MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Mansfield boys basketball team had plenty to celebrate on Monday night after clinching at least a share of the program’s ninth straight Kelley-Rex division title while senior Matt Boen scored his 1,000th career point in the process.
But neither accomplishment came very easily.
After suffering their first loss of the season to Taunton on Sunday afternoon, the Hornets found themselves in close to a must-win situation against the Tigers if they wanted to extend their impressive reign atop the Hockomock League.
And after Boen dropped 31 points on Sunday, the senior guard attracted plenty of attention from the Taunton defense. That defense coupled with the pressure and nerves of nearing the milestone resulted in just two points through three quarters of play.
But all’s well that ends well as the Hornets put the game to bed with a dominant fourth quarter, limiting the visitors to just three total points over the first six minutes of the final frame to pull away. Boen got going as well, and the Tigers did their part in making sure the senior guard reached the milestone in front of family and friends by intentionally fouling twice in the final minute.
Boen got a kind roll off the front of the rim on a free throw with 15.2 seconds to go to hit the millennium mark, the final touch to a 68-53 win for the Hornets.
“I talked to Coach Vaughan and told him that the first thing I wanted to do was cut down the nets [for a league title] and then focus on getting my name on the banner,” Boen said. “To get them both done on the same night is even better.”
“When’s the last time we won one without a Boen, that’s the big question,” asked Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. Michael Boen was apart of three straight from 2013-2015 while Max Boen won three as well (2015-2017). Matt has been apart of the past four teams that have raised a banner.
“Taunton played great last night, they gave us everything we could handle,” Vaughan continued. “Tonight I thought we did a much better job rebounding the ball which I think was the difference in the game. We made some plays when we needed to. Matty was off a little bit with the pressure but he was able to find other ways to help us.”
Mansfield came out with more zest in this contest compared to just over 24 hours before when Taunton dictated play with its energy. Even though Taunton held a slim lead at the end of the first quarter (13-12) and used a late bucket to tie things at halftime (29-29), it never felt like the Tigers had real control of the game.
The Hornets threatened to pull away in the third, getting key contributions from the rest of the roster as Boen tried to find his rhythm. Foley (six rebounds) had five points, including a three, and Hill (six rebounds) was responsible for four more as Mansfield rattled off a 9-0 run for a 42-33 lead.
Taunton did its best to hang around with senior Tyler Stewart (9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) fighting through a double team for two only for Hyland (five rebounds, five assists) to answer with a three-point play on the other end. Ryan Sullivan (15 points, six rebounds) drained a three and Josh Lopes dropped in a floater to get the Tigers back within five at the end of the third, 45-40, but that would be as close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.
“It was everything, we were a half step slow tonight,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “We won the 50-50s yesterday and they won the 50-50s today. It just started mounting up, our kids were dead tired. But you have to play through it, they are no less tired than [Mansfield], they played the same game yesterday. We just got too deflated too early. Things weren’t going our way and you could see it in their body language. Our outside shots weren’t falling and then Tyler’s in foul trouble…it just snowballed.
“Last night it was Boen, Boen, Boen, and tonight the other guys stepped up. They have their ball movement and all of a sudden it’s flying around and we’re late on a close-out or behind on a cut, two points here, two points there.”
Foley opened the fourth with back-to-back confident, strong takes to the rim and Boen picked up just his second field goal of the game to push the lead to two possessions. Boen hit two from the line before Taunton finally snapped the scoreless drought, Stewart alertly finding Faisal Mass (16 points, nine rebounds) for two down low. But the Tigers couldn’t get a stop as Foley once again found success driving to the rim.
Stewart added one from the line but Jack Colby responded with a nice take and, after an offensive foul took gave Stewart his fifth foul, Foley came down with a dagger three to make it 60-43 with just under two minutes to go.
“Just the commitment the guys make year in and year out, we never rebuild we just keep reloading with new guys and new faces,” Vaughan said. “What about Jack’s play the last couple of weeks? What about Foley’s play today, it was tremendous. Chris Hill is no longer a sophomore after today’s game, he really came out and battled and played really well. We told him in our film session we needed him to be better and that’s a lot of pressure for a sophomore but he stepped up to the plate. Matty Hyland’s been super consistent all year, he had some big baskets tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys.”
The Hornets wasted little time getting Hill going in the first quarter as he took a shot on four of Mansfield’s first six possessions with seven points. Meanwhile, Taunton had five players get on the scoring sheet in the opening eight minutes with Mass hitting a corner three late to give the visitors a 13-12 lead.
Hyland and Hill had early triples for the Hornets and then scored back-to-back at the rim to keep the Hornets ahead. Santos answered with three and Lopes attacked the basket for two but Brian See drained a key three and Hyland took a charge to get the Hornets the ball back. Hyland scored on the other end but five straight from the Tigers — two from the line from Santos and a traditional three-point play by Mass — brought the visitors level by halftime.
Mansfield (9-1 Kelley-Rex, 13-1 overall) will host Lowell Catholic on Wednesday night at 6:30. Taunton (6-1, 6-1) will try to bounce back when it travels to Attleboro on Wednesday at 12:00.
And on top of that, the Taunton boys basketball team had just one practice to prepare following a one-week layoff.
The Tigers overcame both obstacles, alleviating any fears of rust with a strong start that set the tone for the rest of the way in a 72-66 win over the visiting Hornets.
The win marked Taunton’s first win over Mansfield since January 2016, snapping a 10-game skid.
“I was really afraid of the rust factor, I was exactly afraid of a slow start,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.
But Dacey’s fears were quickly erased as the Tigers opened the game with their best offensive quarter of the game (21 points) to establish a lead that they only relinquished once, and briefly, in the third quarter.
“Shaking [any rust] right away was huge, they didn’t lose any confidence,” Dacey said after his side his half of their 16 shots from the field in the first eight minutes. “Having an experienced group helps with that. We’re running some stuff but [Mansfield] knows it, they’re taking away what we have so we’re adjusting on the fly. The kids did some self-adjusting on the floor which is real important.”
Taunton extended its lead to 38-29 by halftime but Mansfield came out with a renewed energy to start the second half and slowly chipped away at the lead. A big three from sophomore Chris Hill (13 points, 5 rebounds) finally made a real dent in Taunton’s lead, and then Matt Boen (31 points) and Hill scored back-to-back to make it a three-point game, down 47-44.
“I think a lot of it when there were some 50-50 balls, Taunton wanted it a little bit more,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I bet when the stats come out, they probably won more 50-50 balls by a two-to-one margin. We talked at halftime if you don’t win those battles against a good quality basketball team, 90% of the time you lose and this was 90% of the time. Game for game, the stat lines look good. We did some good things, they did some good things, we both hit shots. It was really two high-quality teams that were well prepared.
“We thought in the third quarter and early in the fourth, they might be running out of gas a little bit but they found extra energy and made some plays down the stretch and took care of business.”
Hill had a strong take to his left for two with just under two minutes to go in the third and the Hornets grabbed their first lead of the game when Boen hit one of his four threes for a 49-47 lead. It was a momentum swing that has forced many Hockomock foes to fold in the past, but Taunton was able to recover before the end of the quarter.
The Tigers broke the press and junior Trent Santos (22 points, seven assists, six rebounds) found Nigel Choate wide open with a nice pass underneath for two to tie it back up. Tyler Stewart (12 points, 22 rebounds, 5 blocks) converted down low and Josh Lopes (13 points, 4 assists) added two more as Taunton took a 53-52 lead into the final quarter.
“They maintain their confidence in those moments and they have a good chemistry together,” Dacey said. “They believe in each other and trust each other and that’s really important in high school basketball.
The teams took turns landing jabs in the final quarter, each time Taunton scored to extend its lead, the Hornets had an answer to keep it close. Stewart added two from the line and junior Tristan Herry (eight points, six assists, two steals) hit a three late in the shot clock only for Mansfield senior Brendan Foley to answer with back-to-back strong takes to the rim.
“Stewart has a major impact inside, whether it’s a post touch, an offensive rebound, keeping a ball alive, or just the amount of energy we have to focus on him leaves some other guys open,” Vaughan said. “I’ve said it in the past about our teams, when you get a fourth or fifth guy stepping up making some critical play in a huge game, that sometimes separates you.
“[Herry] hitting the three at the top…we doubled the post, we did everything we wanted, we rotated off what we mark as not their top shooter and he hits a three. When you get stuff like that…Taunton is a very talented deep team with a lot of pieces that can cause matchup problems all over the place.”
Santos took advantage of a steal and scored in transition, and after a Mansfield miss, Herry linked up with Santos for a big three. Herry then found Faisal Mass (13 points, eight rebounds) in good position down low for two and the Tigers had a 65-57 lead at the halfway point of the final quarter.
Jack Colby (11 points, five rebounds) answered with two from the line for the Hornets and Foley came up with a steal and assist, finding Boen for two in transition to cut it back to for. After a Taunton miss, Boen sank a pull up jumper and it was back to a two-point game.
Santos floated a perfectly weighted entry pass to Stewart down low for an easy two. With time ticking away, the Hornets elected to foul Mass to send him to the line for one-and-one. Mass hit the first to push the lead to 68-63 with 1:16 to play.
Unsurprisingly, the Hornets once again had an answer as Boen took a handoff from Colby and drained an off-balance three to make it 68-66. Mansfield continued to press but the hosts passed through it, Herry finding Santos at half court who skipped a pass to Mass for a layup.
Taunton got a stop on a missed three but Mansfield appeared to have the offensive rebound. Instead of getting a second look, Herry came swooping in and knocked the ball free to get Taunton the ball back. Three passes later, Santos had an open layup to make it 72-66 with 20 seconds to go.
The teams won’t have to wait long to renew acquaintances as Taunton boys basketball (6-0 Kelley-Rex, 6-0 overall) travels to Mansfield (8-1, 12-1) on Monday at 6:15.
The Panthers were sharing the ball on offense, cutting to the basket, and hitting open looks from outside. And the defense was on point too, keeping the Hockomock League’s leading scorer Matt Boen in check for over 20 minutes.
But as the visitors learned the hard way, anything short of a full 32-minute performance isn’t enough to beat the Hornets.
Franklin’s double-digit second half lead evaporated, shrinking over the final minutes of the third quarter and disappearing by the midway point of the fourth. Instead, it was Mansfield who walked away with a double-digit victory, 60-50, behind a big second half turnaround.
There wasn’t much separating the teams throughout the first half but a pair of late threes had the Panthers up 32-24 at the halftime break. Franklin added two more from downtown range in the opening minutes of the third and suddenly, what was once a back-and-forth game that featured lead change after lead change, was looking like a runaway win for the Panthers up 42-27 at the midway point of the third.
“I just thought we had to exert ourselves a little bit on both ends of the court,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan.
It started with defense as the Hornets held the visitors without points for nearly five minutes. In fact, Mansfield allowed just two points over the final five minutes of the third quarter. And with stops on the defensive end came some confidence on the offensive end.
Boen got the offense going with a floater from the baseline and senior Brendan Foley had an easy layup after a nice back cut. After two more free throws from Boen, junior Matt Hyland (14 points, five rebounds) hit a big three and junior Chris Hill had a nice take to the rim.
Boen capped Mansfield’s 13-2 run by hitting both of his chances from the free throw line and just like that, the deficit was just four, 44-40, going into the fourth. Mansfield went 19-of-25 from the line while Franklin was 4-of-6.
“It helped they missed some shots that they didn’t miss in the first half,” Vaughan added. “They shot the ball really well, they did some things to put ourselves in some bad situations. Historically I like to give Franklin credit for their defense but [on offense] they put us in some situations that don’t normally get put in with their cutting and their movement, they were really committed to it. And I don’t think it was a lack of effort as much as really good design by them. And they hit shots to follow it.”
Franklins seemed to shake off the Hornets’ run when senior Andrew Byfield scored down low and freshman Henry Digiorgio had a big steal that ended up with a free throw. But by this point, Mansfield was in a rhythm as Jack Colby (12 points, nine rebounds) hit two free throws after a big defensive board and Boen tied the game with five minutes to go with a triple.
Mansfield got a stop and Boen, who was limited to just five points on 3-of-3 shooting in the first half, drained another triple to put the hosts ahead. Byfield answered with a putback on one end but Colby corralled an offensive rebound on the other end, completing a traditional three-point play after being fouled on the putback.
“We have to be consistent throughout the game,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Everything we did to get that lead went out the window when they started to make that run. Honestly, I didn’t think we handled it well mentally…we started doing things that were out of character, different from what we were doing in the first half…the ball movement, the patience, the sharing the basketball, following the scout defensively…instead we started to press a little bit trying to make plays instead of letting it come to us. We had a very specific plan defensively and I thought we got away from that and they got free.”
Franklin shot 46% from the field (11-of-24) in the first half but managed just seven makes (7-of-28) in the second half, including just 2-of-12 from three-point range.
Another Franklin miss allowed Mansfield to get out and run and Boen attacked the rim for two, and following a Franklin turnover, it was two more points for the senior guard for a 57-50 lead with just over two minutes to go.
“I thought we tried to make up their entire run on one possession,” Neely said. “We knew they’d make some plays but instead of buckling down when it happened, it seemed like we started to panic a bit and take shots that were uncharacteristic to what was giving us success. You can’t allow that to happen against Mansfield, they’re a great team, they are disciplined and they aren’t going away.”
An off-ball offensive foul gave the Hornets the ball back and Hyland made the most of a second chance opportunity, darting to the basket for two to ice the win.
“Once we figured their pace on offense to at least slow them down some, they missed a couple shots, and we were able to go down and score a couple in a row,” Vaughan said, “We found some rhythm and it felt like they got a little tight. As they say, you’d rather be playing well in the fourth than the first.”
Franklin’s best offensive quarter was the second with five of their six makes from the field coming from three-point range. Sean Vinson hit the first one, Jake O’Brien (14 points) hit three in a three minute span, and freshman Henry Digiorgio had another. Declan Walmsley (11 points, nine rebounds) added two three-pointers in the game while Alex Newman had one as the Panthers finished with 10 makes from downtown.
Boen ended up with 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. With Franklin paying extra attention to the senior guard, and with Hornet senior forward TJ Guy out with an injury, Mansfield needed other players to step up. Both Hyland and Colby answered the call.
Both players scored five points in the opening quarter to help the Hornets keep pace with the visitors, who hit three trifectas in the opening eight minutes. Digiorgio (10 points) hit two of those to help the Panthers build a 15-14 lead after one quarter.
Hyland continued to attack the basket in the second quarter while Franklin’s defense continued to limit Boen’s touches. In the second half, Colby made a lot of hustle players, including a team-high four offensive rebounds, to help spark the comeback.
“Hyland and Jack stepped up and had some big plays for us,” Vaughan said. “And granted, [Boen] hit some shots too which built our confidence. When he scores, the level of pressure for the other guys goes down. They have some room to make a mistake because they know he’s going to find a way to make a basket. Then all of a sudden, they’re making baskets too and that inflates the confidence. Both Hyland and Jack came up with big plays right when we needed them to.
“I talked to Jack earlier this season about how we needed him to be a competitor, not just someone who sits in the corner and shoots threes. We need a mixture of both and he’s really taken that to heart. If he just sits in the corner and shoots, I can sub someone else in for that. If he’s grabbing rebounds, plays defense, contests defense, I can’t replace him. He becomes one of the guys I have to leave on the floor for most of the game. And Jack, out of all kids on this team, has made an unbelievable commitment to the game and now you’re seeing the fruits of his labor, it’s paying off. Now we need to see him committed to that style of play each game.”
This will be the quickest turnaround between games for the two rivals as Mansfield (6-0 overall, 5-0 Kelley-Rex) travel to Franklin (4-3, 4-3) on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For nearly the entire first half, the young, inexperienced Bombardiers of Attleboro High not only just keeping pace with the visitors from Mansfield, they were going toe-to-toe with the Hornets.
But if you give these Hornets an inch, they’ll take a mile — and in a blink of an eye too.
First, it was a short burst from the Hornets in the final moments of the first quarter that prevented the hosts from boasting a surprising lead through eight minutes.
And then when it looked like it would be a close game going into the halftime break, the Hornets stung the Bombardiers with a game-changing run that led to an advantage that never went below double digits the rest of the way.
In the end, Mansfield left with an 80-58 decision over Attleboro in the first matchup between the two teams this week.
“I thought the pace of play started to lean in our direction,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan, in the midst of his 17th year at the helm of the Hornets.
Mansfield erased a five-point second quarter deficit to pull even with the hosts, entering the final two-plus minutes knotted at 29-29. With the pace of play in their control, the Hornets closed the quarter with a 14-2 run.
Senior Matt Boen was once again a handful on the offensive end (30 points) and on the boards (six of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive glass), and was the catalyst for the run. It was his steal and fast-break layup that got things started. He scored six straight to start the run, getting assists from Brian See (12 points) and Matt Hyland (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) with the latter a traditional three-point play.
Brendan Foley hustled to track down his own miss, finding Hyland for a key three in the final minute, and Hyland returned the favor by hitting Foley on the break to cap the 14-2 run and give Mansfield a 43-31 lead at halftime.
“They missed a couple of easy ones, had some turnovers, and we came down and made some shots,” Vaughan said. “I thought Attleboro handled our pressure well so we went back to our base defense because I felt like we were giving up too many baskets without scoring. Once we got into more of our staple defense, we got the stops we needed and turned those into baskets.”
Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (16 points) played a big role in helping his squad get off to a strong start, hitting a pair of threes in the opening quarter and adding another in the second. In the second, the Bombardiers showed no fear attacking the basket as sophomore Trevor White (13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks) scored seven of his 13 points, Alvin Harrison (six boards) had six of his 11 points, and Joe Francois-Annevil added two more with a strong take to the rim, his bucket making it 29-29 late in the second.
“I saw them play their two games against Milford and I came away thinking that team could beat anyone on any given night,” Vaughan said. “They have guys that can shoot, they have good guard play. The big kid [White] is impressive, he must have had five or six blocks, all of which looked like uncontested layups and he came out of nowhere. And he blocks to keep it in bounds so it’s almost like a block and a steal at the same time. They have some good pieces.”
Mansfield picked up the second half where it left off at the break. See sank a triple and sophomore Chris Hill took a freed from Hyland and drained one from downtown. Despite missing a three, Boen followed his shot came flying in for the offensive board, and converted the putback while being fouled for a three-point play, and a 53-34 lead.
On top of it all, the Hornets created the separation without their second-leading scorer in TJ Guy, who went out in the second quarter with an existing injury.
“Their transition game really took over,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle, a 26-year veteran on the Bombardier bench. “That’s one thing when you play against them, you have to be careful to not get into too much of a transition game. You have to take your opportunities when you get them, but you can’t let them get out and run. They can spread you out and they can shoot the ball. Matty [Boen] had a terrific game. They rallied around TJ when he went down.
“Their defense in the second quarter, the pressure…they decided to run and jump a little bit in the half court. It’s tough to simulate that in practice and that kind of put us a little bit on our heels.”
While it looked like the game was out of reach, the Bombardiers never quite quit and clawed their way back into the game over the next eight minutes. Helped along by a couple of big blocks from White on the defensive end, Francois-Anvil scored on the other end, and a breakaway dunk from White kept the hosts around.
Evan Houle hit two free throws and White completed a traditional three-point play at the buzzer of the third quarter to keep things interesting with Mansfield holding a 62-49 lead going into the fourth.
The Bombardiers were in the bonus for the entire fourth and free throws from Daniels and Alec Eaton early followed by a corner three from Chris Holcomb made it 66-56 with just over five minutes to play.
But instead of getting any closer, Mansfield slammed the door shut with yet another 14-2 run to close the game. Boen hit a pair of three-pointers while See and Hyland converted at the rim with Attleboro bringing double teams. The Bombardiers were held without a field goal the rest of the way.
“It’s a great challenge to play in this league and play against teams like Mansfield,” Houle said. “We’ve been successful recently and it’s because we play hard. I thought our effort was there tonight, we just made too many mistakes collectively.”
Attleboro (2-1, 2-1) on Thursday night at 7:00.