The 2016 Hockomock Boys Basketball All Stars & HMs

Below are the official Hockomock League Boys Basketball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Tim Prunier, Franklin

Hockomock League All Stars

Jake Dunkley, Attleboro
Alex DuBrow, Foxboro
Rob Lowey, Foxboro
Jason Procaccini, Foxboro
Tim Prunier, Franklin
Connor Peterson, Franklin
Jay Dieterle, Franklin
Samuel Goldberg, Mansfield
Matthew Ehrlich, Mansfield
Dimitry Torres, Milford
Brent Doherty, North Attleboro
Carter Evin, Oliver Ames
Matt Lowerre, Sharon
Brandon Teixeira, Stoughton
Jose Mercado, Taunton
Tommy MacLean, Taunton

Honorable Mentions

Kyle Murphy, Attleboro
Devin Foster, Canton
Jonathan Carnino, Foxboro
Kevin Gill, Franklin
Will Weir, King Philip
Max Boen, Mansfield
Dwight Anderson, Milford
Jonny Friberg, North Attleboro
Tim Kelley, Oliver Ames
Ricardo Ripley, Sharon
Cameron Andrews, Stoughton
Quan Roberson, Taunton

Panthers Downed By St. John’s In D1 Central Final

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin senior Tim Prunier dribbles past a St. John;s defender in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WORCESTER, Mass. – Numbers don’t always tell the whole story of a game, but they certainly help explain what happened.
Franklin went from shooting 50% in the first half to just 26% from the floor in the second.
Franklin hit half of their six three point attempts in the first half but struggled from deep in the second half, going 1/9.
St. John’s shot over 40% from the field for the game (nearly 50% in the second half), had a plus-15 advantage on the glass and went 16/19 from the free throw line.
Those numbers totaled up to a 67-52 win for St. John’s over Franklin in the D1 Central Sectional Final.
“I think the offensive rebound for them was a big difference,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “We didn’t do a great job boxing out and they won a lot of the 50/50 balls that were kind of bouncing around. Early in the game I thought we did a decent job but in the middle of the game, we started tipping them while they were grabbing the ball. They got extra shots and they scored, you can’t allow teams like them to get second chances.”
It was an impressive start for Franklin, forcing five turnovers in the first three minutes of play. Senior Kevin Gill and sophomore Paul Mahon harassed the Pioneers at every bounce of the ball. That defense turned into offense as Franklin built an 18-14 lead at the end of the quarter.
But with that tenacious defense came seven fouls called in eight minutes of play (compared to just two for SJS). And a minute into the second, both Gill and Mahon had picked up two fouls apiece.
That allowed the Pioneers to creep back into the game, plus St. John’s 11 first half offensive rebounds. The Pioneers closed the first half with a 10-3 run over the final 2:41 to take a 34-33 lead into halftime.
“Unfortunately we got into some foul trouble,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “Paul was doing an excellent job on defense and then we picked up his second foul. Gill was doing a terrific job on defense then he picked up his second. Sam Harrell comes in and does a pretty good job but then he picked up a couple. Three of our best defenders ending up sitting on the bench in the first half for a long period of time and that’s going to hurt you. With the individual talents they have, that’s going to hurt you.
The first big deficit for the Panthers came when Sean Burke converted a putback to put SJS up 43-37. Paul Mahon’s corner three (the Panther’s lone connection from deep in the second half) cut it back to five but a bucket inside and a pair of free throws pushed the lead to 49-40 with 2:54 to go in the third. SJS held a 51-44 lead going into the final frame.
Franklin pulled within a possession at 51-48 with 5:56 to play behind baskets from Gill and freshman Jay Dieterle but Burke netted four straight points to stretch the lead again. Franklin had a pair of bad breaks down the stretch as after the Panthers came up with a stop, the rebound bounces out off a Franklin player and SJS scored right away. Then after a three point play cut the deficit to six with 2:46 to play, the Panthers got a stop on the other end only for Alex Bradley to get the tip in to put it back to eight.
The Panthers pushed hard with a press to try and create some more turnovers but the Pioneers were able to break it and extend the lead.
“We talked in warmups about getting to the free throw line,” SJS coach Bob Foley said. “We were 16/19? That helps.”
“I thought for the most part it was a really good game,” Neely said. “We had to start pressing at the end which was not part of our game plan. At that point with that deficit with that amount of time left, you have to amp it up and take some chances. They moved the ball well and got some easy layups.”
Gill scored a career-high 17 points in his final game for the Panthers while Dieterle added 11 points and five rebounds, sophomore Connor Peterson had eight points and four rebounds and senior Tim Prunier finished with seven points and seven assists.
Franklin boys basketball wraps up the season at 18-7 with its first Hockomock League Kelley-Rex title since 2012.
“We have a lot of goals coming into every season,” Neely said. “We want to get a home playoff game, we want to win the Hockomock Championship and we did those things. I think we accomplished a lot of goals this year. After losing a ton of seniors that were super talented, I can’t be more proud of these guys. They’re a great group of kids but tonight wasn’t out night, we didn’t play our best game but I won’t take any credit away from St. John’s. Tim did a great job as a captain, obviously as the league MVP. But it didn’t start on the first day of tryouts. They were picking each other up in the offseason for rides, getting everyone involved. He did a great job of captain and all of the seniors did a great job of involving everyone.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Prunier, Gill Help Franklin Hold Off Westford Academy

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Tim Prunier goes airborne after splitting two defenders in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin senior Kevin Gill can add another team to his list.
Oliver Ames, check.
Foxboro, check.
Westford Academy, check.
For the third time this season, Gill was to go-to guy in crunch time and on Thursday night, his strong take to the basket with 15 seconds to play gave the Panthers a 62-60 win over Westford Academy.
“I get the ball and it just feels right,” Gill said about late game situations. “I heard coach yelling for one shot but I just saw the lane and I just took it.”
While the layup broke a tie game, it was nearly a basket that brought Franklin back from a deficit. With just over a minute to play with the game tied a 60, Franklin had an inbounds play in the offensive half, right in the corner.
The play went awry and senior Tim Prunier’s inbounds pass went straight into the hands of Westford Academy’s Nicholas Fiorillo. Fiorillo took off, racing out into a breakaway all alone on his way for a layup. What looked like a certain basket for the Grey Ghosts quickly turned into one of the best hustle plays you’ll see.
Prunier got on his horse and sprinted back on defense, getting back in time to knock the ball free from the dribble just before Fiorillo went up with it. As the ball bounced towards the baseline, Prunier lounged and dove, getting a hand to the ball and whipping it back in bounds. Gill was able to get a hand to it, deflecting it on and the Panthers were able to keep possession.
Westford Academy did not score again.
“Talk about big plays by the seniors,” a relieved Franklin coach CJ Neely said. “Tim Prunier probably saved our season by sprinting back and make that defensive play. That’s one of the best individual plays and defensive plays that I’ve ever seen. Your season, your career is on the line and that’s why he was the MVP of the league. Kevin Gill has done it time and again this year. He’s had multiple games where he’s been our guy down the stretch. We’ve been begging him to go more for his offensive and he finds the best moments to do it it seems like.”
Gill scored six of Franklin’s nine points in the fourth quarter while Prunier had a layup of his own.
“I knew it was an awful pass so it was just my instinct to get back on defense,” Prunier said. “I knew the time and the score so I knew I had to get my butt back there and do what I could do. I saw him dribble to the right and I knew I could get it. I just busted by butt and got it and then luckily I was able to stay inbounds and throw it back in and my teammates were able to recover it. I didn’t think there was anything else I could do so I went for the ball.”
“We thought the ball was going to be side out but it was in the corner, so our play was off,” Gill added. ”I don’t know what happened but his play just saved the game right there. That was incredible hustle by Tim and then he saved the ball from going out of bounds too which is insane, I don’t know how he did that.”


Franklin dominated the first half and took a 15 point lead into the locker room but a furious rally from the Grey Ghosts brought the teams level at the conclusion of the third quarter, tied 53-53.
Neither side was able to score for over three minutes of the final frame but freshman Jay Dieterle’s free throw with 4:47 put Franklin ahead again. Gill drove for two to increase the lead to three. On Franklin’s next possession, Prunier was able to get the defense to switch after a handoff from Gill and easily drove to the hoop to make it 58-53 with 3:43 to go.
But like they did in the third quarter, Westford Academy rallied back again. Jon Glidden brought WA within three but a pair of free throws from Gill pushed it back to five. Scotty Callahan floated one in the lane and Fiorillo drained a three out of an inbounds play to tie the game at 60-60 with two minutes to play.
The teams traded turnovers over a 45 second stretch in a game of giveaways before Prunier’s hustle play set up Franklin at the end.
A contested three from Dieterle with 30 seconds to go bounced off the iron but a strong effort from sophomore Connor Peterson helped the ball roll out to Gill. Gill eventually took a pass back from sophomore Paul Mahon and immediately raced around his defender and to the basket for a layup with 17 seconds to play.
Westford called a timeout with 12.3 left and ran a play to get a look at a three, but the shot bounced off the back of the rim and Peterson was able to track the high rebound as the buzzer sounded.
“We knew from experience, we’re a battle tested team,” Prunier said. “We’ve been in both sides of that situation, the team coming back and the team giving up the lead so we knew how to respond. We said we had been there before so we knew if we just kept it together we’d be fine.”
After giving up 25 points in the third quarter, Franklin clamped down defensively and surrendered just seven points in the final frame.
“We pressed a lot in the first half,” Neely said. “We backed it off a little bit in the fourth quarter and just said we’re going back to our normal defense and we’re going to rely on our shell concept and get stops. They hit some tough shots and get some offensive boards. We wanted to take away the easy baskets and make them earn everything. We did a great job of that in the first half and the fourth quarter.”
Dieterle tied his career-high with 24 points (18 in the first half) in his postseason debut to lead the Panthers while Prunier added 12 points, five steals, four rebounds and four assists. Gill had nine points and six points and four steals and Peterson added nine points and seven points.
“The younger guys are phenomenal, they have such high standards,” Prunier said. “They’re all great players. But being a senior, we knew it was coming down to the line and we didn’t want it to be our last game so we gave it all that we had.”
“We knew we had to fight for every possession, on offense and on defense,” Gill said. “We just had to grind out the game.”
Franklin boys basketball (16-5) advances to the D1 Central Semifinals for the second straight year. The Panthers are scheduled to play #7 Framingham on Saturday at WPI at 5:00.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/03/16

Today’s playoff games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
D1 Central
#3 Franklin, 62 vs. #6 Westford Academy, 60 – Final – Freshman Jay Dieterle tied a career-high with 24 points to pace the Panthers’ offense. Senior Kevin Gill broke the tie with a layup with 15 seconds to play. Senior Tim Prunier had 12 points and also came away with a big steal in the final minutes to prevent an easy basket from WA. Franklin will play #7 Framingham on Saturday at 5:00 at WPI.
Girls Basketball
D1 South
#4 Attleboro, 32 vs. #5 Wellesley, 43 – Final

#6 Mansfield, 40 @ #3 Newton South, 37 – FinalMeg Hill had a career-high 24 points for the Hornets. Jackie Carchedi added nine points for Mansfield and Caroline Maher hit two clutch free throws in the closing seconds. Mansfield will face No. 2 seed Bishop Feehan in the D1 South semifinal.
D2 South
#15 North Attleboro, 46 @ #2 Oliver Ames, 47 – Final – The Tigers host No. 7 seed Notre Dame Academy on Saturday.

#6 Foxboro, 75 vs. #11 O’Bryant, 28 – Final – Cassidy Harrison led a balanced offensive attack with a team-high 15 points, Ashley Sampson and Grace Tamulionis each had 13 points and Hailey Maling added 12 points. The Warriors travel to No. 3 seed Falmouth on Saturday.

Hornets Hold Off Franklin, Moves Into Tie For First

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Matt Ehrlich looks to drive in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Friday night’s contest between rivals Mansfield and Franklin wasn’t the exact same as their first meeting back in January, but the symmetry was apparent.
Just like January’s game, the home team erased a second half double-digit deficit to make it a one possession in the final minutes.
But just like the first time around, the visitors walked away with the win.
Mansfield held off a late rally from the Panthers, keeping Franklin scoreless over the final final minutes, in route to a 55-51 win that pulled the Hornets level atop the Kelley-Rex division with just one league game to go.
Th Hornets doubled their seven point lead at the midway point just five minutes into the second half and increased it to a game-high 15 points off a Christian Weber three to just 2:20 to play in the third, but Franklin wouldn’t go away.
Over the course of the end of the third and the first few minutes of the fourth, the Panthers rattled off a 15-3 run to get the game down to one possession. Sophomore Connor Peterson closed the third with back to back baskets and freshman Jay Dieterle opened the final frame with a three. After Peterson hit a free throw to make it a seven point game, Mansfield’s Tyler Boulter drained a three to get it back to 10.
For the next five minutes, Mansfield only managed one free throw as Franklin crawled back. Dieterle hit another three and after a stop, Peterson went into the paint for two more. Another missed three from the Hornets resulted in a strong take to the hoop from Dieterle to make it a three point game with 4:16 to go. Mansfield’s lone point came via Sam Goldberg’s free throw.
After a steal from Tim Prunier, Sam Harrell took it to the whole strong to cut it to 53-51 with 3:09 left.
The teams traded missed shots and on its next possession, Mansfield milked the shot clock down to the final seconds. With just a few tickets left, junior Matt Ehrlich took a step towards the basket from the three point line but instead of driving, pulled up for a deep two that he drained to make it 55-11 with 1:40 to go.
Franklin missed on the other end but got a stop with just under a minute to go. Dieterle’s three was halfway down but rattled out and despite an offensive rebound, Franklin’s second attempt from three via Paul Mahon was off the mark. Franklin got another offensive rebound and called timeout but Prunier’s deep three hit the back rim. Mansfield missed it’s first free throw of a one and one but with a four point lead, elected to foul with 8.6 seconds left instead of letting the Panthers get a shot off from the floor.
Both teams then traded missed free throws as the clock ran out.
“This puts us back in the driver’s seat,” Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan said with the Hornets moving into a tie for first place. “Now Attleboro becomes a league championship game regardless of what happens with Franklin and Taunton. We got some luck with Franklin slipping up along the way and give us that chance. Tonight was our night to capitalize on our luck and to win tonight means we capitalized. Now we have to go out our fourth in a row.”
The win marked Mansfield’s fourth straight overall and seventh straight in league play.
“I think we’ve matured as a team,” Vaughan said. “We’ve re-identified ourselves as better defensively than we were, we’re not giving up big quarters anymore. Even their run, those weren’t easy shots, those were plays made by very good basketball players. Offensively we got a little stagnant and we had to get out of that. When you play a team like Franklin that’s so good defensively, they wear you out. We were worn out for a while but we stuck with it and kept cutting and moving and Matt Ehrlich buried a huge shot to give us life.”
It was a back and forth opening quarter with each team holding leads. Franklin’s Josh Macchi converted a traditional play with 30 seconds to go to give the Panthers a lead but Mansfield’s Kyle Swansburg beat the shot clock while being fouled in the final seconds to put Mansfield up 16-15 after one.
The Hornets gained some separation in the second quarter. With a one point lead at 21-20, Ehrlich scored five straight points for Mansfield and then Boulter connected on two three’s to give Mansfield a 32-25 lead at half.
“We got a lot of good looks [at the end] too I thought, looks that I’ll take every time,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said, about the team’s late scoreless stretch. “I’m really proud of the effort from the guys battling back after being down, really fought hard and defended. If we defended like the way we did in the second half in the first half, I think we win the game. I think our first half defense was the difference. Mansfield played really well, they moved the ball really well. I felt like we didn’t pressure them enough and they were able to execute what they wanted to execute. That’s usually our bread and butter the defensive pressure but we didn’t do it tonight.”
To start the third, Mansfield was able to stretch the lead to 10 and hold it around there for the majority of the frame. With an 11 point lead (43-32) with just over three minutes to play, Boulter connected on another triple and after Kevin Gill scored at the rim for Franklin, Weber knocked down an open three to make it 49-34.
“I called that timeout in the fourth and said just play the game to win, stop playing it not to lose,” Vaughan said. “In [Franklin’s] late run, some things went their way, some bounces, some calls, some things that just could have gone either way. But that’s part of the game and you play through that stuff and I thought our guys fought through that. From the team we were in January to the team we are now, we’re able to play though that stuff and I think it makes a big difference. Now we’re a team that’s coming out firing all cylinders. When we got flat I thought we did a pretty good job defensively.”
Boulter had a team-high 12 points while Sam Goldberg had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Ehrlich (four rebounds, four assists) and Weber each had nine points, Nick Baskin had six and Max Boen had five points and four assists.
“You play a lot of teams where they have one or two guys you don’t have to worry about, someone who might not shoot and you can help off of it. But Mansfield has so many guys that can spread the floor, they all share it, they move the ball so well, they don’t care who scores. They move the ball to who’s ever open for the shot and it’s pretty impressive offensively. That stinks [for us] because if you miss a rotation or leave a guy, they are going to make you pay for it and they did that tonight.”
Peterson had 21 points and nine rebounds to lead Franklin while Dieterle added 18 points and Gill had five points, six rebounds and five assists. Prunier added six rebounds and seven assists.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Vaughan said. “You’ve got to be able to play through the bad ones and capitalize on the good ones. I thought our third quarter was similar to their fourth quarter but we got some stops at the end. We had a cushion from the first half and then the third quarter was ours, the fourth quarter was theirs but in the final two minutes we got the stops to close it out.
“It’s speaks where our team is going. From where we were a month ago to now, I think we’ve got exponentially better. Franklin is a very good team, they’re well rounded and they’re going to do very well in the tournament. We could play this games 100 times and probably go 50-50. These games are won by very good basketball players on both teams.”
Mansfield boys basketball (14-4, 12-3) will host Weymouth on Monday night. It will have a chance to clinch its fourth straight Kelley-Rex crown against Attleboro on February 22nd. Franklin (14-3, 12-3) will take on Everett on Sunday evening in Woburn. The Panthers can clinch a share of the Kelley-Rex with a win over North Attleboro on February 22nd.
“This rivalry doesn’t go away,” Vaughan said. “This is the best $5 in the area that you can spend to come watch these two teams play.”
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Mansfield Boys Basketball vs. Franklin

Panthers Press The Issue In Second Half Against Sharon

Franklin sophomore Connor Peterson releases a shot in the first half in a sea of Sharon defenders. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin sophomore Connor Peterson releases a shot in the first half in a sea of Sharon defenders. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)


By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief

SHARON, Mass. – Franklin’s defense certainly wasn’t bad in the first half, surrendering just 21 points to Sharon. But faced with a four point deficit at the break, Franklin head coach CJ Neely challenged his team to crank it up.
The Panthers switched to a full court press to start the second half. The pressure worked off and turned it into a 10-3 run over the first three minutes of the quarter and then when Sharon got it within two again, the Panthers closed with another 10-3 in the last 2:30.
“We played much more aggressive in the second half,” Neely said. “We didn’t want to come right away with the press, we thought they might expect it because we had some out a lot of games this year with pressure. I still thought our defense was pretty good. That’s the third straight game we’ve gone against a run from other teams early and they’ve been hitting tough shots, at least I think they’re tough.”
“We saved the pressure a little bit for the second half. I challenged them. They were playing on their heels, they weren’t attacking the rim, they were worried about turning it over and worried about making mistakes. I think the second half they were more aggressive and more confident.”
Matt Lowerre drained a three to open the third to stretch Sharon’s lead to seven points but Franklin went to work from there. Kevin Gill hit a pair of free throws and after a turnover, freshman Jay Dieterle drained a three from the corner. Dieterle then put Franklin ahead, draining another deep ball and sophomore Connor Peterson followed it up with a two handed dunk after a nice screen from Dieterle and a perfect pass from Tim Prunier.
Ricardo Ripley drove for two but two free throws from Dieterle and another bucket from Peterson extended the lead to five. David Roelke hit a high arching three to get within two, but the Panthers banged out another 10-3 run.
Starting with a three from Dieterle – who had 11 of his 13 points in the quarter – Franklin was then able to get to the line. Prunier hit four straight free throws and the scoring for Franklin was capped by a corner three from Kevin Gill.
Franklin turned a four point deficit at halftime into a nine point lead after three with a 24-11 quarter.
“We weren’t really executing well and we didn’t seem to be on the same page offensively. We weren’t playing with any kind of confidence. I don’t know what the problem was, we just seemed passive in the first half,” Neely said. “Second half, we needed to be aggressive and deliberate and if we did that I told them we’d be fine.”
And Franklin was fine. Sharon did cut the deficit down to seven with three minutes to play off a layup from Jimmy Fitzhenry but that would be as close as the Eagles would get. Prunier hit two more free throws and then Gill drove to the basket to ice it.
“We couldn’t handle their pressure,” Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson said of the difference between the first and second halves. “Franklin did an excellent job pressuring us in the back court. I think we threw the ball around a little too much. And for about a five minute spurt we left Dieterle open in the corner a few too many times. In the first half we did an excellent job contesting shots and contesting their drives. I think the second half we got a little tired, a little worn down from their press and we lost them a few times on the defensive end and that ended up being the difference.
“A lot of their 24 points [in the third quarter] stemmed from the fact that we couldn’t get anything going offensively, which is an absolute credit to their defense. I think that bled into our defensive effort. They were able to get out in transition a little bitter than us which allows to find their open shooters. When their shooters are open, they don’t miss.”
After hitting just one three on nine attempts in the first half, the Panthers connected from deep four times in the third in seven tries and finished 5/9 total from deep in the second half.
“It makes them have to respect it and come out of the paint which we weren’t making them do in the first because we weren’t making our shots,” Neely said of his team being able to knock down three point shots. “Jay buried a few and I heard them yelling about changing things so it allowed Tim and other guys to get to the rim. When you have your shooters spacing the floor it certainly opens it up and give you options.”
Peterson was the game’s high scorer, netting 15 points but maybe the most impressive was his defense and his career-high 18 rebounds.
“He was a big difference, I thought he dominated the paint defensively,” Neely said of Peterson. “All of their shots inside were difficult shots. They got some looks when they beat guys off the dribble but he was there to absorb the penetration and making them take tough shots without fouling. And the rebounding was just immense. That’s the kind of kid he is. He has that strength and that athleticism.”
Beyond Peterson, both Prunier (seven rebounds, four steals) and Dieterle (four rebounds) had 13 points while Gill added eight points. Lowerre led Sharon with 12 points and five rebounds while Peter Banks had four points and eight rebounds.
Franklin (13-1, 11-1) earned its eighth straight win and will put that streak on the line on Friday when they host King Philip on Friday at 7:00. Sharon (9-5, 8-4) falls a game back in the Davenport hunt but will look to try and keep pace when they host Oliver Ames on Friday.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Taking Stock of the Hock: Boys Basketball 2015-16

Taunton senior Jose Merardo dribbles around a defender in the first half against Mansfield. (Tom Madigan/Photo).
Taunton senior Jose Merardo dribbles around a defender in the first half against Mansfield. (Tom Madigan/Photo).

With nearly half of the games gone for all of the Hockomock teams, our editors Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry take a look at where things currently stand for boys basketball.

Who is the midseason boys’ basketball Player of the Year?

Ryan Lanigan – As of the midpoint of the season, I’d say Taunton senior forward Jose Mercado is the current Player of the Year. He came into this week averaging 16.2 points per game and dropped a game-high 24 points in a comeback win over Milford. There were a lot of questions about the Tigers when some pieces from last year graduated or transferred. So far this year, Taunton has answered those questions so far this season with roads wins at Franklin and Mansfield. As one league coach told me, when Mercado is playing at his best that he’s “a man among boys.” He can score literally from anywhere, he’s a solid shooter from deep, can take the ball to the basket strong and has no fear with some midrange shots. Two other names to keep your eye on for the rest of the season are North Attleboro’s Brenty Doherty and Stoughton’s Brandon Teixeira.

Josh Perry – Player of the Year is as always a tough race to call at the midway point, especially with the league title races as close as they are. Franklin entered the season as one of the favorites in the Kelley-Rex and so far has lived up to that potential through the opening 10 games, which has included wins over Catholic Memorial, Foxboro and Mansfield. One of the main reasons for the Panthers success this year has been the play of senior guard Tim Prunier, who provides a steady hand in the backcourt as well as nearly 16 points per game. For a team that seems to have a different player stepping up every game, Prunier has been the consistent driving force this season and has the Panthers once again in the thick of the title race.

Who is the midseason boys’ basketball Underclassman of the Year?

Lanigan – I can’t remember the last time I wrote out the list of possible candidates for our UCOTY award and had so many possible candidates. There were nearly 10 names I came up with right off the top of my head but the one that stuck out the most was Franklin freshman Jay Dieterle. I remember the first game I saw the Panthers this year (against CM), I asked two former players if Dieterle saw much time. In about 30 seconds, he was in the game and drained a pair of three pointers. It’s one thing to be just a good shooter but Dieterle has already proven he has no fear taking the ball to the basket, taking a big shot in crunch time and he’s also a very strong rebounder. There’s still plenty of games to go but right now, Dieterle is already one of the better freshman I’ve seen in this league.
Perry – My pick for Underclassman of the Year has a familiar name to fans of the Hockomock. The Layman family has had quite an impact on the King Philip program and this season a new face has emerged in freshman forward Kyle Layman. The 6-foot-3 rookie has made an immediate impression with his ability to control the glass and as a defensive weapon in the middle of the zone. He has also shown a nice touch around the basket. He is a different player than his brother Jake, who is currently building his draft stock at Maryland, but he has the potential to be an important piece for the Warriors for the next four years.

Midseason First Team

Lanigan
G – Brent Doherty, North Attleboro
G – Alex DuBrow, Foxboro
G – Tim Prunier, Franklin
F – Brandon Teixeira, Stoughton
F – Jose Mercado, Taunton

Perry
F – Brandon Teixeira, Stoughton
F – Jose Mercado, Taunton
G – Alex DuBrow, Foxboro
G – Brent Doherty, North Attleboro
G – Tim Prunier, Franklin

What has been the biggest surprise this season?
Lanigan – Franklin graduated four of their five starters from last season – three of them that played at an All Star level – and graduated a good handful of depth players as well. I remember going to a preseason tournament and seeing the Panthers and barely recognizing anyone. Now they sit tied atop the Kelley-Rex division and look poised for a deep playoff run. Tim Prunier has been strong but it’s the supporting cast that has really been impressive. Obviously freshman Jay Dieterle has been a big boost but sophomore Paul Mahon has also been a huge asset while classmate Connor Peterson certainly looks like he has taken a big step. Kevin Gill has been a steady starter while Josh Macchi, Tom Houlihan and Connor Goldstein have all provided sparks off the bench. While some thought this could have been a rebuilding year for the Panthers, it’s looking like it could be a banner year.

Perry – The biggest surprise for me this season has been Taunton’s place at the top of the Kelley-Rex division at the midway point. The Tigers returned important pieces including Jose Mercado and Tommy MacLean, but the loss of E.J. Dambreville has not had nearly the impact that had been anticipated. Even without a couple of important transfers, Taunton just came through a week in which it beat both Franklin and Mansfield and it sits tied with the Panthers atop the standings. The surprise is not that Taunton is good, there was plenty of talent on the roster coming in, but to see Taunton right there with a shot at it first league title, with the second best offense in the Hock (64.2 ppg) and the third best defense (51.6 ppg), has been surprising.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Lanigan This is always one of the hardest questions that we do for the midseason report. Franklin has a strong shot at making a deep run in the Central but inexperience will be the question as they approach the postseason. Taunton has been terrific this season and have a lot of guys that can hurt you on any given night but depth could become an issue down the stretch. Mansfield is still a strong team and when they get going, they will be a team no one wants to see in D1 South.

But my pick is Foxboro. The Warriors showed this past Friday night just how good they can be when they have Alex DuBrow, Jason Procaccini and Rob Lowey all clicking offensively. On top of that, role players like Jonathan Carnino, Andrew Block, Mark Clagg and Joe Morrison have all shown they can hit a big shot when needed. The big challenge will be on the defensive end if they can clamp down and keep their heads in the game. I said it in the preseason and I’m sticking with it now: I think we’ll see the Warriors in the sectional finals.

Perry –  Picking who will go furthest in the tournament is a fun exercise because it is impossible to know the match-ups. If I had to pick one team right now, it would be Franklin. The Central has plenty of tough teams, but to get to the sectional final, the Panthers could realistically only have to win two games, which makes the path to the final considerably shorter in not necessarily easier than that of the likes of Foxboro, Mansfield, and Taunton. All of these teams have the chance to make noise this year but in terms of who will get the furthest I’m leaning towards the Panthers.

Franklin Holds Off Wicked Rally From Mansfield

Franklin's Connor Peterson hangs on the rim after a two handed dunk in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin’s Connor Peterson hangs on the rim after a two handed dunk in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Based on the final score, it certainly looked like another typical back and forth game between Mansfield and Franklin.
But this one was different.
Franklin led by as much as 22 points — on the road at Mansfield — and looked to be racing away with a rout over the rival Hornets.
But this one was different.
The Hornets rattled off a 20-8 run to close the third quarter and then outscored the Panthers 19-7 to start the fourth quarter to take their first lead (57-55) since the first quarter. Another chapter in the storied rivalry looked to be complete with another Mansfield home win.
But this one was different.
After Mansfield took the lead with 1:46 left, Franklin coach CJ Neely called a timeout. His play had two main options — senior Tim Prunier or freshman Jay Dieterle. The defense zeroed in on Prunier and Dieterle came off a ball screen to take a pass from the senior captain. He lined up and drilled his first three of the game from straight away and Mansfield regained the lead with 1:34 to go. After a stop on the other end sophomore Paul Mahon drove to the basket for two to make it 60-57.
The Hornets had two chances at tying shots, one with just under 10 seconds to go that hit the back of the rim and one with just a half second left with junior Matt Ehrlich catching, turning and shooting from just over half court that missed off the backboard.
It marked Franklin’s first win at Mansfield since February 2012 and Franklin coach CJ Neely’s first win inside James Albertini Gymnasium. Although just in his second year at Franklin, Neely coached Foxboro for seven years beforehand.
“We came in with a good game plan I thought and I told the guys if they executed we could really hold them and keep them from scoring and we were able to in the first half obviously,” Franklin head coach CJ Neely said. “Their press hurt us a little bit. We knew Foxboro was in the same place we were in on Tuesday and we came back [against them] so we kept telling them to stick with it for the whole game. They stayed with it, they made enough plays.
“Credit [Mansfield], they’re a great team and you can’t hold them down for a whole game, we were happy to do it for a half.”
Franklin’s lead was 10 by the end of the first quarter at 15-5 as sophomore Connor Peterson scored over half of the Panthers points (8). The Panthers kept their lead for the second quarter and took a 29-16 advantage into the halftime break.
Peterson finished with a career-high 23 points and added seven rebounds. The sophomore had a pair of two handed dunks in the second half that kept some momentum with the Panthers.
“We definitely came in thinking that CP was ready to get it going offensively and we want to make sure he got the ball when he sealed well,” Neely said. “I have been all over him at practice about anticipating and being ready to score when we drive and drop off to him so he can be aggressive to the rim. It’s good to see he was listening.”
“I wanted to stay near the paint and whenever someone drove, they could lay it off to me and I’d seal my man,” Peterson said. “I’ve been been waiting to [dunk] it all season so I was really psyched about it. I know the team gets really pumped after it so it helps.”
The separation came over the first 3:30 of the third quarter. While the Panthers rattled off an 11-2 run, Mansfield continued it’s shooting woes from the first half to the second half. The Hornets were just 7/29 from the field over the first 16 minutes, including 0/10 from three point range. Head coach Mike Vaughan admitted he didn’t know the last time Mansfield went without a three point field goal, saying it had been “a long time.” To start the second half, Mansfield went 0/3 and had three turnovers.
Four straight points Peterson started Franklin’s run with Kevin Gill, Dieterle and Mahon each chipped in with a bucket.
Out of a timeout, things changed for Mansfield as Vaughan decided to up the pressure defensively with a press. It didn’t work every time but it certainly gave Mansfield a boost, with junior Matt Ehrlich being the biggest beneficiary.
Ehrlich scored 9 of the Hornet’s next 11 points and Nick Baskin, Sam Goldberg, Christian Weber and Tyler Boulter each added to Mansfield’s 20-8 run to get within 10.
“It was identical,” Vaughan said when asked if the Hornets used a similar approach in their comeback against Taunton a week prior. “I don’t even know if we’re a press team, I wrestle with it. The problem is doing it for 32 minutes, that’s hard. It might be something we have to look at doing more of just to kind of get the kids running. They seem to react better when they are moving. At the end of the day this comes down to our offense in the first half. If we do what we’re supposed to do on both ends and we can weather the storm of Franklin playing very well, I think the outcome is different. But the game is two halves. Franklin got the better of us, they did a great job. I don’t take anything away from what they did.”
The momentum carried into the fourth quarter with Phil Vigeant scoring seven straight points to cut the deficit to just three. Peterson added two for Franklin but Ehrlich answered with a three to make it a two point game. Prunier hit a three to extend back to five but Max Boen replied with a deep ball of his own. After Peterson and Goldberg traded buckets, Boen hit back to back layups and the Hornets took a 57-55 lead with less than two minutes to play.
“We knew coming in their defense was good. We played six on five the last couple of days at practice to try and prepare for it,” Vaughan said. “Timmy’s a great player on both sides of the floor. He kind of created the little bit of separation for them, gave them a consistent offensive force. He’s a special player, he’s one of the better players in the league. I thought in the second half we did a better job. When we played with energy, and we did the same thing against Taunton, and we started to do what we wanted, we’re a good basketball team.
“I take the positive at the end of the game. We’re not even midway through the season, this is a very balanced league and to see their celebration like that, it tells you where our program is at. [Franklin] had a good game plan, they played hard but we played a little flat and tentative early. I thought we would find our identity [as a team] earlier [in the season] but it’s taken a little longer than I thought. In the second half I think we saw a glimpse of what our identity is going to look like. When you can get that much celebration out of a game, it’s good for us.”
Diertle, who hit the go-ahead shot with 1:34 to go, had just two points prior to the shot. He was 0-2 from downtown and had yet to make a field goal. Still, Neely knew what options he wanted in that play.
“No hesitation with the freshman, Jay has been someone that I trust like my family, I love the kid,” Neely said. “In a big moment — we saw him have some big shots against CM too — I had no doubt it was going to go in. We had him come off the screen and we had Prunier if the defense came to Jay. He came off it and buried the shot. Total confidence in the kid, he gets it done. We have other guys we can draw it up for too but he had that look in his eye that he wanted it.”
Prunier finished with 15 points and five assists and was credited by both coaches for his play on both ends of the floor. Dieterle added six assists to his five points and Mahon had eight points and six rebounds.
Ehrlich led the Hornets with 16 points and five rebounds while Boen had 11 points and Goldberg had nine points and nine rebounds.
Franklin (8-1, 6-1) will take a visit to Stoughton on Tuesday for a 6:30 tipoff. Mansfield (6-2, 5-2) will travel to Davenport-leading Foxboro on the same day for a game at the same time.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Gill Sparks Franklin’s Comeback Win Over Foxboro

Franklin senior Kevin Gill hit a trio of three pointers between the fourth quarter and overtime. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Franklin senior Kevin Gill hit a trio of three pointers between the fourth quarter and overtime. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Franklin starting guard Kevin Gill picked a pretty good time to hit his first three of the season.
With the Panthers trailing 52-44 with just over two minutes to play, Gill took a feed from Josh Macchi and drained the triple from the right side to get within two possessions.
After Franklin’s defense forced a turnover on the other end, Gill picked an even better time to hit his second three of the season. Once again it was Macchi playing the role of playmaker, finding Gill wide open in the corner and he drained it.
And then after neither team could hit a go-ahead basket, the teams headed to overtime. That was the best time for Gill to hit his third three of the 2015-2016 campaign. Franklin’s lead was just one as time ticked under a minute in the extra period when Gill found himself in the corner — this time the left side — and hit nothing but net to give the Panthers the lead for good.
Gill helped Franklin cap a big comeback and score a 65-60 win over Foxboro in overtime.
“I knew we needed a big shot and I just happened to be the right place,” Gill said. “I got the ball off of a drive and I just let it go and it felt good when it went in. Making the first one boosted my confidence a lot. I missed one in the first half and I kind of faded out a little bit.
“We knew we just had to make the run first and strike first in overtime and not look back. Foxboro’s a great team but we were able to overcome their runs.”
Macchi got into it himself in the overtime period, hitting an open three to open up the scoring and put Franklin up 55-52. Two free throws from Jason Procaccini (17 points) brought Foxboro within one before Gill’s third triple of the night.
“If he’s shooting the ball, we’ll have four guys in the starting line up that can shoot threes and that will be a problem [for opponents] and then [Peterson] and Macchi will have the inside,” Franklin coach CJ Neely said. “We’ve been encouraging [Gill], we’ve been telling him you have to be able to shoot. You can’t allow teams to sit in the paint, you have to take a couple just to keep them honest. I’m really, really happy for him.”
After freshman Jay Dieterle finished at the rim to expand Franklin’s lead to six with 37 seconds to go, Foxboro suddenly go within two points. Mark Clagg hit the front end of a one and one and then after Foxboro kept possession, Clagg drained a deep three to cut it to 60-58.
Gill knocked down a free throw at the other end but missed the second. Clagg had another go at a deep three that was halfway down, but rimmed out. The Panthers hit their last four free throws to seal the win.
It was all about runs early for the visiting Warriors. Back to back three’s from Andrew Block and Procaccini and layups from Joe Morrison and Robby Lowey (12 points) capped a 10-0 run for Foxboro to end the first quarter, giving the Warriors a 17-10 edge.
Defensive stops at the end of the second quarter helped the Warriors keep a seven point cushion heading into halftime (30-23). Another 10-0 run, with four points from Procaccini and Mark Clagg (11 points) each and two from Alex DuBrow, suddenly the Warriors held a 17 point edge (40-23) over Franklin.
“We knew it was going to be a game of runs,” Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs said. “Both teams have a lot of offensive talent, I think we were the two leading scoring teams in the league coming in. We knew both teams would go on some hot streaks. When we jumped out to that big lead, we certainly knew it wasn’t over, we knew they had a run in them.”
Over the final five minutes of the third and the final eight minutes of the game, Franklin slowly chipped away. To finish the third quarter, the Panthers had a 12-2 run to get within single digits. Macchi had six of the points while Sam Harrell, Tim Prunier and Dieterle each added two apiece.
“[Foxboro] came right and kicked our butts right out of the locker room to start the second half,” Neely said. “I thought we were panicking a little, throwing jump passes, we were on our heels which is totally uncharacteristic for us.
“It was about getting back to who we are. It’s toughness, it’s defense, it’s getting stops at big times and amping up the pace a little bit. Jon [Gibbs] does such a good job, those guys execute so well. It’s like a quarterback sitting in the pocket, when DuBrow is able to sit back there and see everything he’s one of the best players in the league if not the area. I think we had to get up on them and make it difficult for them. I think we sped them up a little bit and made them make decisions a little bit faster.”
Franklin got within four (44-40) behind a three from Dieterle and a pair of free throws to start the fourth but with 3:30 to play, a circus layup from DuBrow put Foxboro back ahead by 10.
Out of a timeout, Prunier got to the basket for two and after Foxboro came up short on the other end, that’s when Gill’s heroics were set in motion.
With 20 seconds left and the game tied at 52-52, Neely elected for a timeout. With just 11 seconds on the shot clock, the Panthers were unable to get a shot up after a pass was fumbled. With just five seconds to go, Foxboro ran a nice double screen to get DuBrow the ball and he drove along the baseline, sucking in the defense and he dished to Lowey but Macchi came from behind with help defense and blocked the last second shot attempt to send the game to overtime.
“We said we needed to get back to basics and get back to who we are,” Neely said of overcoming the 17 point deficit. “When we were down [by 17], we started to call a couple of sets, I told Timmy [Prunier] to be a little more aggressive. When he’s move aggressive then other guys get open. [Connor] Goldstein kind of goes under the radar but he spaces the floor and it opened a lot up, and got us some offensive boards. We got [Josh] Macchi in there to try and get us some offensive rebounds and he played his best game of the season by far.”
“After they made their run I was proud of the way we hung in there,” Gibbs said. “I thought we did a good job of fighting through the adversity, which was something we did a poor job of against Taunton. I thought tonight we responded well, we took the punch and hung in there but we just couldn’t hold on. Coming down the stretch, Franklin just made a couple more plays and shots than we did. I’m so proud of the way that our guys battled, they played their guts out and gave everything. Sometimes it just comes down to whether the ball goes in the basket but give credit to Franklin, they made a couple more plays than we did down the stretch.”
Prunier’s 18 points and four rebounds led the Panthers while Dieterle had 13 points and four rebounds and Gill had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Macchi had 11 points, eight rebounds and two [vital] assists.
Procaccini had seven rebounds to go with his 17 points, Lowey had six boards along with 12 points and DuBrow finished with eight points, seven assists, and six rebounds.
Franklin held a slim 30-28 edge in rebounding and had made 13/15 of its free throws compared to 8/12 for Foxboro. The Warriors were just 1/11 in the second half and overtime from three point range while Franklin was 5/14 in the second half and overtime.
The Panthers (7-1, 5-1) remain in a three way tie for first place in the Kelley-Rex but something will have to change when they travel to rival Mansfield (6-1, 5-1) on Friday for a 6:30 tip. Foxboro (6-2, 4-2) still remains atop the Davenport and will take a trip to Oliver Ames on the same day and time.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/12/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
Milford, 55 @ Attleboro, 70 – Final – Attleboro had three players score in double-digits, led by a career-high 24 points for junior Jake Dunkley, who also added seven rebounds. Junior Andrew Milliken had 16 points and five rebounds, sophomore Nate Douglas had 14 points and four rebounds and senior Kyle Murphy had 14 rebounds to go along with seven points. Milford’s Zack Tamagni scored a team-high 20 points for the Scarlet Hawks. 

Canton, 34 @ North Attleboro, 43 – Final – North Attleboro junior Brent Doherty scored 11 of his game-high 15 points in the second half, including nine of them in the third quarter, which was the period the Rocketeers created an eight point cushion. Senior Ridge Olsen added nine points and Kyle Gaumond had six. Canton’s Tony Harris had 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Foxboro, 60 @ Franklin, 65 – Final (OT) – Senior Tim Prunier scored a game-high 18 points while freshman Jay Dieterle scored 13 points, senior Kevin Gill had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists and Josh Macchi had 11 points and eight rebounds. Foxboro’s Jason Procaccini scored 17 points, Robby Lowey added 12 points and six rebounds and Mark Clagg had 11 points. 

Sharon, 45 @ King Philip, 52 – Final – King Philip broke into the win column, pouring in 20 points in the first quarter and never looking back. Seth Sullivan had a game-high 13 points while junior Pharaoh Davis added 11 points and junior Noah Goodwin had 10 points. Peter Banks had 10 points for Sharon, who went 2/24 from 3PT range as a team. 

Oliver Ames, 63 @ Mansfield, 78 – Final – Junior Sam Goldberg netted a career-high 23 points (17 in the second half) pulled in 10 rebounds and had four assists to lead the Hornets. Matt Ehrlich added 17 points and Max Boen added 11 points. Oliver Ames’ Tim Kelley had 20 points and Connor Maroney added 15 points. 

Stoughton, 53 @ Taunton, 81 – Final – Senior Jose Mercado netted 25 points and junior Quan Roberson added 22 points as Taunton’s offense scored a season-high 81 points. Stoughton sophomore Cam Andrews had 14 points to lead the Black Knights. 
Girls Basketball
North Attleboro, 50 @ Canton, 38 – Final – North Attleboro was led by junior guard Ashley Ahern, who finished with 18 points. For the second straight night, Hannah Jerrier recorded a double-double for Canton with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Franklin, 45 @ Foxboro, 51 – Final – Sophomore Ashley Sampson led the way for the Warriors with 21 points while sophomore Lily Sykes chipped in with 12 points for Foxboro. 

King Philip, 53 @ Sharon, 45 – Final – KP rallied from eight down in the fourth quarter behind 18 points from freshman Julia Leroux (nine in the fourth quarter alone). Sam Madden added 12 for the Warriors, who outscored the Eagles 22-7 in the final quarter. Sharon was led by Alyssa Piazza with 14 points and Charlotte Ransom with 12.

Mansfield, 48 @ Oliver Ames, 32 – Final – Caroline Maher led the way for the Hornets with 16 points in a game between the top two teams in this week’s girls basketball Hock 5. Meg Hill added eight points and nine rebounds and Jen Peel had eight points and eight assists for Mansfield.

Attleboro, 54 @ Milford, 26 – Final – The Bombardiers were without star forward Sarah Deyo but pulled out the win on the road led by 18 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore Sam Pierce. Emma Vlashi added 12 points for Attleboro in just her second game back from injury and Fatima McDonald chipped in with eight steals.

Taunton, 52 @ Stoughton, 54 – Final – Stoughton seniors Jess Greer and Alecia Quinones each scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Black Knights to a close win. Taunton senior Jordan Wade had 16 points while Lily Patneaude and Alyssa Gibson each added 12 points for the Tigers. 
Hockey
Canton, 11 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final – Senior Matty Marcone netted his first career goal to lead the Bulldogs to a league win.
Wrestling
Taunton, 42 vs. Josiah Quincy 36 – Final – The Tigers got wins from Chris Fernandes (120), Justin Bradley (132), Brandon DeForitis (145), Alex Simon (170), Jose Anaya (182), Nuno Camara (195), and Mason Frank (220).
Swimming
Boys
Foxboro, 51 @ Oliver Ames, 103 – Final
Girls
Foxboro, 80 @ Oliver Ames, 90 – Final