STOUGHTON, Mass. – Exactly a month ago, Stoughton earned its first league win of the season on the road at North Attleboro. Following the game, Black Knights coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said that she was looking forward to a strong second half of the season from her team. She turned out to be right.
On Monday night, behind strong performances from freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe and sophomore Aliyah Wright, the Black Knights beat King Philip 61-49, making it eight wins in the last nine games. After starting the season 1-7, Stoughton is now just one win from clinching a spot in the state tournament.
“It’s exciting to see how the program has evolved,” said Steele Jordan about the progress of the youth on the roster. “We have young guards, but that makes for promise for the future. We’ve got a lot of youth coming up and I’m excited where the program is going. I feel like we’re a fun group to watch and when we’re on, then we’re on.”
The game got off to an even start. Wright got a steal and layup off the Stoughton press and Lindsay McDonald (eight points) knocked down a jumper after an offensive rebound for an early lead. Faith Roy (nine points) completed a three-point play to tie the game at 5-5, but Hyacinthe (15 points) knocked down the first of her five three-pointers and Wright (17 points) got one of her eight steals and turned it into a layup for a 12-8 lead after one.
KP was playing without leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, who was injured in the last game against Taunton, and the Warriors offense stalled a little at the start of the second quarter.
“It’s an adjustment for the team, for the coaches, for everybody,” said KP coach Amy Siggens. “We did alright and I think someone needs to step up into that role and I don’t think they know who that is yet. Everyone had to contribute and we started off a little slow but then we started to figure it out as the game went along.”
The Black Knights ran off the first eight points of the second with sophomore Mariah Harris (10 points) knocking down a pair of jumpers and senior Val Whalen (11 points and 15 rebounds) adding four as well. Roy tried to bring KP back with a pair of threes that cut the lead back to five. Hyacinthe answered with a three but, after free throws from Stoughton, Julia LeRoux (nine points) hit a three to keep KP within nine at the half.
In the third quarter, Stoughton continued its hot shooting to break the game open. Hyacinthe was particularly accurate from downtown, nailing three from beyond the arc in the third, while McDonald also buried a pair of deep jumpers, as the Black Knights scored 22 as a team in the quarter.
“It’s great to see those girls knocking down shots,” said Steele Jordan. “They’ve been working on their games all season and it’s nice when it finally rolls over into a game and they’re being consistent and shooting with confidence.”
While the offense was clicking, Steele Jordan was also pleased with the defensive effort. The Stoughton press was forcing turnovers that led to baskets for Harris and Wright in the quarter.
“We’re fueled off our defense,” she explained. “When we’re moving our feet, we have active hands, and we’re anticipating, we have several girls who can be a step ahead of the pass and see where it’s going. It’s nice to see them use their athleticism and get those deflections.”
Christina Hathaway tried to keep the Warriors in the game with four points in the quarter and junior Catherine Cummings scored five of her team-high 11, but KP trailed by 17 heading to the fourth.
Stoughton continued to tack on to its lead, eventually extending it to as many as 23 points after a jumper by Wright and a three from Harris.
“We work a ton on our help and doubling down because we knew how good their bigs were and…you’ve got to give up one or the other and we just weren’t able to close out,” said Siggens. “I can’t take anything away from how well they shoot and how quick they are.”
KP continued to battle in the final minutes and would cut into the lead behind six points from Cummings, who knocked down a pair of jumpers and finished an offensive rebound. Freshman Emma Glaser also added three points for the Warriors.
“She’s worked really hard all season to work on those moves,” said Siggens of Cummings. “She’s due for a monster game, so it’s nice to see those going in for her.”
Stoughton (9-8, 8-6) will try to clinch its state tournament berth on Tuesday night when it hosts Sharon. King Philip (4-12, 3-11) will be right back in action on Tuesday with the visit of league champ Mansfield.
Attleboro, 73 @ King Philip, 65 – Final – Attleboro sophomore Bryant Ciccio scored 15 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, helping the Bombardiers storm past King Philip. The Warriors built a 20-point lead in the second quarter, but an 11-2 run from Attleboro made it a 10-point game at halftime (31-21). Ciccio and Dom Victor each scored six points in the third period, helping Big Blue outscore KP 25-10 in the period, including a three from Victor at the buzzer. Qualeem Charles added 11 points and 16 rebounds, Kevin Velazquez added 11 points off the bench, Nate Douglas chipped in with eight points while Mason Houle and Elvin Sam each finished with seven points, including key second-half triples. King Philip senior Pharoah Davis scored a career-high 23 points for the Warriors.
North Attleboro, 39 @ Canton, 58 – Final – Canton senior Tony Harris tied a program record with a career-high 36 points to lead the Bulldogs to a win over visiting North Attleboro. The Dogs built a 14-11 lead in the first quarter and then took a 35-21 lead into the halftime break. Harris hit seven three-pointers in the game, Austin Maffie had nine points and junior Devin Foster dished out 14 assists. Josh Montague had a team-high 12 points while junior Jake Petersen added nine points for Big Red.
Sharon, 54 @ Foxboro, 63 – Final – Sharon led 19-11 after one, and took a 26-25 lead into the half but the Warriors outscored the Eagles 21-6 in the third quarter to seize control of the game. Junior Anthony Mollica scored 12 of his career-high 18 points in the first half and Matt Rongione dropped eight of his 11-points in the third quarter to help the Warriors. Sophomore Brandon Borde added 11 points for the Warriors. Sharon’s Alex Kaufmann had a team-high 18 points.
Oliver Ames, 36 @ Franklin, 70 – Final – Franklin was in control from the beginning with sophomore Chris Edgehill scoring a team-high 24 points in the win.
Mansfield, 74 @ Taunton, 54 – Final – Mansfield opened the second half on an 11-0 run, turning a 37-26 lead into a 22-point advantage in the third quarter. Senior Tyler Boulter led the way with 22 points, including four three-pointers, seven rebounds, and three steals. Damani Scott added 13 points and six rebounds and Ryan Otto chipped in with 12 points for the Hornets, who had 10 players register points.
Milford, 66 @ Stoughton, 69 – Final – Stoughton senior Cam Andrews connected on a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to lift the Black Knights to a division win over the visiting Scarlet Hawks. Milford junior Cam Falcon hit a deep three to tie the game with under 30 seconds to play but Andrews, who scored a career-high 36 points, hit the last shot to earn the win.
Attleboro, 58 @ King Philip, 53 – Final (OT) – Attleboro rallied from six points down in the final minute of the fourth quarter to force overtime and earn a sweep of the season series. Sam Pierce led the way with 21 points, while Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall each had 12 (including five in overtime). Faith Roy scored 15 for the Warriors and Julia Leroux added 12.
North Attleboro, 52 @ Canton, 68 – Final – Hannah Jerrier had career nights in points, rebounds and charges taken to help Canton pull out an important victory to push the Bulldogs back above .500 and get within two wins of a tournament berth. Jerrier finished with 41 points and 25 rebounds while adding four assists, three steals and two charges taken. Erin Devine also had a double-double for Canton with 10 points and 14 boards and added six assists as well.
Sharon, 30 @ Foxboro, 72 – Final – Ashley Sampson scored 20 points and Katelyn Mollica had 16 for the Warriors to keep the Davenport leaders unbeaten in league play.
Taunton, 29 @ Mansfield, 56 – Final – Mansfield broke the game open with a strong defensive second half, holding Taunton to just five points after going into the break tied at 24-24. Meg Hill continues to close in on 1,000 points for her career with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Maggie Danehy also chipped in with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Sydney Mulkern added nine points. Hannah Moniz paced the Tigers with 12 points and MacKenzie Handrahan had eight.
Milford, 42 @ Stoughton, 47 – Final – Aliyah Wright scored 14 points to lead the Black Knights to a sixth straight win, helping Stoughton get back to .500 on the season and take over second place in the Davenport division. Lindsey McDonald added a season-high 12 points and 11 rebounds for Stoughton.
Stoughton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 6 – Final
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro came storming out of the gates to jump all over King Philip in Wednesday night’s game at the Kenneth Pickering Gym. The Rocketeers held KP to just four points in the first quarter and led by 19 heading into halftime.
Things got much closer in the second half, as the Warriors stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to as few as six points, but North held its nerve and held off the KP charge to pull out its first league win of the season, 57-48.
“Ultimately, we talked about the last couple days about being aggressive on both ends of the court,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “That first half, I think, was the best we’ve played all year. We were very aggressive.”
Utilizing a full-court press from the opening tip, North was able to keep the Warriors from getting into any rhythm on the offensive end. Four points from Julia Santos and four from Julia Feid put the Rocketeers ahead 8-0 to start and a three by Emma Noreck helped extend the lead to 12-4 after the first quarter.
In the second, North’s pressure continued to create offense. Despite four points apiece from Shannon O’Connor and Julia Leroux in the second, KP continued to fall further behind. Eliza Dion steal led to an easy basket for Feid (10 points, all in the first half) who followed it up with a steal and layup off the ensuing inbound pass.
“We played a little sloppy,” said KP coach Amy Siggens, “and it comes down to a lot of finishing for us, which we work on every day but we’ve just got to keep working on.”
North had no problem finishing in the second. Sophomore Julia Kleczkowski drilled a pair of threes in the quarter, freshman Amanda Kaiser hit one, and senior Emily Haskell scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the second, including a pair from beyond the arc. North went into the break leading 35-16.
Things looked drastically different in the second half. North made only one shot from the field, a layup by Santos (14 points and 10 rebounds) off one of Olivia Forbes’ six assists, and finished the third with six points.
“I said in the second half they’re going to come out aggressive and we have to match that aggressiveness and we didn’t right away,” said Herber. “We had to kind of find ourselves on offense. The third quarter was ugly and that’s kind of how we’ve been. We can’t score and then we can’t set our press, be aggressive, and do the things we want to do.”
KP crept closer behind eight points from O’Connor and a strong effort from the whole team on the glass (Christina Hathaway and Catherine Cummings each had seven rebounds). O’Connor, a Boston University-commit, got free for a pair of layups, both assisted by Faith Roy, scored on an offensive rebound, and a pair of free throws. O’Connor finished with a game-high 22 points and pulled down a game-high 15 boards.
The Warriors were within 13 heading to the fourth and Siggens credited better ball management against the press for being able to get into the offense easier.
She explained, “We just readjusted. We usually create our 1-3 cross and we just had to adjust and bring people back and I think we get caught up very fast and kind of panic. We kept our composure a little bit better in the second half.”
The tough shooting stretch continued into the fourth quarter for the Rocketeers and KP continued to close the gap. O’Connor knocked down a three that made it 47-41, the closest the Warriors had been since the opening quarter. Santos got a scoop in traffic to go to push the lead back to eight, but Leroux (seven points) scrambled in a rebound that made it a six-point game again.
“I called a timeout and said this is what we need to do, we’ve been practicing this, we’ve got to be smarter and we need to play through all this stuff,” Herber explained. “We fought through all that and I’m so proud of the way we played tonight.”
Kaiser made a back-cut and received a nice dish from Forbes for a layup and she and Santos each hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead back out to double digits. O’Connor hit her second three of the quarter, but it was not enough to get KP all the way back.
“They really stepped it up,” said Siggens of her team’s second half comeback attempt. “We just couldn’t convert on a couple of ones we should’ve to really cut into that lead, but I’m very proud of the way they played second half. I couldn’t ask for more.”
North Attleboro (2-11, 1-10) will try to build on its first league win when it travels to Canton on Friday. King Philip (3-9, 2-8) will look to bounce back when it hosts Attleboro.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro was clinging to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game against King Philip, but the Bombardiers shut down the Warriors over the final eight minutes, allowing only six points and two made field goals from the visitors to pull away for a 52-41 victory.
“I think this is our most complete effort, front to back, all year,” said first-year Attleboro coach Marty Crowley, who was facing KP for the first time since leaving the Warriors during the off-season.
He added, “I think we played 32 minutes tonight. We had a great win against Durfee, down by 13 in the third quarter and we came back to win by 12 last game, and the light kind of came on for us. I kind of put us in a hole early with my defensive scheme, but we switched and the kids really dug in.”
Attleboro scored the first five points of the fourth on drives to the basket by MacKenzie Roberts (her only basket of the game) and sophomore Nyah Thomas (seven points, six rebounds). Faith Roy scored on a drive and Shannon O’Connor hit a free throw to cut the lead to 41-38, but Abby Struminski added a pair at the line and Sam Pierce (14 points, eight rebounds, five blocks) scored in the paint to extend the advantage back to seven points.
“Sam obviously is a phenomenal player, she’s one of the best players in our league,” Crowley said about getting the senior forward involved offensively. “We’re working on recognition when to give Sam the ball and when not to and I thought we move the ball pretty well tonight.”
Pierce followed with a kick-out pass to junior Jordyn Lako for a three-pointer that pushed the lead to 11. Lako scored all 14 of her points in the second half and the point guard also chipped in with nine rebounds. After O’Connor knocked down a late three for KP, Thomas scored in transition and Lako got a steal and layup to seal the win.
First-year KP coach Amy Siggens said, “We don’t go very far in our bench and we’re very guard heavy. The guards we have are very good, so I think it comes down to is trying to get people subs and rest where we can. We just runs out of steam, but that’s something that can be fixed.”
O’Connor, the Boston University-commit, started the game on fire, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including nine in the first quarter. Crowley admitted that the Bombardiers had to change things up defensively to slow down the junior guard, who he had coached for the past two seasons.
“Shannon is such a special player,” said Crowley of using Lako, Thomas, and Pierce to guard O’Connor. “The three of them did a nice job on her and we just tried to take her out of the equation and for the most part it worked in the second half. First half, they ran some good stuff for her but we made some adjustments at halftime.”
Pierce kept Attleboro in the game in the first quarter with seven points and Liv McCall gave Attleboro a much-needed perimeter threat with all nine of her points coming in the first half (on three shot from beyond the arc).
The Warriors were also forced to play without starting forward Faye Veilleux for the majority of the game after the sophomore twisted an ankle in the first quarter.
“It really hurt us,” said Siggens. “She’s really been fighting hard to work on her positioning and getting better as a player. She was really starting to get it and to go down like that is too bad.”
The teams went into halftime tied at 25 apiece and the third quarter was back-and-forth. Julia Leroux (nine points, six rebounds) gave KP a brief lead and O’Connor scored four points in the quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Leroux added a pair from the line to give the Warriors a lead at 33-32.
“She never stops playing,” said Siggens of Leroux. “She’s fun to watch and she really wants to go get it. I couldn’t ask anything more of her tonight.”
Christina Hathaway scored inside to put KP ahead by three points, but the Bombardiers rallied behind Lako, who scored eight of the team’s 11 points in the third. She buried a three off a Rory Hopkins pass to tie the gam and added a free throw to give Attleboro a slim edge heading to the fourth quarter.
KP was also hamstrung heading into the fourth after O’Connor picked up her fourth foul in the closing seconds of the third. “Foul trouble seems to be what we’re getting into but I’ll take it because it means they’re playing hard,” Siggens said. “We’ll figure out all the little things and controlling it better later.”
For almost seven minutes of the fourth quarter, Attleboro held KP to just three points, pushing the lead and securing a third league win in four games this season.
Crowley said, “We really clamped down in the fourth quarter when we had to, but we put ourselves in position where we didn’t have to scramble from behind and once we kind of took off there in the beginning of the fourth quarter that was the difference in the game.”
Attleboro (5-3, 3-1) will travel to Mansfield on Wednesday just one back in the win column of the Hornets in the Kelley-Rex standings. King Philip (2-4, 1-3) will host Oliver Ames looking to get back on track.
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is 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.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”