Team: Foxboro Girls Basketball
2020 Davenport Division Champions
2020 Division 2 State Champions
Midway through the third quarter of the Div. 2 South final, Foxboro girls basketball trailed fourth-seed Hingham by 11 points and its chance of winning a third sectional title in four seasons was on the cusp of coming to an end at Taunton High’s Rabouin Field House.
Rather than imploding and allowing the game and a South title to get away from them, the Warriors recovered in style. After scoring 29 points in the first 19 minutes of the final, Foxboro scored 28 over the last 11 minutes and walked away with a dramatic victory that sealed a trip to the TD Garden and eventually the program’s second state title in three years.
It was the highlight of a run through the gauntlet that was D2 South and a clear representation of the growth in the team from 2019. The Warriors rallied together to avoid another disappointing playoff exit and give themselves an opportunity to play on the parquet.
“Our confidence and our experience definitely helped us a lot that game,” said senior forward Abby Hassman, who won three South titles in her four-year career. “We were struggling with fouls and I was on the bench for most of that game. Even when we were down, we didn’t panic and we just believed in each other.”
Head coach Lisa Downs added, “It was such a great win. You could feel it in the timeouts. There was no sense of panic, there was no frustration. It was more just this is what we need to do.”
Coming into the season, Foxboro was the clear favorite to win a fourth straight Davenport division title, but it wasn’t a given that the Warriors would challenge for a state title. There were early signs that this team had something special, including a 44-point win against Concord-Carlisle just after Christmas in which the Warriors led 27-0 after the first quarter and a win at Bishop Feehan in January.
“Once the season got going and we got our groove a little bit, we saw flashes of things that honestly if we had played against the 2018 team that we’d give them a game,” Downs explained. “We still hadn’t put together a complete, perfect game yet and if we did then not many people were going to be able to beat us.”
A pair of league losses in a two-week span in January may have been the turning point for the Warriors. After struggling at Oliver Ames, Foxboro lost at undefeated Franklin, but the 20-point final was no indication of how well the Warriors played. The Warriors were down by six in the fourth quarter when the Panthers put together a 17-0 run that broke the game open.
“Going into it, we knew they were going to be the toughest opponent all year and being within a possession or two throughout almost the whole game definitely made us realize how good of a team we are when we put our minds to it,” said Hassman.
It would be the last loss of the season. Foxboro rattled off 15 straight wins en route to the state title.
“That definitely was our turnaround game,” Downs said. “I think the team was able to see that this was a legit team and we were able to hang around with them.”
Foxboro relied on Katelyn Mollica (18.9 ppg) for the bulk of its offense, but the Warriors were far more than a one-player team. Senior Lizzy Davis (10.3 ppg) became a more consistent threat on the offensive end while matching up against the other team’s top perimeter players on defense. Seniors Yara Fawaz and Hassman crashed the boards and made big plays on both ends of the floor, and junior Jordyn Collins returned from a mid-season injury to provide smothering defense off the bench.
The biggest development that helped Foxboro turn the corner and become a more balanced team was the growth of senior center Shakirah Ketant. The Emmanuel College commit scored 10.5 points per game and was a double-double machine in the postseason, giving Foxboro a legitimate post presence.
“It was awesome just having a big man,” Hassman said. “It definitely made us more versatile as a team. Teams couldn’t just focus on one player and we had a lot of different threats.”
She added, “I think we all had different roles and I think we kind of just trusted each other. No one was really selfish that they took it upon themselves to do everything. Katelyn was obviously one of our main scorers but if she was having an off-night, any one of us could step up and I think we just had confidence in each other.”
Foxboro rolled to a league title and earned the two-seed in D2 South. After dispatching Dighton-Rehoboth, the Warriors hosted Pembroke in the second round. It was a rematch of the previous year’s semifinal that the Titans won easily. The Warriors got off to a slow start but turned it on in the second quarter and never looked back, winning 56-43.
Downs said, “I think the girls were just ready for it this year. I think that year of maturity under their belts, it showed. Everyone remembered that were there how horrible that felt and to live with that for a year and that was a really great win. I was really happy with how they dug in, played great defense, and did everything they needed to do offensively.”
Wins over Old Rochester and Hingham sent Foxboro to the TD Garden and for most of the players a once-in-a-lifetime experience. North Reading, which upset Pentucket in the North final, stood in the way of a trip to the final. A quick start and double-doubles from Ketant (16 points and 17 rebounds) and Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds) turned the state semi into a comfortable win.
“That was a personal goal to get these girls to play on the Garden floor because most of the girls had never played there before,” Downs reflected. “To have that experience is like no other. They just didn’t seem nervous at all, whereas the 2017 team felt nervous, and I was too, because just stepping on that floor it’s kind of like an out-of-body experience.”
It was Foxboro’s first win at the Garden since 1995. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it also clinched a state championship. Two days after the win against North Reading, the state final against West champion Taconic was canceled.
“Although it was super upsetting when we first found out that we couldn’t play,” Hassman admitted, “I think we all took a step back and realized that we came so much farther than we hoped and we accomplished all of our goals for the season, so everyone was really happy about that once we took a step back and looked at the whole season.”
Foxboro won by an average of 32 points per game this season, scoring just under 60 per night and allowing only 37. The Warriors won four times by more than 40 points and, in addition to its impressive D2 playoff run, beat four teams that made the D1 playoffs. Missing out on a chance to play a final doesn’t diminish how good Foxboro was this season.
“They just played so well together and they got along well and there’s always going to be bumps along the road but this team faced some adversity and just rectified it,” said Downs. “Every game there was someone else contributing.”
BOSTON, Mass. – In 2018, on its way to a state title, a snowstorm kept Foxboro from playing the state semifinal at TD Garden. Instead, a dramatic comeback against Pentucket took place at Woburn High. On Wednesday night, the Warriors had another opportunity to reach the final and this time got to play under the Garden’s bright lights.
This time, there was none of the drama from 2018. Foxboro allowed only two points in the first quarter, led by double digits at halftime, and rolled to a 52-35 victory over North champion North Reading to reach the state championship game for the second time in three years.
“Honestly, for the most part, I was like these lights are really bright,” senior Shakirah Ketant joked about the experience of playing at the Garden. “There were a couple times where I went up for a rebound and was like, I can’t see anything, but overall it was a really good experience. The court was amazing and all our fans coming out, just a great feeling.”
While the lighting may have been different, it didn’t slow down Ketant, who recorded another double-double and dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. She finished with a game-high 16 points and 17 rebounds and added a pair of blocks, two assists, and two steals.
When asked about her strong play this postseason, Ketant replied with a smile, “How hard we work in practice and Coach [Brian] Brown just constantly being on us to be big, be big and us giving it our all going up strong for a board and going to the basket. We work on it every single day in practice, clearly it’s paying off.”
Foxboro got off to a perfect start, as Yara Fawaz (six points, three assists, and three steals), Katelyn Mollica (nine points) knocked down a jumper, and Ketant got two from an offensive rebound for a 6-0 lead. On the other end, the Warriors held North Reading scoreless for nearly six minutes.
“They have some quick guards, but we were able to keep some different girls, different legs on [Alexandria Grasso],” Foxboro coach Lisa Downs explained. “So many turnovers in that first quarter. I think it was just so much anxiety, get the kinks out a little bit on the Boston Garden floor. It all came back to defense because our shots were not going in tonight.”
After the Hornets finally got on the board, Lizzy Davis (five points, seven rebounds, and five assists) got to the rim for a pair and Ketant added two more with a basket off a Davis pass.
Leading 10-2, Foxboro got its offense going in the second quarter to build the lead to 12 by halftime. Mollica answered a North Reading three with one of her own and then found Fawaz for a bucket off an inbounds play. Ketant scored four points in the second and also assisted on a couple of mid-range jumpers for Abby Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds).
“If it’s not falling on the outside, then we have to work inside then out and as we started working it inside they started doubling us down, packing the middle, and then we started kicking it out and started getting some open looks,” said Ketant.
It really felt like the Warriors could score at will in the post. “That was the plan,” said Downs. “Their guards were very aggressive, scrappy, so if we were able to get it in then we would try to use our size and our athleticism in the paint.”
The lead grew to as many as 21 points in the third quarter, as Foxboro continued to find holes in the North Reading defense. Hassman scored the first six points of the third for the Warriors, including a jumper after Fawaz grabbed an offensive rebound to keep a possession alive.
“That’s what she is so good at and I think she was just questioning herself in the first quarter,” Downs said of Hassman. “She wasn’t quite as smooth as she usually is. Once she got one in, I knew she’d find her rhythm.”
Davis buried a straightaway three, Jordyn Collins (six points) knocked down a short jumper, and Ketant added four more points (both baskets coming off Fawaz assists) to close out the quarter.
Foxboro led 44-24 heading into the fourth, but the Hornets wouldn’t go away easily. Lauren Sullivan (team-high 14 points) went on a personal 8-2 run, burying a pair of deep threes, and pulled North Reading within 14.
That would be as close as the North champs could get. Collins scored with a drive to the basket, Ketant grabbed yet another offensive rebound for two more, and Mollica capped the win with a layup in transition.
TAUNTON, Mass. – It looked like the game was about to get away. Hingham went on a 12-5 run to start the third quarter and pushed its lead to double digits in Saturday morning’s Div. 2 South final at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House. Foxboro’s season was on the brink.
Experience took over. Foxboro has been in this position before, having reached the South final three out of the last four years, and a lineup filled with upperclassman turned around the 11-point deficit by locking down on the defensive end and grinding out possessions on offense.
After scoring 29 points through 19 minutes, Foxboro rallied with 28 points over the final 11 and held Hingham to only 10 points in that stretch. The Warriors turned a 40-29 Hingham lead into a 57-50 victory and claimed another South title.
Junior guard Katelyn Mollica added, “It’s really important in these kind of games to never stop fighting. It’s just so important to keep hitting those shots, keep fighting on defense. I know most of my team is older, so we’ve all kind of been there in this position and it’s really helpful having that past experience.”
Hingham only made two shots from the field over the final 11-plus minutes, but in the first half the Harborwomen showed the shot-making that got them to the final. Caroline Connelly was controlling the glass, grabbing 12 of her 16 rebounds in the first half, and had four points in the first quarter. Perry Blasetti had eight points in the first, including a pull-up three that put Hingham up 14-11 after one.
The Warriors were struggling to find a rhythm offensively in the early going. Mollica hit her first three and Fawaz had four points in the first, including a steal and layup and then basket off a Lizzy Davis assist to tie the game at 9-9. Hingham pushed the lead to as many as five twice in the second quarter, but each time Foxboro battled back.
Shakirah Ketant got her first four points in the second and also assisted on a Jordyn Collins jumper that cut the Hingham lead to 25-22. After Fawaz got two at the line, Foxboro was back within one, but then Grace Bennis got free for a deep three at the buzzer (her only made field goal in the game) to make it 28-24 heading to the locker room.
“Fortunately I have a whole bunch of seniors who a year ago would have absolutely crumbled and they just knew that they’re resilient and they just focused on the next basket,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I knew that if we went into halftime within a basket or two that we were going to win the game because we’re a second half team.”
The momentum from that shot seemed to carry over into the second half.
Ryley Blasetti (13 points) got to the basket for an and-one and Connelly (nine points) grabbed an offensive board for a three-point play that pushed the lead to 11. Mollica (17 points) answered with a drive for two, but a pair of free throws by Perry Blasetti (14 points) made it 40-29.
Fawaz (11 points) gave the Warriors a little life by snagging an offensive rebound in traffic and kicking it out to Mollica for a three. It was the start of a 13-1 run to close out the third quarter. With Foxboro back within four, Fawaz got a steal at one end and then finished off a nice pass from Morgan Sylvestre to make it 40-38.
The Warriors had been dominated on the glass for the better part of three quarters but another offensive rebound, this time from Mollica, led to an open jumper from Sylvestre to tie the game. Hingham got one at the line to regain the lead, but Ketant (13 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks) got on the glass for two of her seven third quarter points and a 42-41 lead heading to the fourth.
Foxboro was in serious foul trouble in the second half. Abby Hassman picked up her fourth with 5:24 left in the third and just 20 seconds later Davis got her fourth as well. Ketant and Collins both got their fourth fouls in the fourth quarter.
But, the Warriors kept making plays on both ends and Hingham shot just 5-of-10 at the line in the final quarter. Ketant buried a jumper off a Collins feed to make it 44-43. After Hingham came back to lead 48-46 on a Ryley Blasetti floater, Collins got an open look off a Hassman rebound and dish to tie the game again.
“Every shot they had had to be a contested one and they had to really earn it,” said Downs about the defensive effort. “They’re a fantastic team and if they got into a shooting rhythm we’d be in trouble, so we just had to have a hand up on every shot.”
Mollica put the Warriors in front to stay with a runner on the baseline and Foxboro went 9-of-10 at the line in the final stretch to seal the win. Mollica and Davis were both a perfect 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Davis also drew an important charge with 18.6 on the clock and the Warriors up by five.
“I’m just so proud of them,” said Downs. “Any given day it’s going to be somebody else’s game. We have the capabilities on any given night to make sure that whoever is having a good night gets the ball. Defensively, that’s what won the game for us.”
Fawaz, who was on the bench but didn’t play the last time that Foxboro won the South, credited that experience for helping win this year’s title.
She said, “I think we just had the opportunity to play with those five seniors who were there two years ago and I think a lot of people doubted Foxboro girls basketball after that but we proved to them that we can still do it and still come back.
“It feels awesome. We knew what we wanted to do and we did it.”
Foxboro (23-2) advances to play at the TD Garden for the first time in four years (snow moved the 2018 state semifinal from the Garden to Woburn High) and will face North champion North Reading on Wednesday at 5:30.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Offense can come and go, as every team is bound to have an off shooting night even in the playoffs, but the one common denominator for Foxboro’s run of four straight trips to the Div. 2 South semifinals has been defense.
The Warriors put their defensive capabilities on full display again on Monday night at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House, as they held Old Rochester to just 11 points and three made baskets in the first half and held the Bulldogs under 30 points for the second time in two weeks.
Foxboro made it three South finals in four years with a 46-29 victory.
“We always say defense wins championships and we really focus on playing hard ‘D’ and trying to shut the other team down,” said senior forward Abby Hassman. “Our defense will make up for any bad shooting night we have. We’ve always had a strong defensive team [for the past four years] and I really think that’s carried us through.”
Old Rochester is a feisty defensive team as well and the Bulldogs continued to play Foxboro leading scorer Katelyn Mollica tough, limiting the junior to four points through the first three quarters and forcing an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers.
The difference between this year’s Foxboro team and the one that lost at the same stage last season is that there are other players that can produce on the offensive end. Hassman (six points, nine rebounds, and four steals) scored the game’s first four points and then dished it off for a layup from Shakirah Ketant.
After a couple of Ketant free throws, Lizzy Davis (nine points) knocked down a straightaway three and Mollica scooped in her first points of the night to make it 13-3 after one.
Logan Fernandes (eight points) hit a three to open the second quarter, but Davis answered right back with her second three of the night. Ketant then added a basket on an offensive rebound and knocked down a jumper off a Davis assist. She finished with 13 points and nine rebounds and continued to give the Warriors a different dimension in the paint.
“We just didn’t have that last year and Abby, as good as she is, isn’t a Shakirah,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “Abby is going to do her thing out there, but Shak is able to convert on a lot of those points out there.”
The Warriors only managed 10 points in the second but picked up two more points on the overall lead because they held the Bulldogs to only two made baskets in the quarter. It was 23-11 at the break.
“In the first half, I was thrilled with their defense and I thought Yara [Fawaz] and Abby worked their butts off inside the paint,” said Downs. “They were trying to get the ball inside and we made it very difficult and our help defense was there just in case they were able to lob it in.”
In the third quarter, the two teams combined to only make five shots from the floor, as defense continued to be the theme of the night. Foxboro did make 5-of-6 at the line and responded to Old Rochester’s 5-0 start to the quarter with a 5-1 run coming out of a timeout that restored a double digit lead. Jordyn Collins had one of her three steals and her only basket to cap the run.
“Last year, we would’ve just crumbled but now it’s seniors on the team, they’re able compose themselves a little better than a year ago, and able to look at the next play,” said Downs.
Hassman added, “We definitely knew that we could win it and we just had to bring it today. We just wanted to play lockdown defense the whole time and going into the second half we just needed a few more points to boost our confidence and carry it to the end.”
Any comeback hopes for Old Rochester were squashed early in the fourth, as the Warriors went on an 8-1 run to put the game away.
Fawaz started the quarter with a drive to the basket and then an offensive foul call against the Warriors was negated by a technical foul against the Bulldogs. Mollica made both at the line to make it 36-20. After the teams traded a free throw apiece, Mollica finally connected from the outside, spotting up in the corner off a Davis pass. She answered an Old Rochester bucket with a second three, scoring eight of her 12 points in the fourth.
Downs said, “The offense is going to come in ebbs and flows and everyone was a little tight I think. We can do better. You just have to win by one, so it doesn’t matter how pretty or not pretty it is, it’s just a matter of getting to the next game.
Defense continued to be the story, as Foxboro limited the Bulldogs to only three made field goals and nine points in the fourth to put the game to rest and seal a spot back in the finals.
Hassman couldn’t help but smile when it was mentioned that she has gone to the sectional final in three of her four years. “We’ve always had a really good team and it’s exciting to be a part of it. We worked really hard throughout the season and…I don’t know, it is really weird that this is normal now.”
Foxboro (22-2) will face No. 4 seed Hingham in the South final at Taunton High. The date and time of the game have yet to be determined.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Although the score was only 6-2 in the first quarter, it was inevitable to start having flashbacks to last year’s South semifinal matchup. Foxboro was struggling at the offensive end, unable to find the range against the ball-hawking Pembroke defense. The hosts were in desperate need of a spark and senior forward Yara Fawaz gave them one.
Fawaz (nine points and three steals) hit a pair at the line, turned a steal into a fastbreak layup, and then buried a straightaway three of a Katelyn Mollica pass to put the Warriors up 11-6. It was a 9-0 run for Foxboro and Fawaz scored seven of them. When she knocked down the three, the feeling of relief from the Warriors and the home fans was palpable.
“We knew with our speed and the way we fastbreak and all that and the endurance that we have that we could outpace them,” said Lizzy Davis (16 points), whose jumper accounted for the other two points in the run. “Yara was so good today and she hit those few baskets early in the game and it just built from there. Everybody just kind of fed off of that.”
Pembroke battled back to tie the game at 11-11, but never regained the lead. A more experienced, more confident, more battle-tested Foxboro team kept the defending South champions at arm’s length and avenged last year’s loss with a 56-43 win that puts the Warriors into the sectional semifinal for the fourth year in a row.
“I was like, can someone just hit the lid off that rim?” admitted Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I don’t care where it comes from but once we started getting in a groove we were going to be fine. It’s going to happen, just make sure to keep executing on defense, which is what they did.”
Foxboro led 11-8 after the first quarter and Pembroke scored the first three of the second to tie the game again, but the Warriors responded with a 15-5 run to close out the half with a double-digit lead.
Davis got things started when she grabbed a loose ball and spotted up for a three to put Foxboro in front. That was followed quickly by a three-pointer from Mollica (game-high 20 points) and a free throw by Abby Hassman to make it 18-11. After a basket by Kylie Gates, Hassman kicked out to Davis for her second three of the quarter.
The Titans continued to keep it close, as Katie Galligan scored to cut the lead down to 21-16, but on the next possession Jordyn Collins grabbed one of her six steals on the night and turned it into a layup. Collins locked down on Galligan, Pembroke’s all-time leading scorer, holding her to just seven points.
“She played awesome,” Downs said of Collins. “That’s the best she’s played since coming back from her injury. I think she wasn’t trusting herself until tonight and then the competitive juices were out there. Between Lizzy and Jordyn they did a good job shutting down Galligan.”
It was 26-16 at the break and, despite only scoring nine points in the third, the Warriors never allowed the visitors closer than seven points in the quarter. Mollica started to heat up, answering a Pembroke three with a deep one of her own and knocking down a floater on the baseline.
Shakirah Ketant (seven points), another player who has stepped into a much bigger role this season, knocked down a jumper in the third and provided a major presence in the paint all night, pulling down 17 rebounds.
“They have to pay attention to her, so they can’t have all the attention on Mollica and have two or three people on her,” Downs said about Ketant’s impact. “We have so many more offensive weapons than we did a year ago.”
Foxboro led by eight entering the fourth, but Pembroke quickly made it five with a three by Sophie Considine, one of three shots she knocked down from deep in the final quarter. Rather than let the Titans creep back in, Davis knocked down a pull-up jumper and Mollica drilled a three to get the lead back to 10.
After another Considine three, Mollica spotted up for one in the corner. She scored 10 points in the fourth. Ketant grabbed an offensive rebound and scored and suddenly Foxboro was up 12. Considine made another three to cut the lead to 47-38, but Davis (who was 1-for-7 at the line to that point) hit two free throws and then Collins grabbed yet another steal and threw it ahead to Mollica for a layup that effectively sealed the win.
“Last year there was such a bitter taste left in our mouths and we just wanted to come out and get revenge,” Davis explained. “We didn’t want to go 0-2 against another team and we had so much intensity that we wanted to bring and we clearly brought it.”
Foxboro (21-2) will take on the winner of Old Rochester and New Mission on Monday night at Taunton High.
The Warriors held Old Rochester to just 11 points in the first half and didn’t allow more than eight points in a single quarter, overcoming a rough night on the offensive end of the floor and winning 34-26 to take home the title in the annual Warrior Classic.
“We limited a very good team to 11 points in the first half, so I think our defense did what we needed to do,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We knew they like a physical, frantic game, so we just tried to not match them but create a different kind of chaos with our defense.”
In a rematch of last year’s tournament final, the two teams ramped up the defensive pressure right from the opening whistle and forced both offenses to play faster than they would have liked. The result was a tight, physical game with very few cleanly run sets.
Foxboro got off to a solid start, as Lizzy Davis (12 points and four steals) drilled a three and Katelyn Mollica (eight points) got to the rim for a basket and a 6-0 lead. After Meghan Horan (game-high 14 points) got ORR on the board, Mollica knocked down a pull-up jumper to make it 8-2.
Horan got another basket off a steal, but Davis took a pair of charges in the quarter and the Warriors made everything difficult to lead 8-4 after one.
Shakirah Ketant (six points and 10 rebounds) got the second started with a rebound and put-back, but a three-point play from Mary Butler (eight points and 11 rebounds) cut the lead down to just one.
Jordyn Collins kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound that led to an Abby Hassman jumper and then Hassman kicked it out for a Davis three, as the Warriors extended the lead to 17-11 at the break.
Foxboro’s offense started to show signs of life in the third to open some separation between the sides. The Warriors scored 11 in the third, which was the only quarter in which either team managed double digits. Yara Fawaz hit a runner to make it 21-13 and Davis followed with her third three of the night to push the lead to 11. Hassman (four assists) set up Fawaz for a basket, as Foxboro grabbed its largest lead of the night, 26-13.
A Hassman steal led to a Mollica transition basket, but ORR got the final points of the quarter. Foxboro headed into the fourth leading 28-18.
“They were taking away, doubling a lot, and their switching didn’t play into what we like to do offensively,” Downs explained, “but we did what we needed to do get done. To beat a quality team like that, I’m happy with it.”
It felt like the Warriors were heading to a comfortable win, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away. Butler got a layup. Horan got a free throw and then a steal that she turned into a basket on the other end and Cadence Johnson scored in the paint to cut the Foxboro lead to just 30-25
Fawaz (six points and six rebounds) had Foxboro’s only basket to that point in the fourth, but Davis was able to break down the ORR defense, drive into the lane, and kick out for an open Mollica jumper that made it a seven-point game. Ketant added a pair of free throws late to seal the win.
Despite only scoring six points in the final quarter, Foxboro walked off the court with the Warrior Classic title and the experience of the type of games that are bound to come in the Div. 2 playoffs.
“As long as we show up on defense, good things are going to happen,” said Downs, “but we’ve got to get our fast break moving a little bit more. When you have the open court and move without the ball, that’s when good things happen. Every time we made that extra pass, we had some open shots.”
Foxboro (19-2) expects to be one of the top seed in the Div. 2 South bracket when the tournament pairings are announced this week.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Through its opening five games, Foxboro had proven to be far more than its opponents could handle. The lowest margin of victory for the unbeaten Warriors was 31 points back in the season opener. Coming into Tuesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, they were the top scoring team in the league and the top defensive team.
As the first quarter was winding down, it looked like business as usual. Foxboro led 15-7 and was lining up another three-pointer to try and extend the advantage. Caroline Peper blocked the shot (one of three blocked three-pointers for her in the game) and Caroline Flynn snatched the rebound. Flynn took off up court and laid a pass off to Peper for a three of her own.
It was the start of a 23-5 run to close out the half that gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. OA held the Warriors to single digits in the second and third quarters, locking down defensively and controlling the glass, to pull out a 54-39 win that keeps them unbeaten in the league and in a first-place tie with Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division.
“These kids have basketball IQs and they’re not afraid to work hard and to be physical,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I was just so proud of their effort and it didn’t come from just one player. The depth is really significant for us. They’re better now at recognizing where our strengths are.”
It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors, who remain a game ahead of North Attleboro in the Davenport division, and a reminder of the way they have to play in order to have success this season.
“We think we’re better than we are,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We can be very good but we need to do the little things that we’ve done so far and tonight we kind of forgot those things.”
Foxboro got off to a strong start. Lizzy Davis (11 points, five rebounds, four steals) was everywhere in the first quarter. She scored six points, burying a corner three and scoring in traffic on an inbounds play, and took a pair of charges. Katelyn Mollica drilled a three to make it 12-5 and it looked like the Warriors would have a comfortable edge after one.
Then Peper blocked Davis’ three and turned into three points on the other end of the floor. The momentum from that play carried over after the timeout.
Peper (game-high 14 points) sliced through the defense for a layup. After a couple of free throws, Flynn snagged an offensive board and swung it around to Peper for a quick-release three that put OA on top 17-16. Shakirah Ketant (11 points) answered on the other end to regain the lead, but it would be the last lead of the night for the visitors.
“All of a sudden we were just playing hectic basketball and no one was relaxed,” Downs explained. “When they got the ball everyone was trying to do their own thing.”
Jess Erlich (10 points) hit four straight at the line to put the Tigers in front again, Hailey Bourne (seven points) drove to the cup for two, and then Peper buried her third shot from downtown to put OA ahead 26-19. Flynn assisted on a Erlich layup and then Bourne set up Tate Hadges (nine rebounds) for a basket in the post.
Leading by 10 at the break (30-20), Clement-Holbrook urged her team to keep its foot on the gas. “Coming out in the third quarter, just maintaining that defensive intensity,” she explained. “I wasn’t comfortable until the final buzzer went off because you can’t not play defense against Foxboro for the whole 32 minutes.”
Bourne scored on a drive and Erlich knocked down a corner jumper off a Flynn assist to get OA right back into the swing of things in the third. Peper’s fourth three of the night put OA up 40-22. After Jordyn Collins got a steal and layup and Yara Fawaz scored in the paint, it looked like Foxboro might have a comeback in it but Flynn grabbed an offensive board and scored to make it a 16-point game after three.
Downs admitted, “We got killed on the boards, which is something that we’ve been priding ourselves on, crashing the board offensively and getting defensive rebounds, and we didn’t do that.”
The offense was working well for the Tigers, but the story was the defensive effort that OA put into stopping Mollica. One of the league’s leading scorers, she was held to just six points and one made field goal. The combination of Bourne and Erin Holmberg never allowed Mollica the time or the space to get off her shot or get Foxboro into its sets.
Foxboro never really made a dent in the OA lead in the fourth, only getting as close as 13, after an Abby Hassman steal led to a layup for Davis and then her own drive to the basket made it 52-39. Flynn added four points in the quarter, as did Meg Holleran, and the Tigers comfortably finished the game off.
Oliver Ames (6-1, 5-0) will be back in action again on Friday when it travels to Mansfield. Foxboro (5-1, 4-1) will be on the road again, when the Warriors pay their first visit to the new Stoughton gym.
CANTON, Mass. – It was not a great shooting night for Foxboro and leading scorer Katelyn Mollica was held to only three made baskets by the Canton defense (especially the attentions of guards Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere). In other seasons that could have led to a long evening and potentially a tough loss to a division rival, but this year the Warriors can dominate in the paint as well as the perimeter.
Foxboro had three players grab double digit rebounds, controlling the glass on both ends of the floor, and ran away in the second half to earn a 65-33 win over last year’s division runner-up. The defending league champions now have an early two-game lead in the Davenport standings.
“We talked about how they had more offensive rebounds than we did rebounds for the whole game combined,” said Canton coach JIm Choquette after the game. “It’s a detail about boxing out and doing their job individually. It’s a shared responsibility, it’s on all of us to get better. As coaches, it’s something we need to stress more at practice.”
Despite the big win, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than enthusiastic about her team’s play, calling for a better effort on the defensive end.
“We were giving them way too many foul shots and we should’ve learned from what was being called in the first quarter,” she said. “We didn’t react well to that. I know what their potential is and to see them almost take a step back tonight from what we did against Concord-Carlisle is frustrating.”
Over the weekend, the Warriors started the game against Concord-Carlisle with a 27-0 run that essentially put the game away after eight minutes. Canton made sure that wouldn’t happen again, scoring the first five points of the game. A Sydney Gallery (10 points and six rebounds) basket and a three from Fay Gallery (eight points) made it 5-0 early on.
It took a couple of minutes to get going, but Foxboro turned the game on its head quickly, scoring the final 14 points of the first quarter and 16 straight overall to grab control.
A great outlet pass by Shakirah Ketant (13 points and 11 boards) set up Abby Hassman (six points and 12 boards) for a layup and then Lizzy Davis (11 points) grabbed an offensive board to keep a possession alive that ended in a Yara Fawaz (eight points and 10 rebounds) three. Davis added a three after a Jordyn Collins rebound and then scored on a drive to close the quarter.
Downs praised Hassman’s overall contribution. The senior added two blocks and four steals to her scoring and rebounding. “She’s probably my most consistent player,” Downs explained. “Mollica is always going to have her good nights and get her points even if she’s not shooting well, but Abby is just lights out with defense and rebounding and it’s the same thing night-in, night-out.”
Canton tried to mount a comeback at the start of the second. Sydney Gallery knocked down a shot off a pass by Lilah Milton and Kiara Cerruti (six points) got on the board with a jumper. The Bulldogs got as close as five but a Ketant putback and a stepback three by Mollica (13 points, 6-of-6 from the line) got Foxboro’s lead back to double digits.
“When we handled the press and got into the half-court sets and rushed, we were atrocious,” Choquette noted. “When we handled the press and got into our sets, I think we scored every time that we ran a play. We talked about the discipline of being able to do that for four quarters because there was a 10-minute gap where we’d break the press and jack up a shot as quick as you can.”
Leading 30-18 at the break, Foxboro came out of halftime ready to break the game wide open. The Warriors went on a 16-4 run. Davis scored the first basket and assisted on a bucket for Fawaz. Ketant scored in the post and then Mollica got back-to-back baskets, the second coming off another offensive rebound by Fawaz.
“Defensively, I think we had a decent game plan in terms of guarding Katelyn and we also stressed sticking with so many of their other players,” said Choquette. “Some things we did well defensively in the first half, we got away from in the second half and a little inexperience where everyone is trying to play catchup.”
The Bulldogs found it tough get going offensively. Fay Gallery hit a stepback three, Kayla Albert got a putback, and freshman Samya DaSilva hit a runner, but that was all that Canton got in the third and went into the final eight minutes down by 22.
Foxboro kept its foot on the gas in the fourth. Ketant was a force in the paint, scoring seven points in the quarter, Davis grabbed a steal and layup, and Morgan Sylvestre came off the bench to score four points.
“With Shakirah in there, it just adds a whole new dimension,” said Downs about adding an element of post play to the offense. “Teams have to pay attention to her.”
Foxboro (4-0) will be back home on Friday night when it faces Milford. Canton (1-3) will look to end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Stoughton.
2018-2019 Record: 8-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
Attleboro was three wins shy of reaching the postseason last year, despite a roster filled with inexperienced players, and the Bombardiers demonstrated the potential in the squad by upsetting Franklin late in the season and handing the Panthers their only league loss. This winter, the Bombardiers will be looking to turn potential into reality and make a jump into the playoff picture.
Six players are returning from last year, including seniors Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall, who give Attleboro a talented backcourt on both ends of the court. Thomas adds length and slashing ability, while McCall is a sharpshooter who will be the team’s primary ball-handler. Sophomore Meg Gordon has taken a big leap from last year and head coach Marty Crowley thinks that she is ready for a breakout season on the wing.
Juniors Gabby Bosh and Emma Reilly will both be back to add some nous to the lineup, while sophomores Hailey and Lindsey Perry add grit and toughness. Junior Ryan Johnson will add size to the frontcourt, while sophomore Lillian Froio and juniors Jackie MacDonald and Laura McVeigh add depth and physicality. Overall, it is a much deeper, more experienced group for Crowley to build lineups with this season.
“For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound,” Crowley said. “Nyah and Liv I am sure are going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone, however, we feel as if we have the players in place who will contribute offensively.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-7 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Jim Choquette
Youth was served for the Bulldogs last season, as a talented trio of freshmen jumped into the starting lineup and helped Canton have one of its most successful seasons in program history, with 14 wins and a return to the state tournament. There were still some learning curves to overcome, but now a more experienced group is play with speed and get out on the break as often as possible to give Foxboro a challenge in the Davenport title race and bring home a postseason win.
Although Canton is still a relatively young team, the talent on the roster is undeniable. Sophomores Kiara Cerruti and Sydney and Fay Gallery all had impressive rookie campaigns, showing off their skills on the wing, from three-point range, and in the paint. They will face even more pressure this season, as teams know what they like to do and will be even more determined to take them out of their games.
Sophomore Carly Fitzgerald will be one of the players stepping into the point guard role vacated by the graduation of Julia Hamilton and will be the facilitator getting Canton into its offense. In the paint, Canton has size and athleticism in senior Lilah Milton and junior Kayla Albert, who are both active rebounders and finishers at the rim and both have shown the ability to knock down the occasional jumper as well. Juniors Angie Elias and Sam Lamarr and sophomore Annie Hoban all have experience from last year to add to Canton’s depth.
Canton coach Jim Choquette said, “Each day we will try to improve as a coaching staff and a program. By the end of the season, our hopes are to be playing at our best.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-3 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Lisa Downs
The two-time defending Davenport division champions return all but one player from last year’s roster, so Foxboro remains the team to beat for the league title and expectations are very high heading into a new season. After a trip to the Div. 2 South semifinals last season, the Warriors will be aiming for even more this winter, trying to regain the top spot not just in the Hock but also in the South sectional.
Junior Katelyn Mollica was the team’s leading scorer last year and is already closing in on 1,000 points for her career. The team’s primary ball-handler and one of the best shooters in the league, Mollica will be one of the top offensive threats in the league. She will have plenty of help. Senior guard Lizzy Davis and senior forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman will also return to the starting lineup this season and add athleticism, speed, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, taking some pressure off Mollica with their ability to score in the open court.
Senior Shakirah Ketant came on strong at the end of last season and gives Foxboro a different, more physical look in the paint. Junior Jordyn Collins is a tough on-the-ball defender and has speed to burn. Seniors Jamie DeVellis and Julia Kelley both saw time on the floor last year and will add to Foxboro’s depth. Sophomore center Hannah Blake is a new face that could provide more strength in the post.
“The Hockomock League continues to produce teams, which make every night a tough one – there are really no teams that you can take lightly,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The preparation required to compete in this league really benefits teams that get to the postseason.”
2018-2019 Record: 21-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin is coming off its best season in program history and the Panthers have the talent returning to potentially surpass that success this winter. After winning the program’s first sectional title and coming within minutes of reaching the state title game, Franklin returns three of its starters and a host of bench players ready to step into bigger roles this year.
The key to it all is senior Ali Brigham. The George Washington-commit controlled the paint on both ends of the floor last season and remains the league’s most dominant star, as she continues to expand her game to make it even more difficult for the opposition. Teams can’t focus only on Brigham, as senior forward Meghan O’Connell showed in the playoffs the problems she can present with her ability to score and rebound and sophomore Olivia Quinn is another forward with size that teams will struggle to match up with.
Junior point guard Erin Quaile is a tenacious defender and a solid ball-handler, who is developing her outside shot. Senior Sydney Garilli and juniors Elizabeth Wilson, Teagan Collins, and Carissa Alers all saw time last season and will be in the backcourt rotation. Franklin will also add several newcomers, who could step right in and contribute, including juniors Katelynn Taylor and Kaleigh Houlihan and sophomores Emma Sousa and Stefany Padula. On balance, the Panthers look likely to be the team to beat again in the Kelley-Rex.
“I am excited by what I have seen to date,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They are a very motivated group who have bought into their team motto ‘We Over Me.’ They are good teammates who seek team success over individual glory.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-8 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip had a breakout season in 2018-19, winning 13 games and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. Returning seven players from last year’s roster, new head coach Dan Nagle takes over a program in solid shape and is looking to build on last season’s success and try to challenge Franklin at the top of the league standings this winter.
Senior Faye Veilleux spearheaded KP’s breakout season when she emerged as one of the top post scorers in the league. Her versatility and her ability to get out in transition will be crucial to Nagle’s fastbreaking style. Senior Faith Roy will give the Warriors a clutch outside shooter and classmate Taylor Butler adds physicality to the guard or forward position.
Junior Emma Glaser will be expected to take on a bigger role after a strong sophomore season on the wing and junior point guard Brianna James demonstrated the ability to get into the lane at will and finish even against taller opponents. Juniors Caroline Aaron and Courtney Keswick are also back from last year to provide depth on the wings and 6-foot-3 freshman Emily Sawyer will give KP much-needed size in the post, as they try to combat Franklin’s Ali Brigham. The Warriors are going to try and break teams down with aggressive defending and their speed in transition.
Nagle said, “It has been a great start to the year with this group of kids. From top to bottom our roster is full of girls who love the game of basketball and are enjoying the process of improving day to day here in the early going. I think we will be a fun team to watch this season, and I look forward to the challenge of having our kids compete night in and night out in an excellent league like the Hockomock.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Mike Redding
Mansfield has consistently been one of the top programs in the Kelley-Rex division but even the best programs are going to need time to overcome the graduation of 10 seniors. The Hornets will lack experience, but head coach Mike Redding will be looking for improvement over the course of the season and will be hoping to have the team playing its best basketball as the tournament rolls around.
Senior Becca Hottleman was recently cleared after knee surgery and will be back at the point for the Hornets. Hottleman is one of only two players that got starts last year. Junior forward Ashley Santos is the other and she will be one of the players expected to see her numbers take a jump, as she should expect to get a few more looks on the offensive end. Senior Kelly Doherty and junior Kayla Vine will jump into starting roles on the wings, while junior Sara Dooling will be a starter at forward.
While there is a lack of varsity playing time on the roster, there are plenty of upperclassmen that will be expected to contribute. Junior Sarah Sacco will back-up Hottleman at the point, while junior Ally Prentis and senior Grace Benton will add depth at the wing. Senior Grace Maher and juniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking will see time in the frontcourt and freshman wing Abby Wager should get opportunities to build experience this season.
“This group has very limited varsity basketball experience overall because we had that large and talented group of 10 seniors last year, but we’re not young and will rely on senior leadership and a deep junior class and all have varsity experience in other sports,” said Redding. “We have good size and depth in the post and all of them can shoot, handle the ball, and play like guards, which should cause some problems for the defense. It will be a work in progress and we’ll have to battle for wins in a very good league but this will be a good basketball team by February when the tourney rolls around.”
2018-2019 Record: 1-19 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Last year was a tough one for Milford. After graduating the bulk of the roster, an inexperienced group struggled through the season, but never lost the work rate and closed out the winter with its first win. The Hawks are still relatively young, but head coach TJ Dolliver is approaching the new year with optimism because of his team’s continued growth.
Four juniors are entering their third varsity seasons and the Hawks will be counting on them to provide necessary leadership on and off the court. Emma Lawrence, Jillian Michelson, Carly Fereira, and Katie Maietta have all gotten plenty of playing time last year and the hope is that experience will serve them well this winter.
This will be a guard-heavy lineup, especially with no player over 5-foot-8. Junior Elise Fauerbach will add some physical play to the frontcourt and sophomore forward Jill Araujo is a newcomer that can add some depth in the paint.
“There is a lot to pay attention to but what I care about the most is how we do this together,” said Dolliver. “I have a great group of girls and a great coaching staff and I believe this season will be very rewarding.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Nikki Correia
It has been a tough run over the last few seasons for North Attleboro, which won seven games and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but there are still positives to take away as former assistant Nikki Correia takes over for her first year in charge. North has several experienced players returning to try and push Big Red back up the standings.
The backcourt should be a plus for North with senior point guard Olivia Forbes back to run the show and keep the Rocketeers getting into the transition game that Correia prefers. She will be joined at the guard position by junior Amanda Kaiser, who emerged as not only a threat from deep but also as a tough defender who gets her hands into the passing lane. Juniors Siobhan Weir and Lydia Santos will add to the depth at guard to help with the full-court pressure that North will turn to this year.
North hasn’t had much height in the past few seasons, but there are several forwards who can compete on the glass. Senior forward Eliza Dion is an aggressive defender and can take her defender off the dribble. Senior Regan Fein will add extra depth in the paint. Freshman guard Ava McKeown and sophomore guard Summer Doherty are two newcomers that could make an instant impact.
“I am looking forward to being apart of watching this team and this program grow this year,” Correia said. “There are six returning seniors, so that veteran play will be very helpful, as well as returning a great shooter and adding an athletic sophomore and freshman to the mix.”
2018-2019 Record: 13-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames had a lot of new faces last year, but the success was very familiar. The Tigers finished with 13 wins and reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal, giving Wellesley all it could handle on the road. A year of experience and the return of a strong core of players means expectations are even higher for OA this winter.
Sophomore Caroline Peper will be the player that is going to draw the most attention at the start of the new season. As a freshman, Peper was one of the league’s top scorers and its top shooters. Junior Caroline Flynn was also an all-star last year. She runs the point, is one of the top passers on the team, and also one of its top rebounders. Her overall game helps the Tigers control games. Also in the backcourt will be seniors Meg Holleran and Erin Holmberg, who is coming back after surgery cost her almost all of last season.
Senior Tate Hadges will be on the front line, giving OA another strong defender and rebounder. Sophomore Hailey Bourne, while undersized, gives the Tigers a lot of effort in the post even when matched up against some of the best frontcourt players in the league. Junior Jess Erlich and Tori Harney and sophomore Anna Murphy will add to the team’s depth on the wing.
“As always, the Hock will present with a very high level of competition,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We are looking forward to being capable of putting together a variety of strong personnel combinations which will provide us with depth as we face those challenges.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sandra Lombardi
Sharon narrowly missed out on its first playoff appearance under head coach Sandy Lombardi, finishing just one win away from a tournament berth. With three returning starters and several younger players who got significant playing time last year, the Eagles will be eyeing that elusive postseason berth.
Three seniors will be counted on to lead the team at both ends of the floor. Point guard Ally Brown will be expected to get the Eagles into their offensive sets and is a strong defender on the other end, keeping pressure on the perimeter. Shooting guard Kaitlyn Wallace is the team’s top outside threat, stretching the defense with her range and also being a strong passer off the dribble. Forward Telishya Herbert led the team in scoring last year and is a matchup nightmare in the paint with her aggressive play going to the basket.
The starting lineup will be rounded out by junior Leah Fandel and sophomore Trinity Payne, two athletic forwards that will give Sharon decent size on the front line. Senior Nicole Teven, juniors Julia Early and Gaby Cabral and freshman Tess Letendre will all see plenty of playing time this season and will look to contribute to the team’s success.
“Ally, Kaitlyn, and Telishya have the most varsity experience and I expect great things from them this year,” Lombardi said. “We have a young team and I am hoping some of the younger players are able to step up this year as well.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
A new era will begin this winter, as Stoughton moves into its brand new gym with a lot of new faces on the roster, hoping to get the Black Knights back into the playoff race this season after missing out on the tournament last year.
The key for the Black Knights will be its senior leadership. Although Sydnee Hyacinthe has moved on to Milton Academy, they still return a strong core led by senior Aliyah Wright. The point guard can be a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, sparking Stoughton on defense and breaking down the opposition off the dribble. Senior Shyanne Trinh is healthy to start the season and will be the team’s top outside threat, with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. Senior forward Lexi Baptista is an athletic post threat who can also step back and knock down the mid-range jumper.
Senior Hannah Pagano and juniors Brooke Bulger, Mackenzie Manning, and Catherine Downey will add to the team’s depth, especially in the backcourt. Sophomore Makaiyah Singleton Rivera and freshman Kyla Sheedy-Goff will be two of the newcomers to the roster that could make a name for themselves this season.
“Despite being somewhat young this season this group of ladies worked really hard in the off-season,” said Stoughton coach Charmain Steele Jordan. “The sky is the limit this season and our Black Knights are going compete hard until the final whistle blows.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-15 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
After a number of seasons under coach Walter Harrigan, Taunton has turned to former King Philip coach Amy Siggens this year and she has brought plenty of energy into her first preseason with the Tigers, trying to push the program back into the playoff hunt.
As Siggens and the players become more comfortable with each other, the Tigers will count on their returning starters to get things off to a good start. Juniors Sonya and Jaelyn Fernandez and Kelsey White will be the players to watch this season after strong sophomore campaigns. All three have good size, with both Sonya and Jaelyn providing strong presences on the boards and out on the break and White causing match-up issues on the perimeter. All three will need to step up on the defensive end and keep the Tigers running.
Taunton also has depth, although it will be relatively inexperienced. Seniors Liz Crisman and Jaylah Chaves and junior Tori DaRosa will add more depth in the backcourt. Sophomores Braeley McDonald and Abby Souza (who has helped out on varsity since she was an eighth-grader) and freshman Kameron St. Pierre will also chip in this season.
“Any coaching change brings lots of challenges and, this season, we will be faced with our share,” said Siggens. “I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far. Our bench is young and talented but how quickly a good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start.”