Franklin, 76 @ Attleboro, 72 – Final (OT) – Franklin erased a five-point deficit over the final 90 seconds to send the game into overtime and then outscored the Bombardiers 8-4 in the final period to earn the win. Paul Mahon hit the tying three with less than a minute to play and then hit another triple early in overtime to put Franklin up 73-68. Jalen Samuels poured in a career-high 28 points along with 17 rebounds to lead the Panthers. Samuels scored eight of his points between the fourth and overtime. Sophomore Chris Edgehill added 20 points for Franklin. For Attleboro, sophomore Bryant Ciccio had a career-high 19 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bombardiers build a lead. Kevin Velazquez added a career-best 14 points while sophomore Qualeem Charles had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Mansfield, 73 @ King Philip, 54 – Final – After leading by just three at the half (34-31), Mansfield outscored the Warriors by eight in the third and then dropped 21 points in the final quarter to pick up a division win. Senior John McCoy paced the Hornets with 20 points and seven rebounds while Khristian Conner dropped 16 points. Sam Hyland added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Hornets. KP’s Bruce Santillus scored a career-high 17 points.
Milford, 49 @ North Attleboro, 36 – Final – North Attleboro limited Milford to just 14 points at halftime, but could only score 16 of its own. The Scarlet Hawks offense came alive in the second half, outscoring North 35-20. Junior Brendan White scored nine of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter while Kayden Kelley had 10 points and 13 rebounds and Andrew Fraioli finished with nine points and nine rebounds. North Attleboro junior Josh Montague led the Rocketeers with 12 points.
Oliver Ames, 60 @ Taunton, 61 – Final – Taunton sophomore Dante Law hit a deep, contested three with just three seconds left to help Taunton earn a 61-60 decision over Oliver Ames. OA took the lead on a bucket from junior Ethan Eckstrom with 20 seconds left before Law hit the game-winner. OA held a 57-51 lead with five minutes to play but Taunton used a 7-1 run to tie the game. Taunton senior Lens Esquil had a game-high 19 points while junior John Martins had a career-high 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers in the second half. Law and Malik Charles each had 10 points. Jack Spillane led OA with 20 points while Matt Muir scored a career-high 16 points for the visitors.
Sharon, 65 @ Stoughton, 91 – Final – Stoughton connected on 16 three-pointers en route to its best offensive performance of the season. Senior Cam Andrews scored 26 points (five three-pointers) while classmate Colin Sanda (five three-pointers) added a career-high 17 points and sophomore Ajahn Rue (four three-pointers) had a career-high 18 points, seven assists, and seven steals. Malik Loruqet led the Eagles with 20 points.
Canton, 34 @ Foxboro, 79 – Final – Ashley Sampson poured in 28 points as Foxboro continued its unbeaten start in the league. Lily Sykes added 15 points and Katelyn Mollica had 11 for the Warriors.
King Philip, 28 @ Mansfield, 53 – Final – Meg Hill recorded another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds and also had four blocks. Ann Maher scored nine points and Maggie Danehy and Emily Vigeant each had seven for Mansfield. KP was led by Catherine Cummings with 11 points, while Faith Roy chipped in with five.
North Attleboro, 41 @ Milford, 51 – Final – Kate Irwin scored 19 points for the Hawks, who move back into a second-place tie in the Davenport. Emily Piergustavo added 13 points for Milford.
Taunton, 22 @ Oliver Ames, 66 – Final – Oliver Ames jumped out to a 32-18 lead at halftime and put on a dominant second-half performance to earn the win. OA senior Kayla Raymond continued her strong play with 28 points, five rebounds, and five steals while Ally Scolnick added 11 points in the win. OA head coach Laney Holbrook noted sophomore Erin Holmberg played great defense for the host Tigers.
Stoughton, 45 @ Sharon, 36 – Final – Stoughton junior Hailey Egan dropped a career-best 14 points to lead the Black Knights to a division win on the road at Sharon. Senior Val Whalen added a team-high 13 rebounds while freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe had a game-high five steals for the Black Knights.
Oliver Ames, 94.5 @ Attleboro, 72.5 – Final
Oliver Ames, 92.5 @ Attleboro, 70.5 – Final
MILFORD, Mass. – Holding onto a seven-point lead with a little more than a minute remaining in Tuesday night’s game against Davenport division rival Canton, Milford moved the ball around the perimeter to run clock. Despite the pressure from the Canton guards, the Hawks were able to keep the ball moving until it got to senior guard Kate Irwin on the left wing.
The lefty point guard took two hard dribbles to get space and pulled up from just inside the three-point line. Irwin got a clean look and hit nothing but net on the last of her game-high 26 points, 17 of which came in the second half.
Irwin’s jumper effectively sealed a 49-38 victory for the Hawks, who move into a tie with the Bulldogs for second place in the division ahead of the visit of league leading Foxboro on Friday.
“We played that to perfection,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver of the team’s penultimate possession. “I’m happy to see that because when we played Stoughton we didn’t handle the end of game situation well and that bucket there is the difference in the game. We ran 25 seconds off and made a bucket.”
Irwin had only two points in the first quarter, as Canton junior Maggie Connolly made her work for every shot. The imposing figures of 6-foot-3 Erin Devine and 6-foot-1 Hannah Jerrier in the paint also made it difficult to find good looks at the rim.
Senior guard Emily Piergustavo picked up the slack for the Hawks in the first with seven of her nine points, including a a three and a basket from an offensive rebound. Devine led the Bulldogs with four and it was a three-point edge for the Hawks heading to the second.
That was when Irwin started to catch fire. She opened the second with a traditional three-point play off a steal, scored off a Piergustavo offensive rebound and assist and then got another steal and transition basket.
“Getting to the hoop in the half court was going to be difficult,” said Dolliver about his team’s desire to run at every opportunity, “so luckily we got our good looks in transition and we were getting to the hoop.”
Canton continued to keep the game close, despite only getting four points from Jerrier. The team’s leading scorer was blanketed by Milford’s 2-3 zone with all of the Hawks making sure to know where the senior was at all times. The zone opened up opportunities from the outside and junior guard Julia Hamilton (nine points) made a pair of threes, the second of which tied the score at 24-24 in the third quarter.
“We get into a lot of situations where we defer to the bigs because they’re talented and it’s part of our game plan to utilize them, so it’s nice to have Julia do one of the things she’s good at and help our team get us ahead in that area,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette.
Jerrier (10 points and 11 rebounds) scored off a Connolly assist to give the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead, but Milford went on a 9-2 run to finish the third with a five-point advantage. Irwin scored eight of those final nine points, hitting a pair of pull-up jumpers and scoring twice off of steals.
“She always makes the difference,” said Dolliver of Irwin. “She’s a tough kid too. I get on her now and then and she handles it well.”
The game remained tight in the fourth quarter. Jerrier scored on a putback to start the fourth, but Gillian Valanzola scored off an Irwin assist to answer. Hamilton got the ball into Devine for a basket at the rim and, after Jess Tomaso scored to push the lead back to four, Molly Ludwig scored off another Hamilton assist to make it 37-35.
Again, the Hawks were able to close a quarter strongly. Kate Lobisser rattled in her only basket of the night to get the run started and Irwin added three more with a finish, plus the contact, following a steal. After the teams traded a series of free throws, Irwin got open in the corner and hit the dagger jumper to ensure the win.
“We didn’t execute enough to win,” admitted Choquette. “You have to give credit to Milford…at the end of the day, they just made more of those little things that they had to right. The score’s not as close as the game was, but in a close game it comes down to the team that makes the extra play.”
Milford’s ability to compete with Canton’s size on the glass was also a factor in limiting the Bulldog’s offense. Tomaso and Valanzola each finished with six rebounds, while Irwin and Juliana Tracy each finished with five.
Dolliver explained, “I don’t know how many offensive rebounds they had but they had their fair share and they’re going to get their fair share in every game, but that was a point of emphasis before the game because that’s where a lot of their points come from.”
Milford (5-2, 3-2) will host league leading Foxboro on Friday night. Canton (4-2, 3-2) will be back home on Friday to face Sharon.
Stoughton, 53 @ Milford, 68 – Final – Milford seniors Kayden Kelley and Andrew Fraioli both recorded double-doubles to help the Scarlet Hawks take down the Black Knights. Kelley had a team-high 14 points along with 10 rebounds while Fraioli had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Juniors Brendan White added 10 points and junior Brendon Sailer netted a career-high 10 points in his first career start.
Canton, 64 @ North Attleboro, 57 – Final – Canton’s Hannah Jerrier had a monster night, scoring 30 points while hauling in 15 rebounds and dishing out four assists.
Stoughton, 32 @ Milford, 37 – Final – Kate Irwin was the top scorer for the Hawks with 19 points, while Jess Tomaso chipped in with seven and Emily Piergustavo had six.
King Philip, 2 @ Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 – Final – King Philip’s Avari Maxwell shorthanded goal at 11:22 of the third period – which turned out to be the game-winner – helping the Warriors secure two points in a key league game. MOA took the lead in the first off a goal from Mackenzi Fraser (assisted by Isabelle Shanteler and Cat Luciano) but the Warriors tied the game with just 26 seconds left in the period on a goal from Nicole Connor. KP head coach Jake Unger credited the defensive play of Jessica Daniels and Katie Crowther, as well as the strong play of goalie Lilly Potts.
Attleboro, 61 vs. Bishop Feehan, 48 – Final – Attleboro had six players scored eight or more points, and used a mini-run in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Shamrocks. Up 49-42, the Bombardiers put together a six-point surge that put the game away with just over two minutes to play. Sophomore Bryant Ciccio had a team-high 15 points while classmate Qualeem Charles had eight points and 17 rebounds. Junior Dom Victor added 12 points and eight rebounds, senior Nate Douglas and junior Mason Houle each scored nine points and senior Elvin Sam chipped in with eight points.
Foxboro, 48 vs. Shaler Area (PA), 37 – Final – Foxboro limited Shaler Area to just 14 points in the first half and just 25 points through three quarters to win its bracket in the KSA Holiday Tournament at Disney. Senior Joe Morrison dropped a team-high 14 points and was named tournament MVP. Bobby Harrison added eight points and sophomore Ryan Hughes chipped in with seven points in the win.
King Philip, 48 vs. Braintree, 66 – Final
North Attleboro, 64 @ Lincoln-Sudbury, 59 – Final – North Attleboro saw its eight-point lead shrink down to just three with 20 seconds to play, but junior guard Josh Montague hit a pair of free throws to tie a career-high with 25 points, helping the Rocketeers win the Warrior Winter Slam championship game. North led 34-27 at the half and 46-38 heading into the final quarter. Montague earned tournament MVP honors while Chad Peterson (14 points) and junior Jake Petersen (six points) were named to the all-tournament team.
Attleboro, 26 @ Bishop Feehan, 54 – Final
Milford, 55 @ Hopedale, 27 – Final – Kate Irwin scored 15 points and had five assists for the Hawks, who picked up a big win over their neighbors. Jess Tomaso scored 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds and Gillian Valanzola had nine points and 13 boards for Milford.
North Attleboro, 30 vs. Westwood, 28 – Final – Julia Feid was the top scorer for the Rocketeers with 14 points to lead North to its first victory of the season.
Foxboro, 3 @ Saint John Paul II, 1 – Final
Franklin, 2 vs. Bishop Guertin, 1 – Final
Lowell Holiday Tournament (Canton, Foxboro, Franklin, Stoughton) – Franklin had the best showing among Hock teams, placing seventh overall with 112.5 points. Jordan Carlucci (126) placed fifth overall and TJ Remillard (132) took seventh in his bracket. For Foxboro, senior Phil Dure was eighth overall in the 126 bracket and the Warriors earned 64 points. Canton earned 50 points and Stoughton had 31 points.
Attleboro, 50 @ Canton, 53 – Final – Canton held a one-point lead at halftime (28-27) but used an 8-0 run to start the second half to create the separation it needed. The Bulldogs went up 51-41 with 5:29 to play, but Attleboro’s switch to a zone defense stalled Canton’s offense and got the Bombarders back into the game. Attleboro had a 9-2 run and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer but the shot missed and Canton picked up its first win over Attleboro since 2013. Senior Tony Harris scored a game-high 18 points while hauling in 15 rebounds, senior Austin Maffie added 11 points and junior Devin Foster finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. Attleboro junior Dom Victor had a team-high 16 points while sophomore Qualeem Charles had 12 points.
King Philip, 53 @ Milford, 47 – Final – Milford held the lead until the final minutes of the game, but King Philip took the lead late and earned the win on the road. Milford junior Brendan White dropped a career-high 20 points while senior Kayden Kelley had 15 points for the Hawks.
Oliver Ames, 64 @ Stoughton, 53 – Final – Stoughton rallied at the end of the first half, using seven straight points from senior Greg Firmin (career-high 14 points) to take a 34-32 lead at halftime. But Oliver Ames switched to a 2-3 zone and took control of the game in the second half. OA senior Jack Spillane led all scorers with 24 points while junior Jake Erlich scored 13 points for the Tigers.
Taunton, 64 @ Sharon, 62 – Final – Sharon overcame a 13-point deficit over the final 90 seconds and had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but came up just shy. Taunton jumped out to a 20-10 lead after the first quarter before taking a 34-25 lead into the locker room. The Tigers kept their lead in double-digits, 50-40, heading into the final quarter. Sharon outscored Taunton 22-12 in the final frame but the Tigers escaped with the win. Sophomore Dante Law netted a team-high 20 points for Taunton while junior Lou Vendrell scored a career-high 18 points. Sharon senior Malik Lorquet led all scorers with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Jimmy Fitzhenry added 14 points and Lester High had 11 points.
Canton, 39 @ Attleboro, 37 – Final – Hannah Jerrier scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Erin Devine added eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and three assists as Canton rallied in the final minute to open its season with a road victory. The Bulldogs trailed 37-36 with a minute left and scored to take the lead, adding a free throw in the final 20 seconds. Julia Hamilton added seven points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs. Attleboro was led by Sam Pierce’s 12 points, while Jordyn Lako scored 10 in the loss.
Foxboro, 43 @ Mansfield, 37 – Final – The Warriors got 12 points from Grace Tamulionis and nine points from Lily Sykes (on a combined five three-pointers) to win the Hockomock opener for both teams in a battle of last season’s league champions. The Warriors took the lead with a 15-6 fourth-quarter run. The game was tied 37-37 with 2:00 remaining and Shannon Smally scored the go-ahead basket for Foxboro. Mansfield got 11 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks from Meg Hill and nine points on a trio of three-pointers from Ann Maher.
North Attleboro, 37 @ Franklin, 61 – Final – Ali Brigham scored 16 points to lead Franklin to a win in the Hockomock League opener for both teams. Bea Bondhus added 15 points and freshman Elizabeth Wilson had 12 for the Panthers.
Milford, 56 @ King Philip, 64 – Final – Shannon O’Connor scored a game-high 26 points to give new head coach Amy Siggens a win in her first game in charge. Faith Roy added 10 points and Faye Veilleux had nine for the Warriors. Siggens said it was a total team effort and highlighted KP turning the ball over only 10 times in the game. She added, “They just played so well together.” Milford was led by Kate Irwin with 22 points and Emily Piergustavo scored 16 in the loss.
Stoughton, 48 @ Oliver Ames, 55 – Final – Oliver Ames held a comfortable 45-29 lead after three quarters, but the Knights rattled off a 17-4 run over the first five minutes of the final quarter to make it a three-point game. OA’s defense clamped down and allowed just two more points the rest of the way while Abby Reardon and Tori Harney hit key free throws to seal the win. Kayla Raymond scored 25 points and Caroline Flynn added 14 to lead Oliver Ames to a season-opening victory.
Sharon, 42 @ Taunton, 58 – Final – Taunton got 15 points from Hannah Moniz to open its season with a second straight win, exceeding the win total from last winter. Jaelyn Fernandez added 11 points, Mackenzie Handrahan had 10 points and seven boards, Alexa White had eight points and six steals, and Lily Patneaude and Kelsey White each had seven points in the victory. Emma Eberhardt scored 21 points and Kaitlyn Wallace added 16 for the Eagles.
Canton, 108.5 @ Attleboro, 49.5 – Final
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.”
With a relatively inexperienced roster, Franklin got off to a tough, 0-6 start during the 2016-2017 season, but the Panthers started to gel, went on a run to close out the year, and narrowly missed out on a playoff spot. One of the keys to that turnaround was the play of then-freshman center Ali Brigham, who displayed a range of moves in the post that belied her inexperience at the varsity level. She finished with 236 points as a freshman. Brigham was also a standout defender, blocking 56 shots as a rookie, and an imposing rebounder, pulling down 237 last year. The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year is listed at 6-foot-3 this winter and has already been receiving Div. I college offers. She has the potential to be a dominant force in the paint for the Panthers, who are looking to challenge defending champ Mansfield for the Kelley-Rex title this season.
Sharon has a new coach and a new-look roster this winter, but the one mainstay for the Eagles is Emma Eberhardt. The junior wing was the team’s leading scorer in 2016-17, averaging more than 14 points per game, despite regularly facing the opposition’s best defender and constant double teams. Eberhardt was also one of Sharon’s top rebounders, using her size to make plays in the paint while having the range to step out and stretch the floor for first-year coach Sandra Lombardi’s offense. Eberhardt got off to an impressive start to this season, scoring 16 in a big win at Nipmuc to give her coach a winning start, and there is the potential for last year’s All-Underclassman Team performer to take another leap this season and become one of the league’s most consistent wing scorers.
The loss of point guard Jen Peel will be a tough one to overcome for Mansfield because of her ability to get the Hornets into their offensive sets and her ability to get the ball to senior center Meg Hill in good scoring positions. Hill, listed at 6-foot-3, can dominate the paint for Mansfield but will be counting on her teammates to get her touches in the post, so that she can show off her growing array of moves, including her improved range out to 8-10 feet. Hill, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, is already second on Mansfield’s all-time list for rebounds and the all-time leader in blocks (with 293). The Stonehill University-commit added to those totals against Medfield in the season opener pulling down 10 boards and blocking three shots. If Hill can continue to improve and stay aggressive on offense, it could be the difference that earns Mansfield a third straight league title and possibly a return to the Div. 1 South final.
Milford reached the playoffs last winter for the first time since 2012 and nearly pulled off a first round upset at Marlboro. One of the keys to the resurgence for the Hawks has been point guard Kate Irwin, who has been a dynamic scorer and playmaker for Milford since she jumped onto varsity four years ago. The lefty has the quickness and the handle to get wherever she wants on the floor and combines strong finishing at the rim with the range to knock down shots from deep. This makes her a very tough cover and also opens space for her teammates. Milford has some experience on the roster, as many of the Hawks have been on varsity for several seasons, and a mix of shooters and versatile forwards that play to Irwin’s strengths. If Irwin can continue to develop into one of the league’s elite perimeter scorers (she averaged 16 points per game last year), then it could be a quick return to the postseason for Milford this winter.
One of the reasons for optimism for Canton this winter is the return of senior forward Hannah Jerrier, who was one of the league’s most consistent post scorers in 2016-2017, and was a potential double-double every night. Jerrier averaged 16.5 points per game last year and pulled down more than nine rebounds per night. Nine times last year, Jerrier scored more than 20 points in a game, despite being the main focus of every opponent’s defensive plan. With a quick first step, good size to shoot over defenders, and the tenacity to get the ball to the rim, Jerrier has become a standout on the offensive side of the floor and has also developed into a strong rim protector and elite rebounder for the Bulldogs. Her growth as a presence in the paint will be a key for Canton this winter as they seek a postseason berth.
King Philip will have a new coach this season, as Amy Siggens steps in for Martin Crowley, and the new coach will inherit a standout scorer on the perimeter in junior Shannon O’Connor, who has already committed to play for Boston University. O’Connor is coming off a HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team season, averaging more than 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals per game for a very young Warriors team. A guard who can shoot off the dribble and who is fearless taking the ball to the basket, O’Connor also showed good vision to find open teammates. As the Warriors continue to gain experience, O’Connor’s playmaking ability will be a key to the offense clicking and after a strong AAU campaign, expectations are high that O’Connor will become one of the league’s most consistent perimeter scorers this year.
As she enters her fourth year on the varsity, senior forward Samantha Pierce will finally have the opportunity to the be the focal point of the Attleboro offense. Sharing shots with the likes of Emily Houle, Sarah Deyo, and Julia Strachan over the last few seasons, Pierce enters the winter as the top returning scorer for the Bombardiers and as a versatile piece of new coach Martin Crowley’s offense. While playing as a power forward, Pierce has the range to stretch defenses beyond the three-point line and can take bigger players off the dribble. She has also developed into a strong presence on the glass and will be a contender for a double-double every night. In addition to being the top offensive weapon for Attleboro, Pierce will also have to step into the leadership void for a team that is relatively inexperienced with a number of new faces throughout the roster. This could be a breakout season for the forward, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team as a sophomore.
For the past three seasons, since she broke out as a freshman for the Tigers, senior forward Kayla Raymond has made this site’s list of players to watch and has come into each of those seasons as a potential MVP or player of the year candidate. The Stonehill University-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with range out to the three-point line, the handle to take defenders off the dribble, and the size and length to finish at the rim. Raymond is arguably the best leaper in the league as well, making her not only a threat on offense but one of the league’s top rebounders and one of its best rim protectors. This winter, Raymond is listed as a forward/center for head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook and there is the potential for Raymond to spend more time in the paint than in years past. This could be a boost to her scoring, as she is tough to guard when close to the basket, but expect OA to try and move her around and get her the ball as often as possible. If Raymond can put together a season like she is capable of, then OA could be in the running for the Kelley-Rex title.
Reigning Hockomock League MVP and two-time HockomockSports.com First Team selection Ashley Sampson is hoping to lead Foxboro even further than last season’s trip to the TD Garden. With Sampson in the backcourt, the Warriors are among the team’s being talked about for a Div. 2 title. Sampson is a do-everything guard, who seems unstoppable when taking the ball to the basket. She finishes at the rim as well as anyone in the Hock and manages to get the ball to the hoop despite contact. Sampson, an Adelphi University-commit, is also an elite shooter with range beyond the arc and has been one of the team’s leading rebounders despite playing on the perimeter. Last year, she averaged 19 points and seven rebounds per game and was one of Foxboro’s top on-the-ball defenders, who has the size and speed to guard multiple positions. Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career and continuing to improve every season, Sampson has the potential to be one of the all-time greats for the Warriors and push Foxboro to even greater heights this winter.
Stoughton likes to grind teams down with pressure defense, aggressive play on the glass, and by getting out on the break and few players embody the style implemented by head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan than senior forward Val Whalen. The team’s leading scorer and rebounder from last season, Whalen was a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection by leading a very young Black Knights squad to within one win of the postseason. She averaged 13 points and nine rebounds per game last winter and every night had the potential to pull down a double-double. An athletic forward with long reach and the tenacity to go after every loose ball, Whalen will be counted on again to provide leadership for the still pretty young team. As her jump shot and finishing continue to improve, Whalen could become one of the league’s top post players this season and could be the key to helping Stoughton get back into the playoffs.
WORCESTER, Mass. – While the Hawks had not trailed at all in their playoff run and rarely trailed over the course of the season, Milford coach Steve DiVitto insisted after each game that his team knew how to bounce back and overcome a deficit to win.
Milford (25-1) waited until the final game of the season to prove him right.
Despite falling behind by three runs in the second inning of Saturday evening’s Div. 1 state championship game at Worcester State University’s Rockwood Field, the Hawks’ confidence never wavered. Senior pitcher Ali Atherton retired 16 of the final 19 batters she faced and the prolific Milford offense found its swing to pull out a 7-3 victory and earn the program’s first state title since winning the second of two straight titles 2013.
“They came out early and threw the first knockout blow,” said DiVitto, “and we responded and that’s what championship teams do. In big spots and big moments, you respond.”
He added, “You’ve got to be able to ride those peaks and valleys as this game goes on and they did just that and we’re back on top.”
Atherton said, “After the second inning, I said that I really didn’t want to lose my last game wearing a Milford uniform, so that’s what pushed me through the last innings. I didn’t want to lose my last game at Milford High.”
Milford had gone 15 innings without allowing a run (since the seventh inning of the South semifinal against Hopkinton) before the Mountaineers came to bat in the top of the second. The Central champions, making their first state title game appearance, seemed to figure out Atherton.
A single and an error put the first two hitters in scoring position and senior catcher Lizzie Miles drove a single to right that scored both runs. Kiana Lloyd followed with a hit to left, but Maggie Farrell fired to the plate and Emily Hartman just hung on to cut down Miles trying to score. Lloyd moved up to second on the throw and then to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a Paige Arvidson infield single.
Atherton explained, “In the second inning, they adjusted. They were crowding the plate and hitting my curve ball so hard. That hadn’t happened to me all season, but I realized I needed our catcher to set up more outside and my curveballs were more effective off the plate.”
Milford bounced right back in the bottom half of the inning. Hartman was hit by a pitch to lead-off and Kelley Reichert beat out an infield single. With one out, Shannon Cormier reached on an error to load the bases for Kate Irwin and the energetic centerfielder got the Milford bench going with an infield hit to score one. Hockomock League MVP Emily Piergustavo drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and the lead was down to one.
DiVitto said, “We told the girls, let’s not panic, let’s stay within ourselves and play our game. We know what we’re capable of doing, we’ve done it for 25 straight games, and they’re just a team that competes.”
Atherton allowed only two Wachusett hits over the final five innings, as she started to look more like the pitcher that had thrown back-to-back shutouts to reach the final.
When asked about Atherton’s performance in the final, DiVitto said, “Today? How about Ali for the last six games of the playoffs? She has been outstanding. She has been a rock.”
“Once probably the fourth inning came, I felt like I was in a groove but I had to stay up and stay focused,” Atherton explained. “I knew that the mentally strong pitcher was going to come out on top today, so I had to stay grounded.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Milford took the lead. Cormier worked a one-out walk and two batters later Piergustavo drove a ball that one-hopped the centerfield fence for a game-tying double. Farrell, another of the team’s three seniors, followed with a single that plated Piergustavo with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
“Our mentality was to bounce back,” said Piergustavo of the comeback. “If you get punched, then punch back harder. There’s no better feeling than the way we came back.”
Wachusett tried to put together a rally of its own in the sixth inning. Brigid Griffin singled to left just past the dive of Piergustavo, but was forced out at second on Courtney Lanpher’s grounder. Lanpher then went first-to-third on a grounder back to the pitcher to put the tying run only 60 feet away with two outs.
A fly ball to Cormier in right ended the threat and allowed Milford to breathe a sigh of relief. In the bottom half of the inning, the Hawks broke the game wide open and calmed nerves both on the field and in the bleachers.
Cormier, Irwin, and Piergustavo each singled to start the sixth and load the bases. Farrell drove in her second run with a sac fly to left and junior Jess Tomaso brought in another with a single to right. Senior Kaitlyn DeCapua made it 7-3 with another sac fly and the trophy felt like it was in Milford’s grasp.
A comebacker to Atherton and a leaping grab on a line drive by Cormier put the Hawks on the brink and fittingly it was DeCapua who would record the final out, pulling in a foul pop fly to seal the championship that she and the other seniors had been dreaming about for four years.
“I knew one day we’d make it here,” DeCapua said. “I remember being a seventh and eighth grader watching the state championship and I just knew one day I’d be here. It’s amazing; words can’t describe it.”
Piergustavo, whose sister Allie was a starter on the 2013 championship team, added, “It’s amazing. We had wristbands that said ‘Rise Together’ and we rose together to win this championship. There’s no better feeling right now. Words can’t describe how proud I am of this team.”
The seniors were not the only newcomers to the team four years ago. DiVitto also took over as the new head coach that spring and immediately had to answer questions about how to replace a class that won three state titles. He had his answer on Saturday.
“Four years ago, this journey started with these four seniors,” DiVitto remarked, “and four years ago it was the question of where is this program going to go because of the great graduating class in 2013 and how are you going to replace all of them?
“Take a look at the scoreboard and that’s how you replace them; by a team that sticks together, by a team that believes in each other and that’s what it’s all about.”
Below are the official 2017 Hockomock League Softball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Emily Piergustavo, Milford
Hockomock League All Stars
McKenzie Bergdoll, Attleboro
Hannah Davis, Foxboro
Ally Shea, Franklin
Jenn Hutnyan, King Philip
Meghan Gorman, King Philip
Mady Bendanillo, Mansfield
Emily Piergustavo, Milford
Jess Tomaso, Milford
Ali Atherton, Milford
Maggie Farrell, Milford
Kate Irwin, Milford
Megan Barlow, North Attleboro
Bella Erti, North Attleboro
Victoria Ziner, Oliver Ames
Clara Cook, Sharon
Gina Carafa, Stoughton
Courtney Fisher, Taunton
Jaime Brown, Taunton
Kya Enos, Taunton
MacKenzie Handrahan, Taunton
McKenzie Killough, Attleboro
Evelyn Carrington, Canton
Lexi Buckner, Foxboro
Jackie Cherry, Franklin
Hailey McCasland, King Philip
Kara Bendanillo, Mansfield
Kaitlyn DeCapua, Milford
Liz Morehouse, North Attleboro
Caroline Mahoney, Oliver Ames
Samantha Marglous, Sharon
Jordan Lyons, Stoughton
Hanna Aldrich, Taunton
For a history of recent Hockomock League Softball All Stars, check out our history section. You can also see all stars from other sports in our history section. Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Attleboro Canton Foxboro Franklin King Philip Mansfield Milford North Attleboro Oliver Ames Sharon Stoughton Taunton Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League Hockomock League