PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For most of the second half of Sunday afternoon’s game, everyone the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, including the Sharon defense, knew where Canton was going on the offensive end of the floor. The ball was going into the block to junior Hannah Jerrier as often as possible.
Knowing that she was going to get the ball did not make her any easier to stop.
Jerrier scored 26 points, including all 10 of Canton’s points in the third quarter and 18 of the 27 points the Bulldogs scored in the second half, and pulled down nine rebounds to lift the Bulldogs to a 58-49 victory and a season sweep of the Eagles.
“I think our team, now that we’re halfway through the year, is understanding their roles and they see Hannah being successful in the post, so they have more confidence in throwing it to her,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “Hannah stepping up has really helped us the last few games.”
The Bulldogs went to Jerrier on almost every possession in the third quarter, as they tried to protect a 12-point halftime lead. Guards Julia Hamilton and Maggie Connolly and fellow post players Emma Murphy and Erin Devine each had assists on the four baskets that Jerrier had in the third, as Canton utilized the high post to perfection and extended a run from the first half that built the lead to as many as 20 points.
“We were trying to go full-court press because that worked the first time we played them,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian of trying to defend Jerrier. “Once they beat the press they were able to get it down to her for easy buckets. In the half-court, she’s just tough to defend.”
It took the Eagles a while to get going on the offensive end int he third quarter, but Sharon started to chip away at the lead. Shira Stoller hit a runner and freshman Tylesia Herbert (seven points and three steals) buried a three from the far corner. Stoller closed the quarter with a steal, a layup, and the foul that got Sharon back within 10 heading to the fourth.
“We stuck with it,” said Tomassian. “I thought the girls just stepped it up and made some plays. All we ask is that no matter what the score is, no matter who we’re playing is to keep fighting.”
In the fourth, Stoller (seven points) banked in a runner to cut the lead down to single digits at 45-36 and Veronica Wallace started to heated up for the Eagles. She answered a Jerrier basket with a drive to the hoop and took a defensive rebound and flew past everyone on her way to another layup that got Sharon as close as five points (50-45).
“The first game we played them she had five missed layups and I think she took it a little personal and she came to play today,” said Tomassian of Wallace, who had eight points in the fourth and a team-high 12 for the game. “No one wants to stop her. If she gets into the open court in practice, everyone stands still and doesn’t want to touch her.”
Choquette took advantage of a timeout to settle down the Bulldogs and remind them of his halftime message. He explained, “There’s always a letdown and a point where they’re hitting their stride. I’m not worried about that part, once we get to a certain point, we have to draw a line in the sand and answer.
“During one of the timeouts he called, I said okay that was their run and it’s right back to playing our game. That worked, we answered their challenge and won the game.”
Connolly (eight points and seven rebounds) had a drive to the basket plus the foul that got momentum back with the Bulldogs. She scored six of her eight points in the fourth and Jerrier added eight as well to close out the win.
Playing in a much different environment than they are used to, both teams came out a little flat to start the game. Sharon’s offense was not helped by two quick fouls on sophomore Emma Eberhardt, who is the Eagles’ leading scorer this season. Eberhardt missed most of the first half and finished with eight points.
“She usually doesn’t come out very much at all,” said Tomassian of Eberhardt. “It’s the second half of the season and we’re seeing teams again or they’re seeing her before they play us and they’re defending her much better.”
Canton was struggling a little with the Sharon press but as the first quarter wore on the Bulldogs started to find seams and score in transition. Hamilton had all seven of her points in the first half and Murphy added 11 of her 13 before the break, as Canton closed the second quarter on an 8-0 run to break the game open.
On Tuesday, Canton (4-9, 3-8) will try to make it three wins in a row when it travels to Oliver Ames. Sharon (5-10, 2-9) has to run the table to qualify for the state tournament and that begins on Tuesday with a trip to Franklin.
SHARON, Mass. – Attleboro senior Sarah Deyo stepped to the line in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Sharon needing just one point to reach 1,000 points for her career. Her friends and family, including her parents and her brother, were cheering in the stands just over her right shoulder while her teammates stood in anticipation on the bench to her left.
Deyo took a breath and shot the front end of a one-and-one. That is when things got a little different.
The shot missed short, but none of the rebounders had moved and the ball caromed directly back to Deyo. She grabbed it and looked down at the ball, seemingly in shock. Still, no one moved. It seemed like an eternity (but was most likely only a second) before Attleboro coach Rick Patch yelled at Deyo to shoot and the Southern New Hampshire-commit realized what was happening and drove to the basket for the milestone-achieving layup.
“Everyone just stood there and everyone was just looking at me,” joked Deyo after the game. “I was just looking at the ball and was like what am I supposed to be doing until someone said, shoot it! I just dribbled and shot the ball.” She added with a laugh, “I was so confused.”
Deyo finished the game with 28 points, leaving her at 1,002 for her career, and Julia Strachan added 30 points, on 10 made three-pointers, to lift the Bombardiers to a 92-55 victory. It was Attleboro’s third straight win by at least 30 points to start the season.
But after the game, all the talk was about Deyo and her accomplishment. Patch said, “You’re looking for a leader and often times she’ll finish doing cardio and she’ll see other kids still running and she’ll jump in and she continues to encourage.”
When it was mentioned that Deyo reached the milestone while unselfishly dishing out seven assists (and pulling down 15 rebounds), Patch replied, “I think that says everything about her and what our program is about… That’s part of her commitment to the team…She’s a very selfless kid who really just wants to win.”
As she was surrounded by well-wishers after the final whistle, Deyo explained, “I wasn’t trying to force anything, I just wanted it to happen when it was meant to happen. I just felt like if I continued to play how I play, rebounding, passing the ball, shooting, then it was going to come.”
She admitted, “That last free throw that I missed, it was definitely on my mind. I could just see everyone standing up and I was like, oh God.”
The Bombardiers came in focused on getting the ball to Deyo and allowing her to make a run at the milestone and their press forced turnovers and led to easy baskets in transition. Sharon scored the opening basket on a layup by Emma Eberhardt (team-high 20 points), but Attleboro would go on a 21-2 run to break the game open early.
Deyo scored eight in the quarter and Strachan knocked down a pair of threes. Jordyn Lako added four points, including a fast break layup off a Sam Pierce (nine points) steal. The Eagles tried to stay close when Kaitlyn Wallace (14 points) and Veronica Wallace(nine points) buried threes to end the quarter but the hosts trailed 23-10 after one.
Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian said, “We talked about running our press break in our positions the way we were supposed to be and a couple of times we just didn’t have a girl in the middle where they’re most vulnerable. We got over half-court and the girls didn’t know what to do anymore.
“Once that got going, it was just tough for us to get back into it.”
As a contest, the Bombardiers put the game out of reach in the second, outscoring Sharon 30-5. The Bombardiers hit seven shots from beyond the arc with Strachan hitting four, Lako (12 points) knocking down two and Deyo stepping back to make one as well.
The hot shooting carried over to the third quarter with Strachan again showing off the range. The Adelphi-commit made three more from outside, two from the corner including one off a drive and kick by Deyo. With 10 threes on Tuesday, Strachan has already made 20 on the season and hit the 30-point mark in a game for the second time this year.
“When she gets one of her first two it’s like a confidence boost for her,” said Patch. “She is probably one of the best shooters, male or female, I’ve seen in high school. She’s had…20 threes; that’s a lot. That’s a season for some kids.”
The Eagles continued to play hard in the final quarter despite the big deficit. Shira Stoller (eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists) knocked down a pair of threes and Kaitlyn Wallace added a pair as well. Eberhardt led the way with 11 of her 20 points in the fourth.
Tomassian said, “I know they took most of their starters out at that point but it’s good to see that our bench players and even our starters were still engaged in the game. It’s good to know they’re all staying positive.”
Last season, the Bombardiers had another player chasing 1,000 but Emily Houle did not close in on the milestone until the final few games of the regular season. This year, the Bombardiers will not have to worry about that and can now focus solely on their quest for a first Hockomock title.
“Last year was a perfect storm for everyone but us,” Patch admitted. “That was a big wear and tear on everybody. I just told [Sarah] to go out and play and once she gets close you know we’re going to pound it to you.”
Attleboro (3-0) will step out of the league next week to play in the Cranston East (R.I.) tournament, with the first game against Cranston West (R.I.) on Tuesday. Sharon (2-2) has eight days off before hosting Holliston.
2015-16 Record: 6-14 (3-13) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Jim Choquette
The Bulldogs continue to add to the program both on the court and on the bench with former Canton and UMass Boston star Olivia Murphy joining the coaching staff this season to help out with the freshman team. It is a sign of the continued growth of the program under head coach Jim Choquette, who is hoping that the momentum built at the end of last season will carry over to this year.
Senior forward Emma Murphy returns after a league all-star season and will be joined on the front line by returning starters senior Casey Shea and juniorHannah Jerrier, who was an honorable mention for all-star last winter. Adding depth on the front line will be sophomore forwards Molly Ludwig and Erin Devine, who lacks inexperience but adds significant height.
“Our strengths will be scrappy defense and rebounding on both ends,” said Choquette. “our goal is to improve each game and be playing our best headed into the last part of the season…the faster we find chemistry the faster we’ll find the win column.”
2015-16 Record: 15-7 (11-5) 2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal Head Coach: Lisa Downs
Despite a lot of youth in the lineup, Foxboro has been one of the top teams in the Davenport division for several seasons and this year should be no different, as the Warriors enter the winter with very high expectations and as one of the favorites for the league title.
A lot of the interest in the Warriors stems from the continued development of junior point guard Ashley Sampson, who has turned into one of the best all-around guards in the Hockomock and is the player that the Foxboro offense flows through. Sampson has plenty of help in the backcourt with classmate Lily Sykes, who offers scoring from the perimeter, and seniors Lauren Flahive, Riley Collins (back after an injury), and Hailey Maling, who are all strong on the ball defenders.
In the front court, Kristen Bortolotti is back after missing last year with an injury and will add speed and a strong mid-range game. Junior Grace Tamulionis is another matchup nightmare for the opposition with her size on the boards and on defense and her ability to step outside and shoot the three. Junior Shannon Smally continues to improve and gives the Warriors an inside presence, while newcomers Chelsea Gibbons and Abby Hassmancould make big contributions for the Warriors.
“The girls have been playing together throughout the summer and fall and this familiarity should work to our benefit this season,” said head coach Lisa Downs. “We will continue to focus on our running game and our defensive efforts and I am fortunate to have the players that not only buy into this system, but, also appreciate this pace.”
2015-16 Record: 9-11 (5-11) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver
After missing out on a playoff spot by one game a season ago under first-year head coach T.J. Dolliver, Milford enters this winter with high hopes of making the leap into the postseason with a deep and versatile roster that has gained a lot of experience together over the past few seasons.
The enthusiasm for the Hawks begins with dynamic junior point guard Kate Irwin, who has shown the ability to get to the basket at will, draw defenses to get open looks for her teammates and also be a pesky on the ball defender. With Irwin creating open shots, junior Emily Piergustavo’s return after missing last year with an injury will be a big boost on the perimeter along with senior guard Jill Burley.
“These girls have been playing together for a while and their team chemistry is amazing,” said Dolliver. “We are starting to learn the minor details of offense and defense in order to give our team a better chance of success.”
2015-16 Record: 11-10 (9-7) 2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South tournament Head Coach: Derek Herber
The Rocketeers head into their first season in the Davenport division with eight returning players from last year’s team that was two points away from a first round victory in the Div. 2 South tournament against Hock rival Oliver Ames.
Senior Ashley Ahern is a three-year starter at guard and was the team’s leading scorer last winter. Ahern will be the player that gets the offense going, but she will get plenty of help from her classmates, Emily Schromm and Samantha Taggart. Schromm was one of the top defenders in the league and can stretch a defense with her outside shooting and Taggart can play all three guard positions and led North in assists last year. In the paint, senior Caroline Collard is the team’s leading rebounder and showed a soft touch around the basket.
North can also look for improvements from sophomore Julia Feid, who got valuable minutes as a rookie last year, senior Liz Morehouse, who adds depth in the post, and juniors Julia Santos, who both brought athleticism off the bench at the wing positions. Sophomore forward Mackenzie Roberts is a newcomer who adds size and outside shooting and junior Emily Pastore can step in at all three guard positions.
The Rocketeers have plenty of experience on the roster and will be one of the favorites for the league title at the beginning of the season. While head coach Derek Herber can count on a number of returning players, he hopes to “mix in a few new faces into the lineup to help with depth.”
Sharon is another team that has been building with youth and has created a lot of depth on its roster and, despite losing three of its top four scorers from last winter, has garnered preseason hype as a potential sleeper to make a return to the postseason for the first time since the Eagles made a run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
The Eagles will be hoping for an improvement on the offensive side of the ball, which was a challenge at times last winter. Junior point guard Shira Stoller, a three-year starter, is continuing to improve at limiting turnovers and looking for her own shot as well as setting up teammates. One of the players that benefits from Stoller’s ability to get into the lane is sophomore Emma Eberhardt, who was third on the team in points as a rookie and continues to develop into a consistent wing scorer.
Sophomore Veronica Wallace has emerged as one of the top backcourt defenders during the preseason and is one of the fastest players on the Sharon roster. Senior Ana Crosby, who is also a standout on the soccer and lacrosse fields, is another player that is continuing to improve and will have an increased role this season. Freshman Kaitlyn Wallace is a newcomer to watch and could have a bigger role to play over the course of the year.
“Our defense is going to have to be our key in order to compete, and our girls know that,” said third-year coach Cliff Tomassian. “We get our best looks on offense off of great defensive stands. Our girls are going to have to be patient and vigilant on both ends and be ready to take chances.”
2015-16 Record: 7-11 (7-9) 2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
The Black Knights lost six seniors to graduation but this offers plenty of opportunities for a new crop of younger players to get playing time and learn the system of second-year head coach, and former Stoughton star, Charmaine Steele Jordan.
Two of the players that will be counted on most this season are junior forwards Val Whalen and Jordan Motley, who are two of the best rebounders in the league and can also get out on the break and score in transition. Their development in the half-court offense will be a key for Stoughton making a playoff push in the Davenport division this season. Senior Lili Njiem is another player that could make a big impact, as one of the team’s three captains.
The Black Knights will have as many senior as freshmen on this year’s roster (three) along with four sophomores and three juniors, so the foundation for the future is in place. Shyanne Trinh, Lexi Baptista, and Aliyah Wright are the three newcomers to the program who will be hoping to make an instant impact.
“So excited for the upcoming season,” said Steele Jordan. “We lost six seniors so there is lots of opportunity for our players to step up. Our returnees from last year will contribute for us despite being pretty young.”
SHARON, Mass. – Heading into the fourth quarter, first-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan let her team know that she was frustrated. Jordan, one of the program’s all-time top scorers during her playing days, urged the Black Knights to compete for the name on the front of the jersey.
Stoughton got the message and turned around a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter at Sharon on Friday night to pull out a 52-49 victory that leaves the team just two wins away from a return to the state tournament.
“I was trying to get them pumped up and motivated and to really get over that mental toughness hump,” said Jordan. “It was great to see them rise to the occasion and be like okay, we’re not backing down.”
The Black Knights came out of the huddle with renewed energy to start the fourth quarter and it did not take them long to get back into the game. Bridgette Whalen knocked down the first of two free throws to cut the lead to three and then Alecia Quinones (17 points and 11 rebounds) snatched the miss to save the possession.
Quinones swung the ball around to the top of the circle and senior guard Sarah Quattrucci, who banked in a three-pointer to tie the game at 42-42.
Sharon responded quickly to regain the lead. Sophomore Shira Stoller (five assists) threw a perfect pass through the Stoughton zone to classmate Angela Wallace who finished the layup and was fouled.
Once again it was Quinones that made a big play for Stoughton. The league’s leading scorer (averaging more than 20 points per game) snatched a crosscourt pass and took it the length of the court for a layup that cut the lead back to one.
“She does a nice job reading the quarterback’s eyes,” said Jordan of Quinones, “and she’s got a nice feel for the game, so I’m glad she’s wearing orange and black.”
Jess Greer (game-high 18 points) buried her fourth three of the game to give the Black Knights the lead and Quinones made one of two free throws to make it 48-45. After Alyssa Piazza (11 points, seven rebounds) made to from the line, Wallace knocked down a pair to give the Eagles a one-point advantage. Wallace finished with a career-high 15 points to lead Sharon.
“She was playing AAU in the spring and fall and gained more confidence there,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian of Wallace, who played on varsity as a freshman but was still mentally recovering from a torn ACL she suffered as an eighth grader.
“To see her come out tonight and finish like that and to hit her foul shots, which has been a real problem for her, was awesome to see.”
After an Ava Siegel free throw tied the game, Quinones snatched another defensive board and quickly looked ahead to Greer, who had leaked out, for an easy transition bucket that gave the Black Knights the lead for good.
“For us, there’s one thing I was screaming the whole game was we have to do it with our defense,” Jordan explained. “Teams are going to score but we still have to play tough defense and finish it with a rebound. It turned gears and clicked in and they were able to make it happen.”
When the game began, it looked like Stoughton might be able to run away with an easy win. The Black Knights jumped out to 7-0 lead behind four points from Quinones. Sharon, coming off a 40-point loss to Attleboro on Tuesday, looked shaky but after a timeout started to settle down and finished the quarter with a 7-0 run of its own.
The second quarter unexpectedly turned into a shootout. Sharon got off to a strong start thanks to two quick buckets from Stoller. The point guard started to look for her own shot and to find seams in the Stoughton zone off the dribble.
“I told her at halftime, I told her in the locker room, after halftime, after the game, look what happens when you go to the hoop,” said Tomassian. “When she steps up, we’re a lot better.”
Wallace also provided a spark in the second with six points, while freshman Emma Eberhardt added all four of her points in the quarter. Stoughton countered with its outside game.
Greer knocked down three of her four three-pointers in the second to give the Black Knights a spark and as halftime approached the visitors led by one, until Stoller knocked down a shot from just beyond half-court that put Sharon in front 28-26 at the break.
The third quarter was similar with the two teams trading blows. Quinones scored six in the third, but was matched by Piazza, who scored six of her 11 points in the quarter, and Stoller who knocked down a step-back, fall away jumper to put the Eagles up four.
“We got beat pretty good there in the second game of the season,” said Tomassian, referencing Stoughton’s 57-45 win in December. “I told them in the locker room that I couldn’t be more proud of how physical they played considering how out-matched we were. They battled the whole game.”
Stoughton (7-3, 7-2) rallied in the fourth quarter to pick up the win and to keep pace with Oliver Ames atop the Davenport standings. The Black Knights will face both league leaders next week starting with Mansfield on Tuesday. Sharon (3-8, 1-8) will try to bounce back against Fontbonne Academy on Sunday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
By Allie Piergustavo, HockomockSports.com Contributor
MILFORD, Mass. – Both the Milford Scarlet Hawks and the Sharon Eagles entered Monday night’s contest with similar goals in mind.
Milford entered the game off of a close and exciting win against border rival Hopedale and was looking to keep momentum in its direction. Sharon entered with the same goal, winning the past two games at its own holiday tournament over winter break and looking to get back to .500 for the season.
It was the Eagles that came out on top in the divisional matchup, defeating the Hawks 39-31. Senior Charlotte Ransom and freshman Emma Eberhardt tied with for the team-high 11 points apiece and senior Alyssa Piazza added 10 for the Eagles.
The game, however, did not begin in Sharon’s favor. In the first 2-1/2 minutes of play, Milford held a 6-1 lead.
“We started off with a man press, full court, it wasn’t really working to our advantage in the first quarter,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian. In fact, Sharon scored more points via free throws than field goals, while committing only one foul of its own in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, Milford led Sharon 10-5. Sophomores Juliana Tracy and Kate Irwin dominated the quarter, with Irwin scoring six points and Tracy scoring four.
“We started off the way we wanted to,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver, “getting a couple steals, couple easy buckets, and that’s the way you hope to start out every game.”
Milford, however, could not keep its lead. Sharon began the second quarter on a 3-0 run, and held Milford without a point for the majority of the quarter.
Sharon committed just one foul in the second quarter, while also scoring 14 points. Milford, on the other hand, committed five fouls, and were limited to just three points in the entirety of the second.
“There was really good teamwork and communication on the defensive end to get those steals,” Tomassian added. “It led to a pretty good second quarter for us.”
While reflecting on the game, Dolliver said, “We just couldn’t buy a bucket; shots weren’t falling for us. It’s not something you can really be mad about as a coach. I think a lot of shots were forced, they just didn’t fall for us tonight.”
One of Sharon’s main advantages that gave them the lead was making Milford pay for its fouls and turnovers. Milford turned the ball over 20 times in the game.’
Milford’s top scorer for the night was sophomore Kate Irwin with 11 points. The Hawks’ top rebounders were sophomore Juliana Tracy and junior Nicole Dahlgren, tallying seven apiece.
Milford (4-3, 1-3) returns to the court on Friday at home against Foxboro and Sharon (3-3, 1-3) travels to Oliver Ames that night.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In the first half, the North Attleboro full-court press was dominating. The Rocketeers smothered Sharon, forcing nine turnovers in the first quarter alone and pulling out to a 21-point advantage by halftime.
The second half was very different. North pulled back into its half-court defense to try and preserve the energy of a short bench, the Eagles turned the ball over less and Sharon cut into the Rocketeers lead, getting it as low as 13 twice in the fourth quarter.
The first half deficit was too large for Sharon to overcome and the Rocketeers, the three-time defending Hockomock League champions, got points from eight of the nine players on the roster to pull out a 57-44 win at the Kenneth Pickering Gym and move to 3-0 on the season.
“They’re a well-coached team,” said North coach Derek Herber, “and they’ve got some players that can do some damage. They posed us some problems on the edge. We played well and luckily we hit some shots early that kept them off-balance.”
The game started with neither team able to find the bottom of the net. It took three minutes for the first basket and that was scored by Sharon freshman Emma Eberhardt, who was making her first career start, on a driving layup.
“I talked to her before the game and she was very calm. She’s like coach I feel good,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian. “What I like about Emma is when we emphasized taking it to the basket, she’s one of the ones that will do it.”
North countered with senior Kiersten Bixby, who came off the bench and scored a pair of buckets in the paint. Caroline Collard (team-high 13 points) added a pair of layups, Ashley Ahern buried a three-pointer and the Rocketeers closed the quarter on a 7-0 run.
Turnovers continued to plague the Eagles throughout the half and in the second quarter North pulled away.
The Rocketeers knocked down four threes, including a pair by Emily Schromm who scored eight of her 10 points in the second. Sophomore Emily Haskell hit one from beyond the arc and even senior forward Emily Peters got in the act with a shot from straightaway that made it 34-11.
“The second quarter kind of got away from us,” said Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian. “We tried a bunch of different defenses – 2-3, 3-2 – and nothing really worked so that’s what we talked about in halftime was getting back and rotating and talking to each other on defense.”
The defense improved in the second half, as the Eagles held North to just 10 points in the third. The Rocketeers also pulled out of the press and Sharon was able to get the ball into senior Alyssa Piazza in the post. Piazza (10 rebounds) scored seven of her game-high 18 points in the third quarter, five of those from the free throw line.
Charlotte Ransom knocked down the first of her two second half threes and Sharon had cut the lead to 16. Ransom (13 points) would add seven points in the fourth quarter, including a three inside the final two minutes that cut the lead down to 53-38.
“We talked about being patient and not looking to try and score on the fast break but to set up and get into our offense,” said Tomassian about the improved offensive play in the second half.
Herber admitted that North is probably at its best when it is pressing and forcing the game to be played at its tempo, but he was also worried about wearing his team out so early in the season.
He explained, “A couple of the kids were out sick so we can’t put it on the whole time. In the second half we stayed away from it because we had some illness and we’re trying to keep people fresh.”
Although Sharon cut into the North lead and the Eagles defense was much better in the second half, particularly in rotating from side to side, the Rocketeers’ ball movement opened up passing lanes and created good scoring opportunities.
One sequence of quick passes around the perimeter led to an angled skip to Samantha Taggart (five assists) at the three-point line and she fired a quick pass into the post for a Collard layup. On another sequence, Ahern (13 points, six assists) drove through the lane and was able to squeeze a drop pass between two defenders for another layup.
“Everything is going to start with them and we’re trying to get them to be more assertive, but they want to share the ball sometimes to a fault,” said Herber of his two junior guards, Ahern and Taggart. “They’ve been playing great for us all year.”
He continued, “These kids share the ball very well and I’m very proud of the way they play that aspect. There’s not one kid who is trying to take a lot of shots.”
Piazza scored a pair of buckets in the final minute, both times cutting the North lead to 12. In the end, the Eagles had only four players get on the scoresheet (none off the bench) compared to the Rocketeers’ eight and it was too much to overcome.
North Attleboro (3-0) will now prepare for rival Bishop Feehan on Dec. 30. Sharon (0-3) will host Sandwich two days earlier.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
2014-15 Record: 4-16 (2-14) 2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been significant progress made in the three years that Jim Choquette has been in charge of the program and he is hoping that this year “will be another step forward” for the Bulldogs. Canton comes into this winter with momentum after winning four games down the stretch of last season and, as Choquette explained, narrowly missing out on a handful of other wins.
Senior captains Meaghan Hunter (who did not play high school basketball until her sophomore year) and Shannon Foley will be the leaders of the team and counted on to get the team into its offense. Junior Emma Murphy is back for her third season on varsity and she continues to develop as a post player. As Choquette noted, Murphy has already started 40 games in her Bulldogs career, so experience is not an issue.
Junior Casey Shea will join Murphy in the post and she is another player that continues to develop. Sophomore Hannah Jerrier had a big season with her AAU team at Mass Premier and Choquette thinks that she is primed for a breakout season along with classmate Jess Powers, who emerged at the tail end of last season.
The Bulldogs will also look to incorporate a pair of freshmen into the system with Erin Devine, who Choquette said has already grown to 6-foot-3, and incoming point guard Julia Hamilton, who may be a star in the making.
“There’s a lot of buzz about this team,” he said. “The girls have really bought into the system. Now we just have to learn how to win those close games.”
2014-15 Record: 21-3 (14-2) 2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South final Head Coach: Lisa Downs
Experienced is not generally an adjective used when describing a team that is going to start four sophomores at the beginning of the season, but all four of the underclassmen in Foxboro’s starting lineup saw significant playing time during the Warriors’ run to the sectional final last year. With HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Hock MVP Kat Tamulionis graduated, the ball is now going to be in the hands of these young players and they will be given every opportunity to produce.
The primary ball-handler will be sophomore Ashley Sampson. Sampson had a breakout rookie season in which she became one of Foxboro’s best weapons off the bench and showed no fear against even the best teams in the league and the state. Classmate Lily Sykes will join her in the backcourt and adds another good shooter and defender at the guard position. Cassidy Harrison will be the lone senior in the starting five and will provide shooting on the wing.
Sophomore Grace Tamulionis showed tons of potential last season and is a versatile forward that can step back and shoot and has the size to crash the boards. She will be joined in the post by classmate Shannon Smalley, who head coach Lisa Downs said had a great summer. Downs also noted that junior Lauren Flahive could come off the bench as a defensive option and senior Carolynn Will is another option as a shooter at the forward position.
Foxboro could see a big boost a couple of weeks into the season if junior small forward Kristen Bortolotti returns from a concussion suffered during soccer. In the meantime, Downs has no concerns about turning to her underclassmen. She said, “It’s so important that they had a year of experience. Kat [Tamulionis] was good for them because she had confidence in them and they played like it.”
2014-15 Record: 7-13 (5-11) 2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford enters a new season with a new coach. T.J. Dolliver moves into his first head coaching position at the high school level, after being an assistant for boys’ coach Paul Seaver, and he is “excited” by the potential that the Hawks have shown in the opening weeks of practice and during the opening game of the season (a 44-21 win over Hopedale).
There is only one senior on the roster, but the Hawks gained a lot of experience last year. The focal point for the Hawks offense (and for opposing defenses) will be sophomore guard Kate Irwin. The dynamic lefty has quickness, vision, and shooting touch and she provides Milford with a spark on both ends of the floor. She will get plenty of help from junior forwards Nicole Dahlgren, Christine Pye and Brianna Croteau.
The lone senior on the roster is Jill Powers, who knocked down a couple of threes in the season opener. Sophomore forward Gill Valanzola will add depth at the forward position and junior guards Emma Liskov and Jill Burley will give Irwin help in the backcourt. Dolliver is also hoping to get sophomore Emily Piergustavo back at some point this season to help the Hawks spread the floor with her shooting.
Dolliver appreciates the depth and versatility in the Hawks roster this season and is already worried about making sure he spreads the minutes around to get everyone a chance on the court. “It’s exciting being at the head of the program,” said Dolliver. “We’re having a lot of fun. It’s about defense first and we make sure to keep them working hard.”
2014-15 Record: 12-9 (10-6) 2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South first round Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
The Tigers finished second behind Foxboro in the Davenport last year and expectations are high that this Oliver Ames team will challenge the Warriors again this winter. Team chemistry seems to be as high as ever in the Tigers group with a smaller roster of just nine players that have battled illnesses and other obstacles during the two weeks of preseason practice. Head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook is hoping that her team will rally around each other and can make a good start to the season.
Although she has missed a few days of practice with illness, junior Francesca Calabraro is going to be the player that OA counts on the most this season. Calabraro was the team’s leading scorer last season and also one of the league’s best in picking up steals. Calabraro is lethal on the break and that is a key to how the Tigers like to play. Sophomore Kayla Raymond, who saw plenty of time as a rookie, has shown the potential of being a top scorer and a force on both ends of the court.
Senior captain Kaitlyn McCarthy was credited with holding things together for the Tigers during the tumultuous opening weeks of practice and she is joined in the leadership role by fellow captain Sam Bamford who is a tenacious defender at the point guard position. Junior forward Niyera Mitchell gives the Tigers size and athleticism in the middle. Hannah Carroll and Abby Reardon will add depth at the guard position.
There may not be a lot of players on the varsity roster this season for OA, but Clement-Holbrookbelieves this may be the closest her team has been. She said, “There is a lot of energy in the gym and a level of enthusiasm that shows they want to be out there. I hope the players can come together and find support from each other on the court.”
In his first season in charge, Cliff Tomassian took over a program that had reached the sectional final at UMass Boston for the first time in decades but one that lost its three best players including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Karlie O’Driscoll. The Eagles were competitive throughout the season, particularly on defense, but struggled on the offensive end and missed the tournament, something Tomassian believes can change this winter.
If Sharon is going to improve on offense and make a charge at the postseason then the Eagles will need a full season out of senior forward Alyssa Piazza. The team’s leading scorer last year has missed portions of each of the last two seasons, but when she is on the court is a strong post scorer and dominant rebounder. Tomassian said, “When she’s on the court, she’s one of our most productive players.”
Sophomore guard Shira Stoller will also be back this year and Tomassian has urged the point guard to look for her own shot more and take some of the pressure off Piazza. With a point guard that can get to the basket and a forward that can score in the post, the perimeter should open up for Sharon and that is where seniors Ashley Mukasa and Charlotte Ransom can excel as spot up shooters.
The Eagles will once again be counting on young players to acclimate to the varsity level quickly, including sophomore Jessica Allan and freshmen Emma Eberhardt and Veronica Wallace. “Once the girls get used to the physicality of the varsity level we’ll be fine,” explained Tomassian. “Our expectation is making the tournament.”
After three decades in charge, Janet Sullivan stepped down as the head coach at Stoughton and the program turned to someone who knows all about the program to step in this winter. Former Stoughton player and 1,000 point scorer Charmaine Steele-Jordan, who played at Quinnipiac and was an assistant coach at Boston University, takes over and had already brought a buzz to the Black Knights heading into the season. “There couldn’t have been a better place to fall,” said Jordan about the chance to take over at her alma mater.
Senior Alecia Quinones gives Steele-Jordan a weapon to work around. The forward has the size to match up with opposing post players and the athleticism to match up with wings. On offense she also adds versatility with an improving jump shot and good moves on the block. Fellow senior Jess Greer is the primary ball-handler and can also knock down the three.
Senior forward Ava Seigel is the third captain this season and is another important cog on both ends of the floor. Senior Bridgette Whalen and sophomore Valerie Whalen will add more size and strength in the paint for the Black Knights. Defense was always a strength of Stoughton and that will certainly continue under the new coach.
Last season, the Black Knights struggled in the half-court offense and Steele-Jordan has already introduced a much higher pace to the team during the first couple weeks of practice and is hoping that Stoughton can get up and down the court to get points in transition. She explained, “We want to get up and down the floor and only set up when we have to. We want to be able to press and try different things this year.”
For a list of 10 Players to Watch in Hockomock League girls’ basketball this season, click here.