CANTON, Mass. – The chance to put last season in the rearview mirror couldn’t come soon enough for the North Attleboro football team.
The Rocketeers had a rare sub-.500 season in the Fall of 2019 but with the majority of its roster back, including eight starters on each side of the ball, the Big Red was ready to get back on track as one of the most successful programs in the state.
North Attleboro needed less than a minute to do so.
The Rocketeers scored just three plays into the new season and then really hit their stride on offense in the middle of the game, scoring on four straight possessions between the second and third quarters, to run away with a 41-13 win over host Canton.
After a drop on the first play, North senior Jared Penta (three carries, 65 yards) ripped off a 20-yard run and on the next play, junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio (8/12, 138 yards, touchdown, nine carries, 73 yards, three touchdowns) kept it himself and weaved his way through the defense for a 45-yard score and a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds into the game.
The combination of penalties, self-inflicted mistakes, and Canton’s defense stifled the Rocketeers over their next three drives, including two fourth down stops and one punt, which was set up by a sack from Canton senior Matt Connolly. North even got inside the 10-yard line on their third drive but a botched snap on a field goal attempt ended with an incomplete pass.
North Attleboro football
But while North’s offense worked out the early season jitters, the Rocketeers’ defense was smothering from the start against a Canton offense that featured new faces in almost every position. Canton went three-and-out on its first five possessions and the sixth came to an end just two plays in for the halftime whistle.
“We looked like a team that hadn’t played in 15 months…some stupid penalties early, procedure stuff, a bad snap on the field goal attempt…it was a lot of stuff that you get out of your system if you play a second scrimmage, which we normally do,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “Once we got into a groove though…we still have a lot of work to do but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
Even though North’s fifth drive didn’t start in an ideal manner due to a false start and a two-yard loss on first down, the Rocketeers finally clicked into gear. DeMattio kept it himself for a 32 yard gain the move the chains and then hit Matt Penta (three catches, 74 yards, touchdown) for another first to move into the red zone.
Two plays later, DeMattio kept it himself up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 4:37 left in the second quarter.
“North Attleboro has a strong tradition, they are a great program, they have good coaches and good players over there, that’s a solid team for sure,” said first-year Canton head coach Anthony Fallon. “We’re working hard over here, we graduated a big senior class last year, and we’re getting better.”
Canton’s ensuing drive came to an end after a sack from North’s Jared Vacher. The Rocketeers needed two plays to tack on another score by halftime with DeMattio hooking up with Penta down the middle for a 47 yard gain. And then DeMattio kept it to the left and won the race to the pylon to make it 21-0 with 1:07 left in the first half.
A pair of sacks sent Canton backward on its first drive of the second half and North started with good field position after the punt. Helped along by a 15-yard penalty on the defense, DeMattio finished the drive by hitting Penta in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 28-0 with 7:43 left in the third.
North Attleboro football
“I thought our defense was pretty good because I was worried about it with them having new players, a new coaching staff,” Johnson said. “We basically had half of a scrimmage to go off of and they played their starters for about 15 plays so there was definitely that fear of the unknown but I think the experience in our secondary and our linebackers paid off today.”
The Bulldogs put together their best drive of the game on the ensuing drive, Anthony Botelho (12/23, 160 yards) hitting Vincent O’Brienn to convert a third down, and then connecting with Cam Sanchez down the middle for 41 yards. Carson Campbell had a big lead block on a fourth-down run that allowed Sanchez to get the first down, and two plays later, Botelho scrambled into the end zone. Will Keefe’s extra point made it 28-7 with 2:19 left in the third.
North needed less than a minute to respond as Jacob Silva (six carries, 104 yards) broke free for 11 yards, DeMattio linked up with Jared Penta for 39 yards down the right sideline, and then Silva scampered into space for a 21-yard touchdown.
“[Tyler’s] a hard-nosed tough kid who has had to learn how to play the position,” Johnson said. “If it was up to him, I think he would run the ball every single down and just lower his shoulder and run through people. He’s had to learn how to play quarterback, learn to read coverages, learn when to throw it and when to dump it, and all that stuff. And he’s just getting better every year with it.”
Sanchez capped a 10 play, 77-yard drive for Canton with a touchdown from one-yard out but North blocked the point after. On the ensuing kickoff, North junior Danny Curran took the kickoff the distance to get the touchdown right back for the Rocketeers.
North Attleboro (1-0) is back on the road again next week when it takes on Sharon, who will host the game at Mansfield High. Canton (0-1) hits the road to Easton to take on Oliver Ames.
It’s a new era in Canton as Anthony Fallon takes over for longtime head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down from his second stint in charge of the Bulldogs at the end of last season.
While it’s a new era, all of the players and coaches are hoping that the success from the past two seasons continues going forward. If that success is going to continue, it’s going to be by a host of new faces. The Bulldogs graduated a historic class that won back-to-back Davenport division titles and reached the D5 South Sectional final in 2019. While competing for the Davenport division title this year, Canton will lean heavily on its few returners while new players take advantage of the new opportunities.
Senior Matt Connolly is a force on both sides of the ball, protecting the quarterback on the offensive line and leading the way for the ground game with his blocking. And defensively, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound senior who is committed to play at Assumption College, is an absolute handful and requires a lot of attention. Cam Sanchez is another experienced player back for the Bulldogs and will be involved in the running game offensively and apart of the secondary defensively. Carson Campbell started all 11 games for Canton last year at right tackle and will add defensive line duties this season. Jack Albert should see an expanded role on both sides of the ball and will be one of the main targets in the receiving game.
“Our team has great speed in our secondary, we are big and strong upfront and our linebackers are tough and fast,” Fallon said. “We have a solid mix on our varsity of juniors and seniors. I am also excited with our numbers on the sub-varsity level with 30-plus players. With a tough-minded defense and a fast offense, I know we will compete in every game.”
There is a lot of optimism in Foxboro for the Fall II season, and with a strong group of returning starters in different spots all over the field, there is good reason for it.
The Warriors seem to be in the mix for the Davenport division title each season, coming in third in 2019 and 2017. With talent back in key spots, Foxboro could be a serious contender for their first crown since 2015. The offense starts with the line and Foxboro has some experience and size to work with. Senior Sean Ferguson is a towering presence at 6’5, 315-pounds and anchors the line from the center position and he will be joined by junior Dylan Kerrigan (6’0, 205) at tackle. Senior Cam Prescott will start under center and will have a bevy of options to work with including playmaker Luis Sulham and junior Rashaad Way. Look for Chris McNamara to pick up where he left off carrying the ball.
Foxboro has an equal amount of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball with the strength of the team coming from the linebackers and the secondary. Seniors Mike Norvish and James Stamatos return with plenty of varsity experience under their belts and will anchor the linebacker position while senior James Kraus will start at safety and will be accompanied in the secondary by Way and Tom Sharkey, both juniors. One player to keep an eye out for is senior Jon Moses, a 6’4 defensive end that really improved over the course of last season and could be a handful for opposing offenses to deal with.
“The heart and soul of team this year is the senior leadership and experience along with a strong and talented junior class,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinelli.
North Attleboro was ravished by injuries during the 2019 season and the result was the program’s first sub-.500 season in 27 years. It speaks volumes to how consistent the Rocketeers are year in and year out that it had been that long but the Big Red are ready to turn the page and begin a new streak.
The Rocketeers are getting a lot of players back that missed time last year and also have a bunch of players back that were thrown into the fire last year and now have varsity experience. With that combination, North Attleboro is hoping the end result is the Davenport division title. Junior Tyler DeMattio is back under center for his second year as the starter after making a big splash on Thanksgiving his freshman season. DeMattio can get it done with both his arm and his legs (and his foot in the kicking game). He has a lot of weapons at his disposal this year with Jared Penta and Alex McCoy in the slots, Coby Feid and Matt Penta at split end, and 6-foot-5 Endicott-commit Robbie Donovan at tight end. Jacob Silva returns at tailback and will be complemented by senior Tommy Whalen while sophomores Nathan Shultz and Greg Berthiaume could be in the mix as well. Harry Bullock will anchor the offensive line alongside classmates Danny Hayes and Justin Vecchiarelli and juniors Jared Vacher and Keysun Wise.
On top of the eight returning starters on offense, the Rocketeers boast eight returners on the defensive side of the ball as well. North Attleboro has a lot of depth at the linebacker position with Silva, a team captain, being a key part of the group. He’ll be joined by Berthiaume, Vecchiarelli, Whalen, senior Dylan Eberle, and junior Tyler Bannon. Jared and Matt Penta are both very experienced safeties while McCoy and Feid return at corner, so the secondary will certainly be a strength for the Big Red. The Rocketeers don’t have the biggest defensive line but the likes of Donovan, Vacher, and Bullock provide speed from the edge.
“The extended off season has provided extra time for tremendous growth in the weight room,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “The depth at the skill positions on both sides of the ball will be the strength of this team. The key will be how quickly and effectively we can put together our offensive and defensive lines.”
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division and is looking to make a splash in its first season back.
The Tigers had a lot of success when the league first split into two divisions, winning the Davenport title in 2011 and 2013 before making the jump up to the Kelley-Rex. With a strong group of players back, OA is looking to take the next step forward during the Fall II 2020 season. Senior captain Gavin Morrison is a two-way lineman and will anchor the offensive group from the center spot. He’ll be joined by senior Dante Cocivera and Max Tower, both returning players from last season. Junior Collin Williamson burst onto the scene last year and should see an expanded role in the backfield during this abbreviated season while sophomore Chad Silva should be in the mix as well.
Speed will be a strength on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers, who boast a lot of the same faces on the defensive line as their offensive line. Tower anchors the linebackers and will be one to keep an eye on, using his speed and strength to make plays, and he’ll be joined by the sophomore Silva. Senior captain Jaden Ricci is one of the best defensive players on the team, a fast, physical player with a nose for the ball that will start at corner. He’ll be joined by senior Jaden Krowski in the secondary.
2020 (Fall II) Davenport Division Preview
“We are excited about where our program is heading and are really ecstatic and thankful to get an opportunity to play this season,” said head coach Ed DeWitt.
Sharon had a very young squad a season ago and went through plenty of growing pains. The Eagles are hoping to turn some of that experience into success on the field this season.
Not only do the Eagles have their quarterback and top receivers back, but they are also getting a big boost with a return from injury. Senior Kiran Chandrasekaran returns under center and has weapons in PJ McManus, Owen Conway, and Conor McLaughlin in the passing game. Nico Marrero, who showed flashes of great play as a sophomore, had to miss all of last year due to injury but is back this year and will be a key two-way player for the Eagles. Marrero is a powerful runner that will look to find space created by an improved offensive line. The Eagles’ offensive line is anchored by senior center Shea Letendre while junior Jack Murphy and sophomores Miles Clay and Daniel Davis help round out Sharon’s line.
Defensive the Eagles are always a competitive group, the challenge will be doing so for four quarters against some top offenses in the Davenport. Ike Ogbonnanze, who is also a big receiving target on offense, will start at linebacker alongside Marrero and Letendre, giving the Eagles a very experienced group in the heart of the defense. McManus and Conway will play on both sides of the ball, starting in the secondary defensively.
“Our kids know our numbers are not strong but they have a great attitude and are playing like their backs are against the wall,” said Sharon head coach Dave Morse.
Stoughton head coach Greg Burke always leans heavily on his senior class and he has a real talented group this year.
The Black Knights have a handful of very talented and experienced seniors that have played a lot of snaps over the past two seasons and that has Stoughton primed for a run a the Davenport division title. Senior John Burke is back under center at quarterback for the Knights and it’s likely we’ll see Brady Conlin take some snaps similar to how Burke split with Clayton Rahaman last season. Both quarterbacks will have plenty of options to work with, especially on the ground. The Knights have a “home run” type offense with any given handoff capable to break off a big run. Senior brothers Christopher and Christian Ais recently committed to the University of New Haven and both bring speed and power when running the ball. Christian Georges is another workhorse out of the backfield while juniors Anthony Girolamo and Jonah Ly could see some carries as well. What makes Stoughton’s run game so dangerous is all of the backs do a great job of blocking when they don’t get carries. Jake Queeney will be the main target in the passing game for the Knights. Sproul Derolus is one of the few returners on the offensive line so Stoughton will need some players to step up there.
Defense is always a staple for the Knights and that looks to be the case again this year. A lot of the same faces that make plays on the offensive side will be the ones making plays on the defensive side. Georges is an absolute monster coming off the edge and uses his speed and strength to cause havoc in the backfield. Christopher Ais will be joined by Ly and Girolamo at linebacker while Christian Ais, Queeney, and Burke are all returners in the secondary for the Knights.
“Hopefully without a ton of injuries we can have a good year,” Burke said. “We have some experience and the kids have worked hard in the clubs for weight training. We need the juniors to step up and contribute fast while still learning varsity speed. The league is always tough and hopefully, we can survive tough crossover games.”
FOXBORO, Mass. – The final eight minutes of Wednesday afternoon’s contest gave us a glimpse into the future as a young Foxboro squad scratched and clawed its way back into the game, showing what the Warriors are capable of.
But the first 24 minutes belonged to North Attleboro, a veteran group that built a big cushion through the first three quarters and showed its experience by making enough plays down the stretch to fend off Foxboro’s ferocious comeback attempt, earning a 61-53 win.
North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd
The Rocketeers’ offense exploded for 21 points in the first quarter and added 19 more in the second, carrying a 17-point lead into the final quarter. The Warriors made things interesting, cutting the deficit to single digits with three minutes to play but North Attleboro did enough to close out the win.
“Basketball is a game of swings, I always say it,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “They are a younger team, we have an older group and I didn’t want us to have a hangover from the 23-point final to lead into this start so I want at them pretty hard yesterday and prior to the start of the game to stress how important a good start was. Jon [Gibbs] obviously does a great job and they came back with a counter punch and thankfully we had just enough of a cushion.”
North Attleboro followed a similar blueprint from its win over the Warriors (58-35) on Monday evening as Mulkerrins stressed the importance of a strong start, fully aware of what Foxboro can do (as seen in the fourth quarter).
The Rocketeers heeded the advice of their coach and came out flying in the first eight minutes. North score on six of its first eight possessions to build a 13-4 lead over the first four minutes of action. After missing on the first possession, Casey Poirier (nine points, five rebounds) took a feed from Edan Kelley (nine points) to break the ice and get the run started.
North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd
“North is an excellent team, they are a veteran team and they execute extremely well on offense,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “They get the ball to the right guys in the right places and put you in difficult positions. And defensively they are so well prepared and they do a great job taking away what you want to do, which is a credit to their coaches and players. Playing against a good team like that, it certainly gives us a good measuring stick moving forward.”
Brody Rosenberg (nine points, five assists, four rebounds) sniffed out a pass and laid it in for two and Poirier scored after Jared Vacher forced a Foxboro turnover. The Big Red missed on its first shot of the next possession but junior Gavin Wells (career-high 13 points) crashed hard and tipped it back in. North’s defense got its sixth stop of the game and Rosenberg cut to the basket, taking a feed from Kelley for two and a 10-2 lead, forcing the home side into a timeout.
Foxboro got one stop but couldn’t turn it into points and North came back down and senior George Ladd (21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) came down with a traditional three-point play. JuniorDylan Gordon (16 points) hit two from the line but Kelley answered with a three to make it 16-6, a double-digit lead the visitors would carry for the majority of the game.
“We knew that Foxboro would be ready and it wouldn’t be a continuation of what the scoreboard was from the first game,” Mulkerrins said of the strong start. “I was real happy with the way our guys were locked in. There were a couple of things, counters to the counters so to speak, that I thought we were ready for. Defensively we were locked in too.”
Ladd added two more and Rosenberg drained a three off a feed from Poirier and the visitors staked a 21-8 claim through one quarter.
Foxboro made things interesting in the opening moments of the second with back-to-back threes from sophomore Sam Golub (12 points, four rebounds) to get within two possessions but North responded with a pair of runs to regain a comfortable lead. Wells, Kelley, and Poirier all hit from two-point range and then Jason Rodriguez linked up with Ladd for two more. Ladd used a strong post move for two to cap a 10-4 surge that put the Rocketeers ahead 31-20.
North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd
Gordon finished at the rim to get Foxboro back into the scoring column but North used another run, this time a 9-2 spurt to close out the first half. Wells drained a corner three off a feed from Ladd and then Rosenberg rewarded Ladd for his movement down low. Kelley scored off a turnover and then fed Wells for two in the final minute to put North ahead 40-22 at the half.
At halftime, North Attleboro had 12 assists on its 18 makes from the field.
“Our guys have done a great job committing to sharing the ball with each other,” Mulkerrins said. “It starts with George because if your best player offensively isn’t willing to share the ball then it creates some issues. We know he’s going to get doubled, going to get tripled and he’s willing to share it and I think there’s a domino effect.”
Foxboro’s defense started to slow the Rocketeers’ offense in the third quarter, limiting the visitors to just 10 points on four makes from the floor while forcing three turnovers. Foxboro’s offense was steady. Four players scored for the Warriors with Gordon getting four, Golub and sophomore Alex Penders (16 points, 15 rebounds three blocks) had a bucket each, and Sean O’Leary drained a three but the deficit was 50-33 going into the final quarter.
The Warriors made things interesting with a quick 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter, Golub making an early three, and Gordon scoring four straight in just 1:30 of action. Six straight from Ladd, including a traditional three-point play, kept the visitors ahead, pushing the lead back to 56-42, but Foxboro continued to claw its way back.
“Penders is a heck of a player, he’s a bull,” Mulkerrins said. “We tried to go to George early and often to try and see what counter [Foxboro] would make defensively. They did a good job on him but I thought later in the contest, a couple of penetrations he made from the right-wing area, I thought he showed his senior stripes a bit there and made some big buckets for us.”
Penders had back-to-back strong takes down low and Gordon sliced through the defense for two more and the lead was down to just six, 56-48, with three minutes to go. Foxboro fouled to try and extend the game and North obliged with some missed free throws but the Rocketeers’ defense clamped down and didn’t let Foxboro get any closer.
Wells added four free throws down the stretch to help ice the game.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of their effort,” Gibbs said. “North made some timely shots throughout the game and we missed some shots that we probably hope to make. We had a couple of stretches where we got sloppy with the ball and had some turnovers and that allowed North to build a little bit of a lead.
“But at the end of the day, our effort and energy was phenomenal and it could have been easy for a team that’s 2-8 to quit when you’re doing 17 points going into the fourth quarter but we fought and scrapped and battled and made it a game and a had chance to steal it. I think that speaks a lot to the character of those kids and I’m really proud of that.”
North Attleboro boys basketball (7-2 Davenport, 7-2 overall) kept its hopes for a share of the division title alive with a win at the time but Oliver Ames won it outright with a victory over Stoughton later in the day. The Rocketeers travel to Sharon on Friday to close out their division schedule. Foxboro finishes its season at 2-8 in the division and 2-9 overall.
The decision was split after 32 minutes of action, North Attleboro claiming a double-digit first half advantage only for Canton to completely flip the script in the second half, stifling the Rocketeers’ offense and turning stops into points, and a deficit into a lead.
“We felt good about getting to overtime because we were on our last life for what felt like forever,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “To get to overtime, we stole the momentum and their bench quieted down a bit. It was big to get points on the first possession. For us, it was just continuing what got us back into it against their zone and we had to keep playing good defense. It was a great Hockomock basketball game, felt like a playoff game almost. We made just enough plays.”
North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s lead at halftime, 26-10, took a major hit when Canton came out swinging in the form of a 10-2 run in just over two minutes of action, putting the hosts on their heels. By the end of the third eight-minute segment, North Attleboro’s lead shrunk down to just five, 31-26, the Rocketeers getting a much-needed three from senior Tommy Onorato in the final minute.
It turned out to be a sign of things to come for Onorato, who finished with a career-high 12 points, and the Rocketeers. Canton’s comeback continued into the fourth though as a pair of free throws from Steven Burbank (12 points, six rebounds) preceded a three from Will Keefe (12 points) that gave Canton its first lead since the opening moments of the game.
Eric Mischler (11 points, eight rebounds) sliced his way to the rim for two, the Bulldogs earned back-to-back stops and Keefe tossed another triple in and Canton, on the back of a 12-1 run, suddenly had a 40-34 lead with 1:34 to play.
“It’s kind of been like that in the Davenport this year, seems like one team brings it for a half and another brings it the other half,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “It was kind of the opposite when we played them at home, we had a good first three quarters and they came back in the fourth. We talked at halftime about how we could get back into this game. Instead of quitting, the kids made a commitment and the effort to really start rebounding and playing defense, which got us back into the game.”
North Attleboro had an answer to stem the tide. With the defense collapsing on him in the paint, senior George Ladd (16 points, 15 rebounds) dished it out to Brody Rosenberg (seven points), who hit his first field goal of the game with a triple to halve the deficit.
Ryan Connerney (13 points, five assists) pushed the lead back to five when he sank a pair of free throws but North Attleboro had another answer from downtown. This time, Casey Poirier (four points, eight assists, four rebounds, two steals) dished it to Onorato for a three with 41.1 left to make it 42-40.
Canton added to its lead with a free throw but once again the Rocketeers, who had just five makes from three-point range through the first three quarters, hit their third three of crunch time. Poirier was short on his attempt from the corner but followed his shot, got the rebound, and dished it to senior Edan Kelley for a three – his first make of the game – from the top of the key to tie the game with 12 seconds to go.
“Tommy Onorato, I’m really proud of him, the second half of the season he’s really stepped into a nice role for us and understood what it took to be on the court,” Mulkerrins said. “Edan, a senior co-captain, missed some time this year and still isn’t completely back but hit a big shot. He’s got that big moment in him.”
The Bulldogs’ attempt at a game-winner was off the mark, only getting a chance to chuck a shot off an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds to go.
In overtime, the momentum swings continued back and forth as North opened the scoring when Ladd converted an offensive rebound but Canton went back ahead on their third look of the possession on a Mischler three, with Dillon Nguyen’s offensive rebound the catalyst of the play.
North Attleboro boys basketball
But just seconds after Mischler gave the visitors a slight lead, Rosenberg hit his second three of the night to put the hosts ahead. The teams traded stops as the game ticked under a minute to go, North Attleboro getting its biggest stop forcing a turnover. With the shot clock shrinking, Onorato stepped up and drained another three, this one with 14 seconds to go in overtime, to give North a 51-46 lead.
Canton fought to the very end, getting two free throws from Burbank to make it a one-possession game. A trap on the inbounds led to a jump ball and Canton getting possession back. Another foul led to two free throws from Connerney, making it a one-point game, 51-50, with 7.8 seconds to go.
The Bulldogs trapped once again and got another jump ball called, but the ball stayed with the Rocketeers. Rosenberg added a free throw to make it 52-50, and North Attleboro held on as Canton’s half-court heave was just off the mark.
North Attleboro had full control of the opening half, hitting 7-of-10 field goals from two-point range to go along with four three-pointers. And on the defensive end, the Rocketeers were doing just enough to keep the streaky Bulldogs from getting going.
Tied early, North closed the final three minutes of the first with an 8-0 burst. Onorato hit his first three of the game, Poirier added a triple, and Ladd attacked the rim for two and a 14-6 lead after one.
Big Red’s run continued into the second with Jared Vacher tossing in a three, Ladd getting back-to-back baskets and Nate Bennett scoring from in close for a 17-0 run in total. Jimmy Caraballo added a three as well as North staked a 26-10 halftime lead.
“Basketball is a game of runs and there’s some psychology behind it,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought the scoreboard was deceptive at half. I thought we played good but not as good as the other night and I felt Canton missed a lot of shots that they can make. I told them at half, if they make a couple in the second half they are going to relax, and then their defense will get better, and sure enough they hit some shots right away. Then the basket on our end starts looking smaller.
“Coach Gordy did a great job adjusting, made some changes. You never know exactly what you’re going to get with him, you’ll get the kitchen sink of tricks and if you aren’t mentally ready, which we learned on Monday night, you’re going to be on the wrong side of games against them. So hats off to them, they had a great season with a lot of great seniors, we have nothing but respect for that program.”
After North found success against Canton’s 1-3-1 defense in the first half, the Bulldogs elected to shake things up defensively, going with a 2-3 zone — a defense they hadn’t utilized all season.
Despite their inexperience in the set, the defense was very effective as North’s offense came to a screeching halt, managing just five points in the third. Meanwhile, those stops turned into buckets for the Bulldogs. Connerney scored on Canton’s first possession, Keefe got going with a triple, and Mischler added one from downtown as well. Burbank got a layup to fall and Canton’s 10-2 run to open the second half turned the game around.
“We haven’t practiced the 2-3 zone this season,” Gordy said. “Ladd’s a nightmare for us to match up with, Rosenberg, Poirier, and Kelley are all really good players. I didn’t think we could guard them man-to-man for an extended period of time. We had a lot of success with the 1-3-1 on Monday, they figured out some things tonight. They were getting to us on the glass so we went to the 2-3 to try and clean some things up on the rebounding which I thought helped big time in the game.
“It all flows, once you’re getting stops you can push in transition. Will Keefe got hot a little bit in the second half and a lot of those came from us getting stops, getting out, and not letting them set up in the half court.”
North Attleboro (5-2 Davenport, 5-2 overall) is back in action on Monday when it hosts Foxboro. Canton wraps up its season at 4-6 in the Davenport and 4-9 overall.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The defensive game plan for the North Attleboro boys basketball team was clear and concise: try and stop Amari Brown.
Short of the kitchen sink, the Rocketeers threw everything — and nearly everyone — at trying to stop the senior guard. The plan worked enough for the hosts, who made just enough plays down the stretch on the offensive end to earn a 48-43 win over Oliver Ames, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.
“Amari is one of the best players in the league, he’s tremendously dangerous in transition, even on made baskets and he’s able to score before your defense is set,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “And then even in the half court he’s so quick, he can make the three, and the element of his game that gets overlooked is he’s so strong, even at whatever he’s at height-wise, he’s able to get guys in the box and score. Our game plan was pretty straight forward, we wanted to build a wall and really pack it in around him. And we had to get back on transition defense and rebound because OA does a great job crashing.
Brown, one of the top players in the Hockomock League and one of the leading scorers this season, accounted for over half of the Tigers’ points (24) in the first meeting between Oliver Ames and North Attleboro, a win for the former back at the start of January.
North Attleboro boys basketball
In order to prevent an encore performance, North Attleboro sprinted back on defense to prevent transition opportunities, brought double teams to contest three-point looks, and built a “Big Red” wall with up to three or four players in the way on the defensive end to try and prevent one of the most dynamic guards in the league for getting to the rim.
Oliver Ames’ defense was up to the task as well, holding the hosts to just seven points in the second quarter and 17 total first half points. Both teams started to pick it up offensively in the third and North’s offense had just enough of a run in the final quarter to create enough separation to hold on.
“I thought out guys were focused defensively and that was the difference,” Mulkerrins said, holding the visitors to just three made three-pointers and forcing the Tigers into 15 turnovers. “We definitely weren’t in cruise control on offense but I felt like our defense was so solid that our offense would figure it out and we have a lot of high IQ guys that will make plays for us. And we made just enough of them to get the win.”
North Attleboro nearly matched its first half offensive output in the third quarter, turning a one-point deficit through 16 minutes of action into a three-point edge going into the final frame.
North Attleboro boys basketball
Gavin Wells, one of eight Rocketeers to hit a field goal, opened the quarter with a corner three, and senior Jason Rodriguez drove hard to the rim for a layup and then got out in transition, resulting in two free throws and a 38-32 lead two minutes into the fourth.
Brown (eight points) hit a free throw to cut the deficit to five but North Attleboro senior George Ladd (19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) came back with back-to-back field goals to give the hosts their largest lead, 42-33, and forced an OA timeout with 4:41 to play.
Different faces stepped up for OA as the Tigers grinded their way back into the game. Jake Grimaldi came off the bench for two in the post, Brown hit another free throw, and Drew Nickla added two more from the line to make it 42-38 with three minutes left.
Wells hustled to earn the Rocketeers a second chance on the offensive board before the teams traded turnovers, the latter a steal from Brody Rosenberg that resulted in a layup from Casey Poirier.
With under a minute to play, Drew Baxter (13 points) earned a trip to the line and sank both chances and Oliver Ames’ full court resulted in a traveling call to get the ball back. Will Whiteside got an open look from straight away and drained it and what was once a nine-point lead shrunk to just one, 44-43, with 40.4 seconds to play.
“That’s not a lot of difference between that game and what we’ve been doing all year,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “We’ve managed to be on the right side of the games before this but they’ve all been around this. It wasn’t that much out of character. I think sometimes the thought of a big game, doesn’t necessarily get you nervous but you get caught standing around waiting for something to happen. I think we did a lot of that early on. Defensively we were still pretty good, put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Tigers were whistled for an off ball foul in the post and Ladd sank both attempts of his one-and-one from the line with 27.5 to go. OA launched two threes to try and tie the game but couldn’t convert and Ladd came down with the second miss, went to the line again, and iced the game with two more free throws.
“I never felt like the game got away from us, OA’s defense is so solid, they are bumping cutters, and so much of our offense is dictated by moving the ball, moving people, moving defenders, and they were doing such a good job grabbing and holding, matching wanting what we wanted to do,” Mulkerrins said. “We never got really going offensively but I had faith we could make plays down the stretch.”
North got off to a strong start with Edan Kelley hitting his first shot in his first game back and Ladd going for six straight and an 8-0 lead. OA responded with strong defense, forcing Rocketeer turnovers into layups for Whiteside and Brown while Trey Buggs added a three to get within three, 10-7, after a quarter.
The Tigers’ strong defense continued into the second quarter, limiting the hosts to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting from the field with four turnovers. That gave the visitors enough of a chance to claw their way through North’s tough defense. Baxter hit an early three and then drove to the basket for two, Jaden Krowski cut to the basket to beat the shot clock, and Nickla scored the final four points of the quarter as OA staked an 18-17 halftime lead.
North Attleboro hit on six of its nine field goal attempts in the third quarter to jump back ahead. Jared Vacher sandwiched a pair of buckets around a putback from Ladd, Tommy Onorato drained a three-pointer when Ladd was triple-teamed in the post, and then Ladd himself stepped out of his comfort zone and sank a rare corner three.
“Eight guys got into the scoring column for us, which was great to see,” Mulkerrins said. “We know what George is going to bring and that he’s going to get a lot of attention. We just keep preaching movement off the ball and cutting to the rim. I have a lot of faith in everyone on this team.”
Oliver Ames (6-1, 6-1) travels to rival Sharon on the same day.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro boys basketball team was on the verge of running away with a win during the third period, but visiting Stoughton made enough plays to stay in striking distance.
When given a second chance to put the game to bed, the Rocketeers didn’t take their foot off the pedal and ran away with a 61-36 decision over the Black Knights.
North extended its lead to 15 points with three minutes left in the third but the Black Knights chipped away, led by some hustle plays from junior Connor Andrews. Andrews took a charge and hauled in a pair of defensive rebounds on one end, and scored five straight on the other end to keep the visitors’ hopes alive, down 36-26.
But the Rocketeers’ offense couldn’t be contained in the fourth quarter. Senior George Ladd (eight rebounds) scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final frame, taking advantage of Stoughton turnovers and second-chance points. North ended up with 25 points in the quarter, pulling away for the win.
“In the third quarter we kind of relaxed a little and took our foot off the gas,” admitted North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins, who is in his eighth year at the helm. “In the fourth, I thought our defensive focus was better, our rebounding focus was better, and our attention to protecting the ball was better and I think that was the difference. We thought we had a better man-to-man defense scheme than we executed the first game so we worked a lot on that in practice.”
Junior Casey Poirier set the tone in the first minute, taking a charge as the Rocketeers’ defense forced back-to-back turnovers to start the quarter. On the other end, senior Edan Kelley (seven points, five assists) found Ladd cutting backdoor on an inbounds play, a lob finished plus the foul for a three-point play and the Rocketeers were off and running.
Kelley found Jared Vacher for two and Ladd hit two free throws after a Stoughton turnover. Kelley and Ladd hooked up once again with the latter using a nice scoop finish. Poirier’s hard drive drew the defense’s attention and Ladd was there to finish again. Vacher missed the front end of a one-and-one but grabbed his own miss and snuck a layup in.
Three of Stoughton’s next four possessions resulted in turnovers, the last two turning into back-to-back buckets for Ladd and Brody Rosenberg (11 points, seven rebounds), as North opened the quarter with a 17-7 run and took a 53-33 lead with just over three minutes to go.
North Attleboro boys basketball
“We’re not really a team that gets up and forces a lot of turnovers, we’re trying to play solid defense without giving up easy ones,” Mulkerrins said. “With everything going on this season, lack of practice, roster moves, I think that’s naturally going to lead to turnovers so if you can just be solid defensively, more often than not you’ll be in a good spot.”
Besides the first basket of the game from Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi (eight points, 11 rebounds), the Rocketeers never trailed. The response was a 14-2 run in the opening quarter. Rosenberg sliced through the defense, Ladd cleaned up a miss, Kelley confidently sank a triple, Poirier hit one from the line and Ladd scored again. Kelley scored back-to-back baskets and North stretched its lead to double digits in the opening quarter.
“When a couple of things go wrong, and it feels like we’re down a hundred then we try to make up all the points on one play instead of slowly chipping away at it,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “I think it starts with a better start at the beginning of the game.”
“I think the biggest concern is on the offensive end. We’ve been playing pretty well defensively, holding teams to reasonable scores besides tonight. But we’re just not scoring enough, we’re not being aggressive enough. I don’t think we’re being unselfish enough. We have too many guys looking for their own shot and it shows on the scoreboard. Our offense as a whole needs to play more together.”
The second was a bit better for the Black Knights, who outscored the hosts 10-9 in the frame. Both Andrews and Jake Queeney connected from three-point range to keep Stoughton close but North got some key contributions from its bench, as it did throughout the entire game.
After Queeney’s triple cut the deficit to four, Nate Bennett’s hustle led to a putback off his own miss. And Rosenberg hit a key triple late in the quarter, getting an open look after a nice off-ball screen from Jason Rodriguez.
The contributions from the bench continued into the third as Tommy Onorato knocked down a triple on one end and Rodriguez stepped in to take a charge on Stoughton’s ensuing possession.
“I have all the faith in the world in every single one of these kids,” said Mulkerrins, who played his entire available roster, most in meaningful minutes. “They are here every day, working hard in practice…we’re trying to pride ourselves this year on having really competitive practices and giving guys a chance. We talk about when guys come off the bench, the energy level has to go up. We had guys do that tonight, Jason Rodriguez stepped up and his focus was there, we got the ball in his hand on offense. I was really proud of the group tonight, they really made the best of their minutes.”
Stoughton got a stop early in the third but the defensive rebound was quickly turned over and Rosenberg dished it off to Ladd for two. Two more from Rosenberg and Onorato’s three pushed North’s lead to 32-17.
North Attleboro (2-1) returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to take on Canton (3-1). Stoughton (0-4) will look for its first win when it hosts Foxboro on the same day.
Oliver Ames, 55 @ Attleboro, 79 – Final – Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio poured in 31 points, including his the 1,000th of his career, as Attleboro earned an impressive win over division rival Oliver Ames. The Bombardiers scored 21 first quarter points and added 24 more in the second to seize a 45-31 lead by halftime. Attleboro outscored the Tigers by four in the third and six in the fourth to extend its lead. Ciccio scored 10 points in the opening quarter, hit the milestone with eight points in the second, and added three more threes in the second half, hitting a total of seven on the night. Qualeem Charles added 15 points in the win and Tim Callahan chipped in with 12 points. OA senior Jay Spillane led the Tigers with 12 points while Amari Brown and Evan Craig each added 11 points.
Stoughton, 62 @ Canton, 56 – Final – Stoughton doubled up on Canton in the second quarter to create a double-digit advantage, riding that lead to a win on the road at Canton. The Black Knights led by two, 15-13, after a quarter but tacked on 20 second-quarter points to create a 35-23 lead at the halftime break. Senior Ahmad Jahed scored 11 of his 14 in the second quarter while Obinna Ugwuakazi (21 points), Jake Queeney, and Tahkwan Gates Brown (12 points) also scored in Stoughton’s big second quarter. Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored six of his 10 points in the fourth to keep the Black Knights ahead. Canton’s Eric Mischler (22 points) and Will Keefe (eight points) each hit a pair of fourth quarter threes to help shrink the deficit late.
Milford, 51 @ Foxboro, 57 – Final – Foxboro senior Brandon Borde took over in the third quarter, scoring 13 of his team-high 20 points as the Warriors poured in 20-points in the the frame to turn a two possession game into a nine-point advantage. Foxboro led by five after one (15-10) and took a four-point lead (28-24) into halftime before using the third quarter to create separation, pulling into a tie for first place in the division with three games to go. Kevin Gallagher hit a three and had five of his 15 points in the third while Donald Rogers hit a pair of free throws to put the hosts ahead 48-39 going into the final quarter. Foxboro held the Hawks without a three-point field goal in the second half. Milford’s Ben Blanchard hit a trio of first half three-pointers for a team-high 15 points while junior Dom Schofield added 10 points.
Taunton, 74 @ King Philip, 76 – Final (OT) – Taunton erased a 13-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter, taking a late lead but King Philip scored in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime and beat the buzzer for the winner in overtime. King Philip lead 45-29 at halftime and took a 59-46 lead into the fourth before the Tigers poured in 21 points, taking 67-64 lead late. KP’s Alex Fritz (34 points) hit his first three of the second half with 10 seconds left to force overtime. In the extra period, tied at 74-74, senior Tommy Donahue (10 points) set a screen for Fritz and rolled to the basket, taking the pass and laying it up to beat the buzzer to give KP the win. Fritz scored KP’s first seven points of the overtime period before assisting on the game-winner. Andrew McKinney scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half for KP, which scored 28 second quarter points. Taunton sophomore Trent Santos scored nine of his career-high 25 points in the fourth quarter while classmate Faisal Mass added six of his career-high 18 points in the final frame to get the Tigers back into it. Tyler Stewart added 16 points and Josh Lopes chipped in with 11 points for the Tigers.
North Attleboro, 57 @ Sharon, 73 – Final – Tied at halftime, Sharon outscored North Attleboro 18-6 in the third quarter and added 25 more points in the fourth quarter to pull away and earn the win, the Eagles’ first league win since February 2018. In snapping a 29-game winless streak in Hockomock action, the Eagles drained 10 three-pointers, including six in the second half. Senior Aidan Kane connected from downtown in each quarter, including three in the final quarter to finish with a team-high 22 points. Matt Baskin (12 points) added the other third quarter three while Andrew Burton scored six of his 16 points in the third. North Attleboro, who was without its top two scorers in George Ladd and Edan Kelley, were held to just one field goal in the third. Senior Josh Porter went 11-for-15 from the free throw line and finished with a team-high 17 points, junior Tommy Onorato hit four three-pointers for a career-high 12 points, and both Jared Vacher and Brody Rosenberg finished with 10 points.
Attleboro, 32 @ Oliver Ames, 60 – Final – OA jumped out to a 15-point lead at halftime and extended the lead with a strong second half to stay two games back of Franklin in the league standings. Caroline Peper scored 18 points and added five assists and Caroline Flynn marked her return from injury with 15 points and six rebounds.
Canton, 68 @ Stoughton, 45 – Final – Canton got a big win on the road to split the season series with the Black Knights and to move within two wins of qualifying for the postseason with five games to go. The Bulldogs had a balanced attack with three players scoring in double digits. Sydney Gallery paced the offense with 17 points and she added eight boards and three assists. Kiara Cerruti (eight rebounds and three assists) scored 16 and Samya DaSilva recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards. Fay Gallery scored eight and had four assists for Canton. Stoughton was led by the tandem of Shyanne Trinh (game-high 19 points) and Aliyah Wright (15 points).
Mansfield, 41 @ Franklin, 67 – Final – The Panthers remain unbeaten on the season and moved within one win of clinching at least a share of the Kelley-Rex division title. Olivia Quinn was the top scorer for the Panthers, finishing the night with 23 points. Ali Brigham added 14 in the win. Abby Wager led the Hornets with 12 points and Kayla Vine chipped in with eight.
King Philip, 65 @ Taunton, 57 – Final – KP led by 10 points heading into the fourth quarter, but the Tigers were able to rally and cut the lead to as low as five before the Warriors pulled it out and ended their three-game losing streak. Faye Veilleux scored 20 points to power the Warriors and Faith Roy scored 18. Caroline Aaron also got into double digits in the win, scoring 10 points for KP. The Warriors made 12 threes as a team. Kameron St. Pierre continued her strong rookie campaign with a team-high 20 points, while Jaelyn Fernandez (15 points) and Sonya Fernandez (11 points) both hit double digits. Taunton coach Amy Siggens said, “We’re starting to play a complete game. They’re really fast but we tried our best to keep up with them and the girls played their butts off tonight.”
Sharon, 29 @ North Attleboro, 39 – Final – North edged out a defensive battle against Sharon to keep its hold on second place in the Davenport. Summer Doherty scored nearly half of North’s points, with a career-high 19 on the night, and Eliza Dion added nine in the win, including eight in the fourth quarter. The Rocketeers scored 16 points in the first, thanks to 11 from Doherty but then added only nine in the next two quarters combined. Sharon allowed only one point in the second, but only managed five of its own and went into the break down 17-13. Both teams scored eight points in the third to keep North up by four and then the Rocketeers exploded for 14 to pull out the win. North coach Nikki Correia also highlighted the play of point guard Olivia Forbes for playing tough on both ends of the floor the entire game. Leah Fandel and Kaitlyn Wallace each scored eight points in the loss.
Canton, 39 @ North Attleboro, 54 – Final – North Attleboro’s defense limited the visiting Bulldogs to single digits in each of the first two quarters and finished strong in the fourth to pick up a win. The Rocketeers had their best offensive quarter to start the game as four players found the scoring column to build a 17-5 lead. North junior George Ladd scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the first half while Edan Kelley added seven of his 10 points in the first two quarters. Josh Porter, Tommy Whalen, Brody Rosenberg, Jared Vacher, and Ethan Friberg (eight points) all scored in the fourth to help the Rocketeers secure the win. Matt Giglio and Eric Mischler each scored eight points for Canton.
Foxboro, 70 @ Sharon, 50 – Final – Foxboro scored 18 or more points in three quarters on its way to a big win on the road over Sharon. The Warriors exploded for 23 points in the opening eight minutes and responded well when the Eagles closed the deficit to five points early in the third quarter. Foxboro led 34-24 at halftime and extended that advantage to 52-40 after three quarters. Senior Brandon Borde scored all of his team-high 20 points in the first three quarters while senior Ryan Hughes closed the game strong with nine of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Donald Rogers added 14 points and Kevin Gallagher chipped in with nine for Foxboro. Caleb Gayle paced Sharon with 16 points.
Oliver Ames, 54 @ Franklin, 57 – Final – Senior Chris Edgehill scored a season-high 26 points and the Panthers held off a late rally from Oliver Ames to get the win. Oliver Ames held a 17-11 lead after a quarter of play and took a 24-23 advantage into halftime but Franklin used a big third quarter to take the lead for good. The Panthers poured in 23 points in the third with senior Brayden Sullivan scoring nine of his 11 points in the frame and both Edgehill and Steven Karayan hit from three to give Franklin a 46-37 lead heading into the fourth. OA had a shot to tie it at the buzzer but it was off the mark. Evan Craig scored a team-high 13 points for OA, Owen Friel added 12 points, Jay Spillane chipped in with 11 points, and Ryan Burkett added 10 points for the Tigers.
Mansfield, 71 @ King Philip, 66 – Final – Mansfield closed the third quarter on a 12-5 run to turn a deficit into a lead and held on for a close win on the road at KP. The Warriors took a 45-40 lead in the third quarter but the Hornets got three-pointers from Sam Stevens (30 points), Jason See (eight points), and freshman Chris Hill to seize a 52-50 lead after three quarters. Stevens added two more threes in the fourth quarter and TJ Guy scored half of his 12 points in the final frame to help the Hornets close the door. KP senior Robert Jarest scored a career-high 22 points, including 13 in the first quarter. Chris Roy added a career-high 16 points for KP while Alex Fritz finished with 13 points.
Stoughton, 67 @ Milford, 60 – Final – Stoughton led at the end of each quarter and five Black Knights scored in the fourth to help secure a key division win on the road. Stoughton led 19-16 after a quarter, took a 33-31 edge into halftime, and held a 49-43 advantage through 24 minutes of action. In the fourth, senior Obinna Ugwuakazi scored six of his team-high 22 points in the fourth, Myles Grigalunas-Powell added three points in the fourth, Tahkwan Gates Brown added half of his eight points in the fourth, Tommy Sanda (eight points) drained a three, and Brett Pendenza scored a basket. Pendenza scored a career-high 15 points to give Stoughton a big boost, including three three-pointers between the second and third quarters. Jordan Darling led Milford with 17 points, Ben Blanchard added 16 points, and Colby Pires finished with 11 points.
Attleboro, 66 @ Taunton, 62 – Final (OT) – Meghan Gordon scored a career-high 20 points to power the Bombardiers to an overtime win at Taunton. In a game that went back-and-forth right to the final whistle, Nyah Thomas scored 19 and Liv McCall scored 10 for the visitors. Attleboro shot 7-of-9 from the line in the extra period to pull out the win. Kameron St. Pierre scored a game-high 22 points for the Tigers and Jaelyn Fernandez added 20, but Taunton wasn’t able to make enough plays down the stretch of regulation or OT to pull out the victory.
North Attleboro, 53 @ Canton, 48 – Final – North used a big third quarter to grab control of the game heading into the fourth and then held off Canton to pull out a big road win. The Bulldogs led 20-15 at the break, but North won the third quarter 25-12 to take a 40-32 lead into the final eight minutes. Amanda Kaiser was the star for the North offense. Kaiser wasn’t feeling well coming into the game and had only two points at halftime, but she exploded for 19 of her team’s 25 points in the third, burying five threes in a row. She scored 24 of her game-high 26 in the second half. “She was in a zone and we just let her go with it,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “When a shooter gets that hot you just create space for them and give them the green light.” Summer Doherty was clutch at the line in the final quarter, hitting 7-of-7 down the stretch to help North hold on.
Sharon, 24 @ Foxboro, 66 – Final – Foxboro made it three straight wins with another strong defensive performance and four players scoring in double digits. Lizzy Davis paced the offense with 14 points and Katelyn Mollica scored 12. Forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman each scored 10 points in the win.
King Philip, 55 @ Mansfield, 59 – Final – Neither team led by more than four points at any point in a game that was back-and-forth throughout. Becca Hottleman knocked down a free throw that put the Hornets up by two with less than a minute to play and then a Mansfield steal turned into a Kayla Vine layup for a four-point edge with 20 seconds to play. Vine led the way for the Hornets with another 20-point night. Ashley Santos added nine and Brooke Berube scored eight. Claire Keswick was the top scorer for KP with 12 points. Faith Roy and Emma Glaser each scored eight for the Warriors. Mansfield led by a single point after one quarter and at halftime, extended it two by the end of the third quarter and then scored 19 points in the fourth to pull out the win.
Milford, 31 @ Stoughton, 57 – Final – Stoughton used a balanced attack to pick up a key win over a division foe in visiting Milford. Shyanne Trinh had 14 points, Aliyah Wright added 13 points, and Jess Maddalena finished with 11 points. Kyla Sheedy-Goff was a force defensively with six blocks for the Black Knights.
Attleboro, 35 @ Taunton, 59 – Final
Stoughton @ Canton, 7:00
Milford @ Foxboro, 7:00
King Philip @ Franklin, 7:00
North Attleboro, 49 @ Sharon, 74 – Final
Attleboro, 53 @ Taunton, 41 – Final – Attleboro’s Ella Lynch-Bartek and Brenna O’Connell finished first and second, respectively, in both the 50 free and 100 free to help the Bombardiers pick up a win over Taunton. Lynch-Bartek qualified for sectionals with her time in the 100 free. Faith Morrison added a win in the 500 free and Jackie Lynch-Bartek took first int he 100 breaststroke. Attleboro’s 200 free relay team of Jackie Lynch-Bartek, Ella Lynch-Bartek, Brenna O’Connell, and Rachel Priestley placed first.
Stoughton @ Canton, 7:00
Milford @ Foxboro, 7:00
King Philip @ Franklin, 7:00
North Attleboro, 73 @ Sharon, 85 – Final
Attleboro @ King Philip, 7:30
Canton @ Taunton, 8:00
North Attleboro @ Mansfield, 7:00
But just like that, the Bombardiers flexed their muscles on both ends of the court. Attleboro hit six of their next seven attempts from the floor with the lone miss hauled in for an offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws. And defensively, the Rocketeers missed three shots while committing four turnovers.
The result was an 18-0 run that turned the game on its head and a close contest into a comfortable 63-46 win for the Bombardiers.
“We made that run because we played defense,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “You can’t score 18 straight if you’re giving up baskets on the other end. We talk about being consistently good on defense and during that segment, we were very good.
“We went to a little different look on offense and we were able to spread them out a little bit. Obviously, when you make shots it changes everything. But we were stagnant on offense but it was because their defense kind of made us play like that.”
North Attleboro junior George Ladd (eight points, five assists) finished off a tough layup through contact to bring the hosts within 45-43 with 6:01 left on the clock.
Nick McMahon (nine points, seven assists) penetrated the North Attleboro zone and kicked it out to classmate Tim Callahan (17 points) for his fifth trifecta of the game, a shot that sparked the Attleboro offense.
Attleboro got a stop on the other end and senior Bryant Ciccio (15 points) sank a difficult baseline jumper before the Rocketeers had an empty trip. Ciccio took a pass from Jason Weir at the top of the key and sank another three for the Bombardiers, putting the visitors up 53-43 with just under four minutes to play.
North’s turnover woes (16 in total) factored in as Ciccio came up with a steal, the play resulting in two made free throws from Qualeem Charles (16 points, nine rebounds). It was near deja vu on the ensuing Rocketeer possession as Ciccio stripped the ball free and went in for an uncontested layup.
“We have to have more urgency at all times,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “When the moment gets big, we can’t change our focus level or let the scoreboard dictate how we play. It’s a hard lesson for our guys to learn but that’s back-to-back games, five minutes to play against a quality team…we’re not about moral victories, we have to be better. We have to do a better job coaching too.
“Credit to their better players, Ciccio stepped up in that fourth quarter, McMahon had a nice play, they hurt us inside on the glass. But selfishly from my end, we can’t turn the ball over and then have a breakdown defensively, it’s a double whammy. And then look up at the scoreboard and feel bad for yourself and let that dictate how you play. It certainly snowballed. Ultimately we have to step up and have more urgency.”
A travel gave the visitors the ball back, and despite their first miss of the stretch, Charles hauled in the board and was fouled going back up. He hit two more free throws while North’s cold stretch continued with a missed corner three.
McMahon capped the run with back-to-back strong takes to the rim sandwiched around a Rocketeer turnover after a double team from Ciccio and Charles.
“I thought Nick started feeling more comfortable towards the end,” Houle said. “He’s been terrific for us this year and against a zone, you can’t just pass it around the whole time you have to slip and look to attack a little bit. And then he started hitting wide open guys. So it was a win-win when you knock them down, you get a paint touch on the dribble penetration then kick it out.
“And for us in the second half, every time Q touched it we wanted him to score it. He’s a very unselfish player, he’d rather pass to his teammates but for us to be successful, we need him scoring in there.”
While the Bombardiers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, they were on the verge of doing so in each of the previous two quarters but the Rocketeers continually made timely shots and stops to stay in it.
Callahan (twice) and Ciccio both connected on early threes for the Bombardiers but Brody Rosenberg (eight points), Edan Kelley, and Ethan Friberg (11 points, eight rebounds) were equal to the task. A bucket from Lorenzo Wilson and two free throws from Ciccio had Attleboro up 15-13 at the end of one.
Another triple from Callahan opened the second quarter, Charles finished off a three-point play, and Callahan sank yet another three as Attleboro started the frame strong. But a triple from Rosenberg and another from Friberg kept the Rocketeers in the game.
After a Callahan putback, the Rocketeers closed the first half on a 7-0 run with Ladd scoring down low, Friberg connecting on his third trifecta of the half, and Tommy Whalen finishing off a nice pass from Josh Porter to make it 26-26 at the break.
“They shot very well tonight, they had nine threes,” Houle said. “When they hit them back-to-back, you can’t get over that hump to pull away. They started to miss some shots but I think our defense started forcing some different things. And then they started over-penetrating a little bit and we swallowed them up.”
Timmy carried us in the first half, he was terrific. And he needed that because he’s had some good looks throughout the season and he really stepped up tonight.
Attleboro created some room with a 9-4 run capped by a Ciccio three to start the second half but Whalen answered with a triple and Jared Vacher hit back-to-back threes as North Attleboro surged ahead for the first time, 39-37.
But North closed the quarter with a pair of misses and three straight turnovers, the latter turning into a bucket from Alvin Harrison that gave Attleboro a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth.
“I think it was a combination of them having a concerted effort on where to attack us,” Mulkerrins said of the fourth. “We were mixing up man and zone, I have to see it but my feeling is that we got a little tired and got stuck watching. You can’t be late against that quality of a team.”
Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) will host King Philip on Friday. North Attleboro (2-3, 3-5) will try to bounce back when it hosts Milford on Friday.