Teams of the Decade #6: 2018 Foxboro Girls Basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Team: Foxboro girls basketball
Year: 2017-2018
Record: 26-2
2018 Davenport Division Champions
2018 Division 2 State Champions


Over the course of the 2017-18 season, the Foxboro girls basketball team had its first-ever perfect run through Hockomock League play. The Warriors twice won by more than 50 points, seven times by more than 40, four times by more than 30, and three other games were decided by more than 20. Only six games all season were decided by single digits.

However, the season wouldn’t be remembered for the blowouts, but rather for the comebacks. Foxboro rallied from 20 points down in the second half of the state semifinal and from 14 down in the final to reach the team’s lofty preseason expectations and secure the program’s first state title since 1995.

“The scrutiny was on us every game,” said head coach Lisa Downs, who earned her 100th career win that season. “The Hockomock League doesn’t always have easy games and we were expected to win all of them. The expectations were so high that it felt like there was a magnifying glass on you at all times.”

Expectations were sky high because the team was coming off a Div. 2 South title and brought back a core of four talented seniors, who had played together long before they got to high school. Guards Lily Sykes and Ashley Sampson, forward Grace Tamulionis, and center Shannon Smally had helped the Warriors get to a South final as freshmen and their final season together was supposed to be the culmination of it all.

It was also a motivated group, as the 2017 season ended with a disappointing loss at the TD Garden. Sykes said, “My whole senior year I remembered that game and it was just a sour taste in my mouth and we needed to get past the Garden.”

An overtime loss to eventual Div. 4 state champion Coyle-Cassidy opened the season, followed by a win against Mansfield, which reached the D1 South semifinal. Wins over Hopkinton and Coyle around Christmas gave the Warriors a boost of confidence and started to confirm the preseason hype.

In addition to the seniors, the rotation started to take shape with sophomore forward Abby Hassman giving the team energy and rebounding and freshman Katelyn Mollica making an instant impact on the program as the first player off the bench. Mollica averaged more than 10 points per game as a rookie and gave the team a spark in some of its biggest games.

“It was pretty cool because as much as we were the fearless leaders, I guess, Katelyn and Abby came into every game and gave as much as they could and they never seemed scared,” Sykes explained.

Downs added, “We had a lot of different pieces. We didn’t have a deep bench but the five or six that we put out there could go against anyone.”

Foxboro suffered a one-point loss at Hopkinton at the end of January. It turned out to be the final loss of the season.

The playoffs started in comfortable fashion, as the Warriors beat Milton and Stoughton by a combined 71 points, but Smally suffered an injury in the second round that would cost her the rest of the season. It forced a change to the rotation, thrusting Mollica into the starting lineup, and also added a new dynamic to the bench, as Smally became a vocal presence on the sidelines.

“I feel like we didn’t have that leader on the bench,” said Sykes. “Katelyn came off the bench but there wasn’t always someone there yelling and giving support and I think Shannon definitely amped it up.”

Silver Lake was beaten by 26 in the South semifinal and then the Warriors clinched a second straight sectional title by holding Nauset to just 24 points (on six made field goals) in the final. Experience at that stage and experience playing together was proving too much for opponents to handle.

“We’ve been playing together since we were in what, third or fourth grade?” Sykes remarked.
“So, like me and Ashley, whether it was me or her bringing the ball down, we knew that if we gave it up that we were going to go backdoor. That was our play, just give each other the head nod and it was game over.”

Weather had played its part during the playoff run, as the state semifinal was forced from the TD Garden to Woburn High. Snow storms and power outages made for an interesting lead into the game against North champ Pentucket.

“We ended up practicing at King Philip one of the days because our school didn’t have power,” said Hassman. “Obviously Lisa was focused on getting the practice time and staying in the routine because we couldn’t afford to take a day off right before a huge game.”

The semifinal was the most memorable game of that season. Pentucket jumped out to an early lead and led 29-14 at halftime. The lead stretched to as many as 20 points in the second half, but the Warriors never panicked. Changing to a 2-3 zone took away some of Pentucket’s driving lanes and Foxboro started to chip away at the lead.

“As much as man is our bread-and-butter at the time, the 2-3 with me and Katelyn up top really rattled them and once we could see the panic in their eyes, it was like oh my god this is definitely our game,” Sykes recalled.

“At halftime, we had a real heart-to-heart, and maybe a little yelling, and then the seniors definitely took it upon themselves to rally the troops,” said Downs. Each timeout I was saying just two or three points at time, get a stop and turn around and get a basket, and then we’ll just chip away. Our confidence started to grow and maybe Pentucket got a little tight with their game and then everything started to go our way.”

Sykes knocked down a pair of huge threes in the fourth quarter and her diving scramble to force a jump ball saved a final possession for Foxboro. Meanwhile, Sampson was showing why she was league MVP as a junior and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year that season. She scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including 19 of the team’s final 20 points and the tying layup in the final seconds to force OT.

“She was a coach’s dream,” Downs said of Sampson. “She’s a 5-foot-10 point guard who has the strength to post up. She was a really tough matchup for teams, so they wouldn’t know whether to put a guard on her that might be small or a forward on her that wouldn’t be quick enough.”

Sampson added 14 points in the extra frame and the Warriors walked away with an improbable 58-54 win. Downs said, “I’ll even watch every once in a while now and I still get goosebumps because it was just such an incredible game.”

Of course, getting to the final was only part of the goal. The Warriors needed to complete the job in their third meeting of the season with Hopkinton, this time at Springfield’s MassMutual Center. Like the semifinal, Foxboro needed to turn things around in the second half.

Hassman, who would go on to win a second state title as a senior this past winter, credited the seniors for providing the underclassmen with the confidence to perform even while trailing in a final. She explained, “ I was looking at them and seeing how they were going to deal with it and I just remember them not being affected by it all. In the locker room, they were just like, ‘We’ll change these things in the next half,’ and stayed focused and we weren’t flustered at all.

“Their focus and poise just really helped me not get flustered. Without them I would’ve crumbled a little bit.”

Behind a 32-14 second half run, sparked by the three seniors, the Warriors overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and secured the title with a 49-41 win.

“That was probably the most special moment I had in high school,” said Sykes. “Each year we just built more and more and more and it was finally our year and we finally got the job done. It was the most amazing experience ever.”

Downs added, “There’s pictures of me and I’m crying in every one because it’s just such an emotional thing. You’re holding your breath all season long, can we do it, can we do it, and then you can finally just breathe. That exhale as all of the emotions come through and you’re just so happy that these girls can remember this because they deserved it.”






Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro girls basketball

Opponent
Result
Coyle & CassidyL, 50-40 (OT)
MansfieldW, 43-37
King PhilipW, 65-21
FranklinW, 64-33 (Recap)
HopkintonW, 52-38
Coyle & CassidyW, 42-41
SharonW, 69-28
StoughtonW, 74-46
MilfordW, 67-47
CantonW, 79-34
North AttleboroW, 75-26
HopkintonL, 55-54
TauntonW, 85-27 (Recap)
Oliver AmesW, 61-39 (Recap)
AttleboroW, 67-37
SharonW, 72-30
StoughtonW, 74-19
MilfordW, 80-26
CantonW, 81-32
North AttleboroW, 66-41
HanoverW, 66-59 (Recap)
NatickW, 58-45
MiltonW, 64-30
StoughtonW, 75-38
Silver LakeW, 63-37 (Recap)
NausetW, 40-23 (Recap)
PentucketW, 58-54 (OT) (Recap)
HopkintonW, 49-41 (Recap)






Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball


Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball


Teams of the Decade #14: 2020 Foxboro Girls Basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Team: Foxboro Girls Basketball
Year: 2019-2020
Record: 24-2
2020 Davenport Division Champions
2020 Division 2 State Champions


Midway through the third quarter of the Div. 2 South final, Foxboro girls basketball trailed fourth-seed Hingham by 11 points and its chance of winning a third sectional title in four seasons was on the cusp of coming to an end at Taunton High’s Rabouin Field House.

Rather than imploding and allowing the game and a South title to get away from them, the Warriors recovered in style. After scoring 29 points in the first 19 minutes of the final, Foxboro scored 28 over the last 11 minutes and walked away with a dramatic victory that sealed a trip to the TD Garden and eventually the program’s second state title in three years.

It was the highlight of a run through the gauntlet that was D2 South and a clear representation of the growth in the team from 2019. The Warriors rallied together to avoid another disappointing playoff exit and give themselves an opportunity to play on the parquet.

“Our confidence and our experience definitely helped us a lot that game,” said senior forward Abby Hassman, who won three South titles in her four-year career. “We were struggling with fouls and I was on the bench for most of that game. Even when we were down, we didn’t panic and we just believed in each other.”

Head coach Lisa Downs added, “It was such a great win. You could feel it in the timeouts. There was no sense of panic, there was no frustration. It was more just this is what we need to do.”

Coming into the season, Foxboro was the clear favorite to win a fourth straight Davenport division title, but it wasn’t a given that the Warriors would challenge for a state title. There were early signs that this team had something special, including a 44-point win against Concord-Carlisle just after Christmas in which the Warriors led 27-0 after the first quarter and a win at Bishop Feehan in January.

“Once the season got going and we got our groove a little bit, we saw flashes of things that honestly if we had played against the 2018 team that we’d give them a game,” Downs explained. “We still hadn’t put together a complete, perfect game yet and if we did then not many people were going to be able to beat us.”

A pair of league losses in a two-week span in January may have been the turning point for the Warriors. After struggling at Oliver Ames, Foxboro lost at undefeated Franklin, but the 20-point final was no indication of how well the Warriors played. The Warriors were down by six in the fourth quarter when the Panthers put together a 17-0 run that broke the game open.

“Going into it, we knew they were going to be the toughest opponent all year and being within a possession or two throughout almost the whole game definitely made us realize how good of a team we are when we put our minds to it,” said Hassman.

It would be the last loss of the season. Foxboro rattled off 15 straight wins en route to the state title.

“That definitely was our turnaround game,” Downs said. “I think the team was able to see that this was a legit team and we were able to hang around with them.”

Foxboro relied on Katelyn Mollica (18.9 ppg) for the bulk of its offense, but the Warriors were far more than a one-player team. Senior Lizzy Davis (10.3 ppg) became a more consistent threat on the offensive end while matching up against the other team’s top perimeter players on defense. Seniors Yara Fawaz and Hassman crashed the boards and made big plays on both ends of the floor, and junior Jordyn Collins returned from a mid-season injury to provide smothering defense off the bench.

The biggest development that helped Foxboro turn the corner and become a more balanced team was the growth of senior center Shakirah Ketant. The Emmanuel College commit scored 10.5 points per game and was a double-double machine in the postseason, giving Foxboro a legitimate post presence.

“It was awesome just having a big man,” Hassman said. “It definitely made us more versatile as a team. Teams couldn’t just focus on one player and we had a lot of different threats.”

She added, “I think we all had different roles and I think we kind of just trusted each other. No one was really selfish that they took it upon themselves to do everything. Katelyn was obviously one of our main scorers but if she was having an off-night, any one of us could step up and I think we just had confidence in each other.”

Foxboro rolled to a league title and earned the two-seed in D2 South. After dispatching Dighton-Rehoboth, the Warriors hosted Pembroke in the second round. It was a rematch of the previous year’s semifinal that the Titans won easily. The Warriors got off to a slow start but turned it on in the second quarter and never looked back, winning 56-43.

Downs said, “I think the girls were just ready for it this year. I think that year of maturity under their belts, it showed. Everyone remembered that were there how horrible that felt and to live with that for a year and that was a really great win. I was really happy with how they dug in, played great defense, and did everything they needed to do offensively.”

Wins over Old Rochester and Hingham sent Foxboro to the TD Garden and for most of the players a once-in-a-lifetime experience. North Reading, which upset Pentucket in the North final, stood in the way of a trip to the final. A quick start and double-doubles from Ketant (16 points and 17 rebounds) and Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds) turned the state semi into a comfortable win.

“That was a personal goal to get these girls to play on the Garden floor because most of the girls had never played there before,” Downs reflected. “To have that experience is like no other. They just didn’t seem nervous at all, whereas the 2017 team felt nervous, and I was too, because just stepping on that floor it’s kind of like an out-of-body experience.”

It was Foxboro’s first win at the Garden since 1995. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it also clinched a state championship. Two days after the win against North Reading, the state final against West champion Taconic was canceled.

“Although it was super upsetting when we first found out that we couldn’t play,” Hassman admitted, “I think we all took a step back and realized that we came so much farther than we hoped and we accomplished all of our goals for the season, so everyone was really happy about that once we took a step back and looked at the whole season.”

Foxboro won by an average of 32 points per game this season, scoring just under 60 per night and allowing only 37. The Warriors won four times by more than 40 points and, in addition to its impressive D2 playoff run, beat four teams that made the D1 playoffs. Missing out on a chance to play a final doesn’t diminish how good Foxboro was this season.

“They just played so well together and they got along well and there’s always going to be bumps along the road but this team faced some adversity and just rectified it,” said Downs. “Every game there was someone else contributing.”






Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro girls basketball

2019-2020 Foxboro Girls Basketball Schedule

Opponent
Result
MansfieldW, 65-34
TauntonW, 72-36
Concord-CarlisleW, 65-21
CantonW, 65-33
MilfordW, 86-14
Oliver AmesL, 54-39
StoughtonW, 79-39
AttleboroW, 65-44
SharonW, 66-24
Bishop FeehanW, 61-49
FranklinL, 61-40
North AttleboroW, 61-33
King PhilipW, 69-48
CantonW, 55-47
MilfordW, 44-17
StoughtonW, 67-31
SharonW, 51-28
WalpoleW, 59-52
North AttleboroW, 73-55
ScituateW, 60-48
Old RochesterW, 34-26
#15 Dighton-RehobothW, 54-27
#7 PembrokeW, 56-43
#3 Old RochesterW, 46-29
#4 HinghamW, 57-50
North Reading (State Semifinals)W, 52-35






Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball

Foxboro girls basketball


Franklin and Foxboro Girls Earn Respective State Titles

Franklin girls basketball Foxboro girls basketball 
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


Both the Franklin and Foxboro girls basketball team were practicing on Thursday evening when the news filtered through that both of their seasons had ended with a victory, although neither got the opportunity to complete their impressive seasons by taking the floor in a state championship game.

The MIAA announced early Thursday evening that it was canceling the state championship basketball games originally slated to be played on Saturday in Worcester out of concern for the COVID-19 pandemic. The six hockey state championship games scheduled for Sunday at the TD Garden were also canceled and the beginning of the spring season has been postponed for at least two weeks.

With the decision to cancel the finals, the teams that had reached this stage were declared co-champions. Foxboro will share the Div. 2 title with West champion Taconic, earning the Warriors a second state title in three seasons. Franklin finishes its season at 25-0 and will share the Div. 1 crown with North champion Andover, claiming the first state title in program history and widely regarded as the top team in the state.

For both teams, it is hard not feel the season’s end and the state titles were anti-climactic after the excitement of winning four or five tournament games.

“I got up at 3:30 this morning to start watching film because I didn’t know if we were going to be able to practice on Friday or if they were doing team stuff, there were just no details,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “So, I went from watching film in the middle of the night to my day job to practice and then I got the call. It was like, ‘what just happened?’ It just feels like a bad dream.”

Franklin coach John Leighton said, “They wanted to be able to get some closure and finish what they started and that will never come. They were frustrated, but they knew it might be coming. We practiced today more hopeful than optimistic.”

The players were understandably disappointed with the decision, although, as Leighton explained, there had been discussion about not having the finals for several days.

“One of the things we always talk about is ‘control what you can control’ and that’s usually fouls and effort but we talked about this all week too,” he said. “On Tuesday, the tournament director even came up to me and said, ‘Hope you get to play on Saturday.’ So we kind of had a hint that it might happen.”

Downs was grateful that her team was at least able to experience playing at the TD Garden, after being denied that chance because of a snowstorm during the 2018 state title season.

“I think it would’ve been so much worse if we hadn’t gotten to play at the Garden,” she said. “Yesterday I thought, okay we’re probably going to be playing in an empty gym, which sucks but at least they get to play the game. The girls don’t understand, you know, they’re 17-year-old kids. They’re just like, ‘They can take everyone’s temperature.’”

Franklin was start-to-finish the top-ranked team in the state. The Panthers made history last year by reaching the state semifinal, but came out this winter with renewed focus and raced through an unbeaten season, which included wins over D2 champion Foxboro, D1 South champion, Bridgewater-Raynham, and D4 champion Cathedral.

“We became really hard to beat,” said Leighton. “They were always hungry to get better Even last game, when we walked off the court they weren’t super happy. They knew it wasn’t their best game and they couldn’t wait to go play another.”

The state championship run was also the coronation of senior center Ali Brigham’s career with the Panthers. She finished as the top scorer in not only the program’s history, but the school’s history as well. Leighton credits the George Washington-commit with raising the profile of the program and making them into a perennial state power.

Leighton said, “She’s changed the program. The expectation of the kids who are going to come play basketball at Franklin has changed. She chose to stay all four years. That was selfless of her and her play this season was selfless. It says a lot about who she is as a kid.”

Foxboro finished the season 24-2 and on a 15-game win streak, which included a difficult run through the South sectional, knocking off Pembroke (which beat the Warriors in last year’s semifinal), Old Rochester, and Hingham. Defense was the key, as Foxboro allowed the second-fewest points per game in the league this season (37.6) and bettered that average in the playoffs (36.8).

“I don’t want everything ending so abruptly to overshadow that these girls were able to go 24-2,” said Downs. “From last year getting pummeled in the semifinal and having basically the same group of girls and getting progressively better throughout the course of the season. In postseason, you could see they were where you’d want a team to be. We had just so many pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t had in other years.”

Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, neither Foxboro’s or Franklin’s season ended with the trophy and celebration at center court that typically follows winning a state championship, but both teams will be able to add another state title banner to their programs’ legacies.

Foxboro Wins Battle in Paint to Secure Spot in Final

Foxboro girls basketball Yara Fawaz
Foxboro senior Yara Fawaz dribbles past a North Reading defender in the second half at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


BOSTON, Mass. – In 2018, on its way to a state title, a snowstorm kept Foxboro from playing the state semifinal at TD Garden. Instead, a dramatic comeback against Pentucket took place at Woburn High. On Wednesday night, the Warriors had another opportunity to reach the final and this time got to play under the Garden’s bright lights.

This time, there was none of the drama from 2018. Foxboro allowed only two points in the first quarter, led by double digits at halftime, and rolled to a 52-35 victory over North champion North Reading to reach the state championship game for the second time in three years.

“Honestly, for the most part, I was like these lights are really bright,” senior Shakirah Ketant joked about the experience of playing at the Garden. “There were a couple times where I went up for a rebound and was like, I can’t see anything, but overall it was a really good experience. The court was amazing and all our fans coming out, just a great feeling.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

While the lighting may have been different, it didn’t slow down Ketant, who recorded another double-double and dominated the paint on both ends of the floor. She finished with a game-high 16 points and 17 rebounds and added a pair of blocks, two assists, and two steals.

When asked about her strong play this postseason, Ketant replied with a smile, “How hard we work in practice and Coach [Brian] Brown just constantly being on us to be big, be big and us giving it our all going up strong for a board and going to the basket. We work on it every single day in practice, clearly it’s paying off.”

Foxboro got off to a perfect start, as Yara Fawaz (six points, three assists, and three steals), Katelyn Mollica (nine points) knocked down a jumper, and Ketant got two from an offensive rebound for a 6-0 lead. On the other end, the Warriors held North Reading scoreless for nearly six minutes.

“They have some quick guards, but we were able to keep some different girls, different legs on [Alexandria Grasso],” Foxboro coach Lisa Downs explained. “So many turnovers in that first quarter. I think it was just so much anxiety, get the kinks out a little bit on the Boston Garden floor. It all came back to defense because our shots were not going in tonight.”

After the Hornets finally got on the board, Lizzy Davis (five points, seven rebounds, and five assists) got to the rim for a pair and Ketant added two more with a basket off a Davis pass.

Leading 10-2, Foxboro got its offense going in the second quarter to build the lead to 12 by halftime. Mollica answered a North Reading three with one of her own and then found Fawaz for a bucket off an inbounds play. Ketant scored four points in the second and also assisted on a couple of mid-range jumpers for Abby Hassman (10 points and 12 rebounds).

“If it’s not falling on the outside, then we have to work inside then out and as we started working it inside they started doubling us down, packing the middle, and then we started kicking it out and started getting some open looks,” said Ketant.

It really felt like the Warriors could score at will in the post. “That was the plan,” said Downs. “Their guards were very aggressive, scrappy, so if we were able to get it in then we would try to use our size and our athleticism in the paint.”

The lead grew to as many as 21 points in the third quarter, as Foxboro continued to find holes in the North Reading defense. Hassman scored the first six points of the third for the Warriors, including a jumper after Fawaz grabbed an offensive rebound to keep a possession alive.

“That’s what she is so good at and I think she was just questioning herself in the first quarter,” Downs said of Hassman. “She wasn’t quite as smooth as she usually is. Once she got one in, I knew she’d find her rhythm.”

Davis buried a straightaway three, Jordyn Collins (six points) knocked down a short jumper, and Ketant added four more points (both baskets coming off Fawaz assists) to close out the quarter.

Foxboro led 44-24 heading into the fourth, but the Hornets wouldn’t go away easily. Lauren Sullivan (team-high 14 points) went on a personal 8-2 run, burying a pair of deep threes, and pulled North Reading within 14.

That would be as close as the North champs could get. Collins scored with a drive to the basket, Ketant grabbed yet another offensive rebound for two more, and Mollica capped the win with a layup in transition.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think it was such a team effort,” Mollica said. “Everyone contributed on defense and offense and that’s huge. It helped us win the game.”

She added, “This whole season we’ve been saying make it to the Garden and let’s see what happens. We finally got here. It feels amazing to be back to have another shot at a state championship.”

Foxboro (24-2) will face Taconic, the West champion, in the state championship game on Saturday in Worcester at a time and location yet to be announced.

Foxboro Wins South Title With Second Half Comeback

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro’s bench celebrates after a fourth quarter basket against Hingham in the D2 South Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – It looked like the game was about to get away. Hingham went on a 12-5 run to start the third quarter and pushed its lead to double digits in Saturday morning’s Div. 2 South final at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House. Foxboro’s season was on the brink.

Experience took over. Foxboro has been in this position before, having reached the South final three out of the last four years, and a lineup filled with upperclassman turned around the 11-point deficit by locking down on the defensive end and grinding out possessions on offense.

After scoring 29 points through 19 minutes, Foxboro rallied with 28 points over the final 11 and held Hingham to only 10 points in that stretch. The Warriors turned a 40-29 Hingham lead into a 57-50 victory and claimed another South title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We faced something like this before two years ago when we won the championship,” said senior forward Yara Fawaz, referencing a 20-point second half comeback against Pentucket in the 2018 state semifinal. “I think we just had to keep our composure both on defense and offense. We played as a team and it turned into a great win.”

Junior guard Katelyn Mollica added, “It’s really important in these kind of games to never stop fighting. It’s just so important to keep hitting those shots, keep fighting on defense. I know most of my team is older, so we’ve all kind of been there in this position and it’s really helpful having that past experience.”

Hingham only made two shots from the field over the final 11-plus minutes, but in the first half the Harborwomen showed the shot-making that got them to the final. Caroline Connelly was controlling the glass, grabbing 12 of her 16 rebounds in the first half, and had four points in the first quarter. Perry Blasetti had eight points in the first, including a pull-up three that put Hingham up 14-11 after one.

The Warriors were struggling to find a rhythm offensively in the early going. Mollica hit her first three and Fawaz had four points in the first, including a steal and layup and then basket off a Lizzy Davis assist to tie the game at 9-9. Hingham pushed the lead to as many as five twice in the second quarter, but each time Foxboro battled back.

Shakirah Ketant got her first four points in the second and also assisted on a Jordyn Collins jumper that cut the Hingham lead to 25-22. After Fawaz got two at the line, Foxboro was back within one, but then Grace Bennis got free for a deep three at the buzzer (her only made field goal in the game) to make it 28-24 heading to the locker room.

“Fortunately I have a whole bunch of seniors who a year ago would have absolutely crumbled and they just knew that they’re resilient and they just focused on the next basket,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I knew that if we went into halftime within a basket or two that we were going to win the game because we’re a second half team.”

The momentum from that shot seemed to carry over into the second half.

Ryley Blasetti (13 points) got to the basket for an and-one and Connelly (nine points) grabbed an offensive board for a three-point play that pushed the lead to 11. Mollica (17 points) answered with a drive for two, but a pair of free throws by Perry Blasetti (14 points) made it 40-29.

Fawaz (11 points) gave the Warriors a little life by snagging an offensive rebound in traffic and kicking it out to Mollica for a three. It was the start of a 13-1 run to close out the third quarter. With Foxboro back within four, Fawaz got a steal at one end and then finished off a nice pass from Morgan Sylvestre to make it 40-38.

The Warriors had been dominated on the glass for the better part of three quarters but another offensive rebound, this time from Mollica, led to an open jumper from Sylvestre to tie the game. Hingham got one at the line to regain the lead, but Ketant (13 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks) got on the glass for two of her seven third quarter points and a 42-41 lead heading to the fourth.

Foxboro was in serious foul trouble in the second half. Abby Hassman picked up her fourth with 5:24 left in the third and just 20 seconds later Davis got her fourth as well. Ketant and Collins both got their fourth fouls in the fourth quarter.

But, the Warriors kept making plays on both ends and Hingham shot just 5-of-10 at the line in the final quarter. Ketant buried a jumper off a Collins feed to make it 44-43. After Hingham came back to lead 48-46 on a Ryley Blasetti floater, Collins got an open look off a Hassman rebound and dish to tie the game again.

“Every shot they had had to be a contested one and they had to really earn it,” said Downs about the defensive effort. “They’re a fantastic team and if they got into a shooting rhythm we’d be in trouble, so we just had to have a hand up on every shot.”

Mollica put the Warriors in front to stay with a runner on the baseline and Foxboro went 9-of-10 at the line in the final stretch to seal the win. Mollica and Davis were both a perfect 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Davis also drew an important charge with 18.6 on the clock and the Warriors up by five.

“I’m just so proud of them,” said Downs. “Any given day it’s going to be somebody else’s game. We have the capabilities on any given night to make sure that whoever is having a good night gets the ball. Defensively, that’s what won the game for us.”

Fawaz, who was on the bench but didn’t play the last time that Foxboro won the South, credited that experience for helping win this year’s title.

She said, “I think we just had the opportunity to play with those five seniors who were there two years ago and I think a lot of people doubted Foxboro girls basketball after that but we proved to them that we can still do it and still come back.

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“It feels awesome. We knew what we wanted to do and we did it.”

Foxboro (23-2) advances to play at the TD Garden for the first time in four years (snow moved the 2018 state semifinal from the Garden to Woburn High) and will face North champion North Reading on Wednesday at 5:30.

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Foxboro Rides Defense to Third Final in Four Years

Foxboro girls basketball
Senior center Shakirah Ketant (23) led the way with 13 points and nine rebounds, as Foxboro rolled to a win against Old Rochester in the D2 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Offense can come and go, as every team is bound to have an off shooting night even in the playoffs, but the one common denominator for Foxboro’s run of four straight trips to the Div. 2 South semifinals has been defense.

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The Warriors put their defensive capabilities on full display again on Monday night at Taunton’s Rabouin Field House, as they held Old Rochester to just 11 points and three made baskets in the first half and held the Bulldogs under 30 points for the second time in two weeks.

Foxboro made it three South finals in four years with a 46-29 victory.

“We always say defense wins championships and we really focus on playing hard ‘D’ and trying to shut the other team down,” said senior forward Abby Hassman. “Our defense will make up for any bad shooting night we have. We’ve always had a strong defensive team [for the past four years] and I really think that’s carried us through.”

Old Rochester is a feisty defensive team as well and the Bulldogs continued to play Foxboro leading scorer Katelyn Mollica tough, limiting the junior to four points through the first three quarters and forcing an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers.

The difference between this year’s Foxboro team and the one that lost at the same stage last season is that there are other players that can produce on the offensive end. Hassman (six points, nine rebounds, and four steals) scored the game’s first four points and then dished it off for a layup from Shakirah Ketant.

After a couple of Ketant free throws, Lizzy Davis (nine points) knocked down a straightaway three and Mollica scooped in her first points of the night to make it 13-3 after one.

Logan Fernandes (eight points) hit a three to open the second quarter, but Davis answered right back with her second three of the night. Ketant then added a basket on an offensive rebound and knocked down a jumper off a Davis assist. She finished with 13 points and nine rebounds and continued to give the Warriors a different dimension in the paint.

“We just didn’t have that last year and Abby, as good as she is, isn’t a Shakirah,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “Abby is going to do her thing out there, but Shak is able to convert on a lot of those points out there.”

The Warriors only managed 10 points in the second but picked up two more points on the overall lead because they held the Bulldogs to only two made baskets in the quarter. It was 23-11 at the break.

“In the first half, I was thrilled with their defense and I thought Yara [Fawaz] and Abby worked their butts off inside the paint,” said Downs. “They were trying to get the ball inside and we made it very difficult and our help defense was there just in case they were able to lob it in.”

In the third quarter, the two teams combined to only make five shots from the floor, as defense continued to be the theme of the night. Foxboro did make 5-of-6 at the line and responded to Old Rochester’s 5-0 start to the quarter with a 5-1 run coming out of a timeout that restored a double digit lead. Jordyn Collins had one of her three steals and her only basket to cap the run.

“Last year, we would’ve just crumbled but now it’s seniors on the team, they’re able compose themselves a little better than a year ago, and able to look at the next play,” said Downs.

Hassman added, “We definitely knew that we could win it and we just had to bring it today. We just wanted to play lockdown defense the whole time and going into the second half we just needed a few more points to boost our confidence and carry it to the end.”

Any comeback hopes for Old Rochester were squashed early in the fourth, as the Warriors went on an 8-1 run to put the game away.

Fawaz started the quarter with a drive to the basket and then an offensive foul call against the Warriors was negated by a technical foul against the Bulldogs. Mollica made both at the line to make it 36-20. After the teams traded a free throw apiece, Mollica finally connected from the outside, spotting up in the corner off a Davis pass. She answered an Old Rochester bucket with a second three, scoring eight of her 12 points in the fourth.

Downs said, “The offense is going to come in ebbs and flows and everyone was a little tight I think. We can do better. You just have to win by one, so it doesn’t matter how pretty or not pretty it is, it’s just a matter of getting to the next game.

Defense continued to be the story, as Foxboro limited the Bulldogs to only three made field goals and nine points in the fourth to put the game to rest and seal a spot back in the finals.

Hassman couldn’t help but smile when it was mentioned that she has gone to the sectional final in three of her four years. “We’ve always had a really good team and it’s exciting to be a part of it. We worked really hard throughout the season and…I don’t know, it is really weird that this is normal now.”

Foxboro (22-2) will face No. 4 seed Hingham in the South final at Taunton High. The date and time of the game have yet to be determined.

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Foxboro Exacts Measure of Revenge On Pembroke

Foxboro girls basketball
The Foxboro fans watch as Katelyn Mollica attempts a fourth quarter three in a 56-43 win against Pembroke in the D2 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Although the score was only 6-2 in the first quarter, it was inevitable to start having flashbacks to last year’s South semifinal matchup. Foxboro was struggling at the offensive end, unable to find the range against the ball-hawking Pembroke defense. The hosts were in desperate need of a spark and senior forward Yara Fawaz gave them one.

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Fawaz (nine points and three steals) hit a pair at the line, turned a steal into a fastbreak layup, and then buried a straightaway three of a Katelyn Mollica pass to put the Warriors up 11-6. It was a 9-0 run for Foxboro and Fawaz scored seven of them. When she knocked down the three, the feeling of relief from the Warriors and the home fans was palpable.

“We knew with our speed and the way we fastbreak and all that and the endurance that we have that we could outpace them,” said Lizzy Davis (16 points), whose jumper accounted for the other two points in the run. “Yara was so good today and she hit those few baskets early in the game and it just built from there. Everybody just kind of fed off of that.”

Pembroke battled back to tie the game at 11-11, but never regained the lead. A more experienced, more confident, more battle-tested Foxboro team kept the defending South champions at arm’s length and avenged last year’s loss with a 56-43 win that puts the Warriors into the sectional semifinal for the fourth year in a row.

“I was like, can someone just hit the lid off that rim?” admitted Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “I don’t care where it comes from but once we started getting in a groove we were going to be fine. It’s going to happen, just make sure to keep executing on defense, which is what they did.”

Foxboro led 11-8 after the first quarter and Pembroke scored the first three of the second to tie the game again, but the Warriors responded with a 15-5 run to close out the half with a double-digit lead.

Davis got things started when she grabbed a loose ball and spotted up for a three to put Foxboro in front. That was followed quickly by a three-pointer from Mollica (game-high 20 points) and a free throw by Abby Hassman to make it 18-11. After a basket by Kylie Gates, Hassman kicked out to Davis for her second three of the quarter.

The Titans continued to keep it close, as Katie Galligan scored to cut the lead down to 21-16, but on the next possession Jordyn Collins grabbed one of her six steals on the night and turned it into a layup. Collins locked down on Galligan, Pembroke’s all-time leading scorer, holding her to just seven points.

“She played awesome,” Downs said of Collins. “That’s the best she’s played since coming back from her injury. I think she wasn’t trusting herself until tonight and then the competitive juices were out there. Between Lizzy and Jordyn they did a good job shutting down Galligan.”

It was 26-16 at the break and, despite only scoring nine points in the third, the Warriors never allowed the visitors closer than seven points in the quarter. Mollica started to heat up, answering a Pembroke three with a deep one of her own and knocking down a floater on the baseline.

Shakirah Ketant (seven points), another player who has stepped into a much bigger role this season, knocked down a jumper in the third and provided a major presence in the paint all night, pulling down 17 rebounds.

“They have to pay attention to her, so they can’t have all the attention on Mollica and have two or three people on her,” Downs said about Ketant’s impact. “We have so many more offensive weapons than we did a year ago.”

Foxboro led by eight entering the fourth, but Pembroke quickly made it five with a three by Sophie Considine, one of three shots she knocked down from deep in the final quarter. Rather than let the Titans creep back in, Davis knocked down a pull-up jumper and Mollica drilled a three to get the lead back to 10.

After another Considine three, Mollica spotted up for one in the corner. She scored 10 points in the fourth. Ketant grabbed an offensive rebound and scored and suddenly Foxboro was up 12. Considine made another three to cut the lead to 47-38, but Davis (who was 1-for-7 at the line to that point) hit two free throws and then Collins grabbed yet another steal and threw it ahead to Mollica for a layup that effectively sealed the win.

“Last year there was such a bitter taste left in our mouths and we just wanted to come out and get revenge,” Davis explained. “We didn’t want to go 0-2 against another team and we had so much intensity that we wanted to bring and we clearly brought it.”

Foxboro (21-2) will take on the winner of Old Rochester and New Mission on Monday night at Taunton High.

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Foxboro Defense Locks Down Warrior Classic Title

Foxboro girls basketball
Lizzy Davis scored a team-high 12 points and was a key to Foxboro’ swarming defense that held ORR to only 26 points. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – The old maxim is that defense wins championships. On Tuesday night, Foxboro proved that at least some of the time that maxim is accurate.

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The Warriors held Old Rochester to just 11 points in the first half and didn’t allow more than eight points in a single quarter, overcoming a rough night on the offensive end of the floor and winning 34-26 to take home the title in the annual Warrior Classic.

“We limited a very good team to 11 points in the first half, so I think our defense did what we needed to do,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “We knew they like a physical, frantic game, so we just tried to not match them but create a different kind of chaos with our defense.”

In a rematch of last year’s tournament final, the two teams ramped up the defensive pressure right from the opening whistle and forced both offenses to play faster than they would have liked. The result was a tight, physical game with very few cleanly run sets.

Foxboro got off to a solid start, as Lizzy Davis (12 points and four steals) drilled a three and Katelyn Mollica (eight points) got to the rim for a basket and a 6-0 lead. After Meghan Horan (game-high 14 points) got ORR on the board, Mollica knocked down a pull-up jumper to make it 8-2.

Horan got another basket off a steal, but Davis took a pair of charges in the quarter and the Warriors made everything difficult to lead 8-4 after one.

Shakirah Ketant (six points and 10 rebounds) got the second started with a rebound and put-back, but a three-point play from Mary Butler (eight points and 11 rebounds) cut the lead down to just one.

Jordyn Collins kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound that led to an Abby Hassman jumper and then Hassman kicked it out for a Davis three, as the Warriors extended the lead to 17-11 at the break.

Foxboro’s offense started to show signs of life in the third to open some separation between the sides. The Warriors scored 11 in the third, which was the only quarter in which either team managed double digits. Yara Fawaz hit a runner to make it 21-13 and Davis followed with her third three of the night to push the lead to 11. Hassman (four assists) set up Fawaz for a basket, as Foxboro grabbed its largest lead of the night, 26-13.

A Hassman steal led to a Mollica transition basket, but ORR got the final points of the quarter. Foxboro headed into the fourth leading 28-18.

“They were taking away, doubling a lot, and their switching didn’t play into what we like to do offensively,” Downs explained, “but we did what we needed to do get done. To beat a quality team like that, I’m happy with it.”

It felt like the Warriors were heading to a comfortable win, but the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away. Butler got a layup. Horan got a free throw and then a steal that she turned into a basket on the other end and Cadence Johnson scored in the paint to cut the Foxboro lead to just 30-25

Fawaz (six points and six rebounds) had Foxboro’s only basket to that point in the fourth, but Davis was able to break down the ORR defense, drive into the lane, and kick out for an open Mollica jumper that made it a seven-point game. Ketant added a pair of free throws late to seal the win.

Despite only scoring six points in the final quarter, Foxboro walked off the court with the Warrior Classic title and the experience of the type of games that are bound to come in the Div. 2 playoffs.

“As long as we show up on defense, good things are going to happen,” said Downs, “but we’ve got to get our fast break moving a little bit more. When you have the open court and move without the ball, that’s when good things happen. Every time we made that extra pass, we had some open shots.”

Foxboro (19-2) expects to be one of the top seed in the Div. 2 South bracket when the tournament pairings are announced this week.

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Foxboro Clinches Fourth Straight League Title at Milford

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro center Shakirah Ketant (23) scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a win against Milford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MILFORD, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game at Milford, most of the attention was on Foxboro guard Katelyn Mollica approaching the 1,000-point mark for her career and once the game tipped off both teams remained preoccupied with either reaching or denying that milestone.

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The Hawks regularly sent two or three defenders at Mollica all night, chasing her off the three-point line and giving her no room to maneuver. Ordinarily the Warriors would punish a team for putting that much attention on one player, but Foxboro looked hesitant and uncharacteristically turnover-prone.

In the end, Foxboro found enough of its offensive groove in the second half and dominated the glass to pull out a 44-17 road win that clinched at least a share of a fourth straight league title.

Although it was a win and another goal reached, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than thrilled at the final whistle. “That’s why she needs to get to 1,000 points because she’s trying to do way too much,” Downs admitted. “She’d be tripled and still kept dribbling, and that’s not her. They’re going should I take it or should I pass it, and then it’s an airball.”

The tone was set right from the opening tip, as it took more than three minutes for the opening basket of the game. Mollica drilled a three to open the scoring, but when freshman Brooke Ferreira got her fifth steal of the quarter and turned it into a fast break layup, Milford led 4-3 inside the final 30 seconds of the first.

Abby Hassman (eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks) put the Warriors back in front off an assist by Hannah Blake and then she denied Milford the lead with a block on the other end.

Hassman added the first four points of the second quarter too, including a transition basket after Yara Fawaz (four points and 10 rebounds) got a steal and assist. Ferreira (team-high 10 points, six steals) drove to the basket to keep Milford within three, but Foxboro went on an 8-0 run to grab control.

Shakirah Ketant (game-high 14 points and 13 rebounds) hit a pair of shots and Fawaz added a basket to help Foxboro pull away.

Mollica, who came into the game needing 24 points to reach 1,000, hit a pair of free throws in the second and had five points at the break. She finished with 12 on the night and was hounded from start to finish by Emma Lawrences, with help from Jillian Michelson and others.

Milford assistant Tim Walsh, who coached the team in the absence of head coach TJ Dolliver, praised his team’s defensive effort. Few teams have held Foxboro to 17 points in a half or 44 for a game. He said, “You don’t want 1,000 scored on your home court, so we did all that we could to take that away.”

Walsh added, “The effort was just unbelievable tonight. I thought we hustled and played as hard as they’ve played all season. It was the best they played all season in that first quarter. We had the lead and I thought we were going to win the quarter but then they scored at the end.”

Foxboro came out of the break with more cohesion on offense and put the game away. After scoring 17 in the first half, the Warriors scored 16 in the third quarter alone.

“They probably out-rebounded us three or four to one and they’ve got some girls inside,” said Walsh. “You take one away and they’ve got four others who can shoot, so it’s tough.”

Mollica got it started with a steal and layup, good ball movement got Fawaz a bucket, and then, after a layup by Carly Ferreira, Fawaz kicked out a pass for a Hassman jumper. Ketant added four points in the third and Aislinn Servaes, who has been injured for most of the season, got a steal and layup.

Brooke Ferreira added four of Milford’s seven points in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks couldn’t score enough to get back into the game. Mollica scored five in the fourth and Ketant had four more to seal the win for the Warriors. Jamie DeVellis grabbed her 10th board, the fourth Foxboro player to get double digits rebounds.

“We should have been dominating inside,” said Downs. “Our bigs should’ve all had 16 points and some of the things we were doing…nothing was good.”

Foxboro (13-2, 11-2) will be home on Friday night to face Stoughton with a chance to clinch the outright league title. Milford (3-14, 0-13) heads on the road on Friday to face North Attleboro.

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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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