Teams of the Decade #11: 2013 Milford Softball

Milford softball

Team: Milford Softball
Year: 2013
Record: 26-1
2013 Davenport Division Champions
2013 Division 1 State Champions


Coming off a perfect season and a state championship the previous spring, the 2013 Milford softball team faced a new set of challenges. Not only were the Hawks facing the difficult task of trying to repeat while having a giant target on their backs, but were also trying to navigate the unfamiliar waters of the Hockomock League and the South sectional.

Led by its five seniors, Milford lived up to its preseason hype. Refocused by a midseason loss that ended their win streak at 35 games, the Hawks closed the season with 16 straight wins and sealed back-to-back titles with a 1-0 win over Amherst in the state title game.

“These seniors really from freshman year on, to see their growth not only as players but leaders and girls that set an atmosphere, set an expectation that others were going to follow,” said then head coach Brian Macchi about his senior class. “From losing a state championship game to losing a state semifinal to finally winning it and then wanting to go out and do it again, they weren’t going to settle for anything less.”

Once a team has reached the pinnacle and lifted the state championship trophy, it can be hard to come back the next season with the same focus and determination, but the Hawks faced a new challenge in 2013 that kept them motivated. That spring was Milford’s first in the Hockomock League.

Macchi explained, “It made it easy for me as a coach to motivate because you had that storyline of entering a new conference and the league we’re entering is the league you want to be in when you’re talking about softball in Massachusetts.”

Shannon Smith, the team’s standout senior pitcher, added, “We were just trying to take things one day at a time and one moment at a time because there was a lot of hype. There was a lot of new stuff, entering a new conference, but with a lot of the same girls we felt like we could do some good things again.”

Having Smith in the circle certainly gave the Hawks an edge, no matter what league they were playing in. The three-time Gatorade Player of the Year set a new state record for strikeouts that season, recording the 1,120th strikeout of her career in the next to last game of the regular season and ending with 1,216 for her career. She finished with 358 strikeouts that season and an ERA of 0.04. That is not a typo.

“She just exemplifies everything you want in a player and a teammate,” said Sam Bonvino, a junior first baseman on the 2013 team. “She was the first to cheer you on, always the first to make you happy and lift up the spirits of the team, and she was always the first to buckle down and get us back on track. When she stepped on that mound and she was ready to pitch, it all just fell into place. It was incredible to watch her drive and her passion.”

Macchi added, “To have a player like that and a pitcher like that you know going into every game, no matter who you’re playing, you’ve got a chance to win. That is an outstanding feeling to have.”

The Hawks were rolling at the start of the season, winning their first 10 games, but the dream of a second straight perfect season came to an end with a visit from North Attleboro. Despite a 17-strikeout, one-hitter from Smith, the Rocketeers were able to scratch out a run in the 10th inning and throw out a runner at the plate in the bottom half of the inning to escape to pull out a 1-0 win.

“I think it was a big reminder that it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbow but we have to put in the work,” said Smith. Bonvino noted, “I think that loss was kind of like a wake up call. We were devastated because it would’ve been pretty cool to go back-to-back undefeated but it showed to us that we can lose, we can bounce back, and pick right up where we left off.”

Macchi said that the team started the next day’s practice with a talk about the loss and how to move forward. Whatever was said in that conversation worked, as Milford softball won 10 straight to head into the playoffs as the second seed. That set up a quarterfinal with King Philip, a rematch of the 2010 state title game and a matchup between the teams that had won the last three state titles.

“The KP games, every time, no matter if it was the regular season, the playoffs, state title game, the atmosphere and the competitiveness between both teams was outstanding,” said Macchi. “It was just so fun to be a part of, and the girls absolutely loved it.”

It was a pitcher’s duel between Smith and KP’s Anna O’Neill and, fittingly for two of the top programs in the state, the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Lauren Hanna bunted for a single and Smith followed with a hit. A wild pitch moved the runners up and KP intentionally walked cleanup hitter Caroline Fairbanks. Senior Rachel Levine singled to left center setting off a wild celebration that included Macchi charging out to second base to lift up Levine.

“We were both so into it and it was like a state title game because we both had a lot riding on that game, not just the loss or the win but proving to each other that we’re really good teams,” said Bonvino.

Milford softball completed its run through the South by outsourcing Franklin and Bridgewater-Raynham 13-0. “Realizing the names and the teams that were in that bracket was a huge accomplishment but at the same time this group wasn’t ready to settle,” Macchi said. “That was more motivation to finish it off and finish up those last two games the way they wanted to.”

For the second year in a row, the Hawks needed only one run to seal the state title. Smith struck out 13, finishing her career with another shutout. She said, “You want the ball in those situations. A lot of pitchers who are competitive would love that situation. Just go for it and do whatever you can to win.”

With all the attention on the upperclassmen, it was freshman Jill Powers that provided the decisive hit, driving in sophomore Allie Piergustavo with a two-out double in the sixth inning. Smith struck out the side in the seventh and Milford softball was back on top.

“It’s very fulfilling because you see people practice year round and not get to that final game and not fully get to see what it’s made of,” said Bonvino. “To be able to do it twice and be able to feel the love and the gratitude and how amazing it is to be back there again, even just to stand on the field at the end and think about the games you’ve played to get to that point is really cool.”

Macchi said, “Getting to that day and winning that game, the smiles on their faces, it was just an outstanding feeling for me as a coach and something I’ll never forget. They had that moment realizing that, as they were running out to get the state championship trophy, the story for them in their high school careers was ending on such an unbelievable high.”






Milford softball
Milford softball

Opponent
Result
TauntonW, 8-0
King PhilipW, 3-0 (Recap)
MansfieldW, 5-1
CantonW, 16-0
Coyle & CassidyW, 4-0
SharonW, 13-0
HopkintonW, 10-0
FoxboroW, 9-0
StoughtonW, 15-0
Oliver AmesW, 7-0
North AttleboroL, 1-0 (10 inn.) (Recap)
AttleboroW, 13-0
FranklinW, 1-0 (Recap)
CantonW, 12-0
SharonW, 19-0
FoxboroW, 2-1
StoughtonW, 10-0
BraintreeW, 8-0
Oliver AmesW, 12-0
MarlboroughW, 2-0 (Recap)
ShrewsburyW, 4-0
#18 DartmouthW, 7-0
#7 King PhilipW, 1-0 (9 inn.) (Recap)
#11 FranklinW, 6-0 (Recap)
#1 Bridgewater-RaynhamW, 7-0
Central Catholic (State Semifinals)W, 3-0
Agawam (State Final)W, 1-0 (Recap)






Teams of the Decade #20: 2019 Milford Boys Soccer

Milford boys soccer

Team: Milford Boys Soccer
Year: 2019
Record: 18-1-2
2019 Davenport Division Champions
2019 Division 2 State Finalists


Some of the most talented individual players to compete in the Hockomock League together came together as a team and orchestrated one of the best seasons on the soccer pitch this decade.

The 2019 Milford boys soccer team was full of gifted players that formed one of the most dangerous attacking groups over the past 10 seasons. One question coming into the season was the defense but throughout the season, the Hawks got better and better on the defensive end and only allowed one goal in four South sectional tournament games. The combination of a deadly offense and a solid defense propelled the Hawks to their first state final appearance in two decades.

“I think the thing that made this team very different was the fact they really enjoyed playing the game together,” said head coach Brian Edwards. “In training, they would typically have a lot of fun and while it was sometimes very challenging to keep them on task, they genuinely enjoyed the game. More importantly, they genuinely enjoyed helping one another achieve something. They are a very special group of guys and their work rate was something that always blew me away.”

The Hawks went unbeaten throughout the regular season, which didn’t feature any non-league games. Milford rallied for a last-minute goal to tie Foxboro and battled to a 1-1 draw with North Attleboro late in the season; Milford picked up 14 wins including one over a talented Oliver Ames squad and went on to win the Davenport division title for the second straight season.

The likes of Pedro Araujo, Joao Pedro Da Silva, Jordan Borges, Lucas Da Silva, and Hockomock League MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Leo Coelho helped the Hawks average over three goals per game, notching a league-best 56 goals in the regular season. On the flip side, senior Dan Santos anchored a defensive line along with classmate Nuno Mestre and new faces freshman Gabriel Godoy and sophomore Chris Tocci. Senior Carlos Terrinha was one of the most reliable players sitting in the six role. Leo Oliveira and Kevin Gomes split time in net, allowing just one goal per game in the regular season.

“Another thing that made them special was their belief in themselves and one another,” Edwards said. “They had a level of confidence that I loved to see as a coach. One other piece of the puzzle was their ability to tackle one challenge at a time. They did a great job of not looking ahead and getting distracted. As a coach who is slightly obsessive over preparation, it was something that made my job a lot easier. I think about the Nauset game and the preparation that went into it. We scouted them three times and we put together a game plan that I felt gave us a very good chance of beating them. The guys really committed themselves to proving that they could beat a team that many people felt was one of the best in the country. We weren’t surprised that we beat them because we knew we had the ability to execute a plan that we felt was solid.”

The postseason featured a 6-0 blasting of Catholic Memorial, a hard-fought 2-0 decision over Dartmouth, and Coelho gave the Hawks a 1-0 win over Bishop Feehan in overtime. In the South Sectional Final, the Hawks hosted perennial state power and nationally ranked Nauset. Despite giving up a late equalizer in regulation, the Hawks prevailed. After switching goalies for overtime and penalties, Leo Oliveira made a terrific save in the shootout and the Hawks made all five attempts with the freshman Godoy scoring the winner as Milford advanced to the state final.

“One of my favorite memories of the season is the moment Leo Oliveira made the PK save on the fourth Nauset attempt,” Edwards said. “It was the single most exciting moment of a soccer game I can remember. I think the last time I lost my mind like that was when [Adam] Vinatieri hit the 45 yard game-tying kick against the Raiders in the Blizzard Bowl back in January of 2002. Leo stepped up in the middle of Double Overtime in a Sectional Final and made the play of the game.”

After an incredible run through the south sectional, the Milford boys soccer team had an uncharacteristic showing in the final, surrendering five goals (including the game-winner in overtime) in a goal-heavy 5-4 loss to Winchester.






Milford boys soccer
Milford boys soccer

Opponent
Result
FranklinW, 3-1 (Recap)
SharonW, 7-2
King PhilipW, 2-1
FoxboroT, 2-2
MansfieldW, 4-1
North AttleboroW, 1-0 (Recap)
TauntonW, 4-0
Oliver AmesW, 3-2 (Recap)
CantonW, 2-1
StoughtonW, 5-0 (POTW)
AttleboroW, 4-1
SharonW, 6-4
FoxboroW, 6-0
North AttleboroT, 1-1
StoughtonW, 3-0
CantonW, 3-0
#15 Catholic MemorialW, 6-0
#7 DartmouthW, 2-0 (Recap)
#6 Bishop FeehanW, 1-0 (OT) (Recap)
#1 Nauset W, 2-1 (PKs) (Recap)
Winchester (State Final)L, 5-4 (OT) (Recap)


Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer


Milford boys soccer
Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer

Milford boys soccer







Longtime Assistants Get First Head Coaching Jobs

Canton hired offensive coordinator Anthony Fallon and Milford hired former offensive coordinator Dale Olsen to be their respective head coaches next fall. (HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


A pair of longtime assistant football coaches will get their first chance at head jobs this fall, as Canton promoted offensive coordinator Anthony Fallon and Milford hired former offensive coordinator Dale Olsen to fill their respective head coaching vacancies.

Fallon called the offense for the Div. 5 South finalist Bulldogs last season under head coach Dave Bohane, who stepped down in January after his 14th season in charge (over two stints, from 1994-98 and 2011-19). Fallon is a Canton grad and a member of the 1987 Super Bowl-winning team. His first coaching job was as an assistant at Canton and he has also spent time with the Bellingham and Millis programs.

“I was with Dave through the whole process of him stepping down,” Fallon explained, adding that he spoke with other members of the staff, many of whom have been with the Bulldogs for years, before applying for the position. That continuity within the program is important to Fallon.

He said, “Dave and I kind of cut our teeth together when we first started, so there’s not going to be a whole lot difference in me putting my own stamp on this. I just want to carry on the traditions that have been established with maybe some new twists.”

While this will be his first stint as head coach, Fallon is counting on his experience to make the transition easier for himself and for the players. Fallon said, “I’ve coached with six or seven different head coaches and four of them were first-year guys, so I’ve seen what can go wrong in the first year. I know some of the pitfalls that can happen.”

“Knowing the kids, knowing the culture, and knowing the coaching staff,” he added, “that will give the kids some comfort, knowing what the expectations are already with just a few changes.”

Canton is coming off back-to-back Davenport division titles and back-to-back trips to the D5 South final, but will graduate a large, talented senior class and will have numerous spots to fill this fall.

“You can never replace a talented class like that,” said Fallon, “but we’ll have talented kids come through. If we keep building off the tradition of hard-nosed football and working hard, we’ll be fine and we’ll do well.”

Olsen has also spent two decades on the sidelines as an assistant coach, including four years with Fallon at Millis, where the Mohawks brought home a state championship. He spent the 2018 season at Milford as the offensive coordinator but stepped aside last season to spend time with his young son and to help former Millis and Milford standout Kevin Pyne prepare for playing offensive line at Boston College.

He is taking over for Anthony Vizakis, who stepped down after three years in charge. Olsen was on Vizakis’ staff two seasons ago. When he saw that the Milford job was open, Olsen spoke with his family, including his twin brother Dana, who he coached under at Millis.

“I knew I was going to get back into the game but I didn’t think it was going to be that quick,” he admitted. ”The opportunity arose and I sat down to talk with my wife and she said I should go for it, talked to my brother and from there it just happened.”

Like Fallon at Canton, Olsen is counting on his familiarity with the program and the players to hit the ground running. “I’d say 70 percent of the team knows my brother and I,” Olsen said. “So I think it will be a pretty smooth transition that way. They’ve been kind of running the offense that I ran there two years ago, so I don’t think we’ll skip a beat offensively.”

Milford has made the playoffs in four of the last six seasons, but has only advanced out of the first round of the postseason once and has never finished better than 3-2 in league play. It is a program with a history of success though and Olsen is looking forward to the challenge of “waking a sleeping giant.” One of the reasons for his confidence is the talented senior class that he has coming back in the fall.

“I’m super excited,” Olsen said. “Milford has had great football for a long, long time. There’s a big senior class there. They were junior-heavy last year and I think we lose three kids on offense, three kids on defense.”

The Hawks will face the difficult task of moving into the Kelley-Rex division next season and squaring off with teams in higher divisions.

We’re looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge. Milford is a Div. 3 school and six out of our seven opponents are D1 or D2. I look forward to it. There’s a special group of seniors next year, so I think we can more than hold our own.”

Fallon and Olsen are not only longtime assistants getting their first shot at running a program, but also longtime friends and both are proud to share the experience of being a first-time head coach in the same season.

“It’s kind of unique,” said Fallon about Olsen also getting a head coaching postion. “He’s been doing it a very long time and he’s a great friend and a great coach. He’ll do good things in Milford.”

Olsen added, “It’s well-deserved on his part. He’s done a lot for kids and he’s a great coach. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time and the only sad thing is that we won’t be able to play each other next year because we’re moving up.”

Milford Can’t Complete Comeback In Central Semifinals

Milford boys basketball Jordan Darling
Milford junior Jordan Darling goes up for a shot against Hopkinton on the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MILFORD, Mass. – With all things considered, down just three points heading into the fourth quarter certainly wasn’t the worst situation for the Milford boys basketball team.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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 Outlasts Milford In Overtime Thriller

Stoughton boys basketball Myles Grigalunas-PowellByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Foxboro Clinches Fourth Straight League Title at Milford

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro center Shakirah Ketant (23) scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a win against Milford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Abby Hassman (eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks) put the Warriors back in front off an assist by Hannah Blake and then she denied Milford the lead with a block on the other end.

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.”

Foxboro (13-2, 11-2) will be home on Friday night to face Stoughton with a chance to clinch the outright league title. Milford (3-14, 0-13) heads on the road on Friday to face North Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.