Rocketeers Run Away With Win Over Black Knights

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro senior George Ladd goes up for a shot in the first half against Stoughton. Ladd finished with 21 points. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro boys basketball team was on the verge of running away with a win during the third period, but visiting Stoughton made enough plays to stay in striking distance.

When given a second chance to put the game to bed, the Rocketeers didn’t take their foot off the pedal and ran away with a 61-36 decision over the Black Knights.

North extended its lead to 15 points with three minutes left in the third but the Black Knights chipped away, led by some hustle plays from junior Connor Andrews. Andrews took a charge and hauled in a pair of defensive rebounds on one end, and scored five straight on the other end to keep the visitors’ hopes alive, down 36-26.

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But the Rocketeers’ offense couldn’t be contained in the fourth quarter. Senior George Ladd (eight rebounds) scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final frame, taking advantage of Stoughton turnovers and second-chance points. North ended up with 25 points in the quarter, pulling away for the win.

“In the third quarter we kind of relaxed a little and took our foot off the gas,” admitted North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins, who is in his eighth year at the helm. “In the fourth, I thought our defensive focus was better, our rebounding focus was better, and our attention to protecting the ball was better and I think that was the difference. We thought we had a better man-to-man defense scheme than we executed the first game so we worked a lot on that in practice.”

Junior Casey Poirier set the tone in the first minute, taking a charge as the Rocketeers’ defense forced back-to-back turnovers to start the quarter. On the other end, senior Edan Kelley (seven points, five assists) found Ladd cutting backdoor on an inbounds play, a lob finished plus the foul for a three-point play and the Rocketeers were off and running.

Kelley found Jared Vacher for two and Ladd hit two free throws after a Stoughton turnover. Kelley and Ladd hooked up once again with the latter using a nice scoop finish. Poirier’s hard drive drew the defense’s attention and Ladd was there to finish again. Vacher missed the front end of a one-and-one but grabbed his own miss and snuck a layup in.

Three of Stoughton’s next four possessions resulted in turnovers, the last two turning into back-to-back buckets for Ladd and Brody Rosenberg (11 points, seven rebounds), as North opened the quarter with a 17-7 run and took a 53-33 lead with just over three minutes to go.

North Attleboro boys basketball

“We’re not really a team that gets up and forces a lot of turnovers, we’re trying to play solid defense without giving up easy ones,” Mulkerrins said. “With everything going on this season, lack of practice, roster moves, I think that’s naturally going to lead to turnovers so if you can just be solid defensively, more often than not you’ll be in a good spot.”










Besides the first basket of the game from Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi (eight points, 11 rebounds), the Rocketeers never trailed. The response was a 14-2 run in the opening quarter. Rosenberg sliced through the defense, Ladd cleaned up a miss, Kelley confidently sank a triple, Poirier hit one from the line and Ladd scored again. Kelley scored back-to-back baskets and North stretched its lead to double digits in the opening quarter.

“When a couple of things go wrong, and it feels like we’re down a hundred then we try to make up all the points on one play instead of slowly chipping away at it,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “I think it starts with a better start at the beginning of the game.”

“I think the biggest concern is on the offensive end. We’ve been playing pretty well defensively, holding teams to reasonable scores besides tonight. But we’re just not scoring enough, we’re not being aggressive enough. I don’t think we’re being unselfish enough. We have too many guys looking for their own shot and it shows on the scoreboard. Our offense as a whole needs to play more together.”

The second was a bit better for the Black Knights, who outscored the hosts 10-9 in the frame. Both Andrews and Jake Queeney connected from three-point range to keep Stoughton close but North got some key contributions from its bench, as it did throughout the entire game.

After Queeney’s triple cut the deficit to four, Nate Bennett’s hustle led to a putback off his own miss. And Rosenberg hit a key triple late in the quarter, getting an open look after a nice off-ball screen from Jason Rodriguez.

The contributions from the bench continued into the third as Tommy Onorato knocked down a triple on one end and Rodriguez stepped in to take a charge on Stoughton’s ensuing possession.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I have all the faith in the world in every single one of these kids,” said Mulkerrins, who played his entire available roster, most in meaningful minutes. “They are here every day, working hard in practice…we’re trying to pride ourselves this year on having really competitive practices and giving guys a chance. We talk about when guys come off the bench, the energy level has to go up. We had guys do that tonight, Jason Rodriguez stepped up and his focus was there, we got the ball in his hand on offense. I was really proud of the group tonight, they really made the best of their minutes.”

Stoughton got a stop early in the third but the defensive rebound was quickly turned over and Rosenberg dished it off to Ladd for two. Two more from Rosenberg and Onorato’s three pushed North’s lead to 32-17.

North Attleboro (2-1) returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to take on Canton (3-1). Stoughton (0-4) will look for its first win when it hosts Foxboro on the same day.

North Attleboro boys basketball

Canton Closes Strong To Knock Off Knights

Canton boys basketball Eric Mischler
Canton senior Eric Mischler beats the buzzer with a shot over Stoughton defenders at the end of the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Canton entered Thursday night’s contest against Stoughton well aware it was at a severe height disadvantage.

Canton boys basketball

And as the game went on, the Black Knights slowly found ways to get the ball into the paint to exploit that advantage.

But in crunch time, with the game hanging in the balance, the Bulldog defense slammed the door shut. Canton didn’t give Stoughton a single look inside, holding the Knights scoreless for the final 3:33 of the game to secure a 46-40 win on the road.

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Senior Eric Mischler took a pass from Steve Burbank and drained a three early in the fourth to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game, 41-33. But over the next three minutes, the Black Knights clawed back into it.

Canton boys basketball

Jake Queeney crashed the offensive glass for an uncontested putback, KC Ugwuakazi (15 points, 12 rebounds) converted putback, and two possessions later, converted an old-fashioned three-point play to bring the hosts within one possession, down 43-40.

The Black Knights, however, never attempted another shot from in close the rest of the way, nor did they get a second chance on offense as Canton cleaned up the boards. Stoughton’s final seven possessions resulted in two turnovers and five three-point attempts.

“For us, it was about ball pressure, pressuring the guy making the pass,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy, now in his 10th season at the helm of the Bulldogs. “KC is a problem down low, he is a good player. “Sometimes we did a good job of it and they struggled to get the pass in and it allowed our help defense to rotate, and the times we were late they got good touches and scored. I thought it all about just pressuring them.”

Junior Lanse Dorcelus sliced through the Stoughton defense and scored at the rim with just under two minutes to play to pad Canton’s lead. More stops and a free throw from Dillon Nguyen sealed the deal.










“I think a lot of just comes back to practice,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “It’s obviously a strange year, this is only our fourth day that we’ve been together in the past two weeks and two of those days were games. I think as the season goes on, we’ll eliminate some of the mistakes you saw tonight, we’ll study the film more, and get back on track.”

“Canton was doing a good job [preventing it], they are a good defensive team, well-coached but we just didn’t execute,” Taylor said about getting enough paint touches. “We were trying to get some looks inside but I think the lack of execution comes from the lack of practice.”

Mischler (game-high 17 points) helped the Bulldogs get off to a strong start on the offensive end. The team’s leading scorer last season, the Black Knights bottled Mischler up on Tuesday night, holding the senior to just eight points. On Thursday, Mischler came out and hit an early three and had six points in the opening quarter.

Canton boys basketball

After just two makes in the first quarter, Stoughton’s offense found a bit of a groove in the second. Connor Andrews came off the bench with five straight points and the Knights scored six straight attacking the rim. Elisha Claude, the defending Hockomock League champion in the indoor high jump who is playing hoops this season with track delayed, drained a triple and Stoughton had its largest lead at 21-17.

Canton was quick to answer as Nguyen found Mischler wide open cutting to the basket, Dorcelus tied the game on a fast break, and Mischler hit a turnaround midrange jumper at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a 23-21 lead at the break.

“[Stoughton] did a really good job on Eric on Tuesday,” Gordy said. “To his credit, Eric watched a ton of film and studied some things he wasn’t doing right and he just came out with a different mindset tonight. He came out like a senior all-star, it’s his team. His mindset and approach was great after they had a really good game plan on Tuesday. And when other guys are hitting shots, it opens up everything.”




A putback from Matt Giglio and a layup from Mischler were answered by back-to-back buckets from Ugwuakazi down low in the paint. And a corner three just before the shot clock from Brady Conlin had the Black Knights ahead.

But the Bulldogs had three players step up and deliver shots over the final four minutes of the quarter that gave the visitors the lead for good. First, Burbank drained a triple for a 30-28 lead. After Waseem Sablon put Stoughton up with 1:32 to play, Ryan Connerney made three straight big plays. First, a strong take to his left past his defender was good for two.

After another Stoughton turnover, Connerney dished to Will Keefe (career-high 11 points) in the corner for a triple with under a minute to go. The Black Knights once again lost possession and this time Connerney knocked down the three himself just before the buzzer for a 38-31 lead after three.

“Six points felt like a lot of points tonight as far as a cushion,” Gordy said of those points at the end of the third. “So when you can knock down a couple of threes, it just opens up the spacing and lets us to hit some back cuts, opens up some driving lanes. In the second quarter when we weren’t hitting, they did a good job of collapsing their defense and kind of daring us to shoot. So when you knock them down, it opens everything up.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Black Knights limited Mischler to just five points in the second half, but Burbank, Keefe, and Connerney all connected from deep to supplement the offense.

“When the other guys start hitting shots, any team is going to be tough to stop,” Taylor said. “We knew they had some other shooters, when they start hitting shots it’s tough. If we’re able to hit some of our shots, maybe it’s a different game but [Canton] played well, they were well-prepared.”

Canton boys basketball (2-0) is scheduled to take on Sharon in a battle of unbeatens on Tuesday. Stoughton (0-2) will host North Attleboro on the same night.

Canton boys basketball