

Swimming
Canton @ Taunton, 4:00