King Philip, 41 @ Attleboro, 76 – Final – Attleboro got off to a blistering start with 27 points in the opening quarter, and kept its foot on the pedal with 20 more points in the second on its way to a big win over King Philip. Alvin Harrison scored all nine of his points in the opening quarter, one of six Bombarders to hit a shot from the field as the hosts established a 27-11 lead after just eight minutes. Junior Trevor White accounted for four of Attleboro’s nine made three-pointers, including three in the opening half that led to a 47-23 halftime lead. White finished with a game-high 20 points, Evan Houle added 13 points, including a trio of trifectas, and sophomore Neo Franco chipped in with nine points. Will Laplante led King Philip with 11 points.
Sharon, 51 @ Canton, 59 – Final – Canton exploded for 21 points in the third quarter to surge ahead of Sharon and held on to land an upset win over the visiting Eagles. Trailing 27-25 at halftime, five different Bulldogs hit field goals, including a pair of threes from Jacob Solomon, to help the hosts stake a 46-38 lead going into the fourth. Canton was held to just one field goal in the fourth but went 10-for-12 from the free throw line to stay ahead. Senior Lanse Dorcelus score a game-high 17 points, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line to lead the charge offensively while Solomon finished with nine points. Junior Jack Bates scored a team-high 11 points for the Eagles while classmate Matt Baur added 10 points.
Foxboro, 56 @ Oliver Ames, 65 – Final – Oliver Ames built a lead in the first quarter and added enough cushion in the second quarter to keep Foxboro at bay throughout the remainder of the game to get back into the win column, snapping a three-game skid. The Tigers got a balanced scoring attack with nine players registering points, and OA found success attacking the basket with 22 two-point field goals compared to just a pair of three-pointers. After just two points in the first half, junior Zach Tagliamonte got it going in the second to finish with a game-high 18 points. MJ Jean-Baptiste added 12 points and Drew Baxter had 10 for OA, which led 15-10 after one quarter, 30-18 at halftime, and 44-35 going into the final frame. Foxboro’s offense came alive in the second half, hitting on all eight of its three-pointers but couldn’t close the gap. Senior Dylan Gordon and juniors Sam Golub and Alex Penders all finished with 13 points apiece.
Milford, 34 @ Franklin, 77 – Final – Franklin poured in 21 points in the first quarter and never looked back in a big win over visiting Milford. Junior Justin Allen hit half of his four three-pointers in the first quarter, sophomore Henry Digiorgio hit had one of his game-high five three-pointers in the opening quarter, and senior Sean Vinson also hit from deep as the Panthers established a 21-9 lead after one, and pushed the lead to 40-17 at half after hitting five more threes in the second, including one from freshman Caden Sullivan. Digiorgio finished with a game-high 21 points, Allen had 16 points, Vinson finished at 10 points, and junior Geino Scaringello chipped in with 10 second half points.
North Attleboro, 48 @ Stoughton, 46 – Final – Junior Jack Munley had a big block late and North Attleboro hit just enough free throws down the stretch to score an upset on the road at Stoughton. Stoughton led by one possession at halftime (23-20) and at the end of the third quarter (34-32) but the Rocketeers pulled even late and went ahead on free throws in the final minute. Freshman Ryan Bannon tied the game with a free throw before Stoughton went back ahead with one of their own. Senior Brody Rosenberg (game-high 16 points) went 2-for-2 at the line to put North ahead, 47-46, with 13 seconds to go and Munley came up with a big block on the other end to get the ball back. Junior Givany Carney (11 points) gave North a two-point lead with a free throw with five seconds to go, and Stoughton’s last-second three was off the mark. Senior Connor Andrews had a team-high 13 points while sophomore Liam Pearl added 11 points for the Black Knights.
Attleboro, 49 @ King Philip, 45 – Final – Meghan Gordon scored eight of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, as Attleboro rallied to pick up a road win and extend its streak to six straight victories. Attleboro led 28-18 at halftime, but the Warriors stormed out of the break, holding the Bombardiers to just four points in the third to take the lead. The visitors took the fourth quarter 17-11 to pull it out despite only making five field goals in the second half. Lindsey Perry added 11 points, including seven in the first, and Kayla Goldrick scored eight in the win. Emily Sawyer paced KP with 16 points, scoring six in each of the second and third quarters. Julia Marsden scored 10 and Liv Lafond finished with seven for the Warriors.
Canton, 66 @ Sharon, 33 – Final – Kiara Cerruti and Sydney Gallery each scored 20 points to lead the Bulldogs to a sixth straight win. Cerruti added five rebounds and two assists and Gallery had six boards. Fay Gallery scored nine points and had five steals, while Emily McCabe chipped in with nine rebounds, five assists, and five steals and Marissa Staffiere had four assists. Samya DaSilva had four points and five rebounds and also played lockdown defense on Sharon star sophomore Jasmine Davis, holding her to four points and without a made basket.
Oliver Ames, 65 @ Foxboro, 30 – Final – Oliver Ames raced out to a 35-9 lead by halftime and controlled the game from start to finish to secure a key division win over Foxboro. “We played great defense, and controlled the glass at both ends and got great finishes…it was a total team effort,” said OA head coach Laney Holbrook. Senior Caroline Peper led the offense with 18 points while Hailey Bourne provided a big spark with a season-high 12 points. Sophomore Jasmyn Cooper added 12 points, 11 rebounds, and seven steals while classmate Kaydance Derba added nine points.
Franklin, 62 @ Milford, 19 – Final – Franklin held Milford to six or fewer points in each quarter to continue its win streak. The Panthers jumped out to a 23-4 lead after the first and then extended the lead to 41-9 by halftime. Katie Peterson and Olivia Quinn each scored 11 to lead the Panthers and Stefany Padula added 10, as a dozen Franklin players got on the board. Maeve Driscoll led Milford with six, all in the fourth quarter on a pair of threes. Maddalena Mannucci Pacini and Brooke Ferreira each scored four.
Mansfield, 72 @ Taunton, 62 – Final – Mansfield survived a Taunton fourth quarter comeback and won a shootout at the Raboiun Field House to make it three straight victories. Bridget Hanley led the way for the Hornets with a career-high 27 points, knocking down six of Mansfield’s 13 threes. Kameron St. Pierre was Taunton’s top scorer, finishing with a game-high 35 and making six threes of her own. The Hornets jumped out to a 42-128 lead by halftime and added three more to the lead after the third quarter, but Taunton responded with 25 points in the fourth to cut the lead back to 10. Abby Wager added 16 points for the Hornets, all but one coming in the first half, and Natalya Gill scored 11. Kara Santos chipped in with nine, including six in the fourth. Jillian Doherty scored eight and Abby Souza had seven in the loss.
“Besides Saturday we really hadn’t been starting well this season so we knew we had to jump on them,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We were a little worried there would be a little bit of a let down after Saturday so I was glad to see they had that energy right from the top.”
The Eagles sliced through the Warriors’ defense early and often, hitting its first six field goals from inside the three-point line (8-for-12 from two-point in the first quarter). Ryan Zunenshine (nine points) and John Baez (four points, 10 assists) each had a pair of layups, sophomore Nate Katznelson attacked the rim for two, and Matt Baur converted a putback to get the offense going.
On the other hand, King Philip tried to spark its offense from three-point range but was unable to hit on eight attempts over the first eight minutes.
The result was a 22-5 advantage for the hosts, a lead that eventually peaked at 24 points in the third quarter and shrunk to as few as 13 points in the fourth, but never went below double-figures to keep the Eagles in front from start to finish.
“That was obviously the difference in the game, they came out and punched us in the face right away,” said King Philip head coach Dave DeStefano. “We did not do a good job responding to it. I think we need to figure out who we are defensively, figure out our identity right now. We’re just too lackadaisical and just expecting the next guy to make a play so we have to figure it out as a team.”
It was relatively even the rest of the way. Sharon put up another 20 points in the second quarter but King Philip’s offense got going with 16 points, despite another quarter without hitting a three.
King Philip had some momentum coming out of half as senior Danny Clancy (four points, 10 rebounds) laid it in for two on a second chance opportunity after Braeden Sottile wrestled his way to an offensive rebound. The Warriors then forced back-to-back turnovers, the first leading to a layup from Sottile on a feed from Will Laplante (nine points, three rebounds, three assists), and the second two free throws from Sottile (13 points, six rebounds).
Sharon boys basketball
Sharon was quick to answer on a nice drive from Zunenshine, and after getting a stop, Katznelson (14 points, six rebounds, two blocks) scored through contact for two more. Baez then grabbed two quick assists, first feeding Katznelson down low and then taking advantage of a KP turnover, hitting Baur in transition for two more.
“Part of the halftime talk was about last night [Stoughton/Canton game] and we’ve been on the other side of games like this before, we came back from 20-points against King Philip a couple of years ago,” Ferguson said. “It’s always in the back of your mind, especially in this league. They had a quick start to the second half but our guys were able to respond.
“We spend 60-70% of practice on defense and I think it’s really starting to bear some fruit this year. John Baez has been unbelievable on the defensive end so far this year and the rest of the team is buying in and especially rebounding the ball. Donyae Pierre came off the bench and grabbed 10 rebounds so when you can get guys to buy into specific roles, your team defense benefits from that.”
Sottile had four points early in the fourth and then a pair of hustle plays from sophomore Trevor Clyde (nine points, four rebounds, three blocks) — first a steal and then an offensive rebound — turned into a three from Sottile and the Warriors capped what turned out to be a 19-8 run over the course of the third quarter and first few minutes of the fourth.
That run cut Sharon’s once 24-point lead down to 13 at 58-45 with just six minutes under to play.
Sharon boys basketball
Sharon, which got threes from Zunenshine and Katznelson in the opening quarter, went without a three in the second and third quarters. The Warriors switched to a 2-3 zone and limited the Eagles’ shooting for the most part.
“I think defensively they did a very good job of getting in our face and made us uncomfortable, and we couldn’t get into a groove,” DeStefano said. “They did a good job with our shooters, we didn’t get many clean looks and it forced us to play out of our element a little bit. And they pressured us with some good hard cuts and it seemed like we were a step late each time.
“They got every 50-50 ball, and anytime it felt like we might make a run they seemed to respond with an offensive rebound or coming up with that 50-50 ball and it just killed our momentum.”
But when they needed a big shot, the Eagles got it off the bench as senior Sam Cohen gave the offense a spark with a three on the ensuing possession. After a turnover, Baez notched another assist by finding Jack Bates wide open for another three, and just like that, the lead ballooned to 64-45 with five minutes to play.
“We want everyone to share the ball, if we can turn down a good shot to get a great shot, we want to. We didn’t shoot the ball well [from three] but I thought we took the ball to the basket really well today which was something we hadn’t done well the last couple of games,” Ferguson said. “So seeing that and making that adjustment was huge for us.”
Sharon boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) will look to make it five wins in a row when it hosts Foxboro in a crucial clash of Davenport contenders on Friday night while King Philip (0-3, 1-4) returns home in search of its first league win when it hosts Milford on the same day.
Attleboro, 49 @ Oliver Ames, 44 – Final – Attleboro went on the road and grinded out a key win over a tough Oliver Ames squad in a see-saw battle. The host Tigers got off to a strong start with a 15-7 lead after a quarter of play but the Bombardiers got back into it with their best offensive quarter of the game as five players combined for 17 points which translated into a 24-22 halftime lead. Oliver Ames answered with another strong defensive quarter and took a 35-33 edge into the final quarter. In the fourth, Attleboro went 8-for-14 from the free throw line and had five players contribute to the scoring to pull ahead. Junior Trevor White had a team-high 12 points while Alvin Harrison added 11 in the win. Zach Tagliamonte had a team-high 12 points for OA and Drew Baxter added 10 points.
Franklin, 62 @ Canton, 50 – Final – Franklin overcame a hot start and a first quarter deficit to pick up a win over Canton on the road. The Bulldogs hit five threes in the opening quarter for an 18-15 lead but the Panthers clamped down in the second to hold the hosts to six points to grab a 29-24 lead by the break. The Panthers extended their lead to eight (44-36) after 24 minutes and closed it out with a big final quarter to get the win. Sophomore Henry Digiorgio poured in a carer-high 27 points, scoring 12 in the first half and hitting three three-points in the fourth to cement the win. Sophomore Andrew O’Neill added 11 of his career-high 14 points in the second half for his varsity debut. Canton junior Matt Chafin finished with a career-high 16 points to lead Canton while Conor Hunter accounted for four of the Bulldogs’ 10 three-pointers for 12 points.
Milford, 47 @ Sharon, 60 – Final – Sharon used a 14-0 run between the first and second quarters to take a lead, erasing an early 10-point deficit, and never surrendered the lead the rest of the way. Sophomore Nate Katznelson hit a pair of threes in the second quarter and finished with a career-high 16 points, while sophomore Jacob McLoughlin and junior Jack Bates also hit from deep to help the Eagles turn a four-point deficit at the end of the quarter quarter (17-13) to a eight-point lead at halftime (31-23). Junior Matt Baur scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the second half to help close the game out. Milford junior Wyatt Zagami hit five three-pointers and finished with a career-high 19 points in his varsity debut.
Oliver Ames, 49 @ Attleboro, 28 – Final – Oliver Ames put the clamps on defensively, holding the Bombardiers to 11 points and never looked back from there to get a win on the road. Sophomore Jasmyn Cooper had a breakout performance for the Tigers, dropping 17 points to go along with eight rebounds. Anna Murphy added 11 points and a pair of blocks and senior Caroline Peper had a solid showing with 10 points and eight boards.
Canton, 47 @ Franklin, 67 – Final – Franklin extended its win streak to 36 games with a big win in the opener. Katie Peterson was the top scorer for the hosts with 18 points and Stefany Padula had 16, including four threes. Kiara Cerruti kicked off her senior season with a game-high 21 points, including 14 in the second half, for the Bulldogs. Canton led 12-11 after the first quarter, but the Panthers turned it around with a 22-9 second to grab the lead for good. Leading by 13 going into the fourth, Franklin scored 20 points in the final eight minutes to push the lead. Bridget Leo scored 12 points and Olivia Quinn and Brigid Earley each had seven for the Panthers. Sydney Gallery scored seven, all in the second half, and Samya DaSilva added five for the Bulldogs.
North Attleboro, 31 @ Mansfield, 56 – Final – Mansfield broke the game open from the start, pushing out to a 37-14 lead by halftime and rolling to a comfortable win in the season opener. Abby Wager scored all of her game-high 12 points in the opening half for the Hornets and Olivia Salisbury added all of her six points before the break. Anna Darlington and Bridget Hanley both scored eight points in the win. Ava McKeon scored a team-high nine points, including eight in the first half, for North, who struggled to get anything going and had to play from behind right from the start. Freshman Maryellen Charette added seven points for North in her first varsity game.
Sharon, 55 @ Milford, 50 – Final (OT) – Sharon sophomore center Jasmine Davis had a remarkable debut for the Eagles. After sitting out her freshman year, Davis exploded for 32 points and 28 rebounds to lead Sharon to a season-opening, overtime victory at Milford. Despite Davis’ big night, the game was close throughout. Sharon led 20-18 at halftime and the game went into an extra period tied at 46-46. The Eagles outscored Milford 9-4 in the OT to earn the win. Rachel Hager buried four threes to finish with 12 points and Trinity Payne added six for Sharon. Milford was led by senior Maddalena Mannucci Pacini, who also made an impressive varsity debut with 19 points, knocking down four threes. Brooke Ferreira added 12 points and Jill Araujo had six for the Hawks.
Stoughton, 30 @ Taunton, 62 – Final – Kameron St. Pierre marked her return to the Tigers with 23 points to give Taunton a season-opening win. After sitting out her sophomore season, St. Pierre scored 14 points in the first half to help the Tigers jump out to a 28-11 halftime lead. She finished with four made threes on the night. Cali Melo added eight points, all in the second half, and Olivia Gannon also scored eight for the Tigers. Stoughton got 12 points on a trio of threes from Kate Bulger. Evie Lam hit a pair from downtown and had six points and Vanessa Phelimond had six as well for the Black Knights.
Franklin, 7 vs. East Bridgewater, 3 – Final
After trotting out an entirely new lineup during the shortened COVID season a year ago, Attleboro is looking to build upon the foundation it built and contend for a Kelley-Rex title in a very deep division.
Senior Evan Houle and junior Trevor White are the two returning starters from a year ago but the Bombardiers have a lot of players back that saw valuable minutes off the bench as well. Houle and White both averaged 10 points per game a year ago and will be two of the main options on the offensive end of the court. Alvin Harrison and Joe Francois both played solid minutes last year and give the Bombardiers some size in the paint. Jake Struminski, Christian Dame, and Michael Beverly all played throughout last season and should be in the mix again this year.
The Bombardiers are getting a big boost in the backcourt with the addition of senior Colin Morais, who transferred in after playing in Rhode Island last year. Morais can score in a variety of ways and can really catch fire from three-point range so he will be a welcome addition to the lineup. Sophomore Neo Franco could see an expanded role right away and help provide additional defensive intensity and some scoring punch. Seniors Hayden Hagerty, senior Nathan Hunter-Evans, and junior Jaiden Outland give the Bombardiers some quality depth on the roster.
“I have been very impressed with our work ethic and how our players have set high standards in practice every day,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I credit our recent graduates for the past several years who set the high expectations for our teams to work hard, be good teammates, and earn our success in practice. We’re looking forward to the always challenging Hockomock League schedule. We must be prepared and be ready to compete at a high level every game.”
A new chapter begins for the Bulldogs with Eric MacKinnon taking over as head coach after Ryan Gordy stepped down to take an athletics administrative position with Canton. MacKinnon, a former Hockomock League All-Star for Oliver Ames, has experience coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels and will try to guide a relatively inexperienced group through a tough league schedule.
Canton graduated seven seniors from last year’s team that accounted for nearly 90% of the team’s points scored last year. But with that loss comes a lot of new opportunities for new players to fit into the lineup and rotation. Senior Lanse Dorcelus possesses the most experience of anyone on the roster after getting pulled up to varsity his freshmen year and seeing an expanded role in each of the past two seasons. He could be primed for a breakout year with his ability to attack the rim, and he can score in bunches when he gets going.
Dorcelus is joined by Dillon Nguyen, Conor Hunter, and Nate Mei as returners from last year. All three of those players know what it’s like to play at the varsity level in the Hockomock League so MacKinnon will be leaning on their experience as the Bulldogs try to navigate through a very challenging schedule. MacKinnon is hoping to have the Dogs playing with pace in the halfcourt and will be looking to have a balanced attack on offense with a presence in the post but also a roster that can hit from outside.
“We have a mix of guys who have had varsity experience along with some juniors who weren’t able to swing last year because of covid protocols,” MacKinnon said. “We know we’ll need to be efficient offensively and be sound on the other end to compete every night in this league. We’ve made progress in our early practices and I’ve been impressed by our senior leadership.”
There were a lot of growing pains for the Warriors last season, resulting in a 2-9 record during the shortened COVID season. But with its entire starting lineup back plus some added depth, Foxboro could be looking at a worst-to-first type turnaround in 2022.
Senior Dylan Gordon, fresh off an incredible football season for the Warriors, had a breakout season a year ago and was one of the leading scorers in the Hock at 16 points per game. He’s joined by junior Alex Penders, who had some dominant moments at times last year in the paint and averaged 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, and juniors Ryan LeClair, Sam Golub (6.4 PPG), and Sean O’Leary. Juniors Andrew Finn and Cam Barreira both played solid minutes at points last year so the Warriors boast eight veteran players now, which is a vast difference from last year when everyone on the roster was making their varsity debut.
The Warriors will look to boast a balanced offensive attack and have the weapons to do so. Whether it’s Penders down low in the post, Gordon slashing to the basket, or Golub lighting it up from deep, Foxboro has options all over the court. Head coach Jon Gibbs is hoping the experience and chemistry the group gained last year will provide a strong foundation for this season. Defensively, the Warriors have some size and length that will allow them to protect the paint, contest shots, and rebound at a high level.
“We have a deep team this year,” Gibbs said. “Guys are pushing each other hard in practice every day as they work to carve out roles for themselves. If we can defend and rebound at a championship level, we have the potential for a very successful season.”
Last season marked the second straight year that the Panthers graduated a large senior class and that means there are a lot of opportunities for new faces to step into the starting lineup and expanded roles this year around.
While the Panthers will have an entirely new starting lineup, Franklin will most certainly be right in the mix in a Kelley-Rex division that is jammed-pack with talent. Gone are leading scorer Declan Walmsley (17.5 points per game) along with the next two leading scorers on last year’s roster in Andrew Byfield (10.2) and Jake O’Brien (9.9). Key depth pieces like Zach Harvey (4.5) and Alex Newman (3.6) also graduated so head coach CJ Neely will be working with some new options this year.
Sophomore Henry Digiorgio burst onto the scene as a freshman a year ago and he’s the top returning scorer at 5.4 points per game, although he did reach double figures in the scoring column three times. Sean Vinson and Ben Harvey are the other two players back in the fold that saw some minutes a season ago. But something we’ve seen Franklin do year-in and year-out is reload so there will certainly be some new names to emerge over the next couple of weeks.
While the players change, the style of Franklin basketball has been consistent for years and defense remains to be the calling card under Neely. The Panthers are always a team that puts a lot of pressure, moves the ball around on the offensive end, and incorporates a lot of motion off the ball to keep opposing defenses on their heels.
“Guys have really showed up ready to compete for jobs,” Neely said. “Obviously with five graduating starters from last year’s team there are a lot of roles up for grabs and practices have been great. We have had a very competitive preseason and it has shown that we have a lot of depth and it will be an ongoing battle all year to earn your spot and maintain your spot throughout the year.”
With a strong mix of experienced players and new faces, King Philip is looking to make some noise in a very talented and deep Kelley-Rex division, one of the best divisions in the state.
Head coach Dave DeStefano is back after missing the COVID season due to the birth of his son and has seven seniors, four juniors, two sophomores, and two freshmen on the roster to work with this year. KP has a solid foundation with two returning starters back and both averaged double figures in the scoring column. Junior Will Laplante had a breakout year and will be someone every opposing defense will have to keep an eye on after averaging 16.4 points per game last year. And senior Danny Clancy is one of the hardest-working players and fights for a lot of rebounds on the offensive glass; he averaged 12.2 points per game last year.
Senior Charlie Grant, fresh off leading the King Philip football team to the state final at quarterback, is confident with the ball in his hands and will be like a quarterback for the offense by setting the tempo. Seniors Sean Sullivan and Braeden Sottile will be looking to build on their minutes from a season ago and could see expanded roles this go around. Seniors Will Martorano (6’5) and Drew Danson (6’3) should give the Warriors a big, physical presence in the paint. DeStefano is also expecting juniors Tommy Martorano, Grant Kinney, and Collin Peck to be in the mix after improving a lot over the offseason.
“The boys have really committed this offseason,” said DeStefano, who is hoping a combination of athleticism and physicality lead to success this year. “The practices so far have been really competitive and physical. We know that everyone in this league can score the ball and if we want to be successful we are going to have to commit on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense, we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2020-2021 Record: 15-1 (Kelley-Rex division champions) Coach: Mike Vaughan
Mansfield won another division title last season and expectations are sky high yet again this year, as the Hornets look to win their 10th straight Kelley-Rex division title and go on a deep tournament run.
While the Hornets reload every year, they have a pretty good head start this season already with senior Matt Hyland and junior Chris Hill back in the lineup. Both boast a lot of experience at the varsity level and are capable of being the best player on the court. Mansfield lost 1,000-point score Matt Boen (just the second player to reach that milestone under head coach Mike Vaughan despite all of the program’s success) to graduation so both Hyland and Hill will take on more responsibility on the offensive end of the floor.
Seniors Jack Lasbury-Casey, Andrew Slaney, and Anthony Sacchetti, along with sophomore Trevor Foley, all saw minutes during last year’s shortened COVID season and could be in line for expanded roles this year. Sacchetti has impressed in the preseason so far and the Hornets have played well with him on the floor, Foley (6’5) creates a lot of matchup problems with his size and athleticism, and both Lasbury-Casey and Slaney can give the offense a boost with their outside shooting.
Caden Colby, Dante James, and JT Veiking all are coming off very successful seasons of JV and the same goes for sophomore Eddie McCoy, who had a strong year on the freshmen squad. All four players are all in the mix for minutes and give the Hornets a very deep roster. The Hornets are looking to use their size and length to their advantage, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“Overall the expectations are the same, we want to qualify for the tournament as quickly as possible by playing one game at a time, win the league title, and win multiple tournament games,” Vaughan said. “With the quality of the league and our tough non-league schedule, we have a challenge ahead of us but I think we have the pieces to be a very talented and quality basketball team on both ends of the floor.”
It’s not uncommon for a program to graduate its entire starting lineup, and it’s not even uncommon to see the majority of a roster turnover because of graduation. But Milford is in a unique situation in which it graduated its entire team. That’s right, Milford will boast a roster full of players without a minute of varsity experience.
Head coach Paul Seaver has four seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen as the Hawks write a new chapter book in program history. Coaches in the Hockomock League will be checking in with their subvarsity coaches, and maybe even their metro coaches, to try and get an idea of what to expect from the Hawks this year.
While we’ll learn more about the Hawks as the season goes on, we do know one thing. Seaver will be leaning on the leadership of senior captains Nick Schuler and Paul Roberts. Both Schuler and Roberts have varsity experience in other sports so their leadership will be key for a program that will be experiencing this level for the first time.
“With a brand new crop of guys this season, we look to compete on both sides of the floor this year while working towards reestablishing the culture and environment of Milford basketball,” Seaver said.
The Rocketeers have a roster mixed with new faces and a handful of experienced players and are hoping that combination can lead to some success in a loaded Hockomock League.
After graduating just two seniors two years ago, North lost half of its roster from last year and all five were players that saw valuable minutes for head coach Sean Mukerrins. But on the plus side, the four players back all played a lot of minutes including starters and potential league all-stars Brody Rosenberg and Casey Poirier. Rosenberg was second on the team last year in scoring with 10.4 points per game last year and will need to take on more responsibility on the offensive end this year. Poirier is a capable guard that is confident with the ball in his hands and likes to spread the rock around.
Seniors Gavin Wells (6’3) and Nate Bennett (6’3) are the other two returners for the Big Red and both improved as the season went on last year. Wells emerged as a threat from the perimeter, dropping a season-high 13 points in a road win over Foxboro last season. Bennett can play in a variety of roles and he gives North some good size on the defensive end.
North has developed a reputation for being disciplined and well-prepared on the defensive end of the court, and that will likely be the strength for the squad again this year. On the offensive end, the Rocketeers will follow the lead of Rosenberg and Poirier as an unselfish group that is always looking for the best shot.
“We are excited to get the season started and see where we stack up against the rest of the Hockomock League,” Mulkerrins said. “After graduating a tremendous 2021 class, this group is excited to step in and carve our roles that will help our team succeed.”
2020-2021 Record: 9-1 (Davenport division champions) Coach: Oliver Vil
Oliver Ames had a terrific showing during the shortened COVID season, winning the Davenport division in its first season back after four years in the Kelley-Rex division.
Oliver Vil takes over as head coach of the program after the untimely passing of legendary and Hall of Fame coach Don Byron in June. Byron coached through his battle with cancer for the past couple of seasons, leading the Tigers to the Davenport crown with a 9-1 record last winter.
Vil and the Tigers will honor Byron this season when they play Abington; Byron coached the Green Wave to a sectional title in his final season there before coming to Oliver Ames. The Tigers will be raising funds for Coaches vs. Cancer when they host Abington on December 23rd.
Vil, who was an assistant under Byron before taking the head coaching job at Walpole, has two key pieces back from last year’s squad. Senior Drew Baxter is a crafty guard that can really get going on the offensive side of the ball and score in a variety of ways; he will spearhead the offense while Jake Grimaldi, a senior co-captain, gives the Tigers some size down low. After graduating nine seniors from last year’s roster, there are a lot of opportunities for new faces to take advantage of.
“I look forward to continuing the great tradition at OA,” Vil said. “There are big shoes to fill, but my mentor Don Byron has prepared me for this position. I’m excited for this opportunity and challenge.”
Sharon built a solid foundation during last year’s COVID-shortened season and now expectations are high as the Eagles look to build on it and compete for the Davenport division title.
The Eagles have a good chunk of the roster back from last year, all with an important year of experience now under the belt, and an impressive group of young players that are ready to make an immediate impact at the varsity level. Senior John Baez is in his fourth year with the varsity team and will be joined by senior Ryan Zunenshine in the backcourt to give the Eagles an experienced duo spearheading the offense.
The strong senior class also features Sam Cohen, Will Hippler, Donyae Pierre, Nate Yaffe, Ryan Baker, and Brent Cham. Cohen burst onto the scene at the end of his sophomore year and can light it up from three-point range while Hippler is a versatile player that gives the Eagles defensively flexibility. Junior Matt Baur is poised for a breakout season and might be the best player on the court on both sides of the court for the Eagles.
Sophomores Nate Katznelson and Jacob McLoughlin impressed in their first year playing high school ball last year and now will make the jump to the varsity level and could make an immediate impact. Juniors Jack Bates and Tyler Goodman give Sharon quality depth at the guard position. Sharon is hoping to get all five guys on the court involved on the offensive end of the court while a revamped defense could be the spark the Eagles need.
“We are thankful to be playing another season and thank the work of the athletic directors of the league to ensure a full season,” said head coach Andrew Ferguson. “We have been working extremely hard throughout the offseason and the early season to hit the ground running. We have a tight-knit team who have been growing together over the past few years and we can’t wait to get the season started.”
With just one starter back from last year, second-year head coach Evan Taylor is relying on a mix of new faces and some returners to make up the nucleus of this year’s squad.
Connor Andrews is the lone starter back for the Black Knights after averaging 8.5 points a year ago. But Stoughton also has a pair of juniors in Josh Rivera and Cashmere Mathurin, along with junior Rayan Sablon, that played meaningful minutes and are in line for expanded roles for the 2021-2022 season. Andrews can do it all on the offensive end and does a lot of the little things right. Not only can he light up the scoreboard with his outside shooting, but he also sets the tone with his hustle and rebounding.
Rivera is a capable ball-handler and likes to get his teammates involved; his energy will set the tone of the defensive end. Matherin’s size and athleticism will give a lot of teams trouble this year and Stoughton is looking for him to be one of the best rim protectors in the league. Sablon will play a variety of roles for the Knights, capable of playing as both the one and the two depending on the scenario. Freshman Matt Greenspoon is a player to watch as the season goes on.
Taylor is putting a big focus on the defensive end of the floor during the preseason. The Black Knights allowed the second-most points against in the Davenport division this year so a renewed focus on defense — with an emphasis on using their speed and athleticism to cause havoc — will be something to keep an eye on.
“We are very pleased with the energy and competition level at practice and we are expecting to be very competitive in the Davenport division this season,” Taylor said.
2020-2021 Record: 10-1 (Kelley-Rex division champions) Coach: Charlie Dacey
Last season will always be “what if” for the Tigers, who won their first Hock title by sharing the Kelley-Rex division title with Mansfield. But the past is the past and Taunton is focused on the future, which could be another league title.
There will certainly be a bit of a new look for Taunton with the centerpiece of the offense from the past two seasons Tyler Stewart now causing problems for opponents in the Commonwealth Coast Conference as a member of the Wentworth men’s basketball team, and three-year starter Josh Lopes now suiting up for American International College.
But not all is lost as the Tigers have its three other starters from last year’s squad back in the mix and ready to challenge for another Kelley-Rex crown. Trent Santos is now a three-year starter and led the Tigers in scoring last year with 15.2 points per game and he will be one of the top players in the league again this year. Tristan Herry made a huge jump between his sophomore and junior year and is looking to continue that trend this year, the heart and soul of the defense. And Faisal Mass made a big splash last year and can hurt teams in a variety of ways.
The Tigers are getting a boost with the addition of Jordan Costa, who provides a big boost in the rebounding category and can cause some damage around the rim. He’ll be joined by junior Matt Small (6’4) to give the Tigers another option down low. Sophomores Troy Santos and Morrisette could be contributors to the lineup right away for Taunton.
“We’re looking to be aggressive defensively and dynamic offensively with varied skills being able to finish from different spots and different personnel,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.
2019 Boys Record: 1-5 2019 Girls Record: 0-6 Coach: Martin Tighe
The Attleboro boys cross country team has one of its best group of returners, perhaps one of the strongest teams in quite some time. And on the girls side, head coach Martin Tighe has one of the best runners in the league in senior Kelly Neuendorf, a top finisher at last year’s Hockomock League Championship meet. The Bombardiers host opponents at the Highland Park Cross Country Course, which was designed by Tighe and Bishop Feehan coach Bob L’Homme.
Senior Nathan Seybert will be in the mix for one of the fastest runners in the Hockomock League this season. In six dual meets last season, Seybert finished in the top three each time, taking first against both Feehan and Taunton. Tighe notes that Seybert will run around 16:10 or better this season. Attleboro also had Ethan Sylvia, Neil Bowie, Shane Cataloni, and Zachary Stromfors have strong finishes at the league championship meet last year.
On the girls side, Neuendorf is fresh off a top 10 finish at the league championships, clocking in at 20:28.32. She was first in the dual meet against league champion Franklin and finished no worse than third in the six dual meets. Other top runners from the league championship meet last season included Kimberly Esteban, Jazlyn Miller-Villanueva, and Diana Blouin.
“I’m looking forward to the X-C season as are many athletes and coaches,” Tighe said.
2019 Boys Record: 2-4 2019 Girls Record: 1-5 Coach: David Hiltz
Both the Canton girls and boys have spots to fill in their starting lineup but both squads have top runners back on the course this season. The Bulldogs call Pequitside Farm home, a 3.01 mile course that is mixed with trails, grass, and hills that make it one of the more challenging courses in the Davenport.
The boys squad graduated four of the top seven from last season but bring back its three captains in senior Jack Hernon, senior Elias Jabbour, and junior Kyle Downing. Downing was Canton’s top runner throughout last season, culminating in team-best finish at the league championship meet. After the top three of Downing, Hernon, and Jabbour, the Dogs have four spots in the lineup up for grabs. Sophomore Matt Hart, who had a solid freshman season, is a candidate for a breakout year.
“The boys have a good mix of returners with some new faces who have joined,” said head coach David Hiltz. “If we can build some depth with our four and five, run consistently, and stay healthy we should compete within each meet and strive for that third dual meet win (after a 2-3 finish last year).”
The girls have a strong core of three returners, led by senior captains Marie Messinger and Jesse Hart. Messinger was Canton’s top runner at Hocks in 2019 while Hart had strong showings against both Foxboro and Stoughton a year ago. Sophomore Johanna Bouwmeester had a breakout season as a freshman a year ago, including 41st place at Hocks. With four spots in the lineup open, it’s been a mix of other returners as well as some first time runners and freshmen competing for the openings.
“Although graduating senior leadership, there is a good mix of youth and experience that will make the top seven,” Hiltz said. “Similar to the boys, building depth in the four and five spots will determine how successful the team is this fall, with those spots going to some younger runners. A goal of the team is to increase the dual meet wins, and this year with three home meets and strong senior leadership should help in that process. Staying consistent and healthy will be key to their success this season.”
2019 Boys Record: 1-4 2019 Girls Record: 3-2 Coach: Wayne Relleva
With Joe Cusack taking over as athletic director this past school year, Wayne Relleva takes over as head coach for the Warriors’ cross country teams. Relleva will have a pair of young squads with just four seniors on the boys team and just one on the girls side.
Hosting teams at the Payson Road Fields, the Warriors are hoping home course advantage can lead to a strong start to the season as Foxboro hosts its first two meets. The boys squad features 19 total runners with senior captain Liam Cody leading the way. Relleva is also looking for junior Nicolas Olson and sophomore Brooks Stone to play big roles for the Warriors this season.
“For the season, I’m hoping to be highly competitive, improve, and win some races,” Rellava said. “Being as young as we are we have lots of room to grow over our five race season.”
Captain Amy Conley is the lone senior on the girls team and will lead the way for 10 sophomores and a freshman. Half of those sophomores are returners from a season ago, including Aine Fitzpatrick, who could be a major factor in the lineup this season. Relleva is also looking for sophomores Emilia Lacy, Mabel Linck, and Sophia Sougaris to factor into the scoring this year.
“I’m excited to see how this young team grows and comes together over our season, it should be fun to watch,” Relleva said.
2019 Boys Record: 5-0 2019 Girls Record: 4-1 Coach: Nick Bailey & Paul Trovato
Both of Franklin’s cross country squads are coming off league titles and will be looking to replicate that success in 2020. The boys team has won three straight Kelley-Rex titles and have a strong group of runners back this year to try and make it four straight. The girls bring back a pair of Hock all stars from last year’s squad that finished second at Hocks.
“With a strong senior and junior class the 2020 Franklin Boys XC team is looking forward to some tough competition once the races get underway,” said boys head coach Nick Bailey. “This team has put in the hard work necessary to be competitive in the Hockomock League and they have adapted well to social distancing guidelines we are all part of.”
Franklin will be hosting opponents on a course around the high school instead of Dacey Field. The course is a relatively fast course with a mixture of roads and fields that is 3.1 miles long. Senior Nicholas Calitri will be one of the top runners in the entire Hockomock League, fresh off a third place finish at the league meet a year ago. He will be joined by senior Declan Walmsley, who factored into the scoring in the dual meets last season and took 12th overall at the league meet, senior Josh Anderson (54th at Hocks), and junior Griffin Sieckiewicz (33rd at Hocks).
“Quite a few athletes on the team have made some great improvements since their last races all the way back in February and March and have adapted well to the new challenges that have come with the Fall 2020 season,” Bailey said. “One way or another, this will be a memorable year for our cross country team”
All-Hock selections Sydney Brady (10th at Hocks) and Caitlin Casey (18th) lead the way for the Panthers, who shared the division title with OA last year. Brady is a captain along with classmates Sydney Hawkins (who took 10th at Hocks) and Liz Petit. Juniors Charlene Peng and Liliana Duffy will bolster the Panthers lineup following successful sophomore campaigns, both finishing inside the top 30 at Hocks. RuthAnn Mulvey, a sophomore, and Angelina Perez, a senior, make the Panthers one of the deepest squads in the league.
“Last season the team finished second at the Hockomock Championship Meet. This team has a strong group of dedicated runners who are working hard and should be competitive in the Kelley-Rex Division,” said head coach Paul Trovato.
2019 Boys Record: 3-2 2019 Girls Record: 3-2 Coach: Scott Kramer & Lauren Farkash
The King Philip boys and girls cross country teams are in different situations heading into the 2020 season. The girls return their top three runners from last year’s Hockomock Championship race; all three finishing in the top 30. The boys team, however, graduated four of its top five runners from the same meet, including the Gatorade Runner of the Year Mike Griffin and Michael Norberg, who was fourth at Hocks.
But neither team is paying much attention to the past with the focus on the five-race season ahead. Senior Jovan Joseph will pace the pack for the boys, gaining plenty of valuable experience from last year’s group. Joseph is coming off a strong junior campaign that finished with a top 20 finish at the league meet. Head coach Scott Kramer is looking for a combination of juniors and sophomores to fill out the rest of the lineup. Liam Noke, Andrew Noke, Brandon Berdos, Ryan Andrews, and Matt DiFiore will all compete to be in the scoring for KP.
“The returning guys had a great summer of training,” Kramer said. “Captains Jovan Joseph and Sam Evans really ran a great program and it will be tough for any newcomers to get in the pack for us.”
KP has moved the finish line of its 5K course at the Rice Complex in Wrentham but the distance hasn’t changed. The King Philip girls squad, coming off a fourth place finish as a team at Hocks, has its top three runners back in juniors Maya Evans and Meg Sherwood as well as senior Ava Pisani. All three had strong seasons in 2019 with Evans emerging as one of the top competitors in the Hock as seen by her fourth place finish in 19:51.50 at Hocks. With some open spots in the lineup, head coach Lauren Farkash has been happy with the depth so far in training. Leah Burke and Kat Precobb are returners from last year while freshman Bridget Swezey could make an immediate impact.
“My goal this year is to just provide the girls a sense of normalcy during these unusual times,” Farkash said. “Our focus is creating good memories, strong bodies and minds, and having fun! We are not worrying about PRs or win/loss records, their enjoyment of the sport and their physical and mental health is most important!”
2019 Boys Record: 2-3 2019 Girls Record: 3-3 Coach: Ian Flanagan & Carolina DiBiase
Both the Mansfield boys and girls team are aiming to get back atop the Kelley-Rex division this season. After a 14-year run as league champs, Mansfield has been on the outside looking in over the past three seasons and will be relying on some new faces to lead the way this year. On the girls side, the Hornets have a handful of top runners back from last season to try and challenge for the division title. Mansfield will host teams at the Plymouth Street Soccer Fields (5K).
The Hornets lost their top three runners from the Hockomock Championship meet to graduation so head coach Ian Flanagan will be looking for new faces to step up. Mansfield is loaded with upperclassmen who had strong offseasons and run similar times. Junior Collin Stevens finished at 17:43.61 to take 31st overall and will be one of the top runners for the Hornets this season. Seniors Tim Corkery, Ryan Rispoli, and Trevor Flint, as well as junior Chris Leonard, will help round out a well-balanced lineup.
“We have some big shoes to fill from last year losing three of our better runners but the guys on this team are hard workers who are up for the challenge,” Flanagan said. “We also have some promising young guys who will really benefit from this season and will impact some meets this year.”
The girls are under new leadership this season as Carolina DiBiase, who has coached at MHS in the past, takes over for longtime coach Derek Ellis. DiBiase has one of the top runners returning this season in senior captain Tessa Lancaster, who crossed the finish line sixth at the league championships last year. Senior Emma Lamson is the other captain on the team and one of the top runners on the team (22nd at Hocks) as well. Senior Abby Greenberg and junior Cassidy Rice will be runners to watch this season while juniors Sophia Allen and Alanna Conley and freshmen Jen Mullert will help push the pack. Senior Anne Riley and sophomores Alexis DiVasta and Devin Anderson return as starters from last season.
“I am looking forward to seeing what they can do this season,” DiBiase said. “I have taken a break and have really enjoyed getting back into things. The girls look strong and they are ready to run and improve each week.”
2019 Boys Record: 4-1 2019 Girls Record: 3-2 Coach: Dan Gordon & Glenn O’Connor
Expectations are sky high for the Milford girls cross country team as the Hawks are aiming to soar above the competition in the Kelley-Rex division. Meanwhile, the boys might have a small squad but it includes some strong runners eager to make some noise against new competition.
The Milford girls have good reason for such high expectations with a strong group of top runners from the Hockomock League leading the pack. Senior Emma Lawrence will be among the top runners in the region after a strong offseason. In her first season running cross country, Lawrence had a remarkable year that included a 5th place finish at Hocks. She will be joined by sophomore Sydney Kalil (48th at Hocks) and a pair of indoor track league champions in Sarah Flanagan and Kerry O’Connor. Flanagan won the 300M race and O’Connor, who clocked in at 22:38.00 at last year’s league championship meet, was the Hock champ in the 600M. Maren Halpen, Haley Jansons, Eva Parsons, Kate Pease, Fiona Jordan, Stephanie Goulet, and senior captain Brittany Silverman will make the Hawks one of the deepest teams in the league.
“We’re so glad we have a season,” said Milford head coach Glenn O’Connor. “Nobody is going to happy to see the Lady Scarlet Hawks on their XC schedule.”
Dan Gordon takes over as head coach for the boys team, which has reason for optimism after some strong preseason times. Junior James Comisky is back after a strong sophomore campaign and will pace the pack for the Hawks this season. In a preseason 5K scrimmage against Mansfield, Comisky was the top finisher. Sophomore Mark Butters has grown a lot as a runner from his debut season last year and will be a key piece for Milford this season. Captain Jack Jansons will be one of the leaders for the Hawks this year.
“I am looking forward to having a safe, fun, and competitive season,” Gordon said. “My goals are that everyone leaves faster and more knowledgeable about how to race well when it matters most.”
2019 Boys Record: 3-2 2019 Girls Record: 3-2 Coach: Anne Marie McGrail
North Attleboro could be set for a breakout season for both the boys and girls teams this season. Five of the seven Rocketeer boys who scored at the league meet last season were either juniors or sophomores while only two seniors scored on the girls side, meaning North Attleboro should have a deep squad for the 2020 season.
Juniors Christopher Galligan and Griffin Goueck placed 39th and 53rd, respectively, at the league meet last season while junior Mark Carlson, junior Casey Poirier, and senior Jack McLaughlin all clocked in under 19 minutes.
On the girls side, Natalie Kaiser (32nd at Hocks) and Olivia Forbes were lost to graduation but the other six to factor into the scoring were juniors, sophomores or freshmen. Senior Melissa Sapini had North’s top placement for the girls last year when she clocked in at 21:11.52.
2019 Boys Record: 5-1 2019 Girls Record: 5-1 Coach: Kyle Sousa
The Kelley-Rex division could run through Easton this season, for both the girls and the boys. The girls split the division title with Franklin last year but bring back two of the best runners in the league and are poised for a repeat. The boys didn’t win the division but had a stellar showing at Hocks and took first place as a team with five runners in the top 20.
Of those five, the boys have three runners back – senior Kyle Sarney, junior Owen McMorrow, and senior Nathan Reservitz. Sarney will look to build on his fifth place finish at Hocks and be in the mix for one of the fastest runners in the Hock. McMorrow (13th) and Reservitz (17th) weren’t far behind so the Tigers will have a strong nucleus to lead the pack. Head coach Kyle Sousa described the boys team as a seasoned group with a lot of competitive experience.
Catherine O’Donnell and Meghan Reardon highlight a strong girls team for the Tigers. The duo finished in succession at the league meet with O’Donnell clocking in at 20:05.32 for seventh place and Reardon just a couple of seconds behind for eighth overall. Sousa is hoping that a very deep squad will translate to some dual meet wins in the quest for a second straight division title.
“Everyone around the Hockomock League and the state at large knows that the 2020 Season is going to look different than any season before it,” Sousa said. “Now more than ever, we are training through unpredictable adversity, and adapting in real time to the daily curveballs that some with a global pandemic. Never have I been so impressed by the commitment of the young men and women of Oliver Ames Cross Country. Their focus is unwavering — their commitment resolute. We are so grateful to be able to compete this fall. The Hockomock League is one of the premiere cross country leagues in the state, and we are hungry to cut our teeth on the exceptional competition in front of us. It is going to be a tough and gritty season in the Hock and we hope to be right in the thick of it.”
2019 Boys Record: 5-0 2019 Girls Record: 5-0 Coach: Tim Cimeno & Katelyn Decknick
There will be a big hole on the sidelines this season as the Eagles are set to start the 2020 season without coach Alan Conway, who passed away at the beginning of September. Conway was incredibly well-liked around the Hockomock League by runners and his peers.
On the course, the Eagles will be looking to defend their Davenport division titles as both the boys and girls earned a banner during the 2019 season. The girls will rely on a mix of veterans and new faces as they navigate a competitive field. It will start with junior Daphne Theiler, who was second overall at the league championship meet last season (19:41.21). Theiler will be joined by seniors Margaret Li and Berta Faktorovich, two runners are placed in the top 35 at Hocks. The Eagles also have some great new first year runners including sophomores Hannah Li and Grace Hu, as well as freshman Eva Olszewski.
“The girls team is hard working and there is great team spirit,” said head coach Katelyn Decknick. “As defending Hock Champs, we look strong. The team has a nice blend of well established talent and new runners hungry to race.”
The boys squad is returning five of their top seven runners while there are plenty of new faces (60 total on the team) eager to battle for a spot in the lineup. Seniors Sid Reddy (25th at Hocks), Mark Starovoytov (26th), Bradley Weiss (34th), and Jordan Saks, plus junior Balint Mihajlovits will lead a balanced and deep group of runners. New faces to watch include Matthew Lally, Ashmith Yeruva, and Jack Bates. Sharon will host home meets at Deborah Sampson Park (2.83), a flat and fast course.
2019 Boys Record: 0-5 2019 Girls Record: 0-5 Coach: Dave Barbato & Alexis Van Voorhis
There is a lot of potential when it comes to the Stoughton boys and girls cross country teams. The Black Knights made big strides as the season progressed a year ago and head coaches Dave Barbato and Alexis Van Voorhis are hoping that trend continues in 2020.
The girls lost their top runner in Rebecca Lally to graduation so the Black Knights will be relying on Elaine McCarty and Danielle Lawrence to pace the pack this season. Van Voorhis said both runners have looked strong in the two weeks of workouts and is expecting McCarty and Lawrence to work together throughout each race. Stoughton has a deep roster this year than last season and will be looking for Avrie Martin and freshman Lilly Branco to translate their track skills to the cross country course. Junior captain Jessica Maddalena is a key piece but will miss the season due to injury.
“If I were to use one word to describe this team and our season, it would be potential,” Van Voorhis said. “I have hope for every single girl on this team, that if we put in the work, this team could potentially emerge stronger and more determined than when we started. They are all fantastic people, and I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s improvement throughout the rest of the season.”
The boys team is hoping a year of experience will translate into better times as the Black Knights host opponents on a new course this season. The new course goes around the grounds of the new high school; it’s mostly flat (5K) and should be fast. The squad features four returning runners including captain Bob Currier, Colin Ozturk, Mike Henriques, and Aiden Castillo.
“The strength of their team lies with these juniors,” Barbato said. “If they can be tough, if they think they can be good and if they learn they belong up near the best from other teams Stoughton could win more than they lose.”
2019 Boys Record: 0-5 2019 Girls Record: 2-3 Coach: Jessica Ouellette & Mike Kelley
With a mix of top runners and a deep roster, the Taunton girls team enters the season with high hopes. And there is equal optimism on the boys side with a large group of talent back for the 2020 season.
The girls team features some of the top returning runners in the Hockomock League and a deep roster is providing head coach Mike Kelley with a range of options in his lineup. Senior captain Lily Valcovic and junior Nia Mainer-Smith have emerged as the top two runners for the Tigers this season while senior captains Livvy Weber and Olivia Dias give Taunton plenty of depth of experienced runners. Kelley’s roster got a big boost with a large eighth grade class, including Emersyn DePonte and Colby Dunham, who have quickly established themselves in the top five on the team.
“We’re much deeper than last year, to the point where we’ll be trying to displace other team’s fourth and fifth runners with our sixth and seventh,” Kelley said. “Being able to run in larger packs also takes pressure off individuals. The veterans have been terrific setting the example. We have four eighth graders in our varsity top ten, so the future is bright.”
On the boys side, the Tigers only lost two of their top 10 so there will be plenty of competition in-house and head coach Jessica Ouellette is hoping that translates to some success in the dual meets. Senior captains Ty Cali and Nolan Tavares return as the top two runners, as well as junior Ryan Strawbridge and sophomore Jack Pawlowski, who have put in some serious training over the summer. The Tigers have two runners to watch this year in freshmen Brayden and Andrew Cali, whose PRs last year are 17:39, and 17:50, as eighth graders.
“This is one of the stronger teams Taunton Boys XC has seen,” Ouellette said. “I’m hopeful that we can have our number three runner make a jump to sub-17 to solidify a fast 1-2-3. We have some promising younger talent as well as strong seniority up front. We have a great group of guys, who are motivated to work hard and work together to win.”