NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The playoffs started a couple days early for Attleboro and North Attleboro. The two teams met in a winner-take-all regular season finale at the Pickering Gym on Wednesday afternoon, both looking to book a spot in the state tournament.
Attleboro broke open a close game with a 16-2 run to start the second half and never allowed the Rocketeers to pull any closer than nine points in the fourth quarter, pulling out a 55-42 victory and making the state tournament for the first time in four years.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids,” said Attleboro coach Marty Crowley. “First of all it’s a North game and a rivalry game and then on top of that you’re both playing to get into the tournament and our kids played hard start to finish today. We played well in the first half but our kids played harder in the second even after they made that last push on us.”
Senior Nyah Thomas (13 points, five rebounds, and four assists), who will be making her first tournament appearance, added, “This means everything. We had so much energy today. We talked about it all year, leading up to this, we knew we were making tournament and we didn’t want to go home today.”
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively in the first quarter. Thomas got to the rim off the dribble and then off an assist from Meghan Gordon. After a step-back three by Regan Fein (nine points) put North ahead, senior Liv McCall was able to hit on a reverse.
The Rocketeers ran a perfect set in the closing seconds to get an open three for Summer Doherty to grab an 11-9 lead after one.
McCall (team-high 17 points) had arguably her best game of the season and she sparked the Bombardiers to a halftime lead. She drove to the basket to tie it and then knocked down a three after Thomas got Attleboro out in transition. Thomas added three points in the second and also assisted on a basket for Gordon.
North looked tentative, especially on the boards where Attleboro dominated. Gordon (18 rebounds) and Ryan Johnson (11 rebounds) controlled the paint for the visitors.
“We did not play the way we can play,” admitted North coach Nikki Correia. “We let balls roll on the floor, they were the first to go get them, second , third, fourth to go get them. I think in the second half we picked it up, but it was too late of a run.”
Attleboro went into the break leading 23-19, but came out of the locker room intent on taking control of the contest. The Bombardier scored the first 11 points of the second half and had a 16-2 run to lead by as many as 18.
Crowley said, “We told them that it was a good first half but we need to play harder in the second half because they’re not going to go away. And they did, they listened. We put the pedal to the metal and got out in transition, we took better care of the ball in the second half, and better decisions with the ball get you better baskets.”
Gordon was the spark in the third, scoring nine of her 16 points in the quarter. She started it with an offensive rebound and putback, then Thomas got out on the break for two. Johnson kicked it out to Thomas, who banked in a three and suddenly the lead was 11. After five straight free throws (four from Gordon), Emma Reilly drove to the hoop and Gordon added two more points off yet another offensive board.
North’s only points came from a layup by Amanda Kaiserr. It was her first basket of the day, as she was shadowed by Gabby Bosh throughout the game. The Rocketeers had more success in the second half in getting Kaiser a few looks, but shots weren’t falling for the junior.
Trailing by 18, North put together a mini-rally to stay within arm’s reach heading to the fourth. Olivia Forbes (12 points and four steals) got an and-one and Fein knocked down a jumper. After an Attleboro free throw, Eliza Dion (six points and seven rebounds) got to the rim for two and cut the lead down to 40-28 after three.
Attleboro regained the edge with an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter. Gordon scored four more, corralling a loose ball for a short jumper and then finishing after a drive and dish from Thomas.
“Meghan’s a special player,” said Crowley. “She’s been a double-double machine for us down the stretch. At a young age, she’s matured quickly and she’s a big part of what we’re doing.”
Thomas praised her teammates for taking on some of the scoring load, “It’s amazing because then the focus isn’t always on us. If they’re scoring then we’re deep. You can’t just cover me and Liv, you have to cover Meghan too and then Ryan on the boards, and we’re playing really well together.”
Kaiser (seven points) knocked down a jumper but McCall responded with a high-arcing three off a Thomas pass and the Bombardiers led by 18 again. Once again, with the season on the ropes, North answered back, going on a 9-0 run to get as close as nine points. Forbes buried a three, Doherty got a steal and an and-one, and Kaiser nailed her only three of the game to make it 48-39.
McCall hit two at the line and Johnson grabbed an offensive board and finished. McCall then drove right down the lane and scored to put Attleboro up 54-39. She scored eight points in the fourth to help put the game away.
“Liv McCall had her best game of the year today and we needed that from her,” said Crowley. “Both of our seniors played great and you need senior leadership, especially in a tournament-like game, basically a play-in game.”
Correia was obviously disappointed with the result, but was happy with the fight that her team showed in the second half.
“I’m extremely proud of my girls,” she said. “It’s my first year here and for them to get where they got to and give themselves chance to play one game to get in. They fought for me all year and I’m proud of them for that.”
Attleboro (10-10) will now await Friday’s seedings to see who it will face in the postseason.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Both teams came into Tuesday night’s game at the Beaupre Gym in a fight for second place in the Davenport division and both needing one more win to secure a spot in the postseason. It was always likely to come down to who could make enough plays down the stretch to decide a the winner.
Despite making only two shots from the field in the fourth quarter, it was Canton that came through with clutch defensive stands and clutch rebounds to pull out a 64-53 victory at North Attleboro and seal a third straight trip to the tournament. The Bulldogs closed the game on a 9-0 run, all nine points coming from the free throw line and five from Kiara Cerruti, who scored nine of her game-high 25 points in the fourth.
“We controlled rebounds, we passed it to each other well, we came up with good stops,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette, praising his team’s ability to bounce back after a last-second loss to New Bedford on Sunday. “We were in the right spots, putting pressure on them. To come right back against a team that beat us the first time on their floor, it’s not easy to win here, and really take it was good.”
North coach Nikki Correia said, “They fought to the end, just a couple of mental mistakes at the end, bad passes, throwing down at their feet when they’re cutting, trying to force it a little too much.”
Defense was the story down the stretch, but it was offense that was the story of the first half.
The Bulldogs got off to a solid start with Cerruti (eight rebounds) burying the first of her four threes on the night and Fay Gallery (16 points, five assists, and seven steals) knocking down a pull-up jumper. North answered right back with an 8-0 run to grab an 11-7 lead.
Regan Fein hit a short jumper off an Eliza Dion offensive rebound and assist and then got free for another jumper, this time off an inbounds feed from Olivia Forbes (five rebounds and seven assists). After Canton got within two at 16-14, Siobhan Weir (11 points) came off the bench to drill a corner three.
The second quarter went back and forth with the Bulldogs coming right back to grab the lead after freshman Samya DaSilva (five points) scored in the post and Gallery drilled a three, but Weir grabbed an offensive rebound to make it 21-20. Summer Doherty hit a tough runner off glass and then Fein saved a possession at half and drilled a three to make it 28-26.
Sydney Gallery (11 points) tied it with a move in the post and then assisted on a bucket for DaSilva. After Cerruti scored with her lefthand, Amanda Kaiser buried her only three of the night to cut the lead to one. Cerruti closed the half with a layup and Canton went into the locker room up 34-31.
North came out of the break and regained the advantage with an 8-0 run. Dion started it with her only basket of the night and then Doherty scored the other six, including a layup following a steal at midcourt. Canton responded. Lilah Milton knocked down a jumper and then Fay Gallery scored plus the foul following a Cerruti rebound.
With Fein receiving treatment on the sideline after twisting her ankle, North got a couple of big shots from Weir, who nailed a pair from beyond the arc to put the hosts in front 45-39. Choquette called a timeout and got uncharacteristically angry with his team’s effort.
“It’s rare that I’m emotional in a timeout,” he explained. “I just felt like the girls are better than they were playing at that time. The game was closer than it could’ve been if we were doing the right things and they know what the right things are they just weren’t executing. We went out, two good passes, Kiara wide open gets a three because we made the extra pass.”
The Bulldogs answered the call, finishing the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to grab back the lead. Cerruti hit a pair of threes, both on Fay Gallery assists, and Sydney Gallery was able to score in the paint to make it 47-45 heading to the final eight minutes.
Canton extended the run to 14 unanswered points at the start of the fourth. Sydney Gallery got an and-one with another post move and Cerruti continued her hot shooting from beyond the arc.
“Siobhan came in off the bench for me and made two big threes, but when someone goes out everyone starts to look around and think someone else will step up,” said Correia. “I told them whoever is coming in just do your job and it will work.”
As you would expect, North made one last run to get back into it. Fein returned to bury a jumper and Kaiser freed up Doherty for a basket. After a Canton free throw, Kaiser got only her second basket of the night and then, following another free throw for the visitors, Doherty cut the lead to 55-53 with a drive. It would be North’s last point of the night.
Canton went 9-for-12 at the line in the closing minutes, but also forced several turnovers, got a couple of clutch rebounds from Kayla Albert (eight rebounds) on both ends of the floor, and a strong effort down the stretch from Carly Fitzgerald guarding Kaiser (North’s leading scorer coming into the game).
Choquette said, “Kayla might have won the game with two of the rebounds that she got in the paint down here. Easily one of the best second halves she’s played for us. That means as much as a three going down or a block, she really stepped it up.”
“We have two more in front of us and hopefully we can grind one out,” said Correia. “I’m just proud of them, for me to come in my first year, change everything and being a running coach, all new offense, these kids bought in.”
Canton (11-9, 9-6) will try to clinch at least a share of second place in the division when it hosts Milford on Friday. North Attleboro (9-9, 9-6) will try to book its place in the state tournament when it visits league champion Foxboro.
SHARON, Mass. – For the better part of three quarters, Sharon was able to keep North Attleboro off the glass, chased the Rocketeers off the three-point line, and kept North from getting out in transition. But down the stretch, the visitors turned up the pressure and made just enough plays to pull out the win.
North Attleboro came up with enough defensive stops, including an important steal and layup by Amanda Kaiser, and knocked down five free throws in the closing two minutes to earn a 49-40 road victory in an early season meeting of two contenders for second place in the Davenport.
“We needed that,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “They’re a tough team and she coaches them well. They started to get a little tired, we gutted it out, and we were able to finish strong.”
Sharon was a little shorthanded coming into the game, as several players were out sick, but the Eagles continued to battle and stay close in the fourth quarter, even after an injury forced Kaitlyn Wallace (nine points) to the bench.
“We had a couple big turnovers that led to points for them and that was the difference in the game,” said Sharon coach Sandy Lombardi. “We battled. We’re short on the bench, we’re short players, and the kids go out there and play as hard as they can and that’s all you can ask for. We’re going to keep on working.”
North led by three points going into the fourth quarter and started to hit the glass to get crucial extra chances on the offensive end. Regan Fein grabbed an offensive board and kicked it out to Kaiser (13 points and seven rebounds) for a big three-pointer. Sharon answered back on the other end with a three by Ally Brown to make it 37-34.
Fein hit a jumper on a Kaiser drive-and-dish to extend the lead to five. After a Sharon free throw, Siobhan Weir twice saved a possession by snatching an offensive rebound and Summer Doherty swung the ball around the perimeter for a clutch three by Olivia Forbes (eight points).
“There was one possession that they had five or six shots and then they hit a big shot and it was just like, where are we,” Lombardi joked. “It’s a battle every single night.”
Trailing 43-35 and with Wallace on the bench, Sharon could have folded and looked ahead to Sunday’s game with Milford, but instead the Eagles battled back again. Leah Fandel (10 points and nine rebounds) sliced through the North defense for a finish at the rim and, after North missed the front-end of a one-and-one for the second time, Nicole Teven got the ball to Brown (12 points) for her fourth three of the night.
Last time out against King Philip, North struggled at the line, Fein stepped up and buried two and then Kaiser came up with a steal in the backcourt and finish to stretch the advantage to seven points. Eliza Dion knocked down two more at the line to close things out for the Rocketeers.
Sharon got off to a strong start to the game. Trinity Payne (nine points and eight rebounds) scored on an offensive rebound and Brown buried her first three-pointer. After North got back within two, Payne had a steal and basket and Brown hit another from deep for a 12-5 lead after one.
“She did a great job [against the press],” Lombardi said of Brown, who played the full 32 minutes. “She had a couple big threes for us that made it close and we ended up just having a couple turnovers late that were costly.”
The Rocketeers turned things around in the second to tie the game going into halftime. Fein was the key to North getting points against Sharon’s half-court zone. She scored six of her game-high 16 in the second, showing off her mid-range jumper.
Correia said of Fein, “She’s a finesse player and for the last few years we were trying to get her to go inside, but it’s not her game. We said, you’re a senior now, this is what your game is, those little 10 footers, the jumper from the corner, the free throw line, and she’s starting to get comfortable in her game and how she can play.”
Kaiser gave North its first lead of the night when she corralled a long rebound and instantly went up for a corner three. Doherty nearly had a steal to keep possession but stepped on the sideline. With four seconds left in the half, Brown raced up court and dished for Fandel to score at the buzzer and make it 19-19.
Things continued to be back-and-forth after the break. North scored five straight, including a three by Kaiser, but Sharon answered right back thanks to Wallace, who finally got going. She drilled a corner three and tied it with a baseline drive. After Fein knocked one down from beyond the arc, Wallace again matched it with a drive plus the foul and then assisted on a Payne bucket that put Sharon up 29-27.
Freshman Ava McKeon had a steal and assist on a Fein jumper and Kaiser extended North’s lead to 32-29 with a steal and layup. After a pair of Fandel free throws, McKeon came back with a drive to the rim that put the Rocketeers ahead 34-31 heading into the final eight minutes.
“They had a good game plan to slow us down,” Correia admitted. “We came out very flat and very soft and we struggled with the zone.
“We were able to get Amanda open. We scratched the offense we were running and run something higher up. I think sometimes our girls think you can’t screen against a zone, but you can and once we started to pin the girl she got comfortable and knocked down a few.”
North Attleboro (2-3, 2-2) will be back on the court against neighboring rival Bishop Feehan on Sunday. Sharon (0-4, 0-3) will look for its first win of the season against Milford on Sunday evening.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Even on nights when the shots aren’t falling, playing with the type of frenetic style that King Philip imposed on Friday night’s game at North Attleboro’s Pickering Gym means that even with a low shooting percentage teams can put up plenty of points.
KP put that theory into practice on Friday, pulling out a 65-56 non-league victory against North despite both teams struggling to hold onto the ball or knock down shots from the floor or from the line (combined 30-of-59 on free throws).
“I thought we missed a lot of shots that we usually make but to still score 65 and get up and down like we did is a testament to our pace,” KP coach Dan Nagle explained. “I thought we just played hard and battled through some adversity.”
Both teams like to run, but this was not just about getting out in transition. KP pressured, trapped, and harassed the Rocketeers the length of the court, taking advantage of its depth to maintain the pace throughout the 32 minutes.
While it was a game played to KP’s strengths, North hung around, falling behind by as many as 16 points in the third quarter but then getting as close as seven in the fourth.
“They’re fast and under control,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “We’re fast and a little out of control right now. I kept having to remind them we’re in this game guys, settle down. Too much hanging our heads. I’m trying to get them used to the running so they can play through it.”
The hosts jumped out to an early 6-0 lead by breaking the KP press. Olivia Forbes (six points and five assists) set up Regan Fein for a jumper, Amanda Kaiser hit a pull-up jumper in transition and Eliza Dion got an easy basket on the break.
North couldn’t sustain the momentum and the Warriors started to turn the screw defensively, finishing the first on a 12-1 run. Seven different players scored in the first. Freshman Claire Keswick put KP in front for good with an offensive rebound that made it 9-7. Another putback, this time by Emma Glaser (nine points and six boards) closed out the quarter.
KP continued to build the lead in the second. Brianna James (team-high 15 points) hit a pair of threes and Faye Veilleux (seven points and eight rebounds) got a layup on the break to put the Warriors up 22-9 and seemingly on the brink of breaking the game wide open.
The Rocketeers battled back, cutting the lead to as few as six. Kaiser (16 points and seven rebounds) got a pair of baskets in transition, first on a Dion assist and then one off a steal. Dion added six of her game-high 19 points in the quarter, including four points at the line.
James closed the half with a swooping layup that made it 31-21 at the break. The teams had combined for 24 fouls in the first half alone and went a combined 14-for-32 at the charity stripe. If either team could’ve made their foul shots, then the game may have turned out differently.
“At half we were down 10 and we had missed 10 free throws,” Correia said. “That’s the difference right there. A lot of them were short because their legs were shot.”
The second half had a similar pattern, as KP extended its lead to as many as 16 points on two occasions. Kaiser buried a pair of threes in the third to make it 40-30, but then KP answered back with threes from Courtney Keswick and Elizabeth Molla to push the lead out.
“I’ve asked her to play their best offensive girl, so on offense she’s tired,” Correia said of Kaiser. “She’s running and she’s working, so we have to try and figure out ways to take some of that off her on the defensive end so we can get her going on the offensive end.”
North made another run to close the gap before the end of the quarter. Dion continued to be a force in the paint for the hosts, scoring nine points in the third. Correia said, “Very proud of Eliza, how hard she fought inside and the finishing, which is what we need. The little things I’m starting to see like that is what we need going forward.”
After a pair of offensive rebounds by Fein kept a possession alive for the Rocketeers, Forbes nailed a three that made it just 49-41. Keswick was there to answer back with another three of her own to make it an 11-point game heading to the fourth.
A pair of free throws by Fein and a putback by Kaiser had North within seven early in the fourth, but Glaser got free in the corner on a Veilleux kick out to make the lead double digits and Liv Lafond added three more with an offensive rebound and the foul. Rebounding was a big edge for the Warriors, with Taylor Butler and Emily Sawyer each grabbing 11 on the night.
“We pride ourselves of getting after it on the offensive glass and I thought we did a great job 1-14 of getting to the glass,” said Nagle, who referenced the team’s poor shooting night when he added, “You’ve got to go rebound it if you miss it.”
Freshman Ava McKeon went behind her back to slice through the KP press for a layup. Fein knocked down a jumper on an inbound play, and Summer Doherty got free for a layup, as North was proving hard to put away. But time ran out on the comeback attempt, as Faith Roy’s (seven points) late drive to the rim sealed the win for the Warriors.
“Her kids never quit and they kept coming back,” Nagle said. “Every time I thought we were going to put them away, I’d look up and it’s an eight-point game again. It was punch, counterpunch.”
King Philip (3-1) will travel to Bishop Feehan for another non-league game on Monday, while North Attleboro (1-3) is off until after the New Year when it travels to division rival Sharon.
2018-2019 Record: 8-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
Attleboro was three wins shy of reaching the postseason last year, despite a roster filled with inexperienced players, and the Bombardiers demonstrated the potential in the squad by upsetting Franklin late in the season and handing the Panthers their only league loss. This winter, the Bombardiers will be looking to turn potential into reality and make a jump into the playoff picture.
Six players are returning from last year, including seniors Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall, who give Attleboro a talented backcourt on both ends of the court. Thomas adds length and slashing ability, while McCall is a sharpshooter who will be the team’s primary ball-handler. Sophomore Meg Gordon has taken a big leap from last year and head coach Marty Crowley thinks that she is ready for a breakout season on the wing.
Juniors Gabby Bosh and Emma Reilly will both be back to add some nous to the lineup, while sophomores Hailey and Lindsey Perry add grit and toughness. Junior Ryan Johnson will add size to the frontcourt, while sophomore Lillian Froio and juniors Jackie MacDonald and Laura McVeigh add depth and physicality. Overall, it is a much deeper, more experienced group for Crowley to build lineups with this season.
“For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound,” Crowley said. “Nyah and Liv I am sure are going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone, however, we feel as if we have the players in place who will contribute offensively.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-7 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Jim Choquette
Youth was served for the Bulldogs last season, as a talented trio of freshmen jumped into the starting lineup and helped Canton have one of its most successful seasons in program history, with 14 wins and a return to the state tournament. There were still some learning curves to overcome, but now a more experienced group is play with speed and get out on the break as often as possible to give Foxboro a challenge in the Davenport title race and bring home a postseason win.
Although Canton is still a relatively young team, the talent on the roster is undeniable. Sophomores Kiara Cerruti and Sydney and Fay Gallery all had impressive rookie campaigns, showing off their skills on the wing, from three-point range, and in the paint. They will face even more pressure this season, as teams know what they like to do and will be even more determined to take them out of their games.
Sophomore Carly Fitzgerald will be one of the players stepping into the point guard role vacated by the graduation of Julia Hamilton and will be the facilitator getting Canton into its offense. In the paint, Canton has size and athleticism in senior Lilah Milton and junior Kayla Albert, who are both active rebounders and finishers at the rim and both have shown the ability to knock down the occasional jumper as well. Juniors Angie Elias and Sam Lamarr and sophomore Annie Hoban all have experience from last year to add to Canton’s depth.
Canton coach Jim Choquette said, “Each day we will try to improve as a coaching staff and a program. By the end of the season, our hopes are to be playing at our best.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-3 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Lisa Downs
The two-time defending Davenport division champions return all but one player from last year’s roster, so Foxboro remains the team to beat for the league title and expectations are very high heading into a new season. After a trip to the Div. 2 South semifinals last season, the Warriors will be aiming for even more this winter, trying to regain the top spot not just in the Hock but also in the South sectional.
Junior Katelyn Mollica was the team’s leading scorer last year and is already closing in on 1,000 points for her career. The team’s primary ball-handler and one of the best shooters in the league, Mollica will be one of the top offensive threats in the league. She will have plenty of help. Senior guard Lizzy Davis and senior forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman will also return to the starting lineup this season and add athleticism, speed, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, taking some pressure off Mollica with their ability to score in the open court.
Senior Shakirah Ketant came on strong at the end of last season and gives Foxboro a different, more physical look in the paint. Junior Jordyn Collins is a tough on-the-ball defender and has speed to burn. Seniors Jamie DeVellis and Julia Kelley both saw time on the floor last year and will add to Foxboro’s depth. Sophomore center Hannah Blake is a new face that could provide more strength in the post.
“The Hockomock League continues to produce teams, which make every night a tough one – there are really no teams that you can take lightly,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The preparation required to compete in this league really benefits teams that get to the postseason.”
2018-2019 Record: 21-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin is coming off its best season in program history and the Panthers have the talent returning to potentially surpass that success this winter. After winning the program’s first sectional title and coming within minutes of reaching the state title game, Franklin returns three of its starters and a host of bench players ready to step into bigger roles this year.
The key to it all is senior Ali Brigham. The George Washington-commit controlled the paint on both ends of the floor last season and remains the league’s most dominant star, as she continues to expand her game to make it even more difficult for the opposition. Teams can’t focus only on Brigham, as senior forward Meghan O’Connell showed in the playoffs the problems she can present with her ability to score and rebound and sophomore Olivia Quinn is another forward with size that teams will struggle to match up with.
Junior point guard Erin Quaile is a tenacious defender and a solid ball-handler, who is developing her outside shot. Senior Sydney Garilli and juniors Elizabeth Wilson, Teagan Collins, and Carissa Alers all saw time last season and will be in the backcourt rotation. Franklin will also add several newcomers, who could step right in and contribute, including juniors Katelynn Taylor and Kaleigh Houlihan and sophomores Emma Sousa and Stefany Padula. On balance, the Panthers look likely to be the team to beat again in the Kelley-Rex.
“I am excited by what I have seen to date,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They are a very motivated group who have bought into their team motto ‘We Over Me.’ They are good teammates who seek team success over individual glory.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-8 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip had a breakout season in 2018-19, winning 13 games and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. Returning seven players from last year’s roster, new head coach Dan Nagle takes over a program in solid shape and is looking to build on last season’s success and try to challenge Franklin at the top of the league standings this winter.
Senior Faye Veilleux spearheaded KP’s breakout season when she emerged as one of the top post scorers in the league. Her versatility and her ability to get out in transition will be crucial to Nagle’s fastbreaking style. Senior Faith Roy will give the Warriors a clutch outside shooter and classmate Taylor Butler adds physicality to the guard or forward position.
Junior Emma Glaser will be expected to take on a bigger role after a strong sophomore season on the wing and junior point guard Brianna James demonstrated the ability to get into the lane at will and finish even against taller opponents. Juniors Caroline Aaron and Courtney Keswick are also back from last year to provide depth on the wings and 6-foot-3 freshman Emily Sawyer will give KP much-needed size in the post, as they try to combat Franklin’s Ali Brigham. The Warriors are going to try and break teams down with aggressive defending and their speed in transition.
Nagle said, “It has been a great start to the year with this group of kids. From top to bottom our roster is full of girls who love the game of basketball and are enjoying the process of improving day to day here in the early going. I think we will be a fun team to watch this season, and I look forward to the challenge of having our kids compete night in and night out in an excellent league like the Hockomock.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Mike Redding
Mansfield has consistently been one of the top programs in the Kelley-Rex division but even the best programs are going to need time to overcome the graduation of 10 seniors. The Hornets will lack experience, but head coach Mike Redding will be looking for improvement over the course of the season and will be hoping to have the team playing its best basketball as the tournament rolls around.
Senior Becca Hottleman was recently cleared after knee surgery and will be back at the point for the Hornets. Hottleman is one of only two players that got starts last year. Junior forward Ashley Santos is the other and she will be one of the players expected to see her numbers take a jump, as she should expect to get a few more looks on the offensive end. Senior Kelly Doherty and junior Kayla Vine will jump into starting roles on the wings, while junior Sara Dooling will be a starter at forward.
While there is a lack of varsity playing time on the roster, there are plenty of upperclassmen that will be expected to contribute. Junior Sarah Sacco will back-up Hottleman at the point, while junior Ally Prentis and senior Grace Benton will add depth at the wing. Senior Grace Maher and juniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking will see time in the frontcourt and freshman wing Abby Wager should get opportunities to build experience this season.
“This group has very limited varsity basketball experience overall because we had that large and talented group of 10 seniors last year, but we’re not young and will rely on senior leadership and a deep junior class and all have varsity experience in other sports,” said Redding. “We have good size and depth in the post and all of them can shoot, handle the ball, and play like guards, which should cause some problems for the defense. It will be a work in progress and we’ll have to battle for wins in a very good league but this will be a good basketball team by February when the tourney rolls around.”
2018-2019 Record: 1-19 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Last year was a tough one for Milford. After graduating the bulk of the roster, an inexperienced group struggled through the season, but never lost the work rate and closed out the winter with its first win. The Hawks are still relatively young, but head coach TJ Dolliver is approaching the new year with optimism because of his team’s continued growth.
Four juniors are entering their third varsity seasons and the Hawks will be counting on them to provide necessary leadership on and off the court. Emma Lawrence, Jillian Michelson, Carly Fereira, and Katie Maietta have all gotten plenty of playing time last year and the hope is that experience will serve them well this winter.
This will be a guard-heavy lineup, especially with no player over 5-foot-8. Junior Elise Fauerbach will add some physical play to the frontcourt and sophomore forward Jill Araujo is a newcomer that can add some depth in the paint.
“There is a lot to pay attention to but what I care about the most is how we do this together,” said Dolliver. “I have a great group of girls and a great coaching staff and I believe this season will be very rewarding.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Nikki Correia
It has been a tough run over the last few seasons for North Attleboro, which won seven games and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but there are still positives to take away as former assistant Nikki Correia takes over for her first year in charge. North has several experienced players returning to try and push Big Red back up the standings.
The backcourt should be a plus for North with senior point guard Olivia Forbes back to run the show and keep the Rocketeers getting into the transition game that Correia prefers. She will be joined at the guard position by junior Amanda Kaiser, who emerged as not only a threat from deep but also as a tough defender who gets her hands into the passing lane. Juniors Siobhan Weir and Lydia Santos will add to the depth at guard to help with the full-court pressure that North will turn to this year.
North hasn’t had much height in the past few seasons, but there are several forwards who can compete on the glass. Senior forward Eliza Dion is an aggressive defender and can take her defender off the dribble. Senior Regan Fein will add extra depth in the paint. Freshman guard Ava McKeown and sophomore guard Summer Doherty are two newcomers that could make an instant impact.
“I am looking forward to being apart of watching this team and this program grow this year,” Correia said. “There are six returning seniors, so that veteran play will be very helpful, as well as returning a great shooter and adding an athletic sophomore and freshman to the mix.”
2018-2019 Record: 13-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames had a lot of new faces last year, but the success was very familiar. The Tigers finished with 13 wins and reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal, giving Wellesley all it could handle on the road. A year of experience and the return of a strong core of players means expectations are even higher for OA this winter.
Sophomore Caroline Peper will be the player that is going to draw the most attention at the start of the new season. As a freshman, Peper was one of the league’s top scorers and its top shooters. Junior Caroline Flynn was also an all-star last year. She runs the point, is one of the top passers on the team, and also one of its top rebounders. Her overall game helps the Tigers control games. Also in the backcourt will be seniors Meg Holleran and Erin Holmberg, who is coming back after surgery cost her almost all of last season.
Senior Tate Hadges will be on the front line, giving OA another strong defender and rebounder. Sophomore Hailey Bourne, while undersized, gives the Tigers a lot of effort in the post even when matched up against some of the best frontcourt players in the league. Junior Jess Erlich and Tori Harney and sophomore Anna Murphy will add to the team’s depth on the wing.
“As always, the Hock will present with a very high level of competition,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We are looking forward to being capable of putting together a variety of strong personnel combinations which will provide us with depth as we face those challenges.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sandra Lombardi
Sharon narrowly missed out on its first playoff appearance under head coach Sandy Lombardi, finishing just one win away from a tournament berth. With three returning starters and several younger players who got significant playing time last year, the Eagles will be eyeing that elusive postseason berth.
Three seniors will be counted on to lead the team at both ends of the floor. Point guard Ally Brown will be expected to get the Eagles into their offensive sets and is a strong defender on the other end, keeping pressure on the perimeter. Shooting guard Kaitlyn Wallace is the team’s top outside threat, stretching the defense with her range and also being a strong passer off the dribble. Forward Telishya Herbert led the team in scoring last year and is a matchup nightmare in the paint with her aggressive play going to the basket.
The starting lineup will be rounded out by junior Leah Fandel and sophomore Trinity Payne, two athletic forwards that will give Sharon decent size on the front line. Senior Nicole Teven, juniors Julia Early and Gaby Cabral and freshman Tess Letendre will all see plenty of playing time this season and will look to contribute to the team’s success.
“Ally, Kaitlyn, and Telishya have the most varsity experience and I expect great things from them this year,” Lombardi said. “We have a young team and I am hoping some of the younger players are able to step up this year as well.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
A new era will begin this winter, as Stoughton moves into its brand new gym with a lot of new faces on the roster, hoping to get the Black Knights back into the playoff race this season after missing out on the tournament last year.
The key for the Black Knights will be its senior leadership. Although Sydnee Hyacinthe has moved on to Milton Academy, they still return a strong core led by senior Aliyah Wright. The point guard can be a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, sparking Stoughton on defense and breaking down the opposition off the dribble. Senior Shyanne Trinh is healthy to start the season and will be the team’s top outside threat, with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. Senior forward Lexi Baptista is an athletic post threat who can also step back and knock down the mid-range jumper.
Senior Hannah Pagano and juniors Brooke Bulger, Mackenzie Manning, and Catherine Downey will add to the team’s depth, especially in the backcourt. Sophomore Makaiyah Singleton Rivera and freshman Kyla Sheedy-Goff will be two of the newcomers to the roster that could make a name for themselves this season.
“Despite being somewhat young this season this group of ladies worked really hard in the off-season,” said Stoughton coach Charmain Steele Jordan. “The sky is the limit this season and our Black Knights are going compete hard until the final whistle blows.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-15 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
After a number of seasons under coach Walter Harrigan, Taunton has turned to former King Philip coach Amy Siggens this year and she has brought plenty of energy into her first preseason with the Tigers, trying to push the program back into the playoff hunt.
As Siggens and the players become more comfortable with each other, the Tigers will count on their returning starters to get things off to a good start. Juniors Sonya and Jaelyn Fernandez and Kelsey White will be the players to watch this season after strong sophomore campaigns. All three have good size, with both Sonya and Jaelyn providing strong presences on the boards and out on the break and White causing match-up issues on the perimeter. All three will need to step up on the defensive end and keep the Tigers running.
Taunton also has depth, although it will be relatively inexperienced. Seniors Liz Crisman and Jaylah Chaves and junior Tori DaRosa will add more depth in the backcourt. Sophomores Braeley McDonald and Abby Souza (who has helped out on varsity since she was an eighth-grader) and freshman Kameron St. Pierre will also chip in this season.
“Any coaching change brings lots of challenges and, this season, we will be faced with our share,” said Siggens. “I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far. Our bench is young and talented but how quickly a good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start.”
North Attleboro recently announced that former assistant coach Nikki Correia has taken over as the new girls basketball head coach, replacing Derek Herber, who stepped down this spring after five seasons in charge. Correia has been with the program for the past five years, starting as a freshman coach and working up to be the JV coach and varsity assistant.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity,” Correia said on Monday. “The last five years I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this coaching staff and learning a lot and I truly adore the entire program. They’ve been nothing but supportive the last five years, so I’m really excited to get going in the head role.”
This is Correia’s first head coaching position at the varsity level, but she has been an assistant at North and at the AAU level. Correia also had a very successful playing career at Attleboro High, scoring 1,030 points for the Bombardiers, before going on to play at Wheaton College.
Correia said, “I’ve played for different coaches, with a lot of different personalities, and I think I was able to take a little things that I responded to well and what I didn’t respond to well and say, okay I didn’t really like that when I was coached that way, so I’m going to coach it this way.”
North won back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles in 2014 and 2015 and reached the playoffs for the first three seasons after Herber took over. The Rocketeers have struggled in the last two years, winning 11 games combined with a young, guard-heavy lineup. Correia hopes to exploit the team’s speed next season.
“I want to get out in transition, we want to run, we want to be fast,” she said. “I know what they have to offer and I have to put them in the best positions to succeed. We’re small and quick and we’re going to get out in front and go.”
Being promoted to head coach from within the program, Correia knows the Rocketeers inside and out. She knows the players and they know her, which she believes will make the transition more comfortable for everyone.
“There’s definitely going to be changes,” she explained, “but I do think knowing the players and being a part of it the last five years, just being able to develop that relationship with all the kids, they know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them.”