Taunton Hangs On In Close Battle With Mansfield

Taunton boys basketball Faisal Mass
Taunton senior Faisal Mass (1) drives to the basket against Mansfield’s Chris Hill (31) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Taunton boys basketball has leaned on its offense to earn its first seven wins. The Tigers needed a defensive stop to get their eighth — and biggest — win of the year.

Holding a two-point advantage on the road at Mansfield with under 30 seconds to go, Taunton got the stop it needed as senior Faisal Mass stepped in to draw a charge along the baseline with 3.1 seconds left and the Tigers escaped with a 59-56 verdict over the Hornets.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton had its largest lead of the entire game at 52-44 with three minutes to play but the game came down to the final possessions after Mansfield rallied, but the Tigers never let their lead disappear.

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“Winning in an away gym in this league is tough,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And to get one here, that’s quite an achievement. We had some clutch shots and defensively we got some stops. It was a real choppy game but [Mansfield] makes you play that way. You have to fight for everything. It always comes down to one possession. But in the end, we gutted it out. That’s absolutely a character win.”

Junior Matt Small cleaned up a miss with a putback to give the Tigers their largest lead but Mansfield answered seconds later when junior Dante Jamtes converted a putback of his own.

Taunton boys basketball

Taunton didn’t get a chance to extend its lead on the other end as Mansfield senior Matt Hyland came up with back-to-back steals, the first leading to a layup himself and the second to one from James to make it 52-50 with two minutes to play.

Mansfield drew an offensive foul with its full court pressure but couldn’t cash in, turning it back over on a travel. Out of a timeout, senior Trent Santos drained an off-balance three from the corner to keep the visitors ahead, 55-50.

The momentum was short-lived as Hyland found Chris Hill cutting baseline and the junior put down a two-handed jam to make it 55-52 with just over a minute to go. After a foul, there was a scramble off the inbounds pass but Taunton sophomore Cyrus Morissette got to it, found Small under the basket and he handed it off to senior Faisal Mass for an easy two.

Once again the Hornets answered as James found Hyland cutting the baseline for two, and Mansfield got the ball back with its full court pressure, leading to a layup from Hill to make it 57-56.

Trent Santos hit one of two from the line with 27 seconds left to give the Hornets a shot to tie or take the lead, but after running some action, Mass stepped in and took a charge on a floater attempt along the baseline to get the ball back.

Trent Santos added another free throw and Mansfield’s three-quarters court heave was off the mark at the buzzer.

“I don’t think we ever got comfortable offensively,” said Mansfield head coach Charlie Dacey. “Part of that is they did a good job defensively but the last few games we just haven’t really gotten into a good offensive flow. Maybe that’s the play calls or maybe it’s the focus on defense in practice. We had [BC High senior Mike] Loughnane the other night, we had Sharon who is scoring a ton of points, you had Santos coming in tonight, so we’ve really focused on the defensive end thinking the offense would take care of itself.

“We held Taunton below their average as a team and we held Santos below his scoring average, so when you hold a team like that to 59 points, you have to win. And how do you win? You gotta score points.”

Mansfield took advantage of slips and baseline cuts to jump out to an early lead with Hyland, Hill, and Jack Lasbury-Casey finding success at the rim. But an 8-0 run — highlighted by threes from senior Tristan Herry (16 points, five assists) and sophomore Troy Santos (eight points, three assists) — plus a late strong take from Mass had the visitors ahead 12-11 after a quarter.

The teams went back-and-forth throughout the second quarter with the Hornets getting the majority of their points attacking the rim while both Herry, Santos, and Small hit from midrange to keep pace. Hill’s three with just over a minute to go was Mansfield’s lone trifecta of the opening half.

Herry scored four straight but Hyland sank a late free throw to give Mansfield a 25-24 lead at the half.

Coming off a spectacular 46-point performance on Tuesday, Trent Santos was held scoreless throughout the first half with Hyland and the Hornets following his every move.

But a steal from Troy Santos led to Trent’s first basket of the contest — a three. Trevor Foley hit two from the line to put Mansfield ahead but Trent Santos hit two more threes in the frame and Troy added one from the corner to present Taunton a 40-37 edge going into the fourth.

Trent Santos finished with a game-high 17 points along with five rebounds and a pair of assists.

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“As odd as it sounds, he lost his confidence a little but he’s not allowed to do that,” Dacey said. “He got it back it…he hit a couple of leaners and now he’s right back in it. Do I demand we run our sets all the way through? No, sometimes we go a little NBA style and let him do his thing because it generally works out.

“[Mansfield] just doesn’t beat themselves. You hope for a mistake and you hope for a mistake and you just don’t get it. They get a good solid shot every time down the floor and that’s all you can ask for out of a high school. They don’t rush the clock, they grind and grind, and if you make a defensive mistake, they make you pay.”

Taunton boys basketball (8-0 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) carries its five-game win streak to North Attleboro, who has won two straight, for a Tuesday night tipoff. Mansfield (6-1, 8-2) has its fifth game in 10 days on Sunday with an afternoon trip to King Philip.

Mansfield Hangs On Against Franklin In Defensive Battle

Mansfield boys basketball Chris Hill
Mansfield junior Chris Hill goes up for a shot against Franklin’s John Brigham in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The solution to Mansfield’s problem was so simple, yet incredibly difficult at the same time.

The Hornets needed a basket.

With two elite defenses going at it, points were at a premium on Friday night and Mansfield’s 15-point lead over Franklin had dwindled down to three, having scored just four points in a six-minute span between the third and fourth quarters.

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Franklin’s attempt at a tying three rimmed out and the Hornets got just what they needed, scoring on three of their next four possessions to finish strong and earn a 48-38 win over the previously undefeated Panthers.

The Hornets drew three fouls on one possession, getting into the bonus where Dante James hit a pair of free throws to extend the hosts’ lead to five, 41-36. Another open three from Franklin was off the mark and the Hornets survived a turnover as James went back to the line for two more.

After Caden Colby drew an offensive foul on the baseline to get the ball back, junior Chris Hill drove to the basket to draw the defense before dishing to senior Andrew Slaney for a wide-open three from the corner to put Mansfield up double-digits with just under two minutes to go.

Mansfield boys basketball

“That was a good old-fashioned fistfight,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We had to come down and get some points, it felt like we hadn’t scored much in the last couple of minutes. We had made a few silly plays and started to get a little passive. We got some points to push it to five and then Slaney hit the three a couple of possessions after and that was kind of the backbreaker.

“It’s a huge win, this is always one you get anxious about, you lose sleep over it…you’re watching a lot of game film, trying to be prepared. We know CJ [Neely] is going to do such a good job of knowing what we’re going to do so you feel like you’ve got to match that to give your kids a fighting chance. Any time you get can get a win against them in the league, now we’re playing from ahead instead of behind in the league race and that’s a big deal.”

The game got off to a hot start for both offenses, combining for 19 points over the first four minutes, but both defenses started to settle in as the game went on. After Mansfield won the opening quarter 18-12, the two squads combined for just 15 points (10-5 Mansfield) in the second quarter.

Mansfield boys basketball

Defense continued to be the theme in the second half. Mansfield’s lead peaked at 15 points after Matt Hyland (17 points, 12 rebounds, two steals) had a three-point play and a breakaway layup sandwiched around a strong take from Hill (seven points, five rebounds, five assists) to make it 35-20 with three minutes to play in the third.

The Panthers came out of the timeout with a renewed energy as sophomore Henry Digiorgio (11 points, six rebounds) drained a three off of an offensive rebound and junior John Brigham had a big block that led to a shot clock violation.

Digiorgio and James traded buckets before Brigham converted a putback and Sean O’Leary tacked on a free throw to pull Franklin within single digits, 37-28, going into the final quarter.

O’Leary scored on a nice post move to open the fourth and after a brief scoreless stretch from both sides, junior Justin Allen sank a three-pointer to get the visitors within four at 37-33.

Franklin got the stop it needed but couldn’t convert on a three and James dished it off to Hyland for two after a big rebound from Eddie McCoy. The Panthers quickly answered as Ben Harvey got into the paint to draw the help, finding Allen open for another three to make it 39-36 with four minutes left.

The Panthers got another stop and got a good look at the tying three but it stayed out and the Hornets called a timeout. They ended up finishing the game on a 9-2 run.

“I thought we had a lot of great looks…but 38 points isn’t going to get it done,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “I really believe in what we were doing, I thought the ball was moving really well, they were composed, they made the passes, and we got some really, really good looks for guys that we’re used to seeing make shots, uncontested threes. This was a night where they hit some of their open ones and we didn’t.

“I’m really proud of the defense and the way that we responded after we went down, we had a shot in the air to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. But we just didn’t make our looks.”

Mansfield boys basketball

Mansfield opened the game hitting nearly 80% of its shots, hitting on 7-of-9 attempts from the field, including a trio of three-pointers. Slaney, Hill, and Jack Lasbury-Casey each connected from downtown while Hyland attacked the rim for a pair of field goals. The Hornets only hit a pair of threes the rest of the way, including Slaney’s second with just two minutes left.

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Digiorgio hit a pair of threes in the opening quarter but the Panthers were limited to one three in each the second and third quarters, finishing 6-for-25 from three-point range. Franklin ended up with 11 more field goal attempts than the hosts, and also struggled at the free throw line going 2-for-10.

“A lot of these guys were playing freshman basketball last year, they didn’t even get the JV experience because of COVID,” Neely said. The Panthers started three sophomores and two juniors. “It’s a pretty big jump from that to playing Mansfield’s varsity team in an environment like this. I really think they played well and had a good game but some of the shots just didn’t fall. We did what we had to do to get some great looks against one of the best defensive teams in the league so I was impressed with their response.”

Mansfield boys basketball (5-0 Hockomock, 7-0 overall) is back in action on Monday with a big non-league showdown at BC High. Franklin (4-1, 7-1) has a big test this weekend when it travels to Taunton on Sunday afternoon.

Depth On Display In Mansfield’s Big Win Over North

Mansfield boys basketball Trevor Foley
Mansfield sophomore Trevor Foley takes a shot over a pair of North Attleboro players in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into the season, Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan was quietly optimistic about the depth of his team this year.

Down three starters and one more rotation player in just the fourth game of the season, Mansfield’s depth was put to the test.

Following a dominant third quarter and the team’s fourth straight 30-point plus win, it’s safe to say the Hornets passed with flying colors.

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Locked in a tight, two-possession game at halftime, the Hornets nearly equaled their first half output (28) in the next eight minutes, outscoring the hosts 26-6, to run away with a 72-42 victory over North Attleboro.

“I think it goes to show the depth that we have and the guys that are able to come in and play,” Vaughan said. “There are guys on our team that came off our bench that would be starters on other teams. A lot of it is kids just believing in themselves.

“We thought coming in that this might be really good for our team, regardless of the results, the next two games, to try and figure out can these guys contribute in a different way than just a quality role player. Can they come in and do this for us maybe in February or March?”

The two starters still in the lineup for the Hornets also delivered with senior Matt Hyland (eight rebounds, six assists, three steals) scoring 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, and classmate Jack Lasbury-Casey sank four three-pointers in the decisive third quarter on his way to 14 points and eight rebounds.

Without leading scorer Chris Hill (15.3 points per game), senior Anthony Sachetti (7.3 ppg), and point guard Andrew Slaney (4.7 ppg), the Hornets needed a boost from players who have come off the bench so far this year.

Junior Dante James added a scoring punch with 14 points and helped the Hornets’ ball movement with seven assists, 6’6 junior JT Veiking gave the Hornets a big presence down low defensively and stepped out to hit a couple of threes, finishing with 12 points and four boards, and sophomore Trevor Foley sparked the visitors early with nine first quarter points, finishing with nine boards, a block, and a steal as well.

Mansfield boys basketball

Locked in a close battle over the first six minutes, Mansfield finished the opening frame with a 10-2 run to build a 16-6 lead. North had a bright start to the second quarter with a nice drive by Givany Carney and back-to-back buckets from Brody Rosenberg (13 points) to stay in it.

In fact, the Rocketeers used a 7-2 spurt in the middle of the quarter — four points from Gavin Wells (10 points) and a three from Casey Poirier — the stake a 22-20 lead with two minutes to go until halftime. Similar to the first quarter, Mansfield finished strong in the form of an 8-0 run (a three-point play by James and then five straight from Veiking — to claim a 28-22 lead by halftime.

But as the Hornets have done to so many teams before, they turned the game on its head with a big run, a run that turned into a dominant eight-minute frame.

James got two from the line to start and then Lasbury-Casey hit back-to-back threes — the first off an offensive rebound and the second off a turnover from the Big Red. North came up empty on one end and James converted at the rim for Mansfield. Another turnover from the hosts turned into another three from Lasbury-Casey and just like that it was 41-24 at the midway point on the third.

“We had some lapses in our transition defense but give all the credit to [Mansfield], they run their lanes so hard and so good at looking up,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Add in a couple of lapses defensively and some threes by [Lasbury-Casey]. Hats off to them, we held on for a bit but not enough. It didn’t look good on the scoreboard but I was really proud of the way we played hard and battled.”

Derek Maceda snapped the scoring drought for the Rocketeers but Mansfield answered on a putback from Hyland, who was fouled and added the free throw. Hyland added two more, Mansfield got a stop, and James added the Hornets’ fourth three of the frame. Lasbury-Casey hit another triple in the final seconds to cap an incredible quarter as Mansfield turned an eight-point lead into a 54-28 advantage going into the final quarter.

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“They are disciplined in whatever it is they do,” Mulkerrins said of defending the Hornets for four quarters. “At the end of the day, especially high school athletes, the group that is more disciplined in what they do is more often than not going to find success. You have to defend an away screen and then a second cut, and then do it again, and then do it again. Doesn’t matter if they run a flex or some ball screen offense, knowing how well coach Vaughan prepares those kids, they’re going to run it again and again.”

Mansfield boys basketball

Hyland put the game away with nine points in the final quarter and Veiking had five more.

Mansfield boys basketball

Mansfield boys basketball (3-0 Hockomock, 4-0 overall) is on the road again for its annual New Year’s Eve day clash at Bridgewater-Raynham at 4:00. North Attleboro (0-3, 0-4) is off until the new year when it travels to Foxboro on January 7th.

Hornets Clinch Division Title, Celebrate Boen’s Milestone

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield senior Matt Boen goes up for a layup in the second half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Mansfield boys basketball team had plenty to celebrate on Monday night after clinching at least a share of the program’s ninth straight Kelley-Rex division title while senior Matt Boen scored his 1,000th career point in the process.

But neither accomplishment came very easily.

After suffering their first loss of the season to Taunton on Sunday afternoon, the Hornets found themselves in close to a must-win situation against the Tigers if they wanted to extend their impressive reign atop the Hockomock League.

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen

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And after Boen dropped 31 points on Sunday, the senior guard attracted plenty of attention from the Taunton defense. That defense coupled with the pressure and nerves of nearing the milestone resulted in just two points through three quarters of play.

But all’s well that ends well as the Hornets put the game to bed with a dominant fourth quarter, limiting the visitors to just three total points over the first six minutes of the final frame to pull away. Boen got going as well, and the Tigers did their part in making sure the senior guard reached the milestone in front of family and friends by intentionally fouling twice in the final minute.

Boen got a kind roll off the front of the rim on a free throw with 15.2 seconds to go to hit the millennium mark, the final touch to a 68-53 win for the Hornets.

“I talked to Coach Vaughan and told him that the first thing I wanted to do was cut down the nets [for a league title] and then focus on getting my name on the banner,” Boen said. “To get them both done on the same night is even better.”










Boen finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, sophomore Chris Hill (18 points), junior Matt Hyland (15 points), and senior Brendan Foley (14 points) each recorded career-highs in scoring.

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen

“When’s the last time we won one without a Boen, that’s the big question,” asked Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. Michael Boen was apart of three straight from 2013-2015 while Max Boen won three as well (2015-2017). Matt has been apart of the past four teams that have raised a banner.

“Taunton played great last night, they gave us everything we could handle,” Vaughan continued. “Tonight I thought we did a much better job rebounding the ball which I think was the difference in the game. We made some plays when we needed to. Matty was off a little bit with the pressure but he was able to find other ways to help us.”


Mansfield came out with more zest in this contest compared to just over 24 hours before when Taunton dictated play with its energy. Even though Taunton held a slim lead at the end of the first quarter (13-12) and used a late bucket to tie things at halftime (29-29), it never felt like the Tigers had real control of the game.

The Hornets threatened to pull away in the third, getting key contributions from the rest of the roster as Boen tried to find his rhythm. Foley (six rebounds) had five points, including a three, and Hill (six rebounds) was responsible for four more as Mansfield rattled off a 9-0 run for a 42-33 lead.

Taunton did its best to hang around with senior Tyler Stewart (9 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) fighting through a double team for two only for Hyland (five rebounds, five assists) to answer with a three-point play on the other end. Ryan Sullivan (15 points, six rebounds) drained a three and Josh Lopes dropped in a floater to get the Tigers back within five at the end of the third, 45-40, but that would be as close as the visitors would get the rest of the way.




“It was everything, we were a half step slow tonight,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “We won the 50-50s yesterday and they won the 50-50s today. It just started mounting up, our kids were dead tired. But you have to play through it, they are no less tired than [Mansfield], they played the same game yesterday. We just got too deflated too early. Things weren’t going our way and you could see it in their body language. Our outside shots weren’t falling and then Tyler’s in foul trouble…it just snowballed.

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen

“Last night it was Boen, Boen, Boen, and tonight the other guys stepped up. They have their ball movement and all of a sudden it’s flying around and we’re late on a close-out or behind on a cut, two points here, two points there.”

Foley opened the fourth with back-to-back confident, strong takes to the rim and Boen picked up just his second field goal of the game to push the lead to two possessions. Boen hit two from the line before Taunton finally snapped the scoreless drought, Stewart alertly finding Faisal Mass (16 points, nine rebounds) for two down low. But the Tigers couldn’t get a stop as Foley once again found success driving to the rim.

Stewart added one from the line but Jack Colby responded with a nice take and, after an offensive foul took gave Stewart his fifth foul, Foley came down with a dagger three to make it 60-43 with just under two minutes to go.

“Just the commitment the guys make year in and year out, we never rebuild we just keep reloading with new guys and new faces,” Vaughan said. “What about Jack’s play the last couple of weeks? What about Foley’s play today, it was tremendous. Chris Hill is no longer a sophomore after today’s game, he really came out and battled and played really well. We told him in our film session we needed him to be better and that’s a lot of pressure for a sophomore but he stepped up to the plate. Matty Hyland’s been super consistent all year, he had some big baskets tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Hornets wasted little time getting Hill going in the first quarter as he took a shot on four of Mansfield’s first six possessions with seven points. Meanwhile, Taunton had five players get on the scoring sheet in the opening eight minutes with Mass hitting a corner three late to give the visitors a 13-12 lead.

Hyland and Hill had early triples for the Hornets and then scored back-to-back at the rim to keep the Hornets ahead. Santos answered with three and Lopes attacked the basket for two but Brian See drained a key three and Hyland took a charge to get the Hornets the ball back. Hyland scored on the other end but five straight from the Tigers — two from the line from Santos and a traditional three-point play by Mass — brought the visitors level by halftime.

Mansfield (9-1 Kelley-Rex, 13-1 overall) will host Lowell Catholic on Wednesday night at 6:30. Taunton (6-1, 6-1) will try to bounce back when it travels to Attleboro on Wednesday at 12:00.

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen

Taunton Rides Strong Start, Finish Past Mansfield

Taunton boys basketball Josh Lopes
Taunton senior Josh Lopes goes up for a layup in the second half against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 TAUNTON, Mass. – Having to play Mansfield, the standard-bearer of the Hockomock League over the past decade, is a big challenge in and of itself.

And on top of that, the Taunton boys basketball team had just one practice to prepare following a one-week layoff.

The Tigers overcame both obstacles, alleviating any fears of rust with a strong start that set the tone for the rest of the way in a 72-66 win over the visiting Hornets.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The win marked Taunton’s first win over Mansfield since January 2016, snapping a 10-game skid.

“I was really afraid of the rust factor, I was exactly afraid of a slow start,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey.

But Dacey’s fears were quickly erased as the Tigers opened the game with their best offensive quarter of the game (21 points) to establish a lead that they only relinquished once, and briefly, in the third quarter.

“Shaking [any rust] right away was huge, they didn’t lose any confidence,” Dacey said after his side his half of their 16 shots from the field in the first eight minutes. “Having an experienced group helps with that. We’re running some stuff but [Mansfield] knows it, they’re taking away what we have so we’re adjusting on the fly. The kids did some self-adjusting on the floor which is real important.”

Taunton extended its lead to 38-29 by halftime but Mansfield came out with a renewed energy to start the second half and slowly chipped away at the lead. A big three from sophomore Chris Hill (13 points, 5 rebounds) finally made a real dent in Taunton’s lead, and then Matt Boen (31 points) and Hill scored back-to-back to make it a three-point game, down 47-44.










“I think a lot of it when there were some 50-50 balls, Taunton wanted it a little bit more,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “I bet when the stats come out, they probably won more 50-50 balls by a two-to-one margin. We talked at halftime if you don’t win those battles against a good quality basketball team, 90% of the time you lose and this was 90% of the time. Game for game, the stat lines look good. We did some good things, they did some good things, we both hit shots. It was really two high-quality teams that were well prepared.

“We thought in the third quarter and early in the fourth, they might be running out of gas a little bit but they found extra energy and made some plays down the stretch and took care of business.”

Hill had a strong take to his left for two with just under two minutes to go in the third and the Hornets grabbed their first lead of the game when Boen hit one of his four threes for a 49-47 lead. It was a momentum swing that has forced many Hockomock foes to fold in the past, but Taunton was able to recover before the end of the quarter.

The Tigers broke the press and junior Trent Santos (22 points, seven assists, six rebounds) found Nigel Choate wide open with a nice pass underneath for two to tie it back up. Tyler Stewart (12 points, 22 rebounds, 5 blocks) converted down low and Josh Lopes (13 points, 4 assists) added two more as Taunton took a 53-52 lead into the final quarter.

“They maintain their confidence in those moments and they have a good chemistry together,” Dacey said. “They believe in each other and trust each other and that’s really important in high school basketball.




The teams took turns landing jabs in the final quarter, each time Taunton scored to extend its lead, the Hornets had an answer to keep it close. Stewart added two from the line and junior Tristan Herry (eight points, six assists, two steals) hit a three late in the shot clock only for Mansfield senior Brendan Foley to answer with back-to-back strong takes to the rim.

“Stewart has a major impact inside, whether it’s a post touch, an offensive rebound, keeping a ball alive, or just the amount of energy we have to focus on him leaves some other guys open,” Vaughan said. “I’ve said it in the past about our teams, when you get a fourth or fifth guy stepping up making some critical play in a huge game, that sometimes separates you.

“[Herry] hitting the three at the top…we doubled the post, we did everything we wanted, we rotated off what we mark as not their top shooter and he hits a three. When you get stuff like that…Taunton is a very talented deep team with a lot of pieces that can cause matchup problems all over the place.”

Santos took advantage of a steal and scored in transition, and after a Mansfield miss, Herry linked up with Santos for a big three. Herry then found Faisal Mass (13 points, eight rebounds) in good position down low for two and the Tigers had a 65-57 lead at the halfway point of the final quarter.

Jack Colby (11 points, five rebounds) answered with two from the line for the Hornets and Foley came up with a steal and assist, finding Boen for two in transition to cut it back to for. After a Taunton miss, Boen sank a pull up jumper and it was back to a two-point game.

Santos floated a perfectly weighted entry pass to Stewart down low for an easy two. With time ticking away, the Hornets elected to foul Mass to send him to the line for one-and-one. Mass hit the first to push the lead to 68-63 with 1:16 to play.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Unsurprisingly, the Hornets once again had an answer as Boen took a handoff from Colby and drained an off-balance three to make it 68-66. Mansfield continued to press but the hosts passed through it, Herry finding Santos at half court who skipped a pass to Mass for a layup.

Taunton got a stop on a missed three but Mansfield appeared to have the offensive rebound. Instead of getting a second look, Herry came swooping in and knocked the ball free to get Taunton the ball back. Three passes later, Santos had an open layup to make it 72-66 with 20 seconds to go.

The teams won’t have to wait long to renew acquaintances as Taunton boys basketball (6-0 Kelley-Rex, 6-0 overall) travels to Mansfield (8-1, 12-1) on Monday at 6:15.

Mansfield Rides Second Half Rally Past Franklin

Mansfield boys basketball Jack Colby
Mansfield senior Jack Colby is defended by Franklin’s Jake O’Brien in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 MANSFIELD, Mass. – For nearly three quarters, the Franklin boys basketball was following its gameplay to near perfection.

The Panthers were sharing the ball on offense, cutting to the basket, and hitting open looks from outside. And the defense was on point too, keeping the Hockomock League’s leading scorer Matt Boen in check for over 20 minutes.

But as the visitors learned the hard way, anything short of a full 32-minute performance isn’t enough to beat the Hornets.

Mansfield boys basketball

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Franklin’s double-digit second half lead evaporated, shrinking over the final minutes of the third quarter and disappearing by the midway point of the fourth. Instead, it was Mansfield who walked away with a double-digit victory, 60-50, behind a big second half turnaround.

There wasn’t much separating the teams throughout the first half but a pair of late threes had the Panthers up 32-24 at the halftime break. Franklin added two more from downtown range in the opening minutes of the third and suddenly, what was once a back-and-forth game that featured lead change after lead change, was looking like a runaway win for the Panthers up 42-27 at the midway point of the third.

“I just thought we had to exert ourselves a little bit on both ends of the court,” offered Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan.

It started with defense as the Hornets held the visitors without points for nearly five minutes. In fact, Mansfield allowed just two points over the final five minutes of the third quarter. And with stops on the defensive end came some confidence on the offensive end.










Boen got the offense going with a floater from the baseline and senior Brendan Foley had an easy layup after a nice back cut. After two more free throws from Boen, junior Matt Hyland (14 points, five rebounds) hit a big three and junior Chris Hill had a nice take to the rim.

Boen capped Mansfield’s 13-2 run by hitting both of his chances from the free throw line and just like that, the deficit was just four, 44-40, going into the fourth. Mansfield went 19-of-25 from the line while Franklin was 4-of-6.

Mansfield boys basketball

“It helped they missed some shots that they didn’t miss in the first half,” Vaughan added. “They shot the ball really well, they did some things to put ourselves in some bad situations. Historically I like to give Franklin credit for their defense but [on offense] they put us in some situations that don’t normally get put in with their cutting and their movement, they were really committed to it. And I don’t think it was a lack of effort as much as really good design by them. And they hit shots to follow it.”

Franklins seemed to shake off the Hornets’ run when senior Andrew Byfield scored down low and freshman Henry Digiorgio had a big steal that ended up with a free throw. But by this point, Mansfield was in a rhythm as Jack Colby (12 points, nine rebounds) hit two free throws after a big defensive board and Boen tied the game with five minutes to go with a triple.

Mansfield got a stop and Boen, who was limited to just five points on 3-of-3 shooting in the first half, drained another triple to put the hosts ahead. Byfield answered with a putback on one end but Colby corralled an offensive rebound on the other end, completing a traditional three-point play after being fouled on the putback.

“We have to be consistent throughout the game,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Everything we did to get that lead went out the window when they started to make that run. Honestly, I didn’t think we handled it well mentally…we started doing things that were out of character, different from what we were doing in the first half…the ball movement, the patience, the sharing the basketball, following the scout defensively…instead we started to press a little bit trying to make plays instead of letting it come to us. We had a very specific plan defensively and I thought we got away from that and they got free.”

Mansfield boys basketball

Franklin shot 46% from the field (11-of-24) in the first half but managed just seven makes (7-of-28) in the second half, including just 2-of-12 from three-point range.

Another Franklin miss allowed Mansfield to get out and run and Boen attacked the rim for two, and following a Franklin turnover, it was two more points for the senior guard for a 57-50 lead with just over two minutes to go.

“I thought we tried to make up their entire run on one possession,” Neely said. “We knew they’d make some plays but instead of buckling down when it happened, it seemed like we started to panic a bit and take shots that were uncharacteristic to what was giving us success. You can’t allow that to happen against Mansfield, they’re a great team, they are disciplined and they aren’t going away.”

An off-ball offensive foul gave the Hornets the ball back and Hyland made the most of a second chance opportunity, darting to the basket for two to ice the win.




“Once we figured their pace on offense to at least slow them down some, they missed a couple shots, and we were able to go down and score a couple in a row,” Vaughan said, “We found some rhythm and it felt like they got a little tight. As they say, you’d rather be playing well in the fourth than the first.”

Franklin’s best offensive quarter was the second with five of their six makes from the field coming from three-point range. Sean Vinson hit the first one, Jake O’Brien (14 points) hit three in a three minute span, and freshman Henry Digiorgio had another. Declan Walmsley (11 points, nine rebounds) added two three-pointers in the game while Alex Newman had one as the Panthers finished with 10 makes from downtown.

Mansfield boys basketball

Boen ended up with 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. With Franklin paying extra attention to the senior guard, and with Hornet senior forward TJ Guy out with an injury, Mansfield needed other players to step up. Both Hyland and Colby answered the call.

Both players scored five points in the opening quarter to help the Hornets keep pace with the visitors, who hit three trifectas in the opening eight minutes. Digiorgio (10 points) hit two of those to help the Panthers build a 15-14 lead after one quarter.

Hyland continued to attack the basket in the second quarter while Franklin’s defense continued to limit Boen’s touches. In the second half, Colby made a lot of hustle players, including a team-high four offensive rebounds, to help spark the comeback.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Hyland and Jack stepped up and had some big plays for us,” Vaughan said. “And granted, [Boen] hit some shots too which built our confidence. When he scores, the level of pressure for the other guys goes down. They have some room to make a mistake because they know he’s going to find a way to make a basket. Then all of a sudden, they’re making baskets too and that inflates the confidence. Both Hyland and Jack came up with big plays right when we needed them to.

“I talked to Jack earlier this season about how we needed him to be a competitor, not just someone who sits in the corner and shoots threes. We need a mixture of both and he’s really taken that to heart. If he just sits in the corner and shoots, I can sub someone else in for that. If he’s grabbing rebounds, plays defense, contests defense, I can’t replace him. He becomes one of the guys I have to leave on the floor for most of the game. And Jack, out of all kids on this team, has made an unbelievable commitment to the game and now you’re seeing the fruits of his labor, it’s paying off. Now we need to see him committed to that style of play each game.”

This will be the quickest turnaround between games for the two rivals as Mansfield (6-0 overall, 5-0 Kelley-Rex) travel to Franklin (4-3, 4-3) on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

Mansfield 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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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

Teams of the Decade: Top Playoff Runs

Teams of the Decade

Over the past couple of months, our staff has reviewed hundreds of championship-caliber Hockomock League teams from the past decade (Fall 2010 through Winter 2020) and selected its Top 20 “Teams of the Decade.” During that process, we came across so many talented teams that accomplished so much. Below is a list of teams that just missed out on the final list but stood out for their postseason performances.

2019 Taunton Baseball

Record: 21-7
Division 1 State Champions

The stars aligned perfectly for the Tigers when the postseason rolled around. Although Taunton finished in third in the Kelley-Rex division in the regular season (behind Super 8 selections Franklin and Mansfield), the Tigers took full advantage of their opportunity in Div. 1 South. At 11-7 midway through May, Taunton won four straight to finish the regular season at 15-7 for the fourth seed in the D1 South bracket. After dispatching Marshfield, the Tigers rallied to stun Catholic Memorial with a seventh inning rally, scoring the game-winning run off a bunt from Lucas Martins. Taunton followed with a shutout of Catholic Conference power Xaverian before taking down Hockomock rival Attleboro, 6-1, to win the South.

The magic continued for Taunton, head coach Blair Bourque, and its playoff hero Nic Notarangelo in the D1 State Semifinals. Against a powerful Lincoln-Sudbury side (21-2 entering the game), the Tigers fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first inning. Logan Lawrence had a huge game, hitting a two-run home run in the first and pitching four scoreless innings in relief. Notarangelo smacked a hard hit to right to score sophomore Ty Cali in the bottom of the ninth inning for the game-winning run. Taunton capped its magical run with a 5-3 win over Shrewsbury and 6’8 Boston College-commit John West. Josh Lajoie made his first start of the playoffs, senior Evan Melo put a cherry on top of a special individual postseason by driving in the game-winning run, and both Notarangelo and Lawrence – as they had done all tournament – made key plays in the final innings to help Taunton secure its first-ever Div. 1 State Championship.

2016 Franklin Boys Hockey

Record: 18-4-5
Division 1 State Champions

Just one year removed from a historic trip to the Super 8, and after graduating 21 seniors, Franklin showed off the depth in its program and erased its demons at the TD Garden, ending a three-decade wait for a second state title. A team without a true star, Franklin’s depth and its work rate were its greatest strengths. The Panthers were 12-3-5 and the fourth seed in Div. 1 when the playoffs began, but it felt like a wide open bracket. The tournament run began with a 2-1 win against Wellesley, followed by a 1-0 win against Walpole in a jam-packed Pirelli Rink.

After dispatching a third straight Bay State Conference team, Newton North, in the semifinal, Franklin avenged a late-season loss against highly-regarded Marshfield. In the state title game at the TD Garden, a place where Franklin and head coach Chris Spillane had come up empty three seasons in a row earlier in the decade, the Panthers led 3-1 heading into the third period against St. Mary’s (Lynn), a team that just missed out on a Super 8 berth. The game went to double overtime before senior Jake Downie assisted on sophomore Luke Downie’s dramatic game- and title-winner and secured a first state title since 1983.

2018 Franklin Baseball

Record: 21-5
Division 1A (Super 8) State Champions

It was a season that started with high expectations and ended in history, but it was hardly a straight and easy path for Franklin. Few will remember because of how the season ended, but the Panthers opened the season by being shutout by Foxboro, were swept by Taunton, and finished a game behind Mansfield in the league. Through it all, Franklin put together a good enough resume that it was selected for the Super 8 for the first time in program history. The Panthers (21-5) entered as the No. 7 seed, but once the playoffs began everything seemed to fall into place.

Thanks to the dynamic duo of Jake Noviello and Bryan Woelfel and a lineup filled with clutch hitters, Franklin beat Wachusett in the opening game and then proceeded to beat St. John’s Prep and Central Catholic (twice). The final three games were all one-run wins. In the Super 8 finale against the Raiders, head coach Zach Brown brought Noviello into the bottom of the eighth in a tie game with runners at second and third. He struck out three of the next four batters (hitting one in between) to somehow keep it tied and in the top of the ninth Evan Wendell’s perfect suicide squeeze plated Steve Luttazi with the title-winning run.

2016 Foxboro Girls Tennis

Record: 19-2
Division 2 State Champions

The third time proved to be the charm for the Foxboro girls’ tennis team. After coming up short in the state final in 2014 and 2015, the Warriors took a 3-2 decision over Wayland to clinch the title. The Warriors dropped two matches all season, both 3-2 to eventual Davenport division champion Sharon, as Foxboro finished second in the division at 14-2. The sister combination of Diana Prinos at first singles and Sophia Prinos at second singles gave Foxboro a huge advantage while junior Lexi Nelson was such a steady presence at third singles.

Behind interim head coaches CJ Neely and Jon Montanaro, the Warriors earned the fourth seed in the Division 2 South bracket and survived an early scare with a 3-2 win over Westwood. The second doubles team of Michaela McCarthy and Morgan Krockta helped the Warriors knock off a strong Hingham team in the quarterfinals and Foxboro swept singles action in both the sectional semifinals and finals to defeat previously unbeaten and top-seeded Apponequet and Hopkinton, respectively. After dropping a singles match in the state final, the Warriors had to show off their depth as a team and the first doubles pairing of sophomore Kayla Prag and freshman Julia Muise pulled out a 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 win to secure the title.

2012 Sharon Football

Record: 10-3
Division 3 Eastern Mass. Champions

It’s hard to think of a more special individual season than the one the Sharon football team had in 2012. To put things in perspective, the Eagles had just won seven games over a seven-year span in the previous decade and its last winning season came in the late 1980s. Head coach Dave Morse led Sharon to four wins in his first year in 2011 but that turned out to be just a preview of what was to come. The Eagles had a special group of players come together and accomplish something a lot of people thought they would never see: bringing a Super Bowl title back to Sharon.

While it wasn’t a perfect season, the Eagles got it done against division foes. Sharon knocked off Canton in overtime, scored with under a minute left to stun previously unbeaten Stoughton, and used a gutsy fourth-quarter fourth-down conversion touchdown to secure a win over Foxboro and clinch its first Davenport division title. In the playoffs, the Eagles held on for a 7-6 win over Pembroke when the Titans’ two-point conversion with a minute to go fell short. In the Super Bowl, senior running back Sean Asnes capped a terrific season with a pair of touchdowns as Sharon notched a 12-3 win over Wayland in a freezing cold game at Bentley University.




2018 Mansfield Boys Basketball

Record: 27-2
Division 1 State Champions

Mansfield’s playoff run during the 2017-2018 season was as close to perfect as you can get in basketball. The Hornets were very good during the regular season, but they were close to unstoppable once the state tournament rolled around. Mansfield suffered two setbacks during the season, one in December to BC High and a 15-point loss on the road to rival Franklin in January. Head coach Mike Vaughan has said that second loss might have been the spark that ignited one of the most impressive playoff campaigns of the decade. With seven seniors (John McCoy, Tyler Boulter, Ryan Otto, Nick Ferraz, Alex Ferraz, Justin Vine, Sam Hyland) and a trio of talented juniors (Damani Scott, Tommy Dooling, Khristian Conner), the Hornets made the most of the playoff opportunity.

The top-seed in Division 1 South, Mansfield rolled through the bracket — and we mean rolled. Mansfield beat all four of its opponents by double figures, dismissing Newton South (76-49) in the first round, avenging its loss to BC High (71-58) in the quarterfinals, eliminating a very good Newton North (70-50) team in the South semis, and beating a talented Brockton (79-65) squad to win the South championship. The momentum continued as the Hornets secured a spot in the state final with an impressive win over Everett (73-65) at the TD Garden. In the D1 State Championship, the Hornets capped a terrific postseason run by taking down rival Franklin (67-54); the matchup marked the first time a pair of teams from the same league met in the D1 final.

2017 Franklin Boys Basketball

Record: 22-5
Division 1 State Finalists

This Franklin boys team might not have won it all, but it packed some of the most memorable games into its great postseason run. The Panthers were good throughout the regular season, and they certainly had their fair share of impressive wins including one over league champ Mansfield, one over a very good Cardinal Spellman team, and concluded the regular season with arguably its best win, a 70-53 decision over a good Tech Boston team. But there were five losses too, including on the road at Canton, and early season tilts against Malden Catholic and Catholic Memorial.

The wins over Spellman and Tech Boston to finish the regular season were a clear sign to head coach CJ Neely that this squad was ready to make some noise in the state tournament. Junior Jalen Samuels helped the hosts knock off upset-minded Acton Boxboro in the opening round and senior Connor Goldstein gave Franklin a needed spark in its semifinal win over St. Peter Marian. In the Central final against perennial power St. John’s Shrewsbury, freshman Chris Edgehill sank a huge three with just over a minute left in overtime and then hit two from the free throw line in the final seconds to help secure Franklin’s first sectional title. In the state semifinal against Springfield Central, the Panthers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an improbable 8-0 run in the final 20 seconds to force overtime. Four minutes later, Franklin was on its way to its first state championship. Although the Panthers ran into a juggernaut in Cambridge, the run that the Panthers had leading up to that point was a very memorable one.

2018 North Attleboro Baseball

Record: 22-2
Division 2 State Champions

North Attleboro rolled through the regular season, finishing 14-2 in the league and 18-2 overall. Big Red ended a 12-year wait for a league title and took the top seed in Div. 2 South. North’s run to a first-ever state title was hardly a surprise, but the way that the Rocketeers rolled through the South bracket was more than impressive. North scored at will over the first three games of the tournament, out-scoring its opponents 41-4, including a 20-2 win against Dartmouth in the semifinal and a 19-2 win against Oliver Ames in the final.

Behind the pitching of Nick Sinacola and the clutch bat of Zach DeMattio, the Rocketeers were unstoppable heading into the final against Beverly and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the state championship game (all four runs driven in by DeMattio). The Panthers got to Sinacola for three runs in the fifth to cut the lead to just one run, but he settled down, with the help of his defense, to get through a scoreless sixth and seventh inning and becoming the second Hockomock League baseball team in a week to win a state title.

2018 Taunton Softball

Record: 26-2
Division 1 State Champions

Taunton had lost in the first round in each of the past two postseasons, both times on its home field and both times to league opponents (King Philip in 2016 and North Attleboro in 2017), but the Tigers put it all together in 2018 to erase those playoff struggles. Always one of the most feared lineups in the state, the Taunton offense exploded for 44 runs in six playoff games. The Tigers, under the guidance of legendary coach Dave Lewry, scored nine runs against Dartmouth and Bishop Feehan, six against Newton North, and 13 in the state final against previously unbeaten Wachusett.

The toughest, and arguably most memorable, game of the playoff run was the Div. 1 South final against KP. The Warriors won the league title and had also scored 21 runs in three games to get to the final. After rallying to tie the game in the fifth, Taunton scored the game-winning runs on a single down the third base line by surprise starter and No. 9 hitter Rylie Murphy. KP got the tying runs on base in the seventh, but freshman starter Kelsey White escaped the jam and the Tigers went on to win their first state title in 11 years in blowout fashion (13-2 over Wachusett).

2016 King Philip Softball

Record: 24-4
Division 1 State Champions

There is nothing unusual about King Philip softball going on a playoff run, after all this was the program’s third state title in seven seasons, but the Warriors entered the season as the No. 7 seed in Div. 1 South, had lost the Kelley-Rex title to Taunton, ending a run of nine straight league championships, and lost four times during the regular season. Once the playoffs began, the Warriors flipped a switch. Thanks in large part to a dominant run of games from starting pitcher Kali Magane, KP allowed only two runs in six playoff games and outscored opponents 29-2.

The Warriors beat Taunton in the quarterfinal, winning the season series against the Tigers, and avenged an extra-inning loss from 2015 by beating defending South champion Silver Lake in the final. Magane saved the best for last, striking out 13 and tossing a one-hit shutout in the state title game against Doherty. Magane finished the season by striking out the side in the seventh and closing out an unlikely championship campaign.

Lynn English Ends Mansfield’s Playoff Run In State Semis

Mansfield boys basketball Sam Stevens
Mansfield senior Sam Stevens shoots over the defense of Lynn English’s Jack Rodriguez in the first half at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BOSTON, Mass. – It’s the patented fourth-quarter run that the Mansfield boys basketball team has put so many opponents away with.

Junior TJ Guy converted a putback and scored down low, sandwiching buckets around a three-pointer from Cincere Gill. After a steal, senior Sam Stevens drained a three off a feed from Drew Rooney, and then hit another from deep off a feed from Matt Boen to cap a 14-4 run in the final minutes of the game.

But this time, things were different. This run only cut into a large deficit created by Lynn English that proved to be too big of a hole for the Hornets.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Bulldogs, winners of the North sectional and defending D1 State champions, shined on both ends of the court from start to finish to earn a 74-58 win and a return trip to the state final.

“I thought defensively we did a good job following what we were trying to do, it’s just they are so talented at so many positions,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan.

The Bulldogs had their best offensive quarter in the opening eight minutes, scoring 22 points to build a five-point lead. By halftime, Lynn English led by 12, and the advantage balloon to as much as 23 in the fourth quarter before the Hornets finally found a consistent rhythm on offense, closing the gap over the final minutes.

The combination of 6’8” center Jean-Baptiste Mukeba (20 points) and 6’6” forward Ademide Badmus (eight points) was a matchup problem for Mansfield, which threw a handful of looks defensively in the post both before and after the entry pass.

And when the Hornets came with a double or fronted to deny the pass, the speed and playmaking ability of English’s guards — Jarnel Guzman (19 points) and Jack Rodriguez (20 points) — gave the Bulldogs second and third options.

Even when the Hornets slowed the guards, denied the entry passes, and played good defense, the Bulldogs got points out of eight of their 10 offensive rebounds.

“A lot of teams you play, maybe they have one good rebounder and they get an offensive rebound but they miss the putback…[Lynn English] didn’t miss the putbacks,” Vaughan said. “You over-rotate, you double the post, they throw out of it and you get the exact play you want but it doesn’t matter if its Guzman or the other two perimeter players, they are knocking down the three. And then their ability to get you off of the bounce, so at any point we have Sammy, TJ, and Chris [Hill] in at the same time, we have a big on a guard and they can expose that.”

For all the problems that the Bulldogs presented on the offensive end, there were equal issues on the defensive end. Mukeba and Badmus defended the post, turning easy looks into difficult takes. After hitting a trio of threes in the first quarter, Mansfield didn’t get many clean looks the rest of the way and had just one make on nine attempts between the second and third quarters.

After junior Matt Boen tormented the Bulldogs for 32 points in the regular-season matchup, the Bulldogs assigned Mason Jean-Baptiste to shadow Boen’s every move, almost attached at the hip to try and prevent a repeat performance.

“Teams don’t sustain that intensity [on defense] typically, you see it in the first quarter and you think you’ve weathered the storm, down by five,” Vaughan said. “And then all of a sudden you think you can make an adjustment or two in the second quarter but we just never got to that point, except maybe the last couple of minutes, we just never got comfortable and looked like a normal Mansfield team on offense. Some of that is execution, some of that is we were pressing because we got down so much, and some of it was just their defensive ability.”

Mukeba was the beneficiary of some handoffs down low, racing out to 10 points in the first half. Guzman was equally as dangerous, finding space to attack the rim or pull up for mid-range for nine points in the opening quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill hit on a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, the second one giving Mansfield a brief 8-7 lead — its last edge on the scoreboard. Boen scored his only points of the first half on a circus-like layup to start the second to make it 22-19 but an 8-0 burst from the Bulldogs pushed the lead to double-digits.










Gill (career-high 17 points), who was a huge boost off the bench all night for the Hornets, drained a three and Guy (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists) attacked for two more to make it 30-24 but Louis Rivera came off the bench and delivered Lynn English’s lone three of the half and sparked an 8-2 run to close the half with the Bulldogs ahead 38-26.

“We kind of prepared more for them trapping in the backcourt and their pressure and it kind of left us susceptible to the half court stuff,” Vaughan said. “I thought when we got good position, we kind of forced action which causes you to have bad possessions and it’s a bit of a snowball effect. They were locked in, ready to go to take stuff away. Every possession we had was not easy and that has a lot to do with their game plan and their execution.

“It’s tough because you can’t punish them. Everything you do, they have a guy that’s going to alter the shot. When normally you might get something as a layup, now it’s an altered shot so it’s that much more difficult to score.”

Mansfield went right to the heart of the Bulldog defense, with both Stevens (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Guy finding success attacking the rim. The Bulldogs called a timeout just 1:19 into the second half, and it paid off, resulting in a 10-4 boost over the next four minutes.

Lynn English took a 57-39 lead into the final quarter, and had its largest lead after a three from Guzman, a putback from Mukeba, and back-to-back drives from Rodriguez before the Hornets went on their run to make it 70-57 with two minutes to play.

“I thought their game plan was excellent in terms of denying Matty the ball, and when he did have it try to take away his left hand and make him work for everything he had,” Vaughan said. “They have three guards that can do it. Most teams have one or two defensive specialists, they’ve got three that can do it. And from a scheme standpoint, you overcome that and find a way to almost punish them, then you have to shoot over a 6’8 or 6’6 kid. It’s just a double whammy. You think you have great offense and then a shot gets blocked or altered.

“I think it starts with their game plan and scheme that their coach came up with and then it goes to their guard play with their speed and athleticism, and their commitment to defending, and then third you have the bigs altering shots once you finally break them down. I thought they played at a good pace where they didn’t over force it, they picked their spots to be effective. I think the combination of their patience and execution was a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield boys basketball wraps up its season at 23-4, half of its losses coming to the Bulldogs, one to rival and Central finalist Franklin, and one to Whitman-Hanson, who is competing in the D2 State Semifinal on Wednesday.

The Hornets also secured the program’s eighth straight Kelley-Rex division title. Mansfield graduates three seniors: Makhi Baskin, Rooney, and Stevens.

“It’s been great,” Stevens said of his two years as a starter for the Hornets. He finished with 782 career points. “It’s always disappointing when you don’t come out on top. Winning the South isn’t something to bat your eyes at so I’m proud of everything this team accomplished.”

Mansfield Rolls Past Brockton To Earn D1 South Title

Mansfield boys basketball Matt Boen
Mansfield junior Matt Boen goes up for a layup in the second half against Brockton in the D1 South Sectional Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – In the middle of the D1 South Sectional championship game, the Mansfield boys basketball team put on a clinic in front of a jammed pack crowd inside the Rabouin Field House at Taunton High.

For over eight minutes, the Hornets dominated on both ends of the court. It started with terrific defense, and more often than not, ended with an extra pass and an open look. The result was a runaway win for the top-seeded Hornets, a 78-65 decision over #2 Brockton.

It’s Mansfield’s second D1 South Sectional title in the past three seasons.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The guys seemed locked in,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “Anything they threw at us, we seemed to have an answer for it. I thought the ball movement was tremendous. Our ball movement is really good and when we move the basketball, I think a lot of different guys can contribute and that definitely happened in the second quarter.

“We start working on [the ball movement] in December, and around mid-January, I thought we were a kind of lackadaisical and guys were trying to get their own instead of running the offense. We just have to grind through those possessions to try and get to a point where it all seems to click. We always talk about playing our best in March and so far we are doing that.”

The momentum started with a 9-1 surge to end the opening quarter. After Brockton’s Isaac Lane drained a three-pointer to make it a two-point game at 13-11, the Hornets created a double-digit advantage with its late run.

Junior TJ Guy (six points, six rebounds) dished out one of his eight assists, finding classmate Brendan Foley wide open cutting to the basket for two. Junior Cincere Gill was fouled driving to the basket and hit two from the line, and junior Matt Boen (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) scored five straight points for a 22-12 advantage through eight minutes.

“A lot of times you see a team with that size, with that length, and that athleticism and guys seem to back up,” Vaughan said. “We want to go at them and find opportunities to score. Use the ball as your friend to move and get going in the offensive end.”

After finding success cutting to the basket, Mansfield found some space on the perimeter as both senior Sam Stevens (29 points, seven rebounds) and Boen drained early threes. That afforded Drew Rooney (10 points, six rebounds) space up the middle for a strong take and Guy turned an offensive board into a traditional three-point play, capping an 11-4 run for a 33-16 lead.

The Boxers converted a steal into points but Mansfield answered in the form of an 11-0 surge. Stevens started it with two free throws, Gill joined the three party with a triple of his own, and then Stevens splashed two more triples for a 44-18 lead.

Boen took a feed from Jack Colby and drained a three before Stevens added another one from deep as the Hornets took a 50-27 lead into halftime. In total, Mansfield hit nine first half three-pointers, including four apiece from Boen and Stevens.

“For us, we just have to trust the process,” Vaughan said. “If we do that, allow the game to come, we’ll settle into what we need to do and I think that makes a big difference for our comfort level. Then kids can go out there and make plays. It felt like we could score on every possession in the first half.

“They wanted to take away the perimeter, take away Matty and deny Sammy the ball. That let Drew get some easy baskets early, TJ could have had a couple more. That allowed more of our guys to get comfortable. Once they get comfortable, Sammy and Matty can get going.”

Brockton played better in the third quarter, hitting six field goals from the floor including three from deep. But Mansfield was quick to match the Boxers, as Stevens accounted for 10 of the Hornets’ 16 points in the quarter.

Freshman Chris Hill had a pair of finishes at the end of the press break and Rooney added a putback for the Hornets, Stevens had a three, hit five free throws, and drained a contested elbow jumper at the buzzer as Mansfield carried a 66-44 lead into the fourth.

“Sam has had a great second half of the year and a lot of that is from settling in and trusting his teammates,” Vaughan said. “It’s about understanding that he can pass up on an early shot to get one going. Once he starts doing that and feeling good, you trust him to take that early shot. And when he’s making them, you can play off of him a little bit and that makes a big difference.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Mansfield’s lead hovered around 20 for the opening four minutes of the fourth quarter, a bucket from Hill on a feed from Boen giving the Hornets a 70-51 lead.

But Brockton kept it interesting with a bit of a late run. An 8-1 run made it 71-59 with just over two minutes to play, and the Boxers in possession. Brockton hit just one of two from the line and Boen came down the other end and converted through contact, completing a three-point play to essentially ice the win.

Mansfield boys basketball (advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on the D1 North champion on Tuesday at the TD Garden at 7:15. Lowell (22-0) and Lynn English (21-2) meet on Saturday night in the D1 North Sectional final.