WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip sophomore Jack Assini hasn’t played many meaningful minutes so far this season as he splits time between varsity and JV, but head coach Dave DeStefano was looking for some help defense against a potent Taunton offense.
Not only did Assini deliver on the defensive end, he provided a huge spark offensively with a career-high 13 points and helped ignite a huge fourth quarter for the Warriors, who ran away with a 70-51 decision over the Tigers.
Assini hit three three-pointers, including two in the fourth quarter, while sophomore Tommy Kilroy hit four threes on his way to tying a career-high 21 points. Seniors Will Laplante and Tommy Martorano each sank three more triples as the Warriors tied a season-high with 13 made three-pointers on 43% shooting.
“Jack’s shown some great improvement in practice and even in the games he’s gotten into, his defensive intensity has really shown,” DeStefano said. “We knew they’d look to attack a lot and he does a great job with on-ball defense so I knew he’d play. I didn’t expect to use him as much as we did but he was our team MVP tonight and we don’t win that game without him.
“He had a good shooting performance at practice yesterday and I just told him to do that again tonight. He shot with confidence tonight and as soon as that first one went in, he was feeling it.”
The Tigers spent the second half clawing back into the game. KP turned a four-point advantage at halftime (26-22) into a 13-point lead with an 11-3 surge in the middle of the third quarter as Laplante (19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists) hit a pair of threes, Kilroy had another, and Martorano (13 points, 7 rebounds) broke free in transition for an easy bucket.
Taunton rallied with threes from freshman Jakari Innocent and senior Al Morriseau (career-high 14 points, 5 rebounds) plus a layup through contact from junior Troy Santos (7 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds). But Kilroy answered with two and Assini sank his first triple with just seconds left to restore an eight-point advantage at 45-37.
The visitors once again clawed back into it with a 9-3 run to start the fourth with back-to-back buckets from seniors Chris Perault (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Chris Volcy (8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals) and a triple from Santos to make it a two-point game, 48-46, with six minutes to play in the fourth.
Kilroy answered with a triple on the other end and the floodgates opened for the hosts as they finished the game with a 22-5 run in the last five minutes.
“I think we completed the circle of learning to play with the lead,” DeStefano said. “You know teams are going to make runs, we knew Taunton would make one and it’s about how you respond. I think we did a good job of responding to it tonight. Now that we’ve learned that, I think we can have a nice little run the rest of the way.
“I think tonight was the first time we really had the threes in the flow of the offense. We take a lot of threes so there’s going to be times when we take them early and take them in transition but as long as they shoot with confidence, we’ll be in good shape.”
Kilroy stretched the lead with another three-pointer after a rebound from sophomore Tommy McLeish and feed from senior Grant Kinney (7 rebounds, 5 assists), and Assini scored five straight as KP’s lead ballooned to double digits. Like Assini, Kilroy finished with eight points in the fourth quarter.
“I think he’s definitely found his niche on this team,” DeStefano said of Kilroy, who is now third on the team in scoring. “Coming in we asked him to be a defensive guy, to do all the dirty work and do those things that don’t really show up in the scorebook. And I think now that he’s done that, he’s taken the next step on the offensive end. He’s starting to drive with confidence, shoot with confidence too.”
Taunton took a lead with a strong second quarter but had a cold spell to finish the half as KP rattled off an 11-0 run to take a lead into halftime as the Tigers were forced to put three starters on the bench with foul trouble. The Tigers didn’t lead at any point in the second half.
“Our shot selection had to improve,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “There were times when we took some quick shots, not necessarily bad ones but quick ones and we made that run…but then we had a couple of quick shots in a row and then they opened it back up. Now they’re steaming and we’re stalled offensively. We had a little confusion on the offensive that turned into a turnover or a bad shot, and that’s stuff that we need to have better control of at this point in the season.
“We were rushing things, and there are times we can get away with it but tonight, anytime we made a mistake we paid for it. [KP] was pumped up, they were flying around tonight.”
King Philip boys basketball (6-4 Hockomock, 8-5 overall) faces a big test on Tuesday when it welcomes Mansfield. Taunton (7-3, 8-4) visits New Bedford on Sunday before hosting Foxboro on Tuesday.
WRENTHAM, Mass. — King Philip came out and landed a haymaker against North Attleboro, but the Rocketeers refused to go do without a fight.
The Warriors jumped out to a 17-point lead less than six minutes into the game but had to hold off a handful of comeback attempts from the visiting Rocketeers to eventually secure a 60-50 win on Friday night.
Senior Tommy Martorano hit a trio of three-pointers and scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the opening frame, Tommy Kilroy (10 points, nine rebounds, three assists) tossed in another three for the Warriors, and the hosts turned a quick 11-0 lead into a 19-2 advantage after a transition bucket from Trevor Clyde.
While it wasn’t much in the grand scheme of the game, North Attleboro closed the first with a quick 7-0 burst and that would be a sign of things to come as the Rocketeers continually scratched and clawed their way back into the game.
“Any good team in this league, they are going to come back,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “It’s a game of runs and it’s about how you respond. We knew they would and they did a good job making us uncomfortable with their pressure, we struggled against it for long stretches and I thought that carried over into our defense and our intensity.
“I’m happy the boys were able to roll with the punches and find a way to get through it, and that’s what they were able to do tonight.”
The lead ballooned back to 17 in the third quarter (36-19) after Grant Kinney (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) cashed in on a North turnover with a layup and Tommy McLeish (three points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks) scored in the post. But once again, there was no quit in North Attleboro as they responded with a 15-3 run over the final five minutes of the quarter. Sophomore Chase Frisoli (career-high 16 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of threes and Jonnie Obuchowski (10 rebounds, four assists) added one after an offensive rebound from Ryan Bannon. Frisoli sank another triple after Obuchowski crashed the offensive glass and then beat the shot clock with a mid-range jumper. A free throw from Givany Carney (team-high 17 points) trimmed the once-double-digit advantage down to just five, 39-34, with under a minute to play in the third.
“That’s where the frustration stems from because it’s not our first rodeo at this point,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins about having to overcome the early deficit. “We’ve had too many instances where we aren’t ready to play or not ready to execute part of the gameplan. We put ourselves in holes, and to come back was good. I’m proud of them for that, it speaks to their character and their mental toughness, but sooner than later we have to learn it because we’re making it too difficult for ourselves.”
As the game continued to play out, the Warriors got the shot they needed to answer as Kinney buried a corner three with just seconds left for a 42-34 lead going into the fourth.
KP kept the momentum to start the fourth, landing yet another heavy punch that could have put North away. Martorano (four rebounds) sank another three and then found Clyde out in transition for two more to give the Warriors a comfortable 47-34 lead.
Jack Munley cut to the rim for two for an immediate response from the Big Red, Frisoli attacked the rim for two more, and Munley found Carney for a three on the next trip to get within two possessions at 47-41.
“I thought we were stagnant offensively, credit to KP because their defense was good,” Mulkerrins said. “They got in the paint a lot better than we might have expected and took away some of our drives. I thought the press just freed us up a little bit. We were pressing on offense because we were playing so poorly on defense. I think once they saw the ball go in, they relax a little bit and were able to play a little bit.
“And we had some guys come off the bench play well. I thought our senior captain Jack Munley came in and had the best game he’s had, not to say he hasn’t played well before but he wasn’t getting a lot of rotational minutes and tonight he was an instant spark for us.”
North nearly got closer but KP got a couple of stops and Kilroy snatched an offensive rebound and found Martorano for a much-needed three for KP. A baseline jumper from Kinney was true and once again the Warriors had a double-digit lead with just 2:33 to go.
Derek Maceda answered for North with a strong take and a KP turnover resulted in a layup for Frisoli. North Attleboro, which used a press for the majority of the game, forced another turnover and Obuchowski dished one to Carney in the corner for three, and suddenly the Rocketeers were within four — the closest they had been since the first minute of the game — with just 1:33 to play.
But before North could get established defensively, KP senior Will Laplante (11 points, seven rebounds, three assists) sprinted up the court and found a gap in the middle, dropping in a floater for two. Martorano helped force a turnover and Laplante punished the visitors with a triple with a minute to go, pushing the lead to 57-48, which proved to be the final punch the Warriors needed.
“That was a big five points that Will had in the last couple of minutes. We had some guys hit some big shots when we needed it, and that’s what makes teams great when they can respond in those situations and they did a good job of that tonight.
“We’re still learning to play with the lead. It’s a work in progress and we’re still learning but it’s only the halfway point so we’re getting there.”
North’s 7-0 surge to end the first turned into a 14-3 run overall as the Rocketeers carried some momentum into the second to make it a six-point game. But as they would do the rest of the way, the Warriors responded when they had to as Laplante, Kilroy, and Martorano scored to give KP a double-digit lead, 31-19, going into the half.
King Philip boys basketball (5-3 Hockomock, 7-4 overall) hits the road for a visit to Canton on Tuesday while North Attleboro (0-8, 0-9) will visit Foxboro.
“We were working harder for better shots tonight,” said Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “We were settling a lot in the first two games, averaging something like 30 three-point attempts a game, and I don’t think we did that tonight. I think we attacked the basket a lot more and we started to take the shots we wanted, not just the shots they were giving us.
“The guys were playing tougher on defense, getting up on their guys. We knew they could shoot so that was our game plan going into it. And we started to really move the ball around better on offense, attacking the rim, getting some open shots, and getting to the free throw line.”
Stoughton’s efforts to get to the rim were apparent right from the start. The Black Knights attempted more than twice as many two-point field goals as they three-pointers. That trend continued again in the second quarter, and that success translated into some open looks in the second half, where the Black Knights went 5-for-9 from downtown.
Costa-Haywood finished with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds, Daughtry had a career-high 14 points and six rebounds, Greenspoon had a strong all-around game with 13 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, and Pearl had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
On the flip side, King Philip ended up with more three-point attempts total than twos, going 7-for-35 from the three-point line. The Warriors hit seven threes in the third quarter alone on Tuesday against OA, and got off to a good start with a trio of them in the opening quarter on Friday, but managed just two more in the second and two total in the second half.
“We were settling for too much instead of trying to get some drive and kick action,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “Even if we could get some shots out of paint passes, we could have been more in the flow of the offense. They did a good job of getting us outside of the paint and making it hard for us. I don’t think we’ll as bad as we did tonight in other games but we still need to get it in the paint a lot more.
“They controlled the tempo right off the bat and we decided that we weren’t going to match it. I’ll take the blame for it, our practices the last couple of days could have been harder to prepare for this team. Stoughton historically is physical, they play tough, they play aggressive and I should have done a better job preparing them for this game.”
A strong start offensively gave Stoughton a 19-12 lead after a quarter. KP closed the gap to three after back-to-back buckets from Collin Peck and Trevor Clyde, but that would be the closest they’d get the rest of the way.
Sophomore Tommy Kilroy (16 points, seven rebounds, three assists) drained a three with just under two minutes to go but Stoughton surged ahead with a 9-0 burst to end the half. Daughtry drove the lane for two and then leaked out on the break for two more. Pearl found freshman Anthony Alessi in the corner for three with 30 seconds to go, and after another stop, Greenspoon set up Alessi for a long two just before the buzzer for a 37-24 lead at halftime.
Stoughton got hot from three-point range in the second half. After shooting 54% from two-point territory in the first half, the Knights connected at a 56% clip from three-point range in the second half.
Costa-Haywood, Daughtry, and Greenspoon each hit a three to balloon Stoughton’s lead to 19 points midway through the third.
Pearl opened the fourth by shaking his defender to hit an open three, Greenspoon hit another triple after an offensive rebound from Swierzewski, and Pearl cashed in on a KP turnover and Stoughton’s lead peaked at 24 points, 60-36.
“Our staff preached it all week, we wanted them to be determined to get rebounds. In the first two games, we were kind of backpedaling instead so we wanted them to attack the ball and get more possessions for us.”
Stoughton boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 1-2 overall) has four more home games in a row, including a pair of non-league games over break. The Black Knights will host Medway on Wednesday while King Philip (1-2, 1-2) will take on Leominster at Framingham on the same day.
Attleboro has consistently been in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division in recent years, and if the Bombardiers are going to be there again this year, they will have to do so with a lot of new players to the varsity level.
Not only did the Bombardiers graduate a sizable senior class, but the majority of them were also key pieces in longtime head coach Mark Houle’s lineup and rotation. Add in the transfer of promising 6’5-forward Trevor White, and Attleboro has very few pieces left from last year. But that’s not to say Attleboro is without talent. Junior Neo Franco is coming off a very successful first year with the team, earning HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team honors. Jaiden Outland saw more and more minutes as the season went on and he showed what he’s capable of with a career-high 18 points in Attleboro’s win over Durfee in late February last year; he could be poised for a big year. Senior Michael Beverly is the third returner for the Bombardiers after picking up some minutes last year while newcomer senior Justin Hanrahan could be a key piece right away.
Another reason for optimism is that most of the new faces in the lineup this year played for the Bombardiers’ JV squad last season, which posted an impressive 19-2 record. Seniors Spencer Sherck, Zyeem Charles, Nathan Hodson, and Michael Alfonso will provide key leadership for Houle this year. Junior Max Crawford will join sophomores Dante Monestime, Hayden Crowley, and Brady Erwin as potential contributors for the Bombardiers.
“We need to continue our commitment to be a highly competitive defensive team, our communication, and understanding of defensive concepts is a priority and is a reason we were one of the top defensive teams in the league last year,” Houle said.
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Eric MacKinnon
Canton surprised a lot of people on the outside of the program with a nine-win season that certainly was good enough for a playoff spot, but the Bulldogs have put that seeding drama in the rearview mirror and are now focused on surprising people again this year.
In order to do so, the Bulldogs will need new players to step up as second-year head coach Eric MacKinnon only has one returning starter from last year. Matt Chafin emerged as a top perimeter option, averaging 8.8 points per game last year (reaching double figures in just under half of the games). Although he isn’t returning from last year’s lineup, Julius Hicks provides a big boost for MacKinnon and Bulldogs, coming back after missing all of last season with an injury. Hicks would have certainly been in the rotation last year and will be a vital piece this year. Junior Zaza Francoeur is an athletic wing player that can impact the game on both ends of the floor for the Bulldogs.
Defense emerged as one of Canton’s strengths a season ago as the Bulldogs bought into MacKinnon’s game plan. Canton allowed the least amount of points against in the Davenport division at 50.6, and they will look to replicate that again this year.
“With our personnel and style of play we have the ability to score from the perimeter and play inside-out at times,” MacKinnon said. “Our length and athleticism should allow us to get out in transition.”
Foxboro is one of the few teams in the league that has more familiar faces returning than not, and after only missing out on the Davenport title by one game last year, the Warriors are aiming to compete with defending champs Sharon and division newcomer Mansfield for the top spot this season.
The Warriors boast one of the better senior classes, anchored by HockomockSports First Team selection Alex Penders. Penders, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 16.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game last year and recently committed to play at Ithaca next year, is joined by classmates Sam Golub, Ryan LeClair, and Andrew Finn. Golub and LeClair played a lot of minutes for head coach Jon Gibbs last season and both improved as the season went on. Having three experienced players will certainly give the Warriors an advantage, especially on the defensive side of the ball where Gibbs always has his teams prepared.
Penders can score in a variety of ways and will be a matchup problem for most teams in the league. Golub is a proven shooter that can get hot at any time while LeClair is a pesky defender, and as seen by his performance on the road at Stoughton last year, is a capable scorer. Penders will certainly be the focus of the offense but he’s a very unselfish player and Foxboro should have a good balance in the scoring column. While the Warriors have a strong senior class, they’re still a relatively young team. With only two juniors, the rest of the roster is filled by six sophomores and two freshmen. Junior Ryan Cotter and sophomores Ryan Kelley and Nolan Gordon will be names to keep an eye on.
“This is a very hard-working and coachable group that is improving on a daily basis,” Gibbs said. “We have a very exciting blend of experienced veterans and newcomers who are hungry to contribute. If we can defend and rebound at a high level, the potential is there for a very successful season.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-4 Coach: CJ Neely
Entering the past two seasons, there was a lot of unknown for the Panthers after graduating a large senior class each year. It’s the opposite this year as Franklin graduated just three players and has the majority of last year’s squad that went 21-4 back in the fold.
After a third-place finish in the Kelley-Rex last season, Franklin could be the team to beat this go around. Junior Sean O’Leary highlights a talented and experienced group of long, athletic players. O’Leary, a 6-foot-4 forward that can score from anywhere on the court and was named to the HockomockSports All-Underclassmen Team last year, will be one of the top players in the league this year. Junior Andrew O’Neill (8.8 points per game) is another returner and head coach CJ Neely will lean on a small but talented senior class that features Ben Harvey (HockomockSports All-Defensive Team), Justin Allen, Geino Scaringello, and Hayden Morandi.
Juniors Hansy Jacques, Bradley Herndon, and Andrew Benoit were all on the team last year and could see increased minutes this season. There will be more opportunities on offense for players to step up with the graduation of Sean Vinson (12.8 ppg) and last year’s leading scorer and HockomockSports Underclassman of the Year Henry Digirogio (16.1 ppg) has opted not to play this year. And promising sophomore Caden Sullivan, who likely would have been in the rotation, will miss significant time due to injury.
“The preseason has been very competitive at practice,” Neely said. “We have a great group of guys who really care for each other. While we do have a good amount of returning players, there is a lot of playing time up for grabs and it will be a daily challenge for guys to earn roles. I have been most impressed with how committed and focused the players have been each day on the court and in film sessions to always look for ways to improve as a group. It will be fun to watch them grow and compete all year.”
2021-2022 Record: 6-16 Head Coach: Dave DeStefano
King Philip brings back a good portion of its roster and is looking to book a spot in the tournament and contend for the Kelley-Rex division title.
The Warriors are one of the few teams in the league that brings back their leading scorer from a year ago in Will Laplante, a seasoned veteran that has averaged over 16 points per year in each of the last two seasons. Laplante is joined by senior Grant Kinney, who had some breakout games last year, and Tommy Martorano, who showed that at his best (a career-high 36 points) that he can score with the best players in the league. That trio is three of KP’s top five scorers from a year ago. Senior Colin Peck, a 6-foot-2 forward, will likely see an expanded role after playing some valuable minutes last year.
Juniors Tommy McLeish and Trevor Clyde, both 6-foot-3 forwards, have made a big jump from last year and will be key pieces for head coach Dave DeStefano this year. New additions Danny Silveria and Peter Cataldo, both juniors, look to factor in as key defensive pieces for the Warriors. Sophomore Tommy Kilroy didn’t see a ton of minutes early on last year but his role expanded as the season went on, scoring in double figures against Mansfield and in a win over Xaverian. Fellow sophomores Brandon Nicastro, Drew Laplante, and Jack Assini will all looking to contribute this season as well.
“The boys have really committed this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The limited practices so far have been really competitive. It’s no secret that our defense has to drastically improve to be competitive in the league. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2021-2022 Record: 21-5 Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield had its incredible streak of nine straight Kelley-Rex division titles come to an end last season, and now the Hornets start a new chapter as they begin their first season in the Davenport. Expectations remain sky-high for the Hornets, who are an immediate favorite for the division crown.
The Hornets have two of their best scorers back from last year in senior Chris Hill (12.5 ppg) and junior Trevor Foley (8.2 ppg), but Mansfield did graduate its leading scorer in Matty Hyland and lost five of its top seven scorers. That means there’s a lot of opportunity for new faces to step up. Hill has probably played more varsity minutes than anyone else in the league and he can compete at a high-level night in and night out. Foley really emerged as a top player by the end of the season, averaging over 16 points per game in March.
Senior Caden Colby was part of the rotation last year and will see a bigger role this year while classmate JT Veiking is a 6-foot-5 forward that can score on the perimeter or down low. Senior Michael Creedon rounds out the senior class and can provide a spark with increased minutes this year. Junior Eddie McCoy is poised for a breakout year, an athletic wing player that can attack the rim and cause problems for opposing defenses. Juniors Brandon Jackman and Davon Sanders should see time in the Mansfield backcourt this year.
“This season will be our tallest team in my tenure, it will be fun to see what different things we can do on the defensive end,” Vaughan said. “Offensively we should have plenty of power to put points on the board but the big question mark will be how quickly we can find our max compete level.”
2021-2022 Record: 2-21 Coach: Paul Seaver
Milford had an entirely new team last season and was the youngest team in the league. With just four seniors gone from last year, the Hawks are still a young team but head coach Paul Seaver believes his group learned a lot last year and is trending in the right direction.
The Scarlet Hawks have three of the top four scorers from last season back in the fold, including junior Jake Soares (8.0 ppg), sophomore Andrew Rivera (7.8 ppg), and senior Wyatt Zagami (7.1 ppg). Zagami, who can really fill it up when he’s on a hot streak, is joined by classmates Guy Saintyl, Jacob Ligor, and Joe Buckley to round out a small senior class for the Hawks. Soares was probably Milford’s most consistent player for the first two months before an injury ended his season early, and Rivera showed some glimpses of high-level play throughout the year.
Having a year of experience will be key, especially as a lot of other Hock teams are featuring a lot of first-year varsity players. Sophomore Luca Testa is another young player that saw a lot of minutes for the Hawks last year and will be a key piece during this campaign. Sophomore Gus Coutinho is a dangerous shooter and freshman CJ Farrell could be an impact player right away as well.
“Last season we were very young and very inexperienced,” Seaver said. “We learned how to compete while playing a tough schedule. Now with double digits returnees, we not only aim to improve on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball – we aim to improve in all aspects. Our goals and expectations will be what we make them and what we do with the opportunities that are given to us. I have a great crop of kids who are committed, hard-working individuals who continue to climb the ladder and do things the right way.”
2021-2022 Record: 5-15 Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
North Attleboro battled through an up-and-down season last year that featured some impressive wins — like a double-digit victory over Foxboro and a sweep of Stoughton — as well as some tough losses, like to Foxboro in overtime and to rival Attleboro by just three points. The Rocketeers graduated their two leading scorers from a year ago but return the majority of a roster that was playing their first varsity minutes last year.
Besides its four seniors last year, the rest of the Rocketeers were brand new to the varsity level. That means this year’s group will feature a bit more experience, albeit North is still on the young side. Givany Carney is North’s most experienced player and will be one of the go-to options on the offensive end of the court. Carney is a crafty player that does well getting to the rim with a good combination of speed and size. Senior Jack Munley is a tone-setter and can change the momentum of a game with his effort while senior Derek Maceda showed glimpses last season as a potential go-to guy offensively, both on the perimeter and attacking the basket.
Sophomores Ryan Bannon and Chase Frisoli both played some valuable minutes as freshmen and should see increased roles this year. Bannon is a solid defender and can be a contributor on the offensive end while Frisoli is a high-IQ player with range. Junior Chris Hanewich is another player that head coach Sean Mulkerrins is relying on to contribute on both ends of the floor. With some good experience, North will be looking to establish itself as one of the hardest-working teams in the league, which starts on the defensive end.
“We have a roster of kids who are working hard to improve and learn our system,” Mulkerrins said. “Our practices have been very competitive. We are very focused on building and maintaining our team culture so we are prepared to compete against the talented basketball programs in the Hockomock League.”
2021-2022 Record: 10-12 Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames is going to have a new look this year under second-year head coach Oliver Vil. The Tigers lost the majority of the team that won a preliminary playoff game last season and missed out on the Davenport division title by just a game.
Not only will the lineup feature new faces, but it will also feature a lot of new faces as the Tigers have a deep group this year. Senior captains Chris Elias and Ari Spiliakos are two returners that will be leaders for the team both on and off the court. Senior Nick Asiaf is a capable ball handler and can attack the rim while seniors Nick Rhodes and Jaden Graham provide key depth. Sophomore Cole Craffey played some meaningful minutes a year ago and will be one of the Tigers’ go-to options offensively this year. He’s very confident with the ball and can score inside and out.
With seven of their top eight scorers from a season ago gone, there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up. Freshman Solen Lolonga was in the starting lineup for the Tigers’ season-opening win over Southeastern and had a strong showing with 19 points. Vil also has a deep junior class that features Jake Willard, Daniel Casey, Andrew Sullivan, and David Rodgers, who all played in the win.
“Our strength this season on offense will be our ability to move the ball and create shots for one another,” Vil said. “We will have the same defense approach as last season, forcing our opponents into taking difficult shots and limiting transition offensive baskets. We now have minimal room for careless mistakes to compete in an already difficult conference. I am extremely excited to battle a plethora of well-coached disinclined teams every night we step on the floor to play a game this season.”
2021-2022 Record: 12-9 (Davenport division champions) Coach: Andrew Ferguson
Sharon won its first Davenport division title in eight seasons last year and with its top three scoring options back in the mix this year, the Eagles will be in contention to repeat that feat again this year.
Senior Matt Baur and juniors Jacob McLoughlin and Nate Katznelson give Sharon one of the top trios of players in the league. Baur, who earned HockomockSports First Team honors last year after averaging 15.1 points and 6 rebounds a game, is the heart and soul of the team. He leads by example both on and off the court and is the engine of the team. He doesn’t have to fill up the scoring column to have a big impact on the game. Both Katznelson and McLoughlin emerged as top players in their first season and will be vital pieces this year.
Senior captains Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman both came off the bench as key pieces for head coach Andrew Ferguson last year and will see increased responsibility this year. Bates is a pesky defender and a good floor general while Goodman can provide a spark with his shooting. Senior Dante James, an athletic wing player, comes over from Mansfield and should give the Eagles a big boost with their depth. Juniors Ryan Brown, Anthony Piron, and Cam Sherman provide backcourt depth while juniors Zach Wise, Jaden Segal, and sophomore Sam Letendre provide physicality to the Eagles’ frontcourt.
“With a small senior class, this team is blending experience with youth and has already begun to form a tight bond both on and off the court. Our practices have been super competitive and we look forward to competing against a very strong schedule.”
2021-2022 Record: 9-11 Coach: Evan Taylor
Last season, Stoughton entered the final stretch of league games right in the mix for the Davenport division title but ended up on the outside looking in finishing in a tie for fourth and just missing out on the postseason. With just a few returners back in the mix, the Knights will be looking for a new group of players to lead them into the tournament and contend for the division crown.
Stoughton has two major challenges to address this year, one on each side of the ball. The Black Knights lost their three top scorers from last year with Connor Andrews (19.9 ppg) and Cash Mathurin (5.9 ppg) graduating, and Rayan Sablon (18.3 ppg) transferring out. Head coach Evan Taylor will lean heavily on his four returning players to try and fill that void. Senior Jayden Costa Haywood played some meaningful minutes a season ago and has taken a big leap and the Knights will look for him to provide an offensive punch. Junior Liam Pearl (5.2 ppg) also worked his way into the rotation and made some key shots in clutch moments, including at Foxboro and at home against Canton. Sophomore Matthew Greenspoon (5.6 ppg) is the top scorer back from last year and will look to build on a strong debut season as a freshman.
The other challenge for Stoughton will be on the defensive end as the Knights look to make a drastic improvement after allowing over 60 points per game last year. On top of the returners, Taylor is looking for senior Tagh Swierzewski and junior Jarred Daughtry to make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Other newcomers include senior Obioma Dike, juniors Elijah Connor, and Nathan Figaro, sophomore Mykel Thomas, and freshmen Anthony Alessi and Aiden Rideout.
“Defense has been the main focus at the start of this season,” Taylor said. “Our goal is to be a top three defense in the league with a lot of great on-ball defenders and high IQ players on the
2020-2021 Record: 19-3 (Kelley-Rex division champions) Coach: Charlie Dacey
This season will mark a new chapter in the storied history of Taunton basketball. After back-to-back Kelley-Rex championships, including the program’s first outright title a year ago, the Tigers will have a lot of new faces in the lineup this year.
The biggest challenge will be replacing the production from one of the best trios in the Hock in recent history in Player of the Year Trent Santos, Faisal Mass, and Tristan Herry, who combined for just under 75% of the team’s scoring last year. One of the familiar faces returning to the starting group is junior Troy Santos, who has the most career points of anyone on the roster. Santos showed some flashes last year but will have a lot more looks this year. Seniors Chris Volcy and Alvinsky Morisseau, and junior Tyson Carter are also returners from last year and figure to see increased minutes this season.
Senior Chris Perault could be the biggest addition for the Tigers, a player that can score both from the perimeter and attacking the basket. Santos will factor in as one of the top shooters both on the team and in the league while Volcy has really improved from last year and could be a top scoring option for the Tigers. Longtime head coach Charlie Dacey is looking for Dimari Brown and Travis Johnson to provide a spark on the low block, plus some more faces to step up off of the bench.
“This year’s Taunton team will be very different from last year. This edition will be faster without a singular scorer, points can come from a variety of styles,” Dacey said. “Speed and aggressive defense will be the key to Taunton’s success this year.”
“I thought our defense led into our offense in that second half,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “It’s like every other team out there, when we play with confidence we play a lot better. Our confidence usually comes from the offense, but it should come from the defense because we work so hard on it.”
King Philip shot nearly 70% in the opening eight minutes en route to 21 points and hit a total of seven threes from the floor in the first half for a total of 34 points.
Taunton got stronger as the half went on, hitting five shots from the field in the first and then eight more in the second. Cyrus Morissette and Matt Small (nine rebounds) gave the Tigers necessary secondary scoring with King Philip’s defense zeroed in on Trent Santos, who still fought his way to 16 points in the first half.
Santos, who finished with 34 points on 10-for-18 shooting from the floor and 9-for-10 at the free throw line, picked up right where he left off and gave the Tigers a big boost early in the third, which turned out to be the game-changing quarter. Santos took a pass from Tristan Herry (10 points, six assists) and drained a three, and then Troy Santos stepped in to draw an offensive foul. On the ensuing possession, Herry found Trent Santos again for another triple as Taunton’s four-point edge at half quickly grew to 44-34.
Will Laplante (22 points, five rebounds) drilled a deep three, and Braeden Sottile (seven points, 11 rebounds) cleaned up his own miss to get KP within two possessions at 45-39 but the Tigers closed the final five minutes of the frame with a 10-3 run.
Faisal Mass, who missed the majority of the first half after picking up a pair of fouls, drove to the basket for two, and then Herry converted a putback after getting possession for the Tigers with a steal.
Sottile drained a three off a pass from Grant Kinney (eight points) but Santos answered with another triple of his own and then Mass showed off his range with a nice step-back three-pointer with just over a minute to go. And then Taunton drew another charge on the other end to get the ball back, taking a 55-42 lead into the fourth.
“It was Faisal,” Dacey said of the difference in the second half. Mass scored 14 points and hauled in all five of his rebounds after the halftime break. “Having him on the floor, he stabilizes things underneath. We’re a better rebounding team, we’re not a great rebounding team but we’re certainly better with him on the floor. Matt [Small] does everything he can but Faisal has some strength and some bulk underneath.”
The momentum continued for Taunton to start the fourth, this time in the form of a 12-4 run. Morissette attacked the offensive glass for two, Mass (19 points, five rebounds) dropped in an easy two after a nice pass from Herry, Santos drove to the basket for two and then added two free throws, and then Mass and Santos took turns with two points apiece as the Tigers’ lead ballooned to 67-47 just before the midway point of the fourth.
After King Philip put up 34 points in the first half, the Warriors had just 19 points in the second half. Taunton sophomore Troy Santos had a big showing defensively for the Tigers.
“I thought a lot of their shots in the first half, even ones they made, were contested tough shots,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “I thought we did a great job in the first half but they grabbed the momentum the first four minutes of the second half and we just couldn’t keep up. They hit a lot of tough shots on us, they did a great job on offense in terms of getting Trent open on a lot of action, and because of that, it got other guys involved.
“We got a little stagnant with our ball movement in the second half. I think we tried to do a little too much one-on-one, and I think we saw what they were doing offensively and we tried to hurry up to catch up when we didn’t need to, and that led to shots that weren’t the best for us, times we could have gotten better looks.”
Taunton boys basketball (12-0 Hockomock, 12-1) has a quick turnaround as they return home for a Sunday matinee with New Bedford at 2:00. King Philip (2-9, 4-10) also is right back in action on Sunday with its final crossover game on tap with a visit to Foxboro for a 1:00 PM tipoff.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – Buoyed by a big second quarter, a solid defensive performance, and timely baskets in the fourth quarter, King Philip got back into the win column after a five-game skid.
The Warriors had their best defensive quarter of the game in the second eight-minute frame, and that translated into their best offensive quarter of the game, turning a deficit into a lead that it never relinquished in a 65-51 decision over North Attleboro.
King Philip boys basketball
King Philip forced the visiting Rocketeers into eight turnovers in the second quarter which translated into 10 of their 25 points in the frame. The Warriors also cashed in after North’s misses, as the Rocketeers were unable to get into the full-court press. Instead, KP hit three of their five total trifectas after North misses, and a total of 11 points came after a stop.
“We did a very good job of taking away all of the gaps and even if the guys weren’t there in time, they seemed to get a hand in there to dig it out,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “I thought we were pretty aggressive defensively not allowing to get into the paint and get many easy looks.”
The big second quarter turned a four-point deficit at the end of the first quarter (14-10) into a 35-23 advantage at halftime.
After KP’s Will Laplante (20 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and North’s Nate Bennett traded threes just before the midway point of the quarter, the Warriors closed on a 12-4 surge. Grant Kinney (16 points, six rebounds) scored off a turnover, Danny Clancy (15 points, 10 rebounds) dished one off to classmate Braeden Sottile for an easy two, and then Clancy converted a putback off a missed free throw following another North turnover.
King Philip boys basketball
Sottile took advantage of another turnover and went in for an easy two, Laplante had a steal and assist to set up Kinney on the break, and then tacked on two free throws after North missed the front end of a one-and-one. North finished just 9-for-20 from the free throw line, missing all seven attempts from the line in the second.
“I thought we played hard throughout, which I don’t take for granted,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We’ve had this throughout the season, we have spells where we lose focus a little bit. Whether it’s a turnover or a missed shot, and that seems to turn into another play or two, and against a team like that, and with Laplante back, they’re offensively talented enough to really make you pay. We had too many lulls in the second quarter, missed a bunch of free throws. I thought we fought like heck to get back into it during the second half but we just had too many lulls.”
KP pushed its lead to 15 when Kinney converted one of KP’s 11 offensive rebounds for two, Sottile cleaned up another miss, and Clancy drove to the basket for two more to make it 41-26.
A quick 8-2 surge kept North in the game with senior Casey Poirier (15 points, seven rebounds) connecting from the line, a traditional three-point play from junior Givany Carney, and sophomore Derek Maceda (seven points, five rebounds) sank a triple to bring the visitors within single digits at 43-34.
Laplante answered with a deep three and Charlie Grant went in for an uncontested two after a steal near midcourt to give KP a 48-34 advantage going into the fourth.
North made another push early in the fourth after back-to-back buckets from Jack Munley and a three-point play from Brody Rosenberg close the game to 50-43. Laplante and Carney traded baskets, and North got a stop on the first shot but Clancy cashed in on an offensive board to stall the momentum.
After a stop, Laplante got back his man and finished through contact for a three-point play, and then after another North miss, Laplante once again muscled his way to the rim for two plus the harm, and suddenly KP’s lead surged back to 60-45 with three minutes to go.
“I think in the end when we calmed down and relaxed against their pressure, and we stopped forcing shots, when we were able to move the ball and move them around defensively, we were able to get some get some good baskets,” DeStefano said. “We had some good drives and got some good kicks to the corner too.
“Grant Kinney had a great start for us (all 10 of KP’s first quarter points) and then Will finished it for us with 10 points in the fourth. Those two stepped up for us in big moments. And it helped to give up single digits in two of the quarters defensively, I thought we stepped up on the defensive end when we needed to.
After a three-game absence due to injury, Laplante finished with 10 of his 20 points in the final eight minutes.
“Will’s a gamer and I thought he stepped up and looked really good after being out for a while,” DeStefano said. “He did a good job with his shots, and he understands the game so well and understands when you need a big basket, and he knows how to get it for us.”
King Philip boys basketball (2-8 Hock, 4-9 overall) will try to make it two in a row when it entertains first place Taunton on Friday. North Attleboro (2-9, 2-10) returns home for a clash with Sharon on the same night.
“Besides Saturday we really hadn’t been starting well this season so we knew we had to jump on them,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We were a little worried there would be a little bit of a let down after Saturday so I was glad to see they had that energy right from the top.”
The Eagles sliced through the Warriors’ defense early and often, hitting its first six field goals from inside the three-point line (8-for-12 from two-point in the first quarter). Ryan Zunenshine (nine points) and John Baez (four points, 10 assists) each had a pair of layups, sophomore Nate Katznelson attacked the rim for two, and Matt Baur converted a putback to get the offense going.
On the other hand, King Philip tried to spark its offense from three-point range but was unable to hit on eight attempts over the first eight minutes.
The result was a 22-5 advantage for the hosts, a lead that eventually peaked at 24 points in the third quarter and shrunk to as few as 13 points in the fourth, but never went below double-figures to keep the Eagles in front from start to finish.
“That was obviously the difference in the game, they came out and punched us in the face right away,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “We did not do a good job responding to it. I think we need to figure out who we are defensively, figure out our identity right now. We’re just too lackadaisical and just expecting the next guy to make a play so we have to figure it out as a team.”
It was relatively even the rest of the way. Sharon put up another 20 points in the second quarter but King Philip’s offense got going with 16 points, despite another quarter without hitting a three.
King Philip had some momentum coming out of half as senior Danny Clancy (four points, 10 rebounds) laid it in for two on a second chance opportunity after Braeden Sottile wrestled his way to an offensive rebound. The Warriors then forced back-to-back turnovers, the first leading to a layup from Sottile on a feed from Will Laplante (nine points, three rebounds, three assists), and the second two free throws from Sottile (13 points, six rebounds).
Sharon boys basketball
Sharon was quick to answer on a nice drive from Zunenshine, and after getting a stop, Katznelson (14 points, six rebounds, two blocks) scored through contact for two more. Baez then grabbed two quick assists, first feeding Katznelson down low and then taking advantage of a KP turnover, hitting Baur in transition for two more.
“Part of the halftime talk was about last night [Stoughton/Canton game] and we’ve been on the other side of games like this before, we came back from 20-points against King Philip a couple of years ago,” Ferguson said. “It’s always in the back of your mind, especially in this league. They had a quick start to the second half but our guys were able to respond.
“We spend 60-70% of practice on defense and I think it’s really starting to bear some fruit this year. John Baez has been unbelievable on the defensive end so far this year and the rest of the team is buying in and especially rebounding the ball. Donyae Pierre came off the bench and grabbed 10 rebounds so when you can get guys to buy into specific roles, your team defense benefits from that.”
Sottile had four points early in the fourth and then a pair of hustle plays from sophomore Trevor Clyde (nine points, four rebounds, three blocks) — first a steal and then an offensive rebound — turned into a three from Sottile and the Warriors capped what turned out to be a 19-8 run over the course of the third quarter and first few minutes of the fourth.
That run cut Sharon’s once 24-point lead down to 13 at 58-45 with just six minutes under to play.
Sharon boys basketball
Sharon, which got threes from Zunenshine and Katznelson in the opening quarter, went without a three in the second and third quarters. The Warriors switched to a 2-3 zone and limited the Eagles’ shooting for the most part.
“I think defensively they did a very good job of getting in our face and made us uncomfortable, and we couldn’t get into a groove,” DeStefano said. “They did a good job with our shooters, we didn’t get many clean looks and it forced us to play out of our element a little bit. And they pressured us with some good hard cuts and it seemed like we were a step late each time.
“They got every 50-50 ball, and anytime it felt like we might make a run they seemed to respond with an offensive rebound or coming up with that 50-50 ball and it just killed our momentum.”
But when they needed a big shot, the Eagles got it off the bench as senior Sam Cohen gave the offense a spark with a three on the ensuing possession. After a turnover, Baez notched another assist by finding Jack Bates wide open for another three, and just like that, the lead ballooned to 64-45 with five minutes to play.
“We want everyone to share the ball, if we can turn down a good shot to get a great shot, we want to. We didn’t shoot the ball well [from three] but I thought we took the ball to the basket really well today which was something we hadn’t done well the last couple of games,” Ferguson said. “So seeing that and making that adjustment was huge for us.”
Sharon boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) will look to make it five wins in a row when it hosts Foxboro in a crucial clash of Davenport contenders on Friday night while King Philip (0-3, 1-4) returns home in search of its first league win when it hosts Milford on the same day.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – What looked like a runaway win for the King Philip boys basketball team turned out to be anything but.
Visiting Stoughton erased a 17-point second half deficit, hitting a late three to force overtime and looked on the verge of a victory in the extra period before the Warriors forced double overtime and snatched it right back, earning a 90-84 verdict on Tuesday night.
King Philip seniors Tommy Donahue (20 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks) and Owen Conlin (14 points) came up with huge plays down the stretch to help the Warriors earn the win.
Donahue beat the buzzer with an offensive putback in the first overtime and Conlin drew a key charge and hit a big three in the second overtime, a pair of crucial plays that helped the hosts secure the win.
“We talk about how it’s a game of runs and how you respond to them,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “I thought we did a good job of getting them early but then we settled in and got a little too comfortable instead of finishing the game strong. I’m happy with the way the guys responded in overtime and we got some big plays down the stretch from Tommy Donahue and Owen Conlin, and that was the difference.
“They each had a huge play with Tommy getting the tip in to force the second overtime and I thought Owen stepping in to take that charge in the second overtime was the difference-maker.”
Stoughton scored first in the second overtime but Donahue answered with a bucket down low. The team’s traded empty trips before Conlin stepped in to take a charge against Obinna Ugwuakazi, who scored a career-high 36 points for Stoughton. Not only did it get the Warriors the ball back, but it was also Ugwuakazi’s fifth foul.
After an empty trip from each team, Conlin drained a big three with just under two minutes left to push KP’s lead to 88-82. The game never got closer from there with Stoughton going 0-for-6 in its next couple of possessions and KP held on for the win.
“There’s a lot of positives, there’s a lot of negatives,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “It’s not our first rodeo with having a bad first half and great second half, it’s actually become a cliche with this team. They know it, we know it, and we’re working on it…that was a good high school basketball game.”
Conlin converted in the paint to put the Warriors up 49-32 midway through the third quarter. The Warriors had never trailed in the contest and held a double-digit lead since the first quarter.
But Stoughton gained a little bit of momentum with a strong finish to the frame with Ugwuakazi spearheading a 14-point burst to end the third to bring the Black Knights within striking distance, down 57-46.
That momentum carried over into the fourth in the form of a 9-0 run that featured two points from Brett Pendenza and five from Grigalunas-Powell to get the visitors within two points.
Chris Roy answered with a big three on a feed from Jarest (five points, 14 rebounds, three assists) and two possessions later, Andrew McKinney (16 points, 11 rebounds) completed a traditional three-point play just before the midway point of the fourth to push KP’s advantage back to 63-55.
Ugwuakazi answered with a tough, contested three-pointer and the Black Knights got a stop before Jake Queeney sank another triple, bringing the visitors within two again.
Fritz made one free throw but back-to-back buckets from Stoughton senior Adman Jared and a strong take from Ugwuakazi gave the Black Knights their first lead of the game with 1:32 to play.
Fritz sank two more free throws to put KP ahead before Ugwuakazi had one of his own to knot the score at 68-68. Two more from the line from Fritz preceded a stop by the Warriors, and Fritz went back to the line and sank another to push the lead to three.
Stoughton took advantage, coming back down and Tommy Sanda drained a three with 3.3 seconds left to make it 71-71. King Philip’s half court heave was off to force overtime.
The free throw line helped dictate the direction of the overtime periods with Tahkwan Gates Brown and Fritz trading a pair early on. McKinney put the Warriors ahead and Donahue converted a putback to push the KP lead to 77-74.
Stoughton responded with a 4-0 burst, getting a turnover that led to another three from Queeney as the Black Knights jumped ahead 78-77. Both teams had a pair of misses at the line, Stoughton got another stop, and Sanda pushed the lead to two with another free throw.
Fritz was just off on a contested layup but with more bodies down low, Donahue came up with the offensive rebound and put it right back up before the buzzer to make it 79-79 and forced a second overtime.
“We talk about it being a team game and there are five guys on the court,” DeStefano said. “We still want to use Fritz, but if defenses are overplaying him, then we have other guys that can step in there. We have other guys on this team that can score as we saw tonight.”
It was a bit of a wild start to the game with the teams combining for over 40 points. Fritz and Ugwuakazi, the Hockomock League’s leading scorers, both got it done early.
Fritz shot 7-for-9 in the opening eight minutes, scoring 17 points as the Warriors enjoyed a 27-point outburst to start the game. Ugwuakazi knocked down a pair of triples and finished with 12 of the Black Knights’ 17 points.
After the first quarter, Stoughton’s adjustment to put Queeney on Fritz paid dividends, with Gallivan making a point to highlight Queeney’s defensive work. The Black Knights held Fritz to two points in the second, scoreless in the third, and without a field goal until the second overtime period.
King Philip boys basketball (3-4 Hockomock, 5-5 overall) is back in action on Friday when it entertains Mansfield. Stoughton (2-5, 5-6) will look to snap its three-game skid when it travels to Milford on the same night.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – After struggling against a tough Franklin defense for the first two quarters, the King Philip offense found its rhythm early in the second half.
The Warriors hit three of their first five shots from the floor after being limited to just five total field goals in the first half. And the visiting Panthers had three empty trips and a fourth end in a turnover. Suddenly, Franklin’s double-digit lead was down to just six at 29-23.
Panthers’ coach CJ Neely, who earned his 100th win with Franklin, quickly called a timeout and had a simple message for his squad.
“Just relax,” Neely said of the message. “We just went back to the basics [out of the timeout] and we wanted to get them on their heels.”
And just like that, the Panthers’ defense from the first half was back. Senior Ryan Sullivan (13 points, three rebounds) came up with the steal on one end and senior Matt Lazarek finished off an easy layup after a nice pass from classmate Thomas Gasbarro.
Franklin used an 11-2 over the next three and a half minutes to regain its double-digit lead and never looked back to secure a 63-45 win over King Philip.
“We talked a lot about our defense at halftime and how proud we were with the number we had them at half,” Neely said. “We wanted to continue that obviously but we had some turnovers and they had a quick 7-0 run and all of a sudden they are right back in it. I didn’t think we were sharing the ball like we did during the preseason and I thought tonight all of our biggest baskets were on extra passes. Once the ball started moving, the offense started to click.”
KP senior Robert Jarest was the catalyst of the Warriors’ run, finishing off a layup and then sneaking in for a putback off of an offensive rebound. A three-pointer from senior Owen Conlin made it 29-23.
Franklin’s response featured an alert layup from Rudolph, a strong take from senior Chris Edgehill (21 points, five rebounds, three assists), a three from senior Steven Karayan (11 points), and another finish at the rim from Edgehill to make it 40-25 with 1:32 to play in the third.
“Franklin’s defensive intensity just stayed high and we couldn’t respond and keep up with it,” said second-year KP head coach Dave DeStefano. “We had a couple of turnovers and we lost the momentum that we had. Their defense is on another level, it’s really tough to match. The only time we were comfortably was right out of halftime, we started to play hard and do the things we are good at but we couldn’t maintain it.”
KP senior Andrew McKinney (six points, six rebounds) sank a pull up elbow jumper and junior Donte Barros came off the bench and finished off a layup through traffic plus the harm to get the Warriors within 10.
Edgehill and KP’s Chris Roy traded threes but another layup from Karayan and two technical foul free throws from Rudolph gave the Panthers a 47-33 edge after three.
Declan Walmsley and Brayden Sullivan each hit early fourth quarter three-pointers while KP countered with five points from Alex Fritz (11 points). But yet another three, this one from Karayan off a feed from Gasbarro, helped seal the deal. A three-point play from Rudolph and two each from Edgehill and junior Andrew Byfield helped push the lead to 20.
“I think shooting is one of our strengths this year, which is different from last year,” Neely said. Franklin shot 9-for-27 from three-point range. “We can really spread the floor out, and that’s something we talked about at halftime because we felt we had good shooters passing on open looks. That hurt the flow of our offense. We have a ton of confidence in our guys that can shoot, they just have to be ready to shoot.”
Early threes from Edgehill and Sullivan helped Franklin race out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, holding the Warriors off the scoreboard for over four minutes of action until Roy sank a triple. KP got within two on a three from Fritz but that was the only field goal for the KP senior as the Panthers made sure to give him plenty of attention defensively. Fritz also missed over five minutes in the second quarter due to foul trouble.
Fritz scored a career-high 36 points in KP’s season-opener. Sullivan was tasked with man-to-man defense on him, while Rudolph, Gasbarro, and senior Andrew Cunningham all saw him playing defense on him.
“With a guy like that, it’s not a one-man operation defensively,” Neely said. “Brayden’s been pesky on a lot of guys to start the year but we knew it was going to have to be a team effort. I thought we made his shots difficult. He’s going to make some baskets, and some of the shots he makes are some of the highest level shots I’ve seen in the past couple of years so you just have to make it hard. I thought we did a good job of doing that.”
Franklin lead 14-9 after the first quarter but there wasn’t much rhythm in the second eight-minute frame. The Panthers went to the free throw line 18 times in the second quarter while KP made five trips. Edgehill and Byfield converted from down low early but the Panthers had just one more field goal over the final 6:40, hitting 9-of-18 free throws. Franklin led 29-16 at half.
Franklin boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Friday night in its home opener against Canton. King Philip (1-1, 1-1) is also home, hosting Milford.
After scoring five points in the fourth quarter, the senior forward scored KP’s first bucket in overtime to tie the game, and then used a strong take to give the Warriors a 50-48 lead with 2:36 to play, a lead that the hosts wouldn’t relinquish.
North Attleboro had two looks to tie the game but didn’t convert and Saintilus aggressively attacked the basket to draw the defense and the senior dumped it off to classmate Sam Sesay for an easy layup to go up 52-48.
“With about four minutes left in the fourth quarter I told him that he needs to take over a little bit,” DeStefano said. “If we’re going to win this game we need him getting downhill and going strong, and there will be chances, and to look for the dump downs. He did a great job of doing that in that stretch, and that was huge for us to win that game.”
Rocketeer sophomore George Ladd (12 points, 10 rebounds) converted on an offensive rebound and North Attleboro caught a break when KP missed on a fast break attempt after breaking the Big Red press. But North once again went 0-for-2, and KP gained possession with a minute to go.
KP whittled the shot clock down before missing a jumper, but Saintilus grabbed the offensive rebound. His putback attempt was off, but he was able to knock the rebound out to Alex Fritz, who was intentionally fouled with 34 seconds to go.
Fritz hit both to make it 54-50, and North Attleboro missed on the other end. KP failed to connect on a one-and-one, and North senior Josh Montague (12 points, five rebounds) drove to the basket for two with 4 seconds to go. Tim Nault hit one of two free throws to extend KP’s advantage to three and Sesay was able to block North Attleboro’s three-point attempt from behind just before the buzzer.
“That was a typical Sunday matinee game where the kids aren’t ready to come out and play right away,” DeStefano. “I think the end, the reason we got those offensive rebounds, is that those kids just didn’t want to lose. They are sick of losing so they’re committed to making the plays they need to.
“Two or three weeks ago this group probably would have lost this game. But tonight they hung in there and wanted to win.”
After a relatively slow start from both sides, North Attleboro took a slim 20-18 lead into the halftime break, with the teams combing to shoot under 30% from the field with a combined 15 turnovers.
“We have to learn we can’t just turn it on and off,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We have to do a better job of getting our guys to give effort and communicate. Other teams in this league are too good, too well coached, and too well prepared. And they want to win just as bad as we do, and sometimes more it looks like. It’s a hard lesson to learn but its’ something we have to.”
King Philip’s offense got going in the third quarter, nearly equaling its first half production by putting up 15 points. The Warriors warmed up from three-point range in the period as well, hitting 3-of-7 shots from deep after just one in the first 16 minutes.
Junior Alex Fritz hit two of those triples, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points in the quarter. His first triple sparked an 11-4 run that saw buckets from Tyler Nault and a three from Ian Khung, helping KP take a 33-28 lead into the final frame.
“Making shots helps but I thought we did a better job of moving the ball and looking for the slip action,” DeStefano said. “Before in the first half, we were a little stagnant. Typical Sunday afternoon game but in the third quarter they were really making sure they were swinging the ball and making hard cuts to the hoop.”
The Warriors extended that lead to seven early on two Saintilus free throws, but North closed it to two (39-37) on a turnaround post move from Matt Seavey (eight points, 11 rebounds). KP again pushed the lead to five with 1:41 to play.
North Attleboro turned to a press in the fourth quarter that helped jump start things. While it wasn’t perfect and KP was able to get some easy looks out of it, the energy it provided sparked the Rocketeers’ offense and helped complete the comeback.
“We don’t really have a pressing team, but we’ve done it in spots,” Mulkerrins said. “We thought they might have some trouble against some pressure. The effort it inspired was great but we have to be able to get that in our half court and be more consistent in our defensive effort and offensive execution. We had too many turnovers and we need to be better from the free throw line.”
A KP turnover led to two points from Nate Gonsalves (16 points, six rebounds). And then Ladd came up with a steal with 30 seconds to go to get North the ball back. The first three rimmed out but Seavey made a big play to keep it alive, kicked it out to Gonsalves and he sank a three to knot it 46-46 with 18 seconds left. Neither team was able to convert on their final chance, and the game went into overtime.
King Philip boys basketball (4-6 Hockomock, 5-7 overall) is on the road on Tuesday when it takes on Foxboro. North Attleboro (3-7, 5-7) returns home and will host Mansfield.