Warriors Win Rubber Match With North, Head to Final

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro junior Ashley Sampson (5) drives to the basket against North Attleboro in the Div. 2 South semifinal at Massasoit Community College. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro won the first meeting with Foxboro this season, thanks in part to a huge fourth quarter by senior Ashley Ahern. With Ahern out injured for the second meeting, Foxboro ran over the Rocketeers and clinched the Davenport title with a 26-point victory.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

On Monday night at Massasoit Community College, the teams met for the third time to not only decide the season series but also to see which team would represent the Hockomock in Saturday’s Div. 2 South final.

With Ahern in uniform for the introductions, but not able to play, North came in with the plan of slowing the game down, turning it into a half-court battle, playing physical defense, and trying to take advantage of its edge in size in the post. The game plan worked perfectly, but Foxboro showed that it had some grit to go along with its ability to put points on the board.

Behind a game-high 20 points from league MVP Ashley Sampson and 17 from fellow junior Lily Sykes, Foxboro defended, crashed the boards, and found just enough offense to pull out a 49-39 victory that earns the Warriors a second trip to the South final in three seasons.

“We did exactly what we needed to do to beat that team,” admitted North Attleboro coach Derek Herber from the first row of the bleachers following the game. “You can’t let them run, you can’t let them shoot all those shots…Through three quarters we did what we needed to do; we just needed a little more offense to get to that spot.”

Foxboro coach Lisa Downs recognized the difficulty of playing an opponent for the third time and credited her team for finding a way to win.

“At this point, jitters are normal and we’re in a different gym, some of these girls have been here and some have not, so we’ll take a ‘W’ any day,” she said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but they played with heart.”

The first quarter was not pretty, but the Warriors had a lead and it felt like they were ready to pull away as they did on their home court three weeks ago. Sampson and Sykes split the scoring in the first, each with six points, but Foxboro lacked the typical frenetic pace that it usually plays at.

North was slowing things down and shots were not falling, which made it difficult to get into the full-court press the Warriors prefer. Sykes opened the second with a drive that extended the lead to eight, but it was the only made field goal by the Warriors in the quarter.

The Rocketeers climbed back into the game with Julia Feid (six points) scoring on a drive and Samantha Taggart drilling a three (her only basket of the game) to cut the lead to four. Emily Haskell gave North a big lift right before the break with a steal and a layup and then a runner on the baseline. The junior’s only four points of the game made it 20-17 at the break.

“I think we were beating ourselves to be honest with you,” said Downs. “We were overthinking our shots because we had some wide open looks and we were just thinking too much instead of releasing the ball. We were only up because of our defense.”

When asked about the sloppiness of the first half, Herber insisted, “Part of the sloppiness is that everything we do, they know, and everything they do, I know, so the sloppiness is playing a third game against a team you’ve seen in a high stakes game.”

In the third quarter, senior forward Caroline Collard started to get going for North, scoring six of her team-high 10 points. Liz Morehouse added three of her five points, including a turn around jumper from the left block. After Feid pulled up for a jumper and Collard scored off an Emily Schromm inbound pass, North was within one at 29-28.

Foxboro was still struggling to find the range and in desperate need of a spark. Sykes stepped up and drilled a three off a Sampson assist to extend the lead to four and then Sampson was able to beat Feid in the post for a layup to give Foxboro a six-point edge heading to the fourth.

“When the shots weren’t falling, we were getting into our own heads, so we just had to settle down,” said Sampson of the Warriors struggles on the offensive end of the floor. “In the third quarter, Lily hit some huge shots and I think once she did that it made everyone more confident.”

Things started to get going for Foxboro in the fourth quarter. Grace Tamulionis opened the quarter with a jumper that Feid answered with a drive, but then Sampson drove and kicked it out to Riley Collins for a straightaway three (her only point of the night) and Foxboro finally had some separation.

“At this point in the season, 22 games in, we’re still telling them to shoot with confidence,” said Downs. “Grace finally warmed up a little bit in the second half, which was huge, and Ashley, so we stepped up when we had to step up and played with grit.”

Tamulionis had six of her seven points in the fourth and Sampson added six as well. North did not give up with Schromm knocking down a jumper and driving the length of the floor for a layup plus the foul. She missed the free throw but grabbed her own rebound with North down 44-38.

The Rocketeers had only more chance to get closer but a long three by Feid was halfway down and popped out and Tamulionis clinched it with an offensive rebound and score on a missed free throw on the other end.

“I’m so proud of the way the girls played,” said Herber. “We held them down as best we could to get to that point. We tried to muck it up as best we could and slow it down and take advantage of our post players.”

When asked about his senior class and what they have brought to the program, Herber could not hide his emotions. He said, “Every year we try to focus on our seniors, but these kids have been with our program as long as I’ve been here, for three years, and they’re just great kids. I just wish better for them today.”

For Sampson and the Warriors the win means a return to Brockton High where the Warriors played eventual state champion Duxbury in 2015. Sampson said, “It’s really exciting. We have an opportunity to win the South final, so it’s just really cool.

“It’s definitely tough. They beat us the first time and we beat them last time by 20-something, so they were out for blood. They wanted it and so did we. It was tough but we had to be mentally prepared for it.”

Foxboro (21-2) will face No. 7 Westwood in the Div. 2 South final on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Brockton High.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Rocketeers Fall To Westwood Despite Strong Effort

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro’s William Yeomans carries the puck past a Westwood defenseman. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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BROCKTON, Mass. – North Attleboro held the advantage in nearly every offensive category except for the most important one: the score.

The Rocketeers dominated in terms of attacking zone time, shots on goal and scoring opportunities but Westwood was opportunistic, capitalizing on its chances to snatch a 4-1 win over Big Red.

“I can honestly say I think we were the better team today,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “The score didn’t reflect that, they got the bounces and we didn’t. I thought we carried the play from start to finish. I’m very proud of my guys, I can’t ask for anything more from what they gave me today.”

Though no one knew it yet, the first sequence of the game was an example of how the game would play out. North had a good chance just a minute into the game when Brendan McHugh ripped a shot and Anthony Zammiello had a chance on the rebound but it slid just wide.

And on the other end, in Westwood’s first trip into the attacking zone, a defensive miscue gave the Wolverines a golden chance that Trevor Fahey buried to make it 1-0 just 75 seconds into the game.

North responded well though, finding the equalizer less than two minutes later. Junior Hunter Sarro forced a turnover in the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot from the right circle to tie the game.

The level score was short lived as the Wolverines pounced on another North defensive miscue just three minutes later. A defenseman slipped with a Westwood skater at his feet, forcing the puck free in the defensive zone. Westwood’s Sam Murphy jumped onto it just before it cleared the blue line and fired one top shelf to make it 2-1.

The momentum completely shifted to Big Red in the middle frame. The Rocketeers peppered Westwood goalie Justin Anderson with 14 shots in the period but couldn’t get one by him.

Drew Wissler had the first chance less than a minute in after blocking a clearance attempt but his wrist shot was gloved down.

North Attleboro went on the power play and Zach McGowan had a chance but his shot was blocked by a defenseman.

With eight minutes to play, Zammiello knocked down a clearance from Westwood and unleashed a shot but his tough angle bid was saved.

The Rocketeers’ first line had a good chance with under four minutes to play as Wissler connected with McGowan, who shoveled along a pass to Erik Clements as they entered the zone. Clements got off a shot but it sailed wide of the target.

“We had a gameplay, we wanted to get on them early and attack, attack attack,” Snizek said “We didn’t want to be afraid to lose. The kids held up their end of the bargain, it was just unfortunate with the outcome. I thought it was by far our best season in my eight years here.”

Before North Attleboro could keep the momentum going in the third period, the Wolverines doubled their lead just three minutes into the final stanza. Defenseman Mark Horsfall tossed a shot from the blue line that Timmy Dalton got a piece of. The puck easily found its away in the net as North goalie Ryan Warren was knocked to the ground.

No penalty was called.

“North Attleboro came out and they flew, they’ve got kids that can really fly,” said Westwood coach Mike Welby. “[McGowan], [Clements], even [Wissler], they put a lot of pressure on us. We were surprised by how things went in the second period. But we were very fortunate to come out there in the third and grab the momentum back. We got a pretty opportunistic third goal and then the fourth goal sealed it.”

The Rocketeers had a couple of chances as time ticked away in the third but couldn’t beat Anderson.

Westwood iced the game when Tom Keith raced up the far boards, made a nice move past a defenseman and was able to tuck his chance in to make it 4-1 with 7:58 to play.

Sarro had a nice chance with five minutes to play but Anderson made the save without giving up a rebound and then with a minute to play, McGowan made a nice move to get in close but had his bid turned aside.

“Their goalie played phenomenal, he gobbled everything up,” Snizek said. “It happens, its unfortunate but it happens. We were snakebitten today. No dirty goal chances, which we try to get. They capitalized on the mistakes and thats what good teams do.”

North Attleboro hockey finished with a 29-22 advantage in shots. The Rocketeers finished the season 14-4-4.

“I’m so proud of my seniors,” Snizek said. “Captains and the rest of the senior class…the leadership this year was unbelievable. It was the best I’ve seen in my tenure. They picked everybody up when anyone was down.”

North Slays Dragons With Fourth Quarter Comeback

North Attleboro girls basketball
North Attleboro sophomore Julia Feid (20) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter against Duxbury in the Div. 2 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Trailing by 11 points with eight minutes remaining is a difficult hole to dig out of, particularly when you have only managed 22 points in the first 24 minutes of the game, including just five points in the third.

Even facing tough odds, the experienced Rocketeers started the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s Div. 2 South quarterfinal against Duxbury in the Ken Pickering Gym believing they could win.

“We came in really confident and we all knew in the back of our minds that we were going to get this game,” said senior guard Samantha Taggart, who scored a team-high 16 points. “We played them two years ago, and got destroyed, and it was really important to avenge a loss like that and to get back to the semifinals.”

Not only did North have its best offensive output of the night in the fourth quarter with 14 points, the Rocketeers also held Duxbury scoreless, tossing a shutout in the fourth to pull off an epic comeback and earn a 36-33 victory.

“I didn’t know it was a shutout until the end of the game,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “That just talks about our senior leadership. They’ve been a great group of kids who knew from the beginning who they were. They were going to have to outwork teams and today they did that.”

The quarter started with North trailing 33-22. Caroline Collard (10 points, 11 rebounds) knocked down a jumper off a Taggart assist to get things started. North put the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Julia Feid to create and she drew a foul and made one of two at the line to cut the lead to eight points.

The second free throw bounced away and was chased down by Liz Morehouse, who could not get her shot to fall. Collard snagged another offensive board and swung the ball back to Feid for a straightaway three that got the crowd starting to believe a comeback was possible with 6:07 left to play.

Emily Haskell brought North within three points with a long jumper on the far side and suddenly the whole atmosphere in the building was changed. North fans were fired up and it only got louder when Taggart took the ball the length of the court for a layup that made it 33-32 inside the final two minutes. Collard grabbed her own miss, got fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws for North’s first lead since it was 10-8 in the first quarter.

On the other end, Collard blocked a pair of shots, her third and fourth of the night, and grabbed the defensive board to get North back the ball. Taggart was fouled and hit both her shots from the line to make it 36-33.

On Duxbury’s final possession, the Dragons continued to struggle finding a shot. Lill Foote was forced to throw up a fall away that was rebounded by Morehouse and set off raucous celebrations on the North bench.

“They played some great defense, we just had to play better offense for one quarter and that’s what we did,” said Herber.

Taggart added, “Our morale was really down in the third quarter because they went on a run. We talked about how we had to step it up on defense and we did exactly that. Everything just clicked together.

“I don’t think we’ve held anyone scoreless, but we’ve come close. I think this was the best defensive stand of the season and in such a big game too.”

North got off to a decent start offensively against the tall, physical Duxbury defense. Taggart scored eight of North’s 10 points in the first and the Rocketeers trailed by just two. Collard scored four points in the second and North continued to hang around, trailing by just four heading into halftime, 21-17.

“That whole first half, Sam kept us in it and gave us opportunities to be in this game,” said Herber. “We’re not a bunch of superstars. We’re going to fight through as best we can.”

Things changed in the third, as Duxbury started to get into a rhythm by getting the ball inside to senior forward Nicole Callander, who scored eight of her team-high 11 points in the quarter. Meanwhile, North got a three from Feid (seven points) and a drive by Taggart.

The Rocketeers were down but not out. North showed the tenacity that has allowed it to go 8-4 since an injury ended the season for senior Ashley Ahern, who was the team’s leading scorer.

“With Ashley, we’re a smaller team but a much faster team,” said Taggart. “Now that Ashley is out and Liz Morehouse is starting, we’re a taller team so it changes that whole aspect of the game, but we still work together. It’s a new style but we’re coming together and making it work.”

Taggart reflected on her final game at the Pickering Gym. She said, “It would have been heartbreaking if we had lost, but to come back from being down makes it that much better.”

Herber could not contain his excitement after the game. He said, “These kids are always fighting. We’re the smallest team then we’re the team that can’t shoot then we lose Ashley and we’re down 11 to Duxbury…I’m so happy that I’m just babbling on.

“Now we get another shot at the semifinal; not many kids can say they’ve been to the semifinal twice in a career.”

North Attleboro (18-6) will face top seed Foxboro in the Div. 2 South semifinal on Monday at 5:30 at Massasoit Community College. The teams split two meetings during the regular season.

McHugh Lifts North Attleboro In Double Overtime

North Attleboro hockey
North Attleboro’s Erik Clements (left) joins the celebration following the game-winning goal in double overtime. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
BOURNE, Mass. – It’s not often you get a second chance in a playoff game, let alone one that reaches 3-on-3 double overtime.

But North Attleboro sophomore Brendan McHugh battled his way to a second opportunity and didn’t let this one past.

Just seconds after the defenseman had his breakaway turned aside, he tracked the puck down in the corner, got around an opponent and muscled his way to the game-winning goal on the doorstep to hand the fifth-seeded Rocketeers a 2-1 win over 12th-seeded Plymouth North.

“I have pretty awful hands and I came in on a breakaway and I had no idea what to do,” admitted McHugh. “I tried to put it five hole but it didn’t work. I picked it up in the corner and they were kind of off me.

“We play a lot of 3-on-3 at practice so after I beat the first guy, I stuffed it in and then just kept pushing as hard as I could and I saw it go in.”

With the win, North Attleboro advances to the MIAA Division 2 South Sectional Quarterfinals to take on the winner of Westwood and Plymouth South.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It takes a lot of character, a lot of poise, a lot of teamwork really,” said North Attleboro head coach Steve Snizek. “It’s about knowing your limitations and my guys, they did. They weren’t going to try to overextend themselves when they didn’t have a lot left in the tank. It takes a tremendous amount of self-awareness.

“It’s about smart, unselfish hockey. [Plymouth North] played a great game, they have a hell of a team over there. We were lucky to get the bounces when we needed it.”

The teams were knotted 1-1 after 45 minutes of play, sending the teams into a first overtime period played 4-on-4. While the Rocketeers had a couple of offensive zone trips early, the six-minute span really belonged to the Panthers.

But for every shot, North Attleboro goalie sophomore Ryan Warren had an answer. He registered seven of his 26 saves in that frame to keep Big Red level. The Panthers also had a chance on a rebound but when the puck was chipped across the goal line, North defenseman Will Yeomans knocked it away over the top of the goal.

“I thought our goalie kept in it as usual,” Snizek said. “He was definitely player of the game in mind. They came out strong in that first overtime period and he handled it. He played his angles very well and gobbled everything up, which is what he usually does.”

North Attleboro went on the power play just over a minute into the second overtime period, playing with a 4-on-3 advantage. The Rocketeers nearly cashed in right away but Yeomans had his close range big go over the bar.

After a scoreless first period – a frame that saw the Rocketeers dominate offensive zone time but register just two shots on goal – Big Red was able to break through late in the second period.

Junior Jason McNeany dished the puck back to senior Vincent Zammiello at the blue line. The defenseman took a stride towards goal and unleashed a wrist shot. With plenty of traffic in front, the puck found its way through and looked to take a slight deflection off a Plymouth North player before finding the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Plymouth North found the equalizer right around the same point in the final period. After a faceoff, the puck was played in front before taking a weird bounce with the Panthers’ Brian Kingsbury putting it in the back of the net late in the third.

The two teams played nearly 10 minutes of extra hockey at either 4-on-4 or 3-on-3.

“It shows how important it is for other guys to step up,” McHugh said. “It’s a full team effort every game, you can’t rely on just one line. Everyone has to pick up the slack and work together.”

“At the end when we got the goal, I just wanted to get the freshest legs we had out there,” Snizek said. “We had so many guys that are gassed so we were trying to play everybody. We’ve have some depth so it paid off.”

North Attleboro (14-3-4) will play either #4 Westwood or #13 Plymouth South on Saturday at 2:00 at Asiaf Arena in Brockton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hockomock Girls Basketball State Tournament Preview

State Tournament Preview
Attleboro’s Sarah Deyo (32) and Mansfield’s Meg Hill (31) could meet for a third time in the second round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Six girls’ basketball teams will begin their quests for a state championship when the state tournament begins this week. League champions Mansfield (Div. 1 South) and Foxboro (Div. 2 South) both earned the top seed in their respective brackets, but neither will have an easy road with league rivals like Attleboro, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro posing major threats to bringing home a trophy. Milford will also represent the league as the lone Hock team in Div. 2 Central.

As usual, Div. 1 South is a loaded bracket with some of the top programs in the state, including defending state champion Bishop Feehan and perennial powers Braintree and Newton North. Mansfield (18-2) earned the top seed in a coin flip with the Shamrocks, who beat the Hornets in an exclusion game during the regular season. More important than the seed, Mansfield will now avoid the Shamrocks, the Wamps, and the Tigers until the South final.

Led by senior guard Jen Peel and junior center Meg Hill, the Hornets like to slow the pace down and focus on strong defense, which held teams to a league-best 38.0 points per game. Mansfield is young this season, but deep and versatile and head coach Mike Redding’s squad should match up well against the teams on its side of the bracket, including potential semifinal opponents Wellesley or Marshfield (which Mansfield beat 52-47 in December).

In order for the Hornets to get to the semifinals, they may have to go through Kelley-Rex rival Attleboro (15-7), which claimed the No. 8 seed and will host Brockton (Attleboro beat the Boxers 63-55 in December). The Bombardiers have scuffled down the stretch, losing seven of its final 14 games of the regular season, but closed it out by putting 94 points up on Durfee in the season finale.

With seniors Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan, Attleboro has a potent inside-out combo and has been one of the top offensive teams in the league this year, averaging a league-best 61.4 points per game. The issue for the Bombardiers will be trying to slow down Jen Peel and Mansfield in the quarterfinal, if they can get past a dangerous Brockton team in Tuesday’s playoff opener. Attleboro struggled in two losses to Mansfield in the regular season, but will be hoping third time is the charm to set up a potential rematch with Wellesley, which knocked the Bombardiers out of last year’s tournament.

Foxboro (18-2) has been on fire to close out the season, winning 12 in a row entering the playoffs, including a 20-point win over North Attleboro to claim the league title and an impressive overtime win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the end-of-season tournament. The Warriors will be led by league MVP Ashley Sampson, who scored 31 in that win over L-S and nailed a three-pointer that forced OT, but a strong supporting cast includes Lily Sykes and Grace Tamulionis. The scary part is that all three are juniors and will be back next winter as well.

The Warriors will not have an easy path in Div. 2 South, which is another loaded bracket, and will have to face one of the two finalists from 2016, either Hingham or Oliver Ames, in the quarterfinal and could potentially face the Rocketeers for a third time in the semifinal. Westwood, Nauset, and Falmouth, which knocked Foxboro out of the tournament last year, could wait in the sectional final.

Oliver Ames (13-7), the defending Div. 2 South champ, has had an up and down first season in the Kelley-Rex but managed to claim second in the division and is a sleeper to retain its South title. The Tigers will have a very difficult road to try and repeat with a trip to last year’s South finalist Hingham waiting in the first round and a potential meeting with Foxboro looming in the quarterfinal (the Warriors won the league meeting between the teams 51-35).

Kayla Raymond will be the focus of all of OA’s opponents, but trying to slow down the junior forward is easier said than done. If the Tigers can get support for Raymond from senior Niyera Mitchell and find consistent outside shooting, then OA will be a tough matchup. Losing sophomore guard Sadie Homer during the season and senior Francesca Calabraro prior to it has made things tougher but no one will take head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook’s team lightly.

North Attleboro (16-6) is another sleeper in Div. 2 South. Last year, the Rocketeers were knocked out in the first round by OA on a last second Raymond basket and could have made a similar run to the Tigers if they had made it through. This year, North comes in with six losses, but only one to a team in Div. 2 and that was the league final against Foxboro. Despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern to injury, North earned an impressive come from behind win against Attleboro in the final week and has the potential to make a deep run this year.

The Rocketeers are loaded with experienced seniors, including forward Caroline Collard and guards Samantha Taggart and Emily Schromm, who have shown the ability to win close games against good teams this season. North beat Foxboro in the first meeting, beat Oliver Ames by one, and has also beaten potential tourney opponents Hingham and Westwood this year. North faces Madison Park to start and likely will face Duxbury in the quarterfinal to try and get a rubber match with Foxboro in the semifinal.

Milford (10-10) qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2012 and has shown immense progress in head coach T.J. Dolliver’s second season in charge. But, the Hawks have also struggled down the stretch, albeit against a tough stretch of league opponents including North Attleboro and Foxboro twice, OA, and Attleboro. The Hawks will be in Div. 2 Central and will likely face Marlboro in the playoff opener, which is a team similar to the Hawks that shoots a lot of threes and does not have a true post presence.

The Hawks will be counting on a big game from junior guard Kate Irwin, who has been among the league’s top scorers this season, but Milford has a lot of versatile players that can cause teams problems on the perimeter and in the paint, including senior Nicole Dahlgren. If the Hawks do get through the first round, then they will travel to No. 3 seed Groton-Dunstable and could face a couple of Eastern Mass. transplants in Hopkinton and Medfield.

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.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.