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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

Oliver Ames Surges Past Taunton In Second Half

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Carter Evin (right) drives to the basket in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron looked up at the scoreboard and felt a little bit of deja vu as his side took on Taunton.

Just like the first meeting, his team had a 12 point lead with the fourth quarter set to begin. In the first game, Taunton roared back to erase that deficit and get the win.

Not this time around.

Oliver Ames kept its lead throughout the final period, walking away with a 73-61 win and a berth in the Division 2 State Tournament. It marks the eighth straight year under Byron that the Tigers are postseason bound.

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OA broke the game open with a big third quarter. After taking a one-point lead (39-38) into the locker room at halftime, the visitors doubled up Taunton with a 22-11 third quarter.

“They shot very, very well in the first half — and from deep,” Byron said. “Even if you tell the kids they can shoot from very deep, the kids take some time to adjust. I thought we did a better job on that in the second half, I thought cut down on the penetration more and when we did that, the kick outs weren’t there as much.”

Taunton hit an impressive nine three pointers (of 13 total field goals made) in the first half but were limited to just four in the second half. Taunton went just 1/7 from deep in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Oliver Ames was an efficient 9/14 from the floor, getting all of its offense from its starting lineup.

Nick Welch (19 points, four assists) hit a layup, Carter Evin (16 points, six rebounds), Dylan Mahoney (17 points, seven rebounds) converted in the post and Jack Spillane (19 points, four rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a put back to put Taunton up 48-41.

“We didn’t want to look at it as having to get one out of five games left, we wanted to look at it just one game at a time,” Welch said of earning the playoff berth. “We didn’t get it Friday against Attleboro so we were extra motivated to get it tonight. It was a good win against a good team.

Another three point play from Evin — who found a home in the post against Taunton’s defense — a three from Welch, two more from Evin, a trifecta from Spillane and suddenly Oliver Ames had a 59-45 lead late in the third quarter.

“We wanted to play inside-out,” Byron said. “I thought Carter and Dylan did some good stuff on the block. And Nick’s been terrific…the whole year but specifically the second half of the season.

“[Taunton] plays small. We have chase guys on the perimeter on the defensive end and maybe that’s a disadvantage for us but we’re not particularly big. We really have five perimeter guys out there. Carter’s a little bit bigger but he’s really just a stretched out three, Mahoney the same thing. We wanted to play inside out though so it helped with our size.”

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The visitors deployed a press coming out of halftime. Although it didn’t force any turnovers, it wasn’t designed to. Instead, it was aimed to slowing Taunton down.

“That’s what it’s for,” Byron said. “We didn’t want them screaming up and down the court. It’s designed to keep the game at a pace that we’re comfortable in. If we can get a trap on the side and get a turnover, it’s a bonus.”

Oliver Ames led 61-49 going into the fourth quarter.

“I think it was almost the same lead. We talked about how we had been here before but we weren’t going to do what we did the last time,” Welch said. “We just took that message and went out and got it done. They can get hot quickly so we had to contain the three point line and we wanted to keep the lead at 10.

“All five of our starters can hit the three. Then Carter and Dylan can get down low, getting offensive rebounds. It distracts the defense a little, my man has to help, Jack’s man has to help so it gives us an extra step to get the shots off.”

Taunton cut the deficit to nine early in the fourth quarter on a three from Dimitri Barbosa and then to eight on a free throw from freshman Dante Law (19 points, nine rebounds) but that would be as close as the home side would get.

Evin pushed it back to 10 with a nice move in the post and OA’s defense kept Taunton off the board for three minutes. A three from Spillane extended the lead to 13 with 3:21 to play only for Taunton’s Tommy MacLean (nine points, six rebounds, six assists) to answer with a three of his own.

“You have to get to Mahoney, you have to get to Spillane, you have to get to them all…and we didn’t,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And then we came down the other end and we panicked. We were looking for the five point shot. It was not wise basketball for us on either end of the floor.

“[The nine three pointers in the first half] was fools gold. You’re not going to win the game from the three point line, I don’t care who you are. We got seduced by that and started taking the quick early threes rather than working it.

Oliver Ames’ defense was able to limit Taunton to 23 points in the second half after surrendering 38 to the hosts in the opening half.

“We’ve had good games with Taunton but we haven’t beaten them in the last couple of years,” Byron said. “We had the buzzer beater [two years ago], the last one was a one possession game at the end. We didn’t do much right in the fourth quarter the first game. It was remarkably similar tonight. It was essentially the same difference going into the fourth quarter. It was an easier sell to tell the kids to keep the focus because Taunton can score in bunches.”

Sophomore Luis Vendrell added 19 points for Taunton while Barbosa finished with eight.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (11-8 overall, 9-6) will try to improve its record for tournament seeding on Friday with a visit to Kelley-Rex champion Mansfield Hornets. Taunton (13-7, 8-7) looks to bounce back with a trip to Attleboro on the same night.

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Panthers Hold Off OA Charge To Stay In First Place

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin freshman Chris Edgehill (3) scored a team-high 15 points to help the Panthers hold off Oliver Ames and remain in a first place tie in the Kelley-Rex. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When Franklin and Oliver Ames played the first time, almost a month to the day from Friday night’s second meeting at the William F. Nixon Gym, the game was essentially over by halftime. The Panthers turned up the defensive intensity, broke the game open, and then pored it on for a 33-point victory.

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The Tigers were determined that it would not be the same result this time around and, despite Franklin extending its lead to as many as 15 in the third quarter, pulled within five points with only four minutes remaining in the game.

With the crowd getting loud and momentum with the home team, Franklin junior Matt Elias (eight points) drilled a clutch three to extend the lead back to eight, Josh Macchi snatched an offensive rebound for a bucket, and then Connor Peterson dropped a pass to Jalen Samuels under the basket for the hoop and the foul.

The Panthers made the plays they needed to down the stretch, holding off the OA comeback and pulling out a 64-52 victory that keeps Franklin tied with Mansfield at the top of the Kelley-Rex division (with the two teams set to square off next Friday).

“We said that we wanted to come out and open that lead a little bit coming out of halftime and we were able to do it, but credit OA,” said Franklin coach C.J. Neely. “They kept fighting and got back into it and I think we made some big plays when we needed it.”

OA coach Don Byron got the reaction, if not the final result, that he was looking for from his team after the tough loss to the Panthers in the first meeting.

He said, “It was a good fight wire-to-wire. Not too disappointed in it; glad they showed the fight after being embarrassed first time around.”

The Tigers got off to a strong start with Dylan Mahoney (team-high 17 points) and Nick Welch (16 points) each scoring five in the first and Jack Spillane drilling a three to give OA a 13-12 lead. Peterson (10 points, 10 rebounds) got the Panthers going with seven in the first and Samuels (12 points) added four, as Franklin closed the quarter on a 14-5 run to grab a 17-13 lead.

Franklin added the first four points of the second quarter but Mahoney answered with a shot in the lane and Matt Muir buried a three to keep OA within five. Macchi (12 points, seven rebounds) snagged a steal for a layup and then Samuels closed the half with a put-back in traffic for a 10-point advantage at the break.

Neely said, “We really rebounded the ball at both ends of the floor. We got on the offensive boards and got some second opportunities and we were able to secure most of the defensive rebounds. I thought that was a huge part of the win tonight.”

At the start of the third, it looked like Franklin was about to pull away for another big win. Peterson scored off an offensive rebound and Macchi drilled a three off a Paul Mahon assist. Macchi added an up and under move in the lane to make it 37-22.

After four straight from the Tigers, freshman point guard Chris Edgehill (team-high 15 points) drilled the first of his two threes in the quarter to keep the lead at double digits. Carter Evin (nine rebounds), who missed the first game with Franklin due to injury completed a three-point play to make the score 43-35, but Elias came through with a buzzer-beating layup off a Mahon pass to keep it a 10-point game heading to the fourth.

“They’re not easy to play against obviously,” said Byron. “They have good inside presence, they flood you on the offensive glass, they run deep, the guards played well, there’s a lot of things to contend with out there.”

Neely was not at all surprised that the second meeting was much tougher than the first. He said, “They didn’t have Carter last time; he’s a high-level player. He creates a lot of different matchup situations that we didn’t have to deal with last time. They’ve got a nice team and the zone works for them.”

A couple of Welch free throws and a layup for Jake Erlich started the fourth well for OA but Peterson kicked it out for a Connor Goldstein three. A pair of free throws from Edgehill pushed the lead back to 12, but OA made one last run at the win.

Mike Graziano swung a pass over to Welch for a three to cut the lead to 51-42. Mahoney followed with a three of his own and then drove to the basket to make it 52-47; he scored eight of his 17 in the fourth.

“It went to 15 and we got it to five and against a team like that, which defends as well as they do…making runs against some teams happens because there’s a lot of back and forth and up and down, but not too much with these guys,” said Byron.

Needing a big shot, Franklin swung the ball around to Elias and the junior delivered with the three that stemmed the tide.

Neely said, “Matt was in a little bit of a…not a funk, but he hadn’t been playing his best ball the last two or three games and we told him to just go back to being himself and have fun…It’s good to see him hit a couple because it just makes us that much better.”

The win was an important one for the Panthers, who are battling to win their second straight league title (they shared it with Mansfield last season).

“It’s stressful, but it’s good to be in the position we’re in,” said Neely. “I’m happy about that but every possession seems to mean more and more and we try to stay as focused on the moment as we can because you have to worry about this game.”

Franklin (12-3, 11-1) will get another tough league test on Monday when Taunton pays a visit, while Oliver Ames (9-7, 7-5) will try to clinch its playoff spot at home against King Philip.

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Tigers Tame Spirited Comeback From Foxboro

Oliver Ames’ Nick Welch (10) looks to block a shot from Foxboro’s Teddy Maher (5) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – There wasn’t much Oliver Ames could do wrong through the first quarter, and again in spurts in the second quarter.

After the first eight minutes, the Tigers held a 21-2 advantage and by halftime, took a 20-point lead into the locker rooms.

When all was said it done, they needed that cushion created in the first half.

Foxboro crafted a spirited rally throughout the final 16 minutes, cutting the deficit to single digits in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get over the hump as Oliver Ames earned a 63-54 win inside William F. Nixon Gymnasium.

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“I don’t know if we could have played much better than we did for about a period and a half,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “For that stretch, that’s about as well as we played. There were no illusions that wouldn’t continue for an entire game. We knew they’d make a run at it. We did some things in the second half to make it frantic. They ran a second guy at us and we got a little sloppy with the ball, we got a little undisciplined on the offensive end.

“A combination of things put it in jeopardy. We expected it to be more like the last three periods than the first one. It eventually got there. We were fortunate we did as many things right early as we did.”

The Tigers went 7/16 from the floor, including a trio of trifectas – one from Dylan Mahoney (19 points, 10 rebounds) in transition right at the buzzer to put an exclamation point on the quarter.

After Foxboro scored the opening bucket of the game via freshman Brandon Borde (nine points, five rebounds, four assists), the Warriors went 0/8 from the field and committed eight turnovers against OA’s 2-3 zone — many of the turnovers turning into points for the Tigers.

“We just came and got punched in the mouth,” admitted Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We weren’t ready to play out of the gate. We didn’t have enough passion, enough energy, just didn’t have enough focus. I thought the first quarter we played uninspired. Too many turnovers led to easy baskets for them. We really struggled against their zone, give credit to OA, they have a very active zone and really get out into passing lanes. It wasn’t just our starters either, we played nine, ten guys in that first quarter. It was just everyone as a group, we weren’t ready to go.”

Nick Welch (11 points) and Jack Spillane (five points, six rebounds) also connected from beyond the arc in the period while Carter Evin (19 points) was perfect from the floor for six points.

Foxboro was a equal opponent, if not greater, the rest of the way. The Warriors outscored OA 51-43, over the final three quarters but never cut the deficit to under eight. Foxboro senior Mark Clagg scored 13 of his team-high 16 points in the second half.

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While Oliver Ames obviously relied on its hot start, the Tigers put together maybe its most important run of the game in the fourth quarter. Two free throws from Foxboro’s Anthony Barreira with just under five minutes brought the Warriors within 10 at 53-43.

Oliver Ames responded with a timely 6-0 spurt in just over 30 seconds to retake command of the contest. Evin netted a layup off a feed from Mahoney, Mahoney converted for two of his own after a Foxboro miss and Evin converted a put back after a shot was blocked by Foxboro’s Joe Morrison (12 points, four rebounds, four steals, two blocks).

“We emphasize just that,” Byron said. “It’s not the 18-2 runs, it’s the series of 6-0 runs that you can put together and if they are timely, even better.

“Carter’s starting to look like himself. His first game back he had a rough ride and Mansfield had something to do with that. He probably accelerated the rehab about two weeks but he’s starting to feel better, his practices have been better too. We’re starting to look like ourselves a bit more now.”

Foxboro kept its pressure on, rattling off an 8-1 run capped by Teddy Maher’s second three pointer of the half to get within eight (60-52) with just over a minute to play but the Warriors ran out of time to complete the comeback.

“I was really proud of the way they battled in the second half,” Gibbs said, his Warriors winning the final 16 minutes by double-digits. “I thought they showed a lot character and a lot of heart and I’m proud of that. I think we showed we’re capable of being a very good team when we play with energy. And I think we showed we have the character to be a good team. Obviously we still came up short because when you dig yourself that big of a hole on the road against a good team, it’s going to be tough to get all the way back over the hump. There’s a lot we can learn from this game.”

Barreira and Maher, mostly known for their defensive efforts, turned in strong performances on both ends of the court. Barreira had eight points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists while Maher knocked down a pair of big three pointers, had two assists and three steals.

“I thought Anthony Barreira and Teddy Maher both came off the bench and gave us a defensive spark,” Gibbs said. “We had to go to with an aggressive full court pressure and that’s what those two kids are good at, they are really scrappy, athletic kids that take a lot of pride on the defensive end. They did a great job, they wreaked a lot of havoc and made a lot of great plays to get us back in the game.”

Oliver Ames (8-6 overall, 6-4 Hockomock) moves into sole possession of third place in the Kelley-Rex with a game in hand. The Tigers are back in action on Tuesday with a trip to Canton. Foxboro (4-8, 3-7) looks to snap its three game skid on Tuesday with a visit from Attleboro.

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