Whalers Sink North Attleboro in Postseason Opener

North Attleboro Volleyball
North senior Kylie Melanson (2) rises up for a hit in the playoff opener against New Bedford at the Pickering Gym. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro entered Thursday night’s Div. 1 South opening round match against New Bedford at the Pickering Gym as the higher seed and the favorite, but Halloween turned out to be more trick than treat for Big Red.

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The Whalers took control of the match from the start, as sophomore Germinal Tagne proved to be too much to handle for the North defense, and rolled to a comprehensive 3-0 (25-15, 25-22, 25-18) sweep that abruptly ended the season for the Davenport division runner-up.

“We always give credit where credit’s due,” said North coach Kim Hallahan about the Whalers. “I thought they were incredible. They didn’t let any balls hit the floor. They fought for every single point and they’re fantastic. They have a really, really good team.”

Tagne was a force right from the opening point, recording nine kills, a block, and an ace in the first set. North recently won a five-set thriller at Canton and it was the block against Bulldogs star hitter Taylor Harris that drew plaudits from the opponents, but nothing that the Rocketeers did seemed to slow Tagne down, as she scored from both the front and back lines.

It was close for a while at the start, but New Bedford pulled away by winning 7-of-8 points to push the lead to 15-7. Every time that North started to get close, Tagne stepped up. She won back-to-back points to end a run and make it 19-12 and it was her ninth kill of the set that sealed the lead for the visitors.

The lone bright spot for the Rocketeers (13-6) in the opening set was senior hitter Kylie Melanson, who had six kills and seemed to be picking the back corner with every hit.

“Kylie all season has been our No. 1 and I’m glad she pulled through for us tonight and she was dependable,” said Hallahan. “We have so many great hitters, but it just didn’t work for us tonight.”

After being dominated in the first, North needed a response. The hosts came out flying in the second set, winning 10 of the first 12 points to take a commanding lead. Along with Melanson, North also got a kill from Grace Munleyand three straight aces from libero Brooke Street during that stretch.

Setter Hayley Gaskin was starting to spray the ball around and, after Abby Gallagher had a pair of kills to help extend the advantage to 16-7, New Bedford was forced into a timeout. It looked like North had woken up and it was going to be a much more even match.

New Bedford had other ideas. The Whalers rattled off nine straight points to tie the game and put North on its heels. Munley struck to put North back in front at 18-17, but then a Tagne kill and a block by middle hitter Jessica Dias gave New Bedford the lead.

Hallahan explained, “Unfortunately that’s kind of what happens with us. When they get one, we kind of get down on ourselves and they just keep getting more and more and more and we can’t seem to get ourselves out of that funk. I think that’s what happened to us tonight too. We couldn’t snap out of it.”

It was obvious that this was going to be a critical point in the match and North again responded to the challenge with a pair of service points for Street. Tagne got back-to-back points, but then Joanna Collins-Bilyeu earned a point with a well-placed push. The crowd was into it and North had energy, but a Dias kill and then a shot into the net put North in an 0-2 hole.

The Whalers knew the victory was in their grasp and they didn’t let up in the third. After Morgan Correia’s serve hit the top of the net and dropped to the court untouched, New Bedford led 18-9. The Rocketeers wouldn’t quit though, as Melanson got a kill to and then won back-to-back service points.

A long rally ended with a Dias block to make it 22-12, but North then rolled off six straight points to pull back within four. Collins-Bilyeu had a kill and a service point during the run, but it was brought to a halt by another blast by Tagne off the block. New Bedford won the final two points to book its place in the second round.

“We don’t like to use excuses but I think nerves got the best of us,” Hallahan admitted. “I think we were a little nervous coming in, playoffs, it was pretty big. I thought that it would work out in our favor because we had a home game, but I think we were just nervous and we didn’t really play our game.”

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Warriors Walk Off With Win Over Visiting Whalers

King Philip softball Ryann Stagg
King Philip junior Ryan Stagg smiles as she’s greeted by teammates after driving in the game-winning run. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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PLAINVILLE, Mass. – The 15th-seeded King Philip softball team was just one out away from a hard fought victory over #18 New Bedford when the task at hand became a bit more difficult.

The Whalers, limited to just three hits through six innings by KP senior pitcher Faith Turinese, suddenly had an offensive surge. Down to the final out and trailing 3-1, New Bedford smacked three consecutive doubles leading to two runs to knot the score and extend the game

But the game didn’t last much longer. The Warriors, seemingly unfazed by the rally from the visitors, had an immediate response in the bottom of the seventh. Destiny Goyco was hit by a pitch to put the winning run on base. Ryann Stagg, the nine hitter, fell behind 0-2 but drilled the third pitch she saw into the gap in left field, and with the outfield playing in, courtesy runner Heather Nix sprinted around the bases and all the way home to give King Philip a 4-3 walk-off win.

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“It’s never easy,” quipped KP skipper Norm Beauchemin as the Warriors notched a tournament win for the fifth straight season. “[New Bedford] plays some good competition, they play a lot of people in the South Coast [Conference]. They usually try to play a pretty good schedule.

“They are tough kids, they have a great attitude. They work hard and they play hard, we’re no different than King Philip teams of the past in terms of attitude.”

Of the Whalers’ three hits prior to the seventh inning, two came in the opening frame. After Turinese (7IP, 6H, 1BB, 2ER, 7K) fanned the first batter of the game, New Bedford strung together back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Turinese got another strikeout, this one on a dropped third strike. With first occupied, the runner was automatically out but the Whalers were aggressive on the bases and the runner on second took off to third.

The throw from home was high, allowing the run to scamper home and just beat out a great throw from left fielder Liliana Rolfe and put the visitors up 1-0 early on.

From that point on, Turinese allowed just two bases runners between the second and sixth innings. After a leadoff walk in the second, Turinese retired eight straight before the Whalers had a pair of runners reach in the fifth on errors.

Meanwhile, senior Meghan Gorman was the catalyst on the offensive side of the ball. She was hit by a pitch in the first and stole both second and third with two outs but was stranded there. She was back at in the fourth inning, lacing a double to drive in Raegan Simeone, who had doubled in the at-bat before.

Rolfe wasn’t credited for an RBI on the next play but was certainly responsible for giving KP the lead. She reached on a bunt single, moving Gorman to third, With the infield in focusing on the bunt, Rolfe took off for second. Although the Whalers made the play at second, the throw allowed Gorman to sprint home for the go-ahead run.

“Two really smart players. You’re not going to find many players more heads up than Meg but Lil is not far behind at all. If you blink, they are taking a base. That’s a decision she made, and we’ve been an aggressive base-running team through the years. If they make the play and you’re out, but it was the right play, I’m good with it. “

An inning after taking the lead, a pair of errors threatened to give it back to New Bedford. Back-to-back mistakes put runners on first and second, and both runners advanced on a ground out to Turinese in the circle. Turinese got a ground ball and the Warriors were able to catch the runner on third off of the bag as Paige Berdos fired to Gorman for the tag. A fly ball to first baseman Anna Bradley ended the inning.

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KP tacked on another run just a half inning later, with Gorman coming through again. Berdos got things going with a two-out double and stole third before pinch hitter Madison Kelley drew a walk. Gorman smoked the first pitch she saw off the center field fence for an RBI double, putting the hosts up 3-1.

New Bedford got its first hit of the game since the first inning with a leadoff single in the sixth but the runner didn’t go any further as Turinese got three straight infield fly balls.

King Philip softball (13-9) advances to play at #2 Taunton (20-2) in the First Round of the MIAA D1 South tournament on Monday at 7:00. The Tigers won both regular season games, taking a 7-0 decision at PAL in early April and a 12-0 win at Jack Tripp Field in the regular season finale.

Tigers Roar Past New Bedford to End Season With Win

Taunton girls basketball
Taunton sophomore Sonya Fernandez scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to help the Tigers beat New Bedford and end the regular season with a second straight win. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Taunton went into halftime of Wednesday night’s season finale trailing New Bedford by two but the Tigers stormed out of the locker rooms for the second straight game and took control. They opened the second half with a 23-3 run and pushed the lead as high as 18 in the third quarter.

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The Whalers did not lie down and came right back with a 16-5 run and twice got the Taunton lead down to four points in the final quarter, but the Tigers held onto their lead and pulled out a 62-54 victory, giving Taunton back-to-back wins to end the season.

“We’re so young tonight because we’re missing so many of our starters,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We panicked a little bit when we got up by 18, thought we were going to have an easy fourth quarter but give New Bedford credit they had a good effort to get back in it. I thought our young kids were pretty resilient at the end.”

Although neither team will be heading to the playoffs this year, and despite Taunton missing three starters, the game got off to a fast pace. Both offenses clicked into gear and both teams were using high pressure on the ball to try and create transition opportunities.

Senior Alexa White scored the game’s first five points, but New Bedford stayed close behind nine points from Andrea Segura (14 points). Jaelyn Fernandez (nine points) also got off to a strong start for the Tigers, scoring seven points in the first, including a basket off an Abby Souza (11 points) assist that tied the game 17-17 after one.

The second quarter slowed down considerably. Sonya Fernandez grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 21-19 after more than four minutes were gone in the second. After New Bedford tied it, Taunton went on a 5-0 run, including a steal and layup by White and a jumper by Thalia Nogueira.

New Bedford came right back with a 7-0 run of its own and hit a jumper with the clock winding down to go into halftime ahead 28-26.

Everything worked for the Tigers in the third quarter. The defense was forcing turnovers left and right and the offense was making shots. Taunton turned the game on its head and pulled away for what seemed like an insurmountable lead.

Harrigan said, “It was a pretty nice quarter and we had the same thing last night at Durfee. We were down 12 at the half and we just started to move the ball much better. With some of the young kids, we can’t put in as much of the offense right now, so we’re running a lot of basic things but they did a lot of things right tonight.”

White got it started with a transition basket off of a Souza pass and then Souza got a steal and layup of her own. White drilled a three after Kyanna Barros kept the possession alive with an offensive rebound and then Barros grabbed another board and finished to put Taunton up seven.

After a New Bedford basket, Sonya Fernandez took the ball to the basket and then Souza drained a three. White turned a steal into an easy basket, Fernandez got a layup off a Barros pass, and then Nogueira set up Souza for a basket with a rebound and scoop pass in traffic.

Taunton had the chance to put the game away but the Whalers got some hope from Monica Eires (17 points), who hit the third of her five three-pointers. In the fourth quarter, New Bedford rallied behind four points from Segura and a pair of threes from Eires.

White (18 points and five assists) scored off a Braeley MacDonald assist to push the lead back to six points and then Fernandez (18 points and 12 rebounds) showed strength in the post to answer another basket by the visitors. A pair of free throws by Fernandez and another layup for White sealed the victory and gave the Tigers a positive end to the season.

“We sometimes force a little bit and the last couple games we’ve been more disciplined,” said Harrigan. “We did some good things against a tough New Bedford team.” When asked about winning on back-to-back nights to close the season, he added, “Especially for the younger kids and the ones moving up, it’s good to see it.”

Taunton closed the regular season at 7-15.

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Tigers Surge In Second Half and Roll Into Next Round

Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA sophomore Erin Holmberg throws a skip pass over the top of the New Bedford defense during the Tigers’ 69-39 win in the Div. 1 South first round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The first half was a shootout between the top scorers on each team with New Bedford sophomore Chiron Rose and Oliver Ames senior Kayla Raymond going head-to-head, scoring 15 points apiece. But, it is hard to win a playoff game on the back of one player, even someone like Raymond, the Stonehill-bound Hockomock MVP.

In the second half, the rest of the Tigers took over. Raymond still got her points in the third (before sitting for the entire fourth quarter) but it was OA’s depth that turned a six-point lead at the half into a 69-39 victory over the 12th seeded Whalers in the Tigers’ first postseason game since moving to Div. 1.

“They came out with fire in their eyeballs,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “It was amazing. In the third quarter, we were pushing the pace. We knew that was something that we had to do, we knew we had to run, and I thought the kids did a great job of allowing New Bedford just one shot.”

Rose came out firing and got the sizable traveling contingent from New Bedford excited from the opening whistle. She buried a pair of step-back threes and had eight points in the first to help the Whalers get off to a 8-2 start. The Tigers took a few minutes to get going but then Raymond started to take over and helped OA finish the first on a 14-2 run.

She scored on a feed from sophomore Erin Holmberg then added one of her six blocks on the defensive end, which was rebounded by Katie Flynn (10 rebounds) who then fired an outlet pass to Raymond for a transition basket. She assisted on a three-point play for Alex Sheldon (19 points and 13 rebounds), drilled a three and hit a long jumper.

Rose got off to a great start in the second, scoring the first seven points to put New Bedford back in front at 17-16, but Raymond answered right back with layup off a Meg Holleran assist. Abby Reardon (seven points) and Raymond both scored off two more of Holleran’s five assists and then Raymond added a layup around the out-stretched arms of New Bedford’s 6-foot-2 center Janice Leao (13 rebounds).

A three by Kyara Almeida-Sylvia cut the OA lead to six at the break and a Rose three and a pair from beyond the arc by Monica Eires kept the Whalers in the game, down just 34-29. The Tigers would score the game’s next 13 points and in total put together a 25-2 run that finally broke the game open.

“We had a couple match-up situations, but I thought we remedied them in the second half,” Clement-Holbrook said. “The unsung heroes like Katie Flynn inside just helping on Leao and just from a collective defensive principle I think that’s where we got the points from. We shut them down and just ran the floor.”

Freshman Caroline Flynn got it started with a drive to the rim and she added three assists in the second half. Holmberg scored all eight of her points in the third quarter, finding leak-out opportunities for transition buckets. Sheldon was also a force in the paint, scoring 11 of her 19 points in the second half.

Clement-Holbrook said of Sheldon’s contributions, “She was absolutely, positively key in all this because everyone’s trying to take away Kayla and the fact that we could get the ball inside…we’re just sending shuffle cuts and good movement and that allowed Alex to get the ball and she’s very physical and she’s very strong. She came to play today.”

Raymond, who finished with a line of 23 points, seven rebounds, six blocks, four assists and three steals, was still doing her thing in the third, capping the quarter by picking Rose clean at one end and swooping in for a finger roll at the other. The New Bedford guard, who was held to three points in the second half, was left with a wry smile on her face as she looked up to the rafters following the steal.

“Rose in the first half, she was money and we gave her a little too much room to wiggle,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “In the second half we did a much better job. When we switched Kayla on her, I thought Kayla’s length really bothered her.”

OA led 51-31 after three quarters. The Tigers scored one fewer point in the third than they had in the entire first half. That continued in the fourth quarter as Tate Hadges came off the bench and scored all six of her points, Sheldon continued to control the paint and a trip to the Div. 1 South quarterfinal was confirmed.

When it was mentioned to Clement-Holbrook that the move to Div. 1 seems to be going well, she smiled and replied, “Currently, but we’ll see how these things go.”

Oliver Ames (16-5) will travel to No. 4 seed Bridgewater-Raynham in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, barring a change because of the impending storm.

White Jumper Seals Narrow Win for Taunton

Taunton girls basketball
Taunton junior guard Alexa White (3) sang the national anthem prior to the game and sank the game-winning jumper with eight seconds remaining to beat New Bedford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Prior to the tip of Thursday night’s non-league game at Taunton High, Tigers junior guard Alexa White stood at center court and hit all the right notes with a rendition of the national anthem. Nearly 90 minutes later and White was again in perfect key when she nailed a base line jumper with only eight seconds remaining that turned out to be the game-winning hoop.

Visiting New Bedford had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but a runner at the buzzer hit glass and caromed away, sealing a 44-42 non-league victory for Taunton, improving the Tigers to 4-1 on the young season.

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“It’s a good hard-fought win and I think it’s good for us,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We get into the league schedule after the holiday, so anything we can grab now is good.”

The Tiger struggled through a difficult winter in 2016-17 and are now off the best start in several seasons, which Harrigan believes is building confidence throughout the program. He said, “When you go 1-21 and you live through that and we’re missing some players…the start we’ve had is exciting and the girls are really happy.”

Taunton allowed only one made field goal in the first quarter but went into the first break tied at seven against a scrappy Whalers team that had size in the middle with 6-foot-3 Janice Lena and speedy guard Chiron Rose.

In the second quarter, Rose started to heat up, scoring six of her game-high 16 points. After a floater by Kinra Almeida (12 points), New Bedford led 21-12 and the Tigers were struggling on both ends of the floor. Jaelyn Fernandez started the Taunton comeback with a free throw and then an offensive rebound while falling out of bounds that she managed to squeeze into MacKenzie Handrahan for a layup.

Lily Patneaude (eight points and seven rebounds) buried a three-pointer and the Tigers went into the break down just three points.

“We just played Milford and it was the first this year really that we were down,” Harrigan said. “They’re a very good team but we just weren’t used to it and we kind of panicked. Tonight we were down three times and they were able to come back. We told them to forget the other night and focus on tonight and focus on getting this win.”

The Whalers pulled away again to start the second half, extending the lead to 29-22. Taunton made a change on the defensive end that proved critical, switching from man-to-man to an aggressive, extended zone that forced New Bedford into difficult passes and long jumpers.

Fernandez again sparked the comeback with a lefty runner off the glass, her only made field goal of the night, and Patneaude followed with a drive to the rim. Freshman Kelsey White drilled a three-pointer that brought Taunton back within a basket and, after a New Bedford hoop, Handrahan completed a three-point play to make it 33-32.

White hit a jumper to give Taunton a one-point edge, its first lead since it was 7-5 in the first quarter. Harrigan said of the switch to zone, “I couldn’t stay in man, their speed was killing us. We had to switch off to some pressure defense. We did some pressure trapping in the zone and I think the trapping got us back into it and the zone defense got us the win.”

New Bedford scored to retake the lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Kelsey White (11 points) again provided big baskets to put the Tigers in front again. The freshman scored on a drive over the outstretched arm of Lena and then nailed her second three, off an assist by Hannah Moniz (four assists and six rebounds), to make it 39-37 with 2:01 left.

“Her shot selection was good,” explained Harrigan about White. “She had a couple of drives, and they’re long whether they went zone or man they’re just long, and she went up over them for a couple hoops. Defensively, she was incredible in the trapping zone.”

Although there was little scoring through the opening five minutes of the fourth, the teams played out a frenetic, end-to-end finish.

Handrahan added a free throw for a three-point lead, but a Lena free throw and an Almeida basket tied the score at 40-40. Handrahan (14 points, eight rebounds, and five steals) scored in the paint again to make it 42-40, but once again the Whalers answered with Rose getting her final basket with 19.7 on the clock.

Taunton had the chance to run down the time for the final shot, but Alexa White (eight points and four steals) found space on the left side of the floor. She pulled up from 10 feet on the base line and swished the jumper.

New Bedford turned the ball over on the inbounds, giving Taunton the ball with 7.2 left. After a missed free throw, the Whalers raced up court with one last chance to stay alive, but the final shot would not go down and Taunton celebrated a clutch, bounce-back victory.

“Give New Bedford credit, they are so quick,” said Harrigan. “They’ve got some good size inside and it was a little bit intimidating to us. They’re just all good athletes…we haven’t seen a team like that this year.”

He added, “Give Taunton credit, it was a hard game for us and we were fortunate to come away with the win.”

Taunton (4-1, 2-1) will get a week off before returning to action against Durfee on Dec. 28.

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Balanced Attack Helps Taunton Sink New Bedford

Taunton boys basketball
Taunton junior Tyler Medeiros goes up for a shot in the second quarter against New Bedford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. – It wasn’t a perfect game, and at times it was far from pretty but an inexperienced Taunton team still came away with a 65-46 road win at New Bedford.

With just one player back with any legitimate varsity experience this year, things have been a bit inconsistent for the Tigers through the three games thus far this season. It was more of the same on Thursday night.

“It came in spurts, it’s in our DNA – we are schizophrenic,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “The kids are still figuring themselves out, they don’t all have a ton of confidence so they’re tentative when they should go, and they go when they should be tentative. It’s about experience and how fast can we get it? We’re just not at the level we want to be at yet.”

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A pair of New Bedford free throws brought the Whalers within one with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter. That’s when Taunton’s offense came back to life, rattling off a 7-0 run to end the frame. Luis Vendrell hit one free throw and then freshmen Naz Kenian and Dante Law connected on three pointers in the final minute – both on on a pass from Tommy MacLean – to take a 19-11 after the first quarter.

That cushion gave the Tigers a little room for error, which they needed in the second quarter. MacLean, who had six points and three assists at the time, was whistled for his second foul, forcing him too the bench.

Dacey elected to put in 6’4 junior Tyler Medeiros and the Tigers made him the focal point of the offense. While Taunton’s defense held up its end of the bargain, holding the Whalers to just nine points in the quarter, the offense was able to come up with just 11 points. However, Medeiros was responsible for six of those, going 3/5 from the field to keep the Tigers ahead, 30-20 at the break.

“We had to get points, he was able to carry us over,” Dacey said of Medeiros. “With Tommy out of the game, points have to come from somewhere. Tyler did a nice job tonight.”

Taunton’s offense was back at it again in the third quarter, dropping 18 points in the frame. New Bedford pulled within six early in the second half at 32-26. The Tigers rattled off an 8-0 run in just over a minute, with MacLean driving to the basket on to start and finish the run.

MacLean finished with a team-high 15 points and seven assists.

“He’s the guy out there,” Dacey said of MacLean. “He has a high basketball IQ and he has to demonstrate that because with the inexperience with the other players comes a lower basketball IQ. They’re working hard, they’re playing hard but we’re making too many mistakes still.”

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Back to back threes from Kenian followed by a take from Law stretched Taunton’s lead to 48-28 in the final minute of the third quarter.

While Taunton held that lead for the majority of the final quarter, the Whalers did make a small run to get within 14 but Lens Esquil (eight points, nine rebounds) converted a put back and then took a feed from MacLean for another basket.

Kenian finished with nine points and three rebounds, Medeiros had 10 points and five rebounds and Law had eight points, six rebounds and three assists. John Martins added six points, four assists and three rebounds.

“It’s a learning experience, that’s the way we look at it,” Dacey said. “It’s a chance for us to get more experience.”

Taunton (3-1, 2-1) will be back in action after the holiday when they travel to Durfee High School for the Skip Karam Tournament to take on Hope.

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