Strong Closing Kick Pushes Franklin Past Foxboro

Franklin girls basketball
Ali Brigham (1) scored a game-high 19 points and the Panthers used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a big win against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – It remained a two-possession game deep into the fourth quarter, but then Kelley-Rex division leader Franklin showed off another gear, putting together a run over the closing minutes that turned a close contest into another dominant victory.

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After a Shakirah Ketant basket cut Franklin’s lead to 44-38, the Panthers stepped on the gas, scoring 17 straight points to pull away and hand Foxboro a 61-40 loss. It was a lopsided final score that wasn’t indicative of the bulk of this showdown between division leaders.

“They have a strong desire to be good,” said Franklin coach John Leighton about his team. “Games aren’t won on Tuesdays and Fridays, they’re won in practice. We grind it out. If you play good ‘D’ and get stops, then our offense will take care of itself and I thought we did a good job of that. That confidence snowballs.”

Ali Brigham (game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds) got the run started with a basket and then snagged a missed free throw by Erin Quaile and put it back up and in to extend the lead to 11. Sophomore Olivia Quinn, fresh off a career-high against Oliver Ames, got behind the Foxboro defense for a bucket in transition and then knocked down a jumper. She scored nine of her 11 points in the final quarter.

Quaile, who played tight defense on Foxboro star Katelyn Mollica (15 points) and also spearheaded the Franklin offense with six assists, knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the game and seal the win.

“Mollica, you can chase her around the court all night, but she’s going to get her points,” Leighton explained. “Erin wants zero credit and just wants to grind. She’s happy with that assignment. I thought she did a wonderful job of making Mollica work for everything and making her work defensively too.”

The Panthers started the game with a run as well, jumping out to an 8-0 lead. While the attention is, as always, on Brigham in the middle, it was Franklin’s outside shooting that made the difference in the first half. Kaleigh Houlihan nailed three from beyond the arc, scoring all nine of her points in the first, and Elizabeth Wilson (10 points) buried one in the first.

“It’s impossible because you have to double Ali,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “There’s no way around it otherwise she’s just going to continue to score in the paint. The girls were hustling and doing what I asked them to do defensively. That team was just hot tonight.”

Ketant (eight points) was able to step back and knock down a pair of free throw line jumpers to bring Brigham out of the paint a little and Abby Hassman got to the rim for a three-point play to keep Foxboro down just eight after one.

In the second, Foxboro went on a 10-4 run to get back within two points. Lizzy Davis (nine points and seven rebounds) knocked down a deep three and then got a second one after Hassman (eight rebounds) crashed the glass. After Hassman knocked down a jumper, the Franklin lead was only 20-18 and the Warriors looked like the more aggressive team.

Again, it was the outside shooting that got the Panthers back on track. Wilson nailed a pair of threes to stretch the lead right back up to eight and Quaile set up Brigham for a basket to make it 28-21 at the break.

The third quarter was all about defense, which isn’t surprising for two of the league’s top defensive teams. It was also about the league’s top two scorers, as Mollica hit a pair of threes and scored all eight of Foxboro’s points in the third and Brigham scored six of Franklin’s on the other end, including a pair of baskets on offensive rebounds.

Things continued to be back-and-forth in the final quarter. After Wilson teed up Quinn for her first three of the night, Mollica was fouled on a shot from distance and made all three at the line (her final points of the night). Ketant knocked down a baseline jumper to cut the lead to 39-34.

Emma Sousa came off the bench and hit a jumper on the other end, which was answered by Hassman. Sousa then got a look from deep and buried Franklin’s eighth three of the night to keep the lead at eight.

“It’s not the world’s trickiest game plan to shut down the top two scorers and I thought Foxboro did a great job of doing that, but you have to give something up,” said Leighton. 
“We did a great job of moving the ball and the kid who should shoot it, shot it. We didn’t force many shots.”

Foxboro got it back to two possessions with another Ketant hoop, but that would be it for the Warriors until Davis hit a pair of free throws in the game’s final minute and with the result all but decided.

“It didn’t feel like a 20-point loss,” said Downs. “I thought we saw some good things. Shakirah battled as much as she could in the paint. For her to do what she did against Ali Brigham, I give her a lot of credit. We gambled a little bit and didn’t really focus on some of the girls who were hitting their threes tonight. They were lights out.”

Franklin (10-0, 9-0) will travel to Attleboro on Friday night, while Foxboro (9-2, 7-2) will be on the road at North Attleboro, which is currently two games back of the Warriors in the Davenport standings.

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OA Defense Clamps Down to Hand Foxboro First Loss

Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA junior guard Caroline Flynn (41) scored 13 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and had six assists to lead the Tigers to a big win against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Through its opening five games, Foxboro had proven to be far more than its opponents could handle. The lowest margin of victory for the unbeaten Warriors was 31 points back in the season opener. Coming into Tuesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, they were the top scoring team in the league and the top defensive team.

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As the first quarter was winding down, it looked like business as usual. Foxboro led 15-7 and was lining up another three-pointer to try and extend the advantage. Caroline Peper blocked the shot (one of three blocked three-pointers for her in the game) and Caroline Flynn snatched the rebound. Flynn took off up court and laid a pass off to Peper for a three of her own.

It was the start of a 23-5 run to close out the half that gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. OA held the Warriors to single digits in the second and third quarters, locking down defensively and controlling the glass, to pull out a 54-39 win that keeps them unbeaten in the league and in a first-place tie with Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division.

“These kids have basketball IQs and they’re not afraid to work hard and to be physical,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I was just so proud of their effort and it didn’t come from just one player. The depth is really significant for us. They’re better now at recognizing where our strengths are.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors, who remain a game ahead of North Attleboro in the Davenport division, and a reminder of the way they have to play in order to have success this season.

“We think we’re better than we are,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We can be very good but we need to do the little things that we’ve done so far and tonight we kind of forgot those things.”

Foxboro got off to a strong start. Lizzy Davis (11 points, five rebounds, four steals) was everywhere in the first quarter. She scored six points, burying a corner three and scoring in traffic on an inbounds play, and took a pair of charges. Katelyn Mollica drilled a three to make it 12-5 and it looked like the Warriors would have a comfortable edge after one.

Then Peper blocked Davis’ three and turned into three points on the other end of the floor. The momentum from that play carried over after the timeout.

Peper (game-high 14 points) sliced through the defense for a layup. After a couple of free throws, Flynn snagged an offensive board and swung it around to Peper for a quick-release three that put OA on top 17-16. Shakirah Ketant (11 points) answered on the other end to regain the lead, but it would be the last lead of the night for the visitors.

“All of a sudden we were just playing hectic basketball and no one was relaxed,” Downs explained. “When they got the ball everyone was trying to do their own thing.”

Jess Erlich (10 points) hit four straight at the line to put the Tigers in front again, Hailey Bourne (seven points) drove to the cup for two, and then Peper buried her third shot from downtown to put OA ahead 26-19. Flynn assisted on a Erlich layup and then Bourne set up Tate Hadges (nine rebounds) for a basket in the post.

Leading by 10 at the break (30-20), Clement-Holbrook urged her team to keep its foot on the gas. “Coming out in the third quarter, just maintaining that defensive intensity,” she explained. “I wasn’t comfortable until the final buzzer went off because you can’t not play defense against Foxboro for the whole 32 minutes.”

Bourne scored on a drive and Erlich knocked down a corner jumper off a Flynn assist to get OA right back into the swing of things in the third. Peper’s fourth three of the night put OA up 40-22. After Jordyn Collins got a steal and layup and Yara Fawaz scored in the paint, it looked like Foxboro might have a comeback in it but Flynn grabbed an offensive board and scored to make it a 16-point game after three.

Downs admitted, “We got killed on the boards, which is something that we’ve been priding ourselves on, crashing the board offensively and getting defensive rebounds, and we didn’t do that.”

The offense was working well for the Tigers, but the story was the defensive effort that OA put into stopping Mollica. One of the league’s leading scorers, she was held to just six points and one made field goal. The combination of Bourne and Erin Holmberg never allowed Mollica the time or the space to get off her shot or get Foxboro into its sets.

“Hailey did an amazing job on Mollica and then Holmberg went in and there was not a single drop-off defensively,” said Clement-Holbrook. “[Erin] was amazing and this was the first chance for her to be a factor and knowing what she’s been through it’s just an example for everybody.”

Foxboro never really made a dent in the OA lead in the fourth, only getting as close as 13, after an Abby Hassman steal led to a layup for Davis and then her own drive to the basket made it 52-39. Flynn added four points in the quarter, as did Meg Holleran, and the Tigers comfortably finished the game off.

Oliver Ames (6-1, 5-0) will be back in action again on Friday when it travels to Mansfield. Foxboro (5-1, 4-1) will be on the road again, when the Warriors pay their first visit to the new Stoughton gym.

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Second Half Turnaround Sends Mansfield Past Foxboro

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen drives to the basket in the second half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – What’s the best remedy for a struggling offense?

For the Mansfield boys basketball team, it started with a ramped-up defensive effort.

The Hornets, limited to less than 20 points in the first half with 10 turnovers, turned the tables on host Foxboro by using a much improved defensive effort to kick start its offense, and that combination resulted in a 50-42 victory.

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It was Foxboro’s defense that stole the show for the opening 16 minutes, frustrating a dangerous Hornet offense. The Warriors allowed just three field goals made in the second quarter and had one stretch where they forced the Hornets into five straight turnovers.

But it was truly a tale of two halves as Mansfield controlled for the final 16 minutes. While its turnover woes didn’t disappear right away, with two early second half turnovers, the Hornets’ defense kept Foxboro scoreless for nearly four minutes and without its second make of the period until the final seconds.

That defense led to some easy buckets to kickstart the visitors on the offensive end. An 8-0 run to start the third tied the game and an 8-2 run to close the third put the visitors in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.

“We were significantly more locked defensively in the second half,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “To hold them to a five-point third quarter obviously made a huge difference for us, that probably made the difference in the game. The fourth quarter was a little more even but if we don’t have that third quarter where we come out locked in. At half we said, ‘they’re good defensively and we’re going to grind out our possessions. We’ll get a basket or two throughout a good possession. But we need to defend better.’”

“With the exception of [Kevin] Gallagher hitting two 75-footers from the parking lot, I thought we did a really good job defensively. You take those six points out of the fourth quarter and now you have two back-to-back quarters where we defended well. I thought we did a better job offensively in the second half being patient, setting better screens, getting more people touching the ball and cutting, and being efficient with the ball, as opposed to standing around and watching one guy go against five good defenders.”

The Hornet defense doubled its turnover total in the second half, forcing 11 takeaways in the second half. Foxboro shot nearly 50% from the floor in the opening half but hit at just over a 30% success rate against Mansfield’s active defense in the second half.

Meanwhile, Mansfield cut its turnover number almost in half and shot almost 60% from the field in the second half.

“I thought our defensive intensity and focus was outstanding in the first half,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We really made things difficult for them and we were really locked in on the defensive end. I think the biggest key offensively in the first half is that we did a great job of taking care of the ball and limiting our turnovers. I thought we played with a lot of poise and it was a good tempo.

“But in the second half, unfortunately, they knocked down some threes and offensively, we got a little more stagnant and got away from what made us successful in the first half, we had some costly turnovers that gave them easy scoring opportunities. Credit Mansfield, obviously they turned their defensive intensity up to another level in the second half and Mike made some really good adjustments to disrupt us, so Mansfield deserves a lot of the credit.”

Senior Sam Stevens (14 points, four rebounds) and junior Matt Boen (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, four steals) knocked down early threes, and Boen hauled in a defensive rebound and found classmate TJ Guy running ahead for an easy two as Mansfield opened the second half on an 8-0 run to knot the score at 27-27.

Foxboro countered with a triple from Will Morrison to stay ahead but Drew Rooney came up with a steal for an easy two, Boen converted a pull jump on the right wing, and then hit a deep contested three. A free throw from Cincere Gill (four points, three assists) helped Mansfield take a 35-32 lead into the fourth quarter.

Gallagher’s deep three kept the Warriors within two but Guy finished after a nice up-fake and the Mansfield defense kept Foxboro at bay for nearly four minutes.

Guy scored in low again, the Mansfield defense forced a turnover with a five-second violation, and Gill drained a three late in the shot clock for a 44-35 lead with 2:42 to play.

“I think [Cincere] gave us a boost,” Vaughan said. “We made the adjustment with Drew to shadow [Brandon] Borde a little bit more which minimized his opportunities. I thought between the two of them, and just coming out of the locker room with a new mindset. Cincere was definitely a spark coming off the bench and he hit the big three too that helped create some separation. It was really a great possession to get an open look for him.”

Stevens put a cherry on top of the comeback with a contested corner three to put the Hornets up 47-37 with two minutes to play.

“I think anytime you can defend people to a satisfactory level, your offense is a heck of a lot easier,” Vaughan said. “You’re not always going down on the defensive end looking at the scoreboard and coming back on the offensive end thinking every basket matters so much. Now you have a little bit of freedom on the offensive end to take some chances, take some risks.”

Borde (15 points, six rebounds, five assists) was a big reason for Foxboro’s strong start to the game. While Stevens, Jason See, Rooney, and Guy each scored for the visitors, Borde scored Foxboro’s first nine points. Ryan Hughes scored to tie the game and Gallagher came off the bench to sink a late triple to give Foxboro a 14-11 lead after one.

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Boen nailed a three to open the second quarter but two more from Borde and another three from Gallagher put the hosts ahead 19-14. The lead hovered at five points for a good stretch before senior Dylan Barreira hit an open three and Gallagher hit his third of the opening half to put Foxboro up 27-19 at half. Freshman Chris Hill’s three-pointer was Mansfield’s lone basket of the final five minutes of the second quarter.

“Mansfield is a great team, they are one of the best programs in the state and they don’t lose very often for a reason,” Gibbs said. “They are very, very good at what they do. We wanted to take the game on quarter at a time…you know a team like that has runs in them. You’re not going to beat Mansfield with one big knockout punch, one big home run play. It’s going to be a 32-minute grind, and in the end, they were able to make a few more plays then we did and they deserve credit for that.”

Mansfield boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) is back in action on Wednesday when it continues its road trip with a visit to Milford. Foxboro (1-3, 3-4) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts Oliver Ames on Wednesday.

Foxboro Controls the Paint to Win Big at Canton

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro senior forward Abby Hassman was one of three Warriors to grab double digit rebounds, as they controlled the paint in a big win at Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – It was not a great shooting night for Foxboro and leading scorer Katelyn Mollica was held to only three made baskets by the Canton defense (especially the attentions of guards Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere). In other seasons that could have led to a long evening and potentially a tough loss to a division rival, but this year the Warriors can dominate in the paint as well as the perimeter.

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Foxboro had three players grab double digit rebounds, controlling the glass on both ends of the floor, and ran away in the second half to earn a 65-33 win over last year’s division runner-up. The defending league champions now have an early two-game lead in the Davenport standings.

“We talked about how they had more offensive rebounds than we did rebounds for the whole game combined,” said Canton coach JIm Choquette after the game. “It’s a detail about boxing out and doing their job individually. It’s a shared responsibility, it’s on all of us to get better. As coaches, it’s something we need to stress more at practice.”

Despite the big win, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than enthusiastic about her team’s play, calling for a better effort on the defensive end.

“We were giving them way too many foul shots and we should’ve learned from what was being called in the first quarter,” she said. “We didn’t react well to that. I know what their potential is and to see them almost take a step back tonight from what we did against Concord-Carlisle is frustrating.”

Over the weekend, the Warriors started the game against Concord-Carlisle with a 27-0 run that essentially put the game away after eight minutes. Canton made sure that wouldn’t happen again, scoring the first five points of the game. A Sydney Gallery (10 points and six rebounds) basket and a three from Fay Gallery (eight points) made it 5-0 early on.

It took a couple of minutes to get going, but Foxboro turned the game on its head quickly, scoring the final 14 points of the first quarter and 16 straight overall to grab control.

A great outlet pass by Shakirah Ketant (13 points and 11 boards) set up Abby Hassman (six points and 12 boards) for a layup and then Lizzy Davis (11 points) grabbed an offensive board to keep a possession alive that ended in a Yara Fawaz (eight points and 10 rebounds) three. Davis added a three after a Jordyn Collins rebound and then scored on a drive to close the quarter.

Downs praised Hassman’s overall contribution. The senior added two blocks and four steals to her scoring and rebounding. “She’s probably my most consistent player,” Downs explained. “Mollica is always going to have her good nights and get her points even if she’s not shooting well, but Abby is just lights out with defense and rebounding and it’s the same thing night-in, night-out.”

Canton tried to mount a comeback at the start of the second. Sydney Gallery knocked down a shot off a pass by Lilah Milton and Kiara Cerruti (six points) got on the board with a jumper. The Bulldogs got as close as five but a Ketant putback and a stepback three by Mollica (13 points, 6-of-6 from the line) got Foxboro’s lead back to double digits.

“When we handled the press and got into the half-court sets and rushed, we were atrocious,” Choquette noted. “When we handled the press and got into our sets, I think we scored every time that we ran a play. We talked about the discipline of being able to do that for four quarters because there was a 10-minute gap where we’d break the press and jack up a shot as quick as you can.”

Leading 30-18 at the break, Foxboro came out of halftime ready to break the game wide open. The Warriors went on a 16-4 run. Davis scored the first basket and assisted on a bucket for Fawaz. Ketant scored in the post and then Mollica got back-to-back baskets, the second coming off another offensive rebound by Fawaz.

“Defensively, I think we had a decent game plan in terms of guarding Katelyn and we also stressed sticking with so many of their other players,” said Choquette. “Some things we did well defensively in the first half, we got away from in the second half and a little inexperience where everyone is trying to play catchup.”

The Bulldogs found it tough get going offensively. Fay Gallery hit a stepback three, Kayla Albert got a putback, and freshman Samya DaSilva hit a runner, but that was all that Canton got in the third and went into the final eight minutes down by 22.

Foxboro kept its foot on the gas in the fourth. Ketant was a force in the paint, scoring seven points in the quarter, Davis grabbed a steal and layup, and Morgan Sylvestre came off the bench to score four points.

“With Shakirah in there, it just adds a whole new dimension,” said Downs about adding an element of post play to the offense. “Teams have to pay attention to her.”

Foxboro (4-0) will be back home on Friday night when it faces Milford. Canton (1-3) will look to end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Stoughton.

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