It’s time to add 2017 to the list.
For the first time since 2001, the Rocketeers are Hockomock League champions following a 45-40 win over Foxboro on Friday night. With a win, and a Milford loss to Sharon, North Attleboro clinched the division title outright.
It’s been a long four year stretch for head coach Sean Mulkerrins and his squad. The Rocketeers went 0-20 in his first year at the helm, won just five games a year later and eight games one season ago.
Now, North Attleboro has 12 wins with three games to go and sits atop the Davenport division as Hock champs.
“To be honest, it’s been a roller coaster,” Mulkerrins said of the past four seasons. “At times, it felt like insurmountable odds, it felt like we were putting in a lot and not necessarily getting a lot. I credit [former Rocketeers coach] Chris Perron, who’s been everything to me as a mentor and a father figure when I played for him here at North, and opposing coaches like Jon [Gibbs] and Mike Vaughan who were helpful along the way.
“Every year we’ve taken a small step. Four years ago, my first captain Jake Lang kept that locker room as positive as it could be. And I think it kept those freshmen seeing and hearing those positive things. It feels good to see those kids go through the process and get here.”
The three freshmen on that winless team were Brent Doherty, Jonny Friberg and Thomas Reynolds. All three, along with classmates Kyle McCarthy and Hacmoni Cuevas, have been a vital part of keeping the program moving forward and winning the title this season.
“This feels great, I couldn’t be happier for the coaches and the team,” Doherty said. “Coming from where we were earlier in my career to winning the Hock tonight is the best feeling. All the hours of practice paid off and now we’re looking to do as much damage as possible in playoffs.”
It took a defensive stand over the final six minutes of the game for the Rocketeers to hold off Foxboro, who secured a second play finish and a trip to the postseason based on all of the results in the league.
“We didn’t talk or say much about a league title, or talk about the tournament during the season because we want to focus on the process,” Mulkerrins said. “We finally mentioned it the other day because we had to come out and play and we wanted to motivate the guys. The defense down the stretch was great. Jon [Gibbs] does such a great job, isolating guys, getting the matchups. It was kind of like playing chess and he’s freaking good. I have so much respect for him. But hats off to our guys, they played just well enough and I’m so proud of them.”
“I thought our effort was terrific all night,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I thought we really battled and competed. I thought defensively we did a really good job. We came into the game with a plan to deal with Doherty and Friberg. We didn’t want them to beat us, we’re going to try and make other guys step up and make shots and they did. So give credit to North Attleboro, it was a great team win for them.
The Rocketeers led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter but the Warriors fought back to make it a one possession game. North’s Hacmoni Cuevas converted a three point play to put the Rocketeers up 34-25 with 3:51 to play in the third, but Foxboro closed the quarter with a 9-3 run.
After Mark Clagg and Doherty (nine points, three assists) traded three pointers, the Warriors were able to pull within three by shutting down North for the rest of the quarter and both Joe Morrison (nine points) and Teddy Maher connecting from beyond the arc. The Rocketeers led 37-34 heading into the fourth.
That lead didn’t last too long. North’s scoreless streak stretched over two minutes into the final period while Morrison hit a jumper and Andrew Block (seven points, five rebounds, four assists) drove the lane for an easy two to take a 38-37 lead.
While the momentum seemed to be swinging in Foxboro’s favor, suddenly it stopped.
North broke through on the offensive end, with the inside-out game paying off as Friberg (12 points, 14 rebounds) kicked it out to Cuevas for a three and a 40-38 lead with 5:40 to play.
Foxboro wouldn’t score again until under a minute to play.
“It speaks to the metal toughness of this group,” Mulkerrins said. “Similar to the game at the Dunk against Milford, we were up big, then down big and we could have quit. And this game, same thing. Maybe in years past, this team might have, but I think they finally found out what it means to be a winning team.”
It actually took the Rocketeers two minutes to add onto the lead with Reynolds hitting a pair of key free throws to double the lead with 3:31 to play.
The Warriors had a couple of open looks during the stretch, but were unable to convert.
With just under a minute to play, Friberg took it baseline and somehow managed to reach back underneath the basket and lay it in for a 44-38 lead. Foxboro responded with a putback with 30 seconds to play but Chad Peterson(seven points) iced the game with a free throw as Foxboro missed on the other end.
“I thought down the stretch we got some good looks and we just didn’t make them and that’s just basketball,” Gibbs said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow because at times I thought we executed fine but just didn’t put it in the basket…but that happens some times. At the end of the day, I’m really proud of them. We battled and held them to under 20 points in the second half.
“North did a nice job defensively, they did a lot of things to take us out of our rhythm. Both times we’ve played them this year they made it really difficult for us to score. So give a lot of credit to Sean [Mulkerrins] and credit to those guys on North.”
It was a bit of a slow start for both sides, combing for just five points in the five 5:32 of play. North eventually was able to get into a rhythm and threes from McCarthy and Billy Drummond handed Big Red a 15-9 lead after one.
Foxboro cut the deficit to one (18-17) midway through the second quarter, but North finished the frame with a 9-2 run — a Peterson three, a layup from Doherty, and four straight from Friberg — to take a 27-19 lead into the locker room.
North Attleboro boys basketball (12-7 overall, 9-6 Hockomock) is back in action inside Pickering Gymnasium on Sunday when the Milford Scarlet Hawks come to town. Foxboro (9-9, 8-8) can finish no lower than second in the division, thus clinching a playoff spot. The Warriors will look to improve their record and seeding next ween as they host a February vacation tournament, starting with a game against Randolph.
FOXBORO, Mass. – For the past month, Foxboro and North Attleboro have been taking care of business on the court with half an eye on each other’s results. Since the two teams last met on Jan. 20, North went 5-2 (despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern for all seven games) including a five-game win streak entering Friday night. Meanwhile, Foxboro rattled off nine straight wins, eight off those coming in the league.
“It’s what they’ve been doing,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “They’ve been hot for a while. Once they got that consistent third shooter then they present a matchup problem for anyone. I was hoping we could mix and match and keep them uncomfortable but unfortunately they came out and shot the ball very well.”
The lead stretched to as many as 18 in the second quarter, after a Lauren Flahive (six points) jumper, but North started to find the range on offense and slow down the Warriors. Samantha Taggart scored seven of her team-high 12 in the second and assisted on a Caroline Collard (seven points, seven rebounds) jumper that cut the lead to 28-21.
“Obviously, we had a great first quarter and we were bound to have a little bit of an offensive letdown in the second, but to be up by 10 going into halftime I was pleased with that,” said Downs. “Just the way the came out and the amount of energy they showed, I knew we were in for a good game.”
Foxboro came out of halftime intent on putting the game away and that is what the Warriors did, using an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 21 points (46-25). Ashley Sampson (game-high 19 points) was the aggressor for the Warriors, scoring seven in the third including a corner three off a Sykes assist and then going coast-to-coast for a layup off a steal. Bortolotti and Tamulionis (18 points) each added four in the quarter.
“In the second quarter we were able to score and defend a little better and keep them disrupted. In the third quarter, we just couldn’t sustain it offensively,” said Herber, whose team trailed 50-32 entering the fourth.
On Monday night against Bridgewater-Raynham, Foxboro had only four players get on the score sheet, but on Friday eight Warriors scored at least two points. That balance made it difficult for North to send help for Emily Schromm on Sampson and the senior got into foul trouble in the third quarter. In the end, Schromm and Collard would both foul out.
“The problem is the third player,” Herber explained. “We can cover two, but the third player is a tough matchup for us. We need to keep our bigs in the game to score on offense but it puts them in a bind on defense.”
Foxboro also had a decisive edge on the glass, despite North’s advantage in height. The Warriors were plus-10 on the boards, which Downs credited to a total team effort.
She said, “That hasn’t been our story all season long…especially against a team that has some height on us…They were all contributing to keeping that ball and getting second and third opportunities.”
Julia Feid scored a traditional three-point play to cut the lead to 19 in the fourth, but Foxboro responded to seal the win and the title. Sampson hit a pair of free throws (two of her six points in the fourth and 13 in the second half) and then assisted on a Maling jumper. Maling then provided her second assist of the game on a kick-out to Tamulionis for a dagger three.
“You can’t win games with two or three girls scoring,” Downs said, “and we have scorers, so we have to make sure that we keep them in the offense and we’re rotating the ball to get different looks from different people so that we’re a hard matchup.”
After clinching its eighth league title and second in the past three seasons, Foxboro (16-2, 14-2) will try to sew up the top seed in Div. 2 South in its end-of-season Warrior Classic beginning with Whitman-Hanson on Monday. North Attleboro (15-5, 13-3) will also try to work on its seeding for Div. 2 South and get revenge for an earlier loss when it travels to Attleboro.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Despite school being canceled in Foxboro due to a storm that never materialized, the Warriors began a very important week by hosting a non-league game with Bridgewater-Raynham, a team that they beat by nearly 30 points the first time around.
Monday’s second meeting was considerably closer. Foxboro had only four players get on the score sheet (and one of those players had a single point), but one of those four was junior guard Ashley Sampson and she scored a game-high 31 to lead the Warriors to a 56-44 win, their eighth in a row, and a sweep of the Trojans.
It also kicked off a busy week that could end with Foxboro clinching its second league title in three seasons.
“We like to control the tempo of the game and push the ball when we want to push it and slow it down when we want to slow it down,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs, “and they started to control the tempo, which is a little unsettling, but the girls righted the ship when they needed.”
At the beginning of the game, the Warriors looked like a team that was still enjoying a restful snow day and B-R was able to jump out to a 12-7 lead behind 10 first quarter points from senior Kelly Page (team-high 19).
“We were a little sluggish,” Downs admitted. “I love everything the same; I love routine. So, to not have the same routine, I don’t like it and they’re teenage girls and they need it the same every time.”
Foxboro woke up and found a groove to close out the first half on a 19-4 run to take control of the game. Grace Tamulionis (nine points, six rebounds, five steals, and three blocks) got things started with a jumper in the lane from a Kristen Bortlotti assist. Sampson scored in transition to cut the lead to one and, after the Trojans scored on an offensive rebound, Lily Sykes drove to the basket for two of her 15.
Sampson ended the first with free throws to give the hosts a 15-14 lead and Foxboro clamped down in the second quarter, allowing only two points to go ahead by double digits at halftime. Sykes and Sampson each scored four and Tamulionis drilled a straightaway three off a Lauren Flahive assist to make it 26-16 at the break.
B-R started to find its offense in the third quarter and cut the lead to as few as three points at 34-31. Page added another five points and Nina Morrison had seven of her nine in the third, as the Trojans took control of the glass and had Foxboro on its heels.
Needing a spark, Foxboro turned to Sampson and the junior delivered. She went on a personal 9-2 run and the Warriors regained a double digit lead. She scored on the break and then, after Sykes had one of her eight steals, Sampson added another layup plus the foul. Another Sykes steal led to another easy basket and Sampson capped the quarter with a reverse for a 43-33 lead.
“When Lily and Ashley are on together,” said Downs, “there’s not many teams that can stop that combination. Grace was a little off tonight offensively…but we did what we needed to do and at this point in the season I’m happy with that kind of win.”
Again B-R tried to cut into the lead in the fourth, but a Sampson three-point play made the lead nine points, then Sykes scored on a drive to the basket, and Tamulionis got an open look for three off an assist by Flahive (seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks), who also fed Sampson for a layup that put Foxboro up by 14.
“I thought for the most part we did well but it got a little frantic at the end,” Downs said. “We just have to remain more composed going into the tournament when the games start to get tighter.”
Foxboro (14-2, 12-2) will get back into league play with Canton on Tuesday night then a showdown with fellow league leader North Attleboro on Friday in a game that will decide the winner of the Davenport division.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Over the past couple of games, Foxboro has been able to turn to some of its supporting cast for big nights. Lily Sykes scored 19 in the win over Oliver Ames and on Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center it was Grace Tamulionis who stepped up with a career-high 20 points to beat Sharon.
On Wednesday night at Attleboro, the now league-leading Warriors were able to turn to star Ashley Sampson. Not only did the junior guard scored a game-high 27 points and snag seven steals, but she also took turns guarding Bombardiers star forward Sarah Deyo. It was the kind of all-around performance that head coach Lisa Downs has been counting on from Sampson.
“She was a leader on the court tonight, which is what I’ve been asking of her pretty much from day one,” Downs explained. “She took control of the offensive end and she had the tough defensive matchup…so it wasn’t like she got to take a rest on the defensive end.”
Sampson’s big night helped Foxboro pull out a 58-46 victory over the Bombardiers and keep the Warriors in a first place tie with North Attleboro atop the Davenport division standings. Meanwhile, the defeat dropped Attleboro two games behind Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex.
“It all comes with preparation and we’re not preparing ourselves well enough for a team that’s aggressive and fast like that,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When you get off to a slow start and get down a little bit, it’s hard to come back against a team like that.”
After the game, Downs called the first half defensive performance by the Warriors as their best of the season. Foxboro used its team speed, depth, and versatility to stymie the Bombardiers. The Warriors held Attleboro to just 17 points as a team in the half and held Samantha Pierce and Julia Strachan scoreless over the opening 16 minutes of play.
Downs added, “That was the key. We had to keep fresh legs on Strachan and they did a fantastic job holding her to zero points in the first half and then Deyo is a matchup nightmare, so we had to know whoever we put in there had to be as physical as they can be, which is not always our strong suit.”
Foxboro added Lauren Flahive to the starting lineup on Wednesday, going smaller but adding speed. It paid dividends immediately, as the Warriors used a 13-0 run to break the game open in the first quarter. Sampson scored seven in the first and Kristen Bortolotti added four. Tamulionis (team-high nine rebounds), fresh off her career-high on Sunday, buried a pair from beyond the arc for six of her 12 on the night.
Deyo had four in the first and assisted on a three by Jordyn Lako to close out the quarter but the Bombardiers trailed by 12 points. Deyo, who finished with 15 points an 15 rebounds, added another six points in the second, but she was struggling to get the ball in good positions and four of her five baskets in the first half came from offensive rebounds.
“We go up and down too,” said Patch, ‘and my whole point with [the girls] was push the ball, go to the basket, and get points in the paint. That’s how we beat them last year with all our kids down and this year it was the game plan but it just wasn’t happening.”
Sampson buried a three off a Shannon Smally kick out and then stole the ball from Deyo, who was also bringing the ball up the court at times, and went in for a layup. Sykes (10 points) drilled a three and it was a 31-17 lead at half for the visitors.
“We knew we had to play our best defense to beat a quality team like Attleboro,” said Downs. “They’re going to fight you tooth and nail every possession, so if you can take care of business on the defensive end and hold their offense lower than they have in recent game then we knew we’d be in decent shape.”
Coming out of halftime, Attleboro started to pick up the pace and tried to cut into the lead, scoring as many points in the third as it had in the entire first half. Deyo twice got the ball at the rim for easy baskets, Grace Mayer (five points) buried a corner three, and Pierce (eight points) finally got going with four in the quarter.
Foxboro held onto a double digit lead through the third thanks to eight more points by Sampson, including a baseline drive to the basket plus the foul that pushed the lead to as many as 17 points. Bortlotti (seven points) ended a mini-run by the Bombardiers to give Foxboro a 47-34 lead heading to the fourth.
Attleboro gave the Warriors a scare in the fourth by scoring the opening eight points to cut the lead down to as little as five. Pierce had four of those points and Lako scored in transition from a Mish Logie assist. The home crowd was making noise and the bench was fired up, but the Warriors forced a pair of turnovers and took back control.
After Sykes knocked down a couple of free throws, Sampson took the ball baseline and got to the rim and then on the next possession again got into the heart of the Attleboro defense for another layup that put Foxboro ahead 53-42. Sykes closed out the game going 5-of-8 from the line.
“We just lost our poise, had two or three turnovers that resulted in two baskets on the other end that made it 11 and it’s hard to overcome that,” Patch said. “It’s definitely discouraging but we’ve got to get better preparation.”
This was a big win for Foxboro to stay level with the Rocketeers, which beat King Philip earlier in the night.
Downs said, “It was huge. Before tonight we were tied with North but head-to-head they were one up on us, so we knew we had to win this game. It was a big one.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Coming into a game, Foxboro opponents know that they have to try and contain the Warriors leading scorer Ashley Sampson. The offense flows through the junior guard, who always seems to have the ball in her hands and can make plays in a number of different ways.
While stopping one player is hard enough, the challenge grows when the other players find the range as well. On Saturday morning at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Milford struggled to contain a Foxboro attack that was spearheaded by junior forward Grace Tamulionis, who scored a game- (and career-) high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds and four steals.
Foxboro had three scorers reach double digits and eight players get on the board on Saturday to beat Milford 66-37 and pull into a first place tie with North Attleboro atop the Davenport division standings.
“We’ve been practicing a little bit more and been able to translate that into the games,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “It started on Thursday against Oliver Ames (a 51-35 win) and they’re shooting the ball with a lot more confidence. It’s not just one girl that is contributing and every day we’re getting someone new to step up.”
Foxboro came out firing in the first quarter and Sampson led the way with eight of her 16 points. Three times Sampson got to the baseline on drives to the hoop and she also knocked down a step-back jumper. Tamulionis also looked up for it from the start with four points in the first.
Milford stayed close largely thanks to Jill Burley. After Riley Collins drilled a three off a Lauren Flahive assist to push the Foxboro lead to nine, Burley, who scored seven of her 11 in the quarter, scored on a pair of drives to the hoop to cut the deficit to five despite leading scorer Kate Irwin being forced to the bench with foul trouble.
In the second, Emma Liskov came off the bench to score five of her team-high 13 points to keep Milford hanging around, but Foxboro was able to push the lead to nine by the break. Shannon Smally scored her lone basket to make it 22-15 and then Flahive and Kristen Bortolotti (from a Lily Sykes steal and assist) scored the final four points of the half.
When asked if playing in the arena setting could have impacted the way the Hawks started, Milford coach T.J. Dolliver responded, “It could’ve been, I can’t say for sure. I know for me, it’s a big environment and it’s a little intimidating, but after you get out there and run around you’re playing, you’re coaching.”
In the third quarter, Milford was held to only two made field goals (one for Liskov and the other for Christine Pye) and Foxboro’s defense continued to shut down Irwin, who was held to just one point for the game.
“Our focus was to block her out from touching the ball,” said Downs of guarding Irwin. “We kept rotating Lily and Riley, our two quickest girls, and that’s going to tire anyone out.”
Dolliver added, “It’s tough. In games like this, you need your stars, your leading scorer, to show up and unfortunately it wasn’t a good game for all of us. It’s hard for me to say the effort wasn’t there because I have a great group of girls…but we didn’t show up to play.”
On the other end, Tamulionis emerged as the go-to player for the Foxboro offense. She scored 10 points in the third, including a pair of threes, and looked confident every time she touched the ball. Sykes (12 points) extended the lead to 20 with a pair of high-arcing three-pointers of her own that closed out the third with Foxboro ahead 47-27.
“Grace has been doing some amazing things defensively and on the boards and now to have her being able to put the points on the board is just an extra bonus that’s going to get us far,” said Downs of Tamulionis’ contributions.
Sampson scored four in the fourth quarter, Sykes added six, Collins knocked down a three, and Tamulionis hit a jumper as well. Milford was struggling to slow down the Warriors, who were shooting the lights out.
“We didn’t have a game plan of trying to stop Ashley,” said Dolliver, “because they have so many; we had to stop so many. They made some really good, contested shots, pulled away, and we couldn’t do anything about it.”
Downs was asked what impact it has on the Warriors when different players provide scoring, as Tamulionis did on Saturday and Sykes did against OA (she had 19 against the Tigers). Downs replied, “It’s huge. When we have another girl that other teams aren’t really paying attention to…all the focus isn’t on Ashley. That opens up a lot more things that we can do offensively.”
Foxboro (9-2, 8-2) is now tied with North Attleboro for first in the division heading into a tough trip to Attleboro on Tuesday. Milford (8-5, 5-5) drops to .500 in the league this season and faces a trip to Kelley-Rex leader Mansfield.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Franklin had three individual champions, two second place finishes and four more grapplers finish third or fourth to win the team title at the Hockomock League Wrestling Championships at Oliver Ames on Saturday.
The Panthers registered 218.5 points, edging out North Attleboro (212.5 points) and Foxboro (200.5 points).
Franklin’s Ian Bakalars won the 113 title with a 6-2 decision, Mike Racca notched a first round pin to win the 120 title and Dylan Maclean earned the 145 title with a pin. Jordan Carlucci (106) and Brian Perry (285) had second place finishes, Evan Hernandez (182) and Kyler Colella (195) each came in third and TJ Remillard (126) and Brian Farrell (132) both placed fourth.
The Rocketeers, who have clinched at least a share of the Davenport division dual meet title, only had one winner in the tournament but once again show off its depth with three second place finishes, and nine other wrestlers finishing either third, fourth, fifth or sixth. North Attleboro’s Nick Gould was the team’s only champion, scoring an impressive 14-0 win at 152. It marks the second straight year Gould won a Hockomock title after winning the 145 title a year ago. Dan Cooper (113), Jake Direnzo (120) and Brandon Graveline (132) each placed second for Big Red.
Foxboro’s Matt Kelley was impressive in winning his third straight Hockomock League title. Kelley raced out to a quick 14-0 lead before scoring a pin to earn the Hockomock title at 132. During his sophomore year, Kelley won the 120 title and during his junior year, Kelley scored an 8-0 decision to win the 126 title. Brian Kelley was equally impressive, notching a 10-0 win in a very competitive 138 bracket to win his first Hockomock title. Matt Mullally held on for a 6-5 win to claim the Hock title at 160 – his second straight title at that weight class.
While plenty of veterans claimed titles, there were three freshmen that won Hockomock League titles in their first ever championship event. Mansfield’s Antonios Sevastos, who suffered a first round pin to Franklin’s Jordan Carlucci in a dual meet earlier this week, avenged that loss by scoring a takedown in the final 20 seconds to win the 106 crown. Teammate and classmate Vinnie Holmes continued his stellar freshman campaign, rolling through the bracket and picking up a 14-2 win in the finals. Canton’s Eddie Marinilli made his mark as well, winning four matches on the day, including an 11-2 decision in the 126 final match.
Oliver Ames was fifth on the day, the top finishing team without a champion. Sophomore Anthony Berksza was second at 145 and sophomore Dean Pacini made a run to the finals before falling to Milford’s Ryan Gray (7-1) at 195.
1. Franklin – 218.5
2. North Attleboro – 212.5
3. Foxboro – 200.5
4. Oliver Ames – 128
5. King Philip – 119
6. Canton – 115.5
7. Sharon – 108.5
8. Mansfield – 107
9. Stoughton – 106
10. Milford – 79
11. Taunton – 48
|106||Jordan Carlucci (Franklin) vs. Antonios Secastos (Mansfield)||Sevastos (2-0)|
|113||Ian Bakalars (Franklin) vs. Dan Cooper (North Attleboro)||Bakalars (6-2)|
|120||Jake Direnzo (North Attleboro) vs. Mike Racca (Franklin)||Racca (pin)|
|126||Eddie Marinilli (Canton) vs. Yosef Ellis-Rech (Sharon)||Marinilli (11-2)|
|132||Matt Kelley (Foxboro) vs. Brandon Graveline (North Attleboro)||Kelley (pin)|
|138||Brian Kelley (Foxboro) vs. Brett Kimball (Milford)||Kelley (10-0)|
|145||Anthony Berksza (Oliver Ames) vs. Dylan Maclean (Franklin)||Maclean (pin)|
|152||Nick Gould (North Attleboro) vs. Max Dorman (Foxboro)||Gould (14-0)|
|160||Matt Mullally (Foxboro) vs. Cameron Smith (King Philip)||Mullally (6-5)|
|170||Wilhelm Bolt (Sharon) vs. Vinnie Holmes (Mansfield)||Holmes (14-2)|
|182||Nuno Camara (Taunton) vs. Nick DeGloria (King Philip)||DeGloria (9-4)|
|195||Ryan Gray (Milford) vs. Dean Pacini (Oliver Ames)||Gray (7-1)|
|220||Andrew Iverson (Stoughton) vs. Bradley Oliverio (King Philip)||Oliverio (3-1)|
|285||Lino Azul (Stoughton) vs. Brian Perry (Franklin)||Azul (14-5)|