MANSFIELD, Mass. — Franklin and Mansfield are no longer competing for the same division title in the Hockomock League but that hasn’t changed anything in this rivalry.
The Hornets got off to a strong start offensively, locked in defensively all night long, and junior Trevor Foley had a big second half en route to a 56-46 win over the Panthers in the lone meeting of the season.
Mansfield hit five of its nine three-pointers inside the first eight minutes and forced Franklin into 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half, limiting the visitors to just four points in the second quarter.
Foley had a quiet first half with just one make but roared to life in the second half, scoring 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor while hauling in eight rebounds. His one-handed slam gave Mansfield its largest lead (38-26) with three minutes to go in the third quarter, capping a 10-point quarter for the junior.
“It’s a lot less stressful that we don’t have to play them again in three weeks,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. It marks the first time in his tenure (2005) that the teams will only play once. “We’ll miss that, we want to play them a second time because this game brings so much out of everyone. The kids really care, it matters to them, it’s like a state tournament game. That’s why we do this, it’s not for the 40-point wins or losses, it’s for games like this that you can find a way to play your best and gut out a win.
“They’re a good basketball team, we knew they’d hit some shots so our job was just to minimalize it to the best of our ability, and I thought we did that. They had a strategy to try and offset things we were doing but we were able to rotate, force a few turnovers, and got a lot of deflections to disrupt what they were trying to do. That’s just guys having a high basketball IQ and being committed for 32 minutes. I think that was a difference, we were locked in the whole game.”
Early threes from Davon Sanders (nine points, five assists, four rebounds, four steals) and Caden Colby (five points, six rebounds) gave the Hornets the lead off the bat, and Franklin was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.
While the first quarter was more back-and-forth — which featured a pair of threes from Franklin senior Justin Allen (16 points, 5 rebounds) — a late triple from Sanders put the Hornets in front the rest of the way.
“I thought we played with pretty good pace, I just thought we didn’t take care of the basketball especially early in the basketball game,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “We were flying up and down, and getting it up the court quick…but you can’t decide when it’s time to play. I thought we came out very soft and very slow, and a bit careless with the ball. We usually move the ball a lot better, but we didn’t get it moving side to side like we like to do, and we didn’t get a lot of paint touches and that’s a credit to their defense.
“The second quarter really did us in. The lead got to nine or 10 points, and it’s hard to come back against a team like Mansfield because they grind it out, you have to be perfect. Give them credit because they out-executed us tonight.”
The lead held up thanks in part to Mansfield’s swarming defense, which limited Franklin to just 2-for-10 shooting in the second and five turnovers. The Panthers were strong on defense as well as they held the Hornets to just 10 points. JT Veiking came off the bench and scored all eight of his points in the first half to help give his squad a 27-18 lead at halftime.
“A game like this, and they do the same thing, you start preparing for this one a week ago,” Vaughan said. “You’re starting to put some stuff in, starting to talk about certain things, and you’re not using names but talking about things that will happen tonight. What we do as coaches, we’re not going to allow our teams to fail at our expense and we’re going to do everything we possibly can. If we play this game 100 times, we win 50 and they win 50, that’s just how these games go.
“When you play them, you empty everything and then try to come up with new stuff for the second time around. It’s just a chess match. Even the stuff CJ did with us tonight, that they haven’t done before. We both do our base stuff but there’s a wrinkle here, a wrinkle there. At the end of the day, they didn’t shoot as well as they’d like and if they shot better, it’s a different game. But that doesn’t take away from how committed and how hard we played and the plays we had to make. Every game with them is its own war and you just come up with twists and turns and trying to figure out how to gain one more basket because that’s what these games come down to.”
Foley didn’t take long to get going in the second half, finishing off a steal from Eddie McCoy (8 points, 5 assists) for the first bucket of the third quarter. Sanders added his third triple and Brandon Jackman converted a putback through traffic, and then Foley broke loose for a one-handed slam with authority for a 38-26 lead.
“It meant even more than it usually does because we only play them once so it’s a sweet victory,” Foley said. “It was a team effort. We moved the ball quickly on offense letting us create some driving lanes to the basket. We doubled [Sean] O’Leary on defense because he’s a great player but it was just smart, disciplined basketball and a team effort.”
Allen, Bradley Herndon, and Ben Harvey all found success attacking the basket but Foley answered for the Hornets and kept the hosts ahead by double-digits, 42-32, going into the fourth.
The Panthers continued to claw back into it as Caden Sullivan splashed in a three early and had another three-point attempt in the air that just rimmed out that would have cut the deficit to four. Andrew O’Neill had a strong take to the rim to get it back to eight, but Foley answered on the other end.
“He missed some early ones that I thought would have created a little bit of separation, and he was frustrated with himself,” Vaughan said of Foley. “The thing you love about a kid like Foley is that he self-motivates. I don’t need to get on him about that, he knows how important a game like this is. I talked to him before the game about not fouling out and being able to cover a kid like O’Leary, and he did it. He stayed disciplined and he made everything difficult and that’s why we can win games because we have special players like him on the floor.”
Sean O’Leary (15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) converted through contact and Franklin’s defense forced a turnover with just under three minutes to go. A miss on the front end of a one-and-one gave Mansfield possession back, and after using nearly the entire 35-second shot clock, Chris Hill drained a triple to extend the lead back to 10 with just over two minutes left.
“That was the key to the game just trying to minimize what they want to do,” Vaughan said. “We wanted to slow [O’Leary] down because he’s an elite level player in the league and then not giving up anything uncontested. There was a play late when we ran three kids at the ball, that was the focus. Our defense made a big difference.”
Mansfield boys basketball (8-1 Hockomock, 13-1 overall) is back in action on Friday with a trip to Canton. Franklin (8-1, 9-1) will try to bounce back from its first loss at home against Milford.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The Franklin boys basketball team had their foot on the gas throughout the first half. The Panthers slammed the pedal down in the second half.
Junior Sean O’Leary poured in 16 of his career-high 26 points in the third quarter and the Panthers turned a single-digit halftime lead into a runaway win over visiting Foxboro, 77-51.
The Panthers transitioned a strong defensive effort into some easy buckets, getting out and running and attacking the basket early in the shot clock to balloon the nine-point halftime lead up to 21 points going into the fourth quarter.
“I thought the pace of the game was much improved for us in the second half,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely, now in his ninth year at the helm of the Panthers. “We played into the halfcourt with them a little too much in the first half but we’re better when we’re playing with pace and sharing the basketball. I thought we amped it up and it started with our defense. We made a couple of adjustments, we had to switch how we were guarding the ball screens and the blur cuts, and once we made that switch, we stopped [Ryan LeClair] from going downhill and that took away some of their shooting. Once we got stops, we were able to get out and run.”
Franklin boys basketball
Franklin showed glimpses of its fast-paced offense by opening the second quarter with a 10-2 surge. O’Leary scored the first five points, both off assists from Bradley Herndon, the latter coming off a Foxboro turnover. Ben Harvey (19 points) got to the rim quickly after a Foxboro miss, and O’Leary found Geino Scaringello for a three less than 10 seconds after another Warrior misfire.
Foxboro showed some fight with a 10-0 run of its own to keep it close. Sam Golub (11 points, four rebounds, three blocks) had a tough finish around a defender and then assisted on a three-pointer from Alex Penders (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists). Golub turned a steal into another two, and Penders found LeClair (14 points) in the corner for a triple to bring the visitors within one possession at 25-22.
Scaringello, who had struggled to find his shooting touch in Franklin’s first two games, stayed red hot to finish the first half, hitting back-to-back triples to give the hosts a 31-22 lead at the break.
“It was nice to get Geino going, he’s been a shooter for us a long time and he had a slow start,” Neely said. “He was doing all of the defensive stuff but his shot wasn’t going and he was getting frustrated. We know he’s a good shooter, so we just kept telling him to keep shooting and he showed what we can do tonight.”
The third belonged to O’Leary and the Panthers. Justin Allen hauled in one of his 10 rebounds after Franklin forced Foxboro into a tough mid-range jumper at the shot clock, he quickly pushed it up court and found O’Leary, who wasted little time blowing by his man and laying it in for an easy two. From there, Franklin was off and running.
O’Leary canceled out a triple from Golub with one of his own, and on the next play, took down a defensive rebound off a free throw miss and went coast-to-coast, this time going to his right and finishing through contact for two plus the foul.
Franklin boys basketball
Allen came up with a turnover two plays later, and despite Golub getting one of his three blocks in the game, O’Leary was first to the offensive board and once again finished through a foul, hitting a free throw to complete another traditional three-point play.
“There were a couple of matchups we thought we could exploit,” Neely said. “We told them if they find themselves in a situation where you see a little bit of a lane, and the matchup is right, we thought we could get in there and put some stress on them, make them make more decisions than they want to and rotate more than they want to. We didn’t want to wait, if it was there, we wanted to put the stress on them. During the big run, I thought we were able to get downhill and do just that.”
A good example of Franklin’s pace came with under four minutes to play in the third. Golub beat his man and laid it in for two with 3:41 left. Harvey took the inbound pass and raced down the left side of the court, speeding past his man and laying one up and in just seven seconds after Foxboro’s bucket.
“Sean was incredible on both ends of the floor, and he does it every night,” Neely said. “And what Harvey did on Penders was exceptional, those guys really set the tone on both ends of the floor and the rest of the guys responded.”
Even when Foxboro had some success on the offensive end, like when Penders banked a tough turnaround in down low after an offensive rebound from Ryan Kelley, the Panthers pounced offensively. Herndon took the inbounds and used his speed to attack the rim, going up strong with a left-handed finish plus the foul.
“Their pace wore us down as the game went on,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “They were flying at us in transition. Not many teams have multiple forwards like Harvey and O’Leary that can get a rebound and just push it themselves that effectively. And they have a lot of shooting to spread you out.
“Once the deficit got to double digits, we had to start playing faster offensively ourselves to try to climb back in it. The game got into their tempo in the second half.”
Harvey hit a couple of early buckets in the fourth, capping his night with a three as Franklin’s advantage peaked at 68-40 midway through the final frame.
“The first two games, defensively we did a good job and it helped us weather some storms,” Neely said. “We went down big at OA and KP had a second half lead on us but our defense stayed true. We knew our offense would eventually kick. It was just about keeping it simple, it felt like guys were trying to make a five-point shot. We had such a simple practice yesterday, just getting back to doing the stuff we do and I thought we did a good job of trusting each other tonight.”
Franklin boys basketball
Both teams will go outside of the league for their upcoming stretch of games. Franklin (3-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) is off to Xaverian on Friday before traveling to Florida for three games over break. Foxboro (1-2, 1-2) closes out this week with trips to Milton and New Bedford on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
Attleboro has consistently been in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division in recent years, and if the Bombardiers are going to be there again this year, they will have to do so with a lot of new players to the varsity level.
Not only did the Bombardiers graduate a sizable senior class, but the majority of them were also key pieces in longtime head coach Mark Houle’s lineup and rotation. Add in the transfer of promising 6’5-forward Trevor White, and Attleboro has very few pieces left from last year. But that’s not to say Attleboro is without talent. Junior Neo Franco is coming off a very successful first year with the team, earning HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors. Jaiden Outland saw more and more minutes as the season went on and he showed what he’s capable of with a career-high 18 points in Attleboro’s win over Durfee in late February last year; he could be poised for a big year. Senior Michael Beverly is the third returner for the Bombardiers after picking up some minutes last year while newcomer senior Justin Hanrahan could be a key piece right away.
Another reason for optimism is that most of the new faces in the lineup this year played for the Bombardiers’ JV squad last season, which posted an impressive 19-2 record. Seniors Spencer Sherck, Zyeem Charles, Nathan Hodson, and Michael Alfonso will provide key leadership for Houle this year. Junior Max Crawford will join sophomores Dante Monestime, Hayden Crowley, and Brady Erwin as potential contributors for the Bombardiers.
“We need to continue our commitment to be a highly competitive defensive team, our communication, and understanding of defensive concepts is a priority and is a reason we were one of the top defensive teams in the league last year,” Houle said.
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Eric MacKinnon
Canton surprised a lot of people on the outside of the program with a nine-win season that certainly was good enough for a playoff spot, but the Bulldogs have put that seeding drama in the rearview mirror and are now focused on surprising people again this year.
In order to do so, the Bulldogs will need new players to step up as second-year head coach Eric MacKinnon only has one returning starter from last year. Matt Chafin emerged as a top perimeter option, averaging 8.8 points per game last year (reaching double figures in just under half of the games). Although he isn’t returning from last year’s lineup, Julius Hicks provides a big boost for MacKinnon and Bulldogs, coming back after missing all of last season with an injury. Hicks would have certainly been in the rotation last year and will be a vital piece this year. Junior Zaza Francoeur is an athletic wing player that can impact the game on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs.
Defense emerged as one of Canton’s strengths a season ago as the Bulldogs bought into MacKinnon’s game plan. Canton allowed the least amount of points against in the Davenport division at 50.6, and they will look to replicate that again this year.
“With our personnel and style of play we have the ability to score from the perimeter and play inside-out at times,” MacKinnon said. “Our length and athleticism should allow us to get out in transition.”
Foxboro is one of the few teams in the league that has more familiar faces returning than not, and after only missing out on the Davenport title by one game last year, the Warriors are aiming to compete with defending champs Sharon and division newcomer Mansfield for the top spot this season.
The Warriors boast one of the better senior classes, anchored by HockomockSports First Team selection Alex Penders. Penders, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last year and recently committed to play at Ithaca next year, is joined by classmates Sam Golub, Ryan LeClair, and Andrew Finn. Golub and LeClair played a lot of minutes for head coach Jon Gibbs last season and both improved as the season went on. Having three experienced players will certainly give the Warriors an advantage, especially on the defensive side of the ball where Gibbs always has his teams prepared.
Penders can score in a variety of ways and will be a matchup problem for most teams in the league. Golub is a proven shooter that can get hot at any time while LeClair is a pesky defender, and as seen by his performance on the road at Stoughton last year, is a capable scorer. Penders will certainly be the focus of the offense but he’s a very unselfish player and Foxboro should have a good balance in the scoring column. While the Warriors have a strong senior class, they’re still a relatively young team. With only two juniors, the rest of the roster is filled by six sophomores and two freshmen. Junior Ryan Cotter and sophomores Ryan Kelley and Nolan Gordon will be names to keep an eye on.
“This is a very hard-working and coachable group that is improving on a daily basis,” Gibbs said. “We have a very exciting blend of experienced veterans and newcomers who are hungry to contribute. If we can defend and rebound at a high level, the potential is there for a very successful season.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-4 Coach: CJ Neely
Entering the past two seasons, there was a lot of unknown for the Panthers after graduating a large senior class each year. It’s the opposite this year as Franklin graduated just three players and has the majority of last year’s squad that went 21-4 back in the fold.
After a third-place finish in the Kelley-Rex last season, Franklin could be the team to beat this go around. Junior Sean O’Leary highlights a talented and experienced group of long, athletic players. O’Leary, a 6-foot-4 forward that can score from anywhere on the court and was named to the HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team last year, will be one of the top players in the league this year. Junior Andrew O’Neill (8.8 points per game) is another returner and head coach CJ Neely will lean on a small but talented senior class that features Ben Harvey (HockomockSports All-Defensive Team), Justin Allen, Geino Scaringello, and Hayden Morandi.
Juniors Hansy Jacques, Bradley Herndon, and Andrew Benoit were all on the team last year and could see increased minutes this season. There will be more opportunities on offense for players to step up with the graduation of Sean Vinson (12.8 ppg) and last year’s leading scorer and HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Henry Digirogio (16.1 ppg) has opted not to play this year. And promising sophomore Caden Sullivan, who likely would have been in the rotation, will miss significant time due to injury.
“The preseason has been very competitive at practice,” Neely said. “We have a great group of guys who really care for each other. While we do have a good amount of returning players, there is a lot of playing time up for grabs and it will be a daily challenge for guys to earn roles. I have been most impressed with how committed and focused the players have been each day on the court and in film sessions to always look for ways to improve as a group. It will be fun to watch them grow and compete all year.”
2021-2022 Record: 6-16 Head Coach: Dave DeStefano
King Philip brings back a good portion of its roster and is looking to book a spot in the tournament and contend for the Kelley-Rex division title.
The Warriors are one of the few teams in the league that brings back their leading scorer from a year ago in Will Laplante, a seasoned veteran that has averaged over 16 points per year in each of the last two seasons. Laplante is joined by senior Grant Kinney, who had some breakout games last year, and Tommy Martorano, who showed that at his best (a career-high 36 points) that he can score with the best players in the league. That trio is three of KP’s top five scorers from a year ago. Senior Colin Peck, a 6-foot-2 forward, will likely see an expanded role after playing some valuable minutes last year.
Juniors Tommy McLeish and Trevor Clyde, both 6-foot-3 forwards, have made a big jump from last year and will be key pieces for head coach Dave DeStefano this year. New additions Danny Silveria and Peter Cataldo, both juniors, look to factor in as key defensive pieces for the Warriors. Sophomore Tommy Kilroy didn’t see a ton of minutes early on last year but his role expanded as the season went on, scoring in double figures against Mansfield and in a win over Xaverian. Fellow sophomores Brandon Nicastro, Drew Laplante, and Jack Assini will all looking to contribute this season as well.
“The boys have really committed this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The limited practices so far have been really competitive. It’s no secret that our defense has to drastically improve to be competitive in the league. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-5 Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield had its incredible streak of nine straight Kelley-Rex division titles come to an end last season, and now the Hornets start a new chapter as they begin their first season in the Davenport. Expectations remain sky-high for the Hornets, who are an immediate favorite for the division crown.
The Hornets have two of their best scorers back from last year in senior Chris Hill (12.5 ppg) and junior Trevor Foley (8.2 ppg), but Mansfield did graduate its leading scorer in Matty Hyland and lost five of its top seven scorers. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for new faces to step up. Hill has probably played more varsity minutes than anyone else in the league and he can compete at a high-level night in and night out. Foley really emerged as a top player by the end of the season, averaging over 16 points per game in March.
Senior Caden Colby was part of the rotation last year and will see a bigger role this year while classmate JT Veiking is a 6-foot-5 forward that can score on the perimeter or down low. Senior Michael Creedon rounds out the senior class and can provide a spark with increased minutes this year. Junior Eddie McCoy is poised for a breakout year, an athletic wing player that can attack the rim and cause problems for opposing defenses. Juniors Brandon Jackman and Davon Sanders should see time in the Mansfield backcourt this year.
“This season will be our tallest team in my tenure, it will be fun to see what different things we can do on the defensive end,” Vaughan said. “Offensively we should have plenty of power to put points on the board but the big question mark will be how quickly we can find our max compete level.”
2021-2022 Record: 2-21 Coach: Paul Seaver
Milford had an entirely new team last season and was the youngest team in the league. With just four seniors gone from last year, the Hawks are still a young team but head coach Paul Seaver believes his group learned a lot last year and is trending in the right direction.
The Scarlet Hawks have three of the top four scorers from last season back in the fold, including junior Jake Soares (8.0 ppg), sophomore Andrew Rivera (7.8 ppg), and senior Wyatt Zagami (7.1 ppg). Zagami, who can really fill it up when he’s on a hot streak, is joined by classmates Guy Saintyl, Jacob Ligor, and Joe Buckley to round out a small senior class for the Hawks. Soares was probably Milford’s most consistent player for the first two months before an injury ended his season early, and Rivera showed some glimpses of high-level play throughout the year.
Having a year of experience will be key, especially as a lot of other Hock teams are featuring a lot of first-year varsity players. Sophomore Luca Testa is another young player that saw a lot of minutes for the Hawks last year and will be a key piece during this campaign. Sophomore Gus Coutinho is a dangerous shooter and freshman CJ Farrell could be an impact player right away as well.
“Last season we were very young and very inexperienced,” Seaver said. “We learned how to compete while playing a tough schedule. Now with double digits returnees, we not only aim to improve on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball – we aim to improve in all aspects. Our goals and expectations will be what we make them and what we do with the opportunities that are given to us. I have a great crop of kids who are committed, hard-working individuals who continue to climb the ladder and do things the right way.”
2021-2022 Record: 5-15 Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
North Attleboro battled through an up-and-down season last year that featured some impressive wins — like a double-digit victory over Foxboro and a sweep of Stoughton — as well as some tough losses, like to Foxboro in overtime and to rival Attleboro by just three points. The Rocketeers graduated their two leading scorers from a year ago but return the majority of a roster that was playing their first varsity minutes last year.
Besides its four seniors last year, the rest of the Rocketeers were brand new to the varsity level. That means this year’s group will feature a bit more experience, albeit North is still on the young side. Givany Carney is North’s most experienced player and will be one of the go-to options on the offensive end of the court. Carney is a crafty player that does well getting to the rim with a good combination of speed and size. Senior Jack Munley is a tone-setter and can change the momentum of a game with his effort while senior Derek Maceda showed glimpses last season as a potential go-to guy offensively, both on the perimeter and attacking the basket.
Sophomores Ryan Bannon and Chase Frisoli both played some valuable minutes as freshmen and should see increased roles this year. Bannon is a solid defender and can be a contributor on the offensive end while Frisoli is a high-IQ player with range. Junior Chris Hanewich is another player that head coach Sean Mulkerrins is relying on to contribute on both ends of the floor. With some good experience, North will be looking to establish itself as one of the hardest-working teams in the league, which starts on the defensive end.
“We have a roster of kids who are working hard to improve and learn our system,” Mulkerrins said. “Our practices have been very competitive. We are very focused on building and maintaining our team culture so we are prepared to compete against the talented basketball programs in the Hockomock League.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-12 Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames is going to have a new look this year under second-year head coach Oliver Vil. The Tigers lost the majority of the team that won a preliminary playoff game last season and missed out on the Davenport division title by just a game.
Not only will the lineup feature new faces, but it will also feature a lot of new faces as the Tigers have a deep group this year. Senior captains Chris Elias and Ari Spiliakos are two returners that will be leaders for the team both on and off the court. Senior Nick Asiaf is a capable ball handler and can attack the rim while seniors Nick Rhodes and Jaden Graham provide key depth. Sophomore Cole Craffey played some meaningful minutes a year ago and will be one of the Tigers’ go-to options offensively this year. He’s very confident with the ball and can score inside and out.
With seven of their top eight scorers from a season ago gone, there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up. Freshman Solen Lolonga was in the starting lineup for the Tigers’ season-opening win over Southeastern and had a strong showing with 19 points. Vil also has a deep junior class that features Jake Willard, Daniel Casey, Andrew Sullivan, and David Rodgers, who all played in the win.
“Our strength this season on offense will be our ability to move the ball and create shots for one another,” Vil said. “We will have the same defense approach as last season, forcing our opponents into taking difficult shots and limiting transition offensive baskets. We now have minimal room for careless mistakes to compete in an already difficult conference. I am extremely excited to battle a plethora of well-coached disinclined teams every night we step on the floor to play a game this season.”
2021-2022 Record: 12-9 (Davenport division champions) Coach: Andrew Ferguson
Sharon won its first Davenport division title in eight seasons last year and with its top three scoring options back in the mix this year, the Eagles will be in contention to repeat that feat again this year.
Senior Matt Baur and juniors Jacob McLoughlin and Nate Katznelson give Sharon one of the top trios of players in the league. Baur, who earned HockomockSports First Team honors last year after averaging 15.1 points and 6 rebounds a game, is the heart and soul of the team. He leads by example both on and off the court and is the engine of the team. He doesn’t have to fill up the scoring column to have a big impact on the game. Both Katznelson and McLoughlin emerged as top players in their first season and will be vital pieces this year.
Senior captains Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman both came off the bench as key pieces for head coach Andrew Ferguson last year and will see increased responsibility this year. Bates is a pesky defender and a good floor general while Goodman can provide a spark with his shooting. Senior Dante James, an athletic wing player, comes over from Mansfield and should give the Eagles a big boost with their depth. Juniors Ryan Brown, Anthony Piron, and Cam Sherman provide backcourt depth while juniors Zach Wise, Jaden Segal, and sophomore Sam Letendre provide physicality to the Eagles’ frontcourt.
“With a small senior class, this team is blending experience with youth and has already begun to form a tight bond both on and off the court. Our practices have been super competitive and we look forward to competing against a very strong schedule.”
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Evan Taylor
Last season, Stoughton entered the final stretch of league games right in the mix for the Davenport division title but ended up on the outside looking in finishing in a tie for fourth and just missing out on the postseason. With just a few returners back in the mix, the Knights will be looking for a new group of players to lead them into the tournament and contend for the division crown.
Stoughton has two major challenges to address this year, one on each side of the ball. The Black Knights lost their three top scorers from last year with Connor Andrews (19.9 ppg) and Cash Mathurin (5.9 ppg) graduating, and Rayan Sablon (18.3 ppg) transferring out. Head coach Evan Taylor will lean heavily on his four returning players to try and fill that void. Senior Jayden Costa Haywood played some meaningful minutes a season ago and has taken a big leap and the Knights will look for him to provide an offensive punch. Junior Liam Pearl (5.2 ppg) also worked his way into the rotation and made some key shots in clutch moments, including at Foxboro and at home against Canton. Sophomore Matthew Greenspoon (5.6 ppg) is the top scorer back from last year and will look to build on a strong debut season as a freshman.
The other challenge for Stoughton will be on the defensive end as the Knights look to make a drastic improvement after allowing over 60 points per game last year. On top of the returners, Taylor is looking for senior Tagh Swierzewski and junior Jarred Daughtry to make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Other newcomers include senior Obioma Dike, juniors Elijah Connor, and Nathan Figaro, sophomore Mykel Thomas, and freshmen Anthony Alessi and Aiden Rideout.
“Defense has been the main focus at the start of this season,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to be a top three defense in the league with a lot of great on-ball defenders and high IQ players on the
2020-2021 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex division champions) Coach: Charlie Dacey
This season will mark a new chapter in the storied history of Taunton basketball. After back-to-back Kelley-Rex championships, including the program’s first outright title a year ago, the Tigers will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this year.
The biggest challenge will be replacing the production from one of the best trios in the Hock in recent history in Player of the Year Trent Santos, Faisal Mass, and Tristan Herry, who combined for just under 75% of the team’s scoring last year. One of the familiar faces returning to the starting group is junior Troy Santos, who has the most career points of anyone on the roster. Santos showed some flashes last year but will have a lot more looks this year. Seniors Chris Volcy and Alvinsky Morisseau, and junior Tyson Carter are also returners from last year and figure to see increased minutes this season.
Senior Chris Perault could be the biggest addition for the Tigers, a player that can score both from the perimeter and attacking the basket. Santos will factor in as one of the top shooters both on the team and in the league while Volcy has really improved from last year and could be a top scoring option for the Tigers. Longtime head coach Charlie Dacey is looking for Dimari Brown and Travis Johnson to provide a spark on the low block, plus some more faces to step up off of the bench.
“This year’s Taunton team will be very different from last year. This edition will be faster without a singular scorer, points can come from a variety of styles,” Dacey said. “Speed and aggressive defense will be the key to Taunton’s success this year.”
Franklin trailed by as much as 19 points overall, and even trailed by a dozen with six minutes to go but was able to rally to force overtime.
“The pride I have for the guys is unbelievable,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I was just telling them in the locker room how proud I was, they made the whole town of Franklin proud. A lot of teams would have just gone away with the way things were going and the momentum they were carrying. We had nothing going in the first half, we weren’t making shots we normally make, some bunnies and some easy looks. We weren’t playing like ourselves.
“We talked about how there’s no 10-point shot, no single shot will save us. It was about trusting each other, it was going to be a slow grind and a marathon of a second half.”
The 21st-seeded Knights landed a couple of haymakers in the first half, hitting on seven three-pointers and shooting over 50% from the floor to establish a 43-28 edge on the road going into the halftime break.
But the Panthers still had plenty of fight left, scratching and clawing their way back into the contest over the final 16 minutes of regulation.
Franklin cut the deficit down to five on a pair of occasions in the third quarter, the latter on a late three from sophomore Henry Digiorgio (16 points, five rebounds) but as they did all night, CM answered as Brady McGowan drained one of his four three-pointers before the buzzer to put the Knights up 60-52.
While Franklin had essentially cut the halftime deficit in half, the Panthers still had work to do. CM pushed its advantage back to double-digits, up 64-52 after a pair of free throws from Matt St. Martin.
Sophomore Sean O’Leary (16 points, 10 rebounds) scored inside, and a couple of plays later sank a three to get Franklin within two possessions down 66-59. A stop led to two more from O’Leary, and another stop was followed by a traditional three-point play from junior Ben Harvey, who had a career night with 20 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists.
Franklin got a pair of stops and overcame a turnover to get a chance to tie it down two. Harvey hit one from the line but senior Sean Vinson (24 points, eight rebounds) hauled in the offensive board and found Digiorgio for a three from way deep, and suddenly the Panthers led for the first time since the opening minutes of the game, up 68-66 with 45.7 to go.
The Panthers continued their stellar second half defense with another stop and Harvey tacked on one of two from the line to extend Franklin’s lead to 69-66 with 39.5 seconds left. CM answered as St. Martin hit a layup and was rewarded with a free throw as well, which he sank to make it 69-69. Franklin’s shot just before the buzzer hit off the iron and stayed out.
Vinson and CM’s Peter Gellene traded baskets to start the extra period, and then Vinson took a feed from classmate Ryan Sullivan to give Franklin a 73-71 lead. Corey Dolison answered with a three for the Knights, and after back-to-back Franklin turnovers, Gellene drained a triple to make it 77-73 with 1:52 left.
“They made a lot of big shots, a lot of tough shots like those pull-up jumpers in the lane — those aren’t easy shots,” Neely said. “I thought we made them work for everything they got. They had an answer tonight. I thought our defense was so much better and more physical in the second half and that brought a different energy. Top to bottom, we were the Franklin team I expect us to be every night in the second half. Unfortunately against a team like that, you can’t dig big holes. Give our guys a ton of credit, they played a ton of minutes against the pace they play at. But we just weren’t able to put them away.”
Sophomore Andrew O’Neill and O’Leary each made free throws, and the latter drove to the rim for two more to make it 79-78 with 11.5 seconds left. Franklin was forced to foul and Dolison hit both. The Panthers went the length of the court and got a contested three off before the buzzer but it was off the mark.
A back-and-forth first quarter saw the visitors take a 17-12 lead, but the Knight really created separation with some successful three-point shooting. CM hit on five of their seven attempts from three-point territory for a 26-point second quarter.
Harvey, who had reached double-digits in scoring just once this season, became a reliable option on the offensive end for the Panthers. He scored half of his 20 points in the first half and his success playing in the post helped formulate Franklin’s point of attack in the second.
“When he’s making those layups inside and he’s posting up like that, he’s pretty difficult to stop because he’s so physical,” Neely said of Harvey. “They don’t have a lot of size, a couple of wider bodies but they were switching everything and we thought we could get Harvey and O’Leary and Vinson inside and I thought that played out pretty well in the second half. We just didn’t finish like we needed to if you want to win a game in the Sweet 16 of the Division 1 tournament.”
Franklin started the second half with a 12-5 run to get back into the game. O’Leary had a steal that led to a bucket, Vinson scored on a post move and then knocked down a straightaway three. Vinson had another triple, Digorigio had two, and Harvey scored three straight as the Panthers cut the deficit down to 48-43 halfway through the quarter.
Franklin boys basketball finishes the season 20-4.
Attleboro, 69 @ King Philip, 44 – Final – A fire alarm midway through the third quarter at King Philip was a sign of things for come, but for the visiting Bombardiers. After a tight, back-and-forth first half, Attleboro’s offense caught fire in the second, opening with a 14-2 run and never looking back. The Bombardiers led by just two (17-15) after a quarter, and just three (31-28) going into halftime. Six players contributed to Attleboro’s 21-point third quarter with Evan Houle (nine points) and Jake Struminski (14 points) each chipping in with five, four from Colin Morais (eight points), and three from Alvin Harrison (five points). In his first game back, sophomore Neo Franco added 11 points while senior Joe Francois-Annevil spread out his career-high 17 points for the Bombardiers, who stretched the lead to 52-35 going into the fourth. Braeden Sottile led KP with 15 points while Will Laplante added 14 points.
Canton, 67 @ Sharon, 68 – Final (OT) – Sharon senior John Baez turned a steal into two points, junior Matt Baur hit a key three, and sophomore Jacob McLoughlin added two free throws down the stretch as the Eagles held off Canton to clinch at least a share of the Davenport division title. After neither team scored for the first two minutes of overtime, Baez (13 points) helped off his man and poked the ball free, going uncontested for a layup with 1:51 to play. Nate Mei (15 points) answered with a baseline jumper to tie the game again but the Eagles came back down and Baur (18 points) splashed in a corner three with the shot clock winding down. Sharon got a stop but Canton forced a turnover and Lanse Dorcelus (26 points) sank a free throw to cut the deficit to two with 29 seconds left. McLoughlin (10 points) tacked on two free throws to push it back to four. Matt Chafin (15 points) hit a three as time expired to cut it back to one. Canton sent the game into overtime with a 9-0 run in the final minutes, capped by a three from Conor Hunter with nine seconds to go to tie it 61-61. Sophomore Nate Katznelson added 10 points for the Eagles, who led 11-5 after the first quarter, 27-25 at halftime, and 48-41 going into the fourth.
Oliver Ames, 53 @ Foxboro, 55 – Final – Foxboro junior Alex Penders scored a career-high 30 points, including some key free throws in the final two minutes, to help the Warriors knock off Oliver Ames and keep their division title hopes alive. OA raced out to an 18-7 lead after a quarter of play and carried a 28-23 advantage into halftime. Senior Dylan Gordon exploded for 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter and Penders added eight as the Warriors put up 20 points to jump ahead 43-42 going into the fourth. Penders extended Foxboro’s lead with free throws to 54-51 with under a minute to go. OA’s Zach Tagliamonte (11-for-13 free throws, 25 points) battled through contact to finish down low to make it a one-point game before Foxboro added a free throw from Sam Golub. Off a miss on the second free throw with 6.5 seconds, the Warriors were able to prevent the Tigers from getting a shot off before the buzzer.
Franklin, 73 @ Milford, 53 – Final – Franklin connected on seven three pointers in the second quarter alone, blowing the game wide open in a win on the road at Milford, which was the 200th career win for FHS head coach CJ Neely. The Panthers jumped out to a 17-10 lead after eight minutes but junior Geino Scaringello and freshman Caden Sullivan each hit a pair of second quarter threes while Evan DaSilva, Will Tracey, and Sean O’Leary each had one as Franklin’s lead ballooned to 43-22 by halftime. Franklin finished with 13 three-pointers in the win and had 10 players find the score sheet, let by O’Leary’s 19 points and Sean Vinson’s 10 points.
Stoughton, 50 @ North Attleboro, 61 – Final – North Attleboro saw its first half lead vanish in the third quarter but the Rocketeers bounced back with its best quarter of the game in the fourth, pouring in 24 points to run away with the win and a season sweep of the Black Knights. North jumped out to a 16-9 lead after a quarter as senior Casey Poirier scored nine of his team-high 25 points in the opening frame. A three from Brody Rosenberg (20 points) and a pair of buckets from Givany Carney (eight points) helped the Rocketeers take a 29-23 lead into halftime. Connor Andrews (16 points) hit a pair of threes in the third for Stoughton while Rayan Sablon (11 points) and Matt Greenspoon each hit one as Stoughton surged ahead, 38-37, going into the fourth. Poirier and Rosenberg came to life in the fourth, each attributing nine points as North pulled away with the win.
King Philip, 34 @ Attleboro, 46 – Final – Attleboro outscored the Warriors by 10 in the second half to win its third straight game and sweep the season series. The score was 19-17 heading into the locker room, but the Bombardiers had a strong 14-7 third quarter to create a cushion heading to the fourth. Behind six points from Kayla Goldrick and four from Meghan Gordon, Attleboro won the final quarter 13-10 to seal the final win. Goldrick led the Bombardiers with 14 points, including a pair of threes, and Lindsey Perry added nine. Gordon, the team’s leading scorer, was held to eight points in the win. Emily Sawyer and Maddie Paschke both finished with eight points for KP, which also got six points from Liv Lafond.
Sharon, 50 @ Canton, 70 – Final – Canton coach Jim Choquette earned his 100th career win, as the Bulldogs picked up a third straight win. Jasmine Davis had a big game in the loss, scoring 25 points and pulling down 30 rebounds. Eva Poulton added 10 points for the Eagles.
Milford, 19 @ Franklin, 80 – Final – All 14 players scored for the Panthers, as they continued their unbeaten run. Milford stayed within seven after the first, but Franklin scored 24 points in each of the second and third quarters to take complete control. The Panthers held Milford to six points in the second half. Olivia Quinn was Franklin’s top scorer with 13 points (11 in the first half). Stefany Padula added 11, knocking down three from beyond the arc, and Katie Peterson and Sasha Tracey each finished with 10 points. Brooke Ferreira scored all of her team-high eight points in the first half and the Hawks also got three points from Erin Michelson.
Taunton, 46 @ Mansfield, 61 – Final – The Hornets came out firing, jumping out to a 25-6 lead that they never looked back from, despite Taunton rallying in the third (winning the quarter 16-5). After Taunton cut the lead to seven going into the fourth, Mansfield scored 19 points over the final eight minutes, including six each from Abby Wager and Olivia Salisbury, to seal the victory. Wager finished with a dozen points. Kara Santos led the Hornets with 14 points, including eight in the first, and Bridget Hanley and Salisbury each scored nine. Kameron St. Pierre scored a game-high 27 points, including all 13 of Taunton’s points in the second quarter. Cali Melo added 13 for the Tigers, all in the second half.
North Attleboro, 48 @ Stoughton, 28 – Final – Summer Doherty scored a season-high 21 points and North Attleboro held the Black Knights to just two points in the third quarter to pull out the road win. It was only a three-point game after one quarter and North built the lead to 21-15 at the half, but then took the third 14-2 to break the game open. Ava McKeon added eight points and Sam Faria had six for the Rocketeers.
Attleboro, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Oliver Ames got its second win in as many days, skating to a league win over Attleboro at Asiaf. Matt Lawson, Jack Perron, and Shaun Teehan each lit the lamp once for the Tigers, who had five players record an assist. Junior Brandon Burke made 17 saves in net to get the win.
FRANKLIN, Mass. — One of the best rivalries in the state added a new chapter on Friday night, and it was one of the best games in series history.
Up-and-down, back-and-forth the Panthers and the Hornets went, matching shot for shot and stop for stop over the course of four quarters — and it took every second of the 32 minutes to decide this one.
Mansfield senior Matty Hyland sank both of his one-and-one free throws with 13.4 seconds left and the Hornets held on as Franklin’s last-second turnaround jumper at the elbow hit off the iron and stayed out, securing a 56-55 victory in a thriller.
The largest lead for either side was nine in favor of the hosts after senior Sean Vinson, who had a career-high 27 points in a gutsy performance, knocked down one of his five three-pointers just a minute into the second quarter for a 20-11 lead.
Meanwhile, the visiting Hornets had the lead just three times in the first half. The first coming on the back of an 11-0 run that erased Franklin’s largest advantage, and twice more over the next couple of minutes. But each of the three leads never increased more than two points before Franklin tied it or went back ahead.
Mansfield’s first lead of the second half came on a three-pointer with a minute to go in the third quarter, a 42-41 lead that the Hornets carried into the final quarter.
And the final quarter, a rollercoaster back-and-forth that featured nine lead changes, the largest lead being five points for Mansfield at 52-47, but that too, was quickly erased as the Panthers retook the lead.
“It was a good old-fashioned boxing match,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “How many lead changes were there? It had to be a lot, it was back-and-forth. I think they had a little bigger of a margin than we did, I don’t think we ever had a big lead. I thought there were times we could have folded and put our tail between our legs but we came down and made big plays.
“Against Franklin, you have to find creative ways to score. Sometimes it’s threes, sometimes you have to get to the rim. They are so solid defensively, you have to be creative and find different ways to score each trip, and ultimately, we were able to do that for sure.”
The fourth lead change of the final quarter came on a nice pass from Mansfield junior Chris Hill to find sophomore Trevor Foley cutting to the basket. Foley had one of the best games of his career with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four steals, and two blocks — more to come on the blocks.
The fifth came right after on a nice up-and-under move from Vinson and the Panthers took a timeout.
Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield was the first team to get back-to-back buckets in the quarter, first with Hill dropping one in from close, and then after a stop, Hyland battled through some great defense to finish off a tough layup for a 50-47 lead. Another stop led to another bucket from Hyland for Mansfield’s largest lead of the entire game at 52-47.
It didn’t last long: Vinson knocked down a corner three off a pass from Justin Allen (11 points). The Panthers looked poised to tie the game after a turnover but Foley came racing back and pinned the ball against the backboard for a huge chase-down block.
The Panthers, who played the entire second half without leading scorer sophomore Henry Digiorgio because of an injury in the first half, weren’t too fazed as they got a stop and Ben Harvey found Vinson for yet another three, and just like that, Franklin was ahead with under two minutes to play.
The see-saw battle continued, and arguably the biggest plays of the game came next. Hyland came up with an offensive rebound to give the visitors a second shot, which was also off but this time Foley won the battle for the board.
The Hornets missed another chance but once again, Foley came flying in and tipped in the offensive board for two, and a 54-53 lead with under a minute to go. Mansfield won the rebounding battle 9-1 in the final quarter, including five offensive boards.
Andrew Slaney came up for a steal for the Hornets, and Vaughan tried to call a timeout but neither official noticed. The Panthers took advantage with a steal and Allen laid in an uncontested layup for a 54-55 lead with 20 seconds to go.
Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield came back up the floor in a hurry, and yet again Vaughan’s timeout efforts went unnoticed, and instead, Hyland drew a blocking call for Franklin’s seventh foul of the half.
Hyland finished with 17 of his 25 points in the second half for the Hornets, tying a career-high.
“There’s something to be said about guys like Matty and what he was able to do,” Vaughan said. “Vinson did a really good job against him defensively and really made him work for everything. And as much as I was trying to whine for a foul, he did it clean and he did a really good job of keeping him in front of him and Matty had to work for anything that he got.”
Hyland hit both free throws and Mansfield — who was well under the bonus — strategically fouled twice over the final 10 seconds to drain some clock. Franklin inbounded it with 3.9 seconds left and got off a shot but it was off the mark.
Mansfield boys basketball
“I thought the guys that were out there really gave their heart and soul, I can’t ask for more effort-wise,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “We’ll watch the film and probably see something things we could have done better execution-wise. You don’t want to let it go to that last possession like that, they had a lot of offensive rebounds that we could have pulled in and maybe turned it into a three-point lead instead of a one-point lead.
“You can’t give a team like that multiple chances down the stretch and unfortunately offensive rebounds killed us late. I don’t think it was for most of the game and we made them work for everything they got. Hyland’s a great player and made some big plays down the stretch that really sealed the game.”
As they often have this year, Franklin had a strong start to the game with success from range. Sophomore Andrew O’Neill hit a pair of three-pointers and sophomore Sean O’Leary cashed in on a Mansfield turnover for a quick 8-0 lead. A three from Caden Colby and a late steal and bucket from Foley closed the gap to 15-11 at the end of one.
O’Leary went to work in the paint for two and Vinson sank a three to Franklin’s largest lead but that was short-lived as Mansfield answered with an 11-0 run, sparked by a three from Jack Lasbury-Casey. Foley cleaned up his own miss and had another steal and layup, and Hyland had four straight to take a 22-20 lead.
“I’m proud of Trevor, he’s really come into his own. He’s played well the last couple of games and has kind of built some confidence and starting to play like a junior instead of a sophomore…his first half was huge, he stepped in and really took some of the pressure off Matty.”
Vinson stopped the bleeding to tie it 22-22, and then drained a three after Foley’s tough take handed Mansfield its second lead. Slaney hit one of Mansfield’s five total threes but this time it was Allen who answered with a three. Allen then added another one right before the buzzer to give Franklin a 32-27 lead at halftime.
“Sean Vinson has been one of the best leaders we’ve ever had and I expect nothing less of that when he’s on the floor,” Neely said. “He missed the first matchup [COVID], he was devastated. He was really looking forward to his chance to play Mansfield here at home, and you can see it in the effort he put out there. What a performance for him.”
Franklin finished 10-for-21 from three-point range, but only hit on three trifectas in the second half on half the attempts. Losing Digiorgio was a big blow to not only the shooting game (he made four on Tuesday against Taunton and had three in the first meeting with Mansfield), it hurt the Panthers’ rebounding game (Digiorgio had double-digit boards on Tuesday).
“That’s our leading scorer and one of our best players, it’s hard to in-game adjust to losing him,” Neely said. “I do think we settled in eventually and get O’Leary some touches inside and Vinson had some big shots, big plays, and we had some other guys step up. But you don’t just replace a guy like Hank, he’s a really good player that we missed out there.”
“We always want to try and take [the three] away because they have a lot of firepower there and they can do it in a hurry, you really have to try and keep them in check,” Vaughan said. “We made some adjustments and obviously Digiorgio not playing is super unfortunate and he’s a high-level scorer and rebounder, so I hope it isn’t bad and he’s back soon. You never want to see something like that happen and it changed their rotations and their shot selection.”
Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield boys basketball (12-1 Hockomock, 15-3) stays within a game of first place of the division with a game in hand and will travel to first place Taunton for a huge showdown on Tuesday. Franklin (11-3, 15-3) hits the road to visit Milford on the same day.
FRANKLIN, Mass. — The Franklin boys basketball team sent a message loud and clear to the rest of the Hockomock League and Division 1 on Tuesday night.
The Panthers are a serious contender.
Behind a near flawless opening three quarters, Franklin handed Taunton its first league loss of the season, and did so in emphatic fashion with a 77-48 win.
Franklin boys basketball
Franklin hit from deep early, which opened things up for the Panthers to successfully attack the basket, and the offense clicked on all cylinders the rest of the way. The hosts connected on 10 of their 11 three-pointers in the first three quarters and shot just under 70% from two-point range, carving up the Tiger’s defense.
With the win, Franklin extended its win streak to eight games, snapping Taunton’s 10-game unbeaten stretch in the process.
“That’s definitely our best game, no question,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Considering the opponent, considering the executing we had tonight. We challenged the kids to be more than a good team…but if you want to do special things in this league, you have to beat teams like Taunton and Mansfield.
“I thought tonight, the big difference was all the stuff that won’t make the paper…the extra slides, guys having each other’s backs, being there for rebounds. I thought top to bottom, everyone that went in the game gave us good minutes.”
Sophomores Sean O’Leary (25 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Henry Digiorgio (24 points, 12 rebounds) kickstarted things for the Panthers with back-to-back threes, O’Leary added another one and sophomore Andrew O’Neill joined the early three party.
Digiorgio capped the opened quarter with his fourth make from the floor and his second three just before the buzzer as Franklin jumped ahead 21-11.
Franklin boys basketball
With Taunton committed to closing out on the three-point line, the Panthers found success doing something they struggled with during the first meeting: attack the basket.
In the Tigers’ win in mid-January, Franklin didn’t have a two-point field goal in the first half and didn’t score one until just over three minutes left in the third quarter. That was far from the case this time around.
After two takes in the first quarter, the Panthers took advantage of the space in the paint it created from its three-point shooting.
O’Leary took it to the rim for two, senior Will Tracey found classmate Sean Vinson cutting to the basket for two, and after Taunton’s Trent Santos (20 points), who leads the league in scoring, scored his first bucket of the game, O’Leary went right through the defense to answer with a layup of his own.
Vinson, O’Leary, and Digiorgio all converted tough, contested takes and then Will Tracey splashed in a three as the Panthers pushed its lead to 20. Santos hit a late three to cut into the deficit but Franklin led 39-22 at halftime.
“It’s no secret we like to shoot from the outside, we challenged the guys in the offseason to improve there to open things up…but because of the first game against them, we emphasized getting a paint touch, attacking the rim a bit more and not being trigger happy,” Neely said, as Franklin shot 8-for-12 from two-point range in the second quarter. “I thought the guys responded well to the coaching and did a really good job of believing in each other, they’ve been focused in and it showed tonight.
“I thought our sharing of the ball and our aggressiveness to the rim…we attacked them. We didn’t try to just survive their pressure, we went right at them. They don’t go deep with their rotation so we wanted to run them up and down and get them moving the whole game.”
The third quarter turned out to be the most dominant from the hosts, though it didn’t start out like it. Santos hit an early three off a pass from Tristan Herry (12 points), and then grabbed a steal that led to an easy two.
But before Taunton could cut into the deficit any further, Digiorgio drained a three, Taunton missed from deep, and then O’Neill sank another triple to force a Taunton timeout as the lead jumped back up to 45-27.
“The thing I liked the most was the response to their run that they had right off the bat,” Neely said. “We talked about them being a really good team and we knew they’d come out and get after it. They have a lot of pride, they are an excellent team and I love some of the guys over there as far as how they compete and play the game. The response we had, that was a huge momentum swing for us.”
That ended up sparking a massive 29-2 run, as the Panthers continued to click on offense while Taunton couldn’t find any rhythm against the Franklin defense.
Franklin hit on 13 total shots in the quarter, O’Leary adding one more three while the Panthers continually pierced the defense for 11 two-point field goals. Overall, Franklin shot 18-for-25 from two-point range (72%) in the game while Taunton was just 12-for-48 from the field through the first three quarters, with Santos responsible for half of this makes.
Taunton finished with just eight turnovers and but Franklin dominated on the boards (45-19) and doubled the number of assists the Tigers had.
“They were very much disciplined on the offensive end and we didn’t respond…close outs, rotations, just fundamentally we just didn’t show,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And they are tough, they make you execute. If you make a mistake on defense, they punish you. And we made enough and we got punished. It was a bit of a clinic, now how much are we going to learn from it?”
Franklin boys basketball (11-2 Hockomock, 15-2 overall) has another crucial Kelley-Rex clash this week when it welcomes rival Mansfield on Friday. Taunton (12-1, 13-2) is on the road against with a visit to Attleboro.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Taunton senior Tristan Herry can impact a game without scoring because of his ballhandling, playmaking ability, and defense, but that certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of putting the ball in the basket.
Herry scored 10 of his season-high 23 points in the final quarter, hitting key free throws in the final moments to help the Tigers fend off a comeback attempt from visiting Franklin to secure a 70-61 win.
Taunton boys basketball
Taunton has one of the most dynamic offenses in the league this year with one of the most gifted scorers in senior Trent Santos, who scored a game-high 25 points in the win. But with Franklin’s defense zeroed in on the dynamic guard, the Tigers needed someone to step up.
When Franklin opened the final quarter with three free throws from sophomore Henry Digiorgio (15 points, four rebounds) to grab some momentum, Herry (six rebounds, three assists, three steals) came back down the other way and hit a jumper.
Digiorgio hit two more from the line to cut the deficit to just six, the closest the Panthers had been since trailing by five at halftime. But that’s when Herry used his vision to find Santos for a big three.
Franklin’s Ben Harvey muscled his way to the rim for two points to get the deficit down to seven, 53-46, with just over four minutes to go before Herry found classmate Faisal Mass (11 points) cutting to the rim for two points.
The Panthers scored on their third straight possession as senior Sean Vinson cleaned up his own miss, and then Franklin got a stop on defense but Taunton forced a turnover above the three-point line and Herry was first to pounce on it, hitting Mass on the break for two more.
The visitors refused to go quietly as Digiorgio drained a corner three to make it a seven-point game once again with just over two minutes left but Herry was calm against Franklin’s press, eventually drawing a foul and hitting both of his free throws.
After a big block from Mass down in the paint, Herry hit a contested jumper to put the hosts back up double digits with less than two minutes to go. He added four more free throws down the stretch to keep Taunton ahead for good.
“When he scores, it matters,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey about Herry. “We had Jordan [Costa] step up the other night for us. Tristan is so selfless, he thinks of everyone else first. We’ve talked about it before and he really takes his role of being the point guard serious, he wants to move the ball around but we’ve talked about needing him to step up and him being a scoring point guard.”
It was a back-and-forth first half as the separation between two of the top teams in the state didn’t come until the third quarter.
Taunton boys basketball
Taunton carried a 25-20 lead into halftime, the advantage cut to five after a corner three from Franklin senior Will Tracey shortly before the buzzer.
After starting the game with a 9-0 surge, Taunton started the second with a 12-3 burst to create a double-digit advantage. Santos opened with a three off of a pass from Mass only for Vinson to answer in the first two minutes.
Mass went up and finished off a pass from Costa and Santos hit two from the line after the Tigers forced a turnover. Herry’s good defense forced a miss that ended up in two free throws from Costa down the other end and two possessions later, a steal from sophomore Troy Santos (7 points, 4 rebounds) led to a three from Herry, a 37-23 lead, and a timeout from Franklin.
Taunton boys basketball
Taunton’s lead peaked at 15 points after Matt Small hauled in an offensive board and hit Troy Santos in the corner for a three and a 40-25 lead.
Franklin’s offense got it going out of the timeout, scoring 12 points over the final three minutes, but Taunton nearly matched it to stay ahead.
A floater from Digiorgio, a traditional three-point play from Tracey, and a layup from sophomore Andrew O’Neill (18 points, five assists) sparked the run but also marked Franklin’s first two-point field goals of the game with just over two minutes left in the third quarter. Franklin went 0-for-6 from two-point range in the first half and missed their first three attempts in the second half.
Small, who came off the bench while Costa was in foul trouble, finished off a nice pass from Troy Santos for Taunton but Digiorgio answered with a triple. Mass and Herry hit from the free throw line late before Digiorgio hit a layup to make it 46-35 at the end of the third quarter.
“He doesn’t have to score, he just busts his butt,” Dacey said of Small, who had two points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a block off the bench. He does all the dirty work, that’s the kind of stuff we need from him. There’s enough guys out there that have to score points for us but he doesn’t have to to help us.
Coming off a tough shooting night at Mansfield on Friday night, Franklin found some rhythm early. After a couple of misses, the Panthers got all of their points in the opening eight minutes from deep. O’Neill hit three of his own and Justin Allen hit another. Franklin finished 11-for-29 from three-point range.
“Those guys have a lot of talent, there’s no question about it,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely. “They make you work really hard on the defensive end and put your defense to the test. Even if you try to shut one guy down, they have another. They ran some nice sets, they get the right guys the ball where they need to get it and Charlie and Matt have done a nice job getting really good players good looks.
“We’re a good team and they are a great team. We have to more steps to get to the level of the two teams we played this weekend. They’ve shown us a lot, we have a lot of guys working hard but we just have to take that next step. I think we got a little excited about the start we’ve had so this is a good wake up call and we’ll see what we’re made of over the course of the next stretch of games.”
Taunton boys basketball (6-0 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) will look to extend its three-game winning streak on Tuesday when it hosts Oliver Ames at 6:30. Franklin (4-2, 7-2) will try to snap its two-game skid when it returns home from a six-game road trip to host Foxboro on the same day.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The solution to Mansfield’s problem was so simple, yet incredibly difficult at the same time.
The Hornets needed a basket.
With two elite defenses going at it, points were at a premium on Friday night and Mansfield’s 15-point lead over Franklin had dwindled down to three, having scored just four points in a six-minute span between the third and fourth quarters.
Franklin’s attempt at a tying three rimmed out and the Hornets got just what they needed, scoring on three of their next four possessions to finish strong and earn a 48-38 win over the previously undefeated Panthers.
The Hornets drew three fouls on one possession, getting into the bonus where Dante James hit a pair of free throws to extend the hosts’ lead to five, 41-36. Another open three from Franklin was off the mark and the Hornets survived a turnover as James went back to the line for two more.
After Caden Colby drew an offensive foul on the baseline to get the ball back, junior Chris Hill drove to the basket to draw the defense before dishing to senior Andrew Slaney for a wide-open three from the corner to put Mansfield up double-digits with just under two minutes to go.
Mansfield boys basketball
“That was a good old-fashioned fistfight,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We had to come down and get some points, it felt like we hadn’t scored much in the last couple of minutes. We had made a few silly plays and started to get a little passive. We got some points to push it to five and then Slaney hit the three a couple of possessions after and that was kind of the backbreaker.
“It’s a huge win, this is always one you get anxious about, you lose sleep over it…you’re watching a lot of game film, trying to be prepared. We know CJ [Neely] is going to do such a good job of knowing what we’re going to do so you feel like you’ve got to match that to give your kids a fighting chance. Any time you get can get a win against them in the league, now we’re playing from ahead instead of behind in the league race and that’s a big deal.”
The game got off to a hot start for both offenses, combining for 19 points over the first four minutes, but both defenses started to settle in as the game went on. After Mansfield won the opening quarter 18-12, the two squads combined for just 15 points (10-5 Mansfield) in the second quarter.
Mansfield boys basketball
Defense continued to be the theme in the second half. Mansfield’s lead peaked at 15 points after Matt Hyland (17 points, 12 rebounds, two steals) had a three-point play and a breakaway layup sandwiched around a strong take from Hill (seven points, five rebounds, five assists) to make it 35-20 with three minutes to play in the third.
The Panthers came out of the timeout with a renewed energy as sophomore Henry Digiorgio (11 points, six rebounds) drained a three off of an offensive rebound and junior John Brigham had a big block that led to a shot clock violation.
Digiorgio and James traded buckets before Brigham converted a putback and Sean O’Leary tacked on a free throw to pull Franklin within single digits, 37-28, going into the final quarter.
O’Leary scored on a nice post move to open the fourth and after a brief scoreless stretch from both sides, junior Justin Allen sank a three-pointer to get the visitors within four at 37-33.
Franklin got the stop it needed but couldn’t convert on a three and James dished it off to Hyland for two after a big rebound from Eddie McCoy. The Panthers quickly answered as Ben Harvey got into the paint to draw the help, finding Allen open for another three to make it 39-36 with four minutes left.
The Panthers got another stop and got a good look at the tying three but it stayed out and the Hornets called a timeout. They ended up finishing the game on a 9-2 run.
“I thought we had a lot of great looks…but 38 points isn’t going to get it done,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I really believe in what we were doing, I thought the ball was moving really well, they were composed, they made the passes, and we got some really, really good looks for guys that we’re used to seeing make shots, uncontested threes. This was a night where they hit some of their open ones and we didn’t.
“I’m really proud of the defense and the way that we responded after we went down, we had a shot in the air to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. But we just didn’t make our looks.”
Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield opened the game hitting nearly 80% of its shots, hitting on 7-of-9 attempts from the field, including a trio of three-pointers. Slaney, Hill, and Jack Lasbury-Casey each connected from downtown while Hyland attacked the rim for a pair of field goals. The Hornets only hit a pair of threes the rest of the way, including Slaney’s second with just two minutes left.
Digiorgio hit a pair of threes in the opening quarter but the Panthers were limited to one three in each the second and third quarters, finishing 6-for-25 from three-point range. Franklin ended up with 11 more field goal attempts than the hosts, and also struggled at the free throw line going 2-for-10.
“A lot of these guys were playing freshman basketball last year, they didn’t even get the JV experience because of COVID,” Neely said. The Panthers started three sophomores and two juniors. “It’s a pretty big jump from that to playing Mansfield’s varsity team in an environment like this. I really think they played well and had a good game but some of the shots just didn’t fall. We did what we had to do to get some great looks against one of the best defensive teams in the league so I was impressed with their response.”
Mansfield boys basketball (5-0 Hockomock, 7-0 overall) is back in action on Monday with a big non-league showdown at BC High. Franklin (4-1, 7-1) has a big test this weekend when it travels to Taunton on Sunday afternoon.