Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 12/14/18

Today’s games are listed below.

Boys Basketball
Mansfield, 62 @ Attleboro, 63 – Final (OT)Attleboro junior Bryant Ciccio (24 points) hit a couple of clutch free throws between the end of regulation and the overtime period to help the Bombardiers earn the win. Mansfield senior Tommy Dooling (16 points) converted a putback with eight seconds left to give the Hornets a 58-57 lead but Ciccio hit a free throw with 0.6 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Hornets held a 62-59 lead with under a minute to go in the extra period but a steal and layup from Mason Houle (10 points) made it a one-point game with 32 seconds to play. After getting a stop, Ciccio hit two free throws to put Attleboro up 63-62. The Bombardiers forced a backcourt violation, got the clock down to 2.4 seconds, missed a pair of free throws but prevented Mansfield from getting a shot off at the final buzzer. “I’m proud of our effort, we stayed together and made big plays tonight in crucial situations on both ends of the court,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We made it a priority to make the next play and didn’t panic.” Qualeem Charles added 15 points for Attleboro while Tim Callahan had 10 points. Damani Scott added 16 points and Matt Boen finished with 11 points for the Hornets.

Foxboro, 60 @ Canton, 65 – FinalCanton outscored Foxboro 43-31 between the two middle quarters, helping the Bulldogs turn an early deficit into a lead it never relinquished. Junior Kyle Fitzgerald scored 14 of his 16 points in those two periods while senior Devin Foster spread his 16 points out among all four corners. Ryan Lentol connected on four three-pointers for a career-high 14 points while Robbie Gallery added nine for Canton. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high 14 points, senior Anthony Mollica added 13 points, and junior Brandon Borde finished with 12 points.

King Philip, 39 @ Franklin, 62 – FinalAfter scoring 21 points in the first half, Franklin exploded for 21 points in the third quarter along to pull away from the Warriors. The Panthers led 21-13 at half but held a 42-29 advantage through three quarters. The Panthers added 20 more points in the final frame. Junior Chris Edgehill netted a team-high 16 points while Jack Rudolph added 14 points and Thomas Gasbarro finished with 13 points. Alex Fritz had a team-high 13 points for King Philip.

Sharon, 51 @ Milford, 66 – FinalHolding a three-point lead at halftime, up 28-25, Milford opened the second half with a 12-0 run and never looked back in a win over Sharon. Milford senior Brendan White poured in a career-high 29 points while hauling in 14 rebounds to pace the Scarlet Hawks. Brendon Sailer scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter to help the Hawks create separation. Colby Pires and Jordan Darling pitched in with eight points apiece. Aidan Kane scored a team-high 12 points for Sharon with Ben Kaplan and Caleb Gayle each chipping in with eight points each.

Stoughton, 45 @ North Attleboro, 44 – FinalStoughton junior Ajahn Rue hit the game-winning three pointer with 1.8 seconds left to lift the Black Knights to the win on the road. Stoughton led 42-41 late in the game before North Attleboro junior George Ladd drained a three to put the Rocketeers ahead 44-42. On the ensuing inbounds, Rue (12 points) brought the ball up and pulled up for the three to put the Black Knights back ahead. Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, helping the Black Knights rally from a 26-19 deficit at half. Evan Rosenberg led North Attleboro with 12 points and Nate Gonsalves chipped in with 10 points.

Taunton, 53 @ Oliver Ames, 50 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.

Girls Basketball
Attleboro, 51 @ Mansfield, 63 – FinalMaggie Danehy had a career-high 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Hornets, helping Mansfield earn its first league win of the season. The Hornets trailed after the first quarter but an 18-10 second pushed Mansfield ahead for good. Sophomore Ashley Santos also had a career-high with 11 points in the win and Becca Hottleman had eight points and four assists. Attleboro was led for the second game in a row by Mackenzie Roberts, who scored eight, while Jordyn Lako and Liv McCall each had seven points.

Canton, 61 @ Foxboro, 86 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.

Franklin, 62 @ King Philip, 34 – FinalAli Brigham continued her strong start to the season, scoring 28 points to lead the Panthers to a second straight win. Franklin jumped in front 46-14 after three quarters with Megan O’Connell adding 19 points and Bea Bondhus scoring six. KP was led by Faye Veilleux with 14 points.

Milford, 41 @ Sharon, 54 – FinalTelishya Herbert scored a game-high and career-high 30 points, sparking the Eagles to their first win of the season. Emma Eberhardt added eight points in the win. Emma Lawrence scored 22 of Milford’s 41 points in the loss, which was a career-high for her, and Katie Maietta had eight in the loss.

North Attleboro, 51 @ Stoughton, 62 – FinalSophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe bounced back from a tough opener against OA with 19 points, seven assists, and four steals, while junior Aliyah Wright had 18 points and eight rebounds to get the Black Knights their first win of the season. Senior Lindsay McDonald double-digit rebounds for the second straight game, pulling down 18 boards in the win.

Oliver Ames, 63 @ Taunton, 51 – FinalOA pulled away late in a close game that featured a lot of runs from both sides and moved to 2-0 on the season. Senior All Scolnick paced OA with 22 points and classmate Sadie Homer ran the game at the point for the Tigers. Taunton was led by Jaelyn Fernandez with 17 points and Sonya Fernandez with 12.

Boys Swimming
Foxboro, 36 @ Taunton, 49 – FinalA sophomore, a freshman, and an eighth grader all won a pair of events to lead the Tigers to a win in their first meet of the season. Sophomore Garrett Rainey won both the 200 free and the 500 free, freshman Tim Luc won the 200 IM (2:20.92) and the 100 fly (59.12), and eighth grader Gerald Grealish touched first in the 100 free (59.21) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.13). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Brady Callahan, Peter Ye, Tim Luc, and Martin Dafov and 400 free relay of Callahan, Grealish, Ye, and Luc both took first. The Warriors took first and second in the 200 relay with Ben Dorman, Thomas Perry, Dimitrios Davis, and Thomas VanDell taking first in 1:57 and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Spencer SanBento, and Joseph St. Pierre coming in second. VanDell added a second place finish in the 50 free for Foxboro.

Franklin, 36 @ Stoughton, 7 – Final

Girls Swimming
Foxboro, 53 @ Taunton, 41 – FinalFoxboro took first place in six individual races and one relay race to earn a victory over Taunton. Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson earned a pair of wins, with Pam touching first in the 200 IM (2:31) and the 100 free (1:02) and Lindsey winning the 500 free (6:21) and 100 breaststroke (1:24), Sarah Egan won the 200 free (2:29) and Gina Ouellette earned first in the 100 fly (1:14). Foxboro’s 200 relay team of Nelson, Nelson, Ooullette and Egan earned first in 2:01. For Taunton, freshman Angelina Lynch won the 50 free (27.12) and eighth grader Tiffany Ye won the 100 backstroke (1:09.42). Taunton’s 200 medley relay of Jacalin Gallagher, Ye, Marisa Gay, and Lynch and the 400 free relay of Gallagher, Macey Jorge, Gay, and Ye both took first place.

Franklin, 73 @ Stoughton, 31 – FinalFranklin’s 200 free relay team of Heather McCarthy, Alyssa LaPuma, Katie Chew, and Katie Cashin qualified for sectionals with a time of 1:53.97.

Mansfield Starts, Finishes Strong To Take Down Foxboro

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Khristian Conner takes a shot in the second half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Throughout the first half, the Mansfield boys basketball used a swarming defense and unselfish play on offense to build a double-digit advantage and looked poised to run away with a win.

But Foxboro refused to go away, scoring more points in the third quarter than the entire first half while holding the Hornets to just seven points to get back into the game.

And the Warriors used a 6-0 burst early in the fourth quarter to cut Mansfield’s 22-point lead down to just seven with the chance to make it a two-possession game, down 43-36.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Every time you play Foxboro, they don’t give up,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “They take things away, they challenge you for 32 minutes and they just play so hard. It’s a good lesson for our guys because we can look at the effort they gave, and now we have to match it.”

The Hornets were able to get a stop to keep the lead at seven and sophomore Matt Boen (seven points, 10 rebounds) converted a traditional three-point play on the other end of the court to extend the lead back to 10 and Mansfield closed out the final five minutes strong to earn a 57-42 win over the visiting Warriors.

“I thought in the first half we had moments of being very consistent moving the ball and when they cut it to seven, we had a couple of possessions where we did what we like to do and they all resulted in a basket or a foul shot,” Vaughan said. “We went back [to what worked] and settled in. When you give up a lead like that, typically it’s by playing a little more selfish or being lazy with the ball, and we had to clean that up.”

Mansfield forced a turnover on the defensive end, just one of three Foxboro turnovers in the second half compared to 17 in the opening 16 minutes. That resulted in a free throw from sophomore TJ Guy (10 points, five assists).

The Hornets got yet another stop and senior Tommy Dooling (10 points, four assists) found junior Sam Stevens (10 points, six rebounds) for an open triple and a 50-36 advantage with 3:44 to play.

Foxboro cut it back to 10 with just under three minutes to go but Boen drained a corner three with two minutes to go to end any comeback hopes.

“At halftime we took a deep breath and just told them to shoot when they are open and we talked about turnovers and the second half was much better offensively but it ended up being too big of a hole,” said Foxboro head coach Job Gibbs. “I was really proud of the character we showed in the second half, facing a big deficit on the road against a good team. It would have been easy to quit but they kept battling and we made a game of it. Hopefully we can build off that second half moving forward.”

After being held to just 5/17 shooting from the field and forced into 17 turnovers in the first half, Foxboro looked like a new team in the second half. The Warriors were able to turn a 19-point deficit at halftime (33-14) into a 10-point game after the third quarter.

Sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored six of his career-high 14 points in the third frame while juniors Ryan Hughes and Will Morrison (nine points) each chipped in with five points in the third to help Foxboro get back into the game.

And defensively, the Warriors only allowed seven points on 3-for-11 shooting while forcing six Hornet turnovers. Gallagher and Morrison each hit a triple over the first four and a half minutes of the quarter, but Foxboro made its big run with a 10-4 burst over the final three minutes of the quarter.

Hughes made a putback and converted a free throw for a three-point play, Gallagher hit another three, Hughes scored on a breakaway after a nice defensive play, and Morrison hit two free throws as the buzzer expired to make it 40-30.

In the first half, it was almost all Mansfield. Each team had just one three-pointer after four minutes of play but Mansfield rattled off a 12-0 run in just 90 seconds to change the game early. Guy and Damani Scott (16 points, 11 rebounds) each had a pair of buckets and Dooling hit a triple in that stretch while Foxboro turned it over six times.

Michael Devlin gave Foxboro a lift with a couple of nice defensive plays and had back-to-back baskets to make it 15-7 at the end of the first.

In the second, it was more of the same for Mansfield. The Hornets forced six more turnovers in the second quarter and shot 5-for-11 from the field to create a double-digit lead by halftime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Obviously it wasn’t a pretty first half for us offensively. I thought our half-court defense was solid, but unfortunately, they got a ton of points off of our turnovers. Offensively, we looked like an inexperienced team, guys were tentative and not trusting themselves, passing up wide open shots they make in practice, and obviously turning the ball over too much.

“Playing Mansfield on the road in the first game, it’s a baptism by fire. It will let you know real quick where you are and what you have to work on. It’s a good learning experience for some of the guys.”

Mansfield boys basketball (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it travels to Attleboro. Foxboro (0-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on the road at Canton on Friday night.

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Houle

Expectations are high for the Attleboro Bombardiers, who return all but one player from last year’s squad that won 13 games and qualified for the D1 South tournament. While the majority of the roster is made up of juniors (eight), the Bombardiers have a wealth of experience with almost all players having played at least one year, with a handful with two.

With experience comes options for veteran head coach Mark Houle. The Bombardiers expect to be able to play fast in transition but also slow down and execute in the half court. Attleboro boasts some of the top big men in the league and will look to use that to its advantage. Junior Qualeem Charles (6’5) was selected as a Hock All Star last year and will be a key piece on both sides of the ball with fellow big men Jason Weir, Lorenzo Wilson and Nolan Jaeger looking to factor in.

Junior Bryant Ciccio, also a Hockomock All Star last season, will be the quarterback of the offense from the point guard position. With two years of varsity experience already, Ciccio could be poised for a big season. Seniors Mason Houle and Kevin Velazquez both made big splashes last year and will be key pieces in the frontcourt this year. Velazquez provides high energy and can be a big threat from deep while Houle is a strong two-way player that will make plays on both ends of the court.

“We have several returning players with one or two years of varsity experience and will rely on them to be consistently working hard on both ends of the court,” said Mark Houle. “Our strength will be a strong inside game on offense…[and] our guard play will have multiple players able to handle pressure, score and contribute.”

Canton

2017-2018 Record: 16-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Ryan Gordy

The Bulldogs are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory. This season, the Bulldogs will be looking to improve each day and adjust to a new style of play that fits the personnel best.

While three starters are gone, one starter that is back is Devin Foster, a Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection a year ago. Foster is a dynamic player that can be a nightmare for opposing defenses trying to stop him. He can shoot the three and really improved on his ability to finish around the rim last year.

Senior Paul Corcoran and junior Kyle Fitzgerald both had starts last season and head coach Ryan Gordy is looking for both players, along with versatile guard Ryan Lentol, to take a big step on the court this season. Corcoran is a strong defender, Fitzgerald will handle the point, and Lentol will do a little bit of everything for the Dogs. All three have a good amount of varsity experience and will be relied upon to be leaders on the court.

“Our culture in our foundation, and our veteran leadership sets the tone for the program,” Gordy said. “If we stay growth oriented this could be a fun season, players are committed to continuous improvement and that’s a pleasure to coach.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 19-5
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jon Gibbs

Foxboro had a memorable 2018 season, earning 19 wins and sharing the Davenport division title with Canton. But with four of the five starters from that team gone, the 2019 Warriors will try to create their own identity while trying to replicate the success.

The one starter back is junior Brandon Borde (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg) and his two years of experience on varsity will be vital as role players switch to starters and new role players emerge. Borde is a talented guard that can hurt teams in a variety of ways but his strength allows him to finish around the rim in tough situations.

Senior Anthony Mollica had a bit of a coming out party during the end of last season, emerging as an offensive threat for the Warriors. Head coach Jon Gibbs expects more of that throughout this season and will be looking for the likes of Will Morrison, Liam Devlin, Ryan Hughes, and Kevin Gallagher — all players with varsity experience, to step up this year. While Foxboro will likely rely on its defense again this year, three-point shooting should be a strength on the offensive side.

“Right now the focus is on getting better each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been competitive. Guys are fighting hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we can continue to defend and rebound at a high level, we have a chance to be very successful.”

Franklin

2017-2018 Record: 23-4
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 State Final
Coach: CJ Neely

The Panthers have reached the D1 State Final each of the past two seasons and it looks like they have the tools to try and make a third straight appearance. Franklin brings back two of the top players in the Hockomock League in senior Jalen Samuels and junior Chris Edgehill.

Both Samuels (13.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg) and Edgehill (17.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) have a wealth of varsity experience that the Panthers will rely on as others battle for minutes in the rotation. Edgehill is one of the most dangerous guards offensively and can score in a variety of ways while Samuels can present a matchup problem for most teams. Will Harvey also has varsity experience and will likely see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season.

The rest of the rotation is up for grabs but there is a lot of choices for head coach CJ Neely, who noted there is a strong amount of depth and balance on this year’s squad. Unsurprisingly, Franklin will be focused on causing problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers have been known as a gritty defensive squad and they are looking to continue that tradition this year. Offensively, Neely is hoping unselfishness and outside shooting will help replicate the success of previous seasons.

“It will be a season long battle for minutes and guys will have to earn our trust through defensive intensity and unselfish play on offense,” Neely said. “Our goal is to focus on the process of competing hard and improving each day and the results will reflect our daily effort and attitude.”

King Philip

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Dave DeStefano

First-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping hard work in the offseason will translate into success on the court this year for the King Philip Warriors. DeStefano is the Warriors fifth head coach in the last eight seasons but his familiarity with the Hockomock League (former JV coach at Foxboro) should give him a boost right away.

While the Warriors had only four wins last year, half of their 16 losses came by six points or less, including to D2 State Champions Tech Boston (74-71) and division foes Attleboro and Taunton. King Philip is hoping it can be on the right side of those contests this season. Bruce Santillus and Timmy Nault are the two returning starters from last year, and both showed they are capable of taking over games on the offensive end. Santillus is a versatile player that can score in many ways and is tough in one-on-one matchups. Nault provides a lot of energy on both ends and can give the team a spark when needed.

DeStefano is looking for seniors Tyler Nault, Ian Khung, and Michael O’Brien to build on their minutes from last year and have increased roles for 2018-2019. Junior Andrew McKinney showed a lot of promise last year and could be a big contributor for the Warriors this year. Senior Terry Jacobs-Baston gives KP a nice post presence along with junior Tommy Donahue (6’5) and senior Sam Sesay (6’2). Juniors Alex Fritz, Chris Roy, and Adam Nicastro will all be in the mix for minutes as well.

“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops.”

Mansfield

2017-2018 Record: 27-2
2017-2018 Finish: D1 State Champions
Coach: Mike Vaughan

While the D1 State Championship is in the rearview mirror, expectations are still sky high for Mansfield, who has won six straight Hock Kelley-Rex titles, tying a streak from OA in the 1980s for the longest title run. With a handful of players back and a strong mix of new faces Mansfield will be aiming for its seventh straight.

The Hornets will rely on their most experienced players early on with Damani Scott, Tommy Dooling, and Khristian Conner back. All three have starting experience, and beyond that, a wealth of varsity minutes in the regular season and postseason. Scott had a terrific playoff run last year and could be one of the top players in the Hock this year. Dooling is a talented guard that can hurt teams from deep while Conner can score from all over the floor.

Beyond that trio, there are a handful of new faces trying to establish time in the lineup and rotation. Junior Sam Stevens and sophomores Matt Boen and TJ Guy are top candidates to find time in the rotation. Stevens and Guy both have good size and will give the Hornets a presence in the post while Boen is a crafty guard that will likely contribute offensively right away. Expect Makhi Baskin, Jack Mousette, and Drew Rooney to be in the mix as well.

“We’re looking forward to getting the season started with new faces,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We’ll have our early challenges getting the new faces up to speed with the varsity level of play, but it’s a talented group, they are working hard, and they are getting better each day. It should be an exciting year as the league looks to be super competitive as always.”

Milford

2017-2018 Record: 13-10
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 Central Semifinal
Coach: Paul Seaver

While the Hawks have some experience back this year, it will be key for the new faces to get up to speed as Milford looks to compete for a Davenport division title. Seniors Brendan White, Brendon Sailer, and Steve Sutherland are all back after either starting or playing a lot of minutes last season and will be relied upon, especially early, to guide the Hawks through a difficult schedule.

White was Milford’s leading scorer last season with 14 points per game in the regular season so he will be a key piece for the Hawks again this year. Sailer is a good ball handler and will handle point guard duties. He’s a strong defender and can distribute the ball well, but he is also able to get to the rim or shoot from deep. Sutherland provides the Hawks with an experienced presence in the post but can step out and hit shots as well.

Junior Colby Pires is coming off a successful season on the gridiron and will see a lot of minutes on the court and senior Danny Corsini can provide a spark on the offensive end with his shooting. Sophomore Dom Schofield stands at 6’5 so he can be a matchup problem for some teams in the league while classmate Jordan Darling can do a little bit of everything and could have a breakout year for the Scarlet Hawks.

“Our goal is to simply get better with each passing day,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We have a lot of newcomers this season and are facing one of our toughest schedules in years. Our goal is to build chemistry and work towards qualifying for the state tournament for a fourth consecutive season.”

North Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 9-11
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

After just missing out on the postseason a year ago, North Attleboro is hoping a strong senior class can help the Rocketeers return to the postseason and compete for a Davenport division title. Big Red boasts nine seniors, including three starters and a handful of guys that played plenty of minutes a year ago.

Leading scoring Josh Montague (13.7 points per game) is back and will be one of the top guards in the Hock. He plays well on both ends of the court but really came into his own as a scorer as the season progressed last year. Senior Jacob Petersen, standing at 6’6, will be one of the toughest matchups in the league and his ability to play as a true post player gives North an advantage over other teams. He is also a force on defense that can prevent easy buckets in the paint. Senior Nate Gonsalves improved throughout last year and could be poised for a breakout season for Big Red.

Senior Evan Rosenberg will likely be tasked with guarding some of the top players in the league because of his strong defensive play. Seniors Adam Falcone, Jonathan James, Joe Milosh and Matt Seavey all played last year and that experience will be key as they factor into the rotation again this year. Junior Ethan Friberg got valuable minutes last year and can score in a variety of ways while also giving Big Red size at 6’4. Sophomore George Ladd will be making his varsity debut but is expected to provide North with a spark on offense.

“We are extremely excited about the 2018-2019 season,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Led by our nine seniors, we hope we can build off of last year’s momentum. We have an extremely intelligent group of players that is coachable, hardworking, and determined. We believe our cohesiveness and depth will allow us to be successful.”

Oliver Ames

2017-2018 Record: 8-13
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Don Byron

The Tigers found themselves in an unfamiliar place at the end of last year – on the outside looking in for the postseason. This year, Oliver Ames is hoping to blend a mix of returners, role players, and new faces — both from JV and transfers — into a competitive group that will look to begin a new postseason streak.

A major challenge will be replacing Hockomock League All Star and HockomockSports.com First Team selection Jack Spillane, who led the Hock in scoring during the regular season with 22.3 points per game. The Tigers will aim to have a much more balanced approach this season players that can contribute at each position. It will begin with returning starters Ethan Eckstrom and Jake Erlich, both seniors. Both Eckstrom and Erlich will spend the majority of their time in or around the paint and will be key defensive pieces as well. Sean O’Brien, who mostly came off the bench but was one of the team leaders in minutes, is a high-energy player that contributes on both ends of the court.

Senior Harry DeChellis was slated to be a big contributor for the Tigers last year before suffering a season ending injury so OA is hoping he will step right in and be a leader. Jay Spillane and Ryan Burkett both had successful seasons on JV a year ago and will factor in the rotation while transfers Amari Brown, a sophomore guard, and Evan Craig, a junior forward, both will be impact players right away.

“We should be a lot more balanced on offense, it should spread around,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “It’s one of those teams where we have the ability to score at all positions, as well as the guys off the bench. It might change each night but we have a lot of guys that are capable of contributing.”

Sharon

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

The Eagles are aiming to improve on both ends of the court this year and are looking to compete for the Davenport title and a trip to the state tournament. After missing out on the playoffs each of the last two seasons, the Eagles are looking to ride a mix of experienced players to try and get back to the postseason.

Sharon will rely heavily on its three senior captains: Aaron Strong, Ben Kaplan, and Alex Kaufmann. Strong is a versatile guard that can be a pest on the defensive end of the court; Kaplan makes a lot of things happen on both ends and was having a strong season as a junior before seeing it cut short to injury; and Kaufmann is in his third year on varsity and is capable of having big scoring games any given night.

Athleticism will be something the Eagles rely on this year on both sides of the ball. Beyond the three senior captains, juniors Andrew Burton, Aidan Kane, and Alec Filipkowski all saw varsity minutes and should be factors as their roles increase this season. Juniors Cameron Baker and Caleb Gayle will also factor into the rotation in the frontcourt.

“This is a very tight knit, energized group and they are continually pushing each other to get better every day,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have a good mix of experience and youth to provide depth at multiple positions. We are replacing a lot of offense from last year and have a lot of players vying for those opportunities.”

Stoughton

2017-2018 Record: 6-14
2017-2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

The Black Knights are hoping a balanced attack on offense and a commitment to defense will result in 10 wins and a trip to the state tournament. Stoughton has five players back with varsity experience so the Knights will lean on those players early as head coach John Gallivan tries to fit a handful of new faces from JV and outside the program into the rotation.

Senior captains Zak Paquette, Josh Cocchi, and Kevin Dixon will be key not only for their contributions on the court but for their leadership as well. They are all experienced players that Gallivan will lean on as he figures out what the best rotations will be.

Senior Ajahn Rue is another returnee and brings a lot of talent to the point guard position while junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell got his feet wet on varsity a year ago and could see an increased role in the 2018-2019 season. After those five, Gallivan is looking for some new faces to step up and establish themselves as go-to options for the Black Knights.

“We are hoping to have more of a balanced attack on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor than we have had in the past,” Gallivan said.

taunton

2017-2018 Record: 12-11
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Charlie Dacey

This year’s version of the Taunton Tigers will be relying on tempo to try and run past the competition in the Hockomock League. Taunton boasts speed throughout the lineup and is hoping that it can use that — offensively and defensively — to its advantage this year. But if necessary, the Tigers can also slow it down and execute in the half court.

Senior guard John Martins and junior forward Dante Law are returning seniors from a season ago and both are quick players that bring experience to a team that is looking to use its speed to emphasize its open court skills. Martins is a steady player that can do a lot of things on both ends of the court and Law is looking to take the next step forward after some strong outings as a sophomore.

Senior Lou Vendrell is back and had a lot of offensive skill that the Tigers will need, especially his outside shot. Similar to Law, junior Naz Kenion had some breakout moments a year ago and Taunton will be looking for more production out of him this season. Prince Brown brings a year of varsity experience back and can provide an offensive spark with his shooting. Senior Mike Quinn rounds out the backcourt while Wesner Charles and Tyler Stewart provide the Tigers with size down low.

“Tempo will be the key this year,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “The roster has some depth and there is speed at every position.”

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 09/07/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Game of the Week – Football
King Philip, 7 @ North Attleboro, 14 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.
1st Quarter: (NA) Brendan McHugh 16-yard run, Tyler DeMattio XP good; (KP) Ryan Halliday 80-yard run, Cole Baker XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (NA) B. McHugh 33-yard run, T. DeMattio XP good.

Football
Milford, 7 @ Attleboro, 21 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (A) Jason Weir 16-yard pass to Ethan Cameron, Colby Briggs XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) J. Weir 1-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good.
4th Quarter: (A) Justin Cote 33-yard rush, C. Briggs XP good. (M) Lucas Rosa 1-yard rush, Sean Lehane XP good.

Canton, 25 @ Dighton-Rehoboth, 20 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (DR) 2-yard rush, XP good; (DR) 10-yard rush, XP good.
3rd Quarter: (C) Johnny Hagan 24-yard pass to Jace Emma, XP failed.
4th Quarter: (C) J. Hagan 30-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Gersom Rivera 3-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed; (C) Kyle Fitzgerald 5-yard rush, Owen Lehane XP good. (DR) 5-yard rush, XP failed.

Foxboro, 6 vs. Hingham, 22 – Final
1st Quarter: (H) Charlie Egan 8-yard rush, Jonathan Bearden 2pt rush.
2nd Quarter: (H) Jack Johnson 11-yard pass to Kevin Shea, C. Egan 2pt rush; (F) Liam Foley 32-yard pass to Rob Fay, 2pt conversion failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (H) J. Bearden 9-yard rush, 2pt conversion failed.

Franklin, 34 vs. Andover, 10 – Final
1st Quarter: (A) Field goal good.
2nd Quarter: (F) Sean Hofferty 1-yard rush, Parker Chevront XP good; (F) Nick Gordon 1-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Austin Jordan 44-yard interception return, P. Chevront XP good.
3rd Quarter: (A) 1-yard rush, XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) N. Gordon 66-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good; (F) Jack Nally 4-yard rush, P. Chevront XP good.

Mansfield, 21 @ BC High, 7 – FinalClick here for a recap of this game.
1st Quarter: (M) Damani Scott 18-yard pass to Nick Marciano, Nico Holmes XP good.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (BCH) Jacob Perez 12-yard rush, XP good; (M) Cincere Gill 18-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good; (M) C. Gill 4-yard rush, N. Holmes XP good.

Oliver Ames, 19 @ Concord-Carlisle, 20 – Final
1st Quarter: (OA) Cam Perron 20-yard pass to Nathan Cabral, C. Perron XP good; (OA) N. Cabral 12-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (CC) Christian Gemeli 17-yard rush, XP failed; (CC) C. Gemeli 27-yard pass to Cam Ladd, XP good.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (CC) C. Ladd 20-yard rush, XP failed; (OA) C. Perron pass to Shane Kilkelly, 2pt conversion failed.

Sharon, 7 @ Nauset, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: No scoring.
3rd Quarter: (S) Aaron Strong 25-yard rush, Mitchell Director XP good.
4th Quarter: (N) 50-yard pass, XP failed.

Stoughton, 43 @ Framingham, 22 – Final
1st Quarter: (S) Jeff Grier 86-yard rush, XP failed.
2nd Quarter: (S) Chris Ais 10-yard rush, Malachi Green-Hightower 2pt rush; (F) Jack Beverly 41-yard pass to RJ Viele, J. Beverly 2pt pass to Dante Marino.
3rd Quarter: (S) J. Grier 5-yard rush, M. Green-Higtower 2pt rush; (S) Anthony Burke 20-yard pass to J. Grier, Josh Cocchi XP good.
4th Quarter: (F) J. Beverly 29-yard to Gabe Paixao, J. Beverly 2pt pass to R. Viele; (S) M. Green-Higtower 1-yard rush, J. Cocchi XP good; (S) J. Cocchi 25-yard interception return, J. Cocchi XP good. (F) Reece LaChance 5-yard rush, 2pt failed.

Taunton, 7 @ New Bedford, 6 – Final
1st Quarter: No scoring.
2nd Quarter: (NB) Latrell Canto 10-yard rush, XP failed.
3rd Quarter: No scoring.
4th Quarter: (T) Noah Leonard 65-yard pass to Brayden Merrill, Coby Adams XP good.

Boys Soccer
Milford, 2 @ Franklin, 1 – FinalMilford junior Walisson de Oliveira scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with under 10 minutes to go, to lift the Hawks to a win on the road. de Oliveira opened the scoring off an assist from Anthony Salvador but Franklin freshman Terry O’Neill tied the game just before halftime. de Oliveira scored the unassisted game-winner with seven minutes to play.

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 2 – FinalKing Philip sophomore Camron Lawrence bagged a brace to lead the Warriors to their first win of the season. After Zac White drew a foul at the top of the box, Lawrence placed his shot back post to put KP up 1-0. With Sharon pushing numbers late to tie it, KP intercepted a pass and Lawrence was able to place a shot into the empty net to seal the deal in the 78th minute.

Mansfield, 4 vs. Dartmouth, 1 – FinalMansfield senior Luke Savoie scored a hat trick for the second straight game as the Hornets dispatched of visiting Dartmouth. Junior Owen Mullahy opened the scoring for the Hornets just two minutes into the game, finishing off a free kick from Derek Meuth. The Hornets doubled their lead when Savoie scored off a long throw from Cam Eddy. Dartmouth cut the deficit to one at half but Mansfield added two more in the second half. Savoie headed in a feed from Ethan Brill-Cass and completed the hat trick with seven minutes to go, scoring off Tommy Lanzillo’s free kick. Anthony Salisbury made 11 saves in net for Mansfield.

North Attleboro, 1 @ Taunton, 1 – FinalNorth Attleboro jumped ahead just before the midway point of the first half but Taunton found the equalizer in the 66th minute to earn a point. Gerson Bonilla cleaned up a rebound in the 18th minute to put the Rocketeers up. Joe Hilf’s header was denied on a terrific save by Taunton goalie Nolan Melo but Bonilla buried his chance. In the 66th minute, Taunton’s Colby Fernandes took advantage of a turnover and used a volley to bring the Tigers level. Kyle Briere made three saves for North Attleboro.

Stoughton, 0 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – FinalClick here for a recap and photo Gallery of this game.

Girls Soccer
Franklin, 4 @ Milford, 0 – FinalErin Quaile, Calen Frongillo, Carly Alston, and Sydney St. Marie each scored in the first half to put Franklin in control of its season opener. Grace Gallo and Halle Atkinson each had assists in the win.

King Philip, 6 @ Sharon, 0 – FinalChloe Layne opened her account for the season and finished with a hat trick, while Avery Snead scored two and assisted on two others, as KP got its first win of the season. Makayla Griffin added a goal and two assists and Lauren Anderson had a pair of assists in the win. Sophia McLaughlin earned the clean sheet in net. KP finished with 17 shots in the game.

Field Hockey
Foxboro, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 12 – FinalKing Philip opened its season with a big win at home over visiting Sharon. Senior Alli Meehan had four goals and three assists, freshman Meghan MacDonald netted a hat trick and added two assists and Olivia Kulesza scored three goals for the Warriors.

Volleyball
Foxboro, 1 @ Tri-County, 3 – Final

Sharon, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – FinalKing Philip began its 2018 season with a 3-0 sweep of Sharon (25-17, 25-12, 25-14). Catherine Waldeck had 10 kills for the Warriors while Nicole Coughlan added four kills and three aces. Kat Kmetz finished with three kills, three aces, and 18 service points and Grace Ely added three aces, three kills, and six service points.

Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 0 – FinalOliver Ames bounced back from its season-opening loss to earn a win over visiting Bridgewater-Raynham (25-17, 25-15, 25-16). Senior defensive specialist Grace McCallum had a strong game for the Tigers with six digs, five aces and two kills. Senior Sadie Homer added 18 digs, junior Allie Kemp finished with 21 assists and three aces, and junior Jordan Bosse put down 11 kills with two aces.

Golf
North Attleboro, 172 @ Foxboro, 177 – FinalNorth Attleboro’s Jillian Barend earned medalist honors for the Rocketeers, carding a team-low round of 40.

Attleboro, 174 @ King Philip, 163 – Final

Taunton, 92 @ New Bedford, 77 – Final (Stableford) – Taunton’s Kyle Robinson had a team-best round of 43 to pace the Tigers to a win at the Whaling City Golf Club. Spencer Andrews and Sean Bunker each shot 45 to help Taunton.

Football: 2018 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview
Mansfield quarterback Damani Scott (6) will try to help the Hornets challenge for the Kelley-Rex title this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018 Kelley-Rex Football Preview

Attleboro

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Strachan

Key/Returning Players: Justin Cote, Sr., RB/OLB; Nick Evans, Sr., OT/DE; Eddie Porreca, Sr., DT; Alex Rodriguez, Sr., RB; Josh Therrien, Sr., WR/FS; Desmond Woodson, Sr., OLB; Qualeem Charles, Jr., OT/DT; Isaac Gudiel, Jr., OG/LB; Nolan Jaeger, Jr., WR/CB; Jason Weir, Jr., QB/DE; Michael Strachan, So., LB/TE

Outlook:
Injuries hampered Attleboro right from the start of the 2017 season, but the 2018 Bombardiers are healthy and hoping for a big turnaround this fall to compete with the top teams in the Kelley-Rex division and make a return to the postseason.

The graduation of quarterback Cam Furtado is a significant loss on offense, but the Bombardiers will hand the ball to junior Jason Weir, who has a big arm and a lot of potential at the QB position. Size and strength won’t be a problem for Weir, who played defensive end as a sophomore. Seniors Justin Cote and Alex Rodriguez will be the primary backs for Attleboro this year and give the Bombardiers dynamic weapons out of the backfield. The offensive line is bolstered by 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior Qualeem Charles and 6-foot-3, 265-pound senior Nick Evans. At 6-foot-3, junior Nolan Jaeger will be a weapon at receiver along with senior Josh Therrien and sophomore tight end Michael Strachan.

Evans battled injuries at the start of last season, but he is one of the top defensive linemen in the league and is drawing Div. I college offers. Attleboro will be a tough team to run against this season with Evans on the end and Charles (who is also getting DI looks) and 6-foot-3, 365-pound senior Eddie Porreca on the inside. Strachan and junior Isaac Gudiel will be starting at inside linebacker, while senior Desmond Woodson will be starting on the outside. Therrien is capable of making plays downfield at his free safety position and will be the leader of the secondary.

“I am looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Attleboro coach Mike Strachan. “We have a strong senior class and we have strong leadership on our football team. Our team worked out hard in the off-season and I am looking forward to that hard work paying off this season.”

Franklin

2017 Record: 3-8
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Eian Bain

Key/Returning Players: Ryan Driscoll, Sr., WR/DB; Sean Leonard, Sr., TE; Evan Wertz, Jr., LB; Sean Hofferty, Sr., RB; Liam Arsenault, Sr., OL/DL; Nick Gordon, Sr., QB/DB; Riley Downing, Sr., OL/DL; Will Davis, Sr., WR; Jack Jarosz, Sr., OL/DL; Jack Nally, Jr., WR; Jake Davis, Jr., WR/DB; Dom Natale, Jr., OL/DL; Thomas Gasbarro, Jr., QB/DB; Nolan McLaney, Sr., DB;

Outlook:
Third-year head coach Eian Bain is optimistic about the 2018 season, and the long list of players returning with plenty of experience is a big reason why. The Panthers have over a dozen players back that started or saw significant time on offense and the same goes for the defense, include a very seasoned secondary.

Franklin must replace three-year starter Jake Noviello at quarterback but Bain is confident that a healthy competition between senior Nick Gordon and junior Thomas Gasbarro will result in a strong option starting under center for the opening week. While Franklin has to replace its quarterback, they return a ton of skill players on offense including senior tight end Sean Leonard, who hauled in a league-best eight touchdown passes last season. Ryan Driscoll (five touchdowns), Jack Nally, Will Davis, and Jake Davis will fill out the receiving corps while Sean Hofferty and Owen Palmieri man the backfield. Seniors Riley Downing and Liam Arsenault are experienced and will anchor the offensive line.

Junior Evan Wertz will be a key piece in the middle of the Panthers’ defense after having a breakout campaign last year with nearly 100 tackles from his linebacker spot. Senior Spencer Briggs and sophomore Alex Honor will also see time at linebacker while Downing is joined by Jack Jarosz, Dom Natale, and Keenan Bassma on the defensive line. The Panthers boast a seasoned secondary with Nolan McLaney and Driscoll both back, along with Palmieri, Jake Davis, and both Gasbarro and Gordon.

“We have experience on both sides of the ball,” Bain said. “It is a cohesive group that has been working hard together for our first two years and they are eager to the turn the corner with our program.”

King Philip

2017 Record: 12-0
2017 Finish: MIAA D1A State Champions
Coach: Brian Lee

Key/Returning Players: Jack Webster, Sr., FB/LB; Aidan Bender, Sr., RB/DB; Max Armour, Sr., LB; Luke D’Amico, Sr., DB; Terrell Jacobs Baston, Sr., OL/DL; Ryan Halliday, Jr., RB; Josh Fice, Sr., OL/DL; Nolan Gunning, Jr., OL/DL; David Morganelli, Sr., WR;

Outlook:
The target on King Philip’s back is bigger than ever as the Warriors pulled off a second straight undefeated season and another state championship.

So how will head coach Brian Lee get this year’s team to focus on 2018 and not the past two seasons?

“The work and preparation have been the same but now it’s up to this season class to leave their legacy,” Lee said. “The previous two classes had their moments, now it’s up to these seniors to make their own moment. This team will go as far as these seniors lead them.”

The seniors will have plenty of opportunities to make their mark because King Philip doesn’t have a returning starter on offense. The Warriors need to replace quarterback Brendan Lydon, who didn’t lose a game as a starter. Junior Robbie Jarest looks poised to take over under center this season. While it isn’t a lot of experience, Jarest took over in the second half of the state final after Lydon got hurt and helped the Warriors finish off Lincoln-Sudbury. The toughest shoes to fill will be those of Shane Frommer, who will go down as one of the best players in KP history.

Junior Ryan Halliday will be the feature back while Aidan Bender and Sam Callanan will be in the mix as well. Jack Webster and Jack Collentro will be keys to the offense from the fullback position. Senior Terrell Jacobs Bastons has some experience on both sides of the ball and will likely start at guard while classmate Josh Fice will fill in the other guard spot. Junior Nolan Gunning is likely to get a starting spot as well, either at center or tackle.

Defense has been a staple for the Warriors throughout their successful run over the last couple of years, and that’s what KP will count on again this season. The strength will come from the linebackers with Webster back in an outside spot and Max Armour returning in the middle. Jacobs Bastons will be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line while the secondary will have familiar faces back in Aidan Bender, Timmy Nault, and safety Luke D’Amico.

And as we saw in the state final, having a reliable kicker is priceless. Cole Baker, who booted the winning field goal in the final, is back for his third year. Not only will he be a big help on offense, his kickoffs will be a weapon for the defense.

Mansfield

2017 Record: 8-3
2017 Finish: Reached D1A South Quarterfinal
Coach: Michael Redding

Key/Returning Players: Key/Returning Players: Damani Scott, Sr., QB/FS; Michael DeBolt, Jr., WR/DB/K; Vinnie Holmes, Jr., RB/LB; Makhi Baskin, Jr., RB/DB; Nick Marciano, Jr., RB/DB; Aidan Sacco, Sr., RB/DB; Philip Dinov, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Copponi, Sr., RB/LB; Chris Graham, Jr., OL/DL; Jason Comeau, Jr., OL/DE; Khristian Conner, Sr., WR/DB; Daenin Walker, Sr., OL/DL

Outlook:
Mansfield has finished second in the Kelley-Rex in each of the past three seasons and the Hornets will be counting on experience under center and depth at the skill positions to end King Philip’s two-year reign atop the division and return to the top of the league standings for the first time since 2013.

Senior Damani Scott will be the starter at quarterback for the second straight season and he will be backed up by the capable Jack Mousette, giving the Hornets plenty of experience and reliability from their signal caller. Scott will also have a ton of weapons to call on this year with a skill position group that head coach Mike Redding calls one of the best that Mansfield has had in a while. Khristian Conner and Aidan Sacco will be weapons in the passing game while junior Vinnie Holmes is back in the backfield. Juniors Makhi Baskin, Michael DeBolt (who was also an outstanding kicker last year), and Nick Marciano will provide depth in the slot/running back positions. Senior Daenin Walker and junior Jason Comeau will add experience to the offensive line.

Defensively, Holmes will return to the linebacking corps after setting a program record for tackles in a season as a sophomore. Seniors Chris Copponi and Philip Dinov also return and can play as linebackers or as defensive ends depending on matchups. The secondary will be strong for the Hornets this year with Conner and Sacco at the corners and Marciano and Baskin at the safety positions. The only new additions on the defense are Anthony Capece at noseguard and junior Joe Plath at linebacker.

Redding said, “We have an experienced, athletic, aggressive defense that should be tough to score on and we’re young on offense, but have a ton of depth and talent at skill positions. Just need to gain some experience up front with our new guys on OL and DL.”

Oliver Ames

2017 Record: 6-5
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Holland

Key/Returning Players: Cam Perron, Jr., QB; Dean Pacini, Sr., OL/LB; Darnele Ryan, Sr., LB; Sam Stevens, Jr., DB; Shane Kilkelly, Jr., WR; Nathan Cabral, Jr., RB; Shane Murphy, Sr., OL/LB; Billy Tat, Sr., OL/DL; Luke Thibeault, Sr., OL/DL; Garrett Wood, Sr., OL/DL;

Outlook:
The 2018 version of the Oliver Ames Tigers have already had to make an audible after star running back Anthony Berksza suffered a season-ending injury over summer. Berksza had a breakout year last season, rushing for over 1,100 yards and finished with 16 total touchdowns, 15 of those rushing.

With Berksza out, Oliver Ames will rely heavily on the rest of its returning starters to carry the load. Junior Cam Perron returns under center after taking over the starting job during the regular season last year. While Perron looks to find some of his options, he has an offensive line protecting him that has some experience but will be looking to form cohesiveness throughout the year. Dean Pacini, Shane Murphy, Billy Tat, Luke Thibeault, and Garrett Wood all return with experience playing on the line. One challenge will be finding someone to step up and be a leader of that group after the graduation of two-time all star Jack Mills.

Nathan Cabral takes over as the feature tailback and OA head coach Mike Holland is confident the junior can get the job done. Holland says Cabral runs hard and is a tough player. Perron will also have the likes of Shane Kilkelly, Jake Erlich, and Evan Craig to work with as targets.

The heart of the defense will be at the linebacker position. Both Pacini, Murphy, and Darnele Ryan return after starting there last year and Holland will count on both senior captains to lead the way for the Tigers. Sam Stevens is back in the secondary at the safety position but OA will need some new faces to emerge alongside him.

“We’re looking forward to the start of the season,” Holland said. “We have a great group across the board. We have some experienced players back and some talented players competing for jobs.”

Taunton

2017 Record: 5-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Brad Sidwell

Key/Returning Players: Noah Leonard, Sr., QB; Brayden Merrill, Sr., WR/DB; Tryton Zavala, Sr., WR/DB; Wesner Charles, Sr., WR/DB; Christian Tourinho, Sr., OL/DL; Cam Correiro, Sr., OL/DL; Corey Pintabone, Sr., TE/DL; Ryan Williams, Sr., OL/LB; Jared Rockwood, Sr., TE/DE; Max Moitoso, Sr., RB/LB; Prince Brown, Sr., WR/DB; Mason Frank, Jr., OL/DL

Outlook:
Taunton started last season with a 3-0 record, one of the program’s best starts in years, but then lost five straight games, including a playoff game against BC High, the top seed in Div. 1 South. The Tigers turned it on again from that point, winning the final three games of the season, including an impressive win against Brockton, to finish with a winning record under second-year head coach Brad Sidwell.

Experience will be a key for the Tigers this season, as Taunton tries to build on that playoff appearance and the momentum from a strong closing stretch. Senior Noah Leonard will be the starting quarterback for the third straight year and is now fluent in Sidwell’s offensive system. Leonard will have familiar targets in senior wideouts Brayden Merrill, Tryton Zavala, and Wesner Charles, while junior Cam Carroca looks to step in as a feature running back and junior Javon Franklin is a new target in the passing game. On the line, Taunton returns plenty of size in 6-foot-3, 337-pound tackle Christian Tourinho and his fellow senior Cam Correiro. Senior Ryan Williams will be the center, while junior Mason Frank, listed at 6-foot-2 and 274 pounds, will be back to battle at the line of scrimmage.

Size and athleticism will be strengths for Taunton on the defensive side of the ball as well. Tourinho, Correiro, and Frank can bottle up opposing running games and will be joined on the line by seniors Corey Pintabone and John Rockwood. Williams will lead the linebacking corps along with classmates Max Moitoso and Kyle Cuoto. Senior Prince Brown will be back at corner and senior Sebastien Celestin looks to step into the safety position.

“Taunton football is progressing forward,” said Sidwell. “Like all teams, we’d like to gain some confidence early in the season and carry it on. The Kelley-Rex division is challenging with great programs, coaching staffs, and communities. We are happy to be a part of it and want to represent Taunton High well by competing at the high standard set by the other league members.”

Hockomock Football: Players to Watch on Offense

Hockomock Football Players to Watch on Offense
Franklin’s Sean Leonard is back after leading the league in touchdown receptions as a junior. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Player are listed alphabetically

Ryan Clemente, Senior – North Attleboro

Clemente is an imposing force on the offensive and defensive lines for the defending Davenport division champions and Div. 3 Super Bowl runners-up. As both a guard on the offensive line and defensive tackle, Clemente impacted the game on both sides of the ball and helped the Rocketeers control the battle in the trenches. He has the size and power that would be expected from someone in his position but also has quick feet and the athleticism to stay in front of opposing linemen or pick up blitzing linebackers. One of his most impressive traits is the ability to pull from his guard position, combining speed and power to clear the way for the run game. Clemente’s presence in the offensive line, opening up holes for the running game, makes North a favorite to claim a fourth straight league title this fall. Also, if you are into battles at the line of scrimmage, then keep the Sept. 28 game with Milford circled, as Clemente and North take on the Hawks and their heavily-recruited lineman Kevin Pyne.

Justin Cote, Senior – Attleboro

The Bombardiers will have a lot of offense to try and account for after the graduation of Cam Furtado and Elvin Sam, and Cote is one of the players that will try to keep the Attleboro offense clicking this season. Cote is listed as a wide receiver but was used in a number of ways by head coach Mike Strachan last fall, scoring five touchdowns on the ground and catching four others, and that versatility causes matchup problems for opposing defenses that are trying to keep tabs on him. He is quick with a low center of gravity that makes it hard for defenders to corral him and Cote showed that he can also fight for the extra yards when needed. Whether out of the backfield or split out wide, expect Attleboro to find ways to get the ball in his hands often and let him make big plays.

Liam Foley, Senior – Foxboro

Foley started last season splitting time with Devin Hassett and this year will take over the full-time job at starting quarterback, trying to get the Warriors back to the top of the Davenport division for the first time in three seasons. Foley tossed a pair of touchdown passes last year, and he will be asked to build on that experience to lead the Foxboro offense this fall. The Warriors typically focus on the ground game first, but Foley has shown that he can make plays downfield and has a strong arm that allows him to make quick, accurate throws. He can also keep the ball and, like Hassett last year, get crucial yards when necessary. Foxboro was very close to getting back on top in the league last fall, and Foley will be hoping to step in and get the offense going for the Warriors.

Johnny Hagan, Junior – Canton

The Bulldogs were a young team last fall, and that experience will be critical for Canton to make a push for the state tournament. One of the players that will benefit from a year on varsity is Hagan. The junior quarterback tossed four touchdown passes last year and ran for two others, showing flashes of the dynamic, all-around game that earned him the starting role as a sophomore. Canton typically keeps the ball on the ground, but the graduation of Alec Ragusa could open the offense up more for Hagan to have the ball in his hands. He has the toughness and strength to grind out yards in the ground game and showed good accuracy throwing while on the run. His ability to make plays outside the pocket gives the Bulldogs additional options offensively, but it will be his improved decision-making after a year under center that could propel the young Bulldogs up the league standings.

Sean Lehane, Senior – Milford

Milford senior Sean Lehane made a big impact for the Scarlet Hawks last season. As the kicker, he was a game changer for both the offense and the defense. His kicking power and accuracy gives Milford a shot at points from spots on the field that other offenses don’t have. And on top of that, extra points aren’t always a sure thing at this level so Lehane gives the Hawks stability and confidence there. When it comes to helping the defense, his deep kickoffs and punts can help Milford dominate the field position battle. Lehane will also try to give the Hawks a boost while on offense as the senior will see time as a wide receiver. He’s shown what he can do with his feet so it will be interesting to see how he can help the Hawks’ offense with his hands.

Noah Leonard, Senior – Taunton

Two years removed from being named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, Taunton senior quarterback Noah Leonard is now in his third season under center for the Tigers and a veteran in the system installed by third-year head coach Brad Sidwell. Leonard helped Taunton achieve a winning record last fall, despite his touchdown total dropping from 14 as a sophomore to 11 as a junior. With a cadre of returning receivers and plenty of size on the line, Leonard has the chance to be in complete control of the offense this year, continuing to develop as a runner (six touchdowns on the ground last year) to complement his accuracy out of the pocket. The Tigers will be hoping to build on the momentum of a three-game win streak to close out 2017 and if Leonard can keep the Taunton offense moving, and avoid turnovers, then another trip to the postseason could be in the cards.

Sean Leonard, Senior – Franklin

Sean Leonard emerged as one of the top targets for Franklin quarterback Jake Noviello last fall and was one of the top big-play receivers in the league in his second season as a starter. Leonard had 36 catches for 561 yards as a junior and caught eight touchdowns. Capable of making plays down the sidelines with his speed, Leonard is also a threat through the middle, forcing defenses to cover that space and providing a tough matchup for coverage schemes by lining up in multiple positions. This season, Franklin may look to get the ball into Leonard’s hands in a variety of ways to take advantage of his playmaking ability while also using him as a good edge blocker to allow the ground game to flourish. With Noviello gone, the QB position is up for grabs this fall but Leonard will remain a player that the Panthers will look for as often as possible to keep the offense clicking.

Brendan McHugh, Senior – North Attleboro

North Attleboro’s offense is going to look a little different this season without three-year starter Chad Peterson under center, but the Rocketeers will have plenty of weapons for the next quarterback to utilize, including the multi-talented McHugh. One of North’s most dangerous weapons during its run to a third straight league title and the Div. 3 Super Bowl, McHugh rushed for 641 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for more than 300 yards and another three touchdowns. His speed to get to the edge and ability to turn upfield on a dime made North’s jet sweep effective even when teams knew it was coming. McHugh also has great hands and was able to find seams in the secondary either in the middle of the field or down the sidelines. The Rocketeers do not mind grinding out long drives, but McHugh gave them the capability for big plays on every snap and that will be a key this fall for the Davenport division favorites.

Kevin Pyne, Junior – Milford

One of the most highly-recruited players in New England has made his way to the Hockomock League this season and will be an imposing addition to the Milford offensive line. Pyne is listed at 6-foot-8 and 275 pounds and has been a dominant force for Millis, helping that program continue its dominance in the lower divisions. With a number of Div. I college offers in his pocket, including the likes of Michigan and Boston College, Pyne will present a unique challenge for a league that has prided itself on the strength of its defenses. Coaches will surely be targeting pass rushes away from Pyne and will face the daunting task of trying to get around him to tackle the ball carrier. With quick feet, strength, and good balance, Pyne will be a wall that teams will have to try and maneuver to get into the Milford backfield and should give Milford more options on the offensive side of the ball to try and make a run at a league title and a return to the postseason.

Damani Scott, Senior – Mansfield

Mansfield will be gunning for a return to the top of the Kelley-Rex division this season and the Hornets have a number of skilled players back to make it happen, including Scott. The senior signal caller will be in his second season as the full-time starter, after finishing fourth in the league with 12 touchdown passes last year. Scott has a big arm and great vision downfield to find receivers that other quarterbacks might have missed. Even with the graduation of record-setting receiver Hunter Ferreira, Scott will have plenty of weapons to take advantage of, particularly out of the backfield, and as he continues to get more comfortable in the pocket the Hornets offense will get increasingly dynamic. Expectations are typically high at Alumni Field this season and those expectations are further fueled by Scott’s experience and talent in running head coach Mike Redding’s balanced offense. Mansfield will be tested early and, as usual, the Sept. 28 game against King Philip is already circled as the biggest test for Scott and the Hornets in the league.

Mansfield’s Scott Emerges As Tournament Superstar

Damani Scott
Mansfield’s Damani Scott (right) drives to the basket against Franklin’s Will Harvey. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield junior Damani Scott admits he was trying to find his role out in the Hornets’ loaded and balanced offense throughout the regular season.

During the postseason, that all changed.

Scott went from averaging under 10 points per game during the 23-game regular season to leading the Hornets in both scoring (18.5 points per game) and rebounds (6.7 per game), playing a monstrous role in helping Mansfield secure its first-ever state championship with a 67-54 win over rival Franklin at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield.

“I don’t I’ve seen [this type of progression] think in the same season,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan about Scott. “I’ve seen it over a career but I’ve never seen a progression like his from where he was to where he is now [in one season]. It was not an easy run. Every team we played had great coaches and a lot of history, so to be able to complete this run was special.”

In the state championship against the Panthers, Scott finished with a team-high 19 points. And what has been most impressive about his game during the playoffs is his ability to get it done in multiple ways on the offensive end.

His three-point shot has come a long way to the point he’s drawn extra attention on the perimeter. And when the defense does come out, he has shown that he has no problem taking a defender off the dribble to get to the basket for a layup, draw a foul, or both.

He shot 50% (5-for-10) from two-point range against the Panthers, drained a pair of three-pointers, and earned his way to the line for six free throw attempts. His steal and breakaway dunk tied the game at the end of the first quarter, capping a 7-0 run to give the Hornets a wave of momentum.

“He’s a stud, and we’ve known that from the beginning,” beamed teammate Sam Hyland. “He had a bumpy season, and that’s what happens, you go through spurts and you’re not always playing your best. But he turned it on for the playoffs. It was the right time to turn it on too. He was knocking down threes, he was attacking the basket and he was playing smart on both ends of the court.”

And for his play this postseason, there’s little doubt he should be considered the MVP of the Division 1 tournament.

Scott wasted little time asserting himself in the playoffs. In the opening round of the playoffs, he went a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range on his way to a career-high 25 points.

From that point on, Scott was locked in.

“I knew in the first playoff game that Johnny [McCoy] was going to get a lot of attention, so I felt like someone needed to step up, so I stepped up,” Scott said. “And I have all my teammates to help me. You have [Ryan] Otto in the corner that I can dish it too, Tyler is probably the best shooter in the state, [Justin] Vine off the bench, Khristian [Conner] attacking the basket, Tommy [Dooling] is another good shooter. And Sam too. I knew that I had the support around me. If I didn’t have the play, I knew I had the support of my teammates.”

After Boulter put together an epic performance to shoot Mansfield past BC High in the second round, Scott was back at it against the Newton North Tigers.

Although he had scored just nine points in the first matchup back in December, Scott showed just how hard he has come this season with an MVP-like performance at inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High.

He connected on 8-of-12 shooting, dropping a team-best 23 points while hauling in 11 rebounds. The junior was a beast on the boards early on, getting some easy buckets that transitioned into a breakout game.

“He played as good as you could,” Vaughan said after the Newton North game.

“I wasn’t fitting into the offense as much in the first half of the season,” Scott said. “When I have confidence, and I can be the man, I turn it up a little bit. I kind of found my identity in the offense. When defenses focused on Johnny, I knew I had to be the next man up.”

When the Hornets had another rematch, this time against the Boxers of Brockton in the D1 South Final, Scott’s progression was on full display again.

In the first go around, Scott didn’t get into double figures for scoring. The second time, Scott played the role of finisher.

He scored 10 of his 21 points in the final quarter, helping the Hornets slam the door shut on the Boxers to clinch the program’s first South Sectional title since 2013.

“He’s really focused, he really wanted to win this state championship with us,” McCoy said of Scott. “I think his play throughout the tournament showed he can be one of the best players in the league and he’s going to have a good year next year.”

And under the bright lights of the TD Garden, where he had scored 13 points on over 85% shooting against Cardinal Spellman earlier this season, Scott dropped 17 points against North champion Everett. He was clutch from the free throw line (8-for-12), hauled in seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

“What drives me to coaching is kids’ progression,” Vaughan said. “People ask if I’d ever go to the college game, but when you watch a kid come into your program and progress… Damani, he played on the freshmen team as freshman. And now as a junior, he’s excelling at a high level.”

Mansfield Beats Rival Franklin For First State Title

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Mansfield boys basketball players celebrate after winning the D1 State Championship. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Just when it looked like Mansfield would run away the state championship, Franklin stormed back with a big run and had a chance to make it a two-possession game.

And no one was surprised because that’s the never-give-up type of team that Franklin is.

But when Mansfield was able to weather the storm, keep its lead, and break the pressure to pull away in the final minutes, it didn’t come as a big surprise either, because that’s the team the Hornets have been this season.

And with that, Mansfield earned a hard-fought 67-54 win over Franklin to earn the D1 State Championship, the first in program history.

“We’d knew they would press and do whatever they needed to do to get back into the game, that’s who they are,” said Mansfield senior Sam Hyland (17 points, five rebounds, four assists). “We turned it over more than we should have and we didn’t take the best shots. But from there it was just about winning the final three minutes, then winning the final two minutes, and so on. It was just about focusing at the time at hand and outworking them. They hit some deep shots, I have to commend them for those, sometimes you have to live with it. But we did enough at the end.”

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Mansfield led by as much as 18 points, up 59-41 with five minutes to play in the game after Ryan Otto (four points, four rebounds) hit a deep two just before the shot clock expired.

But true to form, Franklin turned things around. Jalen Samuels (seven points, seven rebounds, four assists) hit a free throw and then took a charge to get some momentum back. Sophomore Chris Edgehill (18 points) hit in the lane and Paul Mahon (14 points) splashed in a three to get the game back to ten, 59-49 with four minutes to play.

Out of a timeout he Panthers’ Matt Elias (eight points) picked off a pass at midcourt, leading to another three from Edgehill and suddenly the Panthers trailed 59-52 with three minutes to go.

Franklin had three chances to close the gap further but Mansfield’s defense wouldn’t allow it. Mansfield forced three straight empty trips, and then in transition, Mansfield junior Damani Scottt (19 points, four rebounds) drew the defense in and dropped a pass off right under the hoop for an easy two from Otto.

The Panthers came up short on the other end again, and Mansfield went on to sink six free throws over the final 90 seconds to secure the win the D1 State Championship.

“I can’t really put it into words,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I know the last time we were [in the state championship], the stage might have been too big. From the moment we got on the bus on Thursday, the kids were locked in. They’ve been locked in all season long. It’s been a great ride. We did great things in D1 South, we did great things in the EMass game, and we did great things tonight.”

While it looked like it may turn into a blowout in the fourth quarter, Vaughan knew that Franklin would go down swinging to the very end.

“That’s a very good team we just played,” Vaughan said of the Panthers. “We made some shots, we did some things we had to do but [Franklin] wasn’t underprepared, this wasn’t a lack of effort by Franklin. If we play this game 10 times, five go one way and five go the other. It comes down to the fact at some point in the second and third quarters, we made a few extra baskets.

“They weren’t going to go away, they weren’t going to roll over. They play hard, they compete, they do all the little things well. They were going to give us every last breath they have. Paul Mahon is one of the best players our league has seen in terms of his ability to change the game on both ends of the floor, especially defensively. He held Tyler [Boulter] (four points, seven rebounds) in check tonight plus scored points of his own. Edgehill is a special player, we still have to deal with him for two more years as a top player in the league. And Samuels is great too, and then they have great role players who step in a do a lot of things for them.”

Franklin coach CJ Neely had a similar outlook, noting that in the end, the Panthers knew it would come down to the small things. The Panthers finished 10-for-22 from the free throw line compared to 23-for-30 from the Hornets.

“As much as the hype went on all week, we talked about how at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to a couple of loose balls, rebounding and taking care of the ball, and making our free throws,” Neely said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to and they [made their free throws]. When you play in this rivalry, if you’re not making your free throws and they are, and they can go from four to an eight-point lead instead of keeping it close.

“When it starts to expand, you have to come out of what you want to do a little bit. And both teams have had to do that in all three games, we’ve gotten out of what we wanted to do because the lead extended. Then you’re doing something that you practice but it’s not your go-to or your identity. You’re trying to get back into it and you’re taking a lot of risks. Mansfield did a good job of extending their lead making their free throws, and we didn’t. At the end of the day, we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

While Mansfield had the key runs throughout the second and third quarters, they needed another one in the first quarter just to keep pace with the red-hot Panthers.

Holding a 10-9 advantage late in the first quarter behind a free throw from Samuels, the Panthers got hot from deep. Mahon took a feed from Edgehill and made a deep three, and then repeated the same sequence two plays later for a 16-9 lead with just over a minute to play.

Mansfield was able to answer over the final minute though. Hyland drove hard for two, Scott completed a traditional three-point play on a possession the Hornets had because of a steal from Khristian Conner, and then Scott came up with a late steal and went in alone for a thunderous one-handed slam to tie the game after eight minutes.

Franklin’s offense picked up where it left off as Elias drained a three to open the second quarter and junior Will Harvey joined in on the three-party with a corner trifecta for a 22-16 lead just over a minute into the second.

Hyland hit a three but Edgehill answered with a traditional three-point play to keep the Panther advantage at four. A free throw from Scott cut it to three, and two more from Justin Vine (five points) made it one after he went to the line after hauling in a defensive rebound because Mansfield was in the bonus.

With both Scott and Hockomock League MVP John McCoy (18 points, 11 rebounds) in foul trouble for the Hornets — and Samuels for the Panthers — Mansfield’s Hyland stepped up into the spotlight.

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Hyland hit another trifecta, this one putting the Hornets up 27-25 with just under three minutes left in the half. Elias hit one free throw to make it a one-point game but Hyland got his layup to fall while fighting through a foul, completing the three-point play at the line. Two possessions later, Hyland once again attacked the basket, draw the foul, and got a kind bounce off the rim for another three-point play, plus a 33-26 lead.

Hyland finished with 12 of Mansfield’s 19 points in the second quarter and tied a career-high with 17 points overall on top of five rebounds and four assists.

“There wasn’t a specific game plan to get me going but we got into some foul trouble early so someone else had to step up and score points, it’s the Mansfield way,” Hyland said. “I had a couple open opportunities early that sometimes I’d pass up and wouldn’t take but fortunately I knocked them down. That gave me the confidence and then I started to get to the rim. I got a couple of bounces to go my way, a couple of calls and had a strong first half that kind of got the momentum back on our side. It ended up working out pretty nice.”

Franklin’s defense came out strong in the second half, holding Mansfield scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the third. However, Mansfield’s defense was equal to the task and the Panthers only scored once, a layup from Mahon, during that stretch.

McCoy drained a three to give Franklin some life, pushing the lead to 38-28. Mansfield went up as much as 14 points in the frame (44-30) on a traditional three-point play from Scott. But Franklin closed with an 8-4 run with Samuels scoring the first four and Elias and Edgehill each contributing two.

Franklin nearly had a big stop to keep the deficit in single digits at the end of the quarter, but Hyland came flying in to steal an offensive board for an easy putback.

Mansfield opened the fourth with a set play to get two for McCoy, and then ran a set that resulted in a corner three for Vine. McCoy knocked down a pair of technical free throws to stretch it to 55-38.

Mahon answered for Franklin with a triple but two more from McCoy at the line, and a deep two from Otto gave Mansfield a commanding 59-41 lead, only for Franklin to charge back with its 11-0 run to make it a seven-point game.

“The resilience of this team….we’re never going to go away,” Neely said. “We’re not going to be the team that plays for the newspaper and loses by 10 or 11, we’re going to go out there and try and cut back into it as much and possible, and we’ll lose by 50 but we’ll do it trying to get back into it.

“We just couldn’t make a couple of those baskets there to get back into it. When Mansfield builds a lead like that, they do a great job of moving the ball and making you work, getting to the line and making their free throws.”

Vaughan agreed, stressing the importance of getting a big lead because he knew Franklin would continue to push back.

“This was a game we were fortunate to be up 18 so we could weather the storm and let the clock tick away,” Vaughan said. “But it comes down to what we’ve done all year. Otto steps up and has a huge basket, Vine hits the three in the corner. Different guys doing different things makes a huge difference for our team.”

While the Hornets secured their first state title win with a victory over rival Franklin, Vaughan noted his squad focused more on themselves and getting a win than about the rivalry.

“It wasn’t really about the opponent, it was just about winning this game,” Vaughan said. “If anything, there’s a part of me that knows how hard it is to get here, and I know what Franklin basketball is all about, and what CJ is all about and most of those kids I’ve coached at some point. They are great kids, great young men.

“There’s a part of me that has some sympathy. I wish there were times we weren’t in the same division and we didn’t face each other at some point. But we’ve also lost to Franklin back when they were in the South. It wasn’t about who we were playing, but it was about playing in this game and doing everything we can to win it.”

Franklin finishes the season 23-4 and had a second straight appearance in the D1 State Finals.

“The guys should be very proud of themselves,” Neely said of his team. “They are working hard year round, they are sacrificing a lot to put Franklin on the map and be one of the powers in the state. We’ve beaten a lot of good teams this season, we didn’t shy away from challenges. They should be very proud of themselves.

“These guys have brought Franklin to a place they had never been before and did it twice in a row. They have a lot to be proud of. Obviously, both teams wanted to win tonight, it’s two great teams that know a lot about each other. [Mansfield] was the better team tonight.”

Mansfield boys basketball picks up its 27th win of the season, finishing with just two losses.

“This win means a lot, I know a lot of players on [Franklin] and I’m pretty close friends with some of them,” McCoy said. “It’s definitely just amazing to beat Franklin in my last high school game.”

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Hornets Weather Crimson Tide, Book Trip To State Final

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Mansfield’s Khristian Conner drives baseline against Everett in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOSTON, Mass. – Just when it looked like Mansfield was out of new players stepping up and taking control, in stepped junior Khristian Conner.

It’s only fitting that five years to the date, Conner was able to equal the performance his older brother, Kevin, had in the 2013 EMass Final.

The Hornets have had different players take charge throughout their 2018 postseason run: Damani Scott scoring 25 points against Newton South, Tyler Boulter dropping 35 points against BC High and Johnny Mccoy’s MVP performance against Newton North.

We’ve seen the likes of Justin Vine, Ryan Otto, and Tommy Dooling come in and hit a big three or take an important charge.

And you can’t forget about the tireless work of point guard Sam Hyland, who has continued to make good decisions on the offensive end while shutting down some of the most formidable opponents on the defensive side.

Now with the lights shining brightest, it was Conner that came off the bench and delivered 13 points and three steals to help the Hornets hold off Everett, 73-65.

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Mansfield advances to the MIAA D1 State Championship and will take on rival Franklin on Saturday in Springfield with time and exact location to be determined.

It will be the first time in D1 history that two teams from the same league will meet in the state finals for boys basketball.

“This was Khristian’s speed tonight…open floor, get out and take the matchup that’s given to you and go and make a couple of plays,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “He couldn’t have played bigger tonight.

“That’s the make up of our team. Any given night someone can step up and make plays. Tonight was his night. We’ve been talking about. The years we made some runs, back in 2012 and 2013, there were games no one knew who the superstar would be. But if you play good defense and get guys in the right positions, it gives guys opportunities like Khristian.”

Conner’s biggest play came with just over three minutes left in the game. After turning the ball over trying to force a pass baseline, it looked as though Everett had a chance to pick up some momentum and cut into the 10-point deficit.

Instead, Conner hunted the ball down, coming up with a quick steal just seconds after losing possession and went up for an easy two. That gave Mansfield its largest lead of the fourth quarter, 65-53, with 3:29 to play.

On the ensuing trip up the court, Conner used his quickness to get a hand in on the dribble, forcing it to bounce off the Everett player and out of bounds for a turnover. Although Mansfield didn’t score on its turn up the court, the Hornets ran off more time to get under three minutes to play.

“I just stuck with it,” Conner said of the play. “I couldn’t get down on myself because of the turnover so I just focused on defense. Defense is so important especially in this game and I was able to get the stops.”

After McCoy (13 points, five rebounds, four assists) hit one free throw to make it 66-57, Caleb Jacobs answered with a three-point play to get within six with under a minute to play.

McCoy responded with two free throws and Isaiah Likely drive in for two for Everett. The Hornets had a turnover against the Crimson Tide press and Everett cashed in with a putback for two, making it 68-64 with 19.4 to play.

But Scott (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists) hit a pair of free throws, Everett’s Jalen Iles-Smith only made one, McCoy hit another, Everett threw it away and Scott iced the game with two more from the charity stripe to end the game.

“I’ve said all postseason that we’re a really hard team to play when we’re up,” Vaughan said. “All of our stuff seems to work, we’re more comfortable playing, that was a major key. If we could minimize their opportunities in the first and second quarters and get any cushion whatsoever, I think it made a big difference in the outcome of the game.”

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Mansfield was able to take the lead between the end of the first and beginning of the second quarters. After going back-and-forth with the Crimson Tide for the first seven minutes, the Hornets finished the opening stanza with a quick surge.

Scott splashed in a three from the left side on a feed from Hyland (nine points, four assists, there rebounds), Vine got out in transition for two, and then Hyland went one-on-one to the basket to beat the buzzer for two to give Mansfield a 21-17 edge after one.

That momentum carried into the second quarter as Mansfield outscored the Tide 13-2 over the first five minutes of the second quarter.

Scott hit two early free throws and then set up Vine in the corner for a trifecta. McCoy had two free throws followed by a strong baseline drive from Boulter. McCoy then followed a free throw with a big three-pointer to make it 34-19 with 2:56 left in the first half.

Boulter and Conner helped carry the Hornets in the third quarter. Boulter drained an early three and had seven of his 14 points in the frame while Conner had two straight baskets, a big steal, and a free throw all in a row for the Hornets.

“All of my teammates were just pushing me to have a good game,” Connor said. “I didn’t do too well in the other playoff games. Coach Vaughan just told me to come out and play your game and I just tried to do that at my best. I love my role on this team, I just have to come out when given the chance and compete. When I make the first couple, my adrenaline was pumping and I just wanted to help the team win tonight.”

Meanwhile, Hyland was at it again on the defensive end. Ghared Boyce, who has over 2,000 career points, scored 22 hard earned points but was held to just 31% shooting with Hyland in front of him.

“Hyland’s been our unsung hero right now,” Vaughan said. “He doesn’t score a lot of points, he takes everyone’s best shot because he has to take the ball up and then he’s getting everyone’s best player [defensively].”

Mansfield boys basketball (26-2) will now take on rival Franklin (23-3), who defeated Springfield Central 61-43, in the D1 State Championship.

The Hornets fell at Franklin on January 12th but have won 17 straight games since, including a 59-47 verdict over the Panthers at home on February 9th.

“First game they whacked us, second game we were in control for most of the game,” Vaughan said. “A league opponent, going out to Springfield. If this isn’t Duke-UNC at its finest in the NCAA tournament, I don’t know what it is. There’s going to be no secrets. We’re going to know who dribbles right, who dribbles left, who’s girlfriend is named what, what brand of underwear they like [they’ll know] what brand of underwear we like. This is going to be one for the ages. I don’t know if any state title has been done from two teams from the same conference.

“We’re 18 minutes from each other and we’re going to drive an hour and 45 minutes to Springfield to do this a third time. The beauty if we both one once so this is the ultimate rubber match. You don’t get a better rubber match than this. We’re going to get Franklin’s best shot. CJ [Neely] is going to do a tremendous job. The emotion is going to be high, the game is going to be high…we’re excited to be here, we’re going to enjoy it and start getting ready tomorrow for a very, very talented and well coached Franklin team.”

The game is scheduled for Saturday in Springfield, with exact location and time still to be determined.

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Mansfield Knocks Out Boxers to Win South Title

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Mansfield won its first South sectional title in five years with a strong performance against Brockton at Taunton High. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – There are a lot of programs that would love to have the level of consistent success that Mansfield has enjoyed over the past several seasons, but heading into Friday night’s Div. 1 South final at Taunton High the Hornets were not thinking about all the games that they had won in the last five years.

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The Hornets, especially the senior class, were thinking about the two sectional finals they had reached in the past three seasons, including last year’s loss to Needham on the same court, and focusing on ensuring that the third time would be the charm to bring home the program’s third South title. It was.

Mansfield put in another dominant performance on both ends of the floor to beat Brockton 79-65. The Hornets used a 15-0 run in the second quarter to break the game open, led by as many as 24 points, and the 14-point final margin was the closest that the Boxers got in the second half.

“We’ve lost it twice and our senior year we wanted to go out on top and win the South sectional final,” said senior point guard Sam Hyland after the game. “We’re not done yet, but that was awesome. It meant a lot to win it.”

Senior John McCoy added, “We want to win the state [tournament]. We had three goals at the beginning of the season – to win the Hock, win the South sectional finals, and to win the state title – so far we’ve done two of those three.”

When Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan was asked about what drove the Hornets to get over the hump and bring home the title, he replied, “Last year, when we lost to a very good Needham team, the guys who played last year felt that pain, they wanted to get back here and represent the South in the state tournament.”

Few teams are playing as well as Mansfield at this point in the season and even fewer teams are as good when facing a team for a second time. The Hornets avenged one of their two losses by beating BC High by 13 in the quarterfinal and rolled past Newton North for the second time this season in the semifinal. After beating the Boxers by five in a tight game a little more than two weeks before, Mansfield made sure this meeting was nowhere near as close.

One of Mansfield’s strengths is the balance it has on offense and in the first quarter six different Hornets scored, including Tommy Dooling who drilled a three after a scramble for a loose ball fell to Ryan Otto and he swung it over to the junior guard. The three put the Hornets up 19-15 after one.

“I know my job,” said Hyland about the team’s depth. “I’ve got to get the ball over half-court and let someone make a play. Vine hit a couple shots, Damani was huge obviously, Tommy Dooling hit the biggest shot of the year for him, and Johnny has always been huge.”

McCoy answered a Brockton basket to start the second, but the Boxers got a layup off an inbounds pass to cut the lead back down to just two. The Hornets scored the next 15 and never looked back.

Senior Justin Vine (11 points) started the run with a straightaway three off another of Otto’s five assists on the night. Damani Scott also started to get going with a basket off an offensive rebound and a transition basket after a Hyland steal. After the Boxers finally ended the run with a runner, Vine added another three, this time from the corner off a Tyler Boulter feed. Mansfield went into the break leading 41-26.

“The thing I like about this team right now is they’re really engaged with the game plan,” said Vaughan. “They’re executing what we’re putting in; they’re executing the little things in the game we need to do to win.”

Brockton came out for the third quarter energized but, similar to the game against Newton North, the Hornets always seemed to have an answer to prevent a comeback. The Boxers cut the lead to 15, but Otto (nine points) chased down an offensive rebound and Hyland moved it over to Boulter for a big three in the corner.

Despite the Brockton full-court press, the Hornets continued to get the ball into the offense thanks in large part to Hyland keeping turnovers to a minimum. He explained, “[Coach] told me before the game tonight that when they’re pressing you have to be like a boxer. You can’t let them keep pounding you, you’ve got to try and attack them.”

Boulter would score seven of his 10 points in the third to help stretch the lead, while McCoy continued to take over the game with his ability to get to the rim. The senior, who was greeted by “MVP” chants by the Mansfield crowd after every basket, scored six in the third on his way to a game-high 23. He also pulled down nine rebounds, had a pair of steals, and dished out three assists.

“It was almost like he was pacing himself early, letting the game come to him and we said to him at halftime of the last game you need to put your will on the game,” said Vaughan of McCoy. “There’s reasons why basketball has superstars and he played like a superstar the other day and tonight was no different. He’s a game-changer on both ends of the floor.”

In the fourth quarter, Mansfield made sure the game stayed out of reach with stellar ball movement to find open looks. Scott caught fire on the fourth, scoring 10 of his 21 in the final quarter. He buried a pair of threes from essentially the identical spot right in front of the Hornets fans and he capped a near-perfect night for the Hornets with a steal and dunk that put Mansfield up by 24.

“We’re just excited to be able to close the loop on the South and put our name back in there,” said Vaughan, who has now won three South titles as coach (2011 and 2013 being the others). “It’s been a while since we’ve gotten this so we’re excited to be back here and now we’ve got more work to do starting tomorrow morning.”

Although there is still work to be done, the players were definitely enjoying the moment on the floor. As the crowd was being urged to disperse, Hyland stood at midcourt cradling the South championship trophy. When asked how it felt at that moment, he said, “It feels pretty awesome right now. This thing feels pretty great in my hands right now.”

Mansfield (25-2) will play the North champion, either Everett or Lawrence, at the TD Garden in the state semifinal on Monday night at 7:30.

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