MANSFIELD, Mass. – Just minutes after a thrilling high school game between Hockomock League rivals Mansfield and Attleboro, Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan summed it up perfectly.
“You could have charged double and people still would have gotten their money’s worth.”
In front of a packed standing-room-only crowd inside James Albertini Gymnasium, the third meeting between the Hornets and Bombardiers proved to the best of the series. And in the end, it had the same result as the first two with top-seeded Mansfield clawing out a 54-52 win over Attleboro in a D1 South Quarterfinal clash.
How it played out, however, was far different from the two regular season meetings between Kelley-Rex foes. This go-around, Mansfield had to dig itself out of a 12-point hole in the second half, and after struggling from the free-throw line all game (11-for-26), sank clutch shots from the charity stripe in the final seconds and held their breath as a near full-court heave from the Bombarders just missed at the buzzer.
“Just play harder, play with a sense of urgency,” Vaughan said of the turnaround. “I talked with the two seniors Sammy [Stevens] and Drew [Rooney], told them they weren’t going to go out this way and to put it all on the line, leave it on the table and see what happens.”
What happened was a new aggressive approach from junior TJ Guy (11 points, seven rebounds), attacking the basket with a purpose. And while that set the table for the comeback, the space it created allowed junior Matt Boen (22 points, four rebounds, four assists) to carry the Hornets over the hump and into the lead.
Attleboro’s Nick McMahon (13 points, seven rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 37-25 edge with 4:49 left in the third quarter, the first time the Bombarders pushed the advantage to 12 points. Guy sliced through the defense for two, was fouled after collecting his own rebound after getting to the basket again, and once again attacked the basket for a traditional three-point play.
“I thought TJ did a good job coming out in the third and being aggressive to the basket and that opened things up and guys had to make shots,” Vaughan said. “We needed multiple people in the room to fight and he took it to heart. And what I was proud of TJ about is when they started to adjust to what he was doing, he came down three straight possessions and distributed the ball, so we didn’t end up just watching him every time.”
Nonetheless, McMahon answered with a triple on the other end and Attleboro once again had a 12-point advantage, this time at 42-30 with 3:23 left to play.
After four straight takes from Guy, the Hornets found space on the perimeter and Boen sank a triple to get the run going. An Attleboro turnover resulted in another triple from Boen after a feed from Guy. A handful of empty possessions from both sides preceded yet another three from Boen with just 12 seconds left in the third and the Hornets cut the deficit to just 42-39 entering the fourth quarter.
“TJ is a special player for them and he’s got quick feet, he got to the rim a couple times in the third quarter,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “And that matchup favored them when TJ had the ball in those situations and he kind of took the game over. He’s a very good player, and once he gets his, we started to collapse a bit and then they start kicking it out and Boen went off. They have some terrific players and when they needed it, those guys stepped up.
“That kind of changed the flow of the game and it coincided with their defensive pressure too.”
Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio (11 points, three assists) pushed the Bombarders’ lead to 44-39 to open the quarter but a 5-0 spurt from the Hornets — a free throw from Boen, two from Stevens at the line, and a steal from Brendan Foley that led to a bucket from Boen — tied things up with 5:52 to play. Both Foley and junior Jack Colby gave the Hornets strong minutes defensively in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Matty was awesome in the third quarter and we needed someone to step up and start playing,” Vaughan said. “I think Matty was kind of holding back [in the first half] for some reason, whether it was the atmosphere or the first playoff game where he’s ‘the man.’ It’s our first tournament game, some guys have more experience. I think he just needed a half to figure out how he could be effective and once the first one falls, he started to play with confidence.
The Bombarders missed on a pair of three-point chances before Rooney went up and under for two, only for Attleboro senior Qualeem Charles (10 points, nine rebounds) to answer on the other end.
“They forced some turnovers in the second half,” Houle said, the Bombardiers with eight turnovers after the halftime break. “I thought our rhythm on offense was pretty good early but they got us to turn the ball over and really pressured us. You get energy off of the defense and that’s what they did.
“We like to be in these grind it out games, I had a lot of confidence we would find a way to tie it up and get the win, but [Mansfield] has some terrific players too.
Stevens came up with a big block in the lane and Boen hit his sixth triple of the game to put the Hornets ahead with 3:29 to go. Attleboro once again was off the mark from three, and then had a possession in which they missed two more. Stevens deflected a pass that led to a steal from Boen, but Attleboro got the stop and McMahon hit a little runner in the lane to make it 49-48 with 1:16 to go.
Attleboro got the turnover it needed but came up just short on a baseline layup take. Stevens hit both from the line with 23.3 left for a 51-48 lead and Guy added another for a 52-48 advantage.
McMahon made two at the line to get within two before Stevens hit another for a 53-50 lead. McMahon kept the Bombarders in it with two more from the line before Boen pushed the lead to 54-52 with 3.7 seconds left. Attleboro’s heave at the buzzer was off the back of the rim.
“I’m certainly very proud of our guys and the effort we had tonight and throughout the season, especially our seniors and the amazing crowd we had tonight,” Houle said, with at least half of the crowd at Mansfield clad in Attleboro blue. “You see that many kids and that many fans there before a game, it really shows how much like this group and that made me proud. This has been a terrific group.”
Mansfield built a 15-13 edge after one quarter due to some strong shooting from the perimeter. Boen, Rooney, and freshman Chris Hill all hit from deep while Guy and Stevens had success down low. Attleboro kept pace by going to the hoop, as both Charles and Lorenzo Wilson had four points each.
The second quarter belonged to the Bombardiers, outscoring the hosts 14-2 in the frame to build a double-digit lead by halftime. The Hornets had four turnovers against a strong Attleboro defense and went 0-for-8 from the floor. Mansfield’s only points came at the line, although they missed six straight at one point.
On the flip side, Jason Weir hit his first of three made three-pointers and Ciccio went off his nine points in the quarter, including an impressive bucket to beat the buzzer where he split a pair of defenders and nailed a pull up jumper.
“I thought in the first quarter we were okay,” Vaughan said. “I think we were ahead as many as five and then we get to the second quarter and we scored two points. When’s the last time we scored just two points in a quarter? I think we just had to find our rhythm.”
Mansfield boys basketball (21-3) advances to the D1 South Semifinal against #4 Needham, who took down #5 Newton North 59-46. The Hornets and Rockets will tipoff at 3:30 on Sunday at Taunton High. Attleboro finishes the season at 17-7.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With Brookline leading by a point and the shot clock turned off, Attleboro’s first effort to try and regain the lead was off-line. Tim Callahan corralled the rebound to keep the possession, and Attleboro’s chance of winning Tuesday night’s Div. 1 South opener alive.
Callahan got the ball in the hands of senior guard Bryant Ciccio. There was no one that the packed gym wanted to see have the ball more than the recently-named Hockomock League MVP.
The Bombardiers cleared out, leaving Ciccio one-on-one well beyond the three-point line. He dribbled the clock down to five seconds before dipping his shoulder and taking off down the lane. As he went up for a shot, he drew a foul with 3.2 remaining. The gym was loud and he was trying to earn the first playoff win of his career, but Ciccio showed no nerves, sinking both free throws to put Attleboro back in front.
“They were in a one-and-one situation and it’s either draw a foul or get to the hoop on that one, take an easier shot than a hard one,” said Ciccio. “But, I love being under pressure. I live for that and I want to take those shots at the end of the game.”
Brookline tried to get the ball up the floor for one last shot, but Nick McMahon got the slightest touch on the second pass on the sideline and the clock ran out on a 50-49 Attleboro win. It was the program’s first tournament victory since 2008.
“There’s 13 seconds left and the ball is in the hands of a player that we have a lot of faith in that’s going to make a play and he made a terrific play, got fouled,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle. “To be put in that position and to knock down those free throws at home in a state tournament game, I’m very proud of him.”
It was always likely to be a close game and it played out that way right from the opening tip. Neither team managed to build more than a five-point edge in the first half and the lead changed hands nine times.
The Warriors were causing problems with their athletic wings, as Ben Murray (16 points) and Lucio Dahlstedt-Brown (15 points) combined for 11 points in the first. Murray’s drive put Brookline ahead for the first time at 11-9.
Attleboro answered back by going inside to senior center Qualeem Charles (16 points and nine rebounds). He scored a layup plus the foul off an offensive rebound and then came back with another and-one off a pass from Ciccio. Callahan (six points) nailed his second three of the quarter to put the Bombardiers ahead 18-14 after one.
Dahlstedt-Brown nailed a three to put the visitors up 25-23 in the second, but Attleboro came right back. Ciccio (14 points) knocked down a shot to tie it and then Jason Weir (six points) got free on a pick-and-pop for his lone three-pointer of the night. After a Brookline basket, Weir lobbed a pass over the top for another Charles layup and McMahon (eight points and six rebounds) turned a steal into a fast break basket and Attleboro’s largest lead, 32-27.
Brookline closed the gap to one, but Ciccio hit a tough floater in traffic to put Attleboro up 36-33 heading into the locker rooms. That would be where the Attleboro offense would stay for the bulk of the third quarter.
The Bombardiers went nearly six minutes of the third quarter without scoring a point, but remained in the game thanks to its defense holding Brookline to just six over that same span. Attleboro turned to its bench, trying to give the starters a much-needed rest and the likes of Evan Houle, Justin Daniels, Lorenzo Wilson, and Adam Pearlstein kept the hosts in it.
“This team’s a tight-knit group,” said Ciccio. “We fight for each other, play hard for each other, and everyone on this team will do what it takes to win the game. We knew if we kept playing hard on defense then the offense would come.”
Ciccio drilled a long three to tie the game at 39-39, Attleboro’s first points of the second half and he followed with a jumper that tied the game again. Charles came back in and scored off a McMahon assist and, improbably, Attleboro took back the lead at 43-41 entering the fourth quarter.
“We had some young kids come in there in the third quarter and they haven’t played a heck of a lot of minutes this year but they gave us three really good minutes and it was a stalemate,” said Houle. “We talk about being a team and those 30 seconds, two minutes, three minutes that we got from some of our reserves tonight were really key for us.”
Charles got a put-back and McMahon had a drive to the rim to extend the lead to six points and it looked like Attleboro might be starting to pull away. The Warriors responded. Alex Socorro scored his only three points of the game and got Brookline to within one with 3:16 left to play.
Attleboro got one at the line on its end and Brookline got one at the line on the other end. After a big offensive rebound by Devani Perez, Murray went to the basket and finished in traffic, giving the visitors the 49-48 lead with just 46.3 to go.
The Bombardiers had one last chance to get over the first round hump and it was no surprise it was the MVP that had the final say.
“There were times in the first half when they got in their rhythm and they were getting to the middle and they were running some really good stuff offensively,” said Houle. “In the second half, it was just getting back to our basics, trying to control the ball better, the on-ball defense was good…the tempo of the game was what we wanted.”
Attleboro (17-6) will now take on top seed Mansfield in the quarterfinal on Friday night. It is the third meeting between the teams this season, with the Hornets winning each of the first two. There is plenty of respect between the teams and players and few secrets.
“I love all the kids from Mansfield,” Ciccio said. “We all compete so well against each other and it’s always a good game. Everyone gets their money’s worth when we play.”
Attleboro, 81 @ Sharon, 61 – Final – Seven Bombardiers scored en route to a 24-point first quarter and Attleboro never looked back, securing a win on the road at Sharon. Tim Callahan, Nick McMahon, and Bryant Ciccio each connected on a three-pointer while Justin Daniels, Jason Weir, Lorenzo Wilson, and Qualeem Charles each added to the total to help the Bombardiers build a double-digit lead after eight minutes. Attleboro led 36-17 at halftime and went on to score 23 points in the third and 22 points in the fourth to pull away with the win. Charles had eight of his team-high 20 points in the third, Ciccio netted seven of his 19 points in the same frame, and Callahan drained two more threes and had eight of his 11 points in the third. Sharon junior Matt Baskin caught fire in the second half, hitting six threes and scoring all of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Andrew Burton added 16 points for the Eagles.
Taunton, 55 @ Canton, 43 – Final – Taunton’s defense held the Bulldogs to single digits in each of the first two quarters, building a 30-8 halftime lead that resulted in a big win on the road. The Tigers held Canton to three field goals in the opening half and then pushed the lead to 46-20 heading into the final quarter. Junior Tyler Stewart scored 14 of his 16 points between the second and third quarters while Josh Lopes added 13 points. Danny MacDougall chipped in with a career-high 10 points for Taunton. Canton’s Colton Mirliani hit a trio of three-pointers in the fourth quarter to help close the deficit.
Franklin, 67 @ Foxboro, 61 – Final – Franklin senior Brayden Sullivan converted a key traditional three-point play in the fourth quarter and the Panthers took care of business from the free throw line in the fourth quarter (7-for-10) to grab a close win on the road over Foxboro. It was a consistent night on offense for Franklin, scoring 17 points in three quarters while netting 16 points in the third quarter. Franklin led 17-12 after one, 34-31 at halftime, and took a 50-45 advantage into the final frame. Chris Edgehill scored a team-high 16 points while Sullivan finished with 15 points for the Panthers, who were held to just two three-pointers. Foxboro’s Donald Rogers scored a team-high 14 points, Kevin Gallagher added 11 points, and both Brandon Borde and Will Morrison chipped in with 10 points apiece.
King Philip, 71 @ North Attleboro, 53 – Final – North Attleboro used a 10-0 surge to close the first half to tie the game at halftime but the second half belonged to King Philip as the Warriors scored over 20 points in each of the final two quarters to run away with a win. George Ladd scored six of his team-high 18 points, Ethan Friberg (16 points) sank a pair of threes, and Edan Kelley had five points in the second as the Rocketeers knotted the score at 28-28 through two quarters of play. In the third, KP’s Alex Fritz connected on a trio of three-pointers while Robert Jarest, Andrew McKinney, and Owen Conlin each hit one and the Warriors went off for 22 points to build a double-digit lead. After a successful first half (13 points), the Warriors went back to senior Tommy Donahue (career-high 28 points) and he helped ice the game with 13 points in the fourth quarter. McKinney finished with 15 points and Fritz added 14 points in the win.
Mansfield, 60 @ Stoughton, 38 – Final – A close game for three quarters, Mansfield scored the final 14 points of the game and dominated the fourth quarter to pick up a win on the road at Stoughton. The Hornets held a 40-33 lead going into the fourth quarter, and extended that to 46-38 at the midway point before embarking on its 14-0 run to close the game. Junior Matt Boen recorded a team-high 17 points to go along with seven assists, seven steals, and five rebounds to lead the way for the Hornets. Sam Stevens (six rebounds, six steals) added 12 points and freshman Chris Hill went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field for nine points. Stoughton senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell netted a team-high 13 points while Tahkwan Gates Brown added 11 points for Stoughton.
Sharon, 42 @ Attleboro, 53 – Final – Attleboro got contributions from the whole team to pull out its third straight win and move back to .500 on the season. Meghan Gordon continued her solid play with 13 points and Liv McCall joined her in double digits with 10. Ryan Johnson, Gabby Bosh, and Nyah Thomas all chipped in with eight points for the Bombardiers, who led by only two at halftime (19-17) but extended the advantage to seven after three. Kaitlyn Wallace was the game’s high scorer with 17 for the Eagles and Trinity Payne added 14.
Canton, 56 @ Taunton, 49 – Final – The Bulldogs managed to pull out a back-and-forth win on the road, their fifth win in the last six games. Kameron St. Pierre and Sonya Fernandez paced Taunton with 14 points apiece and eighth grader Sam Lincoln scored a career-high 13 points in the loss.
North Attleboro, 58 @ King Philip, 84 – Final – The Warriors clicked on the offensive end, scoring 40-plus points in each half, knocking down nine threes as a team, and recording assists on 24 of the 36 made shots. Caroline Aaron led the way for KP with 19 points and six boards. Faye Veilleux added 15 points and eight rebounds and Faith Roy had 12 points and six steals. Brianna James filled the stat sheet with eight points, six assists, five steals, and five rebounds. Amanda Kaiser scored 15 to lead the Rocketeers, Regan Fein scored 11, and Summer Doherty had nine, but North struggled with KP’s speed and press. North coach Nikki Correia said, “We came out slow and they absolutely wanted it more than we did. KP never stopped hustling and went after every loose ball.”
Stoughton, 41 @ Mansfield, 55 – Final – Mansfield turned on the defense in the second quarter to grab the lead and never let up to hold off the Black Knights. The Hornets trailed 18-12 after one, as Stoughton’s Shyanne Trinh scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the quarter, but held the Black Knights to only four points in the second and scored 17 to pull ahead. Leading 33-30 in the third quarter, Mansfield knocked down three shots from beyond the arc (two by Kelly Doherty and one at the buzzer by Becca Hottleman) to extend the lead out to 12 heading to the fourth. Ashley Santos and Kayla Vine led the Hornets with 14 points apiece. Hottleman added 10 and Doherty finished with eight. Aliyah Wright added to Trinh’s 19 by scoring 17 of her own for Stoughton.
Milford, 19 @ Oliver Ames, 66 – Final – The Tigers bounced back from their first league defeat of the season with a strong defensive effort against the visiting Hawks. OA allowed only nine points in the first half to jump out to a 25-point lead and continued that effort in the second half, holding Milford to just 10. Caroline Flynn nearly put up a triple-double for the Tigers, scoring 18 points, grabbing 11 boards, and dishing out eight assists. Kelsey Yelle chipped in with 12 points and Jess Erlich added 10 in the win.
Canton @ Milford, 4:00
Attleboro @ Newton North, 5:00
Attleboro vs. Braintree, 5:00 (@ Newton North)
Attleboro, 69 @ New Bedford, 68 – Final – Down by three in the final minute of the game, the Bombardiers made all the right plays to steal a win on the road over the Whalers. Senior Bryant Ciccio (20 points) sank a three-pointer to tie the game at 68-68 and senior Lorenzo Wilson stepped in to take a charge on the other end to get the visitors the ball back. Ciccio sank one of two from the line with 1.2 seconds left and New Bedford’s half court shot was off the mark. Qualeem Charles scored a team-high 23 points while Jason Weir added 10 points, hitting a pair of three-pointers in the second half.
King Philip, 45 vs. Xaverian, 60 – Final – A close game through three quarters and for the beginning of the fourth quarter, King Philip’s offense went ice cold down the stretch as the Hawks avenged their loss to the Warriors from earlier this season. KP led 38-37 going into the final frame and were tied 45-45 before going cold, allowing Xaverian to close the game out with a big run. Senior Alex Fritz had a team-high 15 points, Tommy Donahue added 10 points, and Chris Roy chipped in with nine points for KP.
Mansfield, 79 vs. Schalmont (NY), 56 – Final – Mansfield junior Matt Boen recorded his first career triple-double to lead the Hornets to a win over Schalmont out of New York. Mansfield scored over 22 points in the first quarter and 24 more in the second to seize a 46-32 advantage by halftime, extending that lead by seven more points going into the fourth. Boen had 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists as well as five steals while Sam Stevens (16 points), TJ Guy (15 points), Jason See (15 points), and Brendan Foley (10 points) all scored in double figures for the Hornets.
Sharon, 45 vs. Archbishop Williams, 64 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Archbishop Williams used a 17-2 surge in the second quarter to create the separation and then held on when the Eagles rallied to make it a single-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. The Bishops’ big run led to a 34-19 lead at halftime before Sharon came out and cut into the lead with a strong quarter, trailing 46-36 heading into the fourth. The visitors opened the final quarter with a 14-2 run to seal the game. Andrew Burton led Sharon with 12 points and five rebounds.
Foxboro, 61 vs. Bishop Feehan, 49 – Final – The Warriors extended their win streak to four games by holding off Feehan in a non-league game. Foxboro jumped out to a 20-9 lead after one quarter and then extended the advantage to 19 by halftime, holding the Shamrocks to just 15 points in the first 16 minutes. Feehan rallied in the third, scoring 18 points, and got back within 12 heading to the fourth, but the Warriors matched them with 16 points apiece in the final quarter to earn the victory. Katelyn Mollica was the top scorer with 18 points and Shakirah Ketant had a double-double of 16 points and 17 rebounds. Abby Hassman added 12 points.
“I think the second of the fourth quarter, really it was the resilience of our team,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “Rebounding, hitting some tough shots and making some big plays. I thought we were engaged in the play down the stretch and in a close game, late in the fourth quarter that’s what you want to do. We showed some grit at the end.
“[Taunton] communicates well, they hedge the ball screens, they are engaged the whole time. That’s a team that’s really working hard on the defensive end and they made us work for everything we got tonight.”
The first came on the first possession after the Tigers a putback and the lead whipped away on a travel call that drew the ire of the Taunton bench. McMahon, who scored nine of his 11 points in the final quarter, took a pass slightly to the left of the top of the key and drained a three while being fouled.
Although he didn’t sink the ensuing free throw, the momentum swung heavily of the hosts with the play. Taunton’s Tyler Stewart (nine points, 15 rebounds, two blocks) and Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (15 points, 10 rebounds) — two of the league’s top post players this season — traded baskets as Attleboro’s lead sat at 44-41 as the clock went under four minutes to play.
The Tigers’ defense, which forced 13 second half turnovers, was close to another stop as the shot clock ticked into the final seconds. But McMahon dribbled around a screen on the right side and sank a fading baseline jumper to give Attleboro a 46-41 lead with 3:52 to play.
“Nick is such a hard worker, really smart player both offensively and defensively,” Houle said. “He’s capable of making the right reads and he knows when to take his opportunity. A lot of times it’s when they are doubling on Q, or helping on penetration with Bryant. He’s made some big shots for us this year, I was really proud to see him hit the big one tonight. And then the second one, it’s not part of our playbook but it was a great shot. I think it shows the toughness of this senior group.”
Attleboro got three consecutive stops as Taunton missed a layup, a pull jumper, and a three-pointer. The Tigers shot just 4/13 from the floor in the final quarter.
Senior Bryant Ciccio (11 points) overcame a tough shooting night to deliver his second field goal of the fourth to extend the hosts’ lead to 48-41 with just over two minutes to play. Taunton’s Tristan Herry converted in transition but McMahon sank a pair of free throws with 19.1 seconds left.
Taunton sophomore Trent Santos (20 points) cut the deficit to four with his fifth trifecta of the game but McMahon was money from the free throw line once again with 9.3 seconds left to ice the game.
“They made a couple more plays down the stretch,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “That travel call killed us and they came down and buried a three. They had another big shot before the shot clock a couple of plays later. There wasn’t much flow to the game, I felt like we left some points out there.”
The opening six minutes of the game set the tone for the entire game. Both defenses played well, making it tough for either offense to gain much momentum. The teams split the opening 10 points, tied at 5-5 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
There was a bit of a flurry in the final two minutes as Santos hit back-to-back threes and sank three free throws after being fouled taking another one while Ciccio and Charles each scored; the Tigers led 14-9 after one.
Attleboro cut into the deficit by a point after the second quarter. Attleboro’s Ryan Sullivan (six points, six rebounds) drained a three to tie the game at 20-20 but Taunton sophomore Faisal Mass (eight points) answered with one of his own and Santos connected from deep again to give Taunton a 26-22 lead at halftime.
Stewart, Taunton’s leading scorer, didn’t miss in the first half but was limited to just two field goal attempts as the Bombardiers put a heavy focus on him. Between Weir and Lorenzo Wilson guarding him, plus help from Charles to double, Taunton relied on its three-point shooting (4-for-12).
“Stewart is really good, he’s terrific in the post,” Houle said. “We didn’t want him to get going. Just like us, when you go inside out and start getting good looks, it can be tough to defend. We did a decent job early of not letting them get the ball in there. Second half, he did a better job opening it up, almost playing through the double team. We definitely double-teamed him and we used two big guys. We have Q in there, we had Jason in there, we had Zo in there…definitely some big boys in there.”
Dacey agreed, “They were smart in how they defended Tyler. I thought they would put Q on him but they didn’t, they doubled off with him and they have some size. We tried a couple of different things you have to pick your poison.”
Stewart picked up two quick fouls in the second half to push his total to three and had to sit for the final five minutes of the third quarter. Attleboro made sure to get Charles plenty of touches the rest of the way.
The senior big man rewarded his team with seven points and a pair of offensive rebounds. Mass gave the Tigers a boost with a triple but with the defense focusing on Charles, Ciccio drilled an open triple to knot the score 37-37 after three quarters.
“We want to go inside-out all the time but early on [Taunton] was doing a good job collapsing on [Charles],” Houle said. “There were a few times he didn’t catch it clean that he’d probably like to have back, he has great hands. So second half, we started going with him right away and he got those first two baskets. We definitely made it a point to get him the ball with Stewart out.”
Attleboro boys basketball (7-1 Hockomock, 8-2 overall) is back in action on Sunday when it travels to New Bedford for a non-league clash. Taunton (6-3, 9-3) had its nine-game win streak snapped but will try to bounce back when it travels to Canton on Tuesday.
But just like that, the Bombardiers flexed their muscles on both ends of the court. Attleboro hit six of their next seven attempts from the floor with the lone miss hauled in for an offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws. And defensively, the Rocketeers missed three shots while committing four turnovers.
The result was an 18-0 run that turned the game on its head and a close contest into a comfortable 63-46 win for the Bombardiers.
“We made that run because we played defense,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “You can’t score 18 straight if you’re giving up baskets on the other end. We talk about being consistently good on defense and during that segment, we were very good.
“We went to a little different look on offense and we were able to spread them out a little bit. Obviously, when you make shots it changes everything. But we were stagnant on offense but it was because their defense kind of made us play like that.”
North Attleboro junior George Ladd (eight points, five assists) finished off a tough layup through contact to bring the hosts within 45-43 with 6:01 left on the clock.
Nick McMahon (nine points, seven assists) penetrated the North Attleboro zone and kicked it out to classmate Tim Callahan (17 points) for his fifth trifecta of the game, a shot that sparked the Attleboro offense.
Attleboro got a stop on the other end and senior Bryant Ciccio (15 points) sank a difficult baseline jumper before the Rocketeers had an empty trip. Ciccio took a pass from Jason Weir at the top of the key and sank another three for the Bombardiers, putting the visitors up 53-43 with just under four minutes to play.
North’s turnover woes (16 in total) factored in as Ciccio came up with a steal, the play resulting in two made free throws from Qualeem Charles (16 points, nine rebounds). It was near deja vu on the ensuing Rocketeer possession as Ciccio stripped the ball free and went in for an uncontested layup.
“We have to have more urgency at all times,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “When the moment gets big, we can’t change our focus level or let the scoreboard dictate how we play. It’s a hard lesson for our guys to learn but that’s back-to-back games, five minutes to play against a quality team…we’re not about moral victories, we have to be better. We have to do a better job coaching too.
“Credit to their better players, Ciccio stepped up in that fourth quarter, McMahon had a nice play, they hurt us inside on the glass. But selfishly from my end, we can’t turn the ball over and then have a breakdown defensively, it’s a double whammy. And then look up at the scoreboard and feel bad for yourself and let that dictate how you play. It certainly snowballed. Ultimately we have to step up and have more urgency.”
A travel gave the visitors the ball back, and despite their first miss of the stretch, Charles hauled in the board and was fouled going back up. He hit two more free throws while North’s cold stretch continued with a missed corner three.
McMahon capped the run with back-to-back strong takes to the rim sandwiched around a Rocketeer turnover after a double team from Ciccio and Charles.
“I thought Nick started feeling more comfortable towards the end,” Houle said. “He’s been terrific for us this year and against a zone, you can’t just pass it around the whole time you have to slip and look to attack a little bit. And then he started hitting wide open guys. So it was a win-win when you knock them down, you get a paint touch on the dribble penetration then kick it out.
“And for us in the second half, every time Q touched it we wanted him to score it. He’s a very unselfish player, he’d rather pass to his teammates but for us to be successful, we need him scoring in there.”
While the Bombardiers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, they were on the verge of doing so in each of the previous two quarters but the Rocketeers continually made timely shots and stops to stay in it.
Callahan (twice) and Ciccio both connected on early threes for the Bombardiers but Brody Rosenberg (eight points), Edan Kelley, and Ethan Friberg (11 points, eight rebounds) were equal to the task. A bucket from Lorenzo Wilson and two free throws from Ciccio had Attleboro up 15-13 at the end of one.
Another triple from Callahan opened the second quarter, Charles finished off a three-point play, and Callahan sank yet another three as Attleboro started the frame strong. But a triple from Rosenberg and another from Friberg kept the Rocketeers in the game.
After a Callahan putback, the Rocketeers closed the first half on a 7-0 run with Ladd scoring down low, Friberg connecting on his third trifecta of the half, and Tommy Whalen finishing off a nice pass from Josh Porter to make it 26-26 at the break.
“They shot very well tonight, they had nine threes,” Houle said. “When they hit them back-to-back, you can’t get over that hump to pull away. They started to miss some shots but I think our defense started forcing some different things. And then they started over-penetrating a little bit and we swallowed them up.”
Timmy carried us in the first half, he was terrific. And he needed that because he’s had some good looks throughout the season and he really stepped up tonight.
Attleboro created some room with a 9-4 run capped by a Ciccio three to start the second half but Whalen answered with a triple and Jared Vacher hit back-to-back threes as North Attleboro surged ahead for the first time, 39-37.
But North closed the quarter with a pair of misses and three straight turnovers, the latter turning into a bucket from Alvin Harrison that gave Attleboro a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth.
“I think it was a combination of them having a concerted effort on where to attack us,” Mulkerrins said of the fourth. “We were mixing up man and zone, I have to see it but my feeling is that we got a little tired and got stuck watching. You can’t be late against that quality of a team.”
Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) will host King Philip on Friday. North Attleboro (2-3, 3-5) will try to bounce back when it hosts Milford on Friday.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – With under a minute to play and the game almost out of reach, Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio had his shot blocked but never gave up on the play and was the first to pounce on the loose ball, keeping possession by earning a jump ball.
The ensuing possession ended up in a three-point play by the Bombardiers, cutting Mansfield’s lead to just five points with 25.5 seconds to go. While the Hornets went on to sink all of their free throws to secure the win, it was that play by Ciccio and the no-quit attitude from the Bombardiers in which made it so tough for Mansfield to earn the 71-62 victory.
“They’re a good team,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan on what the challenge was of pulling away. “Ciccio had over 30 points and kind of kept them in the game on key possessions and key times where we had them on the ropes. He’d come down and hit a shot when they needed it. I thought we got sloppy when we got up.
“We’re still trying to find our identity and there were a few times I thought we had them on the ropes and we’d come down and throw the ball out of bounds or fouling when we had no business fouling. Instead of a seven or nine-point lead, it goes to five. We’re getting better with our turnovers but we have still have to take care of the ball and be more efficient.”
Mansfield made small runs to create separation a handful of times throughout the game, but never orchestrated a run to pull away completely. Instead, the Bombardiers would come up with an answer of their own, and more often than not a basket or defensive play made by Ciccio, who had a career-high 32 points, was the catalyst in it.
Holding a two-point lead to start the fourth quarter, junior Matt Boen (nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds, three steals) scored his first basket, assisted on a pull up jumper from Sam Stevens (26 points), and came up with a steal that led to two free throws of his own to give the hosts a 53-46 lead three minutes into the fourth.
But Nick McMahon drove to the basket for two and Ciccio (five rebounds, three assists, three steals) earned two free throws late in the shot clock, sinking both to bring it right back to a one-possession game, 53-50, with four minutes to go.
Boen found Drew Rooney (five points, five rebounds, four assists) for a huge three-pointer, the Hornets got a stop that Boen brought down and quickly pushed up court for an easy two from junior TJ Guy (24 points, four assists), and back-to-back Bombardier turnovers led to baskets from Guy and Boen (traditional three-point play) for a 63-50 lead with two minutes to go.
“Even though we have a senior group, we’re still molding into the team we want to be,” Houle said. “We’re still trying to figure out roles on the team. You never like to lose but playing in a game like tonight, knowing that we fought back and did some good things, is encouraging.”
An easy two from Qualeem Charles (nine points, four rebounds) preceded a big three from Ciccio, who then came up with a steal and finished in at the rim for a quick 7-0 surge in a one-minute span to make it 63-57. Ciccio and Stevens traded free throws, Boen added two more, and the Hornets finished 11-for-11 from the free throw line in the quarter to secure the win.
“We have a team full of kids that have played a lot of basketball and they have a lot of heart,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “It’s a gritty group and we’re not going to lie down. Back to the wall, it was nice to see some kids step up to make some plays for us, get some big rebounds, and claw our way back into it. Ultimately that first quarter, you can’t spot a team like Mansfield 10 points like that in a game on their home court. We’re striving to play 32 minutes…and I thought we played better in the second, third, and fourth quarters.”
The 10-point spot that Houle referenced was Mansfield’s strong start to the game. Stevens sank a pair of threes in the first minute, Guy scored twice, and Rooney finished off a layoff as the Hornets jumped ahead 12-3 three and a half minutes into the game.
Jason Weir (eight points) hit two first quarter threes and Tim Callahan hit another to help the Bombardiers stem the tide the rest of the frame, trailing 20-12 after one. Charles picked up his second foul in the first quarter and did not play for large portions of the second and third quarters.
“That’s a credit to Lorenzo [Wilson], Adam Pearstein stepped in and gave us some good minutes, and I thought Jason probably had his best game,” Houle said of the Bombardiers sustaining without Charles. “We knew it’d take around a month for him to get his basketball legs under him and he had his best game tonight. We just need to guys to continue to find their roles and step up when we need them.”
An early three from Callahan and a jumper from Ciccio made it a one-possession game but Stevens sank another triple to keep the hosts ahead. Mansfield pushed the lead to 12 after a steal from Boen, an assist from Guy, and bucket from Stevens but Attleboro responded with a 9-1 surge to close the gap by the break. Ciccio scored all nine points to get Attleboro within 31-26 halfway through the game.
“When you talk about kids that compete, he’s definitely one of those kids you want on your team,” Houle said of Ciccio. “He competes hard on both ends of the court, and this means a lot to him.”
Threes from McMahon and Ciccio brought the visitors within two but Stevens had an answer from deep again and he scored through contact for a 44-37 lead late in the third. Attleboro countered with a three from Ciccio and Charles’ first basket in the final seconds of the third to make it 44-42 heading into the fourth.
“We never got that run,” Vaughan said. “Without watching the film, I’m not sure if it was those turnovers or if it was just the way they defended, I thought they did a good job of taking some things away. We never really got that run which is rare. I guess we got it a little at the start of the game but they seemed to answer.”
Mansfield boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 3-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it hosts Bridgewater-Raynham at 3:30. Attleboro (2-1 Hockomock, 3-2 overall) returns to action on Friday at Oliver Ames.
2018-2019 Record: 18-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Mark Houle
Attleboro fulfilled high expectations last year with a terrific regular season but had its postseason run cut short in the opening round of the tournament. With an experienced, battle-tested, and deep group of seniors, the Bombardiers are hoping to take the next step during the 2019-2020 season.
The Bombardiers have seven seniors on the roster with six having plenty of valuable minutes at the varsity level. It all starts with a pair of four-year varsity players and captains Bryant Ciccio and Qualeem Charles. Both have played over 60 games for head coach Mark Houle and earned HockomockSports.com First Team honors a year ago. Ciccio (14.7 ppg, 3.2 apg) is like a coach on the floor and Charles (13.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg) is a matchup nightmare and one of the most dominant post players in recent years.
But there is much more to the Bombardiers, such as senior captain Tim Callahan. Callahan had a strong junior season with 7.7 points per game and can change a game with his outside shooting. He will also be relied upon to anchor the defense. Guard Nick McMahon and forward Lorenzo Wilson provided a spark off the bench last season and will be key pieces this season. And senior Jason Weir is back in the mix after missing last year due to injury. Weir showed flashes during his sophomore season, a versatile player that can play in the post or step outside and knock down a three.
Attleboro has a variety of weapons on the offensive end and that will make them difficult to defend. They have a couple of good weapons that can score down low and then a handful of shooters, so the inside-out game will be a big part of the game plan. Charles gives the Bombardiers protection around the rim while all five players are the court will have to contribute on the boards to eliminate second-chance points.
“We will rely on a battle-tested group of seniors, but we will need our underclassman to continue to develop and be ready to step in and play important roles on the team,” said head coach Mark Houle. “We have a hard-working group of players who compete and challenge each other every day in practice.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-10 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Ryan Gordy
After winning back-to-back Davenport division titles, the Bulldogs know it will be a grind to try and get a third with a big target on their backs.
Gone is the program’s all-time leading scorer and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Devin Foster, who was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league over the past two seasons. That means there is going to be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up for the Bulldogs. Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said this year’s team will be a “much more space and paced” orientated team. Gordy is expecting a more spread out opportunistic approach that will feature contributions from anyone who checks in.
While Foster graduated, the Bulldogs do have a handful of talented and experienced players back on the roster. Senior Kyle Fitzgerald is the top returning scorer from a year ago, netting double figures in six contests. He is also a workhorse on defense and will be one of the leaders on the court. Robbie Gallery, Matt Giglio, and Eric Mischler were all starters at some point during the 2018-2019 season so Gordy will have some veterans to lean on during the year. Gallery, Giglio, and Mischler all showed the ability to come up with a big shot at any time and will help space the floor.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are looking at their versatility and depth to give them flexibility. Gordy believes he has a strong mix of players that will allow him to switch things up and adjust each and every game. Sophomore Lanse Dorcelus earned minutes for the final month of last season and could be a key piece this season.
“We feel like our program is healthy and players have made a commitment to growth,” Gordy said. “This season we are going to focus on the process and maximizing the strengths of our players. Our culture and direction has been a bright spot as we focus on the player person and team development each practice and game. We’re excited to see where we are and where we can get too.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jon Gibbs
There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Foxboro boys basketball team this season. The good news is that the Warriors expect to once again be one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. The bad news is for the rest of the Hockomock League as Foxboro boasts an improved offense, and combined with their traditional tough defense, has the Warriors in position for a Davenport division title.
With four of their five top scorers back this season, including senior Brandon Borde (team-high 15.3 ppg) and junior Kevin Gallagher (12.9 ppg), the Warriors are looking to ride a balanced approach on offense to improve their scoring after finishing 10th in scoring in the Hockomock League last season (54.4 points per game). Borde is one of the most experienced players back in the league and has the ability to create his own looks as well as lead the team as the floor general. Gallagher had a breakout sophomore season and can really fill up the scoring column, especially from deep.
Borde and Gallagher will also get help from senior Will Morrison, who can catch fire from deep, and senior Ryan Hughes, who can give opponents trouble in the paint. All four players are returning starters from a season ago, so that gives Foxboro an advantage, especially defensively. Head coach Jon Gibbs called the defense the “foundation” of the team. Foxboro has consistently been very fundamentally sound and disciplined on the defensive end.
Seniors Dylan Barreira, Michael Devlin, Liam Devlin, and Donald Rogers all played important minutes last season and will provide a lot of depth for Foxboro.
“We have been making progress each day,” Gibbs said. “Practices have been very competitive so far as guys work hard to carve out a role for themselves by earning the trust of their teammates and coaches. If we stay hungry, humble, and unselfish, it has the potential to be a very successful season.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 Central Quarterfinal Coach: CJ Neely
Ever since the Hockomock League split into two divisions, Franklin has entered each season as one of the top teams in the Kelley-Rex and that looks to be the case yet again this year.
As it does each and every season, defense comes first for the Panthers. Franklin was the best defensive team in the Hockomock League last year, allowing just 48.9 points per game. Not only did the Panthers lead the league in that category, they were the lone team to keep opponents under 50 points on average. It’s the second straight year they’ve had the best defense in the division and third straight year they are in the top three. There are a lot of talented individual defenders on the team but year in and year out, Franklin’s team defense gives them a chance to win.
Offensively, the Panthers boast the top returning scorer in the league in three-year starter Chris Edgehill. Edgehill, who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last season, is an absolute handful to deal with on the offensive end of the court. He can score in a variety of ways, and on top of that, he is very good at getting teammates involved (four assists per game last year). Seniors Jack Rudolph and Steve Karayan are also back after playing valuable minutes last season and will be relied upon on both ends of the floor.
“We have a lot of guys who worked really hard in the offseason to improve and are excited to get on the court,” said head coach CJ Neely. “It’s a great group of people who have a lot of fun together. We need to stay aggressive and share the ball. We hope that strong team defense will continue to be something that defines our program.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Dave DeStefano
With a solid group of players returning from last season, second-year head coach Dave DeStefano is hoping to guide his Warriors back to the state tournament for the first time since 2015.
The Warriors showed flashes throughout last year, including an upset win of Kelley-Rex champions Mansfield on the road. But they were also on the wrong end of a handful of close games, losing five games by five or fewer points. With a year of experience in DeStefano’s system, and for a lot of players their first year of varsity under their belts, King Philip is hoping to turn those close games into wins.
KP boasts two returning starters in Alex Fritz and Andrew McKinney, both standing at 6’3. Fritz had a breakout junior campaign and was the fourth-highest scorer in the Hockomock League with 15.5 points per game. He was able to score in a variety of ways, including through contact at the rim, and will be a vital piece this year. McKinney was fifth on the team in scoring last year, scoring in double-figures in five contests, including a career-high 19 points at Stoughton. Senior Tommy Donahue looks to give the Warriors a strong presence in the post while classmates Owen Conlin and Chris Roy look to be in the mix. Seniors Robbie Jarest and Tom Weir are back in the mix after a year away from the program.
Defensively, King Philip will be relying on its size and physicality. While Donahue (6’5) will be the main rim protector, having long guards and forwards will help KP make life difficult for opponents. The Warriors will need to improve on the defensive end after surrendering a division-high 63.7 points per game last year. DeStefano is looking to get some contributions from junior juniors Donte Barros, Cole Breen, Joe Cullen, Evan Stephens, Will Kinney, and Jake Silveria while sophomores Charlie Grant and Braeden Sottile will likely be in the mix too.
“The boys have really worked hard this offseason,” DeStefano said. “The practices have been really competitive and physical. For us to be successful we will need to make a big commitment on the defensive end of the floor. We want to make our opponents uncomfortable and focus on working together to get stops. On offense we are looking to have a balanced attack and create great scoring opportunities as a team.”
2018-2019 Record: 22-5 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Mike Vaughan
The Hockomock League continues to run through Mansfield.
The Hornets have won the Kelley-Rex division title in eight of its nine years, and it looks like Mansfield will be the team to beat again this year. Three players that burst onto the scene last year – Sam Stevens, TJ Guy, Matt Boen – are now three of the top players in the Hock heading into this season. Mansfield certainly graduated a lot of talent in Tommy Dooling, Damani Scott, and Khristian Conner, but with those three starters back plus seniors Drew Rooney and Makhi Baskin, as well as a handful of newcomers ready to make an impact, Mansfield is poised for another deep tournament run.
Stevens (11.2 ppg) will be one of the toughest players to stop with his ability to finish around the rim as well as deadly three-point shooting, Guy (10.9 ppg) is very good in the post on both ends of the floor, and Boen (9.5 ppg) can score in a variety of ways. All three are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night. Baskin provides a lot of energy and can change the game with his effort while Rooney showed last year that he can matchup with some of the top players in the league on the defensive end.
Juniors Brian and Jason See are both strong shooters that work tirelessly on both ends of the floor and should be in the mix for the Hornets this year. Juniors Jack Colby and Brendan Foley will be looking to bring a spark off the bench while sophomore Matt Hyland and freshman Chris Hill are promising young players that could contribute right away.
“I think our depth and ability to play different styles will be a strength of this team,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I’m excited to see where this team can get to as they continue to work hard in practice and mix their individual talents to form our team identity. Transition play, scoring inside and out will be strength on offense. Playing solid man to man and uptempo defense with our depth could create some issues for our opponents.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Paul Seaver
After a season of ups and downs, the Milford Scarlet Hawks are hoping last year’s growing pains transition into a playoff berth this season.
With a large group of returnees, the Hawks will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport division title. While head coach Paul Seaver returns the majority of his team, he will need some of the those players to step up on the offensive end the fill the void left by graduation. The Hawks graduated its top three scorers, including the second-highest scorer in the league in Brendan White (18.2 ppg). That means there will be a lot of opportunities for new players to step up and contribute.
Junior Jordan Darling (7.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and senior Colby Pires (6.1 ppg) are the top two point producers back this year while junior Dom Schofield also returns after starting as a sophomore. Darling started 19 games this year and was selected to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team after a strong season on both ends of the court. Pires is a leader both on and off the court and plays well in all aspects of the game, and Schofield gives Milford a strong post presence on the defensive end, recording a team-high 38 charges taken last season.
Ralph Franklin Jr., Matty Varteresian, Tyler Whetherbee, and Ben Blanchard all saw time throughout last season and could all be in line for bigger roles this season.
“Our depth will matter, our balance will matter, our chemistry is this group’s most important attribute,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We were the youngest team in the league last season and this group has a lot of players back who are attacking this year with a chip on their shoulder. This group defines what Milford basketball is and that’s a testament to who these kids are hard workers and higher character individuals. I could not be any more excited to coach and work with these kids on a daily basis.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Sean Mulkerrins
There are going to be a lot of new faces dawning the Big Red uniform this winter. After losing nine seniors to graduation, head coach Sean Mulkerrins has just three players back from last year’s nine-win squad.
With a large amount of new players comes a large amount of opportunities. The Rocketeers graduated its two top scorers but bring back senior Ethan Friberg (7.0 ppg) and junior George Ladd (7.4 ppg) to lead the charge offensively this year. Friberg, standing at 6’5, can cause problems in the paint but also van step out and play along the perimeter. Ladd had a breakout sophomore season and was named to the HockomockSports.com All Underclassman team. He is a little of a throwback player that is very fundamentally sound on the offensive end. Senior Josh Porter, the third returner, saw an expanded role at the end of last season and played well.
Defensively, the Rocketeers will be focusing on limiting opponents to one shot per possession. With some size in the frontcourt, North will try to make it difficult to finish at the rim, and with all five players committed to rebounding, try and minimize second-chance points.
“There will be a lot of new faces with opportunities to make an impact on this year’s team,” Mulkerrins said. “There will definitely be some growing pains and the sooner the new faces adjust to the rigors of varsity basketball, the better we will be.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-12 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Don Byron
Last season, Oliver Ames came up just one game shy of the state tournament. Goal number one for the 2019-2020 season is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
With a strong mix of experienced players and hungry new additions, Oliver Ames is ready for the grind that is the Kelley-Rex division and the Hockomock League.
“The expectation is to always get [to the tournament], that’s our first goal,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron. “We’re pretty optimistic but we know it’s going to be a grind, you have to show up every night, you can’t take a night off.”
Byron has been impressed with his guard play so far this preseason, and that will likely mean featuring three guards in the lineup for the majority of the time. Senior Jay Spillane is a returning starter while classmate Owen Friel and junior Amari Brown were top options off the bench a season ago. Spillane can score in bunches, especially from the outside, while Friel combines a solid shooting game with a hard-nosed defensive approach. Friel’s ability to guard a variety of position makes him a valuable piece in the lineup while Brown is a crafty player that does a nice job getting teammates involved.
Senior center Evan Craig (6’5) will be joined by classmate Ryan Burkett (6’2) in the frontcourt. Both picked up valuable minutes at the varsity level last year and Byron is hoping that will help with their expanded roles this year. Senior guard Adam Cann and junior forwards Trey Buggs and Drew Nickla will provide depth for the Tigers.
“It takes some time to get accustomed to the varsity speed and what we expect at this level,” Byron said. “All of these kids gained experience with us last year, and that year of experience is invaluable.”
2018-2019 Record: 3-17 2018-2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrew Ferguson
After a couple of down seasons, the Eagles will be making a strong push to get back into the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
Sharon boasts a number of players who gained varsity experience that will be looking to help the program bounce back. The first being senior Aidan Kane, the team’s leading scorer last season with 11.5 points per game. When he’s on from keep, Kane is one of the top three-point shooters in the league. He has the ability to change a game very quickly if he gets hot from deep. Senior Andrew Burton emerged as one of the Eagles’ top players last year and could be poised to have a breakout year. Sophomore John Baez will start at the point after joining the varsity team for the final month and a half last season.
The Eagles will be relying heavily on its frontcourt to step up on both ends of the court. Senior Caleb Gayle is a traditional post player that will compete hard on both ends of the court, senior Cam Baker is fundamentally sound and a reliable option and junior Hank Ward picked up valuable minutes as a sophomore and will be an important part of the rebound game as well as defensively. Senior Aaron Karten will be in the mix as well, giving the Eagles an athletic frontcourt.
Junior Jordan Barboza should give the Eagles a spark off the bench this year and head coach Andrew Ferguson will look for him as an important defensive piece. Kiran Chandrasekaran had flashes of the strong play off the bench last year and should see an expanded role this year, while junior transfer Matt Baskin could provide a needed scoring punch.
“This group has worked tremendously hard in the offseason and the preseason and is looking to translate that into success throughout the regular season,” Ferguson said. “Many of the players have gained valuable experience at the varsity level over the past two years and our senior class are tremendous leaders who provide a great example for our younger players.”
2018-2019 Record: 10-11 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Preliminary Round Coach: John Gallivan
Stoughton ended its playoff drought last season and with a good amount of those players back again this year, the Davenport division title and a deep playoff run could be in the forecast this season.
The Black Knights have their leading scorer back in 6’5 senior forward Obinna Ugwuakazi, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game with nine double-doubles last year. His athleticism and ability to finish through contact made him a tough matchup for opponents, and he will be at the forefront of the Stoughton offense again this year. Fellow senior Tahkwan Gates Brown, who also stands at 6’5, is also back and we could see the duo play together at times which will certainly make life tough for opponents.
Senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell is back for his third year on varsity. After improving each of the past two seasons, the 2019-2020 season could be a breakout year for Grigalunas-Powell, who can score from three-point range but is also a crafty finisher attacking the rim. Ahmad Jahed had flashes of strong play last year and will be back in the mix again this year, and the same goes for Tommy Sanda. Juniors Brett Pendenza and Jake Queeney are also back after earning some minutes last year.
“We feel like we can score this year both from downtown and from down low,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “And with our size in the paint, we hope to make it difficult for opponents to score consistently.”
2018-2019 Record: 15-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Charlie Dacey
After a strong regular season, the Taunton boys basketball team flipped a switch in the tournament and made a run to the D1 South Semis, nearly knocking off powerhouse Mansfield. With a taste of postseason success, the Tigers are hoping to replicate that success this year with another impressive playoff stretch.
The Tigers boast speed, skill, and depth this season and will be in the hunt for the Kelley-Rex division title this season. While Taunton lost a lot of production from last year (Lou Vendrell, Mike Quinn, John Martins, Wesner Charles), there are a handful of players battling to earn their chance at minutes in the Tigers’ lineup. One constant in that lineup over the past couple of years is senior Dante Law, who enters his fourth year with the varsity group. Law was Taunton’s leading scorer a year ago with 14.1 points per game but none of the other returners were over five points a game, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity for new players to step up.
Seniors Fabio Goncalves (6’6) and Aiden Pelot, as well as junior Tyler Stewart (6’6) make up the frontcourt for the Tigers. All three played at the varsity level last year and will be key pieces at helping the Tigers defend and win the battle on the boards. Law will be joined by junior Josh Lopes, who showed flashes during his sophomore season, DaeDae Kenion, and sophomore transfer Tristan Herry as key pieces of the offense.
The Tigers are also excited about the depth on the team this year. Junior Danny MacDougall earned starting minutes last year and is a reliable option in a variety of roles while Trent Santos, Logan Lawrence, and Jonathan Torres will all be in the mix for Taunton.
“With this team, press and run should be ‘Plan A’ although there are skills available to play at a slower pace,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.
Baseball Super 8
#7 Mansfield, 9 vs. #5 BC High, 10 – Final – Mansfield erased an 8-1 deficit, even briefly taking a lead, but the Eagles of BC High earned a walkoff win to knock the Hornets out of the Super 8. Mansfield went up 1-0 in the top of the third but BC High plated eight runs in the bottom of the third to create a big lead. The Hornets scored three times in the fourth (highlighted by an RBI triple from Matt Scibilia) and then four times in the sixth inning, including a two-run double from Sam Nugent, to make it 8-8. Garrett Burke scored in the top of the seventh to put Mansfield ahead 9-8 but the Eagles responded with a run in the bottom half to tie it before getting the winning run two innings later. Burke and John Carney (run) each had two hits for the Hornets while Nugent finished with three RBI.
#9 Xaverian, 0 vs. #4 Taunton, 2 – Final – Taunton senior Jack Moynihan tossed his third straight complete game shutout, and second straight in the postseason, to pace the Tigers to a win over Xaverian. Moynihan allowed just two hits while walking three, striking out seven to earn the win. Moynihan was aided by a huge defensive play by Nic Notarangelo, who made a terrific diving catch in left field to end the first inning with runners on first and second. Taunton scored twice in the fifth inning, starting with a single from Jared Roderick. Andrew Gomes then smacked an RBI triple to put Taunton up 1-0 and Evan Melo dropped down a bunt single to bring Gomes in to make it 2-0. Taunton will play Hockomock rival #11 Attleboro in the D1 South Final on Saturday at 1:00 at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton.
#11 Attleboro, 2 vs. #2 Durfee, 0 – Final – Attleboro senior Eoin Kelleher was masterful on the mound, allowing just three hits with no walks to lead the Bombardiers to an upset win over Durfee. Kelleher retired the first 11 batters he faced, didn’t allow a base runner past first base, had 17 first pitch strikes and struck out four in a complete game shutout. The Hilltoppers got their first hit in the fourth with two outs but the runner was gunned down at second on a great throw from Alvaro Espinal. Attleboro did its damage offensively with a run in the second and another in the third. in the second, Nick McMahon drove in Lorenzo Wilson with a sacrifice fly after Wilson singled, advanced to second on a single from Troy Van Vliet, and to third on a wild pitch. In the third, Tim Callahan walked, took second on a passed ball and scored on a double from Camden Fitzpatrick. Attleboro will play Hockomock rival #4 Taunton in the D1 South Final on Saturday at 1:00 at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton.
#5 Stoughton, 1 vs. #1 Hopkinton, 12 – Final – Hopkinton pushed across six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a close game into a big win. Evan Jackman had a strong outing on the mound for the Black Knights.
#11 Oliver Ames, 2 vs. #7 Westwood, 6 – Final – Oliver Ames erased an early 2-0 deficit, tying the game in the top of the fifth but the Wolverines responded with two runs in each the fifth and sixth innings to pull away for the win. Jared Spillane had two singles and an RBI for OA while Matt McCormick also drove in a run. Reid Latham had two hits offensively and had a strong outing on the mound for OA.
Girls Tennis D1 South Final
#2 Wellesley, 3 vs. #1 Sharon, 2 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this match. – Sharon sophomore Charlize Martinez rallied in the second set, winning three straight to force a deciding third set, but Wellesley senior Sophia Arts grabbed a win in a tightly contested set to give the Raiders the sectional crown. Arts won the first set 6-2 and was up 4-3 before Martinez won three straight games to take a 6-4 decision. Martinez cut the deficit to 2-3 in the final set but Arts won three tight games in a row to get the win. Sharon senior Nupur Shukla shined in her final match, winning 6-2, 6-1. Freshman Valeria Barajas earned a 6-3, 6-1 win at second singles for the Eagles. Wellesley won both doubles matches in straight sets.
Baseball Super 8
#2 St. John’s Prep, 4 vs. #1 Franklin, 1 – Final
#7 Mansfield vs. #5 BC High, 7:00 – Postponed to Tuesday, 6/11 at 4:00 at Campanelli Stadium.
#12 Catholic Memorial, 3 @ #4 Taunton, 4 – Final – Taunton rallied from a 3-0 deficit, scoring twice in the fifth inning and then twice more in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with the win. Evan Melo got the Tigers on the board while Nic Notarangelo (2-for-3, walk) had a hit and scored a run in the fifth. In the seventh, Jared Roderick (walk), Andrew Gomes (error), and Melo (walk) loaded the bases with no outs. Gavin Leahy brought in the tying run with a sacrifice fly. After Notarangelo singled to load the bases again, Lucas Martins laid down a bunt to squeeze Nolan Melo in for the winning run. Junior Logan Lawrence earned the win on the mound, allowing three runs on seven hits and no walks, striking out eight. Taunton will travel to #9 Xaverian on Wednesday at 4:00.
#14 Bridgewater-Raynham, 7 @ #11 Attleboro, 8 – Final – Attleboro overcame an early deficit and then held off a late B-R charge to get the win and advance to the D1 South Semifinals. The Trojans raced out to a 4-1 lead over the first 1.5 innings, with Ryan Morry drawing a bases-loaded walk to score Tim Callahan (2-for-4, two runs). Morry (5.2IP, 6K) was strong in relief, which allowed Attleboro to get back into the game. Attleboro jumped in front for good with a five-run second inning. Sam Larkin (2-for-2) knocked in Troy Van Vliet with a single, Camden Fitzpatrick drove in both Callahan and Alvaro Espinal (two walks), and Lorenzo Wilson scorched a triple into the gap to bring two more runs in to make it 5-4. Larkin knocked in Van Vliet in the third, and Van Vliet scored his third run of the game on a sac fly from Espinal in the sixth inning. Attleboro will play #2 Durfee on Wednesday at 4:00 at Fino Field in Milford.
#11 Oliver Ames, 3 @ #3 Dartmouth, 1 – Final (9 Inn.) – Oliver Ames loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth and pushed across two runs to pick up an upset on the road. Jake Erlich and Chris Pearsons (2-for-4, RBI) singled, and Jacob Levine was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth before senior Reid Latham put the Tigers in front with a one-run single. Cam Perron brought a second run in with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. Pearsons was strong on the mound, allowing one run on seven hits and no walks, striking out five in seven innings of work. Latham got the win in relief, tossing two scoreless innings in relief. Latham got a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the eighth to strand the winning run at third. Jared Spillane (two walks) was vital in the win, stealing second and scoring on an infield single from Pearsons to put OA up in the fourth. Spillane also started a double play in the bottom of the ninth to help secure the win. Oliver Ames will play #7 Westwood on Wednesday at 4:00 at Adams Field in Quincy.
#8 North Attleboro, 0 @ #1 Bridgewater-Raynham, 1 – Final – North Attleboro’s Bella Erti and Bridgewater-Raynham’s Julia Perry put on a show for those in attendance, going back-and-forth in a pitcher’s dual. The Trojans managed just six hits against Erti, who struck out three (including the 400th of her career), getting a bloop single in the bottom of the ninth for the win. Olivia Capobianco and Ashley Cangiano each had a hit for the Rocketeers, Abby Gallagher had a pair of walks, and Emily Nardelli shined defensively at second for North.
#11 Franklin, 0 @ #3 Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final – A strong pitching performance from Jackie Cherry and an outstanding defensive effort behind her kept the Panthers in contention for the entire game but the Shamrocks earned a walk-off win with a pair of hits in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tara Hartnett had the lone hit of the game for the Panthers.
Boys Lacrosse D1 South
#6 Duxbury, 8 vs. #2 Franklin, 7 – Final – Franklin held the Dragons without a goal for nearly the entire fourth quarter but Duxbury scored its lone tally of the frame with 16.9 seconds left, finishing off a lengthy offensive possession for the game-winner. Franklin trailed 7-5 after three quarters but Jake Davis (three goals) scored twice in a two-minute span to knot the score 7-7 with three minutes to play. Duxbury scored on a close shot with 16.9 left for the winner. Ben Greco also had three goals for Franklin while Nitin Chaudhury scored once.
Girls Tennis D1 South
#4 Hopkinton, 2 @ #1 Sharon, 3 – Final – Sharon picked up two wins in singles action and another in doubles to nip Hopkinton and advance to the D1 South Final. Nupur Shukla earned a 6-4, 6-0 win at first singles, Valeria Barajas picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win at second singles, and the team of Lauren Glass and Makaila Cheung won 6-4, 6-2 at second doubles. Sharon (21-0) will play #2 Wellesley (19-0) on Wednesday at 4:00 at Somerset-Berkley. It’s the fourth time in the past five years the Eagles have reached the sectional final and third time they will take on the Raiders. Wellesley won in 2016 and Sharon won in 2017 – both teams went on to win the state title that season.