The Hawks were on the verge of erasing a forgettable first quarter in which Hopkinton dominated, draining shot after shot to build a 23-4 lead — a 19-point advantage less than seven minutes into the game.
But Milford was never quite able to get over the hump down the stretch, going ice cold from deep in the final frame as the eighth-seeded Hillers earned a 66-59 upset of the fourth-seeded Scarlet Hawks.
“We were down 23-4, they were shooting lights out, and the hole was too big to dig out of,” said Milford head coach Paul Seaver. “We kind of weathered the storm, we got it down to five or six [at halftime], we just couldn’t get over the hump. Give [Hopkinton] credit, they are a good team, they had a good game plan. They took away Colby and Ben with their box-and-one and their triangle-and-two. We needed other shots to fall. And [Hopkinton] shot the lights out.”
Milford trimmed the large first quarter deficit down to 13 by the end of the period, and the upward trajectory continued as the Hawks dropped 21 points in the second to trail by just six, 37-31, at the halftime break.
Hopkinton threatened to run away with it as its lead ballooned to 12 points (46-34) two minutes into the third but Milford continued to battle back, holding the Hillers to two points over the final four minutes and scoring nine points themselves to head into the fourth down 51-48.
The shot Milford needed never came, misfiring on their first nine three-point attempts from the field. Hopkinton opened a 58-51 lead just before the midway point of the final quarter before junior Ralph Franklin Jr. (15 points, six rebounds), who gave the Hawks a big boost off the bench all game, hit two from the line after hauling in an offensive rebound.
The score stayed frozen at 59-53 for over two minutes as both Tyler Wetherbee and Max Martin stepped in to take charges to give Milford a chance. Junior Jordan Darling (14 points, 11 rebounds) converted his own miss and Hopkinton missed seven straight free throws to keep the Hawks in the game.
Darling sank a free throw with 1:15 to go to make it 60-56, and senior Colby Pires tipped a pass free to give the Hawks the ball back, but Milford couldn’t convert on a shot in the paint. Hopkinton sank two at the line and then forced the Hawks into a turnover, sinking two more for a 64-56 lead.
Matty Varteresian sank his second triple of the game, and Milford’s first of the fourth, with 11 seconds to go but the Hillers had a large enough lead to hold on.
“We had open shots, they dared other players to beat them,” Seaver said. “We had some guys hit some shots but we just couldn’t get enough to go down, especially in the fourth quarter. And the defense wasn’t good enough for us. It was a sign of a team with three seniors on the roster. [Hopkinton] has seven or eight seniors on their roster and they made plays. When it comes to the tournament, seniors do weird things and can find a way sometimes.”
It was a dream start for the Hillers, who knocked off top-seeded Grafton in the opener round and now will take on Wayland in the D2 Central Final. Hopkinton went 9-for-17 from the floor in the opening eight minutes, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.
And it wasn’t just one Hiller either, as six different players joined the scoring column in the opening minutes. And each of the four three-pointers came from a different player with Steven Maffiore, Thomas Ambrosone, Brian Keefe, and Travis Finfrock all connected from long range. And Hopkinton big man Elan Rosen had his way down low, going 3-for-3.
Wetherbee hit a three, Sean Murray came off the bench for a free throw, and Darling had a strong take to help Milford finish with a 6-0 surge to qualm the storm some.
After hitting a three to start the quarter, Darling was whistled for a foul, sending him to the bench alongside fellow starter Dom Schofield, both with two fouls. Franklin Jr. kept the Hawks afloat though, hitting a three and then a free throw. Wetherbee added three the traditional way and Ben Blanchard got free for his first triple of the game.
Murray hit another free throw and Franklin Jr. had four straight points as Milford closed with a 5-0 burst to get within 37-31 at the break.
After going down a dozen in the third, Milford’s bench sparked the comeback to get the Hawks back in the game. Franklin Jr. fought for an offensive board and putback and Varteresian splashed in a three.
Martin added a three of his own on one end and came up with a steal on the other, leading to a fast break that resulted in two free throws from Pires. Darling closed with four straight points as Milford trialed 51-48 after three.
“Guys came off the bench like they have all season, we are a deep team and versatility has been a positive,” Seaver said. “It gave us a spark but we just couldn’t get over it, which goes back to the hole we dug early in the game which is frustrating.”
Milford boys basketball finishes the season at 14-8.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Stoughton head coach John Gallivan has seen a lot in his 16 years patrolling the sideline as the head coach of the Black Knights, and even he had trouble trying to put Tuesday night’s game into words.
A wild back-and-forth contest between Stoughton and Davenport foe Milford, a battle for first place in the division that saw a handful of momentum swings with the biggest one coming in the final seconds of overtime.
Trailing 74-73 with under a minute to go in overtime, Stoughton senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals) made a move to the basket before pulling up at the free-throw line.
The shot was off the mark but the senior forward alertly followed his shot, the rebound tipped right to him. He pulled the ball back to the corner, took a quick look around the court before pulling up and sinking a contested three-pointer for a 76-74 lead with 10 seconds left in the overtime period.
The Scarlet Hawks beat the buzzer in regulation to force the extra period but Stoughton’s full-court press prevented the visitors from getting a look at the tying or winning basket. A trap in the backcourt led to a turnover and an emphatic slam from senior Obinna Ugwuakazi (15 points, five rebounds) just before time expired to seal a 78-74 win for Stoughton.
“Everyone was crashing the boards on the left side, I followed my shot and it came back to me on the right side, I grabbed it and went to the corner,” Grigalunas-Powell said. “At first I hesitated to see if anyone else was open but then I just pulled it.”
With the win, Stoughton pulls into a first-place tie with Milford and Foxboro with one game to go. None of the three teams are playing each other, meaning there could be anywhere from one to three Davenport champions. It also marks Gallivan’s 175th career win.
“We’ve had a couple of games like that, we’ve had some comebacks like that,” Gallivan said, citing close losses to Franklin and Randolph. “The first half didn’t go our way. They smashed us so early that we kept saying we had time.”
Long before Stoughton’s mini-comeback in overtime, the Black Knights had to erase a much larger deficit.
Milford came out on fire, with five players hitting a three-pointer in the opening eight minutes of play. Ben Blanchard (13 points, four rebounds), Colby Pires (20 points, five rebounds), Matty Varteresian, Jordan Darling (14 points, six rebounds), and Tyler Wetherbee (eight points, seven assists, three steals) all connected from downtown as the Hawks seized a 23-11 lead.
The momentum carried into the second quarter as the Hawks’ offense continued to find success and its’ defense, using a full-court press, forced Stoughton into 12 first half turnovers.
Just beyond the halfway point of the quarter, Milford used a quick 9-4 surge to push their lead to its peak, a 19-point advantage, 41-22, following a triple from Pires with 1:45 left in the second quarter.
But Stoughton had arguably its most important stretch of the game to close the first half. Reserve Eddie St. Hilaire drove to the basket for two, Donte Tyler came off the bench to grab back-to-back steals, the latter resulting in two free throws. Ahmad Jahed (14 points, four rebounds) came up with a steal and went in for a dunk, and then got back on defense to get a steal that led to a three from Grigalunas-Powell that beat the buzzer, an 8-0 surge that gave Stoughton life.
“What Ahmad did in the last 30 seconds was unbelievable,” Gallivan said. “To steal it, go the length of the court and dunk it, and be the first guy back to steal the next one, that’s amazing. The kids needed something and that was huge right before halftime.
“And [Milford] kept coming each time. I wasn’t there the first time, video does not do them justice, they are really good. It’s a hard 32 minutes and tonight it was a hard 36 minutes.”
This time the momentum stayed with the hosts as Stoughton opened the third quarter on a 16-4 run with five straight from Jahed, a three from Tyler, two from Tahkwan Gates Brown (18 points, seven rebounds), and back-to-back threes from Grigalunas-Powell tied the game at 46-46 with four minutes left in the third.
Tyler sank his second triple of the game and Stoughton had its first lead of the contest.
“He was a spark for us,” Gallivan said. “He hasn’t had a ton of minutes for us this year but talk about seizing the opportunity. Both ends of the court, gave us something on defense and offense.”
Buckets from Darling and Pires helped Milford keep pace but a baseline jumper from Ugwuakazi gave Stoughton a 53-50 lead after three.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy game but we’re confident in each other and we knew we could pull through,” Grigalunas-Powell said of the turnaround. “We’re all confident that anyone on the team can make a shot, can make a play.
“We just told each other it’s not over, we weren’t going to give up.”
Stoughton pushed its lead to seven early in the fourth but Pires buried a three, Dom Schofield (11 points) beat the shot clock with a baseline jumper and then crashed the boards for a tip in to bring the Hawks within two. Jahed converted off a steal for Stoughton but Pires scored off a nice feed from Wetherbee and Darling had a strong take to make it 61-61 with 2:50 to play.
Ugwuakazi responded for Stoughton with back-to-back buckets but Wetherbee hit a three from the corner to keep Milford close. After a pair of empty possessions from each side, Jahed hit one of two from the line with 12 seconds to go to make it 66-64 but Pires came down and sank a jumper from the free throw line to beat the buzzer and send the game to overtime.
“It’s a new game [to start] overtime,” is what Gallivan told his team before the extra period. “Just take a deep breath, whatever happened that was great, whatever happened that was bad…put it away. Let’s just play four minutes.”
Ugwuakazi and Wetherbee traded baskets before the Hawks got a stop and Blanchard converted in transition to give Milford its first lead since the third quarter. Grigalunas-Powell collapsed the defense when he started to the basket but dumped it off for an easy two from Gates Brown to tie it again.
Blanchard put Milford back up with a pair of free throws and Stoughton threw the inbounds play away, giving the Hawks the ball back. Ralph Franklin Jr. had a strong take through the heart of the defense and Milford took a 74-70 lead with a minute to go.
Milford even got a stop on Stoughton’s ensuing possession but the Black Knights forced a quick turnover to get the ball back and Grigalunas-Powell found Gates Brown for two, plus the foul. After hitting the free throw, Stoughton’s full-court press paid off as Milford was whistled for a backcourt violation, the Hawks’ 17th turnover of the second half/overtime, leading to Grigalunas-Powell’s go-ahead three.
“In the last two games, when we’ve needed [Grigalunas-Powell] at his best, he’s been almost perfect in terms of knowing when to pass, when to shoot,” Gallivan said. “And [Tahkwan] had a good game too, we talked about how he did well the first game against them. We tried to run stuff to Obinna’s side so it’d end up with Tahkwan at the end but [Milford] does such a good job mixing up their defenses that when you finally get the guys where you want then, they aren’t in the defense you wanted them in.”
Stoughton boys basketball (8-7 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) has a chance to clinch a share of the division title when it hosts Sharon on Friday night. Milford (8-7, 10-7) has the chance to do the same when it entertains Canton on the same night.
MILFORD, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game at Milford, most of the attention was on Foxboro guard Katelyn Mollica approaching the 1,000-point mark for her career and once the game tipped off both teams remained preoccupied with either reaching or denying that milestone.
The Hawks regularly sent two or three defenders at Mollica all night, chasing her off the three-point line and giving her no room to maneuver. Ordinarily the Warriors would punish a team for putting that much attention on one player, but Foxboro looked hesitant and uncharacteristically turnover-prone.
In the end, Foxboro found enough of its offensive groove in the second half and dominated the glass to pull out a 44-17 road win that clinched at least a share of a fourth straight league title.
Although it was a win and another goal reached, Foxboro coach Lisa Downs was less than thrilled at the final whistle. “That’s why she needs to get to 1,000 points because she’s trying to do way too much,” Downs admitted. “She’d be tripled and still kept dribbling, and that’s not her. They’re going should I take it or should I pass it, and then it’s an airball.”
The tone was set right from the opening tip, as it took more than three minutes for the opening basket of the game. Mollica drilled a three to open the scoring, but when freshman Brooke Ferreira got her fifth steal of the quarter and turned it into a fast break layup, Milford led 4-3 inside the final 30 seconds of the first.
Hassman added the first four points of the second quarter too, including a transition basket after Yara Fawaz (four points and 10 rebounds) got a steal and assist. Ferreira (team-high 10 points, six steals) drove to the basket to keep Milford within three, but Foxboro went on an 8-0 run to grab control.
Shakirah Ketant (game-high 14 points and 13 rebounds) hit a pair of shots and Fawaz added a basket to help Foxboro pull away.
Mollica, who came into the game needing 24 points to reach 1,000, hit a pair of free throws in the second and had five points at the break. She finished with 12 on the night and was hounded from start to finish by Emma Lawrences, with help from Jillian Michelson and others.
Milford assistant Tim Walsh, who coached the team in the absence of head coach TJ Dolliver, praised his team’s defensive effort. Few teams have held Foxboro to 17 points in a half or 44 for a game. He said, “You don’t want 1,000 scored on your home court, so we did all that we could to take that away.”
Walsh added, “The effort was just unbelievable tonight. I thought we hustled and played as hard as they’ve played all season. It was the best they played all season in that first quarter. We had the lead and I thought we were going to win the quarter but then they scored at the end.”
Foxboro came out of the break with more cohesion on offense and put the game away. After scoring 17 in the first half, the Warriors scored 16 in the third quarter alone.
“They probably out-rebounded us three or four to one and they’ve got some girls inside,” said Walsh. “You take one away and they’ve got four others who can shoot, so it’s tough.”
Mollica got it started with a steal and layup, good ball movement got Fawaz a bucket, and then, after a layup by Carly Ferreira, Fawaz kicked out a pass for a Hassman jumper. Ketant added four points in the third and Aislinn Servaes, who has been injured for most of the season, got a steal and layup.
Brooke Ferreira added four of Milford’s seven points in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks couldn’t score enough to get back into the game. Mollica scored five in the fourth and Ketant had four more to seal the win for the Warriors. Jamie DeVellis grabbed her 10th board, the fourth Foxboro player to get double digits rebounds.
“We should have been dominating inside,” said Downs. “Our bigs should’ve all had 16 points and some of the things we were doing…nothing was good.”