Hornets’ Comeback Comes Up Short In South Final

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Tommy Dooling goes up for a shot in the second half against Newton North in the D1 South Final. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com(
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – For the first 16 minutes of the 2019 Division 1 South Sectional Final, the second-seeded Mansfield Hornets couldn’t seem to do anything right.

Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Tigers of Newton North played about as good as they could have hoped, combining eight made three-pointers with 14 Hornet turnovers for a 40-24 lead at halftime.

But there was no quit in the Hornets. Mansfield dominated the third quarter, making it a two-point contest — anyone’s game — with eight minutes left to go in the game.

The Tigers stood tall, though, never surrendering the lead and coming up with answer after answer to come away with a 74-64 victory, claiming the program’s first sectional title since 2006.

“I thought we did a good job disrupting them and taking stuff away,” said Newton North coach Paul Connolly. “We knew they’d have a run, and they had a huge run and came right at us. We responded, we made baskets when we needed them. We regained our poise (at the end).

”They are such a prolific offensive team, they really dissect people. We really worked on not allowing them to do what they do, to try and disrupt and take things away. They still scored 64 points. I told the guys at halftime Mansfield plays for 32 minutes. Even at the end, in the final seconds…they can score 10 points in their sleep.”

Mansfield looked like a completely different team in the third quarter, ramping up the aggressiveness and attacking the basket with a purpose. And on the defensive end, the Hornets played with a renewed sense of purpose that limited the Tigers to just seven points in the eight-minute stretch.

The surge mostly came over the final three minutes of the third. The defense limited Newton North to just three points over the first five minutes, but the Hornets were still trailing by double-digits, 45-34, with under three to go.

Sophomore Matt Boen (13 points, eight rebounds, five assists) hit a three-pointer and Damani Scott (17 points, six rebounds) came up with a steal that led to two free throws. The Hornets sandwiched a pair of stops around a free throw from Jack Mousette, and then junior Sam Stevens (14 points, four rebounds) drained a triple to make it a three-point game, down 46-43 with just under a minute to go.

Newton North added a free throw but Tommy Dooling (10 points) finished a contested layup at the buzzer to bring the Hornets — once down 19 points in the first half — within two, 47-45, entering the final quarter.

“Just play harder,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan of what went into the third quarter turnaround. “I told the guys at halftime we’re going to come out and play hard defense, move the ball with our 50 action, we’re not calling quick hitters, we’re not having personnel on certain kids. And it worked. Hindsight, we probably should have done that from the start, but we’re a little more of a finesse team and like to get out in space and trick teams a little bit. They did such a good job preparing for us, we weren’t going to out-trick them tonight. We needed to be more aggressive.”

Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t carry over right away in the fourth quarter. The Hornets reverted to the bad habits of the first half, mainly turnovers.

Mansfield committed four turnovers in the opening two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter. After Newton North’s Kyle Ray-Canada (28 points) opened the quarter with the three, Mansfield missed a three and then was whistled for back-to-back offensive fouls after getting stops.

Khalil Lofton came up with a steal for an easy layup for the Tigers, the Hornets missed a triple, and Ray-Canada finished at the rim to cap a quick 7-0 spurt that gave Newton North breathing room up 54-45.

The Hornets once again made a push to get back in it. Dooling sank two free throws, Drew Rooney added another, and Boen, playing with an injured wrist, used a nice fake and lay-in for two to make it 56-52 with just over three minutes to go.

But Canada-Ray earned a trip to the line for two on back-to-back possessions, the Hornets had another turnover, and Lofton sank two more free throws to push the lead to 62-52 with two minutes left.

“It was everything going back to passive, reverting to what we were back in the first half instead of being aggressive,” Vaughan said. “Paul is one of the best [coaches] for a reason. There were times when we cut it to like four, where maybe in some other games, they made not have had an answer. But Paul had something drawn up, he had the right play, he had the right switch, and you can only do that when you’re at his level. He had answers for everything we did, hats off to how he coached and how his kids responded.”

Newton North had a terrific fourth quarter, taking advantage of some forced and some uncharacteristic Hornet turnovers. Mansfield gave the ball away nine times, and the Tigers hit nine field goals, include three from three-point range to race out to a 21-9 lead through eight minutes.

“They were very aggressive, they made us play 23-feet away from the hoop and they never really let us get comfortable,” Vaughan said. “It seemed like every pass we threw, every cut we made, every action we did, they were sitting there waiting for us. When the physicality is allowed that much, and we’re not matching it, it makes it a real grind it out first half.”

The Tigers’ three-point shooting only improved in the second quarter. Newton North connected on five more triples, including one from Ray-Canada with under a minute to go to push the lead to 40-21. Boen gave Mansfield some life with a late three and block on the final shot to make it 40-24 at halftime.

“I thought us playing from behind could create some nerves,” Vaughan said. “In the third quarter, we took the pressure off of thinking and just let them go out and play. I think it made the game so much easier for them, and you can only do that for so long and for so often. We almost were just kind of trying to play pick up and let the game freely go.

“I was happy with our young guys played. I thought Damani and Tommy played their hearts out, what more can you ask of them? In the end, I think the team that was a little more prepared, playing a little more hungry and with more effort won the game tonight.”

Mansfield boys basketball finishes the season at 22-5.

Mansfield Edges Taunton In D1 South Semifinal Clash

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Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy goes up for a layup in the second half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – The Taunton Tigers were on the verge of a big upset.

With just over two minutes to go in a tied game, Taunton senior Wesner Charles found an open lane for an easy layup to give the 14th-seeded Tigers a 58-56 lead. And on Mansfield’s ensuing trip up, Charles came up with a block that gave the Tigers the ball back and all of the momentum in front of a packed crowd inside the Rabouin Field House.

But the Tigers couldn’t slam the door shut on the second-seeded Hornets, as a potential dagger three rimmed out. And there aren’t many teams better at making you pay than the Hornets.

Senior Tommy Dooling (19 points) launched a corner three that bounced twice off the rim before falling, putting the Hornets up by one with 1:34 to go. Taunton couldn’t answer as a three-point shot was off the mark, and Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (career-high 19 points, eight rebounds) concerted off his own miss with 44.5 seconds left to put Mansfield up 61-58.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We started the second half pretty well but [Taunton] came back and the crowd got pretty loud,” Dooling said. “We kept telling each other it was going to be okay, we stuck with what we do well. Sam Stevens had a nice screen and Damani [Scott] had a nice pass and I shot the three, it hit every part of the rim then finally went in, that felt great.”

The Hornets got the stop they needed, Guy broke free for another layup and Mansfield came out with a hard-fought 65-59 win over a gritty Tigers team.

With the win, the Hornets advance to their third straight Division 1 South Sectional Final, and seventh appearance in the last 10 years in the game.

“When the wheels started falling off, with this atmosphere, I was a little nervous with how some of our young guys, guys that haven’t been here before, were going to respond,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “We looked panicked there for a little bit. But I reminded them ‘Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, come out and do what we do’ and we needed a couple of possessions of basket, stop, basket, stop, and we were able to do that.

“Taunton is playing really good right now, they were not going to go down easy. They were ready for the big moment, and a couple of bounces things might go the other way. Taunton did some good things in that second half.”

It was a close game throughout as the Hornets had a brief eight-point advantage in the first half, and led by only seven at one point early in the second half. Taunton had an early 11-8 advantage but didn’t take another lead until midway through the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer from Sam Stevens that came off an offensive rebound had the Hornets up 51-48 entering the fourth quarter. Free throws from Taunton senior John Martins (14 points) got the Tigers within two but Damani Scott answered with a strong take for the Hornets. A free throw from Lou Vendrell followed by a steal and bucket from Naz Kenion (career-high 20 points) knotted the score at 53-53.

Kenion continued his stellar play with a nice move baseline to give the Tigers a 55-54 lead, their first advantage of the second half. Kenion came up with a steal to get Taunton the ball back, but the Tigers missed a three. A free throw from Kenion extended the lead to 56-54, and Charles knocked away a pass to get the Tigers another chance to extend the lead, but Taunton’s layup was off the mark. Mansfield tied the game on the other end as sophomore Matt Boen had a layup off a feed from Drew Rooney.

“I thought we played great defense. It felt like we took them off the three-point line for the most part, which is a lot of their offense, But as usual, they adjust and they didn’t panic. If you’re not composed for 32 minutes, you make a mistake, they take advantage of it, that’s Mansfield.

“A game of inches, I think it came down to three plays in the end. Two offensive possessions on our end that we didn’t do well with, and one blown defensive possession. All of a sudden, it’s six points, and that feels like an insurmountable lead against them.”

The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening quarter with Taunton jumping ahead 11-8 behind a three-pointer from Dante Law (nine point, seven rebounds) but Dooling had a pair of triples and Guy added six points to help the Hornets take a 17-14 lead after one.

Mansfield extended its lead to 22-14 — the largest lead of the game by either side — but Taunton clawed back into it. Sophomore Tyler Stewart came off the bench and scored four points, Law added four more, and Kenion scored his first seven points of the game, including a late three-point play to bring the Tigers within two, down 31-29 at half.

Martins sank two free throws to open the second half to tie the game but the Hornets grabbed momentum back with a 10-3 spurt. Stevens converted a putback, Boen and Dooling hit consecutive threes, and Guy scored down low for a 41-34 advantage.

Taunton ramped up its defensive pressure to get back into the game. Martins scored off a steal, and minutes later, Kenion and sophomore Danny MacDougall had back-to-back takeaways that led to layups to tie it at 46-46 with 2:34 left in the third quarter.

“They were a lot more disciplined. Sometimes you can get them on back cuts or dribble handoff action, and we didn’t get any of those,” Vaughan said of Taunton’s defense. “We really had to score the old fashion way and gut through some possessions. Even on offense too, this was probably the most disciplined Taunton team I’ve seen on both ends of the floor, they really bought in to what [Coach Dacey] was selling. It made it brutal. When guys do that, you can’t go on runs, you can’t create separation, it makes it tough.

“All the threes we got were either contested, or we got them off half broken plays.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

For Taunton (15-9), it was an end to a playoff run that saw upsets over league rival Attleboro and former league rival Bridgewater-Raynham.

“We discovered something, I don’t know exactly what it was,” Dacey said. “We work, work, work a lot on defense in practice. It clicked against Attleboro, then again against B-R, it’s something we’ve been looking for all year long.

“It hurts, it should hurt, and hopefully it’s a lesson for the underclassman. We have to get kids to want to be in the gym in the offseason. This was fun, so I hope the guys coming back realize it and say we can be here [again], but you have to put the work in.”

Mansfield boys basketball returns to Taunton High on Friday to take on #5 Newton North (20-5). Newton North defeated the Hornets in the regular season on February 10th. The D1 South Final is set to tipoff at 7:30.

Mansfield Holds Off Late BC High Charge and Advances

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield senior Damani Scott scored a game-high 15 points and also had this big block in the first half of the Hornets’ 57-53 win over BC High in the first round of the tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The game seemed over in the third quarter. Mansfield had found another gear defensively and used an 18-0 run either side of halftime to take control against BC High in Tuesday night’s Div. 1 South first round game in the Albertini Gym.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

It is not often that the Hornets let what grew to as much as a 18-point lead slip, but the Eagles are not a typical No.15 seed and they came storming back. The lead was down to single digits by the end of the third quarter and only four points early in the fourth.

Each time, Mansfield found a response to keep the Eagles at bay, but with only a 1:34 left the lead was just five, and with 34.8 on the clock it was down to just two. While the Hornets are the defending state champions and come into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, there is still a learning curve for a number of players who are seeing their first significant tournament action.

As it turned out, the Hornets had just enough to get the win. Tommy Dooling got into the lane and dropped a pass off to T.J. Guy for the layup with just seconds left that put Mansfield back up four and that was how it would finish, a 57-53 win that could also serve a message about having to finish off an opponent when on top.

“They’re more like a 14-6, second round, opponent,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “Hopefully this game will help us and make these guys understand the value of, in the state tournament a 12-point lead can be gone in under a minute and you need to stay committed to doing the right thing. When we do the right thing, we’re tough to beat.”

When these two teams met back in December, Mansfield won by 22 points, but the Eagles were without 6-foot-8 junior center Ozzy Trapilo. The Eagles were without him for large portions of the first half on Tuesday as well because the Hornets went right at the big man from the start and got him into early foul trouble (three fouls in the opening five minutes).

“We didn’t really have a game plan to go at him,” said Vaughan, who admitted that Mansfield may have benefited from some calls early. “We really wanted to neutralize him in terms of giving Sam [Stevens] the opportunity to get shots because he had to come out and play him and then get T.J. screening and moving.”

Guy (14 points) took the ball into the body of the BC High center and earned a three-point play for Mansfield’s first basket. Sam Stevens (11 points) added a three-point play on an offensive rebound and Dooling (13 points) twice got to the rim, but the Hornets allowed eight points to Noah Rothhaar and were tied 12-12 after one.

The game stayed tight in the second and the Eagles took a 20-19 lead following a jumper by Kevin Keenan. BC High wouldn’t score again until midway through the third quarter. Mansfield closed the half on an 8-0 run. Stevens put the Hornets back in front with layup off a Damani Scott assist, Dooling drilled a three off a Matty Boen assist, and then Scott got to the rim on a drive to make it 27-20 at the break.

Mansfield kept its foot on the gas in the third quarter. Scott (game-high 15 points) got the crowd fired up with a steal and two-hand slam and that was followed by Guy picking off a pass and finishing with the first dunk of his career. After a pull-up three by Boen, it was suddenly 40-22 and the game was on the verge of getting out of hand.

It was on the verge but the Eagles made sure that it never fully got away. BC High answered Mansfield’s 21-2 run with a 14-3 run of its own, capped by Mike Loughnane’s third three of the night, and the Eagles got the lead back down to just seven.

“I thought the biggest momentum swing for and against us was T.J.’s dunk,” Vaughan explained, “because it excited the crowd, the place was rocking, it was awesome. We come down three straight possessions and it was like, let me do that now. Stay focused on what we do.”

He added, “It’s just a commitment to playing the team game. When we play the team game, we’re very difficult to defend because we have five guys who can play. When we start trying to go one-on-one, then we’re easy to defend.”

The lead was nine heading to the fourth, but a floater by Gavin Larnard and then a three-point play by Keenan had the Eagles down just four points and the visiting bench fired up. Stevens, who had been quiet for most of the game, sprung into action and drilled back-to-back threes to extend the advantage back to 10.

Larnard came right back with a three of his own, but Scott got an open look at a jumper off a Guy feed. A pair of free throws and a layup for Loughnane, off a steal by Korey Reynolds, got the Eagles to within five at 53-48. The home crowd was starting to get a little antsy.

Dooling drained a pull-up jumper to calm the nerves temporarily, but Keenan hit a turn-around baby hook from the left block and then Reynolds got free on the left wing for a clean look at a three and with only 34.8 remaining Mansfield got the ball over half and called timeout.

BC High elected to play the defensive possession out rather than foul and Dooling managed to get into the lane as the shot clock was winding down, drew the defense, and laid off a pass to Guy, who was able to get the ball up over the rim for the basket that sealed the win.

Mansfield (19-4) will host 10th seed Xaverian, which beat Needham, in the D1 South quarterfinal on Friday night.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Dooling, Mansfield Edge Franklin In Overtime

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Mansfield’s Tommy Dooling shoots a step back three in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Franklin junior Jack Rudolph drained an open three with just under three and a half minutes left in the game to put his team up by eight, it looked like the Panthers were on their way to evening the season series with rival Mansfield.

But the Panthers didn’t slam the door shut, and Mansfield took full advantage down the stretch.

The Hornets used a 12-4 run over the final three minutes to force overtime, and Hornet senior Tommy Dooling hit a free throw with 5.1 seconds left in the extra period to give Mansfield a 73-72 win and a regular season sweep over Franklin.

It’s Mansfield’s first season sweep of their rivals since 2014 when the Hornets won inside the field house and at the TD Garden.

“We had to fight for every [point], there was not an easy basket out there tonight,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “The fact that we got into the 70s was kind of shocking considering how hard it was. Sometimes when teams have a chance to put us away, they don’t and when they don’t and give us breathing room, at some point we’re going to go on a little run and ultimately that happened with enough time in the fourth quarter. And obviously making free throws in the end helped.”

Rudolph’s six triple of the game gave him a career-high 21 points and the Panthers a 60-52 lead. Franklin’s defense had prevented Mansfield from big runs for the majority of the game and the Panthers looked to be in a good position.

Dooling (19 points) earned a trip to the line and sank two free throws, an immediate and needed response to Rudolph’s three for the Hornets. After a stop on the defensive end, Dooling was fouled while shooting a three, and the senior sank all three attempts to make it a one-possession game with 2:37 to go.

Another stop for Mansfield and again, Dooling drove to the basket and drew contact. His two free throws got the Hornets within one with 2:03 to go.

Jalen Samuels (15 points, seven rebounds) sank a pair from the line on the other end to extend the hosts’ lead to three, but Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen (eight points, five rebounds) drained an open triple to tie the game with 1:38 to go. Franklin’s Will Harvey (two free throws) and Mansfield’s TJ Guy (13 points, six rebounds) traded baskets inside the final minute, Franklin missed a late three and Mansfield had a turnover on its final possession to force overtime.

Free throws from Chris Edgehill (11 points, 10 assists) and Samuels put Franklin in front, but Boen sank his second triple of the game to go up 69-67. A free throw from Makhi Baskin extended it to three, but Edgehill responded with a three to tie the game with just over two minutes left in overtime.

Samuels put Franklin back ahead with a pair from the line but Sam Stevens (nine points) answered after a terrific feed from Baskin.

Franklin had the chance for the last shot but was whistled for an off ball offensive foul. Dooling was fouled before Mansfield could inbound it out of their timeout at midcourt, and the senior went to the line with 5.1 left. After missing the first, Dooling sank the second and Franklin’s last second three was just off the mark.

“I think we just started committing to what we do on offense better,” Dooling said of what went into the comeback. “We started to move the ball more, we started to cut to the rim on slips. TJ and Sammy got some nice layups, and Matty Boen hit some big shots too.”

Mansfield went 14-for-19 from the free throw line between the fourth quarter and overtime.

“I think early we were playing passive and kind of on our heels, and everything was contested,” Vaughan said. “In the fourth, I felt like Tommy did a really nice job asserting himself into the game and did some good things. Ultimately he had the opportunities and made them.

“That’s a big pressure shot in overtime. To be able to miss the first and step back in and make the second, that’s a big play.”

After going up by eight, Franklin went 1-for-7 from the field and 9-for-11 from the free throw line over the final 3:25 of the fourth and all of overtime.

“Disappointing,” said Franklin coach CJ Neely on how he would describe how the game ended. “It was a great game. I told the guys we can be frustrated about whatever we want to be frustrated about but I didn’t think we kept guys in front defensively down the stretch without fouling, put them on the line and let them hang around in a game I thought we should have won.

“I thought we were in control of most of the game. We were playing good basketball, sharing the basketball. Chris did a great job of finding his teammates and guys were stepping up and making shots. We’ve seen them make them in practice, it’s good to see them make them in the game. I think it was 60-52 at one point, and we needed to close it out there but we started fouling, and they kept getting to the line.”

Franklin raced out to an 8-1 lead to start the game and lead 16-11 after one quarter. Rudolph hit three three-pointers in the opening frame to give the Panthers the lead. Both Samuels and Mansfield’s Damani Scott (eight points) picked up two early fouls and missed the majority of the first half.

A three-pointer from Jake Macchi just over a minute into the second quarter gave Franklin a 21-13 lead but Mansfield tightened up defensively and made a run to get back into it. Baskin hit two free throws and Stevens had an easy layup after a steal from Boen. Baskin then had a steal of his own, leading to another layup for Stevens.

The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the first half, with Mansfield going up 33-31 on a triple from Dooling (assisted by Boen) but Franklin answered just before the buzzer when Edgehill found Macchi for a three and a 34-33 halftime edge.

In the third, Rudolph his made a pair of threes within a minute and then turned a steal into a traditional three-point play, putting the Panthers ahead 43-38 with just under five left in the third.

“That’s the kind of stuff we expected from Jack coming into the season, being that third scorer for us offensively,” Neely said. “We’ve seen it in practice and things are starting to develop. I’m really proud of him, it was a great performance for him.”

Franklin’s six-point lead shrunk to just one but Samuels came up with a monster two-handed slam while being fouled to put the Panthers ahead 50-46. Two late technical free throws from Edgehill and a big block from Samuels at the buzzer had Franklin up 52-47 heading into the fourth.

“We were trading baskets, then they’d go on a little run and we didn’t counter it for a while,” Vaughan said. “It was just this grind it out, slow game that we just couldn’t get our hands on. The first game, I felt like we had control of it but this one the control was constantly slipping out of our hands. We did just enough. We shot the ball well enough from the foul line, we were atrocious there on Friday night. Making free throws down the stretch, Tommy at the line and I thought the three in the corner was big.

“CJ does such a good job you don’t know what you’re going to get with his tweaks and his matchups. Last game, they didn’t over play Tommy at all, so we put some stuff in for that and then tonight they overplayed him so we had to adjust on the fly. “

Mansfield boys basketball (11-2 Hockomock, 15-2 overall) is on the road against Oliver Ames while Franklin (9-4, 11-5) visits Taunton, both games on Friday.

Hornets Hold Off Attleboro to Force Tie Atop League

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Mansfield junior Sam Stevens scored a team-high 13 points to help the Hornets split the season series with Attleboro and force a tie at the top of the Kelley-Rex division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – The first time Attleboro and Mansfield met, the game went to overtime before a winner could be decided. On Friday night in the Albertini Gym, it looked like the two teams could be headed for another extra period when the Bombardiers battled back to tie the game at 53-53 in the fourth quarter.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

As they had all game long, the Hornets made shots when they needed to, closing the game on a 10-4 run and sealing a 63-57 win that split the season series against the Bombardiers and forged a tie atop the Kelley-Rex division.

T.J. Guy got the Hornets off to a good start to the game, scoring the team’s first seven points, including a three-pointer, to take an early lead. Sam Stevens hit his first of three from beyond the arc to extend the lead to 10-4. Attleboro climbed back into the game by getting the ball into the post to junior Qualeem Charles (21 points and 17 rebounds). He scored eight in the first to keep the Bombardiers close.

Tim Callahan drilled a three to get Attleboro back within three but then Damani Scott (11 points and 11 rebounds) answered with one of his one and finished with Mansfield’s last eight points of the quarter to give the hosts a 22-17 edge.

Tommy Dooling (10 points) got free on back-to-back possessions in the second and drilled a pair of threes to extend the lead to 30-19, which was the largest of the night. Even without injured point guard Bryant Ciccio, the Bombardiers kept finding ways to hang around. Charles got a three-point play off a Mason Houle assist and then Houle (nine points) got a steal and assist for a Kevin Velazquez transition basket.

“All season long, we’ve had guys down and had guys step up,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle about battling through the game without Ciccio. “This group really plays for each other. We’re still first place in the league…and we need to finish strong, take care of what we need to do, and work hard then we’ll be alright.”

A Matt Boen three pushed the lead back to nine, but a Charles layup off a Nick McMahon feed and a pair of baskets from Houle kept Attleboro within seven, 37-30, heading into the break.

“We tried to really run at Mason and really neutralize Q,” said Vaughan. “I mean, Q is going to get his points but if we neutralize him and really make it difficult for Tim and Mason to get going I thought that was probably our best recipe for winning. You’ve got to pick your poison.”

The Bombardiers cut the lead down to four at the start of the third quarter, but every time Mansfield would have a response. This time it was Boen drilling a corner three from a Dooling assist and then Stevens got going with seven points in the quarter. When Boen (12 points) hit his second three of the quarter, and third of the night, the Hornets led 53-42 and felt on the verge of putting the game out of reach.

Instead, Attleboro rallied with 11 straight points. Callahan hit a three and McMahon beat the buzzer with a pull-up jumper in the final seconds of the third. Callahan hit another to start the fourth and Charles scored off a Houle assist and got fouled on an offensive rebound to tie the game.

“We had to rebound,” said Vaughan. “I think in the third quarter when they made a push, the first time I thought we could’ve put them away, it was all done on the offensive glass.”

Houle noted, “We’re a resilient group. There were a couple possessions we’d like to have back, kind of settled a little bit, but Mansfield’s good. They buckled down on two, three possessions that ended up being key when we had momentum going.”

After a Scott free throw, Stevens got a good look at a straightaway three and nailed it to make it 57-53. Dooling beat his man for a layup and then Scott followed up a miss with a rebound basket to put the home team up seven with time running out.

“They made shots,” said Houle. “We adjusted some things at halftime and it was the first time we played zone all year. I think it took them out of their rhythm for a little while and we were gritty, scrappy, and I’m proud of our effort. We played like champions need to.”

With the Hornets struggling at the line, just 3-for-10 in the fourth quarter, Attleboro was still in the game and Houle buried his first three of the game to make it 61-57 with 43 seconds left. It just wasn’t enough for the Bombardiers as time ran out on the latest comeback attempt.

“If you’re not making free throws,” Vaughan explained, “you give opportunities and they had a few opportunities but they missed a few shots there that could’ve changed the outcome of the game. Some of it is they’re just not used to the moment, so having games like this will definitely prepare us come tournament time.”

The win moves Mansfield into a first place tie, but both teams have to run the gauntlet of division play over the final four games in the league.

“It doesn’t getting easy for either one of us,” said Vaughan about the closing stretch in league play. “It’s what I love about the league is that it isn’t easy and they didn’t make it easy for us tonight. Now we’ve got to enjoy this tonight and come out on Tuesday and be ready for Franklin because they’re going to come out and say hey this is our league title game.”

As Vaughan noted, Mansfield (14-2, 10-2) will travel to Franklin, which is just one game out of first, on Tuesday night. Attleboro (13-3, 10-2) will also be on the road, traveling to Oliver Ames, looking to stay in the hunt for its first ever Hock title.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton’s Machuga Makes Return To Basketball Court

Xavier Machuga
Canton senior Xavier Machuga puts up a shot in the opening minute against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Less than two years after suffering a life altering brain injury, Canton senior Xavier Machuga hit one of the biggest milestones on his road for recovery.

He made it back onto the basketball court.

A swing player during his sophomore season, Machuga was slated two be a starter for his final two years of high school before suffering a brain aneurysm in early May 2017. He spent over a week in a medically induced coma and could barely move when he regained consciousness after the stroke caused bleeding in his cerebellum. He had to learn to talk and walk all over again.

Over the past 18 months, Machuga has achieved plenty of milestones all while attending Bulldog practices and games during their historic season a year ago. During that run, Machuga and head coach Ryan Gordy, who formed a special bond in 2015 when Machuga moved from Connecticut for his freshman year, had a conversation about what could have been. During that conversation, the idea that Machuga would never play for the Bulldogs again came up.

“Why not?” Gordy asked. “Let’s create that opportunity for you as a senior.”

After months of strenuous rehab, and more recently, hours of layup practice, the moment came in the opening minute of the Bulldogs’ clash with defending D1 State Champions Mansfield. Machuga earned his first career start and scored the first points of the game for Canton, hitting a layup to standing ovation from both teams and fans.

“To be honest, it felt nothing less than awesome,” Machuga said. He was the first Bulldog to be named a captain for this season. “To be out there again with all my teammates, it’s a great feeling. It’s another milestone for me to take the floor with my fellow teammates and score a bucket, that was awesome.”

Machuga has made terrific strides in his recovery, and currently walks with the aid of a cane. And there is no denying his love for basketball. Before his injury, the story goes that Machuga made friends with the custodians at Canton High in order to get in extra shots up inside the gym.

“Xavier’s moment, it’s bigger than basketball,” Gordy said. “To see all the hard work he’s put in to get back to that moment, it’s pretty emotional for me, him and his family, and all the guys on the team. It’s been a long road to recovery and it’s just a really awesome, special moment for him and everybody in our community to see that happen.

“Tonight was pretty special, it was one of the coolest moment I’ve been involved in in my life.”

Gordy was hopeful the moment would happen this year but he left it up it Machuga to pick when. The senior forward hand picked Tuesday’s matchup with Kelley-Rex leading Mansfield, but not because of the showdown between division leaders, but because of his relationship with Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan. It was important for Machuga to have personal connections with both coaches and Vaughan coached Machuga in AAU basketball prior to the incident.

“It’s so much bigger than basketball,” Vaughan said. “Just to be able to recognize a kid who, given different circumstances, would have been here and been a key contributor to the Canton High team, but because of some unfortunate events had to take another path. I knew X before he got sick and now I’ve been able to see what he’s been able to do after he got sick. What’s amazing is he still wants to impact people. You just can’t say enough good things about when people live their life that way and want to do good things. There’s a lot of people who take adversity and fail and he’s doing nothing but being successful out of this. This was an opportunity for him to get highlighted, all the people chanting his name, my kids engaged and excited for him. It was very special, it was very touching. It was something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Canton dedicated last year to Machuga and used the slogan “Soldier X.” The Bulldogs went on to earn a share of the Davenport division title, the program’s first league crown since 1992.

“I was super determined to play again,” Machuga said. “The team winning the league championship last year drove me to make the comeback that I did. I mean I was working hard already but seeing what they did really pushed me inside.”

Machuga’s teammates fed off the moment, trailing by just one (15-14) and leading 26-25 over the once-beaten Hornets heading into the locker room. But Mansfield proved to be too much in the second half, using an early 9-0 run in the third to flip the game. The Hornets outscored Canton 24-9 in the third and finished with a 70-43 victory.

“I can’t thank Mike and the whole Mansfield program enough for their sportsmanship and participation,” Gordy said. “They had the ‘Soldier X’ warmup shirts which were awesome, those were a surprise to us. Xavier got emotional when he saw that, it was a really cool thing. The way the Mansfield kids reacted, it was really cool to see.”

Boen Boosts Mansfield To Close Win Over Rival Franklin

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen (career-high 19 points) drives to the basket in the second half against Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield sophomore Matty Boen has witnessed dozens of Mansfield and Franklin clashes from the stands, watching older brothers Michael and Max dawn the Hornet uniform against the rival Panthers.

Boen got a little closer to the action last season, watching all three meetings between the teams from the bench as a reserve.

Friday night was finally his turn to become part of the rivalry.

Boen came out on fire, scoring 11 of his career-high 19 points in the opening quarter, and then coming away with the game-sealing steal in the final seconds of the game to help the Hornets secure a 59-57 win over the Panthers.

“It’s crazy,” Boen said. “I kept saying to the guys in the locker room, ‘It’s so much better being out there and taking it all in.’ It’s great. I can’t be more happy than I am now.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Boen (seven rebounds) sank a pair of free throws with 1:11 left to put the Hornets up 57-54, but Franklin junior Chris Edgehill (20 points, eight rebounds, four assists) answered with a strong take to cut the deficit to one.

Mansfield sophomore TJ Guy (15 points) went 2-for-2 at the line with 22.8 left to extend the Hornets’ advantage to 59-56. Franklin called timeout with 12 seconds to go but missed a three out of the break. Edgehill grabbed the offensive board but was immediately fouled with 6.7 to go.

Edgehill hit the first one but was just off on the second, but senior Jalen Samuels (eight points, night rebounds) soared in for the offensive rebound. The Panthers moved the ball and tried to it out to Edgehill at the three-point line, but Boen read the play and tipped the pass free to secure the victory.

“Talk about an all-star performance for a sophomore,” said Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan. “He comes out in the first quarter, hits big shots, gets a couple of rebounds, blocks a shot…and then the steal at the end of the game capped off his performance of what he did tonight. When I saw the loose ball, and the reversal and I saw Edgehill standing out there, I thought ‘Oh boy, we could be in trouble.’ And sure enough, Matty comes out of nowhere and gets the deflection. I’m glad he’s on my team for another three years and hats off to him for his performance.”

If had it not been for Boen’s tip, the Panthers were looking at a possible three-pointer from Edgehill, one of the top shooters in the league.

“I thought it was a great offensive rebound by Jaylen,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “We had a couple of timeouts in our pocket, but with two seconds left, if that pass goes through, it’s going to Edgehill for an open three, and we’ll take that. If we call the timeout, they can set up their defense. If that pass gets through, I’ll take that look.”

The Hornets were without the services leading scorer Damani Scott (20.4 points per game), but the offense came out on fire in the first quarter, spearheaded by Boen. Guy, Khristian Conner, and Boen hit consecutive triples to help Mansfield jump out to an early 9-4 lead. Boen had a traditional three-point play followed by a putback and then a three-pointer to push Mansfield’s advantage to 17-12 with 3:23 left in the first. Boen’s 11 points in the opening quarter matched his career-high from earlier this season against Sharon.

“In warmups, I was kind of feeling it, so I wanted to get more shots in the game,” Boen said. “I haven’t been shooting that much so far this year. With Damani out, I knew I needed to step up. We all usually feed off of Damani, so we all had to step up tonight.”

Franklin kept pace throughout the first quarter with Steve Karayan (nine points) coming off the bench to score five straight points, but a late bucket from Guy had the hosts up 25-22 at the end of one.

“I thought their offensive output in the first quarter is what really did us in,” Neely said. “We were matching them, we were playing some of our best offense of the season, but allowing 25 points in a quarter isn’t going to get it done against a team like that. We played really well defensively for three quarters, letting up 10, 14, and 10, I’ll take that here every time. It just seemed like we couldn’t hit those big shots we’ve made. We had a couple of looks that just didn’t drop. Obviously, our free throws down the stretch weren’t great. We shot well from the line overall, but we didn’t hit the key ones down the stretch. “

An early triple from Boen in the second quarter pushed Mansfield’s lead to 28-22, but both defenses seemed to settle down over the final seven minutes of the half. The Panthers limited the hosts to just seven points the rest of the way.

Jack Rudolph’s three off a nice feed from Edgehill got the Panthers on the board in the quarter at the halfway mark. Edgehill scored five straight himself to cut the deficit to one, 31-30. Mansfield responded with a 5-0 run to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.

“I didn’t think we were tough enough in the first half,” Neely said. “I thought they were beating us to loose balls. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half that led to transition baskets. They wanted it more, especially in the first quarter. Sometimes when you’re down a guy, other guys really step up their performance, and they did that.”

The Panthers needed just two minutes in the third quarter to orchestrate a 9-0 run to take the lead. Samuels (who was limited because of foul trouble), Edgehill, and Will Harvey (nine points) each scored two and Jake Macchi drained a corner three to put the visitors ahead 39-35. Mansfield hit back with an 8-0 run, a three from Boen and five straight from Tommy Dooling (10 points, six assists).

“Talk about a huge performance by other guys that stepped up. I don’t know how many points Tommy had but he probably logged 28-29 minutes,” Vaughan said. “He had to handle the ball, play defense, getting kids in the right position and being a good leader. Hats off to him for the way he played, he may not be the headline story stat wise but deserves mention.”

After the teams traded baskets twice, Guy and Makhi Baskin (eight points) scored in the final minute for the Hornets to give Mansfield a 49-45 edge after three.

“We try to practice at this level so some of this energy comes from that, we put our kids in tough situations in practice so this hopefully seems easy.” Vaughan said. “But you put 800 people in the stands, I can’t imagine that it’s easy. But we have guys come in, ready to perform, and they are excited for the game. They stuck to the game plan, weathered their first punch, weathered a second punch, and then maintained the lead in the fourth quarter.”

Franklin had opportunities in the final frame but the Hornets did not surrender the lead. A free throw from Harvey closed the deficit to two with 5:21 to go but Dooling answered on the other to push the lead back to five.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Defense and free throws from Karayan and Edgehill cut the Mansfield to just one, 55-54, with 1:28 to go. The Panthers got a key steal but couldn’t convert from the free throw line to take the lead. Seconds later, Boen hit his free throws to extend Mansfield’s advantage heading into the final minute.

“Win or lose, we were going to fight, they were going to fight,” Vaughan said. “The atmosphere was great, the gym was packed, it was 150 degrees in here, you can’t beat it. The emotion of how much goes into this game, starting when these kids are little, it’s such a high energy. All the practices, all the two-minute drills, you do it for nights like tonight. To get this energy from both teams this early in the season is tremendous. And we know good and well, we’re going to go over to Franklin and be in the same situation, and we might end up in the same boat or the opposite boat. But it’s such a fun atmosphere.

“Kids stepped up and made plays for both teams and we were fortunate to make one more [play].”

Mansfield boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) is back in action Tuesday night when it hosts Milford. Franklin (2-2, 4-3) will try and bounce back when it hosts Stoughton on the same night.

Hornets Show Fight In Comeback Win Over B-R

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Makhi Baskin drives to the basket for a layup in the second half against Bridgewater-Raynham. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan couldn’t recall exactly what he said throughout his self described “eight-minute rant” during halftime of the Hornets’ matchup with Bridgewater-Raynham.

But whatever he was selling, his kids bought it.

The Hornets turned a 13-point deficit at halftime into an 11-point win with a dominant second half performance spearheaded by an active and energetic defensive effort. Mansfield limited the hosts to just 16 points in the second half to earn a 66-55 decision to conclude the 2018 calendar year.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I don’t know what I said exactly but something along the lines of ‘It was unacceptable, it’s not how we do things around here, and it’s not a level I want to play at,’” Vaughan said.

“I’ll lose but we have to go down fighting. We didn’t fight in the first half.”

With Mansfield struggling to find consistency on both ends of the court, a good Bridgewater-Raynham team took full advantage. The Trojans shot 7-for-12 from the field in the opening quarter to jump out to a 17-12 lead.

And then Bridgewater-Raynham cashed in on a handful of open looks, taking of advantage of some switches and went a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range in the frame. The Trojans scored 22 points in the quarter and opened up a double-digit lead, 39-26, after 16 minutes of play.

“The whole halftime…it wasn’t about winning or losing, it’s about looking like we know what we’re doing,” Vaughan said. “I told the kids I was a little embarrassed by the way we played in the first half, just from a technique standpoint. I thought the kids responded well and I thought our technique and attention to detail in the second half was significantly better. We have to get better in a lot of areas on the defensive end and sometimes just playing a little harder helps.”

The Hornets went to a full-court man-to-man press, using traps and double teams to get the energy going. The result was exactly what Vaughan was looking for and Mansfield worked its way back into the contest.

After making just one three in the first half (on 1-for-8 shooting), the Hornets came out right away and ran a set play for Tommy Dooling (12 points), and he sank a three. Mansfield forced a turnover on B-R’s first possession, and although it didn’t turn into points, the tone was set.

Mansfield forced seven turnovers in the third quarter, limiting B-R to just nine points. A strong take from sophomore TJ Guy (13 points) on a feed from Damani Scott (game-high 23 points, 10 rebounds) brought the Hornets within seven (39-32) but a 7-2 spurt from the hosts stretched the lead to 12 with two minutes left to play in the third.

The Hornets had a strong response over the final moments of the quarter, going on an 8-2 run. Scott sandwiched a three-pointer between single free throw makes. Dooling drained a three from straight away with less than 10 seconds left to pull within six, 48-42, heading into the fourth quarter.

“I think at the end of the day, we were either going to lay over and continue to get our butts kicked or we were going to start to play hard,” Vaughan said. “I think we started to play hard and the full court pressured allowed us to do that, to hold them accountable for longer parts of the possession. It just boiled down to us having to play harder, play with an identity. It’s been a while since we allowed that many uncontested shots, and B-R is a good team, they are going to make those shots. They didn’t have many bad shots in the first.

“For us, we had to do something. We had to figure out our identity…were we going to let them do what they want? Or were we going to take some things away.”

Mansfield forced five more turnovers in the final quarter and held the Trojans to just one made field goal. While the defense did its part, Mansfield’s offense finally got in gear and poured in 24 points in the quarter.

The Hornets opened on a 7-1 run to take the lead with 5:21 to go in the game. Makhi Baskin started things off with a steal and easy layup and Guy used a nice spin move in the post to give the Hornets the advantage, 50-49.

Scott finished off his own miss and the Hornets defense got a stop with Matty Boen being fouled while rebounding the ball. Boen drained two free throws to go extend the lead to 54-49 with 4:24 left.

B-R countered with two free throws from Conor Rubenskas (21 points) and drew an offensive foul to get possession back. Both teams had empty trips before Rubenskas hit a tough baseline shot to make it a one-point game, 54-53, with 3:25 to play.

Mansfield quickly answered as Dooling found Guy for two and the Hornets press paid off, forcing a turnover. Scott hit one of two from the line to make it 57-53. Mansfield’s defense got a stop and got the ball in the hands of Scott. Scott, who had his way getting to the basket for the majority of the game, garnered a lot of attention and alertly handed a ball off to Boen for a left-handed take.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After the teams traded turnovers, the Trojans missed a triple on one end and on the other end, Boen penetrated the defense, forcing B-R to collapse. Boen alertly kicked the ball out and Guy drained a wide open three to make it 62-53 with a minute to go, securing the win. Guy had 10 of his 13 points in the final quarter.

“The fight in the second half was significantly better, the kids really tried,” Vaughan said. “I don’t want to say they didn’t try in the first but they sat back and waited for everything to happen. In the second half, we took things away…we challenged them, we made things difficult.”

Mansfield boys basketball (4-1) returns to action Friday night for a key Kelley-Rex division battle against rival Franklin in a rematch of last season’s D1 State Final.

Mansfield Starts, Finishes Strong To Take Down Foxboro

Mansfield boys basketball
Mansfield’s Khristian Conner takes a shot in the second half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – Throughout the first half, the Mansfield boys basketball used a swarming defense and unselfish play on offense to build a double-digit advantage and looked poised to run away with a win.

But Foxboro refused to go away, scoring more points in the third quarter than the entire first half while holding the Hornets to just seven points to get back into the game.

And the Warriors used a 6-0 burst early in the fourth quarter to cut Mansfield’s 22-point lead down to just seven with the chance to make it a two-possession game, down 43-36.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Every time you play Foxboro, they don’t give up,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “They take things away, they challenge you for 32 minutes and they just play so hard. It’s a good lesson for our guys because we can look at the effort they gave, and now we have to match it.”

The Hornets were able to get a stop to keep the lead at seven and sophomore Matt Boen (seven points, 10 rebounds) converted a traditional three-point play on the other end of the court to extend the lead back to 10 and Mansfield closed out the final five minutes strong to earn a 57-42 win over the visiting Warriors.

“I thought in the first half we had moments of being very consistent moving the ball and when they cut it to seven, we had a couple of possessions where we did what we like to do and they all resulted in a basket or a foul shot,” Vaughan said. “We went back [to what worked] and settled in. When you give up a lead like that, typically it’s by playing a little more selfish or being lazy with the ball, and we had to clean that up.”

Mansfield forced a turnover on the defensive end, just one of three Foxboro turnovers in the second half compared to 17 in the opening 16 minutes. That resulted in a free throw from sophomore TJ Guy (10 points, five assists).

The Hornets got yet another stop and senior Tommy Dooling (10 points, four assists) found junior Sam Stevens (10 points, six rebounds) for an open triple and a 50-36 advantage with 3:44 to play.

Foxboro cut it back to 10 with just under three minutes to go but Boen drained a corner three with two minutes to go to end any comeback hopes.

“At halftime we took a deep breath and just told them to shoot when they are open and we talked about turnovers and the second half was much better offensively but it ended up being too big of a hole,” said Foxboro head coach Job Gibbs. “I was really proud of the character we showed in the second half, facing a big deficit on the road against a good team. It would have been easy to quit but they kept battling and we made a game of it. Hopefully we can build off that second half moving forward.”

After being held to just 5/17 shooting from the field and forced into 17 turnovers in the first half, Foxboro looked like a new team in the second half. The Warriors were able to turn a 19-point deficit at halftime (33-14) into a 10-point game after the third quarter.

Sophomore Kevin Gallagher scored six of his career-high 14 points in the third frame while juniors Ryan Hughes and Will Morrison (nine points) each chipped in with five points in the third to help Foxboro get back into the game.

And defensively, the Warriors only allowed seven points on 3-for-11 shooting while forcing six Hornet turnovers. Gallagher and Morrison each hit a triple over the first four and a half minutes of the quarter, but Foxboro made its big run with a 10-4 burst over the final three minutes of the quarter.

Hughes made a putback and converted a free throw for a three-point play, Gallagher hit another three, Hughes scored on a breakaway after a nice defensive play, and Morrison hit two free throws as the buzzer expired to make it 40-30.

In the first half, it was almost all Mansfield. Each team had just one three-pointer after four minutes of play but Mansfield rattled off a 12-0 run in just 90 seconds to change the game early. Guy and Damani Scott (16 points, 11 rebounds) each had a pair of buckets and Dooling hit a triple in that stretch while Foxboro turned it over six times.

Michael Devlin gave Foxboro a lift with a couple of nice defensive plays and had back-to-back baskets to make it 15-7 at the end of the first.

In the second, it was more of the same for Mansfield. The Hornets forced six more turnovers in the second quarter and shot 5-for-11 from the field to create a double-digit lead by halftime.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Obviously it wasn’t a pretty first half for us offensively. I thought our half-court defense was solid, but unfortunately, they got a ton of points off of our turnovers. Offensively, we looked like an inexperienced team, guys were tentative and not trusting themselves, passing up wide open shots they make in practice, and obviously turning the ball over too much.

“Playing Mansfield on the road in the first game, it’s a baptism by fire. It will let you know real quick where you are and what you have to work on. It’s a good learning experience for some of the guys.”

Mansfield boys basketball (1-0 Hockomock, 1-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it travels to Attleboro. Foxboro (0-1, 0-1) will try to bounce back on the road at Canton on Friday night.