Ripley, Eagles Hold Off Milton and Advance

Sharon boys basketball
Sharon junior Ricardo Ripley (2) scored 20 points on Monday night to lead the Eagles to a win over Milton in the Div. 2 South playoffs. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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CANTON, Mass. – Junior guard Ricardo Ripley started Monday night’s Div. 2 South preliminary round game fast with 10 points in the opening quarter to help Sharon build a solid lead and he finished it strong with eight points in the fourth quarter, as the Eagles held off a late Milton charge.

Ripley finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds and helped lead Sharon to a 56-45 victory over the Wildcats in a “home” game that was forced to be played in Canton because Sharon High’s gym had been taken over for Tuesday’s presidential primary.

The gym seemed to suit Ripley and the Eagles fine in the opening quarter. Andrew Filipkowski knocked down a pair of threes to give Sharon the 7-4 lead and then Ripley started to get going. He hit a pair from beyond the arc and added a tough finish in traffic, as Sharon led 20-13 after one.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with Ricardo throughout the year about how he’s going to be the engine that drives us,” said Sharon coach Andrew Ferguson, “and he got it going early, making his layups, attacking the basket. There weren’t a lot of people on the floor who could guard him.”

The second quarter was all about the defense. Buoyed by the Sharon cheering section at their back, the Eagles held Milton to just three point and no made field goals in the second quarter. Peter Banks (six points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) asserted himself in the middle along with Mitchell Sirota, who each scored four in the second.

Ferguson explained, “We kind of challenged Peter, who hasn’t played well in the last couple of weeks, to give us something that he was giving us in the middle of the season and he responded to that defensively and especially on the glass.”

Leading by 15 at the half, Sharon knew that it could not let its guard down against a Wildcats team that had the potential to put points up in a hurry. Jamaurie Coakley scored four of his team-high 12 in the third and Sam Ferrara scored five of his seven, but the Wildcats could not get any closer than 10 and went into the fourth down 41-27 after a big corner three by Lowerre.

“I hate taking him off the court,” said Ferguson of Lowerre, “and whenever I do he says, ready whenever you need me. To have a guy like that who’s always ready to play, always ready to make a good decision, will rebound, play defense, he makes our team tough to play against.”

The fourth quarter is when Milton made its move. Eddie Hassell knocked the first of his two threes in the quarter to cut the lead to single digits but Ripley answered back with a drive to the hoop to make it 45-34. Christian Reddick buried a three for Milton but once again Ripley responded for the Eagles.

Ferguson said, “They stepped up their defensive intensity and…yeah, Ricardo, he answered the bell. That’s what he has to do…We plan on playing a couple more games this year, hopefully he can keep doing that.”

A Ferrara basket cut the lead to nine and Aiden Johnson followed with a three that got Milton to within six, the closest it had been since the first quarter. Lowerre (16 points, 10 rebounds) followed it with a pair from the line and layup on the break after a long outlet by Ripley. Hassell hit another long-range shot, but the Eagles closed the game 4-6 from the line to seal the win.

“We knew that if they got going shooting it could pose a problem for us. We built up enough of a lead that we could withstand it late in the fourth quarter,” Ferguson said.

There were times when it felt as though Sharon should have been up by a lot more, but in the end the Eagles held off Milton’s charge and gained experience in how to close out a playoff game.

“If we hadn’t turned the ball over as much as we did then we could’ve been in a little better position,” Ferguson admitted, “but our defense was great, guys coming off the bench played great. That was a total team victory.”

Sharon (12-9), the No. 15 seed, advances to face No. 2 seed Whitman-Hanson on Wednesday night.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Wildcats Explode In Second Half to Upend Stoughton

Ryan Sullivan
Ryan Sullivan (20) celebrates his third quarter touchdown that gave Stoughton a 13-12 lead. Milton scored the next 20 points to pull away. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

MILTON, Mass. – Stoughton did not play particularly well in the opening half, but at the break trailed by only six points on the road at top seed Milton. One defensive stand to start the third quarter and suddenly momentum was on the visiting sideline.

But the Wildcats (9-0) got to the top seed in Div. 3 Southwest by being resilient and they bounced back with a series of big plays and 20 unanswered points to take control in the fourth quarter of a 38-21 victory.

It was the second straight season that Stoughton (5-4) had been knocked out in the semifinals.

“I thought we did okay,” said Stoughton coach Greg Burke. “We lost a couple of our guys…but the kids hung in their pretty good.”

“I’m not happy at the score…but the kids played hard.”

Milton quarterback Mike Fallon scored a pair of first half touchdowns. One came on an 18-yard keeper and the second on a scramble off a broken play after Stoughton’s blitz flushed him from the pocket. Fallon raced to the wide side of the field and then spun off several tacklers who were left lying on the ground or with arms outstretched wondering what happened.

“We tried to put pressure on him,” said Burke. “We chased him a little bit, but he made big plays himself.”

Struggling to get much going, Stoughton finally found some offense in the final three minutes of the half. Jake Gibb hit Izon Swain Price on a swing pass for a 17-yard gain and Jordan Taylor got another 10 up the middle to give the Black Knights a first down at the Milton 38.

Two plays later, Gibb stepped up into the face of the Milton pass rush and hit Jack Connelly on a crossing route that the junior turned upfield for a 36-yard score cutting the lead to just 12-6.

On the opening series of the third quarter, Stoughton got energy from its defense when it stuffed Milton on fourth and one from the 45.

The Black Knights turned to the ground game. Swain Price carried four times for 29 yards on the left side with Taylor leading the way as his blocker. With the ball down to the Milton eight, Ryan Sullivan took a carry to the left edge and ensured that he would get the touchdown by lowering his shoulder and running over the Wildcats cornerback on the goal line.

Burke said, “We did pretty good on the run. We battled pretty good, so I’m happy there. I was happy with the effort.”

About going for it on fourth and one, Milton coach Steve Dembowski remarked, “I considered punting on the fourth and one at midfield but when you’re in games like this you have to make those plays. I was disappointed that we didn’t make the read on that and get the first down.”

He was not going to be disappointed for long. David Perkins returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards all the way to the Stoughton 34. Milton finished the short drive with a Mack Feeney two-yard run to regain the lead.

Nick Hardy returned the kick 41 yards and the Black Knights started in Milton territory down 18-13. Using play action and a fake to the bubble screen, Gibb picked out Sullivan racing down the seam for 30 yards and into the red zone. Three plays later and Perkins struck again with an interception of a tipped pass.

The Wildcats needed only two plays to go 80 yards. Fallon hit Derek Perkins on a 67-yard deep route down the middle and put the Wildcats up by two scores.

“They picked one off on us at 18-13 and then we didn’t cover one down the middle, a play that we’ve gone over 500 times,” explained Burke. “You have to cover the kid and he split our two safeties.”

It only got worse for Stoughton. Following a punt, Milton went 68 yards in two plays to give themselves a cushion. This time Fallon hit David Perkins on a receiver screen and he raced past the defense for 68 yards and touchdown.

Burke said, “They’ve got some great athletes. [David Perkins] and [Derek Perkins], the two brothers, they’re tough to cover.”

Stoughton continued to battle and would put together a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive on its next possession to cut the lead to 32-21. Swain Price capped the drive with a one-yard run and Dave Cellucci came in to get the conversion on a keeper.

Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Koby Osazee went 20 yards straight up the middle to score with 53.8 remaining.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.