Strong Second Half Sends Oliver Ames Past Hanover

Oliver Ames boys basketball Jay Spillane
Oliver Ames senior Jay Spillane goes up for a shot against a pair of Hanover defenders in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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HANOVER, Mass. – After a back-and-forth competitive first half that featured seven lead changes and a pair of ties, it was only a matter of time until one team put together a game-changing run over the final two quarters.

#18 Oliver Ames wasn’t going to wait around and let #15 Hanover hit first.

The Tigers, trailing by one at the halftime break, opened the second half with a 15-2 burst over the first five minutes of the third quarter to create a double-digit advantage and Oliver Ames never looked back, earning a 62-51 win on the road in a D2 South Preliminary Round matchup.

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Oliver Ames’ largest lead of the opening half was five, accomplished midway through the second quarter when senior Ryan Sullivan came off the bench and drained a three for a 20-15 lead. But true to how the rest of the first half went, the Indians crawled back into it and scored the final four points of the half to seize a 24-23 lead at the break.

Due to foul trouble, OA’s starting five didn’t play many minutes together in the second with junior Amari Brown (15 points, four rebounds, three assists) holding two fouls. But in the second half, the Tigers had its top lineup available and ramped up the defensive effort to start the third.

“We had all of our weapons to start the second half and I thought we did a really good job on the defensive end,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “The [Patrick] Damon kid is an exceptional player, a 1,000-point player with a tremendous career and throughout that entire game, I thought Owen [Friel] was unbelievable just manning him up. We schemed a couple of things on their ball screens that I thought we did well.

“I think we played it somewhat conservative in the first half, we protected Amari [Brown] (foul trouble), who is probably our best on the ball defender arguably, though Friel does a good job of it too. Losing one of those two for a good chunk of time… we survived it okay, and we were happy down just one at that point.”

Oliver Ames senior Ryan Burkett (19 points, 10 rebounds) opened the second half with a traditional three-point play that gave the visitors the lead for good. Defensively, the Tigers drew an offensive foul, and both Burkett and Brown had back-to-back steals, the latter taking the turnover the length of the court for a bucket plus the harm. The free throw put OA u 29-24.

Hanover’s Jack Fleming hit a pair of free throws but OA senior Jay Spillane (six points, six assists, four rebounds) splashed a three in response, and after back-to-back stops defensively, Burkett took down a defensive board on one end and converted at the rim, forcing a Hanover timeout at 34-26.

The break didn’t stop the bleeding though as Burkett stood in to draw a charge out of the timeout, and then cleaned up a miss with a putback. Burkett came up with another steal and went in uncontested for two more as the Tigers capped a 15-2 surge out of the halftime break.

“You never really know how they are going to react when the bright lights come on,” Byron said. You get a sense for it, we had a good practice yesterday but you never really know. We came out and hit them first in the second half.










“We rebounded well and we had a couple of shots fall. We hit them with that first blast early in the first half that I think set them back a little bit. And from there on, I thought we were pretty efficient.”

Junior Solomon Fife gave OA a boost off the bench with some strong minutes defensively down low and added a free throw and a bucket in the post to help the Tigers take a 41-29 lead into the final frame.

Fleming scored early and Damon drained a deep three early in the fourth to get the Indians within single digits, 42-34, but yet another Tiger stepped up to answer the call. Senior Evan Craig (11 points) hit a baseline jumper on a feed from Friel for his second straight basket and then scored off an offensive rebound one possession after Burkett converted at the rim.

Friel then knocked the ball free and went in alone for a layup to give OA a 50-34 edge, the Tigers’ largest lead of the night, with 4:37 to play.

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“That’s huge, just to be able to capable of having a third or fourth guy that can score, that need to be guarded,” Byron said. “If someone comes and tries to take one guy away, there’s another guy out there capable for us. Teams don’t have that every year, but we have some kids that can make baskets. Burkett came out very strong from the beginning, Craig had that baseline spot up and a couple of finishes off penetration.”

Hanover applied a full-court press to try and get back into it but the Tigers were able to navigate past it, and then hit their free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (12-11) advances to the D2 South First Round to take on #2 Westwood (20-2) on Thursday at 6:30.

Hawks Land Key Crossover Win Over Oliver Ames

Milford boys basketball Jordan Darling
Milford junior Jordan Darling goes up for a layup against Oliver Ames’ Will Whiteside in the fourth quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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MILFORD, Mass. – Coming off a pair of close losses, the Milford boys basketball team knew it couldn’t let another opportunity slip away.

A one-point loss to Taunton preceded a rare division home defeat to Stoughton last week but with a strong emphasis on defense and a career night from junior Jordan Darling (33 points, 12 rebounds), the Scarlet Hawks put an end to the brief skid with an important 73-61 verdict over visiting Oliver Ames.

The Hawks were the lone Davenport team to win on Tuesday, a week after the division was swept by the Kelley-Rex.

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Milford turned the game on its head with a terrific third quarter, doubling its output from the first half in just eight minutes while its defense got the job done against a Tigers’ squad that can score in a variety of ways.

“We came out [in the second half] with a sense of urgency,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “Our defense led to offense is the best way to put it. We had our opportunities in two games last week and we didn’t capitalize so we came into this game really focused on our team and what we can do.

“We put a real emphasis on defense the last couple of days and looking at the score, we held them to 40 points from the field so I thought our defense was phenomenal. I think our defense is what won us the game tonight.”

A back-and-forth first half featured 21 combined fouls and 23 combined free throw shots, so there wasn’t much rhythm for either side. Darling got off to a strong start with seven points in the first quarter while Dom Schofield, Colby Pires (11 points, eight rebounds), and Ben Blanchard (12 points) all scored to help the Hawks seize a 13-8 lead early.

Oliver Ames briefly overcame a tough first shooting quarter (2-for-10 from the field) for its best offensive stretch of the night. The Tigers went on a 12-0 run in the middle of the second quarter that featured seven straight from senior Evan Craig (15 points, eight rebounds), a layup and free throw from Amari Brown (12 points, five rebounds, four assists), and a mid-range jumper from Jay Spillane to go ahead 20-15.

But the Tigers’ offense cooled over the final four minutes of the second quarter, and for the majority of the game. Milford countered with an 11-4 run to end the quarter that was capped by a layup from Ralph Franklin Jr. at the buzzer that gave the Hawks a 26-24 lead at halftime.

Blanchard opened the third quarter with a three and the Hawks were off and running from there. And even when Milford was off the mark on its first shot, like it was on two of its next four possessions, the Hawks shined on the offensive boards. In both cases, it was Darling that collected the offensive rebound and went right back up for two, and junior Sean Murray chipped in with a putback of his own to give the hosts a 37-28 lead at the midway point.

The Hawks pushed the lead to double-digits for the first time on a layup from Blanchard, and the offense closed the quarter with an incredible surge.

Franklin Jr. scored off an assist from Tyler Wetherbee, Darling converted in the post and then on a breakaway after a steal. Weatherbee used a nifty feed from the baseline to find Darling for two more before Oliver Ames looked to put a stop to the bleeding by sinking its first three (after missing its first 12 attempts) via Owen Friel (10 points) with just a couple of seconds left in the third.

But Milford had one more punch to deliver as Darling banked in a shot from just over half court to beat the buzzer and give the Hawks a 52-36 advantage through three quarters.

“This is one of those ones where we got thoroughly outplayed in every phase,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “Right down the line, defensively not good, offensively bad choices, bad shooting, and on and on…just felt like we got outplayed.










“Because we’re not shooting well (19-for-59 FG), we’re in transition defense all the time. We usually shoot the ball better and can set the defense. And they hurt us on the boards all night.”

Pires opened the final quarter with a three, Murray scored down low, and Pires finished off his own miss as the Hawks pushed the lead to 59-38 early in the fourth. The Hawks held OA without a made field goal for the first three minutes, limiting the Tigers to just three free throws.

OA senior Ryan Burkett (13 points, 12 rebounds) scored down low but a three-point play from Darling with 2:50 left in the game gave the Hawks their largest lead at 64-46 and capped the junior forwards’ big night.

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“He’s always up for the challenge, there’s no doubt about it,” Seaver said of Darling. “And obviously tonight was a career night for Jordan but just after the game, I heard someone tell him how many points he had but he said the team won, that’s all that matters. That sums up the type of kid he is and the team-first attitude everyone on this team has.”

The teams combined for 20 free throws in the final two minutes of action to bring the final score to 73-61.

Milford boys basketball (5-4 Hockomock, 6-4 overall) moves into sole possession of first place in the Davenport just past the midway mark and will travel to Canton on Friday. Oliver Ames (4-5, 8-6) will try to bounce back when it visits King Philip on the same night.

Oliver Ames Spoils Stoughton’s First Game In New Gym

Oliver Ames boys basketball Amari Brown
Oliver Ames junior Amari Brown goes up for a layup in the second half against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – With a couple of Hockomock League schools in the process of either planning or building a new high school, here’s a small bit of advice: don’t schedule the Oliver Ames boys basketball team for your first game.

For the second time in five years, the Tigers played spoiler inside a brand new gymnasium. After beating Franklin in its first game of its new gym in 2014, Oliver Ames used a suffocating second half defensive effort to earn a win over Stoughton in the Black Knights’ first game in their brand new school.

The excitement of the first basketball game in the new gym carried onto the court as the Black Knights raced out to a 14-5 lead, holding the visitors to just a pair of field goals over the first eight minutes.

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But that momentum did not carry over to the second quarter as the Tigers clawed their way back into the game, and it all but disappeared in the second half as Oliver Ames poured in over 20 points in each the third and fourth quarters to pull away.

Not only did Oliver Ames’ active zone defense limit the hosts to 15 total second half points, but it also led to easy baskets in transition that seemed to spark the OA offense.

“That looked like a first game [early on], which you worry about a little bit,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron, who started his 11th year at the helm of the Tigers with a win. “We had some shots that were makable and didn’t make them, and it snowballs a little bit and it gets contagious with the five guys who are out there. But getting a couple near the end [of the half], a little spurt to get us in shouting distance. When that happened, we were able to settle them a little bit and we were okay.

“And then we just came out and played like we’re capable of playing in the second half. I think we’re going to be a pretty good shooting team and we just didn’t show it in the first half. We showed more of it in the second half.”

A three from Stoughton senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (nine points, four assists), a strong finish from senior Obinna Ugwuakazi (12 points, 11 rebounds) off a nice feed through traffic from junior Jake Queeney, four points from senior Tahkwan Gates Brown, and a late three from Admad Jahed put the Black Knights in a great position, up 14-5, after a quarter.

Stoughton senior Donte Tyler came off the bench and got a steal and easy layup to push Stoughton’s lead to 22-9 but the Black Knights were unable to really pull away.

OA junior Will Whiteside answered with the Tigers’ lone triple of the half, senior Evan Craig scored a baseline jumper off a feed from classmate Owen Friel, senior Jay Spillane (career-high 18 points) finished off a layup after a Black Knight turnover, and Ryan Burkett (career-high 18 points, nine rebounds) had an easy two after a nice layoff from junior Drew Nickla to complete a 9-2 spurt for the Tigers, getting with six down 26-20 at the break.

“At the half, even though we were up six, we felt like we blew an opportunity because we got selfish,” said Stoughton’s John Gallivan, who is in his 16th year as head coach. We had a chance to blow it open, [OA] was struggling to score at the time, and we had four or five really bad possessions in a row. We always talk about surviving runs and when they made their run, it was like a deer in the headlights. We couldn’t punch back.”

OA came out flying in the third quarter, using its active zone to get a lot of deflections and turnovers as the Knights tried to penetrate or find Ugwuakazi or Gates Brown in the post. Spillane took advantage of a pair of offensive rebounds, first with a quick putback and then again with his first triple of the game.

OA junior Amari Brown (career-high 17 points, three steals) came up with a steal and finished on the break to put the Tigers ahead for the first time with 4:44 left in the third but Gates Brown answered for the Black Knights. Burkett continued his strong game with a nice finish at the time off of a nice pass from Friel. And another turnover from Stoughton led to another fast break finish from Brown, and OA took a 33-30 lead on the back of an 11-2 run.

“I thought it was a good defensive effort in the second half,” Byron said as the Tigers forced 10 second-half turnovers. “It’s not sexy, a lot of the top defensive teams and they are usually up in your face. But we did a good job of covering the things we need to cover. They threw a couple of different looks at us, and the first game out, you don’t know everything they run, so I thought the kids reacted well.”

Stoughton missed on two chances and Spillane made them pay on the other send, draining a high arching triple and the Tigers’ defense came up with another turnover and Brown finished off a traditional three-point play for a 40-31 advantage. Spillane made his three triple of the game to extend the lead to 43-33 but Jahed sank three free throws late to cut the deficit to seven.

The OA lead stayed at seven for the first three minutes of the final quarter before the Tigers finally pulled away. Burkett finished in close, Brown score on another fast break, and Spillane sank his fourth three on his fourth attempt of the half for a 54-39 advantage with just over three minutes to play.

“We kept throwing the same type of passes to the same exact spots, and OA…they are smart kids, they are anticipating,” Gallivan said. “Now they get a couple of easy ones, Brown got a couple of easy ones. We didn’t get anything easy in the entire second half. [OA] was the better team, they deserved to win.”

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It was a breakout night for Burkett, who kept the Tigers afloat with his nine first half points. He was 7-for-10 from the field overall and hauled in a team-high nine rebounds against a relatively tall Stoughton team.

“He’s going to sneak up on people a little bit,” Byron said of Burkett. “He’s just got a knack in the lane. He’s a quick jumper, plays bigger and longer than he is, gets his hands on a lot of things. His game reminds me of Cedric Maxwell, everything is from eight feet in. And he’s really good around the hoop, he finishes well.”

Oliver Ames boys basketball (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) hits the road on Tuesday to take on Taunton while Stoughton (0-1, 0-1) welcomes North Attleboro to town on the same night.

Bench Contributions Help Oliver Ames Hold Off Milford

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Ethan Eckstrom (22) puts up a shot against Milford’s Dom Schofield in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Behind a fast start, a strong finish, and key contributions off the bench, Oliver Ames boys basketball picked up a crucial win over Milford on Tuesday.

The Tigers came out flying in the opening quarter and built a double-digit lead, but needed a strong fourth quarter after the Hawks got within one possession entering the final frame.

And on top of that, Oliver Ames’ bench combined to score 23 points, including 11 in the crucial final quarter.

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“I thought we had pretty good energy out of the shoot,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “This is a good group, they are pretty mentally tuned in to the situation and understand how important this game is to us. We’re sitting at 5-5 coming in, and the difference between 5-6 and 6-5 as you make the turn is getting bigger every night. We have to do everything we can to take care of home court because we’re on the road a lot in February so it was a big game.”

While Oliver Ames had an 18-5 lead after one, and a 26-15 lead at halftime, the Scarlet Hawks made it a close game with a big third quarter. Milford outscored the Tigers 19-11 in the frame, including four points in the final seconds to make it a one-possession game at 37-34.

A questionable bench technical on Milford gave OA two free throws to begin the final quarter, and senior Michael Greene (career-high 10 points off the bench) gave the Tigers a bit of breathing room by hitting both. After getting a stop on the defensive end, Greene sank a three to put Oliver Ames up 42-34.

Milford got within four behind back-to-back buckets from sophomore Dom Schofield (seven points, five rebounds) but OA senior Sean O’Brien drained a three off a feed from Greene to push it back to seven.

Greene came up with a steal on the next possession, which led to a fast break and two made free throws from senior Ethan Eckstrom (nine points, 11 rebounds) and a 47-38 lead with under five minutes to go.

Junior Owen Friel (four points off the bench) extended OA’s advantage to 11, a lead that the Tigers held for the majority of time left in the game. Friel and Greene each added two more in the final minutes.

Greene and Friel were joined by junior Ryan Burkett (five points, four rebounds) and sophomore Amari Brown (four points, three rebounds, three assists) as key contributors off the bench for OA. The four combined for 23 points.

“When they went zone, that changes the personnel package a little bit,” Byron said. “There were times [Milford] didn’t play particularly big, and we can play a little bit smaller as well. We had a couple of kids that we try to use situationally that got their minutes extended when they went zone, like Michael Greene and Owen Friel.”

While Milford outscored Oliver Ames over the final three quarters (42-38), its slow start to the game ended up being one of the main concerns for head coach Paul Seaver,

“We were not ready to play out of the gate, and I think that dictated the whole game,” Seaver said with Hawks behind 18-5 after one. “We were down early, down often, and everything tonight has to do with our poor start. It’s kind of been the story of the season, we compete for a good chunk of the ball game but not always the result. Sometimes it’s a good start, tonight was a poor start. We have to find a way to play a complete 32 minutes because that’s what you need to do in this league to have any shot at winning a game.”

Oliver Ames’ defense limited the Hawks to just 2-for-13 shooting in the opening quarter and Milford settled for a couple of contested long threes (1-for-9 in the period). Brown came off the bench and scored four points in first, Eckstrom had four in the first along with eight boards, and four other Tigers were on the scoreboard, including a late three from Greene.

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Milford switched to a zone in the second and that seemed to slow the Tigers down a bit, limiting OA to just eight points in the frame. Milford had a 7-0 run to start. The second to get within six but only scored three points the rest of the way and entered halftime down 11, 26-15.

Scarlet Hawks senior Brendan White took over in the third quarter. Fresh off his 40-point performance against Stoughton on Friday, White poured in 14 of his 19 points in the period to help get the Hawks in the game. In the final seconds of the third, White converted a layup and then stole the inbounds pass, quickly putting the ball up for two more to beat the buzzer to make it 37-34. Milford’s bench celebrated by walking onto the floor to greet White but was hit with a technical foul.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (4-5 Hockomock, 6-5 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts King Philip. Milford (3-6, 4-8) is also home on Friday night and will entertain Davenport rival Canton.

Taunton Survives Comeback Bid From Oliver Ames

Taunton boys basketball
Taunton’s Dante Law dunks the ball in the second half against Oliver Ames. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – Halfway through the third quarter, Taunton was in position to pull away with a win after extending its lead to a game-high 13 points at 39-26.

But Oliver Ames refused to go away, closing the frame on a 12-2 run to make it a one-possession game with one quarter to play. The host Tigers carried that momentum into the final frame, tying the game on a triple from Jay Spillane (nine points) and going up 44-41 on a layup from Spillane and a free throw from Ethan Eckstrom (11 points, nine rebounds).

After turning a 13-point lead into a three-point advantage with just under six minutes to go, it appeared all of the momentum was with the hosts.

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But Taunton delivered an immediate response as senior John Martins (nine points, three assists) converted a three from the corner while being fouled, essentially equalizing the momentum.

Although Martins missed the free throw, he did connect on his next six attempts from the line to help Taunton come away with a 53-50 win over Oliver Ames.

“It energized us for sure and deflated them a little bit,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey on Martins’ first made triple of the game. “We needed to be more patient in the second half. But it was a good test today. We’re far more mature this season. Part of it is the personalities and part of it is the senior leadership John and Mike Quinn are good leaders, excellent students, and good quality kids. And the others seem to be buying in to what they are saying.”

After tying the game, Taunton got a stop with Martins hauling in the rebound while being fouled. He sank both attempts to go up 46-44. After the teams traded empty possessions over the next two minutes, OA’s Jake Erlich (eight points, five rebounds) converted down low to tie the game with 2:56 to play.

Martins drove a blocking call on the other end and hit both free throws to make it 48-46. OA had an inbounds pass just over half court but high pressure resulted in a loose ball and Quinn (11 points) pounced on it and went down the court for a layup and a 50-46 lead with 2:28 to play.

Erlich got OA within two and Eckstrom tied the game with two free throws with just under a minute to go. Taunton ran a play to get Martins an open layup on the back side and he was fouled, again going to the line and hitting two free throws to make it 52-50.

“I don’t expect any different from them,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron about his team’s comeback efforts in the second half. “They practice really well, they don’t cheat you on the effort end. We’ve been in those situations, we were in it against Stoughton. We tell them to expect to get hit in the mouth twice in each half. Someone’s going to make a run and you have to be able to withstand it. We’d knew Taunton would have spurts but we told them to just keep playing and to their credit, they did.”

Taunton got another stop with Wesner Charles (eight points) hauling in one of his game-high 18 rebounds and Lou Vendrell hit one of two attempts from the free throw line with 23 seconds left to make it 53-50.

Charles’ dominance on the boards helped Taunton win the battle of the boards, 34-22, and held OA to just six offensive rebounds.

“He’s a tough kid, he works his tail off and he doesn’t score about getting points,” Dacey said of Charles. “How many times do you find that in a high school kid? We need a player like that.”

OA had two chances in the final 15 seconds to try and tie it but one three was off the mark and a turnover three as the buzzer was wide.

Taunton opened the second half on an 11-4 run to turn a two-possession advantage into a 39-26 lead. Oliver Ames responded with pressure on the defensive end, extending its press out to create some chances offensively.

The other switch came early in the quarter but paid off throughout the frame as the host Tigers elected to post some of their guards, manly senior Sean O’Brien (13 points), up in the post. After a bucket from Eckstrom, O’Brien scored five straight points to half the deficit. Eckstrom converted a putback to make it a four-point game only for Taunton junior Dante Law (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) to answer with a thunderous two-handed slam on a breakaway,

OA’s Ryan Burkett converted a traditional three-point play with under 30 seconds left in the third to make it a one-possession game.

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“We went 2-2-1 [press] three quarter and had a couple of things happen that worked well for us,” Byron said. “We got them into a couple of trap areas and converted off of that. We played a smaller lineup for a good portion of that, going with three guards.

“O’Brien [posts up] pretty well for a little guy, he carves out pretty well. He gives away from size but its worked for us with him there.”

Taunton led by one, 13-12, after the first quarter with Quinn and O’Brien each hitting a pair of triples. The visiting Tigers outscored OA 15-10 in the second quarter to lead 28-22 at the break.

Taunton boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to take on Foxboro (0-2). Oliver Ames (1-1, 1-1) is also on the road, traveling to play North Attleboro (0-2).

Attleboro Storms Past OA With Second Half Comeback

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Bryant Cicco (right) attempts to drive past Oliver Ames’ Noah Fitzgerald in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For two and a half quarters, Oliver Ames’ zone defense frustrated Attleboro’s offense and limited its high-power offense to just 27 points.

But once the Bombardiers found their rhythm, due in part to an improved defensive showing, Attleboro was nearly unstoppable the rest of the way.

Attleboro outscored Oliver Ames 44-16 over the final 12 minutes of play, erasing a double-digit deficit and turning it into a double-digit win, 71-57.

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“I think it started with our defensive energy,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “Early on, they kind of had their way, they had some transition baskets early. In the second half, we did a better job of getting back and not letting up any easy baskets. It was a physical game.

“We finally started penetrating their zone on the offensive end, which got us some open looks, and we were able to penetrate and go inside to [Qualeem Charles]. It took a little while to get the rhythm going, we really didn’t have it. Once we did that then we felt more confident and knock down some shots.”

The Bombardiers were limited to 10 points in the first quarter and 11 points in the second. Meanwhile, Oliver Ames senior Jack Spillane (career-high 34 points) was getting almost everything he wanted. He scored 18 of the Tigers’ first 19 points and helped OA take a 31-21 lead at the break.

Attleboro started hot in the third quarter, quickly getting the game within six but then went cold from outside. Big Blue missed from three-point range on six straight possessions, allowing Oliver Ames to get out in transition and convert, taking a 41-27 lead with 3:35 to go in the third quarter.

But on the ensuing possession, Attleboro finally got the ball in low as junior RMff (eight points, six assists) found sophomore Qualeem Charles (13 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks) who converted plus the harm. Charles’ traditional three-point play set the Attleboro offense in motion.

“You want to have some balance there but we weren’t getting the ball inside enough,” Houle said. “With any zone, there are some gaps and once we started penetrating with guard play to get into them, that created some opportunities for our bigs. When you play a zone you can get a three anytime you want, but when you’re not hitting them you have to get some paint touches.”

Senior Nate Douglas (17 points, four rebounds) and sophomore Jason Weir (seven points, five rebounds) made back-to-back baskets, and then Weir came up with a putback off of a missed three to keep the momentum with Attleboro.

“Jason Weir was one of the guys that came off the bench for us and had a terrific game,” Houle said. “Not only scoring but he got some key rebounds and some second-chance opportunities for us. And he played a physical game for us. We talked at halftime about how we needed guys to step up and he was one of them.”

After an Oliver Ames miss, sophomore Bryant Ciccio (career-high 18 points, five rebounds, five assists) went coast to coast, finishing with a nice up and under move high off the glass. Big Blue got another stop and this time fed Charles at the top of the key, sucking the defense in which allowed the sophomore to find Ciccio for a three-pointer.

Douglas hit a pull up on the baseline shortly before the buzzer to cap a 16-2 run, tying the game 43-43 at the end of the third.

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With the game in the balance over the final eight minutes, Attleboro finished the job.

Spillane gave OA an early lead with a nice take to the basket, but Charles hauled in an offensive rebound and converted a putback to tie it. Charles scored on another offensive rebound only for OA’s Noah Fitzgerald (six points, three assists) to respond.

Attleboro put the game away over the next two and a half minutes with a 14-2 run. Ciccio started the surge with a layup and then Houle picked off a cross-court pass and went in alone for a layup, plus the foul, for the traditional three-point play.

Spillane brought OA within three with a pair of free throws but Douglas and Kevin Velazquez drained threes to extend the lead to 58-49. Charles finished the run with a free throw and yet another putback.

“Nate Douglas played his best game of the season, he was aggressive on offense and made impact plays for us on both ends of the court,” Houle said. “He played like a senior and we needed him to perform like he did for us to come back and win the game.”

After shooting 40% in the first half (50% from three-point range), the Tigers shot just 30% from the field in the second half and hit just one triple.

“Part of it is offensively we did more [in the first half],” said OA head coach Don Byron about the first half effectiveness of the zone defense. “They’re taking the ball out of bounds, we’re setting our defense every time. Once it turns into a more free-flowing game, we’re at a disadvantage then.

“We worked hard it but our efficiency in the second half wasn’t as sharp, We threw some passes away, made some simple, unforced mistakes. We just didn’t shoot the ball as well. And a couple of guys that we kept quiet early found themselves and we weren’t able to knock them off their stride at that point.”

Attleboro boys basketball (4-2 Hockomock, 7-2 overall) is back in action on Tuesday in a key Kelley-Rex division showdown with first place Franklin; a battle of the division’s top scoring team against top defensive team. Oliver Ames (2-4, 4-5) hits the road to take on Taunton on the same day.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Franklin Fends Off Oliver Ames’ Late Surge

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Jalen Samuels (right) makes a pass against Oliver Ames in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Sunday night was Franklin’s first division game of the season, and likely a preview of what the Panthers will see over the next two weeks, and again later this season.

Although the Panthers led from start to finish and had a double-digit for most of the second half, the win wasn’t secured until the final buzzer. Oliver Ames refused to go away, even cutting the deficit to six with two minutes to play but Franklin was money at the free throw line late, coming away with a 63-50 win over the resilient Tigers.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter how it looks, as long as you get the win…it wasn’t our prettiest game, it wasn’t our best performance but we grinded out a win in a tough environment,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “The OA kids played hard, I thought they were all over the place rebounding wise and they were first to all the loose balls. I thought out first half defense was excellent…but 31 points is too much in the second half. It was a tough game, ugly game, but we’ll take it.”

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Sophomore Chris Edgehill led the way offensively, tying a career-high with 28 points while Franklin went 11-for-12 at the free throw line over the final two minutes to secure the victory.

“We were one big play away from getting it to a one-possession game somehow,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “But Franklin kept us just enough at arm’s length where they probably didn’t feel like they were getting tested. But on our side, we never really felt like we were out of it, the kids just kept coming and coming. That’s the biggest thing to come out of this one…can we compete with the best the state has to offer? And I think we did.”

Franklin closed the opening quarter with an 8-2 run to seize a 17-10 lead through eight minutes. The Panthers limited OA to just nine points in the second quarter, but the Tigers’ defense also kept Franklin’s offense in check (10 points), heading into half down 27-19.

The Panthers’ 11-point lead in the third quarter was trimmed down to just five behind baskets from OA’s Jake Erlich (13 points) and Jack Spillane (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists). But before the Tigers could get any closer, Edgehill drained a three to spark a 13-4 run.

Edgehill followed his triple with a strong take to the rim, and Paul Mahon (six points, four assists, three rebounds) had an easy take after a nice pass from Matt Elias (eight points, three rebounds). Franklin cashed in on back-to-back OA turnovers with both Edgehill and Paul Rudolph finishing traditional three-point plays.

“I thought [Edgehill] was very good offensively, especially getting inside,” Neely said. “We got the ball moving on offense and he was the recipient of those and hit some threes. He’s an electric creator off the dribble and he was able to get into the paint and draw a lot of contact. I think he found some guys and we missed some layups too. Tonight, I think someone needed to step up and he did.”

Franklin took a 43-31 lead into the final frame.

The Panthers led by as much as 14 early on in the fourth, and then a triple from Edgehill with three minutes to play had Franklin leading comfortably 52-39.

But once again, OA got right back into the game when Spillane hit a three while being fouled, finishing the four-point play a the line, and junior Sean O’Brien hit two free throws to make it 52-45 with two minutes to play.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be a free-flowing, easy going, up-and-down, everyone gets to run their offense type of game,” Byron said. “Our focus was to try and keep the game in the low 50s, high 40s. Not only are they going to do their part to make sure that happens, their games are all that way…but we did the same. We did the things we needed to do to have a shot.”

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Jalen Samuels (12 points, four rebounds, three blocks) hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to nine but Spillane splashed a three to make it a two-possession game. OA came up empty on its next trip, missing a pair of three’s, and Franklin iced the game with successful free throw shooting.

OA junior Ethan Eckstrom finished with 13 points for the Tigers while senior guard Matt Muir was the games’ leading rebounder with eight boards.

Franklin boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it hosts Taunton. Mansfield Olver aelxi (2-2, 4-3) resumes action with its fifth straight home game, hosting King Philip at 6:30.

Strong First Half Defense Propels OA Past Barnstable

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Chris Pearsons (left) defends a Barnstable guard in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames executed its defensive game plan to perfection in the first half against Barnstable, allowing the Tigers to create a large lead that they never gave up.

The result was a 58-44 win over the Red Raiders, as the Tigers improved to 4-2 overall.

“It was terrific, our first half defense was very, very good,” said OA head coach Don Byron.

Oliver Ames limited the visitors to a mere two points in the opening quarter on 1-for-9 shooting while forcing eight turnovers.

“We schemed it to double their pick and pop that they run,” Bryon continued. “They really rely on that almost 100% of what they do. I thought our double on that was good, I thought our rotation was good. We got a couple of steals out of that with the rotation being exactly where it was supposed to be.”

While Oliver Ames’ offense got off to a slow start itself (10 points in the opening quarter on 5-for-19 shooting), its defensive effort allowed for the Tigers to get their scoring going. And that happened in the second quarter, with OA shooting 6-for-11 and senior Jack Spillane scoring 16 of his game-high 30 points in the game.

“We came right out and doubled them,” Byron said. “We brought a weak side defender across to play the pop man and we probably had a half dozen steals off that which is real helpful when the offense is choppy. Sometimes you get a runout or two and the offense starts to find its form.”

With Oliver Ames holding a 16-7 lead, Spillane rattled off a 10-0 of his own to give OA a 19-point lead. First, he converted down low off a feed from Chris Pearsons (two points, six rebounds, six assists) and then drained a three.

Spillane came away with a loose ball and easy layup on the other end and after back-to-back misses from the Raiders, Spillane banked in a three to put the Tigers ahead 26-7 with just over three minutes to go in the half.

Leading 32-13 at the break, Oliver Ames came out of halftime with a quick 7-0 burst to take its largest lead of the game. Matt Muir (seven points, three rebounds) scored down low off a pass from Spillane, Spillane connected from deep for his lone field goal of the quarter and Muir went baseline for two more.

Barnstable went on to outscore OA 16-9 for the remainder of the quarter, but the Tigers held a 48-29 lead heading into the final frame.

“Offensively was a little bit choppy early,” Byron said. “Then we settled into a decent rhythm and by the end of the half, we were okay. Our third quarter, we’ve had a little bit of a habit lately, where we foul a little bit more, we miss a couple more foul shots, and all of a sudden people start pecking away at us. But overall, happy to get the win.”

The Raiders got within 13 at the midway point of the fourth quarter, but Spillane put a dagger into any hopes of a comeback with another triple.

“You look up and the lead is 13 points and then he splashes a three and 16 seems a lot better to me than 13 when you look up at the scoreboard,” Byron said.

Junior Ethan Eckstrom added four points to go along with 15 rebounds, a big reason that the Tigers held a 37-31 edge in the rebounding battle.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 4-2 overall) is scheduled to begin Kelley-Rex division play on Friday when it hosts Franklin at 6:30.

Oliver Ames Rides Strong Defensive Effort Past Sharon

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Jake Erlich (left) and Sean O’Brien (3) surround Sharon’s Jayvon Monteiro in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com
 
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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For the second straight game, an improved defensive performance in the second half led Oliver Ames to a win.

The Tigers ramped up the aggressiveness of their 2-3 zone in the second half, holding Sharon to just five points in the third quarter to turn a deficit into a lead, and eventually a 57-49 win over the Eagles in an early-season rivalry game in front of a packed crowd.

“I thought we did an exceptional job in the second half with the defense,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “On the defensive side, it wasn’t too bad early but when you don’t make shots you spend an awful lot of time on the defensive end. We kept Malik [Lorquet] somewhat quiet in the second half and we got out of almost all of the shooters besides a couple of breakdowns.

“Sharon, OA is special. It almost was like a playoff atmosphere. A lot of the kids went through their first varsity experience on Tuesday, but this atmosphere is the next level. You have to be able to tune out the background noise and just play basketball, and I thought especially in the second we did a nice job doing that.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Trailing by six at the halftime break, Oliver Ames opened the second half with a 12-0 run over the first 4:20 of the quarter. OA’s zone paid off right away as the Tigers forced a shot clock violation on Sharon’s first possession of the half.

Jack Spillane (game-high 22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) started the run by draining a three-pointer and Ethan Eckstrom (eight points, nine rebounds) converted a putback and scored down low on two of the next three possessions.

Sharon got a stop but was called for a technical, allowing Spillane to hit two free throws. Just over the midway point of the quarter, Spillane went over the top of a switch with Sean O’Brien and drained another three from straight away to cap the run, giving the Tigers a 34-28 lead.

During that stretch, the Eagles had a pair of turnovers, went 0-for-2 from two-point range, and 0-for-4 from three-point range, all but one attempt coming in the final seconds of the shot clock.

“They were very aggressive in the way they were attacking the wings,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We had a couple of guys out of position and we just got a little soft with the way we were taking it to the basket, we had to be stronger. Malik got into a little foul trouble and we kind of lost our way offensively. We’re better when we’re attacking the basket and I think we kind of lost that in the third quarter.

The Eagles finally got on the board with just under three to go on a floater from Jayvon Monteiro, but five straight points from OA senior Matt Muir (11 points) – two on a strong baseline drive and a corner three on a drive and kick from Spillane gave OA its largest lead – 39-32 – late in the third.

“I think when we got the ball inside, we needed to finish a little bit better,” Ferguson said of his Eagles, who shot 32% from the field with just eight free throw attempts (compared to 26 from OA). “We needed to do a bit better from the free throw line…I would have liked to get to the free throw line a little bit more, maybe as much as they did.

“But we kind of let outside factors and some physical play get us out of the way we want to play. That’s a credit to Oliver Ames, they took us out of our game plan. And unfortunately we had a little shut down from some guys, and that’s what happens in a Hockomock League game. If you score five points in a quarter, you’re not going to win very often.”

After going 0-for-7 from three-point range in the third quarter, Sharon got back on track when Jimmy Fitzhenry (nine points, eight rebounds) and Aidan Kane hit back-to-back triples to tie the game a minute into the final frame.

But the Eagles offense cooled once again. Two free throws from Spillane put OA up 41-39, only for Sharon to go 0-for-4 from three-point on its next two possessions, concluding three misses on one possession. Muir made Sharon pay with a corner trey to make it 44-39.

“I think Matt can be that 10 point a game kid,” Byron said of Muir, who hit three triples. “He might not throw 25 on you, but he’s a good consistent spot-up option. A lot of the things we do are based on Jack and penetration. And it can draw a lot of attention, and it did tonight, and they came with Matt’s guy.”

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A three from Alex Kaufmann brought the Eagles within two but that would be the closest they would get the rest of the way. Two free throws from Spillane plus a strong take from Eckstrom restored a two-possession lead.

O’Brien (12 points) delivered the dagger with a three with two minutes to play, putting OA up 51-42.

“He was a JV kid last year, he was really good over at Stoughton too,” Byron said of O’Brien. “He’s really poised, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes for a kid who’s only got two games under his belt. He’s been terrific, really solid for us. He’s a competitive kid and he wasn’t affected by the atmosphere.”

Kane hit a three with 17.6 seconds left to make it 53-49, but OA didn’t turn the ball over and took care of business at the free throw line to ice the game.

Lorquet finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Eagles.

Sharon’s offense got off to a strong start against the zone, dropping 16 points — including three triples — in the opening quarter. The Eagles added 12 more points in the second quarter, owning the glass 11-6 in the frame.

Meanwhile, Oliver Ames got off to a slow start, hitting just one field goal (5-of-6 from the free throw line) and six turnovers. The offense came alive a bit in the second quarter, going 3-for-6 from downtown to get within 28-22 at the break.

Sharon (0-2, 0-2) will look for its first win of the season when it hosts Attleboro on the same day.

“It’s good to be 2-0 for a variety of reasons…having to play Stoughton in there place is never easy,” Byron said. “Any road game is tough, but over there can be particularly tough. And then Sharon is a good team, I think they’re going to contend in the small side. It’s kind of a wide-open race on that side and Sharon is pretty darn good. They have some explosive scorers so we’re really happy with what we were able to do in the second half, especially defensively.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames Falls To Hot Shooting Whitman-Hanson

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Carter Evin posts up against a Whitman-Hanson defender in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomocSports,com)
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HANSON, Mass. – It didn’t matter if it was from deep, in the paint or at the free throw line: #3 Whitman-Hanson was impressive.

The Panthers shot nearly 70% from two-point range, connected on eight three pointers in the first half alone and connected on almost 80% of their free throws, taking a 79-66 win over #13 Oliver Ames.

It took just four minutes for the hosts to create a double-digit lead. Hitting three of their first five three pointer attempts and going a perfect 3/3 on takes to the basket, Whitman-Hanson was up 15-4 halfway through the opening quarter.

The closest Oliver Ames was able to get the rest of the way was six, at 30-24, with 3:45 left to play in the first half.

“They kind of took us out of something we’d hoped we would be able to do, something that we were doing down the stretch,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron of his defense. “Second half of the year we had fallen into that matchup and handed it pretty well…not so much tonight. We tried to withstand the barrage they had early. We were down 10 before we knew what hit us. We ended up staying in that 10-13 point range for an awful long time. We battled even for a good part of it but they had that early lead.”

After going down 10 at the end of the first quarter (23-13), Oliver Ames settled in some in the second quarter. A 7-3 run – helped along by a bucket from Dylan Mahoney (11 points, seven rebounds), a three from Nick Welch (16 points, seven assists), and a layup from Jack Spillane (12 points) – brought the Tigers within two possessions at the midway point of the second quarter.

But Whitman-Hanson responded with a three from Nikko Raftes (27 points) and a basket underneath from Jacob Hanson-Bartlett (11 points, 5 rebounds) to stretch the lead back to double figures. The Tigers finished the first half on a 5-0 run over the final minute – two free throws from Matt Muir (12 points) and a three from Welch – to stay within striking distance (38-31) at the break.

But a slow start to the second half quickly erased Oliver Ames’ chance to get close. A 6-0 run from Whitman-Hanson pushed the lead to 13 before Oliver Ames finally scored in the quarter. Welch hit a three just over two minutes in to make it a 10 point game – an advantage the Panthers held for the majority of the quarter.

It wasn’t until a wild final minute of the third quarter that the game became out of reach. Up 50-40, the Panthers managed an 8-0 run in 60 seconds to close the frame. A layup from Lucas Franklin (13 points), a jumper from Luke Tamulevich (21 points, eight rebounds), a bucket down low from Hanson-Bartlett and two free throws from Raftes made it 58-40 heading into the final quarter.

“We had to come out of ourselves a little bit, gamble a lot and foul and hope for the best,” Byron said. “And the best didn’t happen. They shot really well from the foul line, they never gave us a shot at getting it to six or seven. We could never quite get it there.”

The Tigers were forced into a full court approach. Already in the bonus, Oliver Ames attempted steals off the inbounds but often had to settle for fouls against the Panthers.

Whitman-Hanson didn’t blink – making 18 of their 24 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. The Panthers, who did have four turnovers in the final quarter, made 26/33 of their attempts from the charity stripe.

Throughout the season, Oliver Ames – as many teams do – thrived on small runs that can change the course of a game. They never got that run though, the best being either the 7-3 run to get within six in the second quarter or the 5-0 run to end the first half.

“That’s a credit to [Whitman-Hanson],” Byron said. “Their guard play is good. Lately, we’ve had pretty good success with what we do, with our matchups, to let Welch gamble a little bit and if you make a mistake he makes you play. He probably averaged five or six forced turnovers the second half of the season. But we didn’t get a ton of turnovers tonight because their guard play was solid.”

While Oliver Ames gambled and sent the Panthers to the line, their offense came to live. The Tigers scored 26 points in the final frame, with 19 coming in the final four minutes. Senior Carter Evin (seven rebounds) scored 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter.

“When we settle down and put the film online, I told the kids to watch the last four minutes of the game,” Byron said. “I was so proud of those four minutes as I was of anything we did all year. We did a lot too. There were people questioning if we could handle the jump to the big side [of the Hock]. And our non-league schedule became very difficult. People simply don’t want to play Hockomock teams. We’re a Division 2 team in name only, we’re looked at as D1 school because that’s what we play. We ended up with more Division 1 schools on the non-league schedule and the kids withstood the whole thing. They did a great job, it was a fun group that was very coachable.”

Oliver Ames boys basketball finishes the season 13-11.