Taunton Rallies To Clinch Share Of First Hock Title

Taunton boys basketball Tyler Stewart
Taunton senior Tyler Stewart goes up for a layup against Attleboro in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. – It’s been a most challenging season for everyone, but with a delayed start and a one-week hiatus smack in the middle of its schedule, it’s been a bit tougher on the Taunton boys basketball team.

So it’s only fitting that the Tigers made clinching their first-ever Hockomock League Kelley-Rex division title a bit more difficult than it needed to be.

A near-perfect start from visiting Attleboro coupled with a sluggish first eight minutes from the Tigers put the hosts in a double-digit deficit.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But as these Tigers have done all season, they responded. Despite starting their season two weeks after everyone else, Taunton opened the season with five straight wins. And when they were forced to the sideline for a week, the Tigers came right back and beat one of the best teams in the state in Mansfield with just one day of practice.

And on Thursday afternoon, in their fourth game in the five-day span, the Tigers dominated the final three quarters of play, not only digging out of the hole they were in but burying it and covering it with a mound of dirt in the form of a 76-57 win over the Bombardiers.

The Tigers’ game with King Philip will not be made up and the Hockomock League is expected to award Taunton with a win via forfeit for that game multiple sources told HockomockSports.com.

It marks Taunton’s first league title since 2008 when it won the Old Colony League.

“Everyone has gone through issues this year but this is an extraordinary group, I’ve said it many times,” said longtime Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “Across the board, not just the first five either, you go right down the roster. We’ve had no issues at all this year. There’s usually something but this group has been great, they really like each other too.

“When we got into our offense, we got the lead into double figures and that force them to pressure a little bit. Then we really started to figure out that if we can our offense, things were working. Once we’re relaxed, like any team, they get into a comfort zone and we really pulled away.”










Attleboro got whatever it wanted to start the game, hitting mid-range jumpers and getting to the rim on open layups. The Bombardiers shot 9-for-16 from the field for 20 points while their defense was on point too, the Tigers were forced to settle for contested looks inside and out. The result was a 20-9 lead, seemingly stunning Taunton.

“We had confidence from yesterday’s game and that carried over to today,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “I thought the first quarter we played as well as we could have…defensively, offensively, transition baskets, we controlled the boards. They started rebounding better and we couldn’t stop them. We had them for 26 possessions in the second and third quarters and they scored on 22 of them. We tried to change it up as much as we could but they made plays consistently and we couldn’t stop them.

“Overall between yesterday and today we really battled but [Taunton] is a really good team.

The comeback didn’t come quickly, but it was steady. Attleboro scored to push its lead to 22-9 to start the frame and Taunton had three chances to get back on the board but went empty on two shots from the field and two from the line. The next play, however, might have been the spark that lit a fire for the Tigers.

Junior Tristan Herry, who scored a season-high 20 points, poked the ball free and won a foot race to the loose ball on the other end of the court. From there, Taunton went on to score on 12 straight possessions to erase the deficit and take a lead by halftime.

“Tristan was bustin’ on defense, he was trying to do all the right things on offense. I think that sunk into the other four, if he’s going to do it then we should do it. He was the catalyst in that turnaround for us. Tyler [Stewart] changes the flow of the offense because he demands attention, even if he’s not scoring. But Tristan got us going.”

Senior Josh Lopes (nine points, five rebounds) scored the first three points on a jumper and a free throw and Herry stepped up on the offensive end with his first three-pointer. A steal by Nigel Choate gave Taunton the ball back and an offensive rebound resulted in two points from senior Tyler Stewart (10 points, five rebounds).

Attleboro’s Justin Daniels (17 points) answered for the Bombardiers but junior Trent Santos (18 points, four assists) attacked the basket for two for the hosts. Herry sank his second three of the period to make it a four-point game but junior Evan Houle (nine points, four rebounds) answered with a triple of his own out of an Attleboro timeout.

The Tigers’ relentless offensive attack continued as an offensive board from Choate turned into a free throw from junior Faisal Mass (12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists). Joe Francois-Annevil took a feed from Alvin Harrison and scored down low but Herry drained another triple and a steal from Choate resulted in two after a putback from Mass.

Stewart had a big block and then found Choate for two down low, and after another Attleboro turnover, Mass finished through contact to put the hosts ahead for the first time, 32-31. Stewart then sank an elbow jumper and the Tiger took a 34-32 lead into halftime.

“I think we were a little fatigued from yesterday but going into the second, we talked with each other about how we felt we were the better team,” said Stewart, who is committed to play at Wentworth. “Tristan hit some big shots that really changed the momentum for us. Once he hit those shots, it got the rest of us going.

“Just a chance to play [this season] was really exciting for us. I think we’ve shown that this group plays really well under adversity. The amount of things we’ve had to go through to get to this point is insane, all the way back to the start of last year through this year, shows a lot about this group.”

Taunton’s offense wasn’t as effective in the third quarter, but it was pretty close. The Tigers picked up points on 10 of their first 11 possessions of the quarter to build a double-digit advantage.

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos Tyler Stewart Josh Lopes Tristan Herry Faisal Mass

Lopes and Daniels traded buckets to start and the Tigers finally had an empty possession on their second trip up court. Mass found Santos for a three and then Santos returned the favor to Lopes for two more. Attleboro cashed on its third shot of its next possession when Chris Holcomb sank a three to keep the deficit at four.

Santos and Mass each connected from downtown in a one-minute span and layups from Santos and Stewart pushed Taunton’s lead to 55-45 going into the final quarter.

“Herry kept them in it early and then after that, it was all of them, I think every single one of them played well today,” Houle said of the Tigers. “It was pretty spread out, and it felt like any time we did get a stop in the second or third they got an offensive rebound and got an extra opportunity.”

Attleboro cut into the lead early in the fourth as a strong take from Francois-Annevil make it 60-51 but Mass answered with two after a nice fake, Santos dropped in a floater, Herry hit on a pull-up, and Lopes scored after a turnover and the lead ballooned to 68-51 with just under four minutes.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After scoring just nine points in the first, Taunton scored 20 or more points in each of the second, third, and fourth quarters.

Taunton becomes just the third team to win the Kelley-Rex division in boys basketball since the Hockomock League split in two. Mansfield has won it 10 times, including a share this year, while Franklin won it outright in 2012 and earned a share in 2016.

Taunton boys basketball (8-1 Kelley-Rex, 8-1 overall) will host Sharon on Saturday at noon for its final game of the season. Attleboro (5-5, 10-5) will host rival North Attleboro on Sunday at 1:30.

Taunton boys basketball Trent Santos Tyler Stewart Josh Lopes Tristan Herry Faisal Mass

Attleboro Holds On For Close Win Over Franklin

Attleboro boys basketball Evan Houle
Attleboro junior Evan Houle (1) looks to dribble past Franklin senior Zach Harvey. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
 ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In most games, it was a run that normally wouldn’t make headlines.

But in Tuesday night’s contest between Attleboro and Franklin, with points more valuable than GameStop’s stock, an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter from the hosts made all the difference.

Attleboro boys basketball

Attleboro senior Alec Eaton hit back-to-back three-pointers and junior Evan Houle added a jumper as the Bombardiers turned a four-point deficit into a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, an advantage they never relinquished — though it was close — in a 42-40 win over Franklin.

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Franklin made it a one-point game, 39-38, with just under a minute to go before Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (10 points, four rebounds) hit a pair of free throws. The Bombardiers’ edge grew by one, 42-38, after Daniels sank another from the line following a Franklin turnover.

Franklin got a second chance after a miss when Zach Harvey grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it to Andrew Byfield (12 points) for a long two (his foot was on the line) to make it 42-40 but there was just 3.4 seconds left.

The Bombardiers tried to kill the clock with a long pass down court but the ball slipped and went out of bounds, giving the Panthers one final chance. Without a timeout, Franklin ran a play for a contested three that was just off the mark and the off-balance putback attempt also missed as Attleboro held on.

“I think the message is that every possession matters in a game like that,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “We had a couple of executions of plays and some good finishes we had in the second half and I think that was the difference.

Attleboro boys basketball

“[The 8-0 run] was the turning point when Alec his those two threes. That gave us the lead that we able to hold onto for the rest of the game.”










A back-and-forth first quarter saw the Bombardiers and Panthers combine for 30 points, the latter holding a slim 16-14 lead through eight minutes. With a total of seven three-pointers, it looked like the table was set for a barn-burner type game.

But instead, it was the total opposite. From the start of the second quarter, it turned into a game of stops instead of runs.

Defense shined in the middle quarters for both teams. A clean look at the basket became harder to come by than predicting the snow total from a New England winter storm. The teams combined for a total of just six points in the second quarter, going a combined 3-for-24 from the floor.

“Extremely frustrating,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I thought we had a lot of really good looks. To score 40 points and feel like you got a lot of good looks is a weird thing to say but it felt like we had our opportunities to extend our lead or make some shots that could have put us in a good position to win the game but unfortunately, we just didn’t finish. I know our shooting percentage wasn’t pretty. [Attleboro] played hard, they did a good job, they are a physical team that plays really hard. Hopefully we can make more looks on Thursday.”

While each offense found a little bit more rhythm in the third, both sides were limited to single-digit scoring once again. Byfield had half of the Panthers’ eight points, including a breakaway left-handed slam after a steal near midcourt. Attleboro’s Evan Houle (10 points) hit a three with less than a minute to bring his team within one, 26-25, going into the fourth. It was the first made three from either team since the first quarter.

Attleboro boys basketball

“We know [Franklin] is going to come in here and defend,” Houle said. “That’s a well-coached team and they are going to be tough on defense from start to finish. I thought we matched them on defense for a little while too. I give my guys credits for defending tonight, there were some times we had some lapses on some slips where they got some good looks that we have to work on. But I thought we battled hard on the inside. I thought both Jake Struminski and Chris Holcomb came in and played well for us. Those two guys played hard and made an impact in the game.”




Franklin seemed to grab the momentum to start the fourth, scoring on back-to-back possessions as Jake O’Brien (13 points, 10 rebounds) converted a pass from Ben Harvey, and senior Declan Walmsley (15 points, nine rebounds) knocked down a three. Two plays later, Harvey came up with a steal and O’Brien converted a putback, and the Panthers, who didn’t attempt a free throw in the game, had the momentum and a 33-29 lead.

After a timeout, the Bombardiers came out and hit the most important shot of the game. A skip pass from Houle found Eaton alone in the corner and he buried a three to make it a one-point game. Struminski gobbled up a rebound after a Franklin miss and this time Eaton took a nice pass from Alvin Harrison and drained another three, this from the opposite corner.

The Bombardiers got a stop after the Panthers used up nearly the entire shot clock. On the other end, Houle drove to his left and pulled up for a 10-footer with four seconds on the shot clock to make it 37-33 with three minutes to play.

“It doesn’t seem like much at first but that’s a lot in a game like this,” Neely said of the 8-0 run. “We helped off of a shooter when I didn’t think we needed to and credit to them, they did a good job skipping it over the top finding him and he made them.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think the frustration built a little bit inside the guys. Instead of moving on to the next play, it seemed like they were worried about the last miss they had instead of making the next shot. We have to be tougher than that mentally and be better than that.”

Walmsley made his second three of the quarter to make it a one-point game with just under two minutes to go. Daniels hit two from the line but O’Brien drove to the rim to make it 39-38, setting up the frantic finish.

Franklin (4-5 Kelley-Rex, 4-5 overall) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts the Bombardiers (5-2, 7-2) in a rematch on Thursday.

Attleboro boys basketball

Hornets Pick Up The Pace, Run Past Bombardiers

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield senior Matt Boen goes up for a layup against Attleboro in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For nearly the entire first half, the young, inexperienced Bombardiers of Attleboro High not only just keeping pace with the visitors from Mansfield, they were going toe-to-toe with the Hornets.

Mansfield boys basketball

But if you give these Hornets an inch, they’ll take a mile — and in a blink of an eye too.

First, it was a short burst from the Hornets in the final moments of the first quarter that prevented the hosts from boasting a surprising lead through eight minutes.

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And then when it looked like it would be a close game going into the halftime break, the Hornets stung the Bombardiers with a game-changing run that led to an advantage that never went below double digits the rest of the way.

In the end, Mansfield left with an 80-58 decision over Attleboro in the first matchup between the two teams this week.

“I thought the pace of play started to lean in our direction,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan, in the midst of his 17th year at the helm of the Hornets.

Mansfield erased a five-point second quarter deficit to pull even with the hosts, entering the final two-plus minutes knotted at 29-29. With the pace of play in their control, the Hornets closed the quarter with a 14-2 run.

Senior Matt Boen was once again a handful on the offensive end (30 points) and on the boards (six of his 10 rebounds coming on the offensive glass), and was the catalyst for the run. It was his steal and fast-break layup that got things started. He scored six straight to start the run, getting assists from Brian See (12 points) and Matt Hyland (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) with the latter a traditional three-point play.










Brendan Foley hustled to track down his own miss, finding Hyland for a key three in the final minute, and Hyland returned the favor by hitting Foley on the break to cap the 14-2 run and give Mansfield a 43-31 lead at halftime.

“They missed a couple of easy ones, had some turnovers, and we came down and made some shots,” Vaughan said. “I thought Attleboro handled our pressure well so we went back to our base defense because I felt like we were giving up too many baskets without scoring. Once we got into more of our staple defense, we got the stops we needed and turned those into baskets.”

Mansfield boys basketball

Attleboro senior Justin Daniels (16 points) played a big role in helping his squad get off to a strong start, hitting a pair of threes in the opening quarter and adding another in the second. In the second, the Bombardiers showed no fear attacking the basket as sophomore Trevor White (13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks) scored seven of his 13 points, Alvin Harrison (six boards) had six of his 11 points, and Joe Francois-Annevil added two more with a strong take to the rim, his bucket making it 29-29 late in the second.

“I saw them play their two games against Milford and I came away thinking that team could beat anyone on any given night,” Vaughan said. “They have guys that can shoot, they have good guard play. The big kid [White] is impressive, he must have had five or six blocks, all of which looked like uncontested layups and he came out of nowhere. And he blocks to keep it in bounds so it’s almost like a block and a steal at the same time. They have some good pieces.”

Mansfield picked up the second half where it left off at the break. See sank a triple and sophomore Chris Hill took a freed from Hyland and drained one from downtown. Despite missing a three, Boen followed his shot came flying in for the offensive board, and converted the putback while being fouled for a three-point play, and a 53-34 lead.

On top of it all, the Hornets created the separation without their second-leading scorer in TJ Guy, who went out in the second quarter with an existing injury.




“Their transition game really took over,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle, a 26-year veteran on the Bombardier bench. “That’s one thing when you play against them, you have to be careful to not get into too much of a transition game. You have to take your opportunities when you get them, but you can’t let them get out and run. They can spread you out and they can shoot the ball. Matty [Boen] had a terrific game. They rallied around TJ when he went down.

“Their defense in the second quarter, the pressure…they decided to run and jump a little bit in the half court. It’s tough to simulate that in practice and that kind of put us a little bit on our heels.”

While it looked like the game was out of reach, the Bombardiers never quite quit and clawed their way back into the game over the next eight minutes. Helped along by a couple of big blocks from White on the defensive end, Francois-Anvil scored on the other end, and a breakaway dunk from White kept the hosts around.

Evan Houle hit two free throws and White completed a traditional three-point play at the buzzer of the third quarter to keep things interesting with Mansfield holding a 62-49 lead going into the fourth.

The Bombardiers were in the bonus for the entire fourth and free throws from Daniels and Alec Eaton early followed by a corner three from Chris Holcomb made it 66-56 with just over five minutes to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

But instead of getting any closer, Mansfield slammed the door shut with yet another 14-2 run to close the game. Boen hit a pair of three-pointers while See and Hyland converted at the rim with Attleboro bringing double teams. The Bombardiers were held without a field goal the rest of the way.

“It’s a great challenge to play in this league and play against teams like Mansfield,” Houle said. “We’ve been successful recently and it’s because we play hard. I thought our effort was there tonight, we just made too many mistakes collectively.”

Attleboro (2-1, 2-1) on Thursday night at 7:00.

Mansfield boys basketball

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)

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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.

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“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)

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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.

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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.