WELLESLEY, Mass. – The upset was there for the taking. Oliver Ames was down by just one point entering the fourth quarter on the road at second-seeded Wellesley in Friday night’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal and battled back from seven points down in the fourth to get within three twice, but the Tigers couldn’t find the baskets they needed against the experienced Raiders.
Oliver Ames (13-9) gave the hosts everything they could handle, but the Raiders showed their mettle and made the big shots when they were needed to pull out a 46-41 victory that sets up a semifinal against Bay State Conference rival Braintree.
“We knew we were going to have to deal with a lot of screening, a lot of slips,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We spent two days on how to help, how to hedge, how to help the helper, all those things, but you’ve got to put the ball in the basket at the other end too. It’s one thing to get a stop but you’ve got to score.”
From the start, it was obvious that offense was going to be tough to come by for both teams. Despite scoring a combined 26 points in the first quarter, neither team was able to find a rhythm offensively, although Wellesley was finding some success slipping screens in the pick and roll and getting its forwards heading to the basket.
OA was relying on its ability to get into the paint and out on the break to generate its offense. Senior forward Alex Sheldon got off to a good start with five points in the first, including three free throws, and sophomore Caroline Flynn got an offensive rebound and then scored off a Meg Holleran assist.
Wellesley led 15-11 after one, but the defenses got even tougher to breakdown from that point forward. The Raiders would only make two shots and score seven points in the second quarter, but they also held OA to just one made field goal (a Flynn layup in transition) and six points to actually extend their lead to five points at the break.
Senior guard Gianna Palli came out firing in the third, getting free for a rare drive to the basket and burying a deep three from the wing to push the Wellesley lead to as many as eight points. As it turned out, the basket would be her last of the night, as Sadie Homer clamped down and allowed Palli (11 points) little room to maneuver.
“I’m really proud of her,” Clement-Holbrook said of Homer, who has the opportunity to play volleyball and basketball next year at Dean College. “She was able to finish as a senior the way that we hoped that she would.”
Just when it looked like Wellesley may break the game wide open, the young Tigers came storming back. Freshman Caroline Peper, OA’s leading scorer, finally wriggled free of the attentions of Wellesley senior Molly Cronin to score on an offensive rebound plus the foul. Homer found Flynn (10 points) in transition for an easy basket and then Flynn set up Sheldon (seven points) for a short jumper.
When Flynn kicked out to Holleran for an open three, OA had come all the way back to tie the game at 29-29. Wellesley responded with a big three from Cronin but Holleran set up a cutting Peper (12 points) for a basket that made it a one-point game with eight minutes remaining.
In close games, when the pressure gets ratcheted up, experience counts and the Raiders definitely benefited from playing in this stage or later in recent years. Anna Glashow drilled a three and then, after a Peper basket, Lily Woodring beat the buzzer with a contested mid-range jumper following a great defensive possession. Brooke Guiffre (game-high 14 points) hit a three from the corner to put the Raiders back up seven.
Peper had been largely held in check by Cronin’s defense, but she got fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three at the line to get the game back within four. Clement-Holbrook saw this game as a learning experience for the rookie on how to handle this level of attention from opposing defenses.
“Now she’s a known entity,” Clement-Holbrook said of Peper. “Cronin’s not going to let a ninth grader beat her, that’s what it comes down to, so I just talked about this will be a good experience. I said, the down side will be if you don’t learn from this in the off-season and make yourself a better player.”
Trailing by five, OA had several defensive stops in a row, but each time the Tigers failed to take advantage at the other end and the clock started to whittle away. Finally, Holleran fought to grab an offensive rebound and wriggled through a few defenders for a basket that made it 41-38. Wellesley went to the line but missed a pair only to have Goehringer snag the rebound with 57.1 on the clock.
OA again locked down on the defensive side of the ball, sticking with players through a myriad of screens on the perimeter until the ball swung over to the left wing where Guiffre made the biggest shot of the game, sticking a three despite Flynn’s hand right in her face.
“She drained it,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Those were big moments for them and they took advantage of the situations and I think that was the difference that we didn’t do that in situations where we had fought back and got it to three.”
The game was far from over, as Homer (seven points) came down and answered with a three of her own to keep it a one-possession game with 10.2 remaining. OA fouled on the inbound and Guiffre missed the front end of the one-and-one. Flynn got the rebound and headed up court but the Tigers were called for traveling with 4.5 left.
Guiffre made amends by hitting two at the line and sealing the win.
Boys Basketball D2 South
#16 Canton, 72 vs. #17 Somerset-Berkley, 56 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game – Canton got off to a slow start, falling behind early but finished the first quarter strong and never looked back. After starting 1-for-9 from the field over the first four minutes, Canton closed the opening frame with a 17-4 run to claim a 19-12 lead. Canton added 19 more points in the second to take a 38-27 advantage into halftime. The Bulldogs had their first quarter of the game in the third, outscoring the Raiders 21-9. Canton’s lead ballooned to 28 in the fourth quarter. “I think it was the classic state tournament nerves to start a game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “We had a slow start but then we figured it out and cruised after that. Once you get over that first initial feeling of ‘it’s the state tournament’ you can move on and just play.” Devin Foster had a game-high 29 points, eight rebounds, and five assists while sophomore Matt Giglio added 12 points for the Bulldogs. Canton will play #1 Randolph on Wednesday at 6:30.
#18 Stoughton, 46 @ #15 Silver Lake, 60 – Final – Stoughton trailed by just five (17-12) at the end of the first quarter, but the Lakers opened the second with a 9-0 run and the Black Knights were unable to orchestrate a comeback. Silver Lake led 28-18 at halftime and then extended that led to 45-28 going into the final quarter. Junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell tied a career-high, leading the Black Knights with 18 points.
#10 Oliver Ames, 68 @ #7 Newton South, 48 – Final – Oliver Ames got off to a perfect start on the road in its tournament opener, outscoring the Lions 23-9 in the opening quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the game. OA took a 34-21 lead into halftime and never let Newton South get within single digits during the second half. The Tigers led 52-33 going into the final quarter. Freshman Caroline Peper scored a game-high 24 points, Sadie Homer had a strong game with 10 points, and Caroline Flynn and Meg Holleran each scored eight points apiece.
Canton, 64 @ Pentucket, 77 – Final – Canton trailed by just five at halftime (31-26) but the shorthanded Bulldogs surrendered 24 points in the third quarter and couldn’t keep pace with Pentucket. Seniors Devin Foster and Ryan Lentol each scored 20 points for the Bulldogs.
Foxboro, 67 @ Walpole, 55 – Final – Foxboro shot 50% from three-point range, sinking nine triples and four Warriors reached double-figures in scoring to finish the season with a win over Walpole. Brandon Borde (eight rebounds) had a team-high 16 points, Anthony Mollica added 13 points, and Kevin Gallagher and Michael Devlin each finished with 10 points.
Franklin, 56 vs. Cambridge, 46 – Final – Franklin scored 20 points in the opening quarter and held Cambridge to just seven points in the third to pick up a win in its regular season finale. Juniors Chris Edgehill (18 points) and Jack Rudolph each scored five points in the first while seniors Jalen Samuels (16 points) added four points apiece as the Panthers led 20-12 after one. Franklin’s five-point advantage at half (31-26) ballooned to double-digits by the end of the third (46-33) and the Panthers never looked back.
North Attleboro, 59 vs. Weston, 28 – Final – Julia Feid closed out the season by setting a new career-high with 28 points to lead the Rocketeers to a season sweep of Weston.
Oliver Ames, 73 vs. Newton North, 61 – Final – Freshman Caroline Peper set a new career-high with 31 points (including a perfect 10-for-10 at the line), as OA pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn the win in the regular season finale. The game was tied at 51-51 heading to the fourth but OA outscored Newton North 22-10. Meg Holleran and Hailey Bourne each scored 10 points for the Tigers. OA was 27-of-35 from the line as a team.
Canton, 6 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 1 – Final – Click here for a recap and photo gallery of this game.
Franklin, 0 vs. Barnstable, 1 – Final
Canton, 1 vs. Walpole, 2 – Final – Lauren Fitzpatrick scored for Canton in the third period to cut the Walpole lead in half, but the Bulldogs couldn’t find a second to tie it.
Mansfield/Oliver Ames, 1 vs. Westwood, 3 – Final – Emma Pereira scored the only goal for MOA, which stayed within one goal until the Wolverines scored an empty netter late in the third.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Midway through the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game at the Nixon Gym, Franklin junior center Ali Brigham was sent to the line with a chance to reach the 1,000-point milestone. She missed the first, but drilled the second one to become the first Franklin player to hit that mark since Kelley Meredith in 2008 (Kyle Gibson reached 1,000 points in 2011 for the Franklin boys).
After head coach John Leighton called a quick timeout, Brigham, who finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds, was mobbed by her teammates on the court.
There were plenty of hugs and smiles at that stage of the game, with the Franklin ahead 33-32, but Oliver Ames nearly put an early end to the celebrations when it took a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. With three minutes to play, the Tigers led by four and it looked like Franklin’s unbeaten run through the league was about to end.
The Panthers rallied with a 13-4 run to close out the game, including 10-2 over the final three minutes, to pull out a 53-51 victory and allow Brigham the chance to savor her moment as well.
“We’re really excited for the tournament that we’ve got coming up this weekend and we just won the Hock, so this is a game that we could’ve let slip,” Brigham said after the win. “I think that was really big for us to come back in the fourth because we work so hard at practice to not let a game like this slip us up.”
Brigham has been a dominant force in the paint since her freshman year, and came into the week leading the league in scoring with more than 22 points per game. Leighton praised his star for her desire to keep improving her game.
“What’s neat is the improvement every year,” Franklin coach John Leighton said. “The scoring has been great, but she also knows what she needs to get to 1,000 rebounds, which says a lot about a kid when that’s what she’s worried about. She’s worked on getting other people open. When things slogged down, she set more screens to get everyone else going.”
While the headlines would be about Brigham’s milestone, it was freshman Olivia Quinn and senior Bea Bondhus that would bring Franklin back in the fourth quarter.
Twice Ally Scolnick (eight points) got behind the Franklin defense for transition layups, both assisted by Caroline Flynn (eight points), freshman Caroline Peper (team-high 17 points and eight rebounds) drilled a corner three, and her classmate Hailey Bourne (eight points) snagged an offensive rebound to help OA build a 47-40 lead.
Quinn helped the Panthers claw back into the game by crashing the boards. She scored six of her seven points in the quarter (hitting three of Franklin’s four made field goals) and all came on offensive rebounds, including a layup that tied the game at 49-49.
“At this point, [freshman] is not a term that I associate with her because she’s played in so many meaningful minutes,” Leighton said of Quinn. “She moves so well with her height. We can have her do multiple things.”
Bondhus (14 points) followed another defensive stop by driving down the left side of the lane, absorbing the contact, and finishing at the rim for the go-ahead score. Another defensive stand and two more free throws put the Panthers up four with only seconds remaining.
“The game plan was very specific and I would say that 99 percent of the time they executed it and I was really proud of their defensive effort,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was all of them. It was the best team performance that we’ve had this season.”
Things were a struggle at the start of the game for the Panthers, who were clearly trying to get Brigham some touches, but OA senior forward Alex Sheldon was doing everything in her power to keep Franklin’s 6-foot-3 center uncomfortable and limit her touches. Bourne, despite giving up plenty of size to the George Washington-commit, also jumped into the post to provide some defensive help.
“They were so physical,” said Clement-Holbrook. “They weren’t afraid to bump. They tried to make it a little bit difficult for her.”
Flynn got off to a good start on the offensive end with six points in the first, twice getting transition baskets off Sadie Homer assists, but Brigham still managed to get eight in the quarter and keep the Panthers down just three, 16-13.
“I was a little worried,” Brigham said, “because 15 is kind of a big number but I came out fast and it was good. My team did a good job of just doing their thing and it just happened.”
Franklin clamped down defensively in the second, limiting the Tigers to just seven points as a team, six of those scored by Peper. On the other end, Bondhus started to heat up. She scored six in the quarter, including a steal and layup that put the visitors ahead 24-23. Shannon Gray hit a jumper to put the Panthers up three at halftime.
Brigham was only three points away from 1,000 to start the third and opened the second half with a basket, but Peper countered with a bucket, assisted on a Meg Holleran basket, and then drilled a three to tie the game at 32-32. Megan O’Connell was taking advantage of the attention being on Brigham to score six of her nine points in the quarter.
After Brigham hit her free throw to reach the milestone, Scolnick got her first points to tie the game at 34-34. Bourne went 4-of-4 at the line and the teams entered the fourth quarter tied.
OA opened the fourth with a 9-2 run and looked on the verge of a signature win, but the Panthers showed why they have only lost once this season and were able to earn the come from behind win.
“I think it’s very valuable for us,” said Leighton about being pushed to the end. “I thought they played with real grit at the end. We locked it down and I thought we got every single defensive rebound. We stopped turning it over. We did the little things that you need to win.”
Franklin (17-1, 15-0) will close out league play against Attleboro on Friday before taking on perennial power Braintree (and either Belmont or Cathedral in the second game) at the IAABO Board 27 Tournament at Woburn High over the weekend. Oliver Ames (10-7, 9-6) will end its league schedule by hosting King Philip.
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Coming into Friday night’s game against Oliver Ames in the Albertini Gym, Mansfield coach Mike Redding wasn’t sure what he would be able to get from senior guard Sydney Mulkern, who had been sick at practice the day before.
As it turns out, the Hornets got plenty from Mulkern. She came off the bench and scored a game-high 17 points, including 13 in the second half and eight in the fourth quarter, to provide the offensive punch in an otherwise defensive struggle with the Tigers, helping the Hornets pull out a 41-32 win.
“Syd was sick all week but she gave us some minutes and just made some big shots,” Mansfield coach Mike Redding said. “We really didn’t think she was going to play tonight. Yesterday she really looked awful and said she’d be able to help a little off the bench and she was probably the difference tonight.”
Neither team was really able to find a rhythm on the offensive side of the court.
The game was tied at 2-2 five minutes into the opening quarter. Maggie Danehy (13 rebounds) scored her only bucket on an offensive rebound to put the Hornets in front, but freshman Caroline Peper (nine points) answered with a three. Ashley Santos scored back-to-back baskets, but Ally Scolnick knocked down a three to tie it 8-8. Caroline Flynn also grabbed 10 rebounds in the first alone and finished with 20 boards for the Tigers.
Mulkern’s first points gave Mansfield a 10-8 lead after one, a lead that it would never relinquish.
The second quarter was even more difficult for both offenses. Mady Bendanillo (eight points and seven rebounds) scored to make it 12-8 but neither team would score again until there was 2:10 left in the quarter when freshman Hailey Bourne got her lone basket of the night for OA. Mulkern hit a layup and Megan MacVicar scored off a Bendanillo assist to make it 18-12 at the break.
“It was 18-12 at the half, come on girls can we score some points?” OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook was left asking at halftime. “We scored 57 against Foxboro and we only managed 12 in a half tonight. I’d be so happy with 41 as a points against game, but, I don’t know, offensively we just weren’t present.”
Mansfield came out in the second half and started to pull away, leading by as many as 12 points at one point. Mulkern started the third with a deep three off a pass from Kara Bendanillo (six steals and three assists). Peper cut the lead to 23-16, but Mady Bendanillo hit a huge three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to put the Hornets up double digits and her sister followed with a layup in transition for a 28-16 lead.
“There were a lot of good athletes defending and the refs let us play us a little bit and it was just tough to get a good look,” Redding said. “Both teams are pretty well-coached on what the other team wants to do and we had some kids step up.”
OA continued to find points tough to come by, but the Tigers made a little run to cut the Hornets lead to just five. Sadie Homer got a steal and transition layup and twice Meg Holleran was able to find Scolnick (team-high 13 points) on consecutive backdoor cuts.
“We got into no rhythm but I think it was self-inflicted,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Not to discredit Mansfield’s defense because they always play good defense, but we were so out of sync. We had shot but we just didn’t finish them. We are much more capable of presenting ourselves in a better way but we just didn’t play up to our capabilities.”
Kara Bendanillo got out in transition to close the third with a layup and give the Hornets a seven-point edge heading to the fourth. Scolnick opened the fourth with a jumper to keep it close but then Mulkern broke the game wide open.
She sandwiched a Becca Hottleman steal and layup with a pair of threes (one after Kara Bendanillo kept a possession alive with an offensive rebound) to extend the lead back to 11.
OA kept the game on edge to the final whistle by causing havoc with a press, raising the energy of the team but not getting the Tigers any closer than eight points.
“We’d rather win ugly than lose. Defensively we played well but on offense we were just out of sorts,” Redding said. “We made enough shots but we never got into any rhythm and fortunately they didn’t either.”
Redding admitted that this was an important win for the Hornets, despite it still being early in the season. The Hornets, who are seeking a program-record fourth straight league title, trail division-leading Franklin by two games and are now tied with the Tigers for second in the Kelley-Rex.
“This was almost like an elimination game for us,” he said. “Now were still two back and Franklin still has OA twice, they have Foxboro, and we have Franklin at home. There’s a long way to go but you feel like we’re in it and now we need to go on a little run in January to be there in February and have a shot at a [title].”
Mansfield (5-3, 4-2) will face a tough test on Tuesday night with the visit of Canton, which has won five games in a row, while Oliver Ames (5-3, 4-2) will try to get back on track at home against Sharon before facing Franklin for the first time.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames came into the season with a young squad and head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook has used the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle to explain to the Tigers how they are all going to need to put together the pieces to be successful. Those pieces formed a nice picture on day one.
Every OA player got the chance to play and the Tigers got 22 points off the bench, outscoring Stoughton’s bench 22-8, to open the season with a 46-33 road victory over the Black Knights.
“I was really happy with their effort,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Today proved to me that we have capabilities in terms of depth. Everybody played, I got some really good minutes out of a multitude of players. I wasn’t hesitant before I put the freshmen in.”
It was a rough night for the Stoughton offense, as the Black Knights struggled to find the range and shot only 3-of-34 in the first half. Defense kept the home team in the game, and allowed Stoughton to get as close as seven points in the fourth quarter.
Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan said, “The tough part is that when you’re not making shots early, that’s tough. But they showed me at the end that they have fight and they have grit and when we started getting to the rim then good things happened for us.”
The Black Knights scored the opening five points of the game, as sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe buried a pull-up three and scored off a steal. It would turn out to be her only points of the night. It took OA four minutes to make a shot from the field, but junior Meg Holleran’s three gave the Tigers a one-point lead. Sadie Homer (eight points) scored on a fast break off a Tate Hadges assist to put Stoughton ahead 11-10 after one quarter.
In the second, Stoughton’s offense continued to struggle. Hanna Holden knocked down a lefty shot in traffic for the lone basket of the quarter, as the Black Knights managed just three points.
“We were settling for the three early and I was saying that we need to get into attack mode because we have kids that can get to the rim,” said Steele Jordan.
OA got a much-needed offensive spark from the bench. Ally Scolnick (team-high 11 points) drilled a corner three off a Holleran inbounds pass and freshman guard Caroline Peper added one from the corner as well. Freshman Hailey Bourne followed up a missed layup on the break for her first career points and then Peper got a pass from Homer and went with a reverse for a 23-13 lead at the half.
Clement-Holbrook said, “I’m trying to empower them with the understanding that if you can just do what you do well then that’s a positive and I thought tonight was a good example.”
Offense was a struggle for both teams, but it got even tougher to score in the third with the two teams combining for just 13 points.
Aliyah Wright scored her lone basket of the night on a drive, junior Heather Maddalena knocked down a jumper and senior Lindsay McDonald got her first basket of the night. That was it for Stoughton. Homer scored on the break, Erin Holmberg had a free throw and got her only basket on a transition layup, and Caroline Flynn (13 rebounds) hit a jumper. That was it for OA.
The Tigers led by 11 heading into the fourth, but the Black Knights were still in the game. Lexi Baptista (10 rebounds) started the fourth with a short jumper and then McDonald grabbed an offensive rebound and finished plus a foul. McDonald caught fire in the fourth, scoring 11 of her game-high 14 points. She also had 17 rebounds on the night.
Twice McDonald got the Black Knights within seven points, at 33-26 and 38-31, but each time the Tigers responded. Scolnick scored six points in the fourth, Holleran (nine rebounds) had one of her three assists to set up sophomore Jessica Erlich. Flynn capped the game with a transition layup to extend the lead to 13 points.
“We talked about defense, talked about rebounding, and talked about boxing out and I think we did those three things consistently tonight,” said Clement-Holbrook.
“We can only go up for here, so I’m excited for where we can go this season,” said Steele Jordan. “They competed. You always want to come out with a ‘W’ but tonight wasn’t our night and hopefully we’ll come out and Friday and it will be different for us.”
Oliver Ames (1-0) will try to make it two wins in a row on Friday night with a trip to Taunton. Stoughton (0-1) will open Davenport division play on Friday at North Attleboro.
2017-2018 Record: 9-13 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.
The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.
Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.
“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”
2017-2018 Record: 10-11 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round. Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.
While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.
Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.
“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”
2017-2018 Record: 26-2 2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship. Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.
Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.
Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.
Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”
2017-2018 Record: 15-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round. Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.
Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.
The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.
“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.
O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.
The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.
There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.
The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.
Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.
It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.
While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.
The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.
Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”
2017-2018 Record: 4-16 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.
Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.
The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.
“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”
2017-2018 Record: 16-6 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.
Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.
Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”
2017-2018 Record: 2-18 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sanda Lombardi
It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.
Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.
Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.
“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”
2017-2018 Record: 13-9 2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.
It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.
While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.
“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”
2017-2018 Record: 7-15 2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.
Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.
Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.
“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – After a slow start, the game and season seemed lost for fifth seeded Oliver Ames (16-6), which had fallen behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and trailed 44-30 after Shannon Lynch (14 points) nailed her third three-pointer of the third, but it turned out to be the moment when the Tigers finally got going.
OA rallied with an 18-2 run, sparked by league MVP Kayla Raymond’s 11 points in the third and a strong performance off the bench by freshman Caroline Flynn (15 points), which put the Tigers improbably ahead by two and provided an exciting finish to a game that fourth seeded Bridgewater-Raynham had largely controlled.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Trojans had a comeback of their own and it proved decisive.
Raymond (19 points) scored to put OA ahead 53-51, but the Trojans responded with the game’s final 10 points and pulled out a 61-53 victory that sends them into the Div. 1 South semifinal to face top seed Newton South and ended OA’s first tournament run since moving up to D1 this winter.
“They were just a little bit anxious,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was the first time for all of them, with the exception of Kayla, to have experience in the postseason after the first round. I think the fact that there was some level of inexperience, but that’s just trying to get the jitterbugs out.”
She added, “You’ve got to play the whole game and we didn’t.”
Although OA would lead 9-8 after the first quarter, it was a sluggish start for the Tigers. Turnovers would plague OA for the entire first half, as it racked up 18 of them, many of which were unforced. Raymond and junior Alex Sheldon, the team’s two leading scorers were held to just one basket apiece in the first, sophomore Erin Holmberg picked up early foul trouble and senior Abby Reardon went to the bench for a spell due to an injury.
It was not the start that the Tigers were hoping for and gave the Trojans the opportunity to build an early lead. Sheldon (10 points and 10 rebounds) drove to the basket for an old-fashioned three-point play that tied the game at 17-17, but B-R closed the half with nine straight, including five from Kaleigh Matulonis (19 points).
“Once we settled down, we played our game,” said Clement-Holbrook. “I just thought in the second quarter, for whatever the reason was, we weren’t focused. We brought it back and we were starting to show signs of who we are. We missed a close out in the corner, [they] hit a couple threes, because we were helping on penetration.”
The Tigers showed flashes early in the third quarter of being able to get back into the game. Raymond got a three-point play off a Katie Flynn inbound pass, Caroline Flynn hit a runner on the baseline, and Raymond closed the gap to eight with a steal and transition bucket, but each time the Trojans had an answer from deep.
When Raymond ended the third with a corner three off a Holmberg pass, it cut the lead to 44-33 and gave the Tigers a little bit of energy, but it did not seem at the time that it would kick off a furious comeback.
Meg Holleran added a three to start the fourth quarter and Sheldon followed with a finish in traffic and then another dive to the rim plus the foul that made it a four-point game. The traveling OA fans were making a ton of noise, the bench was fired up, and the Tigers were back in a game that seemed over just a few minutes earlier.
“I think it was just the confidence of let’s do what we do, let’s do what got us here,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “Move the ball, get the ball inside. We settled for way too many outside shots early in possessions without making them work defensively.”
Raymond got out in transition for two and Reardon tied the game off a Sheldon assist before Flynn gave the Tigers their first lead since the second quarter with a pair of free throws.
“You were hoping we would have gotten that kind of play from everybody,” said Clement-Holbrook about the play of Caroline Flynn. “She’s a gamer and she’s going to give you everything she has. In terms of her development from the start of the season, she’s come miles.”
After two B-R free throws, Victoria Dacey gave the Trojans back the lead with a three, but Flynn answered right back with a three to tie it and Raymond got open on another inbounds pass for a layup with a little more than two minutes to play, putting OA in front.
On the next B-R possession, the Trojans got into the lane forcing OA to help off the three-point line, which left Matulonis alone for a big shot to regain the lead. Kylee Piche would add four straight points to make it a five-point edge and the Trojans hit free throws to seal the win, while OA struggled to knock down shots on the other end in the final minute.
Clement-Holbrook remarked, “They were playing a little too cautiously with that extra stress on them and they just didn’t handle the pressure well.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The first half was a shootout between the top scorers on each team with New Bedford sophomore Chiron Rose and Oliver Ames senior Kayla Raymond going head-to-head, scoring 15 points apiece. But, it is hard to win a playoff game on the back of one player, even someone like Raymond, the Stonehill-bound Hockomock MVP.
In the second half, the rest of the Tigers took over. Raymond still got her points in the third (before sitting for the entire fourth quarter) but it was OA’s depth that turned a six-point lead at the half into a 69-39 victory over the 12th seeded Whalers in the Tigers’ first postseason game since moving to Div. 1.
“They came out with fire in their eyeballs,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was amazing. In the third quarter, we were pushing the pace. We knew that was something that we had to do, we knew we had to run, and I thought the kids did a great job of allowing New Bedford just one shot.”
Rose came out firing and got the sizable traveling contingent from New Bedford excited from the opening whistle. She buried a pair of step-back threes and had eight points in the first to help the Whalers get off to a 8-2 start. The Tigers took a few minutes to get going but then Raymond started to take over and helped OA finish the first on a 14-2 run.
She scored on a feed from sophomore Erin Holmberg then added one of her six blocks on the defensive end, which was rebounded by Katie Flynn (10 rebounds) who then fired an outlet pass to Raymond for a transition basket. She assisted on a three-point play for Alex Sheldon (19 points and 13 rebounds), drilled a three and hit a long jumper.
Rose got off to a great start in the second, scoring the first seven points to put New Bedford back in front at 17-16, but Raymond answered right back with layup off a Meg Holleran assist. Abby Reardon (seven points) and Raymond both scored off two more of Holleran’s five assists and then Raymond added a layup around the out-stretched arms of New Bedford’s 6-foot-2 center Janice Leao (13 rebounds).
A three by Kyara Almeida-Sylvia cut the OA lead to six at the break and a Rose three and a pair from beyond the arc by Monica Eires kept the Whalers in the game, down just 34-29. The Tigers would score the game’s next 13 points and in total put together a 25-2 run that finally broke the game open.
“We had a couple match-up situations, but I thought we remedied them in the second half,” Clement-Holbrook said. “The unsung heroes like Katie Flynn inside just helping on Leao and just from a collective defensive principle I think that’s where we got the points from. We shut them down and just ran the floor.”
Freshman Caroline Flynn got it started with a drive to the rim and she added three assists in the second half. Holmberg scored all eight of her points in the third quarter, finding leak-out opportunities for transition buckets. Sheldon was also a force in the paint, scoring 11 of her 19 points in the second half.
Clement-Holbrook said of Sheldon’s contributions, “She was absolutely, positively key in all this because everyone’s trying to take away Kayla and the fact that we could get the ball inside…we’re just sending shuffle cuts and good movement and that allowed Alex to get the ball and she’s very physical and she’s very strong. She came to play today.”
Raymond, who finished with a line of 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals, was still doing her thing in the third, capping the quarter by picking Rose clean at one end and swooping in for a finger roll at the other. The New Bedford guard, who was held to three points in the second half, was left with a wry smile on her face as she looked up to the rafters following the steal.
“Rose in the first half, she was money and we gave her a little too much room to wiggle,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “In the second half we did a much better job. When we switched Kayla on her, I thought Kayla’s length really bothered her.”
OA led 51-31 after three quarters. The Tigers scored one fewer point in the third than they had in the entire first half. That continued in the fourth quarter as Tate Hadges came off the bench and scored all six of her points, Sheldon continued to control the paint and a trip to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal was confirmed.
When it was mentioned to Clement-Holbrook that the move to Div. 1 seems to be going well, she smiled and replied, “Currently, but we’ll see how these things go.”
Oliver Ames (16-5) will travel to No. 4 seed Bridgewater-Raynham in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, barring a change because of the impending storm.
Stoughton, 61 @ Waltham, 71 – Final – Stoughton scored 42 points in the second half and outscored the host Hawks over the last two quarters but the Black Knights couldn’t overcome a slow first half. The Knights shot just 25% from the floor in the opening half, falling behind 37-19 at the break. Stoughton hit five threes in the second half to help close the gap. Senior Cam Andrews had a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds while classmate Colin Sanda had eight points, six rebounds, and five assists. Both Andrews and Sanda were named to the all-tournament team.
Foxboro, 58 vs. Natick, 45 – Final – Ashley Sampson scored 27 points and Foxboro closed out the regular season by winning the Warrior Classic and sewing up the top seed in Div. 2 South. Sampson was named the tournament MVP after a 29-point performance on Monday and Lily Sykes was named to the all-tournament team.
Franklin, 52 vs. Shepherd Hill, 43 – Final – Ali Brigham and Bea Bondhus combined for 31 points to help the Panthers beat the top seed at the Westboro tournament and one of the top seeds in the Central. Franklin will face Hopkinton in the tournament final on Thursday night.
Oliver Ames, 77 vs Duxbury, 74 – Final (2 OT) – Oliver Ames sophomore Meg Holleran hit a pair of late three-pointers to help the Tigers edge the Dragons in the Norwell Invitational. “Key combinations of grit and determination earned the win,” said OA head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. Senior Kayla Raymond had a team-high 22 points and 12 rebounds while classmate Abby Reardon had 12 points, including some key free throws down the stretch. Alex Sheldon added nine points and eight rebounds for the Tigers.
Canton, 2 vs. Medfield, 0 – Final – Canton senior Bubba McNeice scored in the first period and junior Ryan Nolte scored in the second to give the Bulldogs a win in the first round of the Joe Quinn Memorial Tournament. Quinn Gibbs recorded the shutout in net. Canton advances to the finals and will take on host Coyle & Cassidy on Thursday at 7:30.
Oliver Ames, 6 vs. Sandwich, 0 – Final – Max Ward recorded a hat trick to lead the Tigers to a big win in the consolation game of the Jeff Hayes Memorial Tournament. Colin Bourne and Brett Williams each scored once in the first period while senior Adam Healy scored in the second. Rory Madden had two assists while sophomore Owen Connor made 16 saves to earn the shutout.
Taunton, 8 @ Stoughton, 3 – Final – Taunton senior Will Walsh recorded a hat trick to pace the Tigers past the Black Knights at Asiaf Arena.