Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Girls Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Ali Brigham, Franklin
Hockomock League All Stars
Liv McCall, Attleboro
Julia Hamilton, Canton
Kiara Cerruti, Canton
Kaitlyn Mollica, Foxboro
Chelsea Gibbons, Foxboro
Ali Brigham, Franklin
Bea Bondhus, Franklin
Shannon O’Connor, King Philip
Faye Veilleux, King Philip
Maggie Danehy, Mansfield
Sydney Mulkern, Mansfield
Julia Feid, North Attleboro
Caroline Flynn, Oliver Ames
Caroline Peper, Oliver Ames
Emma Eberhardt, Sharon
Aliyah Wright, Stoughton
Sonya Fernandez, Taunton
Jordyn Lako, Attleboro
Maggie Connolly, Canton
Abby Hassman, Foxboro
Erin Qualie, Franklin
Faith Roy, King Philip
Mady Bendanillo, Mansfield
Grace Risio, Milford
Amanda Kaiser, North Attleboro
Sadie Homer, Oliver Ames
Kaitlyn Wallace, Sharon
Sydnee Hyacinthe, Stoughton
Alexa White, Taunton
Last season, Canton needed a dramatic, overtime win against Weymouth in the regular season finale to end a seven-year state tournament drought. One day short of a full year later and the Bulldogs welcomed the Wildcats for this year’s regular season finale in second place in the Davenport division and several weeks after securing a much quicker return to the state tournament.
The Wildcats would make Tuesday night’s game interesting, cutting the Canton lead down from as many as 16 in the second half to just three points in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs closed on a 9-3 run to earn the 57-48 victory. It was the 14th win of the season for Canton, which is the program’s highest win total in at least 23 years.
“From the beginning, the whole team has had their sights set on having a great postseason,” Canton coach Jim Choquette explained. “Last year, we were happy to make it there, which we were able to accomplish, and this year I know the girls are excited to try and make a good run and trying to play our best at the end of the year and extend the season as long as possible.”
Canton also celebrated senior night on Tuesday and, as Choquette is quick to point out, the graduating class has made great strides over the past four years. As freshmen, the current seniors went 6-14. They have now flipped that record completely, made back-to-back playoff appearances, and are the program’s winningest class in two decades.
“It’s awesome,” said senior Julia Hamilton. “It’s pretty amazing to me. Everyone’s put in so much hard work to come this far and prove to everyone else that we deserve to be in the tournament and one of the teams that people have to watch out for.”
On senior night, Nicole Galvin, who has been injured this season, was able to take the floor for the opening tip. Her classmates then took over to put Canton in front early.
With Weymouth ahead 10-7, senior Molly Ludwig drove to the basket for a layup to cut the lead to one. On the following possession, senior Maggie Connolly (four assists) kicked it out to Hamilton for the first of her two threes in the first quarter. That put the Bulldogs up 12-10 and they wouldn’t trail again.
Freshman Kiara Cerruti (team-high 14 points) scored on a drive to the basket and senior Erin Devine (eight points and five rebounds) followed with a basket off one of Hamilton’s six assists. Hamilton then nailed her second triple to make it 19-14 and Ludwig closed the quarter with her second basket for a six-point lead, 21-15.
Fay Gallery scored to start the second quarter, extending the lead to eight, but the Wildcats rallied with seven straight points to get back within one. Canton closed the half on a 9-0 run to take back control. Devine started the run with a layup off a Sydney Gallery (eight points) pass and then Fay Gallery got free in transition for a layup. Cerruti nailed a three and Sydney Gallery got an open look off an inbounds play to push the Canton lead to double digits at the break.
The second half started like the first, with Canton in control. Connolly and Lilah Milton got baskets to start the third and a Sydney Gallery steal and layup pushed the lead to 40-24, but Weymouth bounced back with an 8-0 run to end the quarter.
The run extended to 11-0 thanks to a Kerin McCarthy three-point play to start the fourth, but Sydney Gallery answered with an offensive rebound and score. After a Weymouth basket, Connolly got free in transition and Kayla Albert knocked down a jumper on an inbounds play.
“The four times we’ve played Weymouth their fourth quarter finish has been outstanding,” said Choquette. “One thing we said during one of the timeouts was don’t try and hang on and win this, we really need to finish the game and that was a nice change.”
He added, “A lot of it just comes down to execution. We had an inbounds play where we executed terribly and they got a five-second call on it. We got the ball back and ran an offensive play where we executed perfectly and got a layup. How well we can execute will determine how well we do in the tournament.”
Weymouth again got the lead to just three points at 48-45, but Fay Gallery responded with a drive down the lane for two and then a three off a Hamilton drive and dish. A pair of free throws by Cerruti and a layup for Sydney Gallery clinched the win in the final minute.
Canton (14-6, 11-5) will be in the top half of the Div. 2 bracket and will find out its seed on Friday.
Hamilton said, “It’s our responsibility [as seniors] to show more leadership and the experience that we have from the playoffs last year. As long as everyone keeps working hard, it’s just a team game…It’s really exciting and it’s my senior year and I don’t want this to end.”
King Philip, 54 @ Attleboro, 58 – Final – Attleboro senior Mason Houle hit a big three and junior Qualeem Charles sank two big free throws as the Bombardiers held off an upset bid from King Philip. Houle (15 points) took a feed from Kevin Velazquez (nine points) and drained a three to make it 56-48 with 1:20 to play. KP’s Bruce Saintilus (21 points) answered with a three of his own to make it 56-51. After a stop, Tim Nault sank a three for the Warriors to make it 56-54 with 39 seconds to play. Charles (13 points, eight rebounds) hit two free throws with 12.4 left to secure the win for Attleboro. Tim Callahan added 13 points for Attleboro while Alex Fritz finished with 13 points for the Warriors.
Sharon, 43 @ Canton, 69 – Final – Canton senior Devin Foster scored 31 points to lead the Bulldogs to a win. With the victory and other results from the Davenport division, the Bulldogs clinched at least a share of the division title.
Franklin, 67 @ Taunton, 49 – Final – After an even first quarter, Franklin controlled the final three periods to secure a win on the road over Kelley-Rex rival Taunton. Tied at 12-12 through eight minutes, Franklin created a 30-23 lead heading into the halftime break. The Panthers then extended the lead to 49-33 after three and never looked back to get the win. Franklin junior Chris Edgehill scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, Jalen Samuels added 14 points, and both Jake Macchi and Will Harvey (all points in the first half) finished with 10 points apiece. Dante Law had a team-high 10 points for the Tigers.
Mansfield, 60 @ Oliver Ames, 51 – Final – Mansfield connected on nine three-pointers and found success at the free throw line to return home with a win over Oliver Ames. Sophomores TJ Guy and Matt Boen each had 16 points for the Hornets, who held a three point lead at halftime (29-26) and entering the final quarter (45-42). Sam Stevens scored five of his eight points in the final quarter for Mansfield.
Milford, 53 @ North Attleboro, 63 – Final – North Attleboro was perfect from the field in the fourth quarter, going 9-for-9, and poured in 31 points to complete a comeback win over visiting Milford. The Rocketeers were limited to 16 points in the first half but equaled that total in the third quarter. Trailing 41-32 after three, the Rocketeers opened the fourth with an 8-0 run to get back into the game. Junior Ethan Friberg (11 points) hit a pair of threes in the fourth, sophomore George Ladd added 10 points (all in the second half), and Nate Gonsalves scored all eight of his points in the final quarter. Senior Josh Montague scored a team-high 19 points while Josh Porter added nine points, including a big layup in the fourth quarter. Brendan White had a team-high 14 points and Brendon Sailer added 13 points for the Hawks.
Attleboro, 44 @ King Philip, 63 – Final – Faith Roy set a career-high with 22 points to lead the Warriors to a win that clinches a state tournament berth. Shannon O’Connor and Faye Veilleux chipped in with 12 points apiece for KP.
Sharon, 48 @ Canton, 65 – Final – Kiara Cerruti scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Bulldogs to their 11th win this season. Defensively, seniors Maggie Connolly and Julia Hamilton combined for 14 steals in the win. Emma Eberhardt scored 19 points in the loss and Telishya Herbert added 15 for the Eagles.
Foxboro, 79 @ Stoughton, 36 – Final – Katelyn Mollica had 25 points, including seven three-pointers, to lead the Warriors to a division win. Yara Fawaz had 16 points and Abby Hassman and Chelsea Gibbons each scored nine points in the win.
Taunton, 37 @ Franklin, 82 – Final – Franklin clinched the outright league title with the win. It’s the first title since 2013 for the Panthers. Eleven different players scored for the Panthers in the win led by Ali Brigham with 20 points. Bea Bondhus added 16 and Megan O’Connell had 13 in the win. Sonya Fernandez was Taunton’s top scorer with 12.
Mansfield, 45 @ Oliver Ames, 39 – Final – Maggie Danehy led the way for the Hornets with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Mady Bendanillo added 10 ppoints, four assists, and three steals in the win. OA closed the gap in the fourth quarter, cutting an 11-point lead to just six, thanks in part to freshman Caroline Peper, who scored 14 of her game-high 21 points in the fourth.
North Attleboro, 55 @ Milford, 19 – Final – Liz Smahi and Julia Kleczkowski each scored eight points for the Rocketeers.
Foxboro, 9 @ Stoughton, 2 – Final – Brendan Tully netted a hat trick and Kirk Leach scored twice as the Warriors skated to a win over Stoughton at Asiaf. Sean Doherty and Carter Gerome each scored for Stoughton.
Mansfield @ Sharon, 7:30
Oliver Ames, 137.95 @ Mansfield, 147.05 – Final
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Trailing 50-49, Sydney Gallery knocked down a free throw to even the score with 3:46 left on the clock. It turned out to be the start of a 12-0 run that allowed Canton to open up Tuesday night’s game against Oliver Ames at the Nixon Gym and earn the Bulldogs a rare win in this series.
Canton closed the game with a 16-6 run over the final four minutes and shot 15-of-18 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter to seal a 65-56 victory and move one win from a quick return to the state tournament.
“We worked on it a lot in practice,” Canton coach Jim Choquette said of the free throw shooting. “We tried everything to put them in as many situations as possible and in the last game and this game it really paid off. The other thing is trying to find and put the ball in the right people’s hands. Kiara was really shooting the ball well tonight so we just ran some inbounds plays to get her the ball.”
Freshman Kiara Cerruti scored 10 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth and personally went 8-for-8 from the line down the stretch, while playing strong defense on OA’s rookie leading scorer Caroline Peper (11 points).
“From the line she was amazing but we also had her guard Peper and she gave up four shots,” Choquette said. “Kiara’s defense on her, and other players in the league, has been outstanding and it was cool watching two of the really good freshmen in the league battling.”
The game was close throughout, with neither team building more than a five-point lead until late in the fourth quarter. Fay Gallery (16 points and six rebounds) and Julia Hamilton (six points and six steals) each hit threes to get things started for Canton in the first quarter. Peper nailed one of her own to tie the game at 9-9 but Canton scored five straight until a layup from Alex Sheldon (11 points, 13 rebounds). Kayla Albert scored her only basket on a rebound to make it 16-11 after one.
“We knew they could shoot and I think that was maybe our biggest concern,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It has nothing to do with what grade they’re in, they can score. I don’t think we did a good enough job defensively, I think our help was just too slow, and it was a good effort but they shot the lights out.”
OA turned things around in the second. Ally Scolnick (game-high 15 points) scored six in the quarter and Hailey Bourne twice got to the basket for layups. Cerruti nailed a three in the final seconds of the second to close the gap to one, 28-27, at the break.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued in the third. Fay Gallery drove to the basket for two and then buried a three to put Canton up four. Bourne and Sheldon got back-to-back baskets to tie the game. Maggie Connolly scored six of her 12 points (she also pulled down 12 rebounds) in the quarter but was matched by Scolnick, who drilled a pair of threes.
Clement-Holbrook said, “We didn’t have the running game like we normally do and I think Canton did a good job getting back on us. They took away what we do offensively and we couldn’t take away what they do.”
Sydney Gallery (seven points) scored at the buzzer to put the Bulldogs ahead 43-42 going into the final eight minutes.
After a pair of Connolly free throws, Caroline Flynn (nine points) gathered an offensive rebound and scored to cut the lead to one. More free throws for both teams gave Canton a lead but Peper scored and then Sheldon got her final points of the night to put the Tigers ahead 50-49.
Sydney Gallery tied the game with a clutch free throw and then her twin sister put the Bulldogs ahead to stay, draining a three off a Connolly assist. Cerruti followed with a drive to the basket and a lefty, scooped finish off glass. The Tigers tried to get back into it with a three by Teper and a three-point play by Scolnick but the Bulldogs shot 10-of-12 from the line to hold on.
“It’s growth because we had a scenario where we called a timeout and drew up on the board what we wanted to run but then we get out it looked nothing like that,” Clement-Holbrook said. We need to grow.”
While neither coach could remember exactly when Canton had last beaten OA, Clement-Holbrook could only say it had been a long time. Choquette admitted that the lack of experience of his talented freshman may have been an advantage because they weren’t worried about the history between the two teams.
“To be on the road at OA, which is the legendary basketball school in the league, I think the freshmen help because they don’t know what the history is,” he explained. “They just think it’s another game, so when they show up they think let’s grind it out and see if we’re better than them.”
Canton (9-4, 7-4) will try to clinch a playoff spot and move within a game of the Davenport title when it hosts Foxboro on Friday. Oliver Ames (8-5, 7-4) will look to bounce back against Taunton.
Mansfield, 70 @ Canton, 43 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. Canton held 26-25 at halftime but Mansfield outscored the Bulldogs 24-9 in the third period to take control the game. Mansfield had a 45-17 advantage in the second half. Senior Tommy Dooling had a team-high 15 points, sophomore Matty Boen added 13 points and six rebounds, and sophomore TJ Guy finished with 12 points and seven boards for the Hornets. Canton senior Ryan Lentol finished with a team-high 13 points and six rebounds.
Franklin, 57 @ North Attleboro, 33 – Final – Franklin created all the separation it needed with a big first half. The Panthers led 17-4 after one and took a 31-10 advantage into the break. Junior Chris Edgehill scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the first half for Franklin while Jalen Samuels and Will Harvey each added 10 points. North Attleboro senior Josh Montague scored a team-best 12 points while junior Ethan Friberg had nine points.
King Philip, 73 @ Stoughton, 55 – Final – King Philip trailed by nine at halftime but used a monster second half to beat the Black Knights. The Warriors won the third quarter, 23-6, to turn a deficit into a 50-41 lead going into the final quarter. KP added 23 more points in the final quarter to earn the win. Senior Bruce Saintilus scored a career-high 24 points while Andrew McKinney and Alex Fritz both scored 19 points, a career-best for both players. Stoughton junior Obinna Ugwuakazi finished with a team-high 20 points while Zak Paquette recorded a career-high 18 points for the Black Knights.
Taunton, 59 @ Milford, 47 – Final – Holding a 33-26 lead at halftime, Taunton held the Hawks to seven points in the third quarter to create a double-digit lead that it never relinquished in a win over Milford. Taunton senior Lou Vendrell scored eight of his 14 points in the third quarter while Mike Qunn (10 points) added a triple to help the Tigers build a 49-33 lead going into the final eight minutes. Taunton junior Dante Law scored a team-high 15 points, including 11 in the opening quarter. Junior Colby Pires and sophomore Jordan Darling each scored 11 points for Milford.
Oliver Ames, 64 @ Sharon, 50 – Final – Sharon held a one-point lead with three minutes to go in the third quarter but Oliver Ames finished strong, doubling the Eagles’ production down the stretch (30-15) to earn the win. Ethan Eckstrom scored six of his team-high 15 points in the final quarter and Owen Friel (career-high 10 points) connected on a pair of three-pointers in the fourth to help the Tigers pull away. Senior Sean O’Brien and sophomore Amari Brown each added eight points for OA. Sharon junior Aidan Kane scored a game-high 17 points while classmate Caleb Gayle added 14 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
Canton, 51 @ Mansfield, 57 – Final (OT) – Mansfield’s Emily Vigeant hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation to force overtime. The Bulldogs got balanced scoring, led by Sydney Gallery’s 12 points. Kiara Cerruti scored 11, Maggie Connolly had nine, and Julia Hamilton added eight points for Canton, which had its five-game win streak come to an end.
North Attleboro, 33 @ Franklin, 57 – Final – Ali Brigham had 25 for the Panthers in the win.
Stoughton, 31 @ King Philip, 73 – Final – KP jumped out to a big lead early in the game and never looked back, as the Warriors clicked on the offensive end of the floor for their sixth win of the season. Faye Veilleux scored 21 points and Julia Leroux added 18 points (on six three-pointers) to spark KP to the win. Shannon O’Connor scored eight as well for the Warriors.
Milford, 23 @ Taunton, 61 – Final – Click here for a Photo Gallery from this game. Taunton went on a 25-2 run after Milford opened the scoring and took control of the game before halftime. Alexa White led the way for the hosts with 15 points, while Kelsey White added 12. In the fourth quarter, freshman Abby Souza came off the bench and scored 11 of her 13 points. Ashanty Barreto led the Hawks with six points and Emma Lawrence added five points and 13 rebounds.
Sharon, 50 @ Oliver Ames, 75 – Final – Oliver Ames scored 41 points in the first half, building a 10-point lead at the break, and never looked back to earn the win over Sharon. Freshman Caroline Peper poured in a career-high 25 points to pace the Tigers while Caroline Flynn had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
King Philip, 2 @ Medway, 2 – Final
Taunton, 70 @ Attleboro, 95 – Final
Taunton, 75 @ Attleboro, 92 – Final
CANTON, Mass. – King Philip kept fighting back in the second half, closing the gap to as little as five points in the fourth quarter, but for the second time in three games Canton went to the free throw line and sealed a victory.
Five days before, Canton came from behind to beat division rival Stoughton with nine free throws in the final minutes. On Tuesday night, at home, the Bulldogs were at it again, shooting 11-of-12 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to hold off the Warriors and pull out a 53-41 victory. It is a fourth straight victory for Canton.
“It’s tough for other teams because if they foul one girl she’s making her free throws and if they foul another girl, she’s hitting her free throws,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We’re doing a good job moving the ball, getting it to the right girls at the right times and the girls are really doing it – they’re executing from the line and it’s obviously something that puts us in situations to win.”
The Warriors needed to come from behind with a strong fourth quarter to beat Taunton last time out and got off to another tough start on Tuesday. Canton jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter. Julia Hamilton scored six of her game-high 14 points in that run, knocking down a pair of three-pointers, and freshman Fay Gallery scored five of her 13 points to get Canton off to the perfect start.
“Frustration got us,” said KP coach Amy Siggens about the tough start. “If someone misses a shot, they’re young kids and we’re teaching them that you have to move on and get over it and it’s been a struggle. We had a 14-day break and we’ve been on the road since and it’s been tough.”
KP did cut into the lead as leading scorer Faye Veilleux (14 points and 12 rebounds) knocked down a corner three and then a pull-up jumper in transition, but Lilah Milton’s offensive rebound and putback put the Bulldogs up 17-9 after one.
The second quarter was a defensive struggle. Kiara Cerruti (10 points) nailed a three off a Hamilton assist to start the scoring but Canton managed only eight points in the quarter. Gallery also hit a three and Erin Devine scored on an offensive rebound, but that was all.
Despite the lack of scoring, Canton extended its lead by a couple of points because its defense held the Warriors to just six points in the second. Caroline Aaron scored on a back-cut and nice dish from Emma Glaser and then Faith Roy (five points) drilled a three, but it was a 10-point lead for Canton at the break.
Things picked up offensively for both teams in the third quarter. Cerruti started the third with a three but KP cut the lead down to just eight. Catherine Cummings, Glaser, Julia Leroux, and Taylor Butler all scored buckets to get the lead down to single digits.
“We came back into it in the second half,” Siggens said. “I was impressed with how they came out and fought for it a little more than we did in the first half. We saw some different combinations and we’re still figuring it out day to day and see what works.”
Cerruti scored off a steal and then Hamilton drilled another one from beyond the arc to get the Bulldogs back on track and give them an 11-point cushion heading to the fourth.
KP scored the first six points of the final quarter, as the game got even more frenetic. Veilleux scored twice and Butler knocked down a jumper to make it 38-33. Canton answered right back with a 6-0 run. Hamilton sank a pair at the line, Sydney Gallery (six points) got a layup, and Fay Gallery (five steals) got an offensive rebound and scored.
Choquette explained, ,”One of the strengths for us this season is different people doing different things during games. Kiara has led us in scoring a number of games and tonight she guarded Roy and held her scoreless in the second half. [Roy’s] having an amazing year and I told Kiara that this was a terrific defensive performance.”
Brianna James scored and got fouled. She missed the free throw but KP got the offensive board and Veilleux swung it around to Courtney Keswick for a basket. Trailing by nine, Veilleux managed to fire a pass from halfcourt to James for another layup. It was KP’s last basket.
“It really comes down to fundamentals,” said Siggens. “They’re a great team, they outplayed us and they out-hustled us.”
Sydney Gallery and Maggie Connolly (nine rebounds and four steals) each hit a pair at the line and Canton walked away with a fourth victory in the last seven days.
“This is our fourth game in seven days, so towards the end of the game I’m not surprised if people are a little tired,” Choquette said. “We come out and do wonderful things and then get a little tired, which is why I think one of the strengths of our team is the entire team, it’s 13 girls, it’s the bench, it’s everyone coming in and contributing.”
Canton (5-2) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday night at Sharon, while King Philip (4-2) will try to bounce back at Attleboro.
FOXBORO, Mass. – There are a lot of new faces on Foxboro this season and players jumping into bigger roles for the defending Div. 2 state champions, but some things haven’t changed for the Warriors. The game is still played at a fast pace, the defense is still aggressive, and Foxboro continues to win Davenport games.
One of the returning starters is sophomore Katelyn Mollica and on Friday night, even with Canton senior Maggie Connolly (seven steals) hounding her for three quarters, she dominated. Mollica scored a career-high 31 points, including 17 in the third quarter alone to lift the Warriors to a 86-61 win in an early season divisional clash.
“She’s unreal, and that step-back…you can’t defend against that,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs about Mollica’s offensive game. “Once we were able to fast break too that got her in the open court with the ball in her hands, so that freed her up and she’s money at the free throw line.”
Connolly was also the star on offense for the Bulldogs, scoring a career-high 22 points in the loss, but this game was a learning experience for Canton’s talented underclassmen.
“Even if some of these girls who were on the court tonight weren’t during last year’s run, they were at practices and seeing how it has to be done to be successful,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette about the Warriors. “Our girls are young and trying to figure that out.”
Foxboro jumped out to its speed right from the opening tip, taking a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes and with four different players getting on the board. Canton tried to get back into by forcing turnovers, with Connolly getting out on the break and finishing a pair of three-point plays on her way to a 12-point first quarter.
The Warriors just kept scoring, with Chelsea Gibbons (13 points) putting in five in the first and Mollica adding six, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just 20-16. On the first play of the second, Julia Hamilton lobbed a pass into Erin Devine for an easy layup that made it a two-point game.
It would be as close as the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the night, as Foxboro outscored Canton 24-11 in the second to take control of the game.
Mollica added eight in the quarter, including six from the free throw line, and Abby Hassman (the other returning starter from the state title game) scored six of her eight mostly driving the ball to the basket. Junior Lizzy Davis and sophomore Adrienne Dunn each added a three top open up a 17-point lead at the break.
“I was just angry,” Downs said about the discussion between the first two quarters. “We weren’t looking up quick enough. Our fast break wasn’t working because we were getting two or three dribbles too long and not going up the sideline. Once we started getting it into a track meet that opened things up.”
One area that Foxboro dominated was on the glass. Hassman (10 rebounds) and junior Yara Fawaz (seven boards) led the way for the Warriors, using their athleticism and quickness to control the paint. Canton also battled foul trouble for much of the first half, forcing a lot of subbing and rotating the lineup.
Choquette said, “Both games we were in the same boat. Some of the younger girls just have to adjust and realize they call it a little tighter. On the other hand, I like that they’re being aggressive, they’re not scared, and they’re not backing down.”
Mollica took over in the third. After back-to-back baskets by Gibbons extended the lead to 22 points, Mollica stepped back for a three-pointer, then hit a pull-up jumper in transition, and scored again on the break to push the advantage to 59-30.
Freshmen Sydney Gallery (nine points) and Kiara Cerruti (10 points) scored buckets for the Bulldogs, but then Mollica drilled a pair of threes to avoid any slip in the momentum.
In the fourth, Canton tried to claw back with Connolly adding six more points and the talented group of freshmen starting to find their footing. Syndey Gallery scored six in the quarter, while her sister Fay added five of her nine points and Cerruti scored four. It wasn’t enough to get Canton back in the game but it was a positive way to finish the night.
“This is a great test for where we are right now,” said Choquette. “We can get back to practice the next few days, get ready for Franklin, and then have two weeks to fully dissect everything and what we need to improve on.”
Downs praised her bench for being able to hold onto the lead in the fourth, including six points from junior Julia Kelley, but also praised the Bulldogs. “Those freshmen are good,” she said, “so once they get a couple games under their belt it’s going to be a totally different Canton team.”
Foxboro (2-0) will try to stay unbeaten when it travels to Taunton on Wednesday night. Canton (1-1) will look to bounce back with a tough trip to unbeaten Franklin.
2017-2018 Record: 9-13 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.
The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.
Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.
“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-11 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.
While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.
Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.
“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”
2017-2018 Record: 26-2 2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship. Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.
Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.
Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.
Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 15-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round. Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.
Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.
The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.
“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.
O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.
The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.
There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.
The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.
Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.
It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.
While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.
The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.
Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.
Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.
The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.
“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”
2017-2018 Record: 16-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.
Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.
Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”
2017-2018 Record: 2-18 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sanda Lombardi
It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.
Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.
“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.
It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.
While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.
“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”
2017-2018 Record: 7-15 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.
Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.
Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.
“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”
2017 Record: 10-6-2 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Kate Howarth
Canton has been on the cusp of getting back to the top of the Davenport division in recent seasons and on their day the Bulldogs can be very difficult to play against. As one of the favorites for the league title this fall, consistency will be the biggest challenge for Canton as it tries to unseat North Attleboro at the top of the Davenport standings.
To get the attack in gear, Canton will be turning again to its youth. The Bulldogs will look to sophomores Olivia Rodman and Elisa Diletizia to run at opposing defenses and continue developing a partnership that was one of the most potent in the league last fall. Senior defender Sarah Collins will be the leader of the Canton defense, which will look to improve on the 34 goals allowed from last season. Junior Morgan McCabe will be stepping into a larger role this season, with her versatility as a forward or midfielder, and senior Julia Hamilton adds tenacity in the center of the pitch.
“I think this is going to be an exciting year for us, with strong players returning and some exciting new talent stepping in,” said Canton coach Kate Howarth. “Our goal as a group is to push passed being a really good team and become the great team we know we can be. The Hock is such a strong league and every team pushes each other to become better.”
2017 Record: 10-9-0 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Katie Stalcup
Last year was a transition season for Foxboro under first-year head coach Katie Stalcup, as a group of talented young players made their debuts at the varsity level. The Warriors improved over the course of the season, made the playoffs, and now with a year of experience for a young squad there is a lot of buzz about Foxboro this fall.
The graduation of Lily Sykes, who was one of the league’s top players for all four years of her career, leaves big shoes to fill, but Foxboro has a number of players with potential to make up some of her production. Senior Mackenzi Fraser will be the main striker for Foxboro this year but sophomore Jordyn Collins will add speed on the wing and freshman Kaitryn Franchino will contribute up top as well. Junior Kendra Wentling returns in the midfield and freshman Kailee McCabe is a player to watch in the center of the pitch. Defensively, Foxboro has a lot of experience in senior Alex Stamatos, who will be joined in the back line by junior Yara Fawaz. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre will be in net again this fall.
Stalcup praised the team’s tenacity and speed. She added, “I am very excited about this season. Even though we are still a young team, I think we will do very well. We have a team full of hard workers and great attitudes.”
For the past several seasons, Milford has been on the verge of getting back to the playoffs and now new coach Lou Colabello, who formerly coached at Douglas, will look to push the Hawks up the league standings with a number of experienced players in key positions.
The midfield will be patrolled by seniors Siena Pierce and Cassie Probert and junior playmaker Juliana France, who was named a league all-star as a sophomore and demonstrated the ability to cover a lot of ground in the middle of the pitch. The Hawks scored only 24 goals last season, so the attacking unit will be hoping to step it up this year, including senior Hannah Martin and junior Ashleigh Starks. The defense also has plenty of experience with junior Olivia Marshall back in goal and her classmates Maddie Boyle and Annie Flanagan in front of her to keep things organized at the back.
Colabello said, “We should have a solid midfield and many other players who can play different positions,and we expect big things from our returning goalkeeper. I feel this team is capable of competing with some of the elite teams in the league. There work ethics and attitude have been outstanding,thus I expect it will be a rewarding season and hopefully a playoff berth.”
2017 Record: 14-3-3 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro will need a number of players to step into bigger roles this season, if the Rocketeers are going to make it three league titles in a row. North graduated 14 seniors and eight starters from last year’s team, but there are a number of familiar names and big contributors who are back and aiming for a three-peat.
The Rocketeers scored 60 goals last year and senior Ashlyn Gaulin contributed on 27 of those (17 goals and 10 assists). She will be the focal point of the attack this season, after the graduation of 100-point scorer Haley Guertin, and her sister Emma will try to provide the assists from the midfield. Seniors Kayla Pasquel and Haley Ferris will add to the experience in the center of the pitch for North and classmates Morgan Silver, Liz Smahi, Lexi Sinacola, and Lauren Pezzi will add depth in the midfield and defense. Seniors Sam Hawkins and Brieann Westcott will be at heart of the defensive unit with classmate Emma Noreck in goal.
North coach Bill Wallace said that sophomores Lydia Santos and Tess Collins will be contributors this season in midfield and attack. He added, “This group is a pleasure to work with, they want to work hard and get better.”
Sharon alum Catherine Sullivan takes over the program this season, as the Eagles look to rebuild and work towards a return to the state tournament. With the graduation of Ali Filipkowski, Sharon lost a lot of firepower but Sullivan is excited about the potential and the growth of the team during the preseason.
One of the key returning players is senior goalie Lydia Chase, who is a fearless shot stopper and her distribution will be important for the Eagles’ transition game. In front of Chase, senior Rose Wald is back in the heart of the defense and will partner with sophomore Molly McAlevey, who is a newcomer to the varsity but already showing a lot of composure on the ball. The midfield engine is senior Maxine Gordon, who will drive the Eagles forward, and junior Bella Berger will add playmaking and vision in the center of the pitch. Senior Bridget McManus will be the main forward and she will be expected to not only provide goals but also set up her teammates and get others involved in the attack.
“As a Sharon graduate, I’m really excited about the opportunity to once again represent the maroon and gold,” said Sullivan. “I think this team has a lot of talent and athleticism, and we will be striving to create a cohesive group that can consistently compete at a higher level.”
Although Stoughton was unable to pick up an elusive league win last season, Black Knights coach Tara Daniels felt that there was progress from the team, particularly in attack. A group of speedy, young attackers made Stoughton a more dangerous team and that experience has Daniels hopeful for even more in 2018.
Speed on the edges is going to be a key strength for the Black Knights this season led by senior outside back Cintia Khouzami and sophomore Nikki Anderson, who has gained a lot of confidence after playing a lot of minutes as a freshman. In the heart of the defense, senior Corina Kavanagh will be the leader of the group, ensuring everyone is organized. Sophomore Mackenzie Manning is another player who grew a lot over the course of her rookie season and will again be the primary playmaker for the Black Knights and a key to keeping possession. Senior Gabriela Diaz played a lot at the back last season, but this year her speed will be utilized up front to create even more opportunities.
Daniels said, “Our strength this year is our speed; our team has many players that excel on the track in the off-season. Last year we made big strides offensively and this year we plan on using the speed of many players to help us continue the offensive push we need.”
WEYMOUTH, Mass. – Just four days after being four seconds away from clinching a playoff spot at Stoughton, Canton was forced to play an extra four minutes on Tuesday night at Weymouth to try and extend its season and end a seven-year wait for a return to the postseason.
The Bulldogs watched a buzzer beater fall short at the end of the fourth quarter, regrouped in the huddle, and outscored the Wildcats 13-7 in the extra period to pull out a 65-59 road victory that means Canton (10-10) will be playing playoff basketball for the first time since 2011 and first time under head coach Jim Choquette.
“I thought Friday night (against Stoughton) might help us in the future,” said Choquette, “being on the road in a hostile environment where we have to come up with a win, and it did help us. I don’t think the girls panicked for a minute. The girls really stayed steady. Just staying positive through all of it was the most important part.”
Senior forward Hannah Jerrier, who saw the team jump from only two wins her freshman season to 10 wins this year, added, “Ever since the first day of tryouts my freshman year, the goal has always been get to the playoffs, get to the playoffs. Each year we got closer and closer but never got it, but now that we’re finally there it’s kind of amazing.”
Jerrier finished the game with 15 points and 14 rebounds, including nine points in the fourth quarter and overtime, but it was not her typical dominant performance in the paint. Instead, Canton turned to an unlikely hero. Sophomore Lilah Milton came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points and pull down 10 rebounds in the biggest game of Canton’s season.
“For a sophomore who never even played JV, for her to step in during the two biggest games of the season for us and have that success and that much confidence shows a lot of how far she’s come,” said Choquette of Milton.
Things did not start well for the Bulldogs. They fell behind by as many as 11 in the first quarter, trailing 15-4 to the Wildcats, who also won the first meeting between the teams back in January. Molly Ludwig scored on an offensive rebound and then Maggie Connolly scored off an assist by Jerrier to cut the lead to six at the end of one.
Connolly scored only four points on Tuesday, but was the most aggressive player on the floor, willing Canton back into the game in the early going. She finished with 12 rebounds and seven assists, as well as being a pest defensively.
“A few games ago, Maggie turned a light switch on and just refused to lose,” said Choquette. “She was going to, in her mind, do anything possible to get us to the playoffs. I told the girls in a timeout, she can’t do it alone; we have to step up.”
In the second, Canton started to clamp down on defense with Erin Devine getting a pair of blocks to fire up the traveling fans, which included the boys’ basketball team. Devine (12 points) also chipped in with six points in the quarter, as Canton started to get the ball into the paint.
Milton also started to get going in the second with a three-point play off a Devine assist and then a jumper off a pass from Julia Hamilton. Connolly fought for an offensive rebound in traffic and fed Milton for another layup to tie the game at 25-25. Hamilton drilled a three to give Canton its first lead since the opening basket.
“When we were down by a lot, we kept getting slow, everyone’s spirits were down,” Jerrier explained. “Once we started hustling that’s when we started scoring all of our points and going on those good runs.”
Weymouth took back the lead in the third quarter when it caught fire from beyond the arc. The Wildcats made four three-pointers, including a trio from Kerin McCarthy (18 points). Devine scored four points in the third and Hamilton (11 points) hit her second three, but the Wildcats led by one heading to the fourth.
The hosts scored the first four points of the fourth but Jerrier answered with banked three from the left wing to cut the lead back to two points. After another McCarthy three, Milton scored on an offensive rebound and knocked down a short jumper. Following a pair of free throws by Jerrier, Milton hit a turnaround off glass from the right box to give the Bulldogs a one-point edge with a minute to play.
“It’s amazing to have some of these underclassmen who haven’t had that much varsity experience come into these big games like this and take over,” said Jerrier.
Twice Canton appeared to have a steal that could have iced the game. Connolly was unable to get her feet set when she lunged to pick off an inbound pass and was called for traveling and then Jerrier had the ball knocked away after another inbound mistake by the Wildcats, but the officials ruled that she touched it last. On its third attempt, Weymouth got the ball to Delaney Spinney and she knocked down a jumper for a 52-52 tie.
On the other end, with under 10 seconds to play, a pass to Jerrier appeared to get knocked away by a Weymouth defender, but again the call went against the Bulldogs. The Wildcats would get one last chance and had a decent look but the shot did not fall and Canton stayed alive.
“We all knew that we were capable of winning,” said Jerrier of the conversation in the huddle, “but we just didn’t have our heads in the right place. We all had to focus on our goal, which was winning the game. When we all came together to do that, we got it.”
Twice Canton took the lead in the overtime only to have Weymouth answer back. Milton gave the Bulldogs the lead for good when she scooped up a loose ball and knocked down another mid-range shot. Jerrier added a jumper of her own and then Milton scored off a feed from Connolly for a six-point edge with 1:14 left.
A three cut the lead in half, but the players never looked as nervous as the people in the stands. Hamilton made 5-of-6 from the line in the final minute and Canton was finally playoff-bound.
“Ultimately, the one that we needed to have a win in, the girls came through,” said Choquette. “So many game we rely on Hannah to do everything. We need 30 points; we need 18 rebounds and thank God she can actually play that well. But tonight, I was so proud of the rest of the girls stepping up.
“The girls just decided tonight was our night and they got it done.”