Mansfield Rallies To Edge Attleboro In Quarterfinals

Mansfield boys basketball TJ Guy
Mansfield junior TJ Guy (4) goes up for a shot against Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles and Bryant Ciccio in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Ciccio Clutch Free Throws Lift Attleboro to Playoff Win

Attleboro boys basketball
Senior guard Bryant Ciccio sank a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift Attleboro a playoff win against Brookline. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Charles Hits 1,000, Ignites Bombardiers Past Panthers

Attleboro boys basketball Qualeem Charles
Attleboro senior Qualeem Charles (35) celebrates in front of the home crowd after scoring his 1,000th career point. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Attleboro High School had 1,000 point fever, and the only prescription was more ‘Q.’

‘Q’ being senior Qualeem Charles, the 6’5, 290-pound center and four-year starter for the Bombardiers, who went a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor, the last bucket giving him his 1,000th career point. Charles is the second Bombardier to reach the milestone in the past nine days, joining classmate Bryant Ciccio.

Behind Charles’ 27 points, 18 coming in the second half, Attleboro grinded out a 62-56 win over a hot-shooting Franklin squad, giving the Bombardiers a season sweep of the Panthers for the first time since joining the Hockomock League.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I was aiming for 15 in the first half, but I wasn’t mad it didn’t happen, it was a close game and Franklin is a tough team,” Charles said. “I came out hot in the third quarter and the team kept feeding me. I’ve been a pass-first guy but all of my teammates keep rooting me on to shoot it, even if I miss, they want me to keep shooting. My teammates were patient in getting me the ball.

“It’s crazy to get the sweep over Franklin, the first time [Attleboro] has done that. Ever since we were in fifth grade, this is all me and Bryant have talked about so it’s crazy to both get it.”

An even, back-and-forth first half had the teams tied at 28-28 through two quarters. And from Attleboro’s first possession of the second half, it was clear the emphasis would be on getting Charles the ball.

Nick McMahon (10 points, seven rebounds, six assists) found the big man for a traditional three-point play, and while it was close and even tied at points through the rest of the game, the Bombardiers never trailed.

Q sank a pair from the line, two more down low on an entry pass from Tim Callahan, and another three-point play gave Attleboro a 38-35 near the midway point of the third. Callahan accounted for four straight points before Charles got back into the scoring column. Justin Daniels hit his second three of the game as Attleboro held a 47-42 lead after three. After scoring nine points in the opening half, Charles scored 12 in the third.

“He’s a very unselfish player, we had to tell him to shoot more,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle, who has coached a pair of 1,000-point scorers for the second time in his career. “About six weeks ago, we told him if he gets the ball inside you have to put it up. It helps our team when he shoots. He’s been doing it more the last month and that’s helped us be a better team.”

While Attleboro had plenty of success down low, the Panthers were keeping pace because of their outside shooting. The Panthers hit six three-pointers in the opening half while Jack Rudolph, Steven Karayan, and Andrew Byfield (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) each connected from downtown to keep Franklin in the game.

With Charles having the hot hand, and just six points away from the milestone, the Bombardiers continued to find ways to get him the ball. A patient approach that often featured more than a half dozen passes before getting a look into the paint to Charles helped open lanes.

“We had to work hard for everything,” Houle said. “I think the best thing about tonight was we trusted our motion offense more than we have all year. I thought our kids executed very well, we made the extra pass…and it was everyone, kids came off the bench like Alec [Eaton] and Justin [Daniels]…and that opened up the offense. We hit the right guys.

“And I don’t think that we forced the ball inside, I think it came within the flow of the offense. I was proud of the way we played. And we defended better tonight. Hard to say that with them hitting 13 three-pointers but we defended better than the past two games and that’s a step in the right direction for us.”

Charles scored Attleboro’s first bucket of the quarter on a feed from Callahan, repeated that feat on the next trip, and did the same exact thing on the third possession of the quarter, the last one giving him his 1,000th point.

“It’s hard to help off on him, you’re trying to pick your poison where it’s coming from,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Last game we helped off a ton and Weir got loose for a big game, Ciccio had over 20. We were trying to flip the script a little bit, change it up and see what we can do without over helping. They did a really good job of moving the ball and being patient. They switched sides a couple of times and made us work, and I thought our guys played hard, it’s just such a tough matchup.”




The big bucket pushed Attleboro’s lead to 53-45 with 6:11 to go but Franklin got a big response on a three from Rudolph but a mid-range baseline jumper from Jason Weir and a three from McMahon gave the hosts a 58-50 lead with three minutes to play.

Franklin missed on a three but Brayden Sullivan (nine points) came up with the Panthers’ fifth offensive rebound and found Chris Edgehill (17 points, four rebounds) for a three. After another stop. Edgehill returned the favor and Sullivan sank a three to make it 58-56 with 1:31 to play.

The Panthers had a strong defensive possession but McMahon was able to get the ball on his right and got around a defender for a layup just before the shot clock to push the lead back to four. Franklin, which finished 13-for-30 from three-point, was off the mark from three.

“Shooting is obviously one of our strengths but at the same time, we would have liked to get to the rim a little bit more,” Neely said. Franklin had a total of 16 attempts from inside the three-point line. “I didn’t think we made Q defend enough on the ball screen, which was part of the game plan, and we got away from it early. I thought overall our offense was pretty good, we got some good looks down the stretch but credit [Attleboro], that matchup was tough for us.”

Ciccio came up with a steal on Franklin’s next possession and went in for an easy two to help seal the win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Just so proud of this senior group and all the work they put in,” Houle said. “And they work hard for each other, they work hard for each other. I’m proud of seeing Bryant and Q being able to enjoy this at home with the Attleboro fans, a pretty special moment for them.

“This group really wants to pull for each other. That’s that part you don’t see on a scoreboard or in stats. You see it in practice, you see it after wins, you see it more so after losses. And they came together and played tougher tonight, that comes from them playing for each other.”

Attleboro boys basketball (12-4 Hockomock, 14-5 overall) is back in action on Sunday at the Comcast Tournament at Woburn High, taking on Newton North at 6:30. Franklin (11-5, 14-5) travels to Weston on Thursday at 1:00.

Video: Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio Scores 1,000th Point

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With a left-handed scoop and score, Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio etched his name into the Bombardier history books.

With 2:49 left in the second quarter of Tuesday’s contest with Oliver Ames, Ciccio became the eighth male and 14th player overall in Attleboro history to score 1,000 career points. Ciccio needed 18 points coming into the game and ended up with one of his best scoring performances in his four-year career as a starter.

“He was locked in and played phenomenal,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle, who is also apart of the Bombardier 1,000-point club. Ciccio is the first male addition to the list since 2014 when Tim Walsh accomplished the feat.

Ciccio got off to a terrific start, nailing a pair of three-pointers in the opening frame and finished with 10 points in the first quarter. He hit two more three-pointers in the second quarter before a steal led to a layup for his 1,000th point. He went on to his three more three-pointers in the second half to finish with seven total, and 31 points in the game, just one shy of tying his career high. Attleboro earned an important 79-55 win over the Tigers.

You can see a full list of Attleboro 1,000-point scorers as well as the other 11 schools in the Hockomock League here.

Mansfield Shoots Into First With Win at Attleboro

Mansfield boys basketball
Matt Boen scored a game-high 25 points to power Mansfield to a win at Attleboro and back into first place in the Kelley-Rex division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Sam Stevens swung the ball around to the corner, making the extra pass to get an open look, and Andrew Rooney lined up a three-pointer. The shot hit the front of the rim, the back of the rim, bounced high up into the air, and then scraped the rim on its way through the net.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It was a moment that epitomized Mansfield’s 77-65 victory at Attleboro. The Hornets hit seven three-pointers in the second half (10 for the game) and seemed to knock down every open look and had a response every time that the Bombardiers threatened to get back into the game.

“Rooney’s shot cost me about five years off my life just hitting the rim 17 times,” joked Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan, whose team moved a game ahead of the Bombardiers in the Kelley-Rex standings. “We made the ones we had to. We really stepped up, Sammy did a good job, Matty hit a couple of tough ones, and then Rooney’s ultimately put the icing on the cake.”

Attleboro coach Mark Houle added, “We had some really good opportunities to play good defense but then they would hit a tough shot. Those are backbreakers, those are momentum busters, and they did it a few times tonight. I like our toughness, but at the end of the day they played better for 32 minutes.”

The Bombardiers, spurred on by a loud home crowd, got off to the perfect start, riding their two senior stars. Bryant Ciccio scored 10 of his 23 points in the opening quarter and Qualeem Charles (11 rebounds) scored eight of his team-high 24. Attleboro led 11-3 and 20-12, but Rooney (11 points) beat the buzzer at the end of the first to cut the lead to 20-15 after one.

After a dominant start to the game, Charles picked up his second foul of the half on a reach-in. Once the Attleboro center went to the bench, Mansfield was able to take advantage and eventually extended its run to 18-5 to grab the lead for good.

Matt Boen caught fire in the second and spearheaded the Mansfield attack. He started the second with a three. Following baskets by Brendan Foley and TJ Guy (13 points), Boen stole a pass at midcourt and raced in for a layup and then he grabbed a defensive rebound and beat the Bombardiers up the court for another layup.

“When we become a perimeter team,” Vaughan explained, “we struggle to grind out possessions, but when Matty is getting to the rim it opens up TJ a little bit and Chris Hill can get more comfortable inside and then it opens up Sammy a little bit more, it allows us be way more efficient.”

Nick McMahon kept Attleboro close in the second. He drilled a three to make it 26-25 and then he hit a wild, shot clock-beating jumper while being fouled to pull the Bombardier within 30-28 at the break. After his big first quarter, Ciccio was held to just two points in the second.

“They’re a very good defensive team,” Houle said. “Whether they’re face-guarding him or playing team defense, they knew where Bryant was at all times on the court.”

Vaughan noted, “After about the six-minute mark of the first quarter, I thought we played with great energy. I thought we did a lot of the things we practiced for the last two days to prepare for this team and having two special players like Q and Ciccio to go against. I thought after that point Ciccio really had to earn everything he got.”

Boen started the third with a triple, as Mansfield went on an 8-2 run and started to get some separation. Guy scored on a feed from Boen and then Stevens (16 points) hit a three on an assist from Cincere Gill (five assists).

Attleboro needed a spark and turned to Charles in the post. He scored nine points in the third quarter, twice finishing at the rim on assists from McMahon. Ciccio continued to find it difficult to get going against the Mansfield defense, but Justin Daniels stepped up off the bench with eight points, including a pair of threes, to keep Attleboro within three points.

Boen (10 points in the third) stretched the lead to six with a late three-pointer and then Mansfield started the fourth with eight straight points over the first 90 seconds of the quarter and pushed the lead to 14.

Stevens knocked down a jumper, Boen turned a steal into a layup and the foul, and then Guy snagged an offensive rebound and was able to score through contact. Charles answered with an and-one on the other end, but again Stevens had the response with a straightaway three.

Attleboro cut the lead to as little as nine points, 66-57, after a basket by Charles, who scored seven in the quarter. Ciccio also found some openings again, scoring nine points in the fourth. But, the Hornets just made too many shots for the Bombardiers to overcome. Gill drilled a three, then Rooney followed with his three that bounced around for ages and essentially sealed the win by putting the Hornets back up by 13.

“We want to be playing our best in February and March,” said Vaughan. “Tomorrow’s February and we’re playing pretty good. Are we playing where we need to be to make a run in March? Absolutely not. But we’re getting there.”

Mansfield (15-2, 11-1) will have another first-place showdown on Tuesday when the Hornets try to split the season series with Franklin. Attleboro (12-3, 10-2) will try to keep the pressure on the league leaders when it hosts Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Attleboro Starts, Finishes Strong In Win Over Franklin

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio
Attleboro senior Bryant Ciccio goes up for a shot against Franklin’s Andrew Cunningham in the third quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Behind a blazing start and a strong finish, the Attleboro boys basketball team earned a crucial division win on the road in Franklin on Friday night.

Senior Bryant Ciccio ignited the Bombardiers from the start, scoring half of Attleboro’s 22 first quarter points, and the visitors connected on four three-pointers in the opening quarter to build a lead they would never relinquish.

And to finish, it was a 12-2 run that spanned the first six minutes of the fourth quarter that propelled the Bombardiers to a 63-51 decision on the road.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think the biggest thing about tonight was that we stuck to the game plan,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We weren’t just shooting on the first available shot, we really tried to get some paint shots. We didn’t get a lot but I think working the clock, making them work defensively, and looking to see where we had opportunities on skips and seals, I think that helped us.

“And Bryant coming out and really feeling it early was a spark for us. And defensively I thought we played pretty well.”

In the first, Ciccio (21 points, four rebounds, four assists) hit his first two shots, including one triple, and later in the frame hit a pair of three-pointers inside a 30-second span, the latter coming in transition that put the visitors ahead 17-8. Tim Callahan (nine points) added the other triple to give the Bombarders a 22-13 lead after eight minutes.

And in the fourth, holding a 48-41 advantage to start, the Bombardiers clamped down defensively to limit the hosts to just one made field goal over six minutes to push the lead to 60-43. Senior Qualeem Charles (10 points, 10 rebounds) got half of his points in the span and senior Jason Weir (career-high 17 points, seven rebounds) sank one of his four trifectas to give the Bombardiers breathing room.

“Jason played really well, he played within himself,” Houle said. “He’s the type of player that can play inside or outside and he’s definitely shooting the ball a lot better, he’s confident in himself. He didn’t play last year (injury) so it’s taken a little while but I’m really proud of his efforts because he’s stuck with it, he continues to battle. He’s such a competitor and it was a big night for him.

“I thought throughout the game, everyone at some point stepped up. I thought [Franklin] did a great job on Q, making him work for everything but he had a couple of key possessions in the fourth that were big for us. I don’t think it was one guy consistently but I thought different guys stepped up for us at different times and it was a really solid win against a very good team at Franklin.”

Charles started the late run off of a feed from Nick McMahon (six rebounds, four assists), who found Callahan for a bucket two plays later. Ciccio had a rare miss but Charles gobbled up the rebound and muscled through a foul to put it back in as the Bombardiers surged to a 54-43 lead with 5:15 to play.

After a bit of a lull from both sides, Attleboro got Charles the ball again and he was fouled, sinking one of two from the line. Callahan came up with a steal, Ciccio drove to the basket to collapse the defense and found Weir, who drained a three. Ciccio added two free throws with two minutes left to make it 60-43.

While Franklin entered the fourth having success from deep (6-for-18), the Panthers went ice cold from downtown for the majority of the final quarter. Jack Rudolph (14 points, four rebounds, five assists) had the Panthers’ lone bucket of the stretch with a nice take to the basket that made it 50-43 at the time.

After that, the Panthers missed on five straight three-pointers, had a turnover, and then missed two more from downtown.

“They came out hot in the first and that was a tough way to start the game, falling behind,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Ciccio was lights out, he was doing everything out there, he’s an awesome player. And at the end, I think our offense got a little stagnant and we started to force it a little bit. We don’t have the luxury to go out there and play one-on-one basketball, that’s not what we’ve been about. When we’ve been successful, it’s been a team effort, it’s been extra passes, ball reveals, screening for each other, and taking pride in all of those little details.










“Tonight, I thought we got away from those details in those big moments. It felt like we tried to get it all back in one basket. We got it down to five in the third but I thought it was a lot of those little things. I didn’t think we executed our plan very well, I didn’t think we made them earn it as much tonight. I’m not taking anything away from [Attleboro], they played great but when you’re trying to get back into a game, you can’t have lapses on those little moments.”

Franklin surged in each the second and third quarters to close the gap, but could never quite get over the hump. The only time the Panthers led in the game was after Steven Karayan (13 points) opened the game with a three-pointer.

In the second, Declan Walmsley converted through the contact after a steal from Brayden Sullivan. Rudolph sank a three-pointer and Matt Lazarek had an open layup as the Panthers closed the gap to 25-20. After a free throw from Charles, Karayan hit another three to make it a three-point game.

But Ciccio and Justin Daniels each converted from deep to give Attleboro a 32-25 lead at halftime.

Franklin closed the gap to three early in the third on a steal from Lazarek and layup from Chris Edgehill. Weir and Edgehill traded three-pointers but a steal from Charles led to a fast break for Ciccio and layup from Callahan.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sullivan got around his man to make it a three-point game again, but once more Attleboro answered with Ciccio connecting from downtown. Weir hit another three and Attleboro took advantage of two offensive rebounds from Weir and Callahan to push the lead to 48-41 after three.

“Both teams worked really hard,” Houle said. “They seemed to take more threes in the fourth than we did, and they are a good shooting team. It’s not like we were giving them the threes, but fortunately, they weren’t hitting them and we were getting some key box-outs and rebounds.”

Attleboro boys basketball (9-1 Hock, 11-2 overall) remains in a first-place tie with Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex with six games to go. The Bombardiers will host Davenport-leading Milford on Tuesday. Franklin (8-2, 11-2) will host Sharon on the same night.

Bombardiers Finish Strong To Upend Visiting Tigers

Attleboro boys basketball Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (35) goes up for a shot against Taunton’s Tyler Stewart (15) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – A battle between two of the top teams in the Hockomock League boiled down to late game execution.

There wasn’t much to separate the Taunton and Attleboro boys basketball teams, locked in a tie game through three quarters, and still level two minutes into the final quarter.

In the end, it was the Bombardiers that did enough down the stretch, getting a pair of game-changing shots from senior Nick McMahon to earn a 52-46 decision over the Tigers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Attleboro Rides Dominant Fourth Quarter Past North

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio (left) and Qualeem Charles (35) double team North Attleboro’s Edan Kelley (15) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For three quarters, not much could separate rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro on the hardwood inside Kenneth Pickering gymnasium.

A two-point lead for the visitors after a quarter, a tied game at the halftime break, and just a one-point advantage for the Bombardiers made it anyone’s game heading into the final frame.

And even two minutes into the final quarter, just one basket separated the rivals with Attleboro holding onto to a 45-43 lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Hornets Hang On For Division Win Over Bombardiers

Mansfield boys basketball TJ Guy
Mansfield boys basketball junior TJ Guy goes up for a layup against Attleboro’s Lorenzo Wilson in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Attleboro Hangs On For Close Win Over Stoughton

Attleboro boys basketball Tim Callahan
Attleboro senior Tim Callahan puts up a three-point shot in the second quarter against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Attleboro boys basketball team was at its best in the second quarter of Friday night’s contest against visiting Stoughton.

The Bombardiers were zipping passes all around the court, sharing the ball among all five players, hitting teammates in stride on cuts to the basket, and draining shots from three-point range. And Attleboro was good on the defensive end too, having a hand in eight Stoughton turnovers while holding the visitors to just three makes from the floor, none from three-point territory.

The result of that quarter, and a strong start to the second half, was an 18-point advantage for the hosts with just over a quarter and a half to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But with two minutes to play, that lead had dwindled to just six points behind a spirited defensive effort from Stoughton, a halftime switch from zone to man-to-man helping the Black Knights get back into the game.

A three from Stoughton senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (17 points, 3 rebounds) forced the Bombardiers into a timeout with 2:01 to go, the hosts having scored just four points over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.

In desperate need of a basket to halt Stoughton’s run, which was 12-4 across the entire quarter so far, the Bombardiers turned to their “Mr. Reliable” – senior Bryant Ciccio (23 points, four assists). Ciccio, who had scored Attleboro’s lone two buckets of the frame and was playing in his 65th varsity game, took it himself, getting a step on the defender to attack the basket before pulling up and sinking an elbow jumper with 1:22 to give Attleboro a 59-51 advantage.

Stoughton, which never developed a rhythm from downtown, missed on its next three shots including two from deep, and the Bombardiers held on for a 59-53 win.

“We worked really hard adjusting in the second quarter, and I think our defense in the second quarter was terrific too,” said longtime Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We shot the ball well, and we were getting more paint touches too and that’s how we built the 18-point lead. We wanted to extend the lead in the second half but [Stoughton] came out and got right back into it. They switched to man, and they played terrific. They forced us into a lot of things that we weren’t comfortable doing.

“We weren’t comfortable against the zone in the first quarter, then after we got comfortable against it in the second, they went man and I don’t think we ever felt comfortable against it. They did a nice job, they have some terrific athletics and they defended really hard. But we didn’t lose our composure as a team and Bryant hit that big elbow jumper.”

Ciccio scored Attleboro’s first field goal of the fourth with 6:15 to go, and finished off a nice layup along the baseline for the Bombardiers’ only other points with 4:19 to play in the game.

“He’s been in a lot of games for us, and he made the right play and we trust him to do that,” Houle said of Ciccio. “He pulled up at the elbow, and that’s a shot he practices a lot and we have confidence he’s going to make those plays. If he wasn’t open, he’s the type of player who’s going to find someone who is. Stoughton’s defensive intensity in the second half was really good, we didn’t get any second-chance points, we didn’t get to the foul line. We didn’t execute well against the zone in the first quarter or against man in the second half.”

The Black Knights built a 9-2 lead early on but Attleboro slowly found success against the Stoughton zone and started to get hot from three-point range as both Ciccio and Tim Callahan (11 points, six assists) each connected from deep in the last two minutes to get the Bombardiers within one, 13-12, at the first break.

The momentum carried into the second as the Bombardiers exploded for 22 points in the frame. Callahan sank a three off a feed from Nick McMahon (eight assists), who followed up with a triple of his own off a feed from Ciccio.

Stoughton senior Tahkwan Gates Brown (nine points, seven rebounds) kept the Black Knights close with a bucket from down low but Ciccio sank another triple followed by a pair of free throws. Callahan found classmate Qualeem Charles (12 points on 6-for-7 shooting, 11 rebounds) on a cut to the basket for an easy two, and Ciccio sank yet another triple for a 32-19 advantage with just over a minute to go in the frame. Stoughton finished the first half 0-for-9 from three-point range.

“We lost this game in the second quarter,” said Stoughton coach John Gallivan. The Black Knights outscored the hosts 34-25 in the second half but couldn’t overcome the 22-6 second quarter. “We had three good quarters but we always talk about having four. There are so many ways that Attleboro can hurt you, and we were probably a little too focused on them hurting us inside which led to all the threes. Second half, they got some twos but twos are less than three. And it was a bad combination in the second quarter of them hitting those shots and us not hitting.”

Stoughton senior Ahmad Jahed (11 points, seven rebounds) sank a three and classmate Obinna Ugwuakazi (14 points, 10 rebounds) found Gates Brown for an easy two out in transition to help spark the Black Knights’ comeback.

Ciccio swished his fourth triple of the night to push the lead back to 18 at 46-28 but Stoughton closed the third with 11 points in the final 3:15 to stay in the game. Ugwuakazi scored six straight and Grigalunas-Powell buried a deep three just before the buzzer to make it 53-39.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“In the second half, the guys just started playing,” Gallivan said. “In the past, we’ve had some teams that have may have folded. That’s a great environment, its hostile, and it’s a lot of fun but it’s hard to play in. And these kids responded and kept it a game the entire way.

“There was nothing positive to say after last Friday and tonight, this was a building block game. There are no moral victories in this league but if you get something out of it, you can use it in your next game.”

Attleboro boys basketball (2-0 Hockomock, 2-0 overall) is back in action on Monday when it travels to Durfee. Stoughton (1-2, 1-2) hosts Fenway on the same night.