Strong Closing Kick Pushes Franklin Past Foxboro

Franklin girls basketball
Ali Brigham (1) scored a game-high 19 points and the Panthers used a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a big win against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – It remained a two-possession game deep into the fourth quarter, but then Kelley-Rex division leader Franklin showed off another gear, putting together a run over the closing minutes that turned a close contest into another dominant victory.

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After a Shakirah Ketant basket cut Franklin’s lead to 44-38, the Panthers stepped on the gas, scoring 17 straight points to pull away and hand Foxboro a 61-40 loss. It was a lopsided final score that wasn’t indicative of the bulk of this showdown between division leaders.

“They have a strong desire to be good,” said Franklin coach John Leighton about his team. “Games aren’t won on Tuesdays and Fridays, they’re won in practice. We grind it out. If you play good ‘D’ and get stops, then our offense will take care of itself and I thought we did a good job of that. That confidence snowballs.”

Ali Brigham (game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds) got the run started with a basket and then snagged a missed free throw by Erin Quaile and put it back up and in to extend the lead to 11. Sophomore Olivia Quinn, fresh off a career-high against Oliver Ames, got behind the Foxboro defense for a bucket in transition and then knocked down a jumper. She scored nine of her 11 points in the final quarter.

Quaile, who played tight defense on Foxboro star Katelyn Mollica (15 points) and also spearheaded the Franklin offense with six assists, knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the game and seal the win.

“Mollica, you can chase her around the court all night, but she’s going to get her points,” Leighton explained. “Erin wants zero credit and just wants to grind. She’s happy with that assignment. I thought she did a wonderful job of making Mollica work for everything and making her work defensively too.”

The Panthers started the game with a run as well, jumping out to an 8-0 lead. While the attention is, as always, on Brigham in the middle, it was Franklin’s outside shooting that made the difference in the first half. Kaleigh Houlihan nailed three from beyond the arc, scoring all nine of her points in the first, and Elizabeth Wilson (10 points) buried one in the first.

“It’s impossible because you have to double Ali,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “There’s no way around it otherwise she’s just going to continue to score in the paint. The girls were hustling and doing what I asked them to do defensively. That team was just hot tonight.”

Ketant (eight points) was able to step back and knock down a pair of free throw line jumpers to bring Brigham out of the paint a little and Abby Hassman got to the rim for a three-point play to keep Foxboro down just eight after one.

In the second, Foxboro went on a 10-4 run to get back within two points. Lizzy Davis (nine points and seven rebounds) knocked down a deep three and then got a second one after Hassman (eight rebounds) crashed the glass. After Hassman knocked down a jumper, the Franklin lead was only 20-18 and the Warriors looked like the more aggressive team.

Again, it was the outside shooting that got the Panthers back on track. Wilson nailed a pair of threes to stretch the lead right back up to eight and Quaile set up Brigham for a basket to make it 28-21 at the break.

The third quarter was all about defense, which isn’t surprising for two of the league’s top defensive teams. It was also about the league’s top two scorers, as Mollica hit a pair of threes and scored all eight of Foxboro’s points in the third and Brigham scored six of Franklin’s on the other end, including a pair of baskets on offensive rebounds.

Things continued to be back-and-forth in the final quarter. After Wilson teed up Quinn for her first three of the night, Mollica was fouled on a shot from distance and made all three at the line (her final points of the night). Ketant knocked down a baseline jumper to cut the lead to 39-34.

Emma Sousa came off the bench and hit a jumper on the other end, which was answered by Hassman. Sousa then got a look from deep and buried Franklin’s eighth three of the night to keep the lead at eight.

“It’s not the world’s trickiest game plan to shut down the top two scorers and I thought Foxboro did a great job of doing that, but you have to give something up,” said Leighton. 
“We did a great job of moving the ball and the kid who should shoot it, shot it. We didn’t force many shots.”

Foxboro got it back to two possessions with another Ketant hoop, but that would be it for the Warriors until Davis hit a pair of free throws in the game’s final minute and with the result all but decided.

“It didn’t feel like a 20-point loss,” said Downs. “I thought we saw some good things. Shakirah battled as much as she could in the paint. For her to do what she did against Ali Brigham, I give her a lot of credit. We gambled a little bit and didn’t really focus on some of the girls who were hitting their threes tonight. They were lights out.”

Franklin (10-0, 9-0) will travel to Attleboro on Friday night, while Foxboro (9-2, 7-2) will be on the road at North Attleboro, which is currently two games back of the Warriors in the Davenport standings.

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OA Defense Clamps Down to Hand Foxboro First Loss

Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA junior guard Caroline Flynn (41) scored 13 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and had six assists to lead the Tigers to a big win against Foxboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Through its opening five games, Foxboro had proven to be far more than its opponents could handle. The lowest margin of victory for the unbeaten Warriors was 31 points back in the season opener. Coming into Tuesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, they were the top scoring team in the league and the top defensive team.

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As the first quarter was winding down, it looked like business as usual. Foxboro led 15-7 and was lining up another three-pointer to try and extend the advantage. Caroline Peper blocked the shot (one of three blocked three-pointers for her in the game) and Caroline Flynn snatched the rebound. Flynn took off up court and laid a pass off to Peper for a three of her own.

It was the start of a 23-5 run to close out the half that gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. OA held the Warriors to single digits in the second and third quarters, locking down defensively and controlling the glass, to pull out a 54-39 win that keeps them unbeaten in the league and in a first-place tie with Franklin in the Kelley-Rex division.

“These kids have basketball IQs and they’re not afraid to work hard and to be physical,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I was just so proud of their effort and it didn’t come from just one player. The depth is really significant for us. They’re better now at recognizing where our strengths are.”

It was the first loss of the season for the Warriors, who remain a game ahead of North Attleboro in the Davenport division, and a reminder of the way they have to play in order to have success this season.

“We think we’re better than we are,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We can be very good but we need to do the little things that we’ve done so far and tonight we kind of forgot those things.”

Foxboro got off to a strong start. Lizzy Davis (11 points, five rebounds, four steals) was everywhere in the first quarter. She scored six points, burying a corner three and scoring in traffic on an inbounds play, and took a pair of charges. Katelyn Mollica drilled a three to make it 12-5 and it looked like the Warriors would have a comfortable edge after one.

Then Peper blocked Davis’ three and turned into three points on the other end of the floor. The momentum from that play carried over after the timeout.

Peper (game-high 14 points) sliced through the defense for a layup. After a couple of free throws, Flynn snagged an offensive board and swung it around to Peper for a quick-release three that put OA on top 17-16. Shakirah Ketant (11 points) answered on the other end to regain the lead, but it would be the last lead of the night for the visitors.

“All of a sudden we were just playing hectic basketball and no one was relaxed,” Downs explained. “When they got the ball everyone was trying to do their own thing.”

Jess Erlich (10 points) hit four straight at the line to put the Tigers in front again, Hailey Bourne (seven points) drove to the cup for two, and then Peper buried her third shot from downtown to put OA ahead 26-19. Flynn assisted on a Erlich layup and then Bourne set up Tate Hadges (nine rebounds) for a basket in the post.

Leading by 10 at the break (30-20), Clement-Holbrook urged her team to keep its foot on the gas. “Coming out in the third quarter, just maintaining that defensive intensity,” she explained. “I wasn’t comfortable until the final buzzer went off because you can’t not play defense against Foxboro for the whole 32 minutes.”

Bourne scored on a drive and Erlich knocked down a corner jumper off a Flynn assist to get OA right back into the swing of things in the third. Peper’s fourth three of the night put OA up 40-22. After Jordyn Collins got a steal and layup and Yara Fawaz scored in the paint, it looked like Foxboro might have a comeback in it but Flynn grabbed an offensive board and scored to make it a 16-point game after three.

Downs admitted, “We got killed on the boards, which is something that we’ve been priding ourselves on, crashing the board offensively and getting defensive rebounds, and we didn’t do that.”

The offense was working well for the Tigers, but the story was the defensive effort that OA put into stopping Mollica. One of the league’s leading scorers, she was held to just six points and one made field goal. The combination of Bourne and Erin Holmberg never allowed Mollica the time or the space to get off her shot or get Foxboro into its sets.

“Hailey did an amazing job on Mollica and then Holmberg went in and there was not a single drop-off defensively,” said Clement-Holbrook. “[Erin] was amazing and this was the first chance for her to be a factor and knowing what she’s been through it’s just an example for everybody.”

Foxboro never really made a dent in the OA lead in the fourth, only getting as close as 13, after an Abby Hassman steal led to a layup for Davis and then her own drive to the basket made it 52-39. Flynn added four points in the quarter, as did Meg Holleran, and the Tigers comfortably finished the game off.

Oliver Ames (6-1, 5-0) will be back in action again on Friday when it travels to Mansfield. Foxboro (5-1, 4-1) will be on the road again, when the Warriors pay their first visit to the new Stoughton gym.

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Foxboro Controls the Paint to Win Big at Canton

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro senior forward Abby Hassman was one of three Warriors to grab double digit rebounds, as they controlled the paint in a big win at Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – It was not a great shooting night for Foxboro and leading scorer Katelyn Mollica was held to only three made baskets by the Canton defense (especially the attentions of guards Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere). In other seasons that could have led to a long evening and potentially a tough loss to a division rival, but this year the Warriors can dominate in the paint as well as the perimeter.

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Foxboro had three players grab double digit rebounds, controlling the glass on both ends of the floor, and ran away in the second half to earn a 65-33 win over last year’s division runner-up. The defending league champions now have an early two-game lead in the Davenport standings.

“We talked about how they had more offensive rebounds than we did rebounds for the whole game combined,” said Canton coach JIm Choquette after the game. “It’s a detail about boxing out and doing their job individually. It’s a shared responsibility, it’s on all of us to get better. As coaches, it’s something we need to stress more at practice.”

Despite the big win, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than enthusiastic about her team’s play, calling for a better effort on the defensive end.

“We were giving them way too many foul shots and we should’ve learned from what was being called in the first quarter,” she said. “We didn’t react well to that. I know what their potential is and to see them almost take a step back tonight from what we did against Concord-Carlisle is frustrating.”

Over the weekend, the Warriors started the game against Concord-Carlisle with a 27-0 run that essentially put the game away after eight minutes. Canton made sure that wouldn’t happen again, scoring the first five points of the game. A Sydney Gallery (10 points and six rebounds) basket and a three from Fay Gallery (eight points) made it 5-0 early on.

It took a couple of minutes to get going, but Foxboro turned the game on its head quickly, scoring the final 14 points of the first quarter and 16 straight overall to grab control.

A great outlet pass by Shakirah Ketant (13 points and 11 boards) set up Abby Hassman (six points and 12 boards) for a layup and then Lizzy Davis (11 points) grabbed an offensive board to keep a possession alive that ended in a Yara Fawaz (eight points and 10 rebounds) three. Davis added a three after a Jordyn Collins rebound and then scored on a drive to close the quarter.

Downs praised Hassman’s overall contribution. The senior added two blocks and four steals to her scoring and rebounding. “She’s probably my most consistent player,” Downs explained. “Mollica is always going to have her good nights and get her points even if she’s not shooting well, but Abby is just lights out with defense and rebounding and it’s the same thing night-in, night-out.”

Canton tried to mount a comeback at the start of the second. Sydney Gallery knocked down a shot off a pass by Lilah Milton and Kiara Cerruti (six points) got on the board with a jumper. The Bulldogs got as close as five but a Ketant putback and a stepback three by Mollica (13 points, 6-of-6 from the line) got Foxboro’s lead back to double digits.

“When we handled the press and got into the half-court sets and rushed, we were atrocious,” Choquette noted. “When we handled the press and got into our sets, I think we scored every time that we ran a play. We talked about the discipline of being able to do that for four quarters because there was a 10-minute gap where we’d break the press and jack up a shot as quick as you can.”

Leading 30-18 at the break, Foxboro came out of halftime ready to break the game wide open. The Warriors went on a 16-4 run. Davis scored the first basket and assisted on a bucket for Fawaz. Ketant scored in the post and then Mollica got back-to-back baskets, the second coming off another offensive rebound by Fawaz.

“Defensively, I think we had a decent game plan in terms of guarding Katelyn and we also stressed sticking with so many of their other players,” said Choquette. “Some things we did well defensively in the first half, we got away from in the second half and a little inexperience where everyone is trying to play catchup.”

The Bulldogs found it tough get going offensively. Fay Gallery hit a stepback three, Kayla Albert got a putback, and freshman Samya DaSilva hit a runner, but that was all that Canton got in the third and went into the final eight minutes down by 22.

Foxboro kept its foot on the gas in the fourth. Ketant was a force in the paint, scoring seven points in the quarter, Davis grabbed a steal and layup, and Morgan Sylvestre came off the bench to score four points.

“With Shakirah in there, it just adds a whole new dimension,” said Downs about adding an element of post play to the offense. “Teams have to pay attention to her.”

Foxboro (4-0) will be back home on Friday night when it faces Milford. Canton (1-3) will look to end its three-game losing streak when it hosts Stoughton.

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2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
The new girls basketball season promises to be as competitive as ever with a number of teams jockeying for a place in the state tournament. Here is our team-by-team breakdown. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019-2020 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2018-2019 Record: 8-14
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Martin Crowley
Attleboro was three wins shy of reaching the postseason last year, despite a roster filled with inexperienced players, and the Bombardiers demonstrated the potential in the squad by upsetting Franklin late in the season and handing the Panthers their only league loss. This winter, the Bombardiers will be looking to turn potential into reality and make a jump into the playoff picture.

Six players are returning from last year, including seniors Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall, who give Attleboro a talented backcourt on both ends of the court. Thomas adds length and slashing ability, while McCall is a sharpshooter who will be the team’s primary ball-handler. Sophomore Meg Gordon has taken a big leap from last year and head coach Marty Crowley thinks that she is ready for a breakout season on the wing.

Juniors Gabby Bosh and Emma Reilly will both be back to add some nous to the lineup, while sophomores Hailey and Lindsey Perry add grit and toughness. Junior Ryan Johnson will add size to the frontcourt, while sophomore Lillian Froio and juniors Jackie MacDonald and Laura McVeigh add depth and physicality. Overall, it is a much deeper, more experienced group for Crowley to build lineups with this season.

“For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound,” Crowley said. “Nyah and Liv I am sure are going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone, however, we feel as if we have the players in place who will contribute offensively.”

Canton

2018-2019 Record: 14-7
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Jim Choquette
Youth was served for the Bulldogs last season, as a talented trio of freshmen jumped into the starting lineup and helped Canton have one of its most successful seasons in program history, with 14 wins and a return to the state tournament. There were still some learning curves to overcome, but now a more experienced group is play with speed and get out on the break as often as possible to give Foxboro a challenge in the Davenport title race and bring home a postseason win.

Although Canton is still a relatively young team, the talent on the roster is undeniable. Sophomores Kiara Cerruti and Sydney and Fay Gallery all had impressive rookie campaigns, showing off their skills on the wing, from three-point range, and in the paint. They will face even more pressure this season, as teams know what they like to do and will be even more determined to take them out of their games.

Sophomore Carly Fitzgerald will be one of the players stepping into the point guard role vacated by the graduation of Julia Hamilton and will be the facilitator getting Canton into its offense. In the paint, Canton has size and athleticism in senior Lilah Milton and junior Kayla Albert, who are both active rebounders and finishers at the rim and both have shown the ability to knock down the occasional jumper as well. Juniors Angie Elias and Sam Lamarr and sophomore Annie Hoban all have experience from last year to add to Canton’s depth.

Canton coach Jim Choquette said, “Each day we will try to improve as a coaching staff and a program. By the end of the season, our hopes are to be playing at our best.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 20-3
2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Lisa Downs
The two-time defending Davenport division champions return all but one player from last year’s roster, so Foxboro remains the team to beat for the league title and expectations are very high heading into a new season. After a trip to the Div. 2 South semifinals last season, the Warriors will be aiming for even more this winter, trying to regain the top spot not just in the Hock but also in the South sectional.

Junior Katelyn Mollica was the team’s leading scorer last year and is already closing in on 1,000 points for her career. The team’s primary ball-handler and one of the best shooters in the league, Mollica will be one of the top offensive threats in the league. She will have plenty of help. Senior guard Lizzy Davis and senior forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman will also return to the starting lineup this season and add athleticism, speed, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, taking some pressure off Mollica with their ability to score in the open court.

Senior Shakirah Ketant came on strong at the end of last season and gives Foxboro a different, more physical look in the paint. Junior Jordyn Collins is a tough on-the-ball defender and has speed to burn. Seniors Jamie DeVellis and Julia Kelley both saw time on the floor last year and will add to Foxboro’s depth. Sophomore center Hannah Blake is a new face that could provide more strength in the post.

“The Hockomock League continues to produce teams, which make every night a tough one – there are really no teams that you can take lightly,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The preparation required to compete in this league really benefits teams that get to the postseason.”

Franklin

2018-2019 Record: 21-4
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal.
Coach: John Leighton
Franklin is coming off its best season in program history and the Panthers have the talent returning to potentially surpass that success this winter. After winning the program’s first sectional title and coming within minutes of reaching the state title game, Franklin returns three of its starters and a host of bench players ready to step into bigger roles this year.

The key to it all is senior Ali Brigham. The George Washington-commit controlled the paint on both ends of the floor last season and remains the league’s most dominant star, as she continues to expand her game to make it even more difficult for the opposition. Teams can’t focus only on Brigham, as senior forward Meghan O’Connell showed in the playoffs the problems she can present with her ability to score and rebound and sophomore Olivia Quinn is another forward with size that teams will struggle to match up with.

Junior point guard Erin Quaile is a tenacious defender and a solid ball-handler, who is developing her outside shot. Senior Sydney Garilli and juniors Elizabeth Wilson, Teagan Collins, and Carissa Alers all saw time last season and will be in the backcourt rotation. Franklin will also add several newcomers, who could step right in and contribute, including juniors Katelynn Taylor and Kaleigh Houlihan and sophomores Emma Sousa and Stefany Padula. On balance, the Panthers look likely to be the team to beat again in the Kelley-Rex.

“I am excited by what I have seen to date,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They are a very motivated group who have bought into their team motto ‘We Over Me.’ They are good teammates who seek team success over individual glory.”




King Philip

2018-2019 Record: 14-8
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip had a breakout season in 2018-19, winning 13 games and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. Returning seven players from last year’s roster, new head coach Dan Nagle takes over a program in solid shape and is looking to build on last season’s success and try to challenge Franklin at the top of the league standings this winter.

Senior Faye Veilleux spearheaded KP’s breakout season when she emerged as one of the top post scorers in the league. Her versatility and her ability to get out in transition will be crucial to Nagle’s fastbreaking style. Senior Faith Roy will give the Warriors a clutch outside shooter and classmate Taylor Butler adds physicality to the guard or forward position.

Junior Emma Glaser will be expected to take on a bigger role after a strong sophomore season on the wing and junior point guard Brianna James demonstrated the ability to get into the lane at will and finish even against taller opponents. Juniors Caroline Aaron and Courtney Keswick are also back from last year to provide depth on the wings and 6-foot-3 freshman Emily Sawyer will give KP much-needed size in the post, as they try to combat Franklin’s Ali Brigham. The Warriors are going to try and break teams down with aggressive defending and their speed in transition.

Nagle said, “It has been a great start to the year with this group of kids. From top to bottom our roster is full of girls who love the game of basketball and are enjoying the process of improving day to day here in the early going. I think we will be a fun team to watch this season, and I look forward to the challenge of having our kids compete night in and night out in an excellent league like the Hockomock.”

Mansfield

2018-2019 Record: 17-6
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Mike Redding
Mansfield has consistently been one of the top programs in the Kelley-Rex division but even the best programs are going to need time to overcome the graduation of 10 seniors. The Hornets will lack experience, but head coach Mike Redding will be looking for improvement over the course of the season and will be hoping to have the team playing its best basketball as the tournament rolls around.

Senior Becca Hottleman was recently cleared after knee surgery and will be back at the point for the Hornets. Hottleman is one of only two players that got starts last year. Junior forward Ashley Santos is the other and she will be one of the players expected to see her numbers take a jump, as she should expect to get a few more looks on the offensive end. Senior Kelly Doherty and junior Kayla Vine will jump into starting roles on the wings, while junior Sara Dooling will be a starter at forward.

While there is a lack of varsity playing time on the roster, there are plenty of upperclassmen that will be expected to contribute. Junior Sarah Sacco will back-up Hottleman at the point, while junior Ally Prentis and senior Grace Benton will add depth at the wing. Senior Grace Maher and juniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking will see time in the frontcourt and freshman wing Abby Wager should get opportunities to build experience this season.

“This group has very limited varsity basketball experience overall because we had that large and talented group of 10 seniors last year, but we’re not young and will rely on senior leadership and a deep junior class and all have varsity experience in other sports,” said Redding. “We have good size and depth in the post and all of them can shoot, handle the ball, and play like guards, which should cause some problems for the defense. It will be a work in progress and we’ll have to battle for wins in a very good league but this will be a good basketball team by February when the tourney rolls around.”

Milford

2018-2019 Record: 1-19
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Last year was a tough one for Milford. After graduating the bulk of the roster, an inexperienced group struggled through the season, but never lost the work rate and closed out the winter with its first win. The Hawks are still relatively young, but head coach TJ Dolliver is approaching the new year with optimism because of his team’s continued growth.

Four juniors are entering their third varsity seasons and the Hawks will be counting on them to provide necessary leadership on and off the court. Emma Lawrence, Jillian Michelson, Carly Fereira, and Katie Maietta have all gotten plenty of playing time last year and the hope is that experience will serve them well this winter.

This will be a guard-heavy lineup, especially with no player over 5-foot-8. Junior Elise Fauerbach will add some physical play to the frontcourt and sophomore forward Jill Araujo is a newcomer that can add some depth in the paint.

“There is a lot to pay attention to but what I care about the most is how we do this together,” said Dolliver. “I have a great group of girls and a great coaching staff and I believe this season will be very rewarding.”

North Attleboro

2018-2019 Record: 7-14
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Nikki Correia
It has been a tough run over the last few seasons for North Attleboro, which won seven games and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but there are still positives to take away as former assistant Nikki Correia takes over for her first year in charge. North has several experienced players returning to try and push Big Red back up the standings.

The backcourt should be a plus for North with senior point guard Olivia Forbes back to run the show and keep the Rocketeers getting into the transition game that Correia prefers. She will be joined at the guard position by junior Amanda Kaiser, who emerged as not only a threat from deep but also as a tough defender who gets her hands into the passing lane. Juniors Siobhan Weir and Lydia Santos will add to the depth at guard to help with the full-court pressure that North will turn to this year.

North hasn’t had much height in the past few seasons, but there are several forwards who can compete on the glass. Senior forward Eliza Dion is an aggressive defender and can take her defender off the dribble. Senior Regan Fein will add extra depth in the paint. Freshman guard Ava McKeown and sophomore guard Summer Doherty are two newcomers that could make an instant impact.

“I am looking forward to being apart of watching this team and this program grow this year,” Correia said. “There are six returning seniors, so that veteran play will be very helpful, as well as returning a great shooter and adding an athletic sophomore and freshman to the mix.”




Oliver Ames

2018-2019 Record: 13-9
2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames had a lot of new faces last year, but the success was very familiar. The Tigers finished with 13 wins and reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal, giving Wellesley all it could handle on the road. A year of experience and the return of a strong core of players means expectations are even higher for OA this winter.

Sophomore Caroline Peper will be the player that is going to draw the most attention at the start of the new season. As a freshman, Peper was one of the league’s top scorers and its top shooters. Junior Caroline Flynn was also an all-star last year. She runs the point, is one of the top passers on the team, and also one of its top rebounders. Her overall game helps the Tigers control games. Also in the backcourt will be seniors Meg Holleran and Erin Holmberg, who is coming back after surgery cost her almost all of last season.

Senior Tate Hadges will be on the front line, giving OA another strong defender and rebounder. Sophomore Hailey Bourne, while undersized, gives the Tigers a lot of effort in the post even when matched up against some of the best frontcourt players in the league. Junior Jess Erlich and Tori Harney and sophomore Anna Murphy will add to the team’s depth on the wing.

“As always, the Hock will present with a very high level of competition,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We are looking forward to being capable of putting together a variety of strong personnel combinations which will provide us with depth as we face those challenges.”

Sharon

2018-2019 Record: 9-11
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Sandra Lombardi
Sharon narrowly missed out on its first playoff appearance under head coach Sandy Lombardi, finishing just one win away from a tournament berth. With three returning starters and several younger players who got significant playing time last year, the Eagles will be eyeing that elusive postseason berth.

Three seniors will be counted on to lead the team at both ends of the floor. Point guard Ally Brown will be expected to get the Eagles into their offensive sets and is a strong defender on the other end, keeping pressure on the perimeter. Shooting guard Kaitlyn Wallace is the team’s top outside threat, stretching the defense with her range and also being a strong passer off the dribble. Forward Telishya Herbert led the team in scoring last year and is a matchup nightmare in the paint with her aggressive play going to the basket.

The starting lineup will be rounded out by junior Leah Fandel and sophomore Trinity Payne, two athletic forwards that will give Sharon decent size on the front line. Senior Nicole Teven, juniors Julia Early and Gaby Cabral and freshman Tess Letendre will all see plenty of playing time this season and will look to contribute to the team’s success.

“Ally, Kaitlyn, and Telishya have the most varsity experience and I expect great things from them this year,” Lombardi said. “We have a young team and I am hoping some of the younger players are able to step up this year as well.”

Stoughton

2018-2019 Record: 7-13
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
A new era will begin this winter, as Stoughton moves into its brand new gym with a lot of new faces on the roster, hoping to get the Black Knights back into the playoff race this season after missing out on the tournament last year.

The key for the Black Knights will be its senior leadership. Although Sydnee Hyacinthe has moved on to Milton Academy, they still return a strong core led by senior Aliyah Wright. The point guard can be a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, sparking Stoughton on defense and breaking down the opposition off the dribble. Senior Shyanne Trinh is healthy to start the season and will be the team’s top outside threat, with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. Senior forward Lexi Baptista is an athletic post threat who can also step back and knock down the mid-range jumper.

Senior Hannah Pagano and juniors Brooke Bulger, Mackenzie Manning, and Catherine Downey will add to the team’s depth, especially in the backcourt. Sophomore Makaiyah Singleton Rivera and freshman Kyla Sheedy-Goff will be two of the newcomers to the roster that could make a name for themselves this season.

“Despite being somewhat young this season this group of ladies worked really hard in the off-season,” said Stoughton coach Charmain Steele Jordan. “The sky is the limit this season and our Black Knights are going compete hard until the final whistle blows.”

Taunton

2018-2019 Record: 7-15
2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens
After a number of seasons under coach Walter Harrigan, Taunton has turned to former King Philip coach Amy Siggens this year and she has brought plenty of energy into her first preseason with the Tigers, trying to push the program back into the playoff hunt.

As Siggens and the players become more comfortable with each other, the Tigers will count on their returning starters to get things off to a good start. Juniors Sonya and Jaelyn Fernandez and Kelsey White will be the players to watch this season after strong sophomore campaigns. All three have good size, with both Sonya and Jaelyn providing strong presences on the boards and out on the break and White causing match-up issues on the perimeter. All three will need to step up on the defensive end and keep the Tigers running.

Taunton also has depth, although it will be relatively inexperienced. Seniors Liz Crisman and Jaylah Chaves and junior Tori DaRosa will add more depth in the backcourt. Sophomores Braeley McDonald and Abby Souza (who has helped out on varsity since she was an eighth-grader) and freshman Kameron St. Pierre will also chip in this season.

“Any coaching change brings lots of challenges and, this season, we will be faced with our share,” said Siggens. “I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far. Our bench is young and talented but how quickly a good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start.”

Warriors Reign in D2 South Ends Against Pembroke

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro senior Chelsea Gibbons (31) scored half of her team’s points in a semifinal loss to No. 4 seed Pembroke. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – After two years as the top team in Div. 2 South, defending state champion Foxboro saw its quest for a three-peat come to a very abrupt end on Wednesday night against Pembroke at Bridgewater-Raynham High.

The Titans held the Warriors, who led the Hockomock League in scoring at more than 60 points per game, to single digits and no more than three made field goals in each quarter. Pembroke pulled away in the second quarter and left the Warriors in the rearview mirror, pulling out a 50-24 victory that sends the Titans to the South final.

It was obvious from the start that Foxboro had the target on its backs and Pembroke wanted to be the team that ended its run.

“It definitely doesn’t help, but we didn’t come out ready,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs about facing every team’s best effort. “I don’t know if it was that we were scared because they didn’t seem that way when they warmed up, so I think it was a matter of they maybe thought we were better than we were and taking that team more for granted than we should have.”

Chelsea Gibbons, who scored half of her team’s points, opened the game with a three that barely even made the net ripple as it dropped through. Foxboro didn’t score again for more than six minutes. Pembroke went on a 13-0 run to take control.

The Warriors did climb back into the game before the end of the quarter. Jordyn Collins drove baseline for a layup and Yara Fawaz got one at the line after a rare offensive rebound. Gibbons (12 points) swished another three and suddenly it was a four-point game (13-9).

It felt like Foxboro was on the verge of righting the ship and preparing to go on a run to get back in front. That wasn’t how it played out.

The Titans came out firing in the second, knocking down each of the first five threes that they took. Gibbons hit a third from beyond the arc to cut the lead to 19-12, but then three more triples for Pembroke pushed the lead to 14. Lizzy Davis got her only points on a putback but the Titans went into the break leading 30-14.

Downs explained, “We tried to do a matchup 2-3 zone at one point and then we went to a half-court 1-3-1 trapping zone. We forced a turnover and then we dribbled out of bounds, things that we don’t do. So many things that were very atypical for us.”

Jayne Howe hit three from the outside in the second quarter and scored 15 of her 17 points in the opening half, outscoring the Warriors by herself. Pembroke used a 17-5 quarter to pull away.

“They’re a very good team,” Downs said. “All of our game plans that we put together to keep the ball out of the hands of [Howe] and [Katie Galligan], we just didn’t execute and it didn’t help that we had no rebounding whatsoever. It was just a perfect storm for us that we couldn’t do anything right.”

Katelyn Mollica knocked down her only jumper of the night to bring Foxboro back within 18 at 35-17 and then Gibbons answered a Pembroke basket with another three. It was as close as Foxboro would get. In fact the Warriors only managed four more points for the rest of the night.

“She couldn’t get into a rhythm at all and then she’s trying to force shots because she knew that she had to score,” said Downs about Mollica, who led the team ins coring as a sophomore, averaging more than 18 points per game. “She was a little bit tight and she wasn’t following through because she was trying to get a shot off quickly.”

Abby Hassman and Collins each scored in the fourth quarter but that was all that the Warriors managed as Pembroke was running down the shot clock on every possession and typically getting multiple looks thanks to its control of the glass.

Coming into the season, following the graduation of influential players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally, no one saw the Warriors as the potential No. 1 seed in the South. Despite the new faces in the lineup, Foxboro (20-3) still won a third straight league title and reached a third straight South semifinal.

“Each game that we played, each practice, I would see something a little more that I hadn’t expected,” Downs said. “We’re still a young team. They’ve had some good experience the last two years that hopefully they can build on and learn from and hopefully set some goals that after tonight’s game you never want to feel this crappy.”

Warriors Start Quick and Roll Into D2 South Semifinal

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro sophomore Katelyn Mollica scored 11 in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 25 points to lead the Warriors to a convincing win against D-R. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Despite losing only two games all season and claiming the top seed in Div. 2 South for the second year in a row, Foxboro has been guilty of getting off to slow starts. In the playoffs, allowing a team to hang around is dangerous, as the Warriors were reminded in a hard-fought, two-point win against No. 16 seed Notre Dame Academy in the first round.

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The warning was heeded by the Warriors, who came firing out of the gates in Saturday night’s quarterfinal against Dighton-Rehoboth. Foxboro (20-2) jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, rolling to a 66-35 victory to reach its third straight sectional semifinal.

“I was very unhappy with the way the last game started and they were equally so,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I think they were pretty determined not to have it be that way. They were definitely determined mentally to be more prepared.”

She added, “You do have to remind them that there is no other day, if you don’t leave it on the court. They definitely walked away from that game (against NDA) feeling pretty bad about themselves because they knew they could’ve done better. Hopefully, they don’t ever want to feel that way again.”

Although she knocked down five three-pointers in the first round against NDA, sophomore Katelyn Mollica didn’t have a great shooting night overall. That was not a problem on Saturday. She drilled three from beyond the arc in the first quarter and knocked down a jumper off a feed by Lizzy Davis. Chelsea Gibbons also came out on fire, hitting a pair of threes of her own and scoring all 10 of her points in the first.

The Falcons barely had time to register what was happening before the Warriors finished a 19-0 run that put the hosts ahead 21-2. D-R cut into the lead a little before the end of the quarter but Foxboro was in complete control up 16.

“Chelsea and Mollica just started out so strong,” Downs said. “Their shooting percentage was ridiculously good and you knew we couldn’t sustain that. You knew the second quarter it would go down a little bit, but as long as the defense stays the same we’d be in good shape.”

It was unlikely that the Warriors would be able to continue the hot shooting start, but their pressure defense made it difficult for D-R to get a run started and Foxboro’s ability to crash the boards kept giving them second and third chances. Abby Hassman and Yara Fawaz each finished with nine rebounds apiece and combined for 10 in the first half alone. Shakirah Ketant added seven boards off the bench.

Downs said, “As good as we were last year, the inside presence that we have this year is something we didn’t have. Hopefully, that will continue because we’re going to need it. Our inside game, you have to pay attention to it.”

Foxboro led 33-17 at halftime and came out of the break looking to put the game away. Davis (14 points) drilled one of her four three-pointers to get things started and assisted on a Hassman bucket. Mollica then scored the next five, drilling a three and hitting a floater at the shot clock buzzer.

Fawaz (seven points) had a steal and a layup and Ketant turned an offensive rebound into another basket. Foxboro then got four looks at the basket and finally Ketant smartly tipped a rebound to an open Mollica, who buried the baseline jumper. The Warriors led 49-26 after three.

There was no way back for the Falcons in the fourth, as Mollica scored five more, including her fifth triple of the night, and Davis added eight points, including two more from beyond the arc.

It was a dominating victory for the two-time defending South champions and sends them to the sectional semifinal on Wednesday night at Bridgewater-Raynham. The Warriors will face the winner of Pembroke and Norwood, which was moved to Sunday afternoon.

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Warriors Show Strength in Depth to Win at North

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro junior center Shakirah Ketant had a breakout game for the Warriors, scoring a game-high 15 points to spark a big win over North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Foxboro won a state title last season using mostly a six-player rotation, but this year’s squad relies on eight or more players to contribute in different ways every game. On Friday night at North Attleboro, the Warriors needed every bit of that depth to come away from the Pickering Gym with a win.

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The league’s top scoring team was held without a made field goal in the first quarter, the league’s second leading scorer, Katelyn Mollica, was held to just six made free throws for the night, and one of Foxboro’s starters, Yara Fawaz, was limited by illness to only a few minutes on the court, but Foxboro still had three players score in double figures and rolled to a 60-29 victory.

“At this time of the year, knowing that I can go eight kids deep and that they can all contribute offensively is huge because last year we couldn’t go that deep,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “That was the fewest points Mollica’s ever had and we can still beat a team by 20-plus points.”

In many ways, the Rocketeers match up well with the Warriors in terms of athleticism and they came out with a game plan to stop the driving lanes, close out hard on shooters, and be as active as possible on the defensive end.

For eight minutes, it worked perfectly. Foxboro was held without a made basket in the first quarter, scoring all five points from the line, including 4-of-4 for Mollica. The problem for the Rocketeers was on the offensive end. North only made three shots of its own and led by just two points after one. Eliza Dion scored four of her six in the first and Colette Petit drilled a three.

Junior center Shakirah Ketant scored Foxboro’s first basket to tie the game at the start of the second quarter, but Amanda Kaiser answered back with a three to regain the lead. It was the last lead that North would hold, as the Warriors went on a 24-2 run to take control.

“It was a great start for us,” said North coach Derek Herber. “You know going in that you have to stop Mollica and then you just hope and pray no one else is hitting, which in that first quarter we played great defense to do that. The problem is they played great defense and we can’t score on the other end. We hung in there until the middle of the second quarter.”

Lizzy Davis scored nine of her 14 points in the second to spark the Foxboro run, while Chelsea Gibbons added five of her 14. After scoring only five points in the first quarter, Foxboro scored 23 in the second, while holding North to just a handful. Davis knocked down a dagger three-pointer as the half ended, helped by Abby Hassman (nine rebounds) chasing down a loose ball.

“It was a dagger,” Herber said about Davis’ buzzer beater. “It just switched the whole tenor of the half…it kind of deflated the kids.”

He added, “We hang in there and we do a lot of good things, but we just can’t score. You feel for everybody, but we go through stretches. We’re just on the cusp. Hopefully it’s a building process and we’re learning from these things.”

In the third quarter, the Warriors extended the lead. Gibbons had a steal under the North basket for a layup plus the foul and then Davis nailed a three to push the lead to 20 points. Jordyn Collins knocked down a jumper and Anita Busznyak twice scored on drives to the basket. Although Regan Fein and Michelle Pothier scored for North, the visitors led 42-19 after three.

Downs explained, “To go into tournament knowing that we have other girls who can contribute when [Katelyn] is being shut down is huge. Shakirah had kind of a breakthrough, Lizzy is back in the scoring, and Chelsea has been pretty consistent.”

North tried to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, with Kaiser (eight rebounds) getting a layup off an Olivia Forbes steal and then Forbes following with a three off a Kaiser assist and Julia Feid added three points, but Ketant proved to be too much for the Rocketeers to handle in the post.

She scored off a putback, a post move from the left block, and off a steal under the North basket. Ketant had 10 of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter alone, and she also added 12 rebounds as well.

“She was the difference maker today,” said Herber about Ketant’s impact. “In the first game, they didn’t really have a post presence, so we were able to do some things. She was a beast today and just able to take control in there to give them another option.”

Foxboro (16-2, 14-2) will head into its annual Warrior Classic to face Old Rochester on Monday night in a battle of the two teams tied for the top seed in Div. 2 South. North Attleboro (6-14, 4-12) will close out its season on Thursday against Weston.

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Brigham Dominates as Franklin Ends Foxboro Streak

Franklin junior center Ali Brigham put up monster numbers (27 points, 15 rebounds, and six blocks) to end Foxboro’s 26-game unbeaten run and keep the Panthers unbeaten in league play this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s showdown, Foxboro and Franklin were both unbeaten (8-0) in Hockomock play and were the league’s top two scoring teams, its top two defensive teams, its two division leaders, and boasted the league’s top two scorers.

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It was clearly a battle of the top two teams in the Hock and it was a battle that was dominated by the Hock’s top scorer, Ali Brigham. The 6-foot-3 junior center scored 27 points, pulled down 15 rebounds, and blocked six shots, controlling the paint on both ends of the court to help Franklin remain unbeaten with a 52-40 victory.

“She’s frustrated because she thought that she could’ve played better,” Franklin coach John Leighton joked when asked about Brigham’s performance night-in, night-out. “It’s great coaching a kid that wants to become better. She’s not complacent. She’s not close to the player that she wants to be, yet. She keeps expanding her game.”

Franklin’s win ended Foxboro’s 26-game win streak and 33-game league win streak.

While Brigham rightfully stole the headlines for her all-around game, Franklin also won because of its defensive performance on Foxboro sophomore Katelyn Mollica. The league’s second leading scorer was held to just nine points (four in the fourth quarter) thanks to the very close attention of sophomore Erin Quaile.

With Mollica contained, Foxboro was held more than 20 points below its season average.

“It gets tough for Mollica having all that pressure, especially when you have someone who can stick with you the way Quaile did tonight,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “She completely blocked her out and denied her the ball, but I don’t know if we have any answer for Ali Brigham but our goal was to keep her below her average and we didn’t do that.”

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead, as Brigham scored eight points in the first, matching Foxboro’s total in the quarter. She twice got baskets on offensive rebounds, drove to the basket and was set up by a Bea Bondhus drive. Bondhus (nine points) also scored twice herself and Megan O’Connell (10 points) added four points.

Chelsea Gibbons hit a three, Mollica hit a pull-up three and Lizzy Davis scored on a jumper, but that was all the Warriors could manage against Franklin’s pressure defense.

Leighton said, “Erin Quaile and Shannon Gray have been doing this all year. We unleash them on the other team’s best guards and they’re very good athletes and tough as nails but it helps having Ali behind them. They ran a lot of screens for Mollica tonight and I thought we hedged well; no one was alone on an island.”

That pattern held in the second, as the Warriors were held to eight points as a team again. A quick 6-0 run extended the Panthers’ advantage to 14 points, but Foxboro hung around thanks to four points from Yara Fawaz (team-high 12 points and six rebounds). But, whenever Foxboro seemed to be climbing back into the game, Franklin responded and Brigham scored off assists by Quaile and Elizabeth Wilson to push the lead back to 12 at halftime.

“Foxboro doesn’t win as many games in a row as they have without that,” said Leighton about Foxboro continually pushing back. “There is zero quit, but I thought we answered defensively every time they made a run. We got patient on offense, worked the ball around and instead of taking that first open look, work it around and either get an inside touch or kick it out to the open kid.”

The third quarter was back-and-forth. Brigham was again the focal point for the Panthers, who found different ways to get her the ball on the block and moved the ball well from side-to-side and kept the Foxboro defense moving. With Brigham and O’Connell (seven rebounds) controlling the glass, Franklin also prevented the Warriors from getting out in transition.

Fawaz scored four more points in the third, combining well with fellow forward Abby Hassman (five assists) to try and step away from the basket and, of course, Brigham. Davis also drilled a three and Anita Busznyak took a lead pass from Mollica for a rare basket on the break.

Despite Foxboro feeling like it was on the brink of a comeback, the Warriors fell a further point behind heading to the fourth quarter. Still, the hosts kept battling back, with six straight points to start the fourth cutting the lead to 43-36 after Mollica’s steal and layup.

O’Connell answered with a basket and then assisted on a Brigham basket. Fawaz got into the lane to score and make it a nine-point game again, but Bondhus came right back down and drilled a three from the left wing to push the lead into double digits and seal the win.

Brigham remarked, “I think we were just so focused and so ready to win that we just handled what we needed to do. If they went on a run, we came back with another one.”

Downs was philosophical about the end of the win streak. She said, “It’s one of those teams that’s going to help us for down the road to prepare for the postseason because they are so talented. We never really could get past that hump, but they didn’t stop fighting and I give them credit for that.”

Franklin (11-1, 9-0) will be back home on Friday night to host Attleboro, while Foxboro (10-1, 8-1) will host North Attleboro, which comes in with five wins in its last six games.

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Strong Second Half Helps Foxboro Knock Off OA

By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Contributor

FOXBORO, Mass. – With Foxboro girls basketball trailing, 30-25, with just under two minutes left in the second quarter against Oliver Ames, the Warriors were in need of a spark to close the deficit before halftime.

A three-pointer by sophomore Katelyn Mollica (18 points) cut the lead to 30-28 before Anita Busznyak tied it up with a layup. With time winding down, Chelsea Gibbons hit a layup just before time expired, and Foxboro took a 32-30 lead. From there, the Warriors never looked back, winning their seventh game of the year and remaining undefeated with a 70-57 win over the Tigers.

“That was huge, because you love to go in the locker room even with a little bit of a lead, because it just gives a different atmosphere in the locker room and just gives them a little confidence, because it was neck and neck going into that point,” Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said about the team’s run at the end of the half.

Lizzy Davis (14 points), who spent much of the first half on the bench after two fouls in the first 1:15 of the game, started the third quarter by hitting a three-pointer and then hit back-to-back jump shots to give Foxboro a 39-30 lead.

“Lizzy Davis starting the third quarter off the way she did, I think it just gave everyone a little bit of energy, she was in foul trouble in the first half so I think just for her to do that was huge because it’s easy to get a little bit upset with yourself having three fouls at halftime,” Downs said

Following a made free throw by OA’s Alex Sheldon (five points), Mollica completed a three-point play to give Foxboro their largest lead of the night up to that point at eleven (42-31). A 6-0 run by the Tigers cut the lead to 42-37, but two free throws by Shakirah Ketant (seven points) and a three-pointer by Chelsea Gibbons (16 points) off a feed from Davis put Foxboro back up by ten at 47-37.

“At halftime, we discussed the importance of the third quarter and to come out with a lot of intensity and a lot of poise,” Downs said.

Foxboro led 50-39 with under a minute to play in the third quarter, but back-to-back scores by OA freshman Caroline Peper (17 points off the bench) and Tate Hadges (eight points, four rebounds) cut the Warriors lead to 50-43. Again though, the Warriors scored late in the quarter to shift momentum, as Mollica’s layup with three seconds left in the third quarter gave Foxboro a 52-43 lead heading into the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, Foxboro never surrendered the lead, as the closest OA got was within eight, after two made free throws by Peper with just over three minutes to go in the quarter made the score 58-50. Another 7-0 run by the Warriors would push their lead to 15 with just over two minutes to go in the half and essentially seal the win for Foxboro.

“The girls that really showed they wanted the ball did some really strong things like Chelsea Gibbons, as I said Lizzy Davis, but I thought Shakirah Ketant came in and did some really great things inside the paint, which we didn’t really have a great inside presence in the first half, so I think adding that was really creating a little bit of a defensive disturbance for Oliver Ames, as they had to focus their attention inside as well as wherever Katelyn Mollica was,” Downs added about the Warriors’ second half performance.

Foxboro (7-0) will travel to Attleboro on Friday to take on the 3-5 Bombardiers. Oliver Ames (5-2) will look to get back in the win column at Mansfield on Friday night.

Mollica Fires Foxboro to Big Win Over Canton

Foxboro girls basketball
Sophomore Katelyn Mollica (11) scored a career-high 31 points, including 17 in the third quarter alone, to hold off Canton in an early season Davenport clash. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – There are a lot of new faces on Foxboro this season and players jumping into bigger roles for the defending Div. 2 state champions, but some things haven’t changed for the Warriors. The game is still played at a fast pace, the defense is still aggressive, and Foxboro continues to win Davenport games.

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One of the returning starters is sophomore Katelyn Mollica and on Friday night, even with Canton senior Maggie Connolly (seven steals) hounding her for three quarters, she dominated. Mollica scored a career-high 31 points, including 17 in the third quarter alone to lift the Warriors to a 86-61 win in an early season divisional clash.

“She’s unreal, and that step-back…you can’t defend against that,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs about Mollica’s offensive game. “Once we were able to fast break too that got her in the open court with the ball in her hands, so that freed her up and she’s money at the free throw line.”

Connolly was also the star on offense for the Bulldogs, scoring a career-high 22 points in the loss, but this game was a learning experience for Canton’s talented underclassmen.

“Even if some of these girls who were on the court tonight weren’t during last year’s run, they were at practices and seeing how it has to be done to be successful,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette about the Warriors. “Our girls are young and trying to figure that out.”

Foxboro jumped out to its speed right from the opening tip, taking a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes and with four different players getting on the board. Canton tried to get back into by forcing turnovers, with Connolly getting out on the break and finishing a pair of three-point plays on her way to a 12-point first quarter.

The Warriors just kept scoring, with Chelsea Gibbons (13 points) putting in five in the first and Mollica adding six, but the Bulldogs closed the quarter on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to just 20-16. On the first play of the second, Julia Hamilton lobbed a pass into Erin Devine for an easy layup that made it a two-point game.

It would be as close as the Bulldogs would get for the rest of the night, as Foxboro outscored Canton 24-11 in the second to take control of the game.

Mollica added eight in the quarter, including six from the free throw line, and Abby Hassman (the other returning starter from the state title game) scored six of her eight mostly driving the ball to the basket. Junior Lizzy Davis and sophomore Adrienne Dunn each added a three top open up a 17-point lead at the break.

“I was just angry,” Downs said about the discussion between the first two quarters. “We weren’t looking up quick enough. Our fast break wasn’t working because we were getting two or three dribbles too long and not going up the sideline. Once we started getting it into a track meet that opened things up.”

One area that Foxboro dominated was on the glass. Hassman (10 rebounds) and junior Yara Fawaz (seven boards) led the way for the Warriors, using their athleticism and quickness to control the paint. Canton also battled foul trouble for much of the first half, forcing a lot of subbing and rotating the lineup.

Choquette said, “Both games we were in the same boat. Some of the younger girls just have to adjust and realize they call it a little tighter. On the other hand, I like that they’re being aggressive, they’re not scared, and they’re not backing down.”

Mollica took over in the third. After back-to-back baskets by Gibbons extended the lead to 22 points, Mollica stepped back for a three-pointer, then hit a pull-up jumper in transition, and scored again on the break to push the advantage to 59-30.

Freshmen Sydney Gallery (nine points) and Kiara Cerruti (10 points) scored buckets for the Bulldogs, but then Mollica drilled a pair of threes to avoid any slip in the momentum.

In the fourth, Canton tried to claw back with Connolly adding six more points and the talented group of freshmen starting to find their footing. Syndey Gallery scored six in the quarter, while her sister Fay added five of her nine points and Cerruti scored four. It wasn’t enough to get Canton back in the game but it was a positive way to finish the night.

“This is a great test for where we are right now,” said Choquette. “We can get back to practice the next few days, get ready for Franklin, and then have two weeks to fully dissect everything and what we need to improve on.”

Downs praised her bench for being able to hold onto the lead in the fourth, including six points from junior Julia Kelley, but also praised the Bulldogs. “Those freshmen are good,” she said, “so once they get a couple games under their belt it’s going to be a totally different Canton team.”

Foxboro (2-0) will try to stay unbeaten when it travels to Taunton on Wednesday night. Canton (1-1) will look to bounce back with a tough trip to unbeaten Franklin.

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