Charles Hits 1,000, Ignites Bombardiers Past Panthers

Attleboro boys basketball Qualeem Charles
Attleboro senior Qualeem Charles (35) celebrates in front of the home crowd after scoring his 1,000th career point. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro High School had 1,000 point fever, and the only prescription was more ‘Q.’

‘Q’ being senior Qualeem Charles, the 6’5, 290-pound center and four-year starter for the Bombardiers, who went a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor, the last bucket giving him his 1,000th career point. Charles is the second Bombardier to reach the milestone in the past nine days, joining classmate Bryant Ciccio.

Behind Charles’ 27 points, 18 coming in the second half, Attleboro grinded out a 62-56 win over a hot-shooting Franklin squad, giving the Bombardiers a season sweep of the Panthers for the first time since joining the Hockomock League.

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“I was aiming for 15 in the first half, but I wasn’t mad it didn’t happen, it was a close game and Franklin is a tough team,” Charles said. “I came out hot in the third quarter and the team kept feeding me. I’ve been a pass-first guy but all of my teammates keep rooting me on to shoot it, even if I miss, they want me to keep shooting. My teammates were patient in getting me the ball.

“It’s crazy to get the sweep over Franklin, the first time [Attleboro] has done that. Ever since we were in fifth grade, this is all me and Bryant have talked about so it’s crazy to both get it.”

An even, back-and-forth first half had the teams tied at 28-28 through two quarters. And from Attleboro’s first possession of the second half, it was clear the emphasis would be on getting Charles the ball.

Nick McMahon (10 points, seven rebounds, six assists) found the big man for a traditional three-point play, and while it was close and even tied at points through the rest of the game, the Bombardiers never trailed.

Q sank a pair from the line, two more down low on an entry pass from Tim Callahan, and another three-point play gave Attleboro a 38-35 near the midway point of the third. Callahan accounted for four straight points before Charles got back into the scoring column. Justin Daniels hit his second three of the game as Attleboro held a 47-42 lead after three. After scoring nine points in the opening half, Charles scored 12 in the third.

“He’s a very unselfish player, we had to tell him to shoot more,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle, who has coached a pair of 1,000-point scorers for the second time in his career. “About six weeks ago, we told him if he gets the ball inside you have to put it up. It helps our team when he shoots. He’s been doing it more the last month and that’s helped us be a better team.”

While Attleboro had plenty of success down low, the Panthers were keeping pace because of their outside shooting. The Panthers hit six three-pointers in the opening half while Jack Rudolph, Steven Karayan, and Andrew Byfield (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) each connected from downtown to keep Franklin in the game.

With Charles having the hot hand, and just six points away from the milestone, the Bombardiers continued to find ways to get him the ball. A patient approach that often featured more than a half dozen passes before getting a look into the paint to Charles helped open lanes.

“We had to work hard for everything,” Houle said. “I think the best thing about tonight was we trusted our motion offense more than we have all year. I thought our kids executed very well, we made the extra pass…and it was everyone, kids came off the bench like Alec [Eaton] and Justin [Daniels]…and that opened up the offense. We hit the right guys.

“And I don’t think that we forced the ball inside, I think it came within the flow of the offense. I was proud of the way we played. And we defended better tonight. Hard to say that with them hitting 13 three-pointers but we defended better than the past two games and that’s a step in the right direction for us.”

Charles scored Attleboro’s first bucket of the quarter on a feed from Callahan, repeated that feat on the next trip, and did the same exact thing on the third possession of the quarter, the last one giving him his 1,000th point.

“It’s hard to help off on him, you’re trying to pick your poison where it’s coming from,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Last game we helped off a ton and Weir got loose for a big game, Ciccio had over 20. We were trying to flip the script a little bit, change it up and see what we can do without over helping. They did a really good job of moving the ball and being patient. They switched sides a couple of times and made us work, and I thought our guys played hard, it’s just such a tough matchup.”




The big bucket pushed Attleboro’s lead to 53-45 with 6:11 to go but Franklin got a big response on a three from Rudolph but a mid-range baseline jumper from Jason Weir and a three from McMahon gave the hosts a 58-50 lead with three minutes to play.

Franklin missed on a three but Brayden Sullivan (nine points) came up with the Panthers’ fifth offensive rebound and found Chris Edgehill (17 points, four rebounds) for a three. After another stop. Edgehill returned the favor and Sullivan sank a three to make it 58-56 with 1:31 to play.

The Panthers had a strong defensive possession but McMahon was able to get the ball on his right and got around a defender for a layup just before the shot clock to push the lead back to four. Franklin, which finished 13-for-30 from three-point, was off the mark from three.

“Shooting is obviously one of our strengths but at the same time, we would have liked to get to the rim a little bit more,” Neely said. Franklin had a total of 16 attempts from inside the three-point line. “I didn’t think we made Q defend enough on the ball screen, which was part of the game plan, and we got away from it early. I thought overall our offense was pretty good, we got some good looks down the stretch but credit [Attleboro], that matchup was tough for us.”

Ciccio came up with a steal on Franklin’s next possession and went in for an easy two to help seal the win.

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“Just so proud of this senior group and all the work they put in,” Houle said. “And they work hard for each other, they work hard for each other. I’m proud of seeing Bryant and Q being able to enjoy this at home with the Attleboro fans, a pretty special moment for them.

“This group really wants to pull for each other. That’s that part you don’t see on a scoreboard or in stats. You see it in practice, you see it after wins, you see it more so after losses. And they came together and played tougher tonight, that comes from them playing for each other.”

Attleboro boys basketball (12-4 Hockomock, 14-5 overall) is back in action on Sunday at the Comcast Tournament at Woburn High, taking on Newton North at 6:30. Franklin (11-5, 14-5) travels to Weston on Thursday at 1:00.

Hornets Hang On To Split Season Series With Panthers

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen goes up for a layup in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – After reviewing film of the first meeting between the Franklin and Mansfield boys basketball teams, Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan came away with two main focus points for the second installment.

“Our whole game plan was to run them off the three-point line and no easy layups, and offensively, pound the ball into the post and play out of it,” Vaughan said.

It turned out to be the recipe for success for the Hornets, using the size of forwards TJ Guy (6’5) and Sam Stevens (6’4) to their advantage in the paint while halving the Panthers’ success rate from three-point range, resulting in a 56-48 win to split the season series.

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The first time out, a meeting at Franklin High in early January, the Panthers shot 47% from three-point range and its defense held the Hornets under 50 points, the lone time that’s happened this season.

This time around, Mansfield’s strong closeouts saw the Panthers shoot 27% from the three-point line. And a heavy emphasis in paint touches resulted in a 50% success rate from two-point range plus more free throw attempts, where the Hornets went 13-for-17.

“Once every 15 years we throw the ball in the post.,” Vaughan joked of how rare it is the Hornets make that the focus of their offense. “Our style of play can sometimes hold a player back and I thought throughout the year there’s been times we’ve held TJ back in terms of what he can be good at. Watching film, I saw an opportunity with his size against whoever is going to play him. And in the first game, [Jack] Rudolph did such a good job covering Sammy the first time on the perimeter, so if we got that again, we got [Stevens] inside the post and make them defend inside and out. That created some opportunities for us.

“They are so good defensively, you have to do something to break them down a little bit and I thought that was our best chance.”

The Panthers had the most success from three-point range in the opening quarter of the game with Steven Karayan, Chris Edgehill, and Thomas Gasbarro connecting from downtown, but the Hornets stuck with the game plan and the visitors made just four more threes the rest of the way.

One of those threes came on the first possession of the second quarter when Andrew Byfield (seven points, six rebounds) hit from deep and followed with an easy layup for a 20-15 lead. But the Hornets hit on a 10-0 run over the final 4:30 of the half, a surge the put the hosts ahead for good.

Guy (13 points, 11 rebounds) converted an offensive rebound, Jason See knocked down a three off an offensive board from Guy, who then scored with a nice move in the post for a 22-20 lead.

“They know what we do, we know what they do, what they’re trying to do,” Guy said of the familiarity. “They try to get a lot of shots up, we were trying to get in the post but we both defend each other really well. We felt like we had mismatches inside, and these are the games I like, physical type games. They really shut us down the first game so we knew we had to come in, lock in and get this ‘W.’”

The Panthers took a three before the buzzer and the Hornets cashed in as junior Matt Boen (15 points, five steals, four rebounds) hauled in the defensive rebound with five seconds left, sprinted to half court and unleashed a buzzer-beater that put the Hornets ahead 25-20 at the break.

“After we played them last time where it felt like they bombed threes and everything went in, our focus was to run them off the three-point line and don’t let them blow by for uncontested layups,” Vaughan said. “Make them make plays in the intermediate part of the game and I thought we did a really good job of doing that.

“We kind of settled in, they missed a couple [after making their first couple of shots], I thought we did a really good job of minimizing their opportunities over the final 28 minutes of the game and I thought that was the difference. I thought we did a good job switching everything, keeping everyone in check. We didn’t let them get into a rhythm and everything was contested and difficult.”

Mansfield put Stevens (17 points, seven rebounds) on the block on its first possession of the second half and he scored on a feed from Boen. After Declan Walmsley (17 points) answered with a triple for the Panthers, the Hornets went on a 13-3 surge.

Boen had a steal and layup, Brendan Foley drained a three off the bench, Boen converted a traditional three-point play, Guy scored from the block, and Drew Rooney picked up a steal and went in for a layup to put the hosts ahead 40-26.

“Having a different look, and I really think getting the ball into the post was definitely a different look,” Vaughan said. “And we even had a zone ready, we just didn’t feel there was a time to use it. I know those two things would have thrown a wrinkle because those are two things we don’t typically do that we had prepared, that we thought could give us an advantage from the first time we played them.

“We practiced it for two days, we practice it in individual drills so it’s not foreign throwing the ball in the post but we really stressed it the last couple of days. We haven’t really had them sit down there before but if we were going to gain an advantage today, we felt like it was there. And I even think we had some opportunities to get out of it but we weren’t completely used to being in it.”










Franklin senior Brayden Sullivan finished through contact, Gasbarro hit a free throw, and Walmsley drained a late three for a late surge that put the Panthers in striking distance down 40-32 after three quarters.

“We talked about being something they’d probably do, and for the most part, I didn’t think we did a terrible job, I don’t know what they shot in there,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely on Mansfield’s emphasis on the post game. “They have some big bodies, [Guy] is a Division 1 football player and we don’t have that kind of guy to match up. We did our best, I thought at times we did a good job. Just a couple plays down the stretch here and there, we just didn’t close the deal on some of the defensive possessions and they’ll make you play.”

Stevens hit his lone three of the game and one of Mansfield’s five total triples to open the final quarter and Cincere Gill cut to the basket hard, taking a pass from Stevens as he posted up, for an easy two. Two possessions later, Guy once again put his back to the basket and converted on a feed from Boen for a 47-34 lead with 6:25 to play.

But Franklin refused to go away with Edgehill finding Walmsley on the break for two, Byfield making a nice extra pass for a three from Walmsley, and then four straight free throws from Rudolph made it 49-43.

Rudolph made a nice play for a steal after a Hornet entry pass to the post and sprinted down the court before dishing it off for Byfield for an easy two. Stevens answered with a tough take through traffic but Sullivan scored quickly down the other end as the Panthers got within four, 51-47.

Franklin got three straight stops and Edgehill hit a free throw to make it a one-possession game with two minutes to go. Mansfield missed a three and came up empty on the offensive rebound before the teams traded quick turnovers, and Franklin had the tying three go just long.

Boen hit two free throws with a minute to go to extend the lead back to 53-48 and the Hornets went on to get stops and hit their free throws to earn the 56-48 win.

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“They were doing a good job switching a lot of screens and gave us trouble for a significant portion of that second quarter and some of the second half,” Neely said. “I thought when we moved the ball, did what we talked about doing, and got some cutters, I thought we opened them up a little bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t think we had enough patience on the offensive end, we started forcing some stuff early.

“I’m proud of the guys, no question. They aren’t going to give up, they are a great group of kids that have worked hard all season. They aren’t going to roll over and get blown out so I’m proud of them.”

Mansfield boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 16-2 overall) holds a one-game lead over Attleboro in the division race with three games to go, starting with a visit from Oliver Ames on Friday. Franklin (10-3, 13-3) falls two games back and will host Taunton on Friday.

Attleboro Starts, Finishes Strong In Win Over Franklin

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio
Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio goes up for a shot against Franklin’s Andrew Cunningham in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Behind a blazing start and a strong finish, the Attleboro boys basketball team earned a crucial division win on the road in Franklin on Friday night.

Senior Bryant Ciccio ignited the Bombardiers from the start, scoring half of Attleboro’s 22 first quarter points, and the visitors connected on four three-pointers in the opening quarter to build a lead they would never relinquish.

And to finish, it was a 12-2 run that spanned the first six minutes of the fourth quarter that propelled the Bombardiers to a 63-51 decision on the road.

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“I think the biggest thing about tonight was that we stuck to the game plan,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We weren’t just shooting on the first available shot, we really tried to get some paint shots. We didn’t get a lot but I think working the clock, making them work defensively, and looking to see where we had opportunities on skips and seals, I think that helped us.

“And Bryant coming out and really feeling it early was a spark for us. And defensively I thought we played pretty well.”

In the first, Ciccio (21 points, four rebounds, four assists) hit his first two shots, including one triple, and later in the frame hit a pair of three-pointers inside a 30-second span, the latter coming in transition that put the visitors ahead 17-8. Tim Callahan (nine points) added the other triple to give the Bombarders a 22-13 lead after eight minutes.

And in the fourth, holding a 48-41 advantage to start, the Bombardiers clamped down defensively to limit the hosts to just one made field goal over six minutes to push the lead to 60-43. Senior Qualeem Charles (10 points, 10 rebounds) got half of his points in the span and senior Jason Weir (career-high 17 points, seven rebounds) sank one of his four trifectas to give the Bombardiers breathing room.

“Jason played really well, he played within himself,” Houle said. “He’s the type of player that can play inside or outside and he’s definitely shooting the ball a lot better, he’s confident in himself. He didn’t play last year (injury) so it’s taken a little while but I’m really proud of his efforts because he’s stuck with it, he continues to battle. He’s such a competitor and it was a big night for him.

“I thought throughout the game, everyone at some point stepped up. I thought [Franklin] did a great job on Q, making him work for everything but he had a couple of key possessions in the fourth that were big for us. I don’t think it was one guy consistently but I thought different guys stepped up for us at different times and it was a really solid win against a very good team at Franklin.”

Charles started the late run off of a feed from Nick McMahon (six rebounds, four assists), who found Callahan for a bucket two plays later. Ciccio had a rare miss but Charles gobbled up the rebound and muscled through a foul to put it back in as the Bombardiers surged to a 54-43 lead with 5:15 to play.

After a bit of a lull from both sides, Attleboro got Charles the ball again and he was fouled, sinking one of two from the line. Callahan came up with a steal, Ciccio drove to the basket to collapse the defense and found Weir, who drained a three. Ciccio added two free throws with two minutes left to make it 60-43.

While Franklin entered the fourth having success from deep (6-for-18), the Panthers went ice cold from downtown for the majority of the final quarter. Jack Rudolph (14 points, four rebounds, five assists) had the Panthers’ lone bucket of the stretch with a nice take to the basket that made it 50-43 at the time.

After that, the Panthers missed on five straight three-pointers, had a turnover, and then missed two more from downtown.

“They came out hot in the first and that was a tough way to start the game, falling behind,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Ciccio was lights out, he was doing everything out there, he’s an awesome player. And at the end, I think our offense got a little stagnant and we started to force it a little bit. We don’t have the luxury to go out there and play one-on-one basketball, that’s not what we’ve been about. When we’ve been successful, it’s been a team effort, it’s been extra passes, ball reveals, screening for each other, and taking pride in all of those little details.










“Tonight, I thought we got away from those details in those big moments. It felt like we tried to get it all back in one basket. We got it down to five in the third but I thought it was a lot of those little things. I didn’t think we executed our plan very well, I didn’t think we made them earn it as much tonight. I’m not taking anything away from [Attleboro], they played great but when you’re trying to get back into a game, you can’t have lapses on those little moments.”

Franklin surged in each the second and third quarters to close the gap, but could never quite get over the hump. The only time the Panthers led in the game was after Steven Karayan (13 points) opened the game with a three-pointer.

In the second, Declan Walmsley converted through the contact after a steal from Brayden Sullivan. Rudolph sank a three-pointer and Matt Lazarek had an open layup as the Panthers closed the gap to 25-20. After a free throw from Charles, Karayan hit another three to make it a three-point game.

But Ciccio and Justin Daniels each converted from deep to give Attleboro a 32-25 lead at halftime.

Franklin closed the gap to three early in the third on a steal from Lazarek and layup from Chris Edgehill. Weir and Edgehill traded three-pointers but a steal from Charles led to a fast break for Ciccio and layup from Callahan.

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Sullivan got around his man to make it a three-point game again, but once more Attleboro answered with Ciccio connecting from downtown. Weir hit another three and Attleboro took advantage of two offensive rebounds from Weir and Callahan to push the lead to 48-41 after three.

“Both teams worked really hard,” Houle said. “They seemed to take more threes in the fourth than we did, and they are a good shooting team. It’s not like we were giving them the threes, but fortunately, they weren’t hitting them and we were getting some key box-outs and rebounds.”

Attleboro boys basketball (9-1 Hock, 11-2 overall) remains in a first-place tie with Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex with six games to go. The Bombardiers will host Davenport-leading Milford on Tuesday. Franklin (8-2, 11-2) will host Sharon on the same night.

Taunton Shines On Both Ends To Knock Off Franklin

Taunton boys basketball Tyler Stewart
Taunton boys basketball junior Tyler Stewart blocks a shot in the first half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton boys basketball team delivered a message to the rest of the Hockomock League on Friday night.

At the expense of visiting Franklin, that message was sent loud and clear.

The Tigers, locked in at both ends of the floor from start to finish, had one of their best all-around games since joining the league nearly a decade ago, earning a dominating 83-52 win over the previously unbeaten Panthers.

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“That was one of the best games we’ve played on both ends of the floor,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.

Not that it was a hard decision for Dacey to make following a first half in which the Tigers were terrific on the defensive end of the court and a second half in which Taunton was nearly unstoppable on the offensive end.

“The underdog mentality the kids have…they are willing to work hard, they are great in practice,” Dacey said. “They’ve responded really well this year.”

Taunton set the tone with its active defense the featured steals from sophomore Tristan Herry (eight points, eight assists, five rebounds) and junior Danny MacDougall in the opening four minutes. The Tigers also stepped in to take a pair of charges (sophomore Trent Santos and MacDougall) in the opening minutes; Franklin finished with nine first half turnovers.

The energy on the defensive end translated to the offensive side for the Tigers, who raced out to a 10-4 lead in the game and took a 15-10 lead after one. Santos (21 points) had five points in the opening quarter while junior Tyler Stewart (21 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, two blocks) and Josh Lopes (23 points) had four points apiece in the first quarter.

“We worked on fighting through screens so we just had to stay focused, and we had to work on our close outs with their three-point shooting,” Dacey said. “It’s all fundamental stuff but these guys are willing to execute it come game time. It’s hard for 32 minutes to go through the Franklin grind. If you’re going to beat the best, you have to match what they do out there.”

Stewart, a 6’6 forward, remained a focal point of the Tigers’ offense, adding six more in the second quarter. The offense was contagious with Herry (four points), sophomore Faisal Mass, and MacDougall joining the scoring sheet in the second.

The Tigers held the Panthers to just 10 points in each the first and second quarters. Franklin senior Chris Edgehill (18 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of threes inside the final three minutes of the half to keep the visitors in the game, down 31-20 at halftime.

“We got beat in every aspect of the game of basketball tonight,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Taunton had a group that played with a chip on their shoulder with a lot of to prove…that was a group of hungry kids that came out right from the start ready to play, ready to compete. They had a great gameplan, and defensively they really tightened up early and we struggled to score.

“Once we started to get a little something going, we came out for the second half feeling alright and scored on the first possession but they just had an answer for pretty much everything. The floodgates really opened up after that. We’re not really in the business of trying to manage the scoreboard so we got into some defenses that weren’t our style but we had to try something to get back into it, we got up and pressed a little.”

True to form, Franklin emerged from the locker room with renewed energy as Santos fouled Panther senior Brayden Sullivan (10 points). Not only did Sullivan make the two free throws, Santos — arguably the Tigers’ top shooter — went to the bench with his third foul.

Franklin couldn’t capitalize on a Taunton turnover and the Tigers made them pay as Lopes ignited a three-point parade with his (and Taunton’s) first trifecta of the game.

Thomas Gasbarro sank a pair from the line to make it a 10-point game at 34-24 but Stewart answered down low on a feed from Herry, who set up Lopes for another three on Taunton’s next possession.

“That’s our gameplan, we have to get Tyler touches early,” Dacey said. “[Franklin] was throwing guys at him tonight, a couple times he had three guys on him but he’s pretty good at kicking it out. Six assists doesn’t surprise me tonight. Josh is a shooter and he hits his first couple he’s going to have a good night and Trent is a shooter, he doesn’t lack confidence putting them up.”

Jack Rudolph kept the Panthers in it finishing off a layup after a nice cut but once against Stewart answered off a nice feed from Nigel Choate and then Stewart scored on his own miss. Gasbarro set Sullivan up after a steal but Lopes came back down and sank a three for a 46-28 lead with three minutes left in the third.

‘You have to be able to respond,” Dacey said. “That’s the mark of a mature team, and even though we aren’t a mature team on paper (two seniors), we matured tonight. To be able to respond to their energy…we figured the first four minutes they would press and try and make it a full court game. We were able to respond to it.”




Edgehill finished through contact and the Panthers got a stop but a pair of offensive rebounds, the second hauled in by Stewart and put back up for two. Edgehill sank a three to try and keep the Panthers close but Lopes answered with his fourth three of the third quarter.

Herry added Taunton’s fifth three of the quarter in the final minute and Choate drove the baseline for a nice finish to cap a strong offensive quarter, putting the hosts up 57-35.

If there was any hope for a comeback, Taunton’s hot start to the fourth quickly put it to rest. Santos, back after missing the third in foul trouble, drained a three on the first play of the fourth. Mass was money on a 12-foot pull up, Stewart converted a traditional three-point play, and Santos pulled up for a long two as the Tigers pulled off a 12-3 run over the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.

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“We had to adjust with Stewart killing us inside, so we started to sink down on him a little more and that opened the three a little more and credit to them, they shot great from three, it felt like they were 8-for-8,” Neely said. “We’ve kind of developed an identity of being a defensive team and I didn’t see it tonight. When you start pressing a little bit, sometimes you forget what makes you good in the first place.”

Taunton finished the second half going 8-for-11 from three-point range and 20-for-28 (71%) from the field overall.

Taunton boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) earned its eighth straight win and will be back in action on Tuesday when it welcomes Milford to town. Franklin (5-1, 8-1) entertains North Attleboro on the same day.

Franklin Picks Up Dominant Win Over Rival Mansfield

Franklin boys basketball Declan Walmsley
Franklin junior Declan Walmsley dribbles past Mansfield’s Sam Stevens in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin’s offense was red-hot to start the game, its defense was on point from start to finish, and the Panthers rolled to a big win over rival Mansfield.

The Panthers sank their first five three-point attempts, forced the visiting Hornets into 18 turnovers and limited Mansfield to under 30% shooting from the field to pick up a 63-45 win, snapping a four-game skid to their rivals.

“[Mansfield] is arguably one of the best teams in the state every year so we know it’s going to be a ridiculous challenge every time we play them,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “We were excited for it, we wanted to play a really good team. Being home obviously helps. Mansfield presents a huge challenge and I thought we were up for it tonight.

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“We know each other so well so familiarity is pretty big, I thought our scout was pretty solid and I thought our guys did a job of really executing, especially on the defensive end of the floor. I thought we limited their best guys to some really tough shots and that’s what we wanted to do. We knew what their strengths were and we wanted to do our best to take those guys away. It’s not something you can usually do with [Sam] Stevens and [Matt] Boen especially, and [TJ] Guy is such a presence in there. And down the line, their guys know how to play off of them. I thought our guys did a good job tonight against their offense.”

After an innocuous start from both sides that had the hosts ahead 8-6, the Panthers caught fire from deep. Senior Brayden Sullivan (seven points, seven rebounds) his first triple of the game and senior Steven Karayan followed with one of his own on the next possession. Chris Edgehill (16 points, five rebounds, five assists) battled through contact for two and on the next possession, senior Jack Rudolph (13 points) connected from deep for the second time in the frame for a 19-6 advantage.

Meanwhile, the Hornets struggled to get much going on the offensive end with just one make on seven three-point attempts to go along with five turnovers.

While Mansfield was able to keep pace in the second quarter, it was never able to orchestrate a run to cut into the deficit. An early three from Makhi Baskin was canceled out by five straight points from Declan Walmsley, who scored a career-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds.

Guy (11 points, nine rebounds, four assists) completed a traditional three-point play on one end but Edgehill did the same for Franklin on the ensuing possession. Edgehill drained a triple after Boen (10 points) drove to the basket for two, and even after freshman Chris Hill drained a late three to make it a single-digit deficit, Edgehill scored at the rim to make it 36-25 at the break.

“[Franklin] showed up with a purpose and wanted to prove something,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “And we showed up like we’ve been here before. It wasn’t about doing the little things, it wasn’t about micromanaging ourselves…we felt that since we wore the jersey, we’re Mansfield and we’re going to win. You can’t do that…Franklin is too good talent-wise, they are good offensively, they are one of the best if not the best team defensively in the league.

“I’m not sure there was one aspect of the game we did well. We didn’t shoot well, we had 18 turnovers, we didn’t dominate the glass, we were sluggish on our rotations…I can’t name one thing that I thought we could take a positive from other than we have more games to play.”

The third quarter played out similarly to the second with Franklin going toe-to-toe with the Hornets, coming up with counter punch after counter punch anytime Mansfield made a move.

Senior Drew Rooney drilled a three a minute into the third and the Hornets got the first stop on defense but Edgehill cashed in on an offensive board. Sam Stevens scored and the Hornets came up with a steal on the defensive end but gave it right back on a turnover. Sullivan cashed in with two to keep the advantage in double figures.

After Boen sank a pair of free throws, Rudolph came back down and finished through contact for a three-point play, hit a pair of free throws after a technical foul on Mansfield, and Walmsley scored underneath as the Panthers hit a quick 7-0 run that seemed to put the game out of reach.

“They are so disciplined and good at what they do [defensively],” Vaughan said. “It’s kind of like us on offense where we tend to be very disciplined, very good, and that’s how they are on defense. They take things away…kind of like the Belichick of high school basketball where they take away the best players and take away what you do best. Hats off to CJ for them to be able to do that. They are athletic, they are quick, not having a big actually helps them against us.”

After hitting seven threes in the first half, the Panthers attacked the basket with more frequency in the third quarter. Despite not hitting from distance, Franklin still scored 17 points in the quarter and extended their lead by five points.

“We were making a lot of shots but we knew it was bound to come back to normal [percentages],” Neely said. “We knew we just couldn’t settle for that first look, we had to make them work on every single possession. I thought, to their credit, they made an adjustment and got out on the shooters a little more so you have to take what they give you and I thought we did a good job.”

Mansfield added four more points in the quarter, but all from the free throw line. The Hornets then went scoreless for the first 6:12 of the fourth quarter. In that span, Franklin had an 8-0 burst that featured free throws from Edgehill, Matt Lazarek, and five points from Walmsley.

“By far the best game of his career, no question about it,” Neely said of Walmsley. “We know he can shoot it but he’s really been able to bother guys defensively, has a lot of length and athleticism. He can block some shots, slides his feet pretty well, and can bother people with his close out because his arms are so long.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield snapped its scoreless stretch as Cincere Gill drove to the basket for two and followed with back-to-back three-pointers in the final two minutes.

“When you get to a situation where you aren’t scoring, your better players are starting to force action,” Vaughan said. “And then you’re getting outside of what you do, and then it’s a snowball effect and gets worse and worse. And a lot of that goes to how Franklin defended. We came out of character, I didn’t like our mindset.”

Franklin boys basketball (4-0 Hockomock, 7-0 overall) moves atop the Kelley-Rex division with the win and will visit Stoughton on Tuesday. Mansfield (2-1, 4-2) is back in action on Monday when it visits Foxboro.

Panthers Pull Away From KP Behind Strong Defense

Franklin boys basketball Chris Edgehill
Franklin senior Chris Edgehill goes up for a shot in the second half against King Philip’s Alex Fritz. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – After struggling against a tough Franklin defense for the first two quarters, the King Philip offense found its rhythm early in the second half.

The Warriors hit three of their first five shots from the floor after being limited to just five total field goals in the first half. And the visiting Panthers had three empty trips and a fourth end in a turnover. Suddenly, Franklin’s double-digit lead was down to just six at 29-23.

Panthers’ coach CJ Neely, who earned his 100th win with Franklin, quickly called a timeout and had a simple message for his squad.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Just relax,” Neely said of the message. “We just went back to the basics [out of the timeout] and we wanted to get them on their heels.”

And just like that, the Panthers’ defense from the first half was back. Senior Ryan Sullivan (13 points, three rebounds) came up with the steal on one end and senior Matt Lazarek finished off an easy layup after a nice pass from classmate Thomas Gasbarro.

Franklin used an 11-2 over the next three and a half minutes to regain its double-digit lead and never looked back to secure a 63-45 win over King Philip.

“We talked a lot about our defense at halftime and how proud we were with the number we had them at half,” Neely said. “We wanted to continue that obviously but we had some turnovers and they had a quick 7-0 run and all of a sudden they are right back in it. I didn’t think we were sharing the ball like we did during the preseason and I thought tonight all of our biggest baskets were on extra passes. Once the ball started moving, the offense started to click.”

KP senior Robert Jarest was the catalyst of the Warriors’ run, finishing off a layup and then sneaking in for a putback off of an offensive rebound. A three-pointer from senior Owen Conlin made it 29-23.

Franklin’s response featured an alert layup from Rudolph, a strong take from senior Chris Edgehill (21 points, five rebounds, three assists), a three from senior Steven Karayan (11 points), and another finish at the rim from Edgehill to make it 40-25 with 1:32 to play in the third.

“Franklin’s defensive intensity just stayed high and we couldn’t respond and keep up with it,” said second-year KP head coach Dave DeStefano. “We had a couple of turnovers and we lost the momentum that we had. Their defense is on another level, it’s really tough to match. The only time we were comfortably was right out of halftime, we started to play hard and do the things we are good at but we couldn’t maintain it.”

KP senior Andrew McKinney (six points, six rebounds) sank a pull up elbow jumper and junior Donte Barros came off the bench and finished off a layup through traffic plus the harm to get the Warriors within 10.

Edgehill and KP’s Chris Roy traded threes but another layup from Karayan and two technical foul free throws from Rudolph gave the Panthers a 47-33 edge after three.

Declan Walmsley and Brayden Sullivan each hit early fourth quarter three-pointers while KP countered with five points from Alex Fritz (11 points). But yet another three, this one from Karayan off a feed from Gasbarro, helped seal the deal. A three-point play from Rudolph and two each from Edgehill and junior Andrew Byfield helped push the lead to 20.

“I think shooting is one of our strengths this year, which is different from last year,” Neely said. Franklin shot 9-for-27 from three-point range. “We can really spread the floor out, and that’s something we talked about at halftime because we felt we had good shooters passing on open looks. That hurt the flow of our offense. We have a ton of confidence in our guys that can shoot, they just have to be ready to shoot.”

Early threes from Edgehill and Sullivan helped Franklin race out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, holding the Warriors off the scoreboard for over four minutes of action until Roy sank a triple. KP got within two on a three from Fritz but that was the only field goal for the KP senior as the Panthers made sure to give him plenty of attention defensively. Fritz also missed over five minutes in the second quarter due to foul trouble.

Fritz scored a career-high 36 points in KP’s season-opener. Sullivan was tasked with man-to-man defense on him, while Rudolph, Gasbarro, and senior Andrew Cunningham all saw him playing defense on him.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“With a guy like that, it’s not a one-man operation defensively,” Neely said. “Brayden’s been pesky on a lot of guys to start the year but we knew it was going to have to be a team effort. I thought we made his shots difficult. He’s going to make some baskets, and some of the shots he makes are some of the highest level shots I’ve seen in the past couple of years so you just have to make it hard. I thought we did a good job of doing that.”

Franklin lead 14-9 after the first quarter but there wasn’t much rhythm in the second eight-minute frame. The Panthers went to the free throw line 18 times in the second quarter while KP made five trips. Edgehill and Byfield converted from down low early but the Panthers had just one more field goal over the final 6:40, hitting 9-of-18 free throws. Franklin led 29-16 at half.

Franklin boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Friday night in its home opener against Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) is also home, hosting Milford.

Franklin Dominates Attleboro In Hockomock Finale

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin senior Jalen Samuels attacks the basket in the first half against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – For the Franklin boys basketball team, terrific defense led to easy offense.

And that combination resulted in a dominant performance and a comfortably 57-36 win over visiting Attleboro.

The Panthers flipped a two-point game upside down with a 20-0 run over the final six minutes of the second quarter to pull away from the Bombardiers, who entered the contest with a chance to win at least a share of its first Kelley-Rex title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin limited the visitors to just 22% shooting from the field in the opening half as the Bombardiers couldn’t find a connection from deep, going just 1-for-17 from three-point range. And with consistent stops, Franklin’s pushed the pace and cashed in with an impressive transition offense, converting some easy looks down low. Franklin shot 65% from the field in the opening half, making 12-of-18 shots from two-point range.

“That was definitely our best game of the season, by far,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “The guys were excited to play tonight, there’s no doubt about it. I think they were a little sore about how last game went and how the season has gone in some respects. They wanted to make a statement tonight and I thought they did, especially in that second quarter. We went in at halftime, and we usually have a list of things we want to change or that we did poorly, and we didn’t have many things on the list. The guys really bought in, that was the best they’ve bought in to a game plan and scouting report all season.”

While Attleboro only had four first half turnovers, it couldn’t solve the Panthers defensively. During Franklin’s game-changing run, Attleboro only had one turnover on a shot clock violation, and 0-for-11 from the field, with eight of those shots coming from three-point range.

“They did everything better than us tonight, offensively and defensively,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle. “They made us really feel uncomfortable all night, and we didn’t have any answers.

“We didn’t hit [a three] in the first quarter but I have confidence in our guys that can shoot it, we can get hot, but we didn’t get enough paint touches. [Franklin] did a nice job of taking that away early, something that most teams haven’t been able to do. That limited us really. But quite honestly, we weren’t executing on offense. There were still things that we could have done, but we weren’t executing, and that led to a stagnant offense. And we couldn’t attack the rim because their defense was set. That was a very good defensive effort by them.”

Franklin led 15-7 after the first quarter but Attleboro opened the second quarter with a quick 5-0 run to make it a two-point game. Bryant Ciccio (11 points) drained a three and Kevin Velazquez picked off a pace and went the distance for a layup to make it 15-13.

From there, it was all Panthers. Jalen Samuels (15 points, nine rebounds, four assists) converted his own putback and then scored off a feed from Chris Edgehill (seven points, seven rebounds, seven assists). Will Harvey (career-high 19 points, nine rebounds) sank a three-pointer off a feed from Jack Rudolph, then Edgehill came down with a defensive rebound, pushed it up court and found Rudolph for two. Samuels then drove to the basket, drew in the defense and dished it off to Harvey for an easy two and a 26-13 lead with 3:43 left in the second quarter.

The Bombardiers tried to shoot their way out of the funk, taking six triples on their next seven possessions. The lone trip that didn’t result in a three-point attempt was a turnover on a shot clock violation.

Meanwhile, Franklin continued to cash in on the offensive end. Edgehill got some space in the lane for two, Jake Macchi (nine points) sank a three on a pass from Rudolph just moments after Samuels blocked an Attleboro three, and Samuels scored in low on a floater to put Franklin up 35-13 heading into halftime.

“Getting out in transition was key for us, getting up and down,” Neely said. “And when we attacked the paint, I think the biggest thing was getting in there and then making the extra pass for some dunks and some layups.”

The second half was much more even than the first, but the damage was already done by the Panthers. Tim Callahan made Attleboro’s second triple of the game with 2:44 left in the quarter (2-for-21 from deep through three), Ciccio added five points, including Attleboro’s only two free throws in the game, and Qualeem Charles (eight points, 10 rebounds) got an early bucket, but Franklin got points from Macchi (a three), Harvey (five) and two apiece from Edgehill and Rudolph to hold a 47-24 advantage entering the fourth.

“One of the biggest things we worked on was long closeouts,” Neely said. “We practiced having to get there and get there with a hand without flying into the crowd. We’re going to have to live with them making a couple. We knew we’d have to focus on Q, you can’t let one guy try and do it himself. I thought Harvey played one of his best games this season, and he rebounded really well and played great defensively.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Attleboro’s defense limited the Panthers to 10 points in the fourth, but only scored 12 on its own. Mason Houle sank two threes in the fourth, the latter cutting the deficit to 15 points but with only three minutes to go. Harvey added four in the final frame and Matt Lazarek came off the bench to hit a triple for the Panthers, who shot 56% from the floor for the game and dominated the rebounding battle, 33-18.

“We had some good looks, but they were mostly contested shots,” Houle said. “We have to regroup. We have the opportunity to learn from this. We didn’t do many good things tonight on either end tonight. Their transition offense, we didn’t do a good enough job against it. That led to 20 straight points…and just layups. It was them getting the rebound and pushing it for a layup.”

Franklin boys basketball (12-4 Hockomock, 14-5 overall) is back in action on Sunday with a noon tipoff against New Bedford. Attleboro (13-3, 16-4) will try to bounce back when it travels to rival North Attleboro for a non-league clash on Monday.

Dooling, Mansfield Edge Franklin In Overtime

Mansfield boys basketball Tommy Dooling
Mansfield’s Tommy Dooling shoots a step back three in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Franklin junior Jack Rudolph drained an open three with just under three and a half minutes left in the game to put his team up by eight, it looked like the Panthers were on their way to evening the season series with rival Mansfield.

But the Panthers didn’t slam the door shut, and Mansfield took full advantage down the stretch.

The Hornets used a 12-4 run over the final three minutes to force overtime, and Hornet senior Tommy Dooling hit a free throw with 5.1 seconds left in the extra period to give Mansfield a 73-72 win and a regular season sweep over Franklin.

It’s Mansfield’s first season sweep of their rivals since 2014 when the Hornets won inside the field house and at the TD Garden.

“We had to fight for every [point], there was not an easy basket out there tonight,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “The fact that we got into the 70s was kind of shocking considering how hard it was. Sometimes when teams have a chance to put us away, they don’t and when they don’t and give us breathing room, at some point we’re going to go on a little run and ultimately that happened with enough time in the fourth quarter. And obviously making free throws in the end helped.”

Rudolph’s six triple of the game gave him a career-high 21 points and the Panthers a 60-52 lead. Franklin’s defense had prevented Mansfield from big runs for the majority of the game and the Panthers looked to be in a good position.

Dooling (19 points) earned a trip to the line and sank two free throws, an immediate and needed response to Rudolph’s three for the Hornets. After a stop on the defensive end, Dooling was fouled while shooting a three, and the senior sank all three attempts to make it a one-possession game with 2:37 to go.

Another stop for Mansfield and again, Dooling drove to the basket and drew contact. His two free throws got the Hornets within one with 2:03 to go.

Jalen Samuels (15 points, seven rebounds) sank a pair from the line on the other end to extend the hosts’ lead to three, but Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen (eight points, five rebounds) drained an open triple to tie the game with 1:38 to go. Franklin’s Will Harvey (two free throws) and Mansfield’s TJ Guy (13 points, six rebounds) traded baskets inside the final minute, Franklin missed a late three and Mansfield had a turnover on its final possession to force overtime.

Free throws from Chris Edgehill (11 points, 10 assists) and Samuels put Franklin in front, but Boen sank his second triple of the game to go up 69-67. A free throw from Makhi Baskin extended it to three, but Edgehill responded with a three to tie the game with just over two minutes left in overtime.

Samuels put Franklin back ahead with a pair from the line but Sam Stevens (nine points) answered after a terrific feed from Baskin.

Franklin had the chance for the last shot but was whistled for an off ball offensive foul. Dooling was fouled before Mansfield could inbound it out of their timeout at midcourt, and the senior went to the line with 5.1 left. After missing the first, Dooling sank the second and Franklin’s last second three was just off the mark.

“I think we just started committing to what we do on offense better,” Dooling said of what went into the comeback. “We started to move the ball more, we started to cut to the rim on slips. TJ and Sammy got some nice layups, and Matty Boen hit some big shots too.”

Mansfield went 14-for-19 from the free throw line between the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I think early we were playing passive and kind of on our heels, and everything was contested,” Vaughan said. “In the fourth, I felt like Tommy did a really nice job asserting himself into the game and did some good things. Ultimately he had the opportunities and made them.

“That’s a big pressure shot in overtime. To be able to miss the first and step back in and make the second, that’s a big play.”

After going up by eight, Franklin went 1-for-7 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free throw line over the final 3:25 of the fourth and all of overtime.

“Disappointing,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely on how he would describe how the game ended. “It was a great game. I told the guys we can be frustrated about whatever we want to be frustrated about but I didn’t think we kept guys in front defensively down the stretch without fouling, put them on the line and let them hang around in a game I thought we should have won.

“I thought we were in control of most of the game. We were playing good basketball, sharing the basketball. Chris did a great job of finding his teammates and guys were stepping up and making shots. We’ve seen them make them in practice, it’s good to see them make them in the game. I think it was 60-52 at one point, and we needed to close it out there but we started fouling, and they kept getting to the line.”

Franklin raced out to an 8-1 lead to start the game and lead 16-11 after one quarter. Rudolph hit three three-pointers in the opening frame to give the Panthers the lead. Both Samuels and Mansfield’s Damani Scott (eight points) picked up two early fouls and missed the majority of the first half.

A three-pointer from Jake Macchi just over a minute into the second quarter gave Franklin a 21-13 lead but Mansfield tightened up defensively and made a run to get back into it. Baskin hit two free throws and Stevens had an easy layup after a steal from Boen. Baskin then had a steal of his own, leading to another layup for Stevens.

The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the first half, with Mansfield going up 33-31 on a triple from Dooling (assisted by Boen) but Franklin answered just before the buzzer when Edgehill found Macchi for a three and a 34-33 halftime edge.

In the third, Rudolph his made a pair of threes within a minute and then turned a steal into a traditional three-point play, putting the Panthers ahead 43-38 with just under five left in the third.

“That’s the kind of stuff we expected from Jack coming into the season, being that third scorer for us offensively,” Neely said. “We’ve seen it in practice and things are starting to develop. I’m really proud of him, it was a great performance for him.”

Franklin’s six-point lead shrunk to just one but Samuels came up with a monster two-handed slam while being fouled to put the Panthers ahead 50-46. Two late technical free throws from Edgehill and a big block from Samuels at the buzzer had Franklin up 52-47 heading into the fourth.

“We were trading baskets, then they’d go on a little run and we didn’t counter it for a while,” Vaughan said. “It was just this grind it out, slow game that we just couldn’t get our hands on. The first game, I felt like we had control of it but this one the control was constantly slipping out of our hands. We did just enough. We shot the ball well enough from the foul line, we were atrocious there on Friday night. Making free throws down the stretch, Tommy at the line and I thought the three in the corner was big.

“CJ does such a good job you don’t know what you’re going to get with his tweaks and his matchups. Last game, they didn’t over play Tommy at all, so we put some stuff in for that and then tonight they overplayed him so we had to adjust on the fly. “

Mansfield boys basketball (11-2 Hockomock, 15-2 overall) is on the road against Oliver Ames while Franklin (9-4, 11-5) visits Taunton, both games on Friday.

Charles, Attleboro Get Past Franklin In Overtime

Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (right) goes up for a shot against Franklin’s Sean Leonard in the second quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Having to try and match up with Attleboro’s 6-foot-5, 295-pound center Qualeem Charles for 32 minutes is one of the toughest covers in the entire Hockomock League.

Having to try and stop him for four more minutes in overtime just might be impossible.

Franklin stormed back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game in the final seconds and send the game to overtime but Charles scored half of Attleboro’s points in the overtime period to help the Bombardiers secure a 51-46 decision in overtime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Charles scored 13 of his game-high 18 points after halftime and hauled of his 17 rebounds after the break as well.

“We always want to go inside, they did a nice job of challenging him early,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “He’s very unselfish so a lot of the times he got the ball he was kicking it out and we were getting great looks and we weren’t knocking them down. We told him in the second half when you touch the ball, you shoot the ball and he did that more consistently. If he didn’t score the field goal, he went to the line and he hit his foul shots which was key for us.”

After Mason Houle (nine points) and Will Harvey traded three-pointers to open the extra stanza, the Bombardiers got Charles going inside. Kevin Velazquez (six points, nine rebounds) found the big man in the post and Charles used a nice post move to go up two.

The teams traded misses before Attleboro came up short on a Tim Callahan three. But Callahan was quick to hustle back on defense and drew a charge to get the ball back with 1:32 to play and a 46-44 lead.

Attleboro went back inside and Charles was fouled, hitting one of two attempts to extend the lead to 47-44. Franklin missed a three and Charles came down with a big rebound. On the offensive end, the Panthers’ collapsed to try and cover Charles, allowing Velazquez to take it strong to the basket for two.

Franklin once again came up short on a layup attempt and Charles hauled in the rebound while being fouled. He hit two free throws to give Attleboro 51-46 lead with 28 seconds and that’s how the game finished.

After putting up just five shots in the first half total, Charles attempted five field goals in the third quarter and then went 2-for-2 in the fourth.

“I was definitely overlooking at times, I wanted to find teammates,” Charles said. “I know my teammates can make those big shots but they weren’t falling tonight so I had to try and close it out. Eventually my shot started falling. Their bigger players started getting in foul trouble, so I was getting more of a mismatch so I was able to convert.”

There wasn’t much happening for either side in the first half. The teams combined for just six made field goals in the opening eight minutes with Franklin senior Jalen Samuels (eight points, 10 rebounds, five assists) finding Thomas Gasbarro for a layup right before the buzzer to give Franklin a 9-7 edge.

But that would be the last field goal Franklin would make for the half. The Panthers were held scoreless for nearly the entire second quarter. Sean Leonard hit a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left to get Franklin on the board.

Meanwhile while Attleboro’s offense didn’t exactly catch fire, it was able to use an 8-0 run over the first seven minutes. Bryant Ciccio and Nick McMahon made shots while Callahan and Houle sank two free throws apiece. A late bucket from Charles gave Attleboro a 17-11 lead at half.

“It’s a problem, he’s a big kid, and there’s not a lot of guys that can move him when he gets position where he wants to be,” Neely said of matching up with Charles. “We had a plan that was working early but late in the game, I think guys were a bit tired. I stuck with the same lineup for a long time. They get worn down banging around with him for a whole game and he was able to get some baskets, he’s a tough cover.”

The offenses for both sides came alive to start the second half. The Panthers matched their first half production in just over five minutes in the third quarter. Buckets from Chris Edgehill (12 points, eight rebounds), Jake Macchi, and Leonard brought the Panthers within two, 24-22, with 3:46 left in the third.

Attleboro answered with a 10-0 run to close the third quarter. Ciccio, Charles, and Houle hit back-to-back-to-back layups, and McMahon converted down low after a nice offensive rebound and pass from Velazquez to give the Bombardiers a 32-22 advantage heading into the final quarter.

“Coming into the game we talked about defensive stops and consecutive defensive stops and Franklin is terrific at it,” Houle said. “The last three games they’ve given up 40 points or less and they lead the league in defensive scoring average. So we knew we were going to have to execute. We wanted to take care of the ball, be strong with the ball, and attacking them when we can on ball reversals. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but neither did they, and I think that’s a credit to both defenses.”

It appeared the Bombardiers had the game in hand when they pushed the lead to 37-22 on a Callahan triple, a 15-point advantage with six minutes left.

But Attleboro’s offense stalled as the Panthers continued their pressure defensively. And over those six minutes, shots began to fall for the visitors. Steve Karayan drained a three after a steal from Will Harvey then Edgehill drained a transition three after an Attleboro turnover to make it 37-31 with three minutes to go.

Samuels hit a free throw and Harvey came up with another steal that led to two made free throws, cutting the deficit to 37-34 with two minutes left. After a five-second call on the inbounds, Harvey sank another free throw to make it 37-35.

Attleboro finally got some points on the board when Callahan hit Charles down low and the junior converted with a nice spin move. But Karayan drained another triple to make it a one-point game with just over a minute to go.

Velazquez missed but was fouled as he hustled for the offensive rebound and he sank two free throws with 42.6 to play.

Franklin came up short on the tying three, but the offensive rebound was batted out and corralled. Attleboro chose to foul with a three-point lead with 8.4 to go. The strategy worked as Franklin missed both free throws but the rebound was batted out to Edgehill, who alertly made an extra mass to Karayan for a straightaway three-pointer with 2.4 left, sending the game into overtime tied 41-41.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We found something that was working down the stretch,” Neely said.”But in the end, we weren’t ourselves in the first half. We weren’t playing the way we needed to play if we wanted to win. You can get away with that sometimes but not on the road at Attleboro in a big game tonight. We played good defense in the first half but they opened it up in the second half. I’m proud of them, they stuck with it. They shared the ball and got back into the game. Free throws hurt us, and that’s cost us basically in every loss this year. It’s frustrating to have a good offensive possession and get to the line and come away with nothing.

“We had a 15 point lead and they whittled it down to go to overtime, that’s Franklin,” Houle said. “They are a very good, gritty team. We knew coming in it wouldn’t be an easy game. As they were coming back, it felt like we weren’t playing to win anymore, we were just trying to hold on. After one of the timeouts, we talked about playing to win. We started to play with a bit more energy and were able to make some plays.”

Attleboro boys basketball (9-1 Hockomock, 12-2 overall) is back in action on Tuesday on the road at Milford. Franklin (7-3, 9-4) is also on the road with a trip to Sharon on tap.

Franklin Grinds Out Close Win Over Taunton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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

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

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