North Edges Attleboro On McCarthy’s Buzzer Beater

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro players swarm Kyle McCarthy following his game-winning buzzer beater against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro senior Kyle McCarthy took the inbounds pass with 5.7 seconds to go and streaked up the right side of the court. He switched the ball to his right hand before crossing back to his left as he hit the three point line. He found space between a pair of defenders, rose up and released.

The ball seemed to take a deflection off a defenders hand, hit the front end of the rim, took a bounce and fell through the net as time expired.

The result was a 56-54 win for North Attleboro in a non-league contest with rival Attleboro, giving the Rocketeers a season sweep of the Bombardiers.

“I saw a couple of defenders in front of me but coach wanted us to attack the hoop,” McCarthy said. “I got to the rim, put it up, it might have been tipped in but it went in, that’s what matters. It was just a great team win. North Attleboro against Attleboro, we couldn’t have scripted it better, it was just an unreal game to be apart of.”

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Both sides traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter, with Attleboro taking a 50-49 lead with just over three minutes to play on a jumper from Nate Douglas. But North had an answer right away as Hacmoni Cuevas took a pass from McCarthy and drained a three near the end of the shot clock to put North ahead 52-50.

The teams traded misses before McCarthy came away with a steal and went down for a layup. His shot rimmed out but senior Jonny Friberg (22 points, 12 rebounds) was there to clean it up with the put back with 1:22 to play.

“When it comes down to it, they made some big plays down the stretch,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “That three by Cuevas was a big one. And then McCarthy is just a gamer, he made a nice play. We were trying to get a sub in to get a matchup but we didn’t get it in. Bottom line, we needed to stop the ball and we didn’t do that. Our kids battled, I think we did a better job on Friberg than we did the first time. Brent’s a terrific player, you can’t make mistakes on him. For them to go back to back and beat two teams is not easy.”

Attleboro senior Jake Dunkley (20 points, 10 rebounds) cut the deficit in half with a pair of free throws with 1:01 to play. The Bombardiers came away with a stop on the defensive end and sprinted ahead to try to find the tying bucket, but North came away with a steal to take possession with 28 seconds to play.

Attleboro was forced to foul its way into the bonus, sending the Rocketeers to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. North missed the front end, giving the Bombardiers a final chance with 12.9 to go.

Douglas navigated his way around a screen and drew the foul to head to the line with two shots. North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins called a timeout before the shots to draw up the play.

“We wanted to get the ball to either Kyle or Brent [Doherty] off the inbounds, get Jonny down for a rebound and then get Moni and Chad [Peterson] set up for a shot,” Mulkerrins said. “We wanted to penetrate and have two guys ready for a shot or Jonny for the rebound. I think there might have been a little luck involved in the shot going in but Kyle did a nice job and we’ve been on the other side of that a couple of that so I think our kids deserved it.”

The largest lead of the entire game was nine, coming midway through the first quarter when Attleboro raced out to a 15-6 lead. Back to back threes from Cuevas and McCarthy helped the Rocketeers cut the deficit down, trailing 17-12 after one quarter.

North surged back to take the lead on back-to-back baskets from Doherty (17 points) and McCarthy but a quick 6-2 surge from the Bombardiers gave the hosts a slim 29-27 advantage at half.

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“We knew after the first game this season, they’d come at us with everything,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought Mark [Houle] and his staff did a tremendous job being without a starter or two or at least kids that can play starter minutes. Coming out, they were so intense defensively and that led to some good offense opportunities for them. Coming off a back to back, we came out a little slow but to our kids’ credit, their mental toughness, we punched back after the first and kept it close.”

It was a see-saw third quarter with Andrew Milliken (eight points, seven rebounds) hitting a three to put Attleboro ahead only for Doherty and Friberg to hit back to back buckets to take the lead back. Dunkley converted a three point play, Friberg responded with two free throws to tie it and then Dunkley drained a three for another three point lead.

Friberg added two but baskets from Dunkley and Lucas Boucicaut created a five point separation. Doherty cut into that with a three, Attleboro’s Elvin Sam (13 points) pushed it back to four with a layup, Friberg answered again but Dunkley had the final basket of the quarter to give the Bombardiers a 46-42 edge heading into the final quarter.

“For us, playing Attleboro at their place, regardless of or record, or scenario or situations, it’s always a tough game,” Mulkerrins said. “It’s one of my favorite places on our schedule to play because the people of Attleboro love basketball. There’s always a great atmosphere and you can’t play in a better gym to get more prepared for the tournament.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (14-7 overall, 10-6 Hockomock) will conclude the regular season on Wednesday when they host Bishop Feehan. The Rocketeers have a chance to earn a home playoff game with a win. Attleboro (12-9, 8-8) will finish the regular season with a trip to Durfee on Wednesday in a showdown of two D1 playoff teams.

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North Attleboro Pulls Away From Milford In The Fourth

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro senior Brent Doherty cuts down the net following a win over Milford. North Attleboro won the Davenport title on Friday night. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. — It’s been quite a 10-day stretch for North Attleboro, qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2011 last week and winning their first Hockomock championship since 2001 on Friday night.

But the Rocketeers had no problem getting motivated for Sunday night’s contest with the visiting Milford Scarlet Hawks.

All they had to do was look back three weeks when the Hawks went coast-to-coast to beat the Rocketeers on a buzzer beater at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Or two seasons ago, when a pair of free throws with no time left turned a one-point advantage into a one-point loss.

In fact, North Attleboro’s senior class was winless against the Hawks heading into the final Hockomock League game of the season.

Not anymore.

Hosting Milford for the first time in four years, the Rocketeers closed out the fourth quarter in true championship fashion, outscoring the Scarlet Hawks 20-1 over the final six minutes of play to turn a close game into a 66-45 win.

“We just clinched playoffs, we just won the league championship but we didn’t need any extra motivation for this one,” said North Attleboro senior Thomas Reynolds, who was on the court for both of Milford’s last second wins. “You just have to look back at the last couple of years. Losing on the free throw, losing at the Dunk twice, we had never beat them. It was definitely nice to come in here to get the last league win.”

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“It’s a satisfying win for the kids, especially for the seniors,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins, who also picked up his first win over Milford. “For the past four years, Milford has been our boogeyman, we just couldn’t beat them. Hopefully this is just one in a string of games that we’re in here that could potentially get us a home game in the playoffs.

North Attleboro’s strategy to feed big man Jonny Friberg paid off in two ways – the 6’6 senior poured in a career-high 28 points while hauling in 11 rebounds and the pounding inside resulted in some fouls for the Hawks.

Milford was whistled for eight fouls in the third quarter — four of them on Hawks leading rebounder Kayden Kelley (five points, six rebounds).

The Rocketeers started their big run taking advantage of Kelley’s absence with Chad Peterson (eight points, six rebounds, five assists) finishing a put back, Reynolds (nine points, two rebounds) hitting a free throw and then Peterson draining a three off of an offensive rebound.

Brent Doherty (14 points, four rebounds, four assists) found Friberg in the post for two to extend North Attleboro’s lead to 55-44 with four minutes to play. After a pair of stops from the Rocketeers’ defense, Reynolds drained a three off a pass from Peterson to make it 57-44 with 2:31 to play.

“It’s just about confidence,” Reynolds said about being able to close out games better. “We’ve figured out how to win games, close out games. We’re all confident in each other, it doesn’t matter who takes the big shot. We all just want to make sure we get a great shot over a good shot.”

Doherty added a layup and Reynolds added two more free throws to push the run to 15-0 over a five minute span. It marked the second straight game that North Attleboro kept its opponent for five minutes in the final quarter.

Milford shot 0/6 and had five turnovers in the stretch.

“When guys are thinking about defense first and you play good defense, you don’t have to think too much about the offense,” Mulkerrins said. “You look at that 20-1 run down the stretch and a lot of people look at the 20 but I look at the one. If you want to beat teams like Milford and Foxboro, the one is much more important to us.”

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North Attleboro had a near flawless start to the game, finding Friberg early and often. The senior scored 11 of the team’s first 14 points while Doherty added five and Peterson had a trifecta. North shot 8/11 from the field while forcing four turnovers.

But Milford responded with an even better second quarter to take the lead into halftime. After North scored the opening bucket of the quarter, the Hawks went on a wild 18-0 run to seize a five point advantage. Zack Tamagni (14 points, four assists) bookended the run with a pair of layups while both Nate Davila (nine points) and Shane Cosquete (nine points, five rebounds) hit a pair of three pointers in the stretch.

The Rocketeers closed the deficit some in the final two minutes of the half, with Doherty finding space for a layup and Friberg grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring right before the buzzer. Milford led 28-25 at half.

Big Red carried that momentum into the third quarter and used a 12-0 run to take the lead back. Reynolds started the run with a three, Friberg added two free throws and a bucket in the paint and Doherty hit a three and converted a put back in the stretch.

“We knew it’d be a game of runs,” Mulkerrins said. “We knew they’d punch back. I thought Milford did an excellent job in the second quarter of executing their game plan and moving the ball and getting the pace that works for them. I was proud of how we finished the second quarter and then we started the second half on a much better run. I’m real proud of the guys for counter punching.”

North Attleboro finished with 19 assists on 23 made field goals and won the rebounding battle 30-27.

“This group has really bought into the concept of team over individual,” Mulkerrins said. “We’re always striving to get a great shot instead of a good shot. To their credit, they continued to share the ball and gave up individual opportunities for the greater good of the team.”

“This has been surreal,” Reynolds said.”To go 0-20 my freshman year and see how far we’ve progressed, it’s just an unreal feeling. I couldn’t be prouder to be teammates with these guys.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (13-7 overall, 10-6 Hockomock) is back in action on Monday when they travel to take on rival Attleboro in a non-league contest at 6:00. Milford (9-10, 7-9) is also back in action on Monday when it hosts Medway. The Scarlet Hawks need a win to get into the state tournament.

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North Attleboro Beats Foxboro, Clinches Davenport

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s Brent Doherty attempts to dribble past Foxboro’s Joe Morrison in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It’s time to dust off the boys basketball league championship banner hanging inside Pickering Gymnasium at North Attleboro High School.

It’s time to add 2017 to the list.

For the first time since 2001, the Rocketeers are Hockomock League champions following a 45-40 win over Foxboro on Friday night. With a win, and a Milford loss to Sharon, North Attleboro clinched the division title outright.

It’s been a long four year stretch for head coach Sean Mulkerrins and his squad. The Rocketeers went 0-20 in his first year at the helm, won just five games a year later and eight games one season ago.

Now, North Attleboro has 12 wins with three games to go and sits atop the Davenport division as Hock champs.

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“To be honest, it’s been a roller coaster,” Mulkerrins said of the past four seasons. “At times, it felt like insurmountable odds, it felt like we were putting in a lot and not necessarily getting a lot. I credit [former Rocketeers coach] Chris Perron, who’s been everything to me as a mentor and a father figure when I played for him here at North, and opposing coaches like Jon [Gibbs] and Mike Vaughan who were helpful along the way.

“Every year we’ve taken a small step. Four years ago, my first captain Jake Lang kept that locker room as positive as it could be. And I think it kept those freshmen seeing and hearing those positive things. It feels good to see those kids go through the process and get here.”

The three freshmen on that winless team were Brent Doherty, Jonny Friberg and Thomas Reynolds. All three, along with classmates Kyle McCarthy and Hacmoni Cuevas, have been a vital part of keeping the program moving forward and winning the title this season.

“This feels great, I couldn’t be happier for the coaches and the team,” Doherty said. “Coming from where we were earlier in my career to winning the Hock tonight is the best feeling. All the hours of practice paid off and now we’re looking to do as much damage as possible in playoffs.”

It took a defensive stand over the final six minutes of the game for the Rocketeers to hold off Foxboro, who secured a second play finish and a trip to the postseason based on all of the results in the league.

“We didn’t talk or say much about a league title, or talk about the tournament during the season because we want to focus on the process,” Mulkerrins said. “We finally mentioned it the other day because we had to come out and play and we wanted to motivate the guys. The defense down the stretch was great. Jon [Gibbs] does such a great job, isolating guys, getting the matchups. It was kind of like playing chess and he’s freaking good. I have so much respect for him. But hats off to our guys, they played just well enough and I’m so proud of them.”

“I thought our effort was terrific all night,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I thought we really battled and competed. I thought defensively we did a really good job. We came into the game with a plan to deal with Doherty and Friberg. We didn’t want them to beat us, we’re going to try and make other guys step up and make shots and they did. So give credit to North Attleboro, it was a great team win for them.

The Rocketeers led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter but the Warriors fought back to make it a one possession game. North’s Hacmoni Cuevas converted a three point play to put the Rocketeers up 34-25 with 3:51 to play in the third, but Foxboro closed the quarter with a 9-3 run.

After Mark Clagg and Doherty (nine points, three assists) traded three pointers, the Warriors were able to pull within three by shutting down North for the rest of the quarter and both Joe Morrison (nine points) and Teddy Maher connecting from beyond the arc. The Rocketeers led 37-34 heading into the fourth.

That lead didn’t last too long. North’s scoreless streak stretched over two minutes into the final period while Morrison hit a jumper and Andrew Block (seven points, five rebounds, four assists) drove the lane for an easy two to take a 38-37 lead.

While the momentum seemed to be swinging in Foxboro’s favor, suddenly it stopped.

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North broke through on the offensive end, with the inside-out game paying off as Friberg (12 points, 14 rebounds) kicked it out to Cuevas for a three and a 40-38 lead with 5:40 to play.

Foxboro wouldn’t score again until under a minute to play.

“It speaks to the metal toughness of this group,” Mulkerrins said. “Similar to the game at the Dunk against Milford, we were up big, then down big and we could have quit. And this game, same thing. Maybe in years past, this team might have, but I think they finally found out what it means to be a winning team.”

It actually took the Rocketeers two minutes to add onto the lead with Reynolds hitting a pair of key free throws to double the lead with 3:31 to play.

The Warriors had a couple of open looks during the stretch, but were unable to convert.

With just under a minute to play, Friberg took it baseline and somehow managed to reach back underneath the basket and lay it in for a 44-38 lead. Foxboro responded with a putback with 30 seconds to play but Chad Peterson(seven points) iced the game with a free throw as Foxboro missed on the other end.

“I thought down the stretch we got some good looks and we just didn’t make them and that’s just basketball,” Gibbs said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow because at times I thought we executed fine but just didn’t put it in the basket…but that happens some times. At the end of the day, I’m really proud of them. We battled and held them to under 20 points in the second half.

“North did a nice job defensively, they did a lot of things to take us out of our rhythm. Both times we’ve played them this year they made it really difficult for us to score. So give a lot of credit to Sean [Mulkerrins] and credit to those guys on North.”

It was a bit of a slow start for both sides, combing for just five points in the five 5:32 of play. North eventually was able to get into a rhythm and threes from McCarthy and Billy Drummond handed Big Red a 15-9 lead after one.

Foxboro cut the deficit to one (18-17) midway through the second quarter, but North finished the frame with a 9-2 run — a Peterson three, a layup from Doherty, and four straight from Friberg — to take a 27-19 lead into the locker room.

North Attleboro boys basketball (12-7 overall, 9-6 Hockomock) is back in action inside Pickering Gymnasium on Sunday when the Milford Scarlet Hawks come to town. Foxboro (9-9, 8-8) can finish no lower than second in the division, thus clinching a playoff spot. The Warriors will look to improve their record and seeding next ween as they host a February vacation tournament, starting with a game against Randolph.

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Warriors Run Past North Attleboro, Clinch League Title

Foxboro girls basketball
Junior Grace Tamulionis (21) scored 18 points for Foxboro in a big win over North Attleboro in the final league game of the season to help clinch the division title for the Warriors. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – For the past month, Foxboro and North Attleboro have been taking care of business on the court with half an eye on each other’s results. Since the two teams last met on Jan. 20, North went 5-2 (despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern for all seven games) including a five-game win streak entering Friday night. Meanwhile, Foxboro rattled off nine straight wins, eight off those coming in the league.

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Grace Tamulionis scored 11 points, knocking down a trio of three-pointers, and all four of her shots were assisted by Lily Sykes (seven assists). Kristen Bortolotti also got off to a strong start with six of her 12 points in the first.

“It’s what they’ve been doing,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “They’ve been hot for a while. Once they got that consistent third shooter then they present a matchup problem for anyone. I was hoping we could mix and match and keep them uncomfortable but unfortunately they came out and shot the ball very well.”

The lead stretched to as many as 18 in the second quarter, after a Lauren Flahive (six points) jumper, but North started to find the range on offense and slow down the Warriors. Samantha Taggart scored seven of her team-high 12 in the second and assisted on a Caroline Collard (seven points, seven rebounds) jumper that cut the lead to 28-21.

It was as close as the Rocketeers would get for the rest of the night. Hailey Maling drove and kicked out to Riley Collins for a three that regained a double digit lead for the hosts at the break.

“Obviously, we had a great first quarter and we were bound to have a little bit of an offensive letdown in the second, but to be up by 10 going into halftime I was pleased with that,” said Downs. “Just the way the came out and the amount of energy they showed, I knew we were in for a good game.”

Foxboro came out of halftime intent on putting the game away and that is what the Warriors did, using an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 21 points (46-25). Ashley Sampson (game-high 19 points) was the aggressor for the Warriors, scoring seven in the third including a corner three off a Sykes assist and then going coast-to-coast for a layup off a steal. Bortolotti and Tamulionis (18 points) each added four in the quarter.

“In the second quarter we were able to score and defend a little better and keep them disrupted. In the third quarter, we just couldn’t sustain it offensively,” said Herber, whose team trailed 50-32 entering the fourth.

On Monday night against Bridgewater-Raynham, Foxboro had only four players get on the score sheet, but on Friday eight Warriors scored at least two points. That balance made it difficult for North to send help for Emily Schromm on Sampson and the senior got into foul trouble in the third quarter. In the end, Schromm and Collard would both foul out.

“The problem is the third player,” Herber explained. “We can cover two, but the third player is a tough matchup for us. We need to keep our bigs in the game to score on offense but it puts them in a bind on defense.”

Foxboro also had a decisive edge on the glass, despite North’s advantage in height. The Warriors were plus-10 on the boards, which Downs credited to a total team effort.

She said, “That hasn’t been our story all season long…especially against a team that has some height on us…They were all contributing to keeping that ball and getting second and third opportunities.”

Julia Feid scored a traditional three-point play to cut the lead to 19 in the fourth, but Foxboro responded to seal the win and the title. Sampson hit a pair of free throws (two of her six points in the fourth and 13 in the second half) and then assisted on a Maling jumper. Maling then provided her second assist of the game on a kick-out to Tamulionis for a dagger three.

“You can’t win games with two or three girls scoring,” Downs said, “and we have scorers, so we have to make sure that we keep them in the offense and we’re rotating the ball to get different looks from different people so that we’re a hard matchup.”

After clinching its eighth league title and second in the past three seasons, Foxboro (16-2, 14-2) will try to sew up the top seed in Div. 2 South in its end-of-season Warrior Classic beginning with Whitman-Hanson on Monday. North Attleboro (15-5, 13-3) will also try to work on its seeding for Div. 2 South and get revenge for an earlier loss when it travels to Attleboro.

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Wissler Scores Twice as Rocketeers Edge King Philip

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro junior Andrew Wissler (4) scored a pair of goals as the Rocketeers pulled out a one-goal victory at King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – With 1:19 left in the second period, King Philip took possession in its defensive zone and with one pass turned it into a breakaway to tie the game at 2-2. The home team seemed poised to have all the momentum heading into the third until North Attleboro junior Andrew Wissler hustled the Rocketeers back into the lead.

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Erik Clements flicked a puck over the top, just trying to relieve the pressure from the Warriors and clear the zone. KP defensemen were caught up the ice and Wissler flew past them to chase the puck. Sophomore goalie James Lewis was forced to leave his crease to try and play it, but Wissler beat him to it and tapped into the vacated net for his second goal of the night.

The goal provided a huge boost to North, which took momentum and carried it into the third where the Rocketeers added am early power play goal to take control. KP rallied with a late goal and a flurry of chances in the final 90 seconds, but North held on to win 4-3 and moved within one point of the program’s best single season total.

“All-in-all it was a good effort. We were down six guys with the flu and I know they were battling the same thing, so it’s tough to get the guys ready to play when half the team is sick and playing with new players, but I thought they adjusted pretty well,” said North coach Steve Snizek, who highlighted sophomore Kyle Bolgerhaving to move from forward to defense for the game.

North jumped in front inside the opening three minutes. Zach McGowan drove the puck down the right wing and all the way to the edge of the goal before sending a pass into the slot for Wissler to one-time it.

The Rocketeers outshot KP 8-7 in the period, but the Warriors had their chances, including an opportunity for Luke D’Amico stepping up into the rush on a two-on-one with Gavin Maxwell, but his shot was saved by Ryan Warren (17 saves). North’s best chance to double the lead was a chance by Clements from the right circle but Lewis (25 saves) made the stop.

KP tied the game three minutes into the second. Again it was Maxwell with the rush and Warren made a huge pad stop to deny the break only to see the rebound pop out to the stick of Collin Cooke and the junior forward roofed it.

Lewis tried to make the score stand up, stopping three shots (at least) in a huge scrum on the edge of his crease. However, two minutes later, there was nothing he could do to stop Clements. The senior went top shelf with an unstoppable wrister from the circle for a 2-1 lead.

With 2:34 left in the second, the Warriors again bounced back to tie it, despite being outshot 13-6 in the period. Garrett Maxwell picked the perfect outlet pass right on the tape of Jacob Kelly as the senior burst through the neutral zone. Kelly went racing in on Warren and beat the goalie five-hole for a 2-2 tie.

The game was only tied for 1:15 before Wissler showed off his speed and his tenacity to regain the advantage for North Attleboro.

Snizek said, “That was a hell of an effort by Drew Wissler never giving up on the play. That’s the type of player he is; he’s the workhorse of the team and it’s great to see his hard work pay off like that. that definitely gave us momentum going into the third, which was absolutely key.”

The Rocketeers came flying out of the gates in the third and got a power play opportunity. Brendan McHugh worked the puck down to Clements who had a chance blocked in front of Lewis, who had already made four saves in the period, and it caromed out to McGowan. The senior buried his one-time shot into the bottom corner for a 4-2 lead.

Although North had the two-goal edge, the game was far from over. KP continued to press to try and get back into it and Gavin Maxwell had a golden chance in the final minutes when he got behind the defense for a breakaway only to be denied by Warren.

“He’s been lights out again all season long,” said Snizek of Warren, the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. “He was upset that that one trickled in but he’s made 10 beautiful saves to that one and I’ll take that any day of the week.”

The one that got away came with 1:37 remaining. Kelly got free on the right hand side and was able to put a shot on goal as he was falling down. The puck did not have a lot on it but was able to squeeze through the goalie’s pads. The whistle blew with KP looking for a penalty and North assuming it was saved, only for the refs to point to center ice.

The Warriors pulled Lewis for the extra skater and had a series of face-offs in the North end, but could not find the tying goal.

“The momentum had definitely changed to us and they we kind of got away from it a little bit,” said Snizek of the third period. “We started to hang back and second guess ourselves and obviously they capitalized on that.”

North Attleboro (12-3-3, 6-2-1) now has 27 points, one shy of last year’s program-best 28, with two games remaining. The Rocketeers will get a good playoff preview on Saturday with a trip to Medway. King Philip (4-14, 4-5) suffered its third one-goal loss of the season. The Warriors will travel to Norwood on Saturday.

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