Last season, Canton needed a dramatic, overtime win against Weymouth in the regular season finale to end a seven-year state tournament drought. One day short of a full year later and the Bulldogs welcomed the Wildcats for this year’s regular season finale in second place in the Davenport division and several weeks after securing a much quicker return to the state tournament.
The Wildcats would make Tuesday night’s game interesting, cutting the Canton lead down from as many as 16 in the second half to just three points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs closed on a 9-3 run to earn the 57-48 victory. It was the 14th win of the season for Canton, which is the program’s highest win total in at least 23 years.
“From the beginning, the whole team has had their sights set on having a great postseason,” Canton coach Jim Choquette explained. “Last year, we were happy to make it there, which we were able to accomplish, and this year I know the girls are excited to try and make a good run and trying to play our best at the end of the year and extend the season as long as possible.”
Canton also celebrated senior night on Tuesday and, as Choquette is quick to point out, the graduating class has made great strides over the past four years. As freshmen, the current seniors went 6-14. They have now flipped that record completely, made back-to-back playoff appearances, and are the program’s winningest class in two decades.
“It’s awesome,” said senior Julia Hamilton. “It’s pretty amazing to me. Everyone’s put in so much hard work to come this far and prove to everyone else that we deserve to be in the tournament and one of the teams that people have to watch out for.”
On senior night, Nicole Galvin, who has been injured this season, was able to take the floor for the opening tip. Her classmates then took over to put Canton in front early.
With Weymouth ahead 10-7, senior Molly Ludwig drove to the basket for a layup to cut the lead to one. On the following possession, senior Maggie Connolly (four assists) kicked it out to Hamilton for the first of her two threes in the first quarter. That put the Bulldogs up 12-10 and they wouldn’t trail again.
Freshman Kiara Cerruti (team-high 14 points) scored on a drive to the basket and senior Erin Devine (eight points and five rebounds) followed with a basket off one of Hamilton’s six assists. Hamilton then nailed her second triple to make it 19-14 and Ludwig closed the quarter with her second basket for a six-point lead, 21-15.
Fay Gallery scored to start the second quarter, extending the lead to eight, but the Wildcats rallied with seven straight points to get back within one. Canton closed the half on a 9-0 run to take back control. Devine started the run with a layup off a Sydney Gallery (eight points) pass and then Fay Gallery got free in transition for a layup. Cerruti nailed a three and Sydney Gallery got an open look off an inbounds play to push the Canton lead to double digits at the break.
The second half started like the first, with Canton in control. Connolly and Lilah Milton got baskets to start the third and a Sydney Gallery steal and layup pushed the lead to 40-24, but Weymouth bounced back with an 8-0 run to end the quarter.
The run extended to 11-0 thanks to a Kerin McCarthy three-point play to start the fourth, but Sydney Gallery answered with an offensive rebound and score. After a Weymouth basket, Connolly got free in transition and Kayla Albert knocked down a jumper on an inbounds play.
“The four times we’ve played Weymouth their fourth quarter finish has been outstanding,” said Choquette. “One thing we said during one of the timeouts was don’t try and hang on and win this, we really need to finish the game and that was a nice change.”
He added, “A lot of it just comes down to execution. We had an inbounds play where we executed terribly and they got a five-second call on it. We got the ball back and ran an offensive play where we executed perfectly and got a layup. How well we can execute will determine how well we do in the tournament.”
Weymouth again got the lead to just three points at 48-45, but Fay Gallery responded with a drive down the lane for two and then a three off a Hamilton drive and dish. A pair of free throws by Cerruti and a layup for Sydney Gallery clinched the win in the final minute.
Canton (14-6, 11-5) will be in the top half of the Div. 2 bracket and will find out its seed on Friday.
Hamilton said, “It’s our responsibility [as seniors] to show more leadership and the experience that we have from the playoffs last year. As long as everyone keeps working hard, it’s just a team game…It’s really exciting and it’s my senior year and I don’t want this to end.”
Sharon, 40 @ Attleboro, 68 – Final – Attleboro scored 19 points in the second quarter to create a double-digit advantage and then outscored the Eagles 20-5 in the third to run away with the victory. The Bombardiers had four players in double figures, led by junior Qualeem Charles’ 15 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Bryant Ciccio added 13 points, Tim Callahan had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kevin Velazquez finished with 10 points. Andrew Burton had eight points and Kiran Chandrasekaran added seven points for the Eagles.
Canton, 58 @ Taunton, 63 – Final – The Tigers and Bulldogs were tied 38-38 after three quarters but Taunton was able to outscore the visitors 25-20 in the final frame to get the win. Taunton senior John Martins scored 25 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to pace the shorthanded Tigers. Michael Quinn tied a career-high with 17 points and sophomore Danny MacDougall scored six points in his varsity debut. Canton’s Devin Foster had a game-high 25 points, including surpassing the 1,000 point plateau for his career. Kyle Fitzgerald added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 37 @ Franklin, 61 – Final – Franklin raced out to a 13-0 start but Foxboro battled back to make it a six-point game (29-23) at half. But the Panthers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 23-5 in the frame and allowed a total of 14 points in the second half to earn the win. Franklin senior Will Harvey had a career-high 15 points while Jalen Samuels and Thomas Gasbarro each added eight points. Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored a team-high eight points.
Stoughton, 52 @ Mansfield, 72 – Final – Stoughton kept it close for three quarters but Mansfield finished strong to earn the win at home. The Hornets led by six (21-15) after one and eight (32-24) at halftime. The Black Knights kept pace with Mansfield in the third but couldn’t overcome a nine-point deficit heading into the final quarter. Mansfield won the fourth 18-7 to secure the win. Junior Sam Stevens had a team-high 14 points, sophomore TJ Guy added 13 points, senior Tommy Dooling hit four three pointers for 12 points, and junior Owen Mullahy netted a career-high 10 points. Junior center Tahkwan Gates Brown led the Black Knights with 12 points.
Attleboro, 44 @ Sharon, 52 – Final – Emma Eberhardt scored 22 points to pace the Eagles to an important home win. Telishya Herbert also got into double digits for Sharon, scoring 10 points.
Taunton, 43 @ Canton, 54 – Final – Sydney Gallery scored a game-high 15 points to get the Bulldogs back in the win column. Erin Devine also came off the bench to add eight points and a strong presence on the boards for Canton. The Tigers were led by Lily Patneaude’s 13 points.
Mansfield, 61 @ Stoughton, 32 – Final – Sydney Mulkern continued her string of strong performances with 12 points for the Hornets, who broke open the game by holding Stoughton to just 12 points in the second half. Mady Bendanillo added nine and Emily Vigeant had eight in the win. Stoughton junior Aliyah Wright had a team-high 11 points.
Oliver Ames, 90 @ Milford, 29 – Final
Foxboro, 57 @ Milford, 87 – Final – Foxboro’s Dimitri Davis and Thomas Perry Jr. each had individual wins and the Warriors’ 400 relay team took first but Milford earned the win in the pool. Davis won the 100 backstroke (1:20), Perry Jr. took first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24), and the team of Jared Roke, Kris Andersen, Josh Sitte, and Spencer SanBento (5:37) won the 400 relay for Foxboro.
Foxboro, 78 @ Milford, 83 – Final – Foxboro’s 400 relay team took first while Pam Nelson and Lindsey Nelson each had individual wins but Milford edged the Warriors for the win. The team of Gina Ouellette, Jenna Stamatov, Kendall Milender, and Shannon Egan touched in 4:48 to win the 400 relay. Pam Nelson was the winner in the 200IM (2:31) and Linsey Nelson was first in the 100 breaststroke (1:24).
CANTON, Mass. – King Philip kept fighting back in the second half, closing the gap to as little as five points in the fourth quarter, but for the second time in three games Canton went to the free throw line and sealed a victory.
Five days before, Canton came from behind to beat division rival Stoughton with nine free throws in the final minutes. On Tuesday night, at home, the Bulldogs were at it again, shooting 11-of-12 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to hold off the Warriors and pull out a 53-41 victory. It is a fourth straight victory for Canton.
“It’s tough for other teams because if they foul one girl she’s making her free throws and if they foul another girl, she’s hitting her free throws,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We’re doing a good job moving the ball, getting it to the right girls at the right times and the girls are really doing it – they’re executing from the line and it’s obviously something that puts us in situations to win.”
The Warriors needed to come from behind with a strong fourth quarter to beat Taunton last time out and got off to another tough start on Tuesday. Canton jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter. Julia Hamilton scored six of her game-high 14 points in that run, knocking down a pair of three-pointers, and freshman Fay Gallery scored five of her 13 points to get Canton off to the perfect start.
“Frustration got us,” said KP coach Amy Siggens about the tough start. “If someone misses a shot, they’re young kids and we’re teaching them that you have to move on and get over it and it’s been a struggle. We had a 14-day break and we’ve been on the road since and it’s been tough.”
KP did cut into the lead as leading scorer Faye Veilleux (14 points and 12 rebounds) knocked down a corner three and then a pull-up jumper in transition, but Lilah Milton’s offensive rebound and putback put the Bulldogs up 17-9 after one.
The second quarter was a defensive struggle. Kiara Cerruti (10 points) nailed a three off a Hamilton assist to start the scoring but Canton managed only eight points in the quarter. Gallery also hit a three and Erin Devine scored on an offensive rebound, but that was all.
Despite the lack of scoring, Canton extended its lead by a couple of points because its defense held the Warriors to just six points in the second. Caroline Aaron scored on a back-cut and nice dish from Emma Glaser and then Faith Roy (five points) drilled a three, but it was a 10-point lead for Canton at the break.
Things picked up offensively for both teams in the third quarter. Cerruti started the third with a three but KP cut the lead down to just eight. Catherine Cummings, Glaser, Julia Leroux, and Taylor Butler all scored buckets to get the lead down to single digits.
“We came back into it in the second half,” Siggens said. “I was impressed with how they came out and fought for it a little more than we did in the first half. We saw some different combinations and we’re still figuring it out day to day and see what works.”
Cerruti scored off a steal and then Hamilton drilled another one from beyond the arc to get the Bulldogs back on track and give them an 11-point cushion heading to the fourth.
KP scored the first six points of the final quarter, as the game got even more frenetic. Veilleux scored twice and Butler knocked down a jumper to make it 38-33. Canton answered right back with a 6-0 run. Hamilton sank a pair at the line, Sydney Gallery (six points) got a layup, and Fay Gallery (five steals) got an offensive rebound and scored.
Choquette explained, ,”One of the strengths for us this season is different people doing different things during games. Kiara has led us in scoring a number of games and tonight she guarded Roy and held her scoreless in the second half. [Roy’s] having an amazing year and I told Kiara that this was a terrific defensive performance.”
Brianna James scored and got fouled. She missed the free throw but KP got the offensive board and Veilleux swung it around to Courtney Keswick for a basket. Trailing by nine, Veilleux managed to fire a pass from halfcourt to James for another layup. It was KP’s last basket.
“It really comes down to fundamentals,” said Siggens. “They’re a great team, they outplayed us and they out-hustled us.”
Sydney Gallery and Maggie Connolly (nine rebounds and four steals) each hit a pair at the line and Canton walked away with a fourth victory in the last seven days.
“This is our fourth game in seven days, so towards the end of the game I’m not surprised if people are a little tired,” Choquette said. “We come out and do wonderful things and then get a little tired, which is why I think one of the strengths of our team is the entire team, it’s 13 girls, it’s the bench, it’s everyone coming in and contributing.”
Canton (5-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday night at Sharon, while King Philip (4-2) will try to bounce back at Attleboro.
Canton, 65 vs. Milton, 57 – Final – Canton senior Devin Foster poured in a career-high 33 points to lead the Bulldogs to a key non-league win over visiting Milton. Foster hit five three-pointers, including four in the first half. Foster had 10 points in the opening quarter and finished the first half with 23 points. Sophomore Eric Mischler added 10 points, all in the first half, while senior Ryan Lentol came alive in the second half with all eight of his points coming in the third and fourth quarters.
Canton, 45 vs. Milton, 38 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-point lead by halftime, but Milton stormed back into the game by limiting Canton to only three points in the third quarter. The Wildcats got as close as three points, but Canton pulled out the victory. Kiara Cerruti led the way for Canton with 15 points and eight rebounds. Classmate Sydney Gallery added 11 points and six boards, while Fay Gallery scored 10 points and had five rebounds. Erin Devine had seven rebounds in the win.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 3 vs. Whitman-Hanson, 2 – Final – MOA used a late power play goal to secure a win and two points against Whitman-Hanson. Whitman-Hanson took a 1-0 lead but the Warriors answered off the stick of freshman Kylie O’Keefe, assisted by classmates Cierra Doherty and Skyler Sharfman. MOA took a lead in the second period when Sharfman fired a wrist shot in six minutes into the second. The Panthers answered early in the third but the line of O’Keefe, Doherty, and Sam Ledin was able to draw a penalty. Mackenzi Fraser found Izzy Shanteler below the goal line, and she found Emma Pereira out in front for the game-winner.
FOXBORO, Mass. – There are a lot of new faces on Foxboro this season and players jumping into bigger roles for the defending Div. 2 state champions, but some things haven’t changed for the Warriors. The game is still played at a fast pace, the defense is still aggressive, and Foxboro continues to win Davenport games.
One of the returning starters is sophomore Katelyn Mollica and on Friday night, even with Canton senior Maggie Connolly (seven steals) hounding her for three quarters, she dominated. Mollica scored a career-high 31 points, including 17 in the third quarter alone to lift the Warriors to a 86-61 win in an early season divisional clash.
“She’s unreal, and that step-back…you can’t defend against that,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs about Mollica’s offensive game. “Once we were able to fast break too that got her in the open court with the ball in her hands, so that freed her up and she’s money at the free throw line.”
Connolly was also the star on offense for the Bulldogs, scoring a career-high 22 points in the loss, but this game was a learning experience for Canton’s talented underclassmen.
“Even if some of these girls who were on the court tonight weren’t during last year’s run, they were at practices and seeing how it has to be done to be successful,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette about the Warriors. “Our girls are young and trying to figure that out.”
Foxboro jumped out to its speed right from the opening tip, taking a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes and with four different players getting on the board. Canton tried to get back into by forcing turnovers, with Connolly getting out on the break and finishing a pair of three-point plays on her way to a 12-point first quarter.
The Warriors just kept scoring, with Chelsea Gibbons (13 points) putting in five in the first and Mollica adding six, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just 20-16. On the first play of the second, Julia Hamilton lobbed a pass into Erin Devine for an easy layup that made it a two-point game.
It would be as close as the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the night, as Foxboro outscored Canton 24-11 in the second to take control of the game.
Mollica added eight in the quarter, including six from the free throw line, and Abby Hassman (the other returning starter from the state title game) scored six of her eight mostly driving the ball to the basket. Junior Lizzy Davis and sophomore Adrienne Dunn each added a three top open up a 17-point lead at the break.
“I was just angry,” Downs said about the discussion between the first two quarters. “We weren’t looking up quick enough. Our fast break wasn’t working because we were getting two or three dribbles too long and not going up the sideline. Once we started getting it into a track meet that opened things up.”
One area that Foxboro dominated was on the glass. Hassman (10 rebounds) and junior Yara Fawaz (seven boards) led the way for the Warriors, using their athleticism and quickness to control the paint. Canton also battled foul trouble for much of the first half, forcing a lot of subbing and rotating the lineup.
Choquette said, “Both games we were in the same boat. Some of the younger girls just have to adjust and realize they call it a little tighter. On the other hand, I like that they’re being aggressive, they’re not scared, and they’re not backing down.”
Mollica took over in the third. After back-to-back baskets by Gibbons extended the lead to 22 points, Mollica stepped back for a three-pointer, then hit a pull-up jumper in transition, and scored again on the break to push the advantage to 59-30.
Freshmen Sydney Gallery (nine points) and Kiara Cerruti (10 points) scored buckets for the Bulldogs, but then Mollica drilled a pair of threes to avoid any slip in the momentum.
In the fourth, Canton tried to claw back with Connolly adding six more points and the talented group of freshmen starting to find their footing. Syndey Gallery scored six in the quarter, while her sister Fay added five of her nine points and Cerruti scored four. It wasn’t enough to get Canton back in the game but it was a positive way to finish the night.
“This is a great test for where we are right now,” said Choquette. “We can get back to practice the next few days, get ready for Franklin, and then have two weeks to fully dissect everything and what we need to improve on.”
Downs praised her bench for being able to hold onto the lead in the fourth, including six points from junior Julia Kelley, but also praised the Bulldogs. “Those freshmen are good,” she said, “so once they get a couple games under their belt it’s going to be a totally different Canton team.”
Foxboro (2-0) will try to stay unbeaten when it travels to Taunton on Wednesday night. Canton (1-1) will look to bounce back with a tough trip to unbeaten Franklin.
2017-2018 Record: 9-13 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.
The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.
Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.
“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-11 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.
While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.
Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.
“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”
2017-2018 Record: 26-2 2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship. Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.
Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.
Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.
Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 15-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round. Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.
Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.
The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.
“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.
O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.
The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.
There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.
The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.
Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.
It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.
While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.
The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.
Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.
Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.
The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.
“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”
2017-2018 Record: 16-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.
Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.
Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”
2017-2018 Record: 2-18 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sanda Lombardi
It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.
Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.
“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.
It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.
While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.
“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”
2017-2018 Record: 7-15 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.
Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.
Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.
“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”
Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Volleyball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Lauren McGrath, Franklin
Hockomock League All Stars
Chelsea Calcagni, Attleboro
Nicole Brown, Canton
Erin Devine, Canton
Megan McDonough, Canton
Grace Boudreau, Foxboro
Lauren McGrath, Franklin
Riley Marino, Franklin
Ellie Wisniewski, Franklin
Catherine Waldeck, King Philip
Greenly Kelly, Mansfield
Sydney Sutton, Milford
Tatiana Sotelo, North Attleboro
Hayley Gaskin, North Attleboro
Sadie Homer, Oliver Ames
Allison Kemp, Oliver Ames
Jade Veth, Sharon
Hanna Holden, Stoughton
Molly Turner, Stoughton
McKenzie Lucie, Taunton
Anastasia Leonardo, Attleboro
Julia Minichiello, Canton
Pam Nelson, Foxboro
Margaret Doyle, Franklin
Nicole Coughlan, King Philip
Emily Dardinski, Mansfield
Nina Pinto, Milford
Kylie Melanson, North Attleboro
Jordan Bosse, Oliver Ames
Abby Fine, Sharon
Delaney Nagel, Stoughton
Kamila Cuevas, Taunton
WELLESLEY, Mass. – Momentum is a key to any high school volleyball match. Teams build up confidence and go on scoring runs, which is amplified when that run closes out a critical fourth set and keeps a season alive.
Groton-Dunstable went on that type of run in the Div. 2 Central final on Saturday afternoon at Wellesley High, winning nine of the last 11 points to pull out the fourth set 25-19 and force a decisive final set. The momentum from that run to keep the season alive, helped the Crusaders take control of the fifth and deny Canton its first sectional title since 2012.
The Crusaders won the fifth set 15-7, including eight of the last nine points, to beat the Bulldogs 3-2 (20-25, 25-14, 16-25, 25-19, 15-7) and claim the Central title.
“It’s a game of momentum, but unfortunately in the end they had the momentum,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “They did carry it over [from the fourth set] and we didn’t have an answer for it. We played a little tight on serve-receive…we didn’t get our offense going at all.”
Canton got off to a strong start to the match in a back-and-forth opening set. Despite dealing with the strong hitting and blocking abilities of Crusaders star Lily Blodgett, the Bulldogs were able to get into a groove with Taylor Harris and Theresa O’Brien on the outside. The five-point edge that Canton ended the set with was the largest lead for either team in the first.
Groton-Dunstable answered right back with a dominant second set. Blodgett was in total control and had the Bulldogs out of sorts at the start, particularly middle hitter Erin Devine, who had a couple of hits blocked in the first and had to be creative to get good looks.
“She (Blodgett) blocked her a lot, but I was proud of Erin because she scored a lot of points in different ways,” Cawley said.
Devine and the Bulldogs bounced right back in the third and had their strongest set of the match. Devine got things started with a kill and then Harris added two on the outside, as Canton jumped in front 10-2. After the Crusaders cut the lead to five points, Harris again found a hole in the G-D defense for a big points and a 12-6 lead.
Everything seemed to be working for the Bulldogs in the third. Olivia Chinsen and libero Megan McDonough each had an ace, Rose Hazam came off the bench and was able to scramble a ball over the net that dropped in for a point, Bailey Shea had a kill in the middle, and Liz Bickett snagged a point for Canton as well.
The fourth set was also back-and-forth, as the two teams were within no more than three points of each other until the final stretch. Groton-Dunstable built an early 6-3 lead, but Canton answered right back with kills from Shea and Harris. Harris also earned a point with a block and setter Nicole Brown (who Cawley called the “glue of the team”) stepped up to the net for a block that made it 11-10.
With the score tied at 16-16, the Bulldogs won the type of point that had its fans thinking the trophy was heading to Canton. After a long rally between the teams, Harris managed to dig a tough hit, Brown hustled to keep the play alive and then McDonough not only bumped the ball back across the net from outside the court but also saw it drop in for the point and the lead.
G-D looked unfazed, winning the next three points to regain the advantage and force a Canton timeout. The set was closed out on back-to-back aces by Crusaders libero Peter White, who was a defensive stalwart for the Groton-Dunstable back line.
“Obviously, they didn’t let the ball fall on their side, so they could run their offense,” Cawley explained. “Their defense was better than just about any we faced this season.”
The fifth and deciding set started out even, with the teams trading the first six points. After a pair of Crusaders kills, Harris stepped up and found space down the line to make it 5-4. Carolyn Mullins, who stepped up in the middle when Blodgett was on the bench, had a kill and a block to extend the lead.
A kill from Shea and a mishit got Canton back within one and gave the Bulldogs hope that they could turn things around, but three straight points, including a pair of aces from White, put the Crusaders in the driver’s seat.
“We hung in their in the first half of the fifth set and then we had some trouble with serve-receive and we just couldn’t get out of it,” said Cawley.
Canton’s struggles with serve-receive continued down the stretch as the Crusaders won two more service points before Blodgett put an exclamation point on her night with one final kill to seal the championship.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team tonight,” Cawley said. “None of them had played in the tournament before. This was the first time for every single one of them. Their growth from last year to this year has been amazing.”
For Canton (19-3), this was an impressive bounce back year. The Bulldogs regained their spot atop the Davenport division and reached the sectional final through a complete team effort.
Cawley said, “It was big growth in their confidence level as well as their skill level. They put all out there and it just didn’t go our way.”
She added, “I carried 18 kids on my team and I can honestly say for the first time ever all 18 of them I could put in there and feel confident. Every day someone new stepped up.”
Devine had a team-high 16 kills (with just two hitting errors) and added seven blocks while Harris added 15 kills, 12 digs, and four blocks. It’s just the second time this season that both players reached double-digit kills in the same match.
Even though Canton was the top-seed, the match took place at Medway High, which was a predetermined site by the MIAA. However, it wasn’t selected as the location until the semifinalists were set.
“They worked really hard on not letting the crowd get in their head,” Cawley said. “You have to beat the best to be the best, we’re going to be on the road from now on anyways. Granted we won’t be in someone else’s home gym, but we’ll still be on the road. And if you want to win it all, you have to be good on the road.” g
While both players had strong games offensively, the key to the game came down to matchups. After the Mustangs took the first set, Cawley did her best to figure out how to get Devine matched up with Medway star Maegan Hladick, who had eight kills in the first game alone.
Canton actually had a strong start to the first game, jumping out to a 6-2 lead but Medway worked its way back into the match and rattled off a 10-3 run to take a 12-9 lead. The Bulldogs responded with some strong play, including a couple of nice serves from Megan McDonough (12 digs), and took a 20-16 lead.
But after a Medway timeout, the Mustangs won five of the next six points to tie the first set 21-21. Despite a timeout from Canton, Medway won the next four points, including a pair of kills from Hladick, to secure a 25-21 victory to go up 1-0.
Cawley elected to try and get Devine and senior Bailey Shea on the opposite side of the net to try and get a block on Hladick.
“We didn’t change after the first game but we matched up better because they changed their rotation,” Cawley said. “When they started with the serve, they changed it and it was a better matchup for us. Going into the third, I had a feeling he was going to switch his rotation so I moved mine and luckily we matched up. We were lucky with the rotation, it’s a lot of guess work.
“We were trying to get Erin and Bailey, our two best blockers, to line up with [Hladick]. Because she plays the outside, she’s not blocking Erin so I wasn’t really too concerned who was blocking Erin, I just wanted to block [Hladick].”
The matchup change worked well for the Bulldogs, as Hladick finished with just four kills in the second set. While Canton led for the majority of the match — going up 12-6 after a big kill from Devine, and 16-10 off the hand of Devine again — Medway continued to battle back.
The Mustangs got within three 18-15, and then notched four straight points to go up 19-18 to force another Bulldog timeout. Canton came out with renewed energy, but the Bulldogs trailed 22-21. Devine landed a kill to tie it, a strong serve from Julia Minichiello resulted in a 23-22 lead, and Devine landed a big block on Hladick for a 24-22 lead. Medway got within one but saw its final hit go into the net with Devine and Shea ready for the block.
The third set was close throughout, with nine ties in the first 26 points, the last coming at 13-13. But Devine landed a kill and blocked an attack, and Harris landed back-to-back kills for a 17-13 lead. Canton kept the lead the rest of the way, but Medway did get close at 19-18, but before the Mustangs could tie it, Cawley called a timeout.
“I just reminded them that we have the lead and we have to play like we have the lead,” Cawley said. “We have to play aggressive and strong, and to their credit they did it. It was such a back and forth match. We battled so hard last year, we had a rough year but they stuck together and they deserved this. They gained a lot of confidence by sticking together. We’re really a team.”
Coming out of the timeout, Canton won six of the final seven points, getting a kill and an ace from Harris in the span to win 25-19 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Harris finished with eight kills, a block, and an ace in the third game.
“We need that second option if we’re going to win,” Cawley said. “Taylor hits the ball the hardest, she’s just trying to find her groove and keep it in play while still being aggressive. She’s working really hard on it, and she’s also a really good defensive player. She plays all six spots for her, she’s upped her game for us. She played well against Holliston too so I think she plays well under pressure.”
The momentum from the win in the third set carried over into the fourth set. Devine landed a kill and had a block, Shea, Rose Hazam, and Nicole Brown (28 assists, 11 digs, six kills) all had a kill, and Harris added two kills as Canton raced out to a 12-2 lead.
The strong beginning was all Canton needed as the Bulldogs went on to win the fourth set 25-9 to secure a 3-1 victory.
Canton volleyball (19-2) advances to the D2 Central Final and will play the winner of #2 Groton-Dunstable (18-2) and Westboro (17-3) on Saturday at Wellesley with a time to be determined. It marks the fifth time in the last seven years that Canton has reached the sectional final.