Hornets’ Comeback Comes Up Short In South Final

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Tommy Dooling goes up for a shot in the second half against Newton North in the D1 South Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com(
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – For the first 16 minutes of the 2019 Division 1 South Sectional Final, the second-seeded Mansfield Hornets couldn’t seem to do anything right.

Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Tigers of Newton North played about as good as they could have hoped, combining eight made three-pointers with 14 Hornet turnovers for a 40-24 lead at halftime.

But there was no quit in the Hornets. Mansfield dominated the third quarter, making it a two-point contest — anyone’s game — with eight minutes left to go in the game.

The Tigers stood tall, though, never surrendering the lead and coming up with answer after answer to come away with a 74-64 victory, claiming the program’s first sectional title since 2006.

“I thought we did a good job disrupting them and taking stuff away,” said Newton North coach Paul Connolly. “We knew they’d have a run, and they had a huge run and came right at us. We responded, we made baskets when we needed them. We regained our poise (at the end).

”They are such a prolific offensive team, they really dissect people. We really worked on not allowing them to do what they do, to try and disrupt and take things away. They still scored 64 points. I told the guys at halftime Mansfield plays for 32 minutes. Even at the end, in the final seconds…they can score 10 points in their sleep.”

Mansfield looked like a completely different team in the third quarter, ramping up the aggressiveness and attacking the basket with a purpose. And on the defensive end, the Hornets played with a renewed sense of purpose that limited the Tigers to just seven points in the eight-minute stretch.

The surge mostly came over the final three minutes of the third. The defense limited Newton North to just three points over the first five minutes, but the Hornets were still trailing by double-digits, 45-34, with under three to go.

Sophomore Matt Boen (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists) hit a three-pointer and Damani Scott (17 points, six rebounds) came up with a steal that led to two free throws. The Hornets sandwiched a pair of stops around a free throw from Jack Mousette, and then junior Sam Stevens (14 points, four rebounds) drained a triple to make it a three-point game, down 46-43 with just under a minute to go.

Newton North added a free throw but Tommy Dooling (10 points) finished a contested layup at the buzzer to bring the Hornets — once down 19 points in the first half — within two, 47-45, entering the final quarter.

“Just play harder,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan of what went into the third quarter turnaround. “I told the guys at halftime we’re going to come out and play hard defense, move the ball with our 50 action, we’re not calling quick hitters, we’re not having personnel on certain kids. And it worked. Hindsight, we probably should have done that from the start, but we’re a little more of a finesse team and like to get out in space and trick teams a little bit. They did such a good job preparing for us, we weren’t going to out-trick them tonight. We needed to be more aggressive.”

Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t carry over right away in the fourth quarter. The Hornets reverted to the bad habits of the first half, mainly turnovers.

Mansfield committed four turnovers in the opening two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. After Newton North’s Kyle Ray-Canada (28 points) opened the quarter with the three, Mansfield missed a three and then was whistled for back-to-back offensive fouls after getting stops.

Khalil Lofton came up with a steal for an easy layup for the Tigers, the Hornets missed a triple, and Ray-Canada finished at the rim to cap a quick 7-0 spurt that gave Newton North breathing room up 54-45.

The Hornets once again made a push to get back in it. Dooling sank two free throws, Drew Rooney added another, and Boen, playing with an injured wrist, used a nice fake and lay-in for two to make it 56-52 with just over three minutes to go.

But Canada-Ray earned a trip to the line for two on back-to-back possessions, the Hornets had another turnover, and Lofton sank two more free throws to push the lead to 62-52 with two minutes left.

“It was everything going back to passive, reverting to what we were back in the first half instead of being aggressive,” Vaughan said. “Paul is one of the best [coaches] for a reason. There were times when we cut it to like four, where maybe in some other games, they made not have had an answer. But Paul had something drawn up, he had the right play, he had the right switch, and you can only do that when you’re at his level. He had answers for everything we did, hats off to how he coached and how his kids responded.”

Newton North had a terrific fourth quarter, taking advantage of some forced and some uncharacteristic Hornet turnovers. Mansfield gave the ball away nine times, and the Tigers hit nine field goals, include three from three-point range to race out to a 21-9 lead through eight minutes.

“They were very aggressive, they made us play 23-feet away from the hoop and they never really let us get comfortable,” Vaughan said. “It seemed like every pass we threw, every cut we made, every action we did, they were sitting there waiting for us. When the physicality is allowed that much, and we’re not matching it, it makes it a real grind it out first half.”

The Tigers’ three-point shooting only improved in the second quarter. Newton North connected on five more triples, including one from Ray-Canada with under a minute to go to push the lead to 40-21. Boen gave Mansfield some life with a late three and block on the final shot to make it 40-24 at halftime.

“I thought us playing from behind could create some nerves,” Vaughan said. “In the third quarter, we took the pressure off of thinking and just let them go out and play. I think it made the game so much easier for them, and you can only do that for so long and for so often. We almost were just kind of trying to play pick up and let the game freely go.

“I was happy with our young guys played. I thought Damani and Tommy played their hearts out, what more can you ask of them? In the end, I think the team that was a little more prepared, playing a little more hungry and with more effort won the game tonight.”

Mansfield boys basketball finishes the season at 22-5.

Mansfield Edges Taunton In D1 South Semifinal Clash

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy goes up for a layup in the second half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton Tigers were on the verge of a big upset.

With just over two minutes to go in a tied game, Taunton senior Wesner Charles found an open lane for an easy layup to give the 14th-seeded Tigers a 58-56 lead. And on Mansfield’s ensuing trip up, Charles came up with a block that gave the Tigers the ball back and all of the momentum in front of a packed crowd inside the Rabouin Field House.

But the Tigers couldn’t slam the door shut on the second-seeded Hornets, as a potential dagger three rimmed out. And there aren’t many teams better at making you pay than the Hornets.

Senior Tommy Dooling (19 points) launched a corner three that bounced twice off the rim before falling, putting the Hornets up by one with 1:34 to go. Taunton couldn’t answer as a three-point shot was off the mark, and Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (career-high 19 points, eight rebounds) concerted off his own miss with 44.5 seconds left to put Mansfield up 61-58.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We started the second half pretty well but [Taunton] came back and the crowd got pretty loud,” Dooling said. “We kept telling each other it was going to be okay, we stuck with what we do well. Sam Stevens had a nice screen and Damani [Scott] had a nice pass and I shot the three, it hit every part of the rim then finally went in, that felt great.”

The Hornets got the stop they needed, Guy broke free for another layup and Mansfield came out with a hard-fought 65-59 win over a gritty Tigers team.

With the win, the Hornets advance to their third straight Division 1 South Sectional Final, and seventh appearance in the last 10 years in the game.

“When the wheels started falling off, with this atmosphere, I was a little nervous with how some of our young guys, guys that haven’t been here before, were going to respond,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We looked panicked there for a little bit. But I reminded them ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, come out and do what we do’ and we needed a couple of possessions of basket, stop, basket, stop, and we were able to do that.

“Taunton is playing really good right now, they were not going to go down easy. They were ready for the big moment, and a couple of bounces things might go the other way. Taunton did some good things in that second half.”

It was a close game throughout as the Hornets had a brief eight-point advantage in the first half, and led by only seven at one point early in the second half. Taunton had an early 11-8 advantage but didn’t take another lead until midway through the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer from Sam Stevens that came off an offensive rebound had the Hornets up 51-48 entering the fourth quarter. Free throws from Taunton senior John Martins (14 points) got the Tigers within two but Damani Scott answered with a strong take for the Hornets. A free throw from Lou Vendrell followed by a steal and bucket from Naz Kenion (career-high 20 points) knotted the score at 53-53.

Kenion continued his stellar play with a nice move baseline to give the Tigers a 55-54 lead, their first advantage of the second half. Kenion came up with a steal to get Taunton the ball back, but the Tigers missed a three. A free throw from Kenion extended the lead to 56-54, and Charles knocked away a pass to get the Tigers another chance to extend the lead, but Taunton’s layup was off the mark. Mansfield tied the game on the other end as sophomore Matt Boen had a layup off a feed from Drew Rooney.

“I thought we played great defense. It felt like we took them off the three-point line for the most part, which is a lot of their offense, But as usual, they adjust and they didn’t panic. If you’re not composed for 32 minutes, you make a mistake, they take advantage of it, that’s Mansfield.

“A game of inches, I think it came down to three plays in the end. Two offensive possessions on our end that we didn’t do well with, and one blown defensive possession. All of a sudden, it’s six points, and that feels like an insurmountable lead against them.”

The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening quarter with Taunton jumping ahead 11-8 behind a three-pointer from Dante Law (nine point, seven rebounds) but Dooling had a pair of triples and Guy added six points to help the Hornets take a 17-14 lead after one.

Mansfield extended its lead to 22-14 — the largest lead of the game by either side — but Taunton clawed back into it. Sophomore Tyler Stewart came off the bench and scored four points, Law added four more, and Kenion scored his first seven points of the game, including a late three-point play to bring the Tigers within two, down 31-29 at half.

Martins sank two free throws to open the second half to tie the game but the Hornets grabbed momentum back with a 10-3 spurt. Stevens converted a putback, Boen and Dooling hit consecutive threes, and Guy scored down low for a 41-34 advantage.

Taunton ramped up its defensive pressure to get back into the game. Martins scored off a steal, and minutes later, Kenion and sophomore Danny MacDougall had back-to-back takeaways that led to layups to tie it at 46-46 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.

“They were a lot more disciplined. Sometimes you can get them on back cuts or dribble handoff action, and we didn’t get any of those,” Vaughan said of Taunton’s defense. “We really had to score the old fashion way and gut through some possessions. Even on offense too, this was probably the most disciplined Taunton team I’ve seen on both ends of the floor, they really bought in to what [Coach Dacey] was selling. It made it brutal. When guys do that, you can’t go on runs, you can’t create separation, it makes it tough.

“All the threes we got were either contested, or we got them off half broken plays.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For Taunton (15-9), it was an end to a playoff run that saw upsets over league rival Attleboro and former league rival Bridgewater-Raynham.

“We discovered something, I don’t know exactly what it was,” Dacey said. “We work, work, work a lot on defense in practice. It clicked against Attleboro, then again against B-R, it’s something we’ve been looking for all year long.

“It hurts, it should hurt, and hopefully it’s a lesson for the underclassman. We have to get kids to want to be in the gym in the offseason. This was fun, so I hope the guys coming back realize it and say we can be here [again], but you have to put the work in.”

Mansfield boys basketball returns to Taunton High on Friday to take on #5 Newton North (20-5). Newton North defeated the Hornets in the regular season on February 10th. The D1 South Final is set to tipoff at 7:30.

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2018-2019 Hockomock Boys Basketball Preview

Attleboro

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

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

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

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

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

Canton

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

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

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

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

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

Foxboro

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

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

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

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

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

Franklin

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

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

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

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

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

King Philip

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

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

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

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

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

Mansfield

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

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

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

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

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

Milford

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

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

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

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

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

North Attleboro

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

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

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

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

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

Oliver Ames

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

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

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

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

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

Sharon

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

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

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

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

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

Stoughton

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

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

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

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

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

taunton

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

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

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

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

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