Elias Lifts Franklin To Key Division Win Over Mansfield

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Jalen Samuels dunks in the first half against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Having three legitimate offensive options has made Franklin one of the top teams in the area. But its now safe to say senior Matt Elias gives the Panthers a fourth.

Senior Paul Mahon, junior Jalen Samuels and sophomore Chris Edgehill have been reliable options for the Panthers over the past year and a half, but Elias has elevated his game this season.

The senior sharpshooter scored a career-high 17 points, connecting on four three-pointers to lead the Panthers to a key 67-52 win over Mansfield, putting the teams into a first-place tie in the Kelley-Rex. It also marked Franklin’s first win in its current gym, which opened in 2014.

“Elias had a huge game,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “He’s a silent assassin. When he’s playing well, we’re playing well. You go right down the line, we have guys that can play but he’s really stepped up for us all season long, he’s had big shot after big shot. He’s shooting with a lot of confidence, he’s playing with a lot of confidence and that’s what we’re going to need if we’re going to win games like tonight.”

It wasn’t Elias’ first big scoring output of the season, but it may have been his most valuable. It seemed almost all 17 of his points either gave Franklin a big boost or halted Mansfield from gaining any momentum of its own.

He drained a three just seconds after Mansfield hit their first triple, and then another just minutes later to erase Mansfield’s second — and final — lead of the game.

In the third quarter, Edgehill (14 points), the team’s leading scorer entering Friday night’s game, was forced to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with four minutes to go in the frame. Although Mansfield closed the gap some, Elias hit his third three of the game to make it 45-33 and the keep the Hornets at bay.

And after Mansfield was called for an offensive foul with under a minute to play, Elias beat the buzzer with a putback on the offensive end — a potential five-point swing — to keep Franklin up 47-36 going into the final period.

“Those five points were huge,” Neely said. “Jalen and Chris were both out so we were trying to survive that stretch as long as we could. Obviously having both those guys out is not ideal, it’s not how you draw it up. But I was saying if we could keep the lead around 10 we’d in in great shape. Matt’s been there for us all season and he was there again tonight for us and I’m proud of them.”

Elias then opened the fourth quarter with his fourth triple of the night, extending the lead to 50-37. And then with five minutes to play, after Mansfield gained some momentum off of an offensive putback, Elias came down the other end and converted a traditional three-point play to make it 54-42.

“Matt Elias went out and has a night for himself, talk about an all-star performance,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “That’s what he’s capable of doing, he’s put in the time. If there was an MVP tonight, it has to go to him. Every time I thought we were on a run or going to close the gap, Matt throws his ceiling shot through the bottom of the night.”

After a frantic first quarter, the Panthers held a 17-13 advantage. Mansfield’s offense shot 50% from the field but had seven turnovers. Things didn’t get any better for the Hornets in the second quarter either.

Franklin continued its solid play on both ends of the court, going 6-for-11 from the field while Mansfield’s turnover woes continued. The Hornets had eight turnovers in the second quarter alone (15 first half total) while shooting just 2-for-13 from the floor, including 0-for-8 from downtown.

“We got some looks in the first quarter and they didn’t fall,” Vaughan said. “We got tight, started to press, we started looking to the officials for calls. I think we tried to win the game in one possession, everyone wanted to be a superhero instead of just chipping away and doing what we do. We just dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

The Panthers outscored Mansfield 14-7 in the quarter and took a 31-20 lead into the halftime break.

“I know CJ praises his team and also criticizes his team when he feels like they were outplayed…tonight they were definitely not outplayed,” Vaughan said. “[Franklin] did an awesome job, they took things away, they were well prepared. Simple things that people in the stands might not notice, they did a really good job taking away. They played with a lot more energy, a lot more passion. They played with a chip on their shoulder and we kind of came in and laid down like things were going to be handed to us.”

While Mansfield made small runs throughout the second half, the Panthers pushed their lead to 18 by opening the second half on a 9-2 run. Samuels (18 points, six rebounds) drove to the basket for two, Mahon (six points, three rebounds) drained a three, Samuels converted at the rim again and Jack Rodgers hit a pair of free throws to make it 40-22.

Mansfield got it back to single digits with a 9-2 run of its own, but Elias’ third triple put an end to that surge.

When the Hornets got it back to single digits later in the fourth quarter on a drive by Sam Hyland (six points, seven rebounds), Elias’ three-point play pushed the lead back to 12.

“We tried to take away some of their best options,” Neely said of his defense. Mansfield finished with a season-high 26 turnovers. “They are a tough team to stop, they are one of the best offensive teams around. The way they move the ball and play together is kind of reminiscent of what we do so it’s always going to be a battle. But I think the guys really bought into the scout. We knew we had to be focused for the entire 32 minutes.”

“It’s been a long time,” Vaughan said of having so many turnovers. “My first couple of years we averaged around 20 a game and that was not fun. I think we had 14 or 15 at the half, which is too many. At the end of the day they were playing man to man, they weren’t pressing, they weren’t doubling, they weren’t doing anything special. Granted our shot percentage deserved to be low because they were good defensively but turnovers…that’s careless. That’s not moving, that’s bad concentration. Turnovers you can control, most of them. Anything beyond 12 or 13, that’s too many.”

John McCoy led Mansfield with 14 points and four rebounds while Tyler Boulter and Ryan Otto (six rebounds) each had 10 points. Damani Scott finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.

Franklin boys basketball (5-1 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday with a trip to Attleboro. Mansfield boys basketball (5-1, 7-2) will try to bounce back on Sunday against Hanover in an endowment game (won’t count towards tournament record) at 5:30.

Mansfield Escapes With Win After Late Taunton Surge

Mansfield boys basketball
Taunton’s Malik Charles looked to make a pass while being defended by Mansfield’s Nick Ferraz. (Ryan Lanigan/HocomockSports.com)

MANSFIELD, Mass. – Taunton’s comeback would probably have been enough to beat most teams in the league, and most teams in the area.

But the Tigers learned the hard way that you can’t leave the door open, even slightly, against Mansfield.

Taunton overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead – its first advantage since the opening quarter – but it was the Hornets that made the plays down the stretch to earn a 61-56 victory.

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Mansfield held a 15-point point lead (44-29) in the first minute of the second half after Sam Hyland drained a three, and led 50-42 going into the final quarter.

But Taunton’s full-court pressure started to pay dividends in the final quarter. Sophomore Prince Brown converted a layup and junior Lou Vendrell (16 points) finished a traditional three-point play to get the Tigers within three.

Mansfield’ John McCoy (16 points, five rebounds) snapped the run with a bucket, but Taunton sophomore Dante Law (12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) took a feed from freshman Diamond Blakely and splashed a three to get the visitors within two, 52-50, with five minutes to go.

The three sparked a 9-0 run for the Tigers as Vendrell followed with a triple of his own to give Taunton the lead. Mansfield missed a pair of threes and a putback attempt on the offensive end. Blakely hit the front end of a one-and-one to create a two-point margin, and senior Lens Esquil (19 points, 10 rebounds) forced a travel with a good defensive play to get Taunton the ball back.

Vendrell cashed in on a feed from Blakely to put Taunton up 56-52 with just under three minutes to play. But that would be the end of the Tigers’ night offensively.

Despite getting back-to-back stops defensively, Taunton had a turnover on the offensive end and was whistled for a travel on the defensive rebound. Mansfield’s cashed in when Hyland drove baseline for an easy two, making it a one-possession game.

The Tigers once again had a turnover with Khristian Conner sniffing out a pass, but the junior couldn’t convert at the free throw line. Taunton went to the free throw line on the other end but missed the front end of the one-and-one situation.

Once again, Mansfield seized the opportunity with McCoy taking his man one-on-one and finishing nicely at the rim to tie the game with a minute to go. Taunton’s offense once again went without a shot as a loose ball was pounced on by Hyland, giving the Hornets possession with 42 seconds to play.

On the ensuing possession, Hyland ended up with the ball on the way to the basket but after sucking the defense in, he dished to senior Justin Vine in the corner, who buried the go-ahead triple with 21 seconds to go. Taunton’s attempt at a tying three came up short and Conner iced the game with a pair of free throws.

“Taunton had a game plan and a method of what they were trying to accomplish,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I thought we did a good job of dealing with it, I thought they disrupted our rhythm a little bit. We were still able to build a lead and get the ball to drop some. I thought defensively we did a really good job through three quarters and that helped us build that lead. I think their style of play wore on us. I think fatigue, mental fatigue, it all started to kick in.

“I think that was probably as good of a game plan that Taunton has had that they stuck with. Charlie [Dacey] has those kids playing hard and they did a lot of really good things. I’m happy and feel fortunate we got out of here with a win. If that game went on another minute or two, I’m not sure if its the same result. A couple of bounces, a couple of calls that went our way in the final minute helped move us in the right direction.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After giving up 25 points in the second quarter, the Tigers limited Mansfield to just 22 points in the entire second half. Until the final minute, Mansfield had just four points in the fourth quarter

“I think we got the tempo to go our way,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey of the comeback. “We wanted to trap them but you have to be really careful trapping [Mansfield]. Even if you don’t make a mistake and you do trap them, they can send the ball all the way across the court, they are very smart. We were supposed to be trapping in certain places late and we didn’t execute. We had about three straight unwise decisions on the offensive end, and we’re back running our defense against their offense. I thought we did a halfway decent job against them. I don’t think we closed down the three-point shooting very well.

“That’s the way we have to play the game. We don’t score very easily, we just have to commit to full-court transition offense.”

It was only fitting for the Hornets that Hyland (13 points, seven rebounds) had the ball in his hand for Mansfield’s biggest possession, just moments after he came up with the loose ball on the other end to give the Hornets possession.

“We trust him so much,” Vaughan said of Hyland. “It wasn’t the play we drew up, the play was broken down. We want to share the basketball and get the best shot. We did a good job of reversing the basketball. He could have easily forced the shot up the middle, he could have gotten his own, Law was right there with him…but instead he dishes the ball out. Justin hadn’t really shot the ball, was in foul trouble in the first half so never really got into a rhythm, steps up and buries a big shot. That’s the part of winning an ugly game, guys step up.”

For Taunton, the comeback was doomed after the offense struggled after it took the lead. After going up 56-52 with just under three minutes to play, the Tigers had four turnovers, went 0-for-1 from the free throw line (missing the front end of a one-and-one) and missed its final shot after the Hornets took the lead.

“We just had to be better executing in the offensive end,” Dacey said. “We had it going our way, and then they started to press us and trap us, and that opened the court up for us and I thought we could get a layup but we struggled.”

A back-and-forth first quarter ended with the Hornets up by a pair, 14-12, with five different players scoring for the home team.

The separation came in the second quarter when Mansfield outscored Taunton 25-15. The Hornets closed the quarter on an 8-1 surge with buckets from Hyland, McCoy, a free throw from Damani Scott – who scored all eight of his points in the frame – and a late three from Ryan Otto. Otto’s three was Mansfield’s third shot (and third three-point attempt) of the possession after hauling in a pair of offensive rebounds.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton cut into the deficit by outscoring the Hornets 15-11 in the third quarter. After going down 15, Taunton rattled off a mini 7-0 run behind Esquil and Law. McCoy had his own 6-0 in response but the Tigers finished the frame with a 6-0 run, with Esquil and Law accounting for all scoring.

“You come off the break, you go right into Taunton, Attleboro, Franklin, KP…there’s not a night off in the next week,” Vaughan said. “The games all mean something to every single kid, no matter where anyone is in the standings. Everyone is trying to knock each other off right now because this gives you a jump start to the second half of the year. We’re going to give everyone our best shot and we’re going to get everyone’s best shot in the next week, including tonight. The league prepares us for the postseason, a game like tonight will help later. It’s always good to play ugly and get a win.”

Mansfield boys basketball (4-0 Hockomock, 6-1 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to play Attleboro. Taunton (2-2, 5-3) will try to bounce back when it takes a trip to Franklin. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 6:30.

Mansfield Edges North Behind Late Arnold Winner

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Tim Arnold (4) celebrates his power play goal with five minutes remaining that turned out to be the game-winner for Mansfield against North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – Chris Copponi’s shot was scuffed. The forward barely making contact with the puck just outside the right circle, but enough contact was made to redirect it past several sliding North Attleboro players trying desperately to block the Mansfield junior’s attempt at a power play goal.

The puck squirmed through the crowd of bodies right to senior defenseman Tim Arnold, who took advantage of the space and a wrong-footed North goalie Ryan Warren to one-time it into the empty net.

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Arnold’s goal with five minutes remaining in the third period turned out to be the game-winner for the Hornets, who held on to beat North 3-2 in Saturday night’s league encounter at the Foxboro Sports Center.

“He whiffs and it still gets through, but we’ll take it,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini outside the locker room after the game. “We’ve been working on our power play because we knew they’d be a tough opponent from the first time we played them (a 4-1 North win in the season opener) and we were just patient. Yeah, it was a misfire, but we’ll take it.”

The Hornets converted on two-of-five power play opportunities in the game, including the game-tying goal in the second period and the eventual winner in the third. Arnold’s goal came on the third power play chance for the Hornets in the final period.

“Penalties are part of the game,” said first-year North coach Ben McManama, “but we’re getting too many lazy penalties where we’re playing defense with our sticks and not our feet. It was a game where we were in it but we shot ourselves in the foot.”

He added, “We also have to have more energy all game. We’re not having a consistent effort and that’s hurt us.”

There was no lack of energy from the Hornets at the start of the game. Mansfield came out flying in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, part of what has made this one of the league’s top rivalries in the last few seasons.

Freshman Justin McIvor created an early scoring chance with a big hit on Will Yeomans on the half-board. The puck popped loose to Copponi for a one-timer from the slot, but Warren (21 saves) stood tall to stop it. Warren then came up with a big pad save to rob Jake Lund in the slot and then blocked the follow-up effort too.

“The first period has been a struggle all year because we’ve come out flat,” Balzarini explained. “We played Stoughton on Wednesday and we scored three goals in the first period and that was the stresser during practice on Friday to come out with intensity.”

The Hornets made the good start count. Senior defenseman Tyler Oakley jumped up to join the attack, skating right down the middle of the North defense. His first shot was saved but he collected the rebound and finished. It was the first of two goals and three points out of the senior defensemen in the game.

“That’s why they where the ‘C’ on their jerseys,” said Balzarini of Oakley and Arnold. “They’re both really good captains, really good leaders and for those guys to step up not only on the ice but off the ice has been huge for us.”

With 7:11 left in the first, a fire alarm went off, momentarily forcing the stands to empty and the teams to head back to the locker rooms. It also stole the momentum from the hosts and allowed North the chance to regroup.

Drew Wissler had North’s first good scoring opportunity when he caught Mansfield up ice and found space in the left circle, but his shot was saved by Hornets goalie Sean McCafferty. The Rocketeers tied the game two minutes later, with only 25.1 on the clock, when Wissler fed the puck to Anthony Zammiello for a shorthanded breakaway and the junior went five-hole for the score.

“Before I could even have a chance to talk to them, they knew that they didn’t come out ready,” said McManama of the fire alarm break. “We’ve had a lot of bad starts this year and it really needs to change. The team is aware of it, but we just need to suck it up and come out ready to play.”

North took its first lead early in the second period. Wissler flew down the left side again, opened his body and unleashed an unstoppable shot over the shoulder of McCafferty and just inside the top corner.

The lead lasted six minutes before Mansfield responded with a power play goal of its own. Oakley lined up a blast from the point that Warren could only parry. The puck fell to Cullin Anastasia and he deposited it into the open net.

The Hornets had the chance to get back in front early in the third but Patrick McCafferty saw his shot carom off Warren’s mask and off the boards behind the net. After Arnold scored, defenseman Nick Levine nearly got into the act for the Hornets but Warren again made an important close-range save.

With time running down and North scrambling for an equalizer, Jason McNeanyhad a tap in at the back post that went wide of an open net and Nick Raneri had a shot in the final minute that was kicked aside at the post.

“The penalties in these games disrupt the flow, so things may be going our way but a penalty for or against if we don’t capitalize changes the whole momentum of the game,” said McManama. “A good hockey team doesn’t get affected by these things, but we’re not there yet. We’re going to get there, but we’re just not there yet.”

Mansfield has now won two in a row and Balzarini is hoping the Hornets can build off a strong week. He said, “The momentum was ours from Wednesday to today and I’m hoping it continues [at practice] on Monday and Tuesday.”

Mansfield (3-3-1, 2-0-0) will host Brockton in a non-league game on Wednesday. North Attleboro (5-3-0, 1-1-0) will host Franklin at the New England Sports Village.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield Gets Back On Track With Win Over B-R

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Sam Hyland had a terrific all-around game, including a strong defensive performance. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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MANSFIELD, Mass. – After suffering its first loss of the season, Mansfield had a chance to right the ship before it began division play in the new calendar year.

In a rematch of last year’s D1 South Sectional semifinal, Mansfield did just that. The Hornets built an early lead and never looked back, capping 2017 with a 60-47 win over Bridgewater-Raynham.

“It’s huge,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “B-R has become one of the top teams in D1 South, we know we could potentially see them again in March.

“To give up the game against BC High where I thought we had some chances to close the gap late and didn’t…I thought tonight we did a much better job closing the game out, managing the clock better and things we needed to do to sustain.”

Mansfield created the necessary separation in the first quarter, outscoring the Trojans 16-6. The Hornets scored two more points than B-R in each the second (18-16) and third (12-10) quarters to stay ahead.

While seniors John McCoy (22 points and 11 rebounds) and Justin Vine (career-high 21 points) propelled the Hornets with their scoring, Sam Hyland had a terrific all-around game with nine points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals to highlight terrific defensive performance.

“He’s kind of our silent unsung hero through the end of 2017,” Vaughan said of Hyland. “He did a little of everything and his efficiency rating is off the charts right now. He’s shooting high percentages, he’s playing at such a good pace, he’s not turning the ball over, he doesn’t pick up stupid fouls. He’s just steady for us.”

Hyland also helped limit Bridgewater-Raynham’s top scorer, senior Doug Alves, to just five points on 1-for-9 shooting. Alves picked up two early fouls that kept him out for the final six minutes of the first quarter but was held in check by Hyland the rest of the game.

“He’s our go-to guy [defensively] for guards,” Vaughan said. “He doesn’t foul a lot, he doesn’t do stupid things, he doesn’t gamble, he just makes it very difficult [for opponents]. Tonight I thought he did a really good job on Alves and made it difficult for him. Alves got two fouls early unfortunately which probably took him out of his rhythm but Sam did a nice job.

Hyland helped restore Mansfield’s 14 point lead at the end of the third quarter, coming up with a steal and an easy layup. After B-R drained a three to open the fourth quarter, Hyland came right back down the other way and converted a traditional three-point play to prevent the Trojans’ from rattling off an early run in the quarter.

McCoy was the catalyst for the Hornets in their best quarter. The senior scored nine of his 22 points in the opening frame. McCoy’s back-to-back layups put Mansfield up 6-2; he then scored the Hornets’ final five points of the quarter, including a three in the final minute, to create the double-digit lead.

In the second quarter, the Trojans put together their best stretch of the game — an 11-2 run — but that only brought B-R within nine. That’s because Mansfield opened the second quarter with an 8-0 burst of its own.

“We had to stop turning the ball over,” Vaughan said of stopping B-R’s surge. “We go into moments where offensive rebounds are automatically theirs, and when they trap us we give them the ball. We’re trying to get the guys to find the open guy. We’ve thrown some passes that get some gasps from the crowd because it’s almost a turnover. That’s not how we want to play, we want to pass open. When they double, someone has to be open.”

Vine, who started his first game for Mansfield, sandwiched a pair of triples around a layup from McCoy to put the Hornets up 24-6. When Bridgewater-Raynham made its run, cutting it to 26-17, Vine drew a foul while shooting a three. He hit two free throws to halt the run, and then canceled a triple from B-R’s Connor Rubenskas with a trey of his own.

“He’s been doing a pretty good job in practice trying to find his rhythm and a role on this team,” Vaughan said of Vine. “I think today, getting that starting nod, playing with a chip on his shoulder and playing with confidence went a long way for him. When you have guys like Johnny and Sammy, Justin gets some open looks. The longer rotations get going to leave him more open and I think he did a good job of capitalizing.”

Senior Ryan Otto added seven points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who won the battle on the boards 38-30.

Mansfield boys basketball (3-0 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) begins the 2018 calendar with a tough test, opening division play at home against Taunton (2-1, 5-1) on Friday, January 5th.

Bendanillo Career High Lifts Mansfield Over Feehan

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield junior point guard Mady Bendanillo scored 15 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead Mansfield to a come from behind victory over Bishop Feehan. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Trailing by two points entering the fourth quarter, Mansfield knew that it would need a spark on the offensive end to come out on top against non-league rival Bishop Feehan in Friday night’s meeting in the James Albertini Gym.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets put the ball into the hands of junior point guard Mady Bendanillo and she delivered, personally outscoring the Shamrocks 15-12 in the final eight minutes. With Bendanillo leading the way, Mansfield, which had scored 36 points over the first three quarters, put up 30 as a team in the fourth.

Bendanillo finished with a game- and career-high 22 points and added five assists to lead the Hornets to a 66-50 victory over Feehan, which head coach Mike Redding said afterwards was his first coaching win against the Shamrocks.

“She put on a show tonight,” said Redding of Bendanillo. “She was money at the free throw line (9-of-10 in the fourth quarter), hit some big threes, and handled the ball. I think she played more minutes than anybody and never gets tired, never takes a possession off, and she’s definitely coming into her own getting confidence scoring.”

He added, “We know Meg’s going to get some points inside, Ann will hit some threes, but when Mady goes for double digits then we become a really good basketball team.”

Bendanillo got the fourth quarter started with a three-pointer to give the Hornets a one-point edge. After she hit a pair of free throws, junior Maggie Danehy got into the act with a baseline drive and finish to make it 43-38. Feehan scored, but Ann Maher (12 points and four assists) nailed a step-back three from the left wing to push the lead to six.

The speed of Bendanillo allowed her to break the Feehan press and turn any rebound into a quick break and her ability to get to the rim led to five different trips to the line in the quarter. She buried a three (her third of the night) off a Steph Kemp assist for a 51-43 lead then assisted on a Maher three that pushed the lead to nine.

Meg Hill (14 points and 10 boards) had a pair of baskets in the fourth, one off a Maher assist and the other on a putback, and Danehy added a layup, as the Hornets stormed to the final whistle.

“It was just a lot of different contributions when we needed it,” said Redding about the difference on this night compared to other meetings with Feehan in the past. “Where in the past we may have gone flat for a couple minutes and no one would make a play. Tonight we had a bunch of kids making plays to extend it and make it comfortable.”

The game looked similar to recent meetings between the two teams midway through the second quarter. With the Hornets struggling to make shots and with Hill, who had kept Mansfield in the game with eight points in the first quarter, on the bench with her second foul, Feehan built a 24-12 lead and looked poised to break the game wide open.

Instead of the game getting out of hand, the Hornets grabbed hold of the momentum and closed the half with a 14-4 run. Erin Daniel (seven points) drained a three that cut the lead to seven and Bendanillo followed with a steal and layup and then a three off an assist by her twin sister Kara.

After a Kemp steal, Kara Bendanillo scored her only basket of the night to tie the game at 26-26. Although Feehan added a bucket to lead at the break, it was the Hornets that went into halftime happier.

“When Meg got her second [foul], we sat her and said okay we just have to survive these last two [minutes] and we went on an 8-0 run with the subs,” Redding explained. “That really kind of set the tone going into the second half.”

He continued, “All of a sudden we have that run and it’s a ballgame and we came out with some confidence to start the second half.”

Sydney Mulkern hit a three after the break, her only points of the game, to give Mansfield its first lead since it was 2-0. Nicole Smith (15 points) answered with a three for the Shamrocks, but Maher stepped into a kick out pass by Hill to bury a three on the next possession. Daniel added four points in the quarter to keep the Hornets within two heading to the final eight minutes.

“It was a great game,” said Redding. “We’ll have out hands full over there and this will probably end up being the first of three of them. So, they’re all going to be fun to watch. It’s a high level of basketball for both teams.”

Mansfield (4-1, 2-1) will get a few days off before facing Franklin on Dec. 28 with a rematch against Bishop Feehan slated for Jan. 3.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield Survives Late Push From Newton North

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Khristian Conner makes a pass in the second half against Newton North. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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MANSFIELD, Mass. – When Mansfield needed an answer at the most critical time, the Hornets delivered.

Newton North rattled off a quick 7-0 run in the fourth quarter, cutting Mansfield’s lead to just two points, 54-52 with just over three minutes to go.

But after a timeout, the Hornets delivered during the most important stretch of the game, putting together a 6-0 run over the next two minutes and never looked back in a 71-62 win over the visiting Tigers.

“I thought we did a really good job having key possessions when they got it close,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “That was a big stretch there. If that goes the other way, we could be playing from behind.”

Junior Tommy Dooling (13 points) drained a three with 4:43 to play to give the Hornets a nine-point lead, but it took just over a minute for the Tigers to get back within two.

Aaron Cooley hit two free throws, Noah Neville hit the second of two free throws, and Ethan Wright (32 points) hit a mid-range jumper to bring Newton North within four. After forcing a Mansfield turnover, Neville converted at the rim to make it 54-52, forcing Vaughan to call a timeout.

The Hornets executed right out of the timeout, as senior Sam Hyland drove around his defender for a layup. John McCoy (22 points, nine rebounds) hit one free throw on the offensive end, and the defense forced Wright into a turnover.

McCoy went back to the line after being fouled, but after missing both shots, junior Damani Scott (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists) pulled down the rebound and converted the putback while being fouled. His free throw completed the traditional three-point play but the Hornets up 60-52 with two minutes to play.

When Newton North answered with two free throws of their own, Scott drove the lane for a bucket to keep the eight-point cushion.

The Tigers got within three with just under a minute to play when Wright drained his first three of the game, but Justin Vine hauled in a defensive rebound after a missed free throw from Newton North, and went down and sank two of his own to make it 65-60.

McCoy hit six straight free throws to close the game out.

“We just found a way to come down and have a good possession and have a big basket,” Vaughan said of holding onto the lead. “A couple of different people contributed. I think the quiet story was Hyland’s defense tonight. Wright got his points but it took him a lot to do it. [Wright] is a tremendous player, but I thought Sammy did a really good job of how difficult he made it for him.”

The only time the Hornets trailed was after surrendering the game’s opening basket. After that, Mansfield rattled off an 11-0 run over the next two minutes. A traditional three-point play from McCoy preceded a strong take to the hoop from the senior, Dooling drove to the basket for two, Ryan Otto (nine points) converted a putback, and McCoy capped the run with two free throws.

An early steal and dunk from Khristian Conner (eight points) put the Hornets up 10 (22-12), a lead that they kept for the majority of the first half. A mini 4-0 run over the final 13 seconds of the half brought the Tigers within six, 35-29, at the break.

Both offenses struggled in the third quarter, combining for just 18 points. Newton North scored 11 of them, making it a two-point game (42-40) heading into the final frame. The teams were called for a combined 13 fouls in the eight minutes, limiting either side from getting into a rhythm.

After the Hornets had gone just 1-for-12 from three-point range through the first three quarters, they got two of their biggest shots of the game in the first two minutes of the final frame.

After Sam Hyland swiped away an offensive board from Wright, Otto drained his first triple of the game it made it 45-40. A minute later, Otto didn’t hesitate after getting a pass from McCoy and hit another three to put Mansfield up 48-42.

“Ryan Otto had two big threes in the third, Damani getting the putback was a big possession, so I thought a couple of guys stepped up,” Vaughan said. “I thought Johnny played pretty consistent throughout, you could kind of tell his basketball legs caught up with him a little bit.”

Mansfield boys basketball (3-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) has a week off before it welcomes BC High to town on Thursday, December 28th at 7:15. Newton North drops to 1-2 overall.