Three Hawks scored in double digits and Milford rolled to a 58-39 victory. It was not only the first win of the season for Milford, but also the team’s first league win since the final game of the 2017-18 regular season. It was also nearly 20 points better than the previous top scoring night for the Hawks this season.
“Obviously I’m very excited and I’m happy that the girls are able to experience this because we haven’t had a Hockomock win in a while,” said Milford coach TJ Dolliver. “I’m just happy for the girls, we didn’t even know if we would be here. I have a lot of seniors and I’m happy that we’re here and I’m happy that we’re doing this.”
Although the game wouldn’t end the way that Taunton wanted, the Tigers did have a special moment at the opening tip. Senior guard Kelsey White, who injured her knee last winter and is a non-playing member of this year’s team, was able to celebrate senior night by registering her first minute and her first two points of the season.
“It was awesome,” said Taunton assistant Jenna Olem. “She’s such a great kid to have around the program and the fact that she still wants to be a part of this is really, really special.
Milford came right back with an 8-0 run to take a lead it would never relinquish. Taunton answered with a 6-0 run to tie the game, including a three by Kyanna Barros, but Emma Lawrence (16 points and six rebounds) nailed a three on the other end to restore the lead and Emily Croteau turned a steal into a layup for a 13-8 advantage after one.
The Hawks were just getting started offensively, scoring the next seven points and putting up 20 points total in the second to extend the lead to double digits by halftime.
Lawrence had back-to-back steals where she was able to race past the Taunton players for layups and Brooke Ferreira buried a three to make it 20-8. The Tigers tried to hang around behind senior forward Sonya Fernandez (15 points). She scored 11 of her team’s 13 points in the second (the other two coming on free throws by her sister Jaelyn Fernandez) and knocked down three from beyond the arc.
“She was a big difference tonight,” said Olem, who is filling in on the bench for head coach Amy Siggens this season. “She kind of kept us in the game to begin with, we just couldn’t get a stop for the life of us.”
Milford’s balanced attack proved too much for Taunton to handle. Croteau continued to make plays. She took a Katie Maietta feed and was able to score plus the foul. She missed the free throw, but chased down the rebound and went back up for what was essentially a four-point play. Croteau finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
“Emily rebounds the ball like crazy,” said Dolliver. “She’s our leading rebounder on the year. She does such a good job. My assistant coach made this comment the last couple games, when Emily is on the court you just know because she makes a difference one way or the other.”
Carly Ferreira (nine points and seven rebounds) also hit a big three in the quarter to push the lead up to 15 and Milford went into the break ahead 33-21.
Taunton came out for the second half and tried to get back into the game, cutting the lead to as little as nine points, but the Hawks continued to answer the bell every time they needed a big basket. Jaelyn Fernandez hit Maddie Michenzi for a layup to make it 35-26, but a 12-2 run put Milford in control.
Brooke Ferreira followed her own shot and hit a short jumper to start things. Jillian Michelson (10 points) took an outlet pass from Ashanty Barreto and got a layup and then knocked down a triple off a Lawrence skip pass. Ferreira nailed a corner three, one of six threes for the Hawks on the night, and it was 47-28 heading to the fourth.
The Tigers kept coming. Kristy Gorman had a three-point play after an offensive rebound and Izabella Russell hit a pair of runners high off the glass, but Taunton was never able to get the lead any lower than 14.
“It was tough to get stops tonight,” said Olem, who acknowledged the team is still building after the late start to the winter. “They were pretty much shooting the lights out. Every time we could get back in the game, we could never cut that deficit close enough to really make it a game.”
Croteau drove baseline and had a nice feed to Carly Ferreira for a short jumper and then Ferreira knocked down a stepback jumper to keep the Tigers at arm’s length. Lawrence went end-to-end for a layup and Croteau capped things with another offensive rebound and put-back.
“We don’t exactly play from ahead very often so I told them at the beginning of the fourth quarter, by no means is this game over but you can take your time a little bit,” Dolliver explained. “It would inch closer, but then we would come down and get a big bucket and those were from some of our experienced players.”