Foxboro, 56 vs. Bishop Feehan, 36 – Final – Foxboro senior Joe Morrison hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter, helping the Warriors pull away from the visiting Shamrocks. Morrison also scored 12 of his game-high 25 points in the second quarter while the Foxboro defense limited Feehan to just four points in the frame, taking a 27-15 lead at half. Bobby Harrison added 15 points in the win.
Mansfield, 69 vs. Brockton, 64 – Final – Mansfield senior Johnny McCoy poured in a career-high 35 points to lead the Hornets to a comeback win against the highly touted Boxers. Brockton held a 37-31 lead at halftime and took a 55-54 advantage into the fourth quarter. Mansfield outscored the Boxers 15-9 in the final frame. McCoy hit four three-pointers and went 13-for-19 from the line with five steals. Justin Vine added eight points while Damani Scott (five rebounds) and Ryan Otto each had seven points.
Milford, 74 vs. Tantasqua, 65 – Final – Milford had a dominant third quarter, pouring in 26 points in the frame to turn a five-point lead at halftime (30-25) into a 56-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Junior Brendan White had a team-high 16 points, senior Zach Tammaro added 12 points and Andrew Fraioli finished with 11 points. Kayden Kelley had a double-double for the Hawks with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Oliver Ames, 57 @ Walpole, 49 – Final – Oliver Ames seniors Jack Spillane and Matt Muir each dropped 23 points to lead the Tigers to the Walpole Hoop Classic Championship. The Tigers built a 32-23 lead at halftime with Muir, who notched a career-high, hitting three triples. Spillane and Noah Fitzgerald were named to the all-tournament team.
Stoughton, 76 vs. Lincoln-Sudbury, 53 – Final – Stoughton senior Cam Andrews dropped 25 points and classmate Colin Sanda added 15 points to lead the Black Knights to a win over Lincoln-Sudbury. The Black Knights will play host Waltham in the final of the Jake n Joe’s Basketball Cup on Tuesday at 7:00.
North Attleboro, 44 @ Attleboro, 56 – Final – Sam Pierce led the Bombardiers to the non-league win with a career-high 27 points. Jordyn Lako, Mackenzie Roberts, and Nyah Thomas each pulled down nine rebounds for Attleboro. Julia Santos was North’s top scorer with 12.
Mansfield, 60 vs. Marlboro, 21 – Final – The Hornets turned on the defense in the third quarter, holding Marlboro to only three points, and scored 23 points themselves to break the game open. Ann Maher scored 16 points, knocking down five threes, for Mansfield, while Maggie Danehy added 10. Erin Daniel, Meg Hill, Sydney Mulkern, and Kara Bendanillo each added six points apiece for the Hornets. Mansfield will face Lowell in the tournament final after the Red Raiders upset Coyle.
Stoughton, 52 vs. Norwood, 38 – Final – Aliyah Wright scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Black Knights, who closed out the regular season by winning 11 of their final 12 games. Stoughton, which held Norwood to only two points in the first quarter and seven in the opening half, also got 12 points from Val Whalen and nine points and 13 rebounds from Jordan Motley.
Taunton, 56 @ Durfee, 47 – Final – The Tigers closed out the season with a non-league road win, after rallying from a 15-point second half deficit. Kelsey White paced Taunton with 15 points. Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez each scored 11 for the Tigers, Hannah Moniz added nine, and Lily Patneaude had eight.
Foxboro, 2 vs. East Bridgewater, 3 – Final
Franklin, 3 vs. LaSalle Academy, 4 – Final
King Philip, 1 vs. Norwood, 3 – Final
Oliver Ames, 0 vs. North Reading, 5 – Final
Canton, 6 vs. Whitman-Hanson/Silver Lake, 2 – Final – Junior Lauren Fitzpatrick recorded four points to held the Bulldogs skate past Whitman-Hanson. Fitzgerald scored hat trick and had one assist in the win.
King Philip, 3 @ Natick, 6 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Dover-Sherborn/Hopkinton, 7 – Final
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Mansfield had a lot on the line when it traveled to its biggest rival on Friday night. A win against Franklin would clinch at least a share of a third straight league title for the Hornets, while senior center Meg Hill was only seven points away from reaching 1,000 for her career.
With a layup off a feed from Mady Bendanillo late in the first quarter, Hill (17 points, nine rebounds) made quick work of her accomplishment, but the Hornets needed to battle to the end to pull out a 62-48 victory that sealed a three-peat of Kelley-Rex titles.
“We had a chance to come over here to get a share of the title with a 1,000-point scorer, lets get it all done tonight,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “I’m glad it’s over and now we can relax and a win against KP to win it outright takes a little pressure off when we play OA (in the league finale).”
Hill got on the board off the opening tip, as Franklin allowed the Hornets to take a quick lead in order to get points for senior forward Kate Morse, who is out for the season with an injury.
Ann Maher got off to a red-hot start from the outside to help Mansfield stretch the floor and open up an early lead. She hit the first of three from beyond the arc in the quarter off a Hill feed and then Hill knocked down a jumper for a 7-2 advantage. After the Panthers tied it up, another Maher three was followed by another jumper by Hill.
Ali Brigham (11 rebounds) hit a jumper, the first two of her team-high 16 points, but Maher again was able to answer with another shot from long distance. Sitting just one-point from 1,000, Hill reached the milestone with a transition basket, off a feed from Bendanillo (eight assists).
Hill, who became just the second female player in Mansfield history to reach 1,000 points, passed the credit for her milestone on to her teammates. She said, “I don’t shoot on my own. I don’t dribble the ball. So, passes from them are really how I get my points and I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
After a timeout to celebrate Hill’s career mark, Bendanillo closed out the first with a three for a 20-9 lead. The Hornets finished with nine threes as a team.
“We knew Maher was a good shooter and you try to rotate the defense to her and Meg and other set some good screens and she knocked down some quick ones but I thought it was the supporting cast that really shot well for them and really made the difference tonight,” said Franklin coach John Leighton.
Franklin did not back down and rallied in the second quarter. Mansfield tried to switch up defenses to limit Brigham and Bea Bondhus, but Breanna Atwood (10 points) banked in a three-pointer and got behind the defense for a layup off a feed by Megan O’Connell. O’Connell also scored six in the second, finding space at the high post.
“Our kids battled back,” said Leighton. “The shots kept falling for them but we kept battling back and working to get twos. It was a slog, but we stayed with it. I thought at the end of the first quarter we’d find out really quick who we were and we rebounded pretty well.”
Bendanillo (eight points) drilled a second three and Hill scored on an offensive rebound, but O’Connell’s drive in the final minute cut the lead to just 29-26 at halftime.
“She got it done early,” said Redding of Hill getting to 1,000 points, “but then after that they started to come on and had a great second quarter, but I thought we really came out in the third and reestablished ourself with a good inside-outside game.”
The Hornets broke the game open in the third quarter. Maher (15 points) hit the fourth of her five three-pointer on the night to get it started and Hill hit another jumper. Sydney Mulkern (nine points) scored five points in quick succession and suddenly it was a 13-point edge.
Bondhus (10 points) hit a three to get back within 10 but Mansfield showed its depth with Steph Kemp hitting a jumper, Emily Vigeant driving to the basket for two, and Erin Daniel draining a three to push the lead to 48-35 heading to the fourth.
Redding said, “We got a lot of points not by design. We just made smart passes against traps and found open people out of the offense.”
Both teams found scoring a struggle at the start of the fourth and Franklin was able to chip away at the lead, getting it as close as 56-48 after Bondhus finished in traffic, but the Hornets went 6-for-6 from the line to close it out.
“I thought Bea and Ali were super-aggressive in the fourth quarter and we needed them to be,” said Leighton. “All the shots didn’t fall but I thought we got the looks that we needed and we got some defensive stops that we needed.”
Wins at Franklin are always welcome for the Hornets. Four years ago a loss at Franklin cost Mansfield a share of the league title and the Panthers handed the Hornets their only league loss on the same court last season. So, Redding was pleased to walk away with the victory on Friday.
“Any win at Franklin is a tough one,” said Redding. “Both teams switching up defenses left and right and it seemed like both teams had answers. Ali played great, Meg played great, it was a great battle between two of the best teams in the Kelley-Rex.”
In between celebratory photos with teammates, family, and friends, Hill turned her attention not to the points she has scored in her career but to the fact that she has been part of three straight league championships. She said, “That’s what I really wanted. This is just a sidenote, but three league titles that’s really cool. I’m glad to be part of that.”
Mansfield (15-4, 13-1) can clinch the outright league title on Tuesday at King Philip. Franklin (11-7, 9-5) will try to bounce back when it travels to Attleboro.
Mansfield, 64 @ Attleboro, 51 – Final – Mansfield opened the second half with a 12-2 surge, turning a deficit into an eight-point lead and never looked back. Attleboro held a 30-28 lead at the break but Mansfield took control of the game by outscoring the Bombardiers 22-8 in the frame. Mansfield senior John McCoy dropped a career-high 24 points, hauled in nine rebounds, had five assists and four steals to lead the Hornets, who totaled 10 steals as a team. Damani Scott tied a career-high with 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Ryan Otto chipped in with 10 points. Attleboro sophomore Bryant Ciccio tied a career-high with 17 points.
Milford, 51 @ Canton, 61 – Final – Canton connected on 14 three-pointers as a team, jumping out to a 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter, and a 30-17 lead at the break. The Bulldogs furthered the lead with a 21-12 third quarter. Senior Tony Harris led the way with 18 points while classmate Austin Maffie netted 17 points for the Bulldogs. Milford junior Brendan White led the Hawks with 14 points.
Stoughton, 41 @ Foxboro, 54 – Final – Foxboro increased its lead after each of the first three quarters to beat the visiting Black Knights. The Warriors led 16-11 after one, 31-20 at the halftime break, and 43-29 heading into the final quarter. Sophomore Brandon Borde led the way offensively with a game-high 19 points while senior Bobby Harrison added 14 points and senior Joe Morrison chipped in with 13 points. Stoughton head coach John Gallivan noted that Alex Sjoquist played well defensively for the Black Knights.
King Philip, 53 @ Oliver Ames, 51 – Final – King Philip outscored Oliver Ames 21-14 in the third quarter to take a lead and held off a late comeback attempt from OA to earn the win. The Warriors had eight players get on the score sheet, led by Brendan King’s 11 points. Both Pharoah Davis and Tom Madden added nine points while Tim Nault chipped in with seven points. Jack Spillane led Oliver Ames with 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, while junior Ethan Eckstrom scored 11 points.
North Attleboro, 67 @ Sharon, 61 – Final – North Attleboro overcame an early 16-2 deficit with a strong second half to earn the win. Sharon led 16-7 after the first quarter and 27-20 at the halftime break. Big Red came out with a huge third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 18-7 to seize a lead, and then built a 62-47 lead with just under two minutes to play. North senior Chad Peterson came off the bench, hitting three triples in the second half on his way to a game-high 15 points. Josh Montague added 13 points, Ethan Friberg scored a career-high 11 points (10 in the second half) and junior Jake Petersen had eight points. Sharon senior Malik Lorquet had a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds while Alex Kaufmann added 16 points and Jimmy Fitzhenry had 11 points and three steals.
Attleboro, 31 @ Mansfield, 52 – Final – Mansfield opened a one-game lead on Attleboro in the league standings with the win. Meg Hill scored 15 points, had 11 boards, and blocked three shots for the Hornets, who also got 11 points from Erin Daniel, eight points and six assists from Mady Bendanillo, and eight points and nine rebounds from Maggie Danehy. Attleboro got 10 points from Sam Pierce and eight points from Liv McCall in the loss.
Foxboro, 74 @ Stoughton, 46 – Final – Ashley Sampson scored 23 points to lead the Warriors to a seventh straight win, six of which were by double digits. Lily Sykes added 15, Shannon Smally had 13, and Grace Tamulionis had 10 points for Foxboro. Stoughton sophomore Shyanne Trinh led the Black Knights with 10 points.
Franklin, 55 @ Taunton, 41 – Final – Sophomore center Ali Brigham recorded a triple-double to help the Panthers earn the road win and stay within a game of first place Mansfield. Brigham scored 15 points, recorded 13 rebounds, and had 10 blocks on the night.
Oliver Ames, 47 @ King Philip, 34 – Final – Leading 32-28 with four minutes to play, Oliver Ames closed the game with a 15-6 run to put the game away and earn the win. Senior Kayla Raymond had a monster night with 30 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to lead the way for the Tigers, who trailed KP 16-14 at the half. Alex Sheldon added 10 points and eight rebounds in the win for OA.
Sharon, 51 @ North Attleboro, 49 – Final – Telishya Herbert led the way with 17 points for the Eagles, who earned their first league win of the season. Emma Eberhardt added 13 points in the win.
Franklin, 126 @ Attleboro, 45 – Final
Franklin, 103 @ Attleboro, 67 – Final
Attleboro, 134 @ Sharon, 127.6 – Final
Franklin, 130.85 @ Oliver Ames, 136.6 – Final – Franklin junior Mia Lizotte won the all-around for the third straight meet with a 35.95, edging out Oliver Ames’ Hannah Moynihan (35.5). Lizotte earned an 8.85 on beam, an 8.7 on bars and a 9.2 on both vault and floor. Franklin senior Liz Traphagen was second for the Panthers on the vault (8.2) and the floor (9.0). Junior Sadie Rondeau was second for the Panthers on both the bars and the beam.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Trailing by two points entering the fourth quarter, Mansfield knew that it would need a spark on the offensive end to come out on top against non-league rival Bishop Feehan in Friday night’s meeting in the James Albertini Gym.
The Hornets put the ball into the hands of junior point guard Mady Bendanillo and she delivered, personally outscoring the Shamrocks 15-12 in the final eight minutes. With Bendanillo leading the way, Mansfield, which had scored 36 points over the first three quarters, put up 30 as a team in the fourth.
Bendanillo finished with a game- and career-high 22 points and added five assists to lead the Hornets to a 66-50 victory over Feehan, which head coach Mike Redding said afterwards was his first coaching win against the Shamrocks.
“She put on a show tonight,” said Redding of Bendanillo. “She was money at the free throw line (9-of-10 in the fourth quarter), hit some big threes, and handled the ball. I think she played more minutes than anybody and never gets tired, never takes a possession off, and she’s definitely coming into her own getting confidence scoring.”
He added, “We know Meg’s going to get some points inside, Ann will hit some threes, but when Mady goes for double digits then we become a really good basketball team.”
Bendanillo got the fourth quarter started with a three-pointer to give the Hornets a one-point edge. After she hit a pair of free throws, junior Maggie Danehy got into the act with a baseline drive and finish to make it 43-38. Feehan scored, but Ann Maher (12 points and four assists) nailed a step-back three from the left wing to push the lead to six.
The speed of Bendanillo allowed her to break the Feehan press and turn any rebound into a quick break and her ability to get to the rim led to five different trips to the line in the quarter. She buried a three (her third of the night) off a Steph Kemp assist for a 51-43 lead then assisted on a Maher three that pushed the lead to nine.
Meg Hill (14 points and 10 boards) had a pair of baskets in the fourth, one off a Maher assist and the other on a putback, and Danehy added a layup, as the Hornets stormed to the final whistle.
“It was just a lot of different contributions when we needed it,” said Redding about the difference on this night compared to other meetings with Feehan in the past. “Where in the past we may have gone flat for a couple minutes and no one would make a play. Tonight we had a bunch of kids making plays to extend it and make it comfortable.”
The game looked similar to recent meetings between the two teams midway through the second quarter. With the Hornets struggling to make shots and with Hill, who had kept Mansfield in the game with eight points in the first quarter, on the bench with her second foul, Feehan built a 24-12 lead and looked poised to break the game wide open.
Instead of the game getting out of hand, the Hornets grabbed hold of the momentum and closed the half with a 14-4 run. Erin Daniel (seven points) drained a three that cut the lead to seven and Bendanillo followed with a steal and layup and then a three off an assist by her twin sister Kara.
After a Kemp steal, Kara Bendanillo scored her only basket of the night to tie the game at 26-26. Although Feehan added a bucket to lead at the break, it was the Hornets that went into halftime happier.
“When Meg got her second [foul], we sat her and said okay we just have to survive these last two [minutes] and we went on an 8-0 run with the subs,” Redding explained. “That really kind of set the tone going into the second half.”
He continued, “All of a sudden we have that run and it’s a ballgame and we came out with some confidence to start the second half.”
Sydney Mulkern hit a three after the break, her only points of the game, to give Mansfield its first lead since it was 2-0. Nicole Smith (15 points) answered with a three for the Shamrocks, but Maher stepped into a kick out pass by Hill to bury a three on the next possession. Daniel added four points in the quarter to keep the Hornets within two heading to the final eight minutes.
“It was a great game,” said Redding. “We’ll have out hands full over there and this will probably end up being the first of three of them. So, they’re all going to be fun to watch. It’s a high level of basketball for both teams.”
Mansfield (4-1, 2-1) will get a few days off before facing Franklin on Dec. 28 with a rematch against Bishop Feehan slated for Jan. 3.
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”
MANSFIELD, Mass. – While it is only about a third of the way through the league campaign, Monday night’s meeting between unbeaten Mansfield and Franklin at Alumni Field was an opportunity for one of the Kelley-Rex’s perennial powers to grab a slim advantage at the top of the table.
It was a opportunity that the defending division champion Hornets would not pass up. Mansfield dominated large portions of the game, created the majority of the few scoring chances that either team managed, and came away with a 3-0 victory that puts it one game up on the Panthers and King Philip.
“We played very well,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith after the game. “It’s good to play like that against a really quality opponent.”
As expected from a meeting between these two programs, the game was combative and fast-paced, but neither team was able to find space for a shot against two well-organized defensive units (the top two defensive teams in the league).
The game changed in the 14th minute when senior Taylor Smith played a long ball out of the back that bounced past the Franklin center backs and into the path of Kerina Geminiani. The junior beat Franklin keeper Cat Robbins to the ball and touched it past her into the open net.
“There’s so much pressure on the defense,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “and eventually someone is going to make a mistake and something bad is going to happen. Even if it’s not your fault, something is going to go wrong with all that pressure in the back.”
The first half was limited in offensive chances for either team. Stephanie Kemp had a shot easily saved by Robbins in the 25th minute, but it was one of only two saves that the keeper was forced into in the game. Meanwhile the Mansfield defense bottled up Franklin midfielder Molly Duncan and held the Panthers without an attempt on goal in the opening 40 minutes.
“We’re getting there,” said Smith about the defense, including Erin Daniel and Mikaela Maughn on the outside and Emily Vigeant and Taylor Smith in the middle. “There’s still a couple breakdowns here or there, lack of concentration, but we’re getting there.”
The defense also popped up with a goal for the Hornets. In the 38th minute, Vigeant lined up a 35-yard free kick. Her effort took a deflection off the end of the Panthers wall and bounced past the dive of Robbins for a 2-0 lead at half.
Smith admitted that goal was important for the Hornets heading into the break. He said, “It would’ve been weird to go in with that much possession, but again give Franklin credit. They really limited us, we didn’t have a lot of shots in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense.”
Franklin made a change of system at halftime to try and give more of a challenge in the midfield. It seemed to work, as the Panthers got their first shot two minutes after the break when freshman Erin Quaile had her shot saved by Lauren Whitman.
Four minutes later, the Panthers nearly got back into the game. Jess Kroushl stole the ball in the midfield and showed off the speed that has made her a track standout to create a chance on the break. Her first effort was blocked and Duncan’s follow-up effort was also blocked by the retreating Mansfield defense.
“When they changed back to four in the middle,” Smith explained, “they overran us a little in the midfield and we had to make some adjustments and find the length in the corners. Once we did that, we could expand them and find space in the middle.”
With seven minutes left to play, the Hornets wrapped up the points. Smith played a long free kick into Allee Bezeau in the box and the senior forward flicked the ball across goal to the back post. Bryn Anderson ran onto it and calmly finished with one touch.
Kroushl gave the Panthers one more chance to ruin Mansfield’s clean sheet but her breakaway with two minutes remaining was stymied by a sliding Whitman, who managed to get a toe on the ball.
“They continued to fight hard,” Geysen said, “but we obviously need to make some changes because we didn’t generate much offense at all. We need to find ways to create some offense to take the pressure off the defense.”
Smith was happy to get the lead in the division, however slim it may be.
“Any kind of cushion gives you a little bit of breathing room,” he said, “but this league is so good…I think out of our last 10 games, seven are against above .500 teams. We might as well start the state tournament now, it’s that kind of quality.”
Mansfield (6-0) will get another top of the table test on Thursday when it plays host to second place King Philip. Franklin (5-1-1) will also be back in action on Thursday when the Panthers host Attleboro.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – After winning the program’s first ever league title last fall, Mansfield comes into this season with a deep and experienced roster, but it was youthful Foxboro that started Thursday evening’s season opener at Alumni Field with energy and confidence. The Warriors were pushing the Hornets back towards their own goal and putting pressure on the Mansfield back line.
But, 15 minutes into the game, the Hornets picked out a pass over the top, a bad bounce took it past the defender, and junior Amanda Mangano slid the ball past Foxboro keeper Jamie DeVellis to open the scoring.
That goal changed the game. The Hornets clicked into gear and dominated from that point on, running out to a 5-1 win behind a pair of goals and three points from junior forward Stephanie Kemp and a pair of assists by senior Emma Oldow.
“Foxboro came out flying. They were physical and quick and tried to press us as high as they could,” said Mansfield coach Kevin Smith. “They had five in the midfield and we couldn’t figure out how to play through it with our typical passing game. I said, stretch the field, just put it over into space. That will stretch them out and then we can go back to the middle.”
He added, “Once we trusted that, two balls over the top and two goals; the game changed because of that.”
Foxboro was putting pressure from the opening whistle, using a high line and high pressure to win the ball and then quickly releasing freshman Jordyn Collins into the channels. Collins was able to run at defenders along with sophomore Lizzy Davis and win the Warriors a few early corners. The best chance in the opening minutes was a 30-yard free kick by Lily Sykes that swerved over the bar.
In the 16th minute, Oldow fired a pass forward towards Mangano and the ball skipped through the center of the Foxboro defense to create a one-on-one with the keeper. Foxboro struggled to sustain the pressure after falling behind.
“We came out on fire and really working hard,” said first-year Foxboro coach Katie Stalcup. “The ball was in our half, we were in the attacking half for the first part of the first half and then they got that goal and we got a little deflated. That’s something I need to talk to the girls about, but they didn’t stop fighting.”
Once the momentum turned, Mansfield took full control of the game. Junior Cassidy McMahon sent a shot wide from the right corner of the box and then sent a free header over the bar from the six-yard box. Kemp, who had an early chance that she sent wide, doubled the lead in the 31st minute when she ran onto a long ball from Erin Daniel, rounded the keeper and tapped it in.
Kemp nearly played provider a minute later, but Oldow shot wide when free on goal and then Kemp missed a chance that DeVellis appeared to get a finger to, but was ruled a corner.
Foxboro could have made the game closer before halftime, but Sykes had a free kick saved at full stretch by Mansfield keeper Caty DeMassi. On the resulting corner, the ball was redirected up and off the bar to keep it 2-0 heading into halftime.
Despite the speed of the Warriors’ attack, the Mansfield defense was able to hold strong, particularly the combination of center backs Emily Vigeant, Daniel, and Taylor Smith, a senior defender who transferred from Seattle, Wash. (and is already committed to play soccer at the University of Minnesota next year).
“It’s nice to have three center backs,” Smith said, “so I can rest them when they need and so many kids are interchangeable. Erin plays defense, midfield, outside back, and I can put the players anywhere.”
The third goal came nine minutes into the second half. Bryn Anderson picked out Oldow with a defense-splitting pass but Foxboro keeper Morgan Sylvestre (who took over at halftime) made a sliding save. The ball bounced out to Kemp, who calmly side-footed the ball home. Two minutes later, Kemp knocked down a long ball, Anderson took a touch to her left, and curled a shot past a diving Sylvestre.
Sykes was being smothered by the Mansfield midfield, with Anderson and fellow junior Melissa Reef constantly keeping an eye on Foxboro’s star. She finally got space in the 54th minute and curled a shot that DeMassi could not hold. Mackenzie Fraser was first to the loose ball and patiently took a touch before finishing the rebound.
“She’s always going to be out there playing a big part in the game,” said Stalcup of Sykes, “but they new who she was and they knew how to shut her down and she had a really hard time tonight.”
In the 57th minute, Mansfield restored its four-goal advantage. Mangano had a chance in the box, but the ball was cleared off her foot by Mackenzie Cusack. The clearance went directly to McMahon on the right side of the box and she hit it first time into the far side-netting.
Smith said, “We talked about using our experience but now playing with urgency. You can’t just say, we’re good and show up. I thought they came out with some urgency, which is good.”
Stalcup knows that it was always going to be difficult starting the season against the defending champ. She said, “We’re a young team, but we know how to battle. We’re going to keep fighting and we can build from that. You can’t teach hard work and we have that.”
Mansfield (1-0) will travel to Canton on Monday night in a crossover game, while Foxboro (0-1) will host unbeaten King Philip.
2016 Record: 2-15-1 2016 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
Goal scoring has been the biggest issue for the Bombardiers in the past few seasons, including a league-low eight in 2016, but head coach Steve Santos is confident that this year’s squad has the speed and experience to take advantage of counter attacks and he expects Attleboro to create a lot more scoring chances this fall.
While goal scoring is a focus of the preseason work, it is at the back that Attleboro boasts the most experience with the entire back line returning. Senior Jordyn Forte is the leader at the back, using her “good soccer IQ,” according to Santos, to keep things calm and making the right plays. She is joined in the defense by fellow seniors Morgan Laplume and Graycen Cassidy. In goal, Madison Brown returns to give Attleboro a solid presence to control the penalty box.
Turning that defense into attack will be the responsibility of senior midfielder Julia Hayes, who will be a key player in the center of the pitch. Junior Ashley Lauzier and senior Kara Thornton will be hoping to take advantage of the opportunities that are created. Santos is also excited about the youth coming into the program with three freshman on the varsity roster to start, including Riley Harnois, who will help out in the attack.
“We have a little more speed this year,” said Santos, “and we’ve been generating a little more in the transition. This year I can rest [the starters], bring people off the bench and the pace doesn’t drop off. They’re great kids, they work hard, and they fight for the team every day.”
2015 Record: 10-3-5 2015 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
After six straight league titles, Franklin had an atypical season in 2016. The Panthers only lost three times all season, but drew five times, struggling to find consistent goal scoring that would turn a tie into a win. Franklin only allowed nine goals, but only scored 36, which was 20 goals fewer than league champ Mansfield. This year, head coach Tom Geysen is working on a new formation to get the best out of his attacking options with the goal of returning to the top of the league standings.
The Panthers return leading scorer Miranda Smith and the senior takes advantage of her size to create scoring opportunities in the box. Junior Halle Atkinson is back for her third year on the varsity and gives Franklin speed on the wings and is an accurate crosser of the ball to give Smith plenty of chances. Molly Duncan and Ellie Teixeira are also back and will give the Panthers a consistent presence in the center of midfield, while Emily Mastaj is another option on the wing.
The key to Franklin’s defense this season will be senior goalie Cat Robbins. Stepping in between the posts last year, Robbins turned in an impressive year and quickly became one of the top goalies in the league. This year, there will be several new faces and younger players that will be counted on to step up on the defensive side of the ball, including senior Molly O’Reilly and juniors Grace Gallo and Madison Stewart.
Geysen noted that there are several underclassmen that could step in during the season to add to the Panthers’ depth. He added, “We need to find the right mix. If we can patch things together and they can gain experience over the course of the season I’m confident that we will get better.”
2016 Record: 12-8-2 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Gary Pichel
It was a great turnaround for King Philip from 2015 to 2016. The Warriors were snakebitten by injuries the year before, losing almost an entire starting 11 many of them to long-term injuries, but last year a large and talented freshman class stepped in to supplement the players who were back healthy helping the program jump from just two wins to 12 last fall.
Expectations are even higher for the Warriors this year, as that freshman group gained a year of experience playing in the Hock. The sophomores are led by Avery Snead, last year’s Underclassman of the Year, who excelled up front or in the midfield and sealed the team’s playoff victory over Mansfield with an overtime headed winner. Chloe Layne showed off silky skills and finishing ability in the box and Olivia Berry stepped right into the heart of the defense and showed that she belonged.
It is not all about the underclassmen. Senior Emma Corcoran is back for another year at the heart of the defense and as the primary dead ball specialist, being named an Eastern Mass. All-Star in 2016. Senior Emma Durant has grown into the role of starting keeper and was a solid and steady presence between the posts last season. Senior Julian Massarone is a three-year varsity player and will be one of the primary playmakers in the center of the pitch.
“Overall, we made great strides in improving our game last year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “We want to continue to become more advanced in all three phases of our game. Last year, we turned a corner. This year, we want to move full speed ahead and compete hard against all of our opponents in the Hock!”
2016 Record: 14-1-4 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions) 2016 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kevin Smith
Mansfield is coming off the program’s best ever season. The Hornets set records for wins, points, goals scored and claimed their first ever league title, finishing the regular season unbeaten. An overtime loss in the first round of the playoffs to league rival KP was a tough finish to 2016 and trying to replace the production of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Hannah Reiter will be a challenge, but the Hornets return a ton of talent to make a run at another title.
Juniors Melissa Reef (an Eastern Mass. All-Star last season) and Bryn Anderson will be back in the midfield this fall, breaking up opponents’ attacks and pushing Mansfield into the attack. Their ability to cover a lot of ground in the center of the pitch and pick out the right pass to start the transition will be key. Classmate Stephanie Kemp will be back at the top of the attack, after scoring nine goals as a sophomore. Junior Emily Vigeant will lead an experienced defensive unit and also gives the Hornets a dangerous weapon from set pieces.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith likes has a lot of players that he can call on this season. In the attack, Kemp will be joined by Sydney Mulkern, Allee Bezeau, Amanda Mangano, Cassidy MacMahon, and Emma Oldow. Defensively, the Hornets will turn to Mikaela Maughn, Kerina Geminiani, Erin Daniel and goalkeeper Lauren Whitman.
Smith said, “We will be hoping to spread out the offense amongst multiple attackers and relying on the experience of 13 juniors and three seniors who were on varsity last year to fill the roles of the five starters who graduated.”
Last fall, Oliver Ames made the switch from the Davenport to the Kelley-Rex division, but it had little effect on the success of the program. The Tigers shared the league title with Mansfield, the fourth title in a row for OA and seventh since 2007. That run of success may be tough to keep going this year, as the Tigers graduated 10 seniors and are battling injuries to start 2017.
Losing players like Francesca Calabraro (who was injured midway through last season) and Kiana Lozzi is tough enough, but the Tigers lost almost an entire starting 11. To make matters worse, the strong central defensive pairing of Emily Freeman (knee) and Zoe Chazan (academy) are both missing to start the season. Senior goalie Regan Benton is back and will give the Tigers one of the best goalies in the league and in Eastern Mass. to backstop the rebuilt defense.
Offensively, the Tigers have been known for pace and strength, particularly on set pieces, and this year will count on three senior to try and provide consistent scoring opportunities. The pacy group of Abby Reardon, Jackie Mills, Annabella Walsh will be the primary focus of the attack. There will be a lot of new faces on the pitch this season, trying to keep the legacy of OA success going for another fall.
“We have quite a few players who had limited minutes last year,” said OA coach Britt Sellmayer, “but they practiced against some good players every day. If we can stay healthy I feel confident.”
It has been a roller coaster ride for the Tigers over the past few seasons under head coach Edith Dixon. In 2015, Taunton reached the postseason for the first time in program history and made it count by beating Wellesley on the road in the opening round and gave top seed Bishop Feehan a tough game in the second round. But, after losing a number of players to graduation, Taunton won only three games last season and are looking to bounce back behind a young roster in 2017.
The key for the Tigers is senior Samantha Tichelaar, who is coming off a league all-star and HockomockSports.com Best XI season, and gives Taunton speed, control, and leadership either as a forward or dropping deep into the midfield. Her versatility opens opportunities for her teammates. Classmate Kayla Felix will be the leader at the back for the Tigers, adding aggressiveness to the defense from her sweeper position.
Numbers are good for the program overall and Dixon expects that the younger players, including a strong crop of freshman and even eighth graders could make an impact on the varsity as the season goes along. She said that many of the younger players are “ahead of their age performance-wise.”
Dixon added, “Some of our younger players are going to step up and change how we play, but our upperclassman and seniors will remain the core of our team. I believe that their leadership and team-first mentality will push us to do well this year and set the program up for long-term success as the underclassmen mature.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield came into Friday night’s Div. 1 South final at Taunton High allowing only 37 points per game, including just 31 points in each of its two playoff victories. Of course, the Hornets had not faced a team like Braintree this season.
The Wamps, perennially one of the top programs in the state, nearly put up double what the Hornets were allowing per game this season. Braintree knocked down nine three-pointers (seven in the first half) and, even with star guard Keelah Dixon sidelined with an injury for the third and fourth quarters, rolled to a 72-43 victory and the team’s fifth South title in the past six years.
“They’re great off the dribble, they had some great drives and when we did double they kicked out,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “We’re a really good defensive team and they were simply at another level tonight executing, shooting…they’ve got a lot of kids who can score in different ways.”
He added, “Offensively, I thought we were okay but the more shots they made our morale dropped a little bit and they just pulled away.”
The Hornets were hanging around early in the game, trailing 10-6 midway through the first quarter, but the Wamps went on a 15-4 run to break the game wide open. Adriana Timberlake (team-high 17 points) and Jenna Roche (14 points) knocked down three from beyond the arc and Isabella Tonetti added eight points in the first.
It only got worse for Mansfield in the second, as the Hornets were held to just two points on a basket by senior Jen Peel (seven points), while Braintree continued to pile on with 15 to hold a 40-12 lead at the break. Dixon (13 points) added seven in the second before hobbling off at halftime.
“They’ve got nine, 10 kids who can play and, you know, they can all handle the ball, they can all shoot the three if you leave them open, and they’re a handful to handle defensively,” said Redding. “On the other end, they’re as good as anyone defensively. That’s a tough combination. We’re a good team and we certainly met our match and were humbled tonight.”
Mansfield rarely gives up 20 points in a half, but on Friday the Hornets twice allowed Braintree to score 20 points in a single quarter. That included the third, as Timberlake scored eight points, including a pair of threes, and Roche added eight of her own.
The third was also Mansfield’s top offensive quarter with 17 points. Junior center Meg Hill scored six of her game-high 19 points (to go along with 10 rebounds), Ann Maher scored off a Mady Bendanillo assist and Peel (eight assists) and Erin Daniel each nailed threes.
Hill added another seven points in the fourth and Maggie Danehy showed flashes with a finish despite contact, but the Wamps continued to execute perfectly against the Hornets defense and cruised to another sectional title and trip to the TD Garden.
Redding noted, “I like how we battled. We scored 30 in the second half. Obviously, it’s too little, too late, but the kids have a lot of heart and played more like our team in the second half.”
Mansfield will bring back all but two players for next season, as it tries to three-peat as Kelley-Rex division champions.
“Our kids had a great year,” Redding said. “To get to the final is a great achievement and it’s tough to lose like this but I’m just so proud of what we had to do to get here. Thirteen of the 15 are back and maybe this experience will get is a little deeper next year.”
One of those seniors who will not be back next year is Peel, who has been a starter for the Hornets for three seasons and turned into one of the top guards in the league. Peel found it tough to score consistently in the playoffs, but Redding knows that the Hornets will miss her next year.
“She’s seeing everyone’s best defender,” explained Redding. “Every time she gets the ball, they’re going to double and help and she’s just not getting much space to breathe let alone shoot. She finds a way; she’s such a competitor.”
Mansfield finished the season at 20-4 and 15-1 in the Hockomock League.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last winter Mansfield edged Attleboro on the final night of the league campaign to earn the program’s second Hockomock title. Coming into this season, the Hornets were young with only two seniors on the roster and a host of talented, if inexperienced, underclassmen.
Hornets coach Mike Redding knew his team would still be good, and would get better over the course of the season, but he had no idea that with three games left to spare Mansfield would have the chance to win back-to-back titles for the first time in program history.
That is exactly what the Hornets accomplished on Monday night. Led by senior point guard Jen Peel, who scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds despite being the focal point of the Attleboro defense, Mansfield pulled out a 54-47 victory in the James Albertini Gym to sweep the season series against the Bombardiers and clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title.
“If you told me we’d clinch a share of the title with three to play, I’d say no way,” said Redding. “I think we were hoping we’d be hanging around at this point and the girls have played above and beyond all year. They played really high-level basketball beyond their years.”
Peel came out firing and buried a pair of threes, as the Hornets jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. She added seven points in the second to give Mansfield a halftime lead and in the fourth quarter Peel knocked down the final two of her five three-pointers on the night to extend the Hornets’ lead to as many as 11 and seal the victory.
“I think the bottom line is Jen Peel took over the game. She hit some big threes, was driving and creating, and played great,” said Redding. He added, “She’s just so good with the ball and her vision is great, she finds open people, and she’s the difference tonight.”
Mansfield got off to a quick start in the first, but Attleboro answered back with an 11-0 run take the lead for the first time. Julia Strachan found Sarah Deyo open in the corner for her second three-pointer of the quarter and a piece of program history.
With that basket, Deyo recorded her 1,222nd career point, which moved her past Becky Hardt (Class of 1994) on the school’s all-time scoring chart. Deyo, who finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds on the night, is now the highest scoring female player in Attleboro history.
“That’s a great testament to her hard work,” said Rick Patch of Deyo’s accomplishment. “She takes a beating, she does a lot of little things, and she’s worked hard for that since elementary school. It’s great for her to see her hard work pay off.”
After Deyo’s slice of history, Kara Bendanillo answered back with a three of her own to tie the game at 11-11. Following a pair of free throws by Sam Pierce (eight points), Bendanillo drove and kicked a pass to Meg Hill (eight points, eight rebounds) for a 15-foot jumper that tied the game at 13 apiece after one.
Despite being in the double bonus for the majority of the second quarter, Attleboro struggled to get consistent offense. Strachan was held scoreless for the entire first half and Deyo had no points in the second. The teams traded baskets with Kim White (eight points) knocking down a jumper and Mish Logie and Jordyn Lako scoring on drives that gave Attleboro its last lead of the game at 21-19.
Erin Daniel came off the bench to give Mansfield a spark, assisting on a Mady Bendanillo (eight points, nine rebounds) three and knocking down a long jumper to tie the game. After a Peel free throw, Ann Maher drove to the basket and Peel hit three from the line to close out the half with a six-point advantage.
Attleboro hung around in the third quarter. Grace Mayer banked in a long jumper from a tough angle, Deyo scored on an offensive rebound, and Strachan hit her only shot from the field to cut the lead to 34-32. Mansfield saw Hill head to the bench with her fourth foul with five minutes remaining in the third, but the Bombardiers struggled to take advantage.
Senior Olivia Broyles gave the Hornets a huge lift with a putback and, after Deyo got a three-point play, she scored on a layup off a Peel assist. Those were her only four points of the game, but Broyles also played an important role as a defensive substitute for Hill down the stretch.
“The hidden hero of the game was Olivia Broyles, just playing unbelievable defense and rebounding when Meg got into some foul trouble,” said Redding.
Patch said, “There was no offensive sync. It was like we were playing downhill; we were playing at a breakneck speed. I think we went like 1-for-8 in the next eight possessions. That would’ve been a point to regain momentum, take the lead, and…we didn’t.”
Maggie Danehy and Hill scored the opening four points of the fourth to give Mansfield a little cushion and then Peel put the game away for the Hornets with three-pointers on back-to-back possessions that extended the lead to 11 at 50-39.
“Jen Peel was just on fire when she needed to be,” said Patch. “She hit big shots when she needed to and that’s why she’s an MVP-caliber player. She makes that team go.”
Redding added, “These are two very, very good games and I’m just praying we don’t play again in D1 South, which could happen and if it does it will be another battle.”
Mansfield (14-2, 12-1) can clinch the outright title on Friday night and avenge its only league loss of the season against Franklin. Attleboro (13-4, 9-4) will also look to avenge an earlier defeat and take control of second place in the division with a trip to Oliver Ames.