A team with minimal experience at the varsity level matured plenty from when they first tipped off in December, but the postseason is a completely different animal, especially for a young team.
Those jitters were apparent as the 10th-seeded Tigers were whistled for traveling on their first three possessions on the road at #10 Marshfield.
But junior Tyler Stewart (23 points, 20 rebounds) cleaned up an offensive rebound for two and sophomore Trent Santos (11 points, five rebounds) drained a three, and just like that, all was right with Taunton.
Those buckets sparked a 10-0 spurt in the first quarter and Taunton dominated the third quarter to the tune of 21-4 to help the Tigers pin down a 64-44 upset of the Rams.
“We had tournament jitters for sure, I get that and kind of expected that,” Dacey said. “Defensively, [the third quarter] was excellent. Josh [Lopes] was leading the charge for us. He was on [Mike] Walsh, he’s their player, and josh did a nice job disrupting him all night long. That was the key because he’s there go-to guy and Josh did a nice job on him.”
Santos sank a second three and Stewart added another putback as Taunton quickly put the nerves in the backseat, taking a 10-4 lead just past the halfway mark of the first.
And then it was a three from junior Nigel Choate (seven points) off the bench, a triple from Lopes (13 points, four rebounds, three assists), and a spot up, contested three from straightaway from sophomore Faisal Mass (seven points) to beat the buzzer capped a 10-3 over the final 1:28 of the first to put Taunton ahead 20-8 after a quarter.
The Rams cut the deficit to seven when Trey O’Connor hit from deep and Evan Mallios converted an offensive rebound but Lopes answered for Taunton and Stewart went to work down low with four straight points. Mass added four more and the Tigers had a 31-22 lead at halftime.
Lopes opened the third with a three and Stewart converted off a feed from Danny MacDougall (five rebounds, three assists) to give the Tigers a good start on the offensive end. But the story was the Tigers’ defense, holding the hosts without a point for nearly four minutes.
The Rams went 0-for-2 from three-point – both contested well – and had a harder time attacking the basket with Stewart in the way. Both Lopes and Santos had steals in that span as well.
When Walsh, the Rams’ top offensive option, finally got his first shot off of the first half, MacDougall got a piece of it from behind. It wasn’t until O’Connor capitalized on a Tiger turnover that the Rams got on the board with 4:25 left in the third.
“It all started with the defense for us,” Stewart said, who also had three blocks. “We really tried to limit their three-point shots, close out hard, and make someone other than Walsh beat us. We focused a lot on him, we wanted to keep the ball out of his hands.
“We talked in the locker room and really emphasized our defense, we talked a lot about closing out on their shots and getting the rebounds. And then that defense led to offense for us.”
Taunton finished the quarter strong, closing on a 16-2 run after the Rams got on the board. Stewart cleaned up his own miss, Santos drilled a shot after a steal, and then Stewart showed some range with an elbow jumper.
Stewart hit two at the line then fought for an offensive rebound, feeding Choate for an easy two plus the foul. MacDougall had another block and linked up with Stewart again, and then Lopes pickpocketed a Ram and went in for a layup while being fouled, completing the three-point play in the final seconds of the quarter to seize a 52-26 lead.
Through three quarters, Lopes and the Tigers limited Walsh to 1-for-10 shooting, the lone make being a three in the final minute of the first.
“Tyler should be getting a touch every time down the floor, no matter what they are doing defensively, no matter how we are shooting good or bad…he can make things happen,” Dacey said. “He had the size [advantage] and he’s got some athleticism, he’s not a stiff down there. He can create once he gets the ball in the right place, and if they send a double at him he knows what to do and it’s helped discourage teams from doubling.
“Josh stepped up [on the offensive end] too, and Trent made some threes for us. Nigel had a big three for us too. When we settle down, we’re fine but a typical young team, we have our moments.”
The Tigers spent the majority of the fourth running the shot clock down before getting a look. Stewart added four more, Santos had three, Lopes and MacDougall two each, and sophomore Tristan Herry, who battled foul trouble in the first half, had a free throw.
Taunton boys basketball (15-5) will take a ride up Route 24 on Friday to take on #2 Brockton (16-4) at 6:30.
The eighth-seeded Warriors had a handful of chances to either take the lead, tie the game, or move within striking distance throughout Monday afternoon’s D1 South First Round contest with ninth-seeded Marshfield.
But some self-inflicted mistakes along with timely saves from Rams goalie Gus Kastrud resulted in an 8-6 loss to put a close to King Philip’s season.
“Every time it seemed like we would get some traction like we did to start the second half, then boom they would come right back on us, and pretty quickly too,” said King Philip head coach Hal Bean. “We were just fighting the whole game trying to come from behind.”
Marshfield scored first before senior Colin DeVellis beat his man and finished off the iron while being checked to knot the game at 1-1. The Rams added two more goals before the end of the first, the second coming on a two-man up opportunity.
KP scored on the opening possession of the second when Chris Longobardi won the draw and went down and scored on his own, just 16 seconds into the second quarter to make it 3-2. But the Warriors didn’t register a shot on target for the rest of the frame.
The Warriors’ defense, spearheaded by senior Wes Bishop, held its own and kept the Rams without a shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the frame. A King Philip turnover with just over three minutes left led to a lengthy offensive possession for the visitors, and finally their first shot which was turned away by KP goalie Andrew McKinney (five saves).
But the Rams kept possession and continued to work the ball around before Gino Luciani was able to sneak a bounce shot across the line to give Marshfield a 4-2 lead at the half.
After only scoring two goals in the opening 24 minutes, the Warriors had a terrific start to the second half. Longobardi battled to win the opening draw and bullied his way past a defender before firing a rocket into the back of the net 22 seconds in while earning a penalty.
On the ensuing man-up chance, Andrew Sajdak ripped a low shot from straight away that tied the game at 4-4 just 1:18 into the period.
Marshfield had a response though when Michael Iafrato found some space and tucked a close shot in to regain the lead for the visitors.
King Philip looked poised to go on a man-up opportunity with 3:38 left in the period and a chance to knot the score, but the Warriors took a penalty after the whistle and had to play 5-on-5 instead of with an advantage. And since KP’s penalty was called second, the Rams got possession of the ball and took advantage, scoring less than a minute later to make it 6-4, which lasted until the end of the period.
A late penalty on Marshfield in the third allowed KP to start the fourth with possession and the Warriors elected to get the ball in the stick of sophomore Sam Mattson. Mattson unleashed his trademark rocket shot that bounced over the goal line to bring KP within one, down 6-5.
The Warriors won the ensuing faceoff and had another chance on goal but Robbie Tartaglia’s shot was somehow kept out by a huge save from Kastrud to preserve the lead.
“Their goalie had some really timely saves,” Bean said. “He was really spot on, which is what we saw of him coming in, but that he had that save on Robbie Tartaglia bounce shot where he stuck out his toe and then caught it with the top of his foot. He stood on his head and that’s what you have to do in the playoffs.
Marshfield pushed the lead to 8-5 with a man-up goal with 8:38 to go but KP had the chance to respond right away from Longobardi come away with the win on the faceoff. However, an errant pass cut the possession short before KP could get a shot off.
After trading possessions, KP junior Kevin Riggs worked his way between a pair of Marshfield defenders and used a nice finish to make it 8-6. KP won the ensuing faceoff with a chance to make it a one-goal game, but once again a self-inflicted turnover cost the Warriors a chance at a comeback.
The Rams went on to kill the final three minutes on the offensive end.
“They knew that we drive through the X a lot with Colin DeVellis, I mean 112 points who wouldn’t utilize someone as talented as him…and Andrew Sajdak is phenomenal too,” Bean said. “Their D poles really neutralized them for the most part. I look at the opportunities we had and some of them we were more compressed and normally we are more open, which helped them with their slides. I don’t want to take anything away from [Marshfield] but I think if we performed a little bit better, we would have had some better opportunities.”
King Philip boys lacrosse finishes the season at 14-5.
But #5 Marshfield had other plans, covering 63 yards in 32 seconds and scoring with no time left on the clock to cut the deficit in half. On top of that, the Rams received the opening kick and needed just four plays – plus a face mask penalty – to move to the Mansfield 32-yard line.
But all of Marshfield’s momentum was squashed when sophomore linebacker Nick Marciano sniffed out a quick pass from Rams’ quarterback Jackson Phinney and intercepted the pass, running it back 71 yards for a touchdown to give Mansfield a 20-7 lead with 9:34 left in the third quarter.
Mansfield never looked back after that, running away with a 34-14 win to snap a three-year losing skid to the Rams in the postseason.
“It’s been a tough run against those guys, sooner or later we had to get them,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Redding. “This was much closer than the score indicated. Obviously the pick six was a huge turnaround. They’re driving and I think at that point, to tie the thing up. That was a big play in the game.
“I thought we played great in the first half, but then they get the two-minute drill at the end of the half, and it just felt like the momentum shifted, a little bit of air came out of our sails. The pick six kind of got it back in our favor.”
The Hornets’ offense got off to a great start, needing just six plays to cover 69 yards, punctuated by a touchdown just over three minutes into the game. On third down, junior quarterback Damani Scott (7/16, 105 yards, touchdown) hit Khristian Conner on the right sideline and the junior used a nice spin to get free and raced for a 56 yard gain.
Three plays later, Scott rolled to his left and hit Hunter Ferreira in the end zone for a six-yard score and a 7-0 lead with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
“We were excited to see we had [Marshfield] again, we love the competition,” Ferreira said. Ferreira is one of the few three-year starters for the Hornets who has been on the wrong side of the Marshfield rivalry. “They run the ball very well, like King Philip does so it’s a good game to get prepared. It’s like a monkey off our backs to beat them, to stop the streak. Now we have a chance to stop the KP streak.
“It’s so huge to have all these guys step up. Vinnie [Holmes] has been great all season, he’s a missile out there. He plays like a senior out there. And Marciano stepped up big tonight for us He came in to my spot when I moved to Joe’s spot and that was an unreal play tonight.”
Mansfield’s defense was on point from the get-go. The Hornets allowed just two yards on Marshfield’s opening drive (three and out). The Rams ran an incredible 18 plays on their next series, converting three fourth downs before going for it on fourth and goal from the eight. But Mansfield sophomore Vinnie Holmes came flying in with pressure on Phinney, forcing an incompletion plus an intentional grounding call to get the ball back on downs.
The Rams had to punt after five plays resulted in just 23 yards, but Mansfield’s second, third and fourth drives on offense resulted in a punt, turnover on downs, and a punt as well.
Marshfield went backward on its next drive as Holmes stuffed Jack McNeil (eight carries, 49 yards) for a two-yard loss. Then Chris Graham and Ernany Pires combined for a six-yard sack on second down. On the Rams’ ensuing punt, Mansfield junior Philip Dinov came flying in and blocked the punt, tackling the Marshfield punter as well after he picked up the loose ball.
Mansfield took over at the Marshfield 23-yard line. After Holmes converted a 3rd and 10 with a 21-yard burst up the middle, he took a two-yard rush in for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with just 0:37 left to play in the first half.
“We talked at halftime about how we let it get away against King Philip, we can’t let it happen again,” Redding said. “We had to step up and play some defense. It takes a sophomore making a pick six in the biggest game of the year, but that was the play of the game.
“Offensively we did just enough to keep them at arm’s length. They are tough, they have great athletes all over like McNeil and Phinney. They did a great job containing their backs, not giving them the big play.”
The Hornets defense continued its stellar play in the second half. Marshfield’s next three drives in the third quarter totaled just 16 yards, with a pair of punts and a turnover on downs.
“We played great run [defense] all year and this was a big challenge because they have three good backs and the QB can run,” Redding added. “But we’ve been great defensively, [Chris] Capponi and Holmes at linebacker are great and Phil and Hunter at outside backer – we didn’t get Hunter the ball a lot but he made some plays on defense.”
Holmes put the Hornets up comfortably with a toss to the right for a 13-yard score with 9:18 left in the game, and Michael DeBolt iced the game with a six-yard rush up the middle with 3:42 to play.
Holmes finished as the Hornets’ leading rusher, going for 77 yards on 11 carries. Danny DeGirolamo also had a nice night on both sides of the ball, rushing for 69 yards on 11 carries while having a pair of key pass breakups.
“He went from having a role to being the go-to guy [tonight],” Redding said of Holmes. “Give him the ball, he’s going to get yards. He breaks tackles, he stays low…he’s not your typical sophomore and I’m glad we got him around for a few years, he stepped up and played great tonight. Chris [Copponi] was a great lead blocker for him.
“They did a good job taking Hunter out of the game. Damani made some throws when he had to. It was a battle, we had to work for everything we could. But defense played great and we did enough offensively to get points on the board. We’ll take it – Marshfield is a great program and it’s been a battle, and it’s good to finally get them. Now its back to a league rival here in the semifinals, that should be a good one.”
Marshfield added a late passing touchdown with Mansfield’s second unit in on defense.
Mansfield football (7-1 overall, 4-1 Hockomock) advances to the D2 South Semifinal and will face off with a familiar foe in King Philip. The Warriors scored 28 unanswered points in the first meeting, erasing a 10-point deficit to earn the win.
“They’ve beaten us the last three or four years. We thought we played pretty well for three quarters but the fourth quarter, they just wore us down, field position killed us, they made some plays. Now it’s our chance to turn it around and make some plays. I wish it was in the finals but we’ll take it in the semis and hopefully make it happen.
“I just feel like this team has something special, just something about them. When we lost Joe, they just have all stepped up and they find ways to compete and win. So we have to do it one more week and try and survive and move on.”
The Hornets and Warriors are set to kickoff on Friday, November 3rd at 7:00 at Macktaz Field on the campus of King Philip.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip had the chance to run out the clock in the closing minutes of Friday night’s Div. 1A South semifinal at Macktaz Field, but Shane Frommer was stopped for a two-yard loss on fourth and two from the Marshfield 17. The Rams had one last chance after the turnover on downs to try and even the score.
Marshfield, which had beaten the Warriors two years ago on the same field in the Div. 2 South final, started the drive with an incomplete pass and then a pass batted down by senior Brett Mazur. On third and 10, Jackson Phinney (8-28, 119 yards) picked out Christian Friedel for 16 yards. Two plays later, Phinney found Mike Catanoso for 39 yards and first down at the KP 26.
The Warriors needed to make a play and on second down it appeared they had when John DeLuca and Frommer had Phinney wrapped up for a big sack, only to have the quarterback somehow release the ball for an incomplete pass. Phinney scrambled on third down and was hit hard after four yards by the far sideline.
The officials kept the clock winding and as the final seconds ticked off the Rams barely got a play away. The ball was up for grabs near the goal line and Andrew Dittrich came up with the interception that sealed the victory. KP held on 14-7 and will play for the sectional title for the second time in three seasons.
“You’re up 14-0, you think you’re going to win,” said KP coach Brian Lee, “and all of sudden they come back because they’re tough, they’re a great team, and you can get back down. Just to be hanging in there, still making plays, still chopping is why they’re special.”
KP came into the game with a plan to slow down the high-powered Marshfield offense, which scored 41 last week against Mansfield, and it worked to near-perfection. The Rams were held without a point until midway through the fourth quarter and had only eight first downs (two in the first half).
“We just had a good game plan,” said Lee of the defensive effort. “We had a great week of practice, really felt prepared. I thought we all felt confident in what our defense could do. We were probably more concerned with what we were going to do on offense, which we struggled to move the ball but it’s tough to finish drives.”
The Warriors took advantage of a short field to take the lead in the first quarter. Frommer (23 carries, 108 yards) returned Marshfield’s second punt 21 yards down to the Rams 29. Giovanni Fernandez (10 carries, 47 yards), Frommer, and Alex Olsen (11 carries, 49 yards) got the ball to the one where junior quarterback Brendan Lydon punched it in.
Lee explained, “Field position is great. We’ve been playing good special teams and it just helps out. It allows you to be patient. We don’t have any problem running the ball and waiting for a good opportunity.”
KP also had a long drive late in the second quarter that used up nearly seven minutes off the clock. The Warriors went from their own 13 as far as the Marshfield 37 on 12 plays before a nine-yard loss ended the scoring chance. Chris O’Neil closed the half with an interception.
Only seven points were on the score board but the game was being played at KP’s pace. The Warriors were methodical on offense, keeping the ball on the ground and keeping the Marshfield offense standing on the sidelines. Lee credited his offensive line of Matthew Tobichuk, Paul Macrina, Carl Sanuth, Cameron Gately, and Daniel Loewen for helping to win the time of possession battle.
“I’m very proud of them,” Lee said. “We ate a lot of clock up, which helped slow down that offense. Even though we weren’t finishing drives, we still took an offense that is very high-powered and kept them off the field.”
The teams traded turnovers on downs to start the second half, but on its second possession KP put together a drive that looked at the time like it put the game away. The Warriors went 67 yards in 13 plays with Frommer, DeLuca, Olsen, and Fernandez all getting carries. After Lydon was ruled down inside the one of a sneak attempt, Olsen got the touchdown on fourth and an inch to make it 14-0.
Just when it looked as though the game was won, Marshfield’s offense woke up. The Rams went 71 yards in nine plays and used little more than two minutes off the clock to cut the KP lead in half with 7:04 remaining. A Jack McNeil end around for 35 yards was the big play and Phinney capped the drive with a two-yard keeper.
As the Rams lined up for the kick-off, they stayed bunched up around the kicker and surprised KP with an onside kick right down the middle of the field. Marshfield recovered and the visiting crowd found its voice. But three plays later Ethan Dunne turned momentum right back around to the home team with a juggling interception in front of the Marshfield bench.
“I screwed that up that was on me,” said Lee of the onside kick, “and Ethan bailed me out. It’s a nice treat to have when a player does that and we’ve been all over them about losing the turnover battles and they really stepped up this week.”
KP tried to run out the clock and Lydon earned a first down on fourth and three with a hard count that got the Rams to jump offsides. Three plays later, the Marshfield defense made a play to give its offense one last chance. The KP defense was waiting and Dittrich made the final play to end the comeback bid.
“It feels good,” said Lee of being back in the South final. “I’d feel better if we were playing someone easy. Tomorrow we’ll go see them and get to work and think about that. We’ll enjoy tonight and go from there.”
King-Philip (8-0) will host the winner of Wellesley and Bridgewater-Raynham on Friday night.