The Panthers shot nearly 70% from two-point range, connected on eight three pointers in the first half alone and connected on almost 80% of their free throws, taking a 79-66 win over #13 Oliver Ames.
It took just four minutes for the hosts to create a double-digit lead. Hitting three of their first five three pointer attempts and going a perfect 3/3 on takes to the basket, Whitman-Hanson was up 15-4 halfway through the opening quarter.
The closest Oliver Ames was able to get the rest of the way was six, at 30-24, with 3:45 left to play in the first half.
“They kind of took us out of something we’d hoped we would be able to do, something that we were doing down the stretch,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron of his defense. “Second half of the year we had fallen into that matchup and handed it pretty well…not so much tonight. We tried to withstand the barrage they had early. We were down 10 before we knew what hit us. We ended up staying in that 10-13 point range for an awful long time. We battled even for a good part of it but they had that early lead.”
After going down 10 at the end of the first quarter (23-13), Oliver Ames settled in some in the second quarter. A 7-3 run – helped along by a bucket from Dylan Mahoney (11 points, seven rebounds), a three from Nick Welch (16 points, seven assists), and a layup from Jack Spillane (12 points) – brought the Tigers within two possessions at the midway point of the second quarter.
But Whitman-Hanson responded with a three from Nikko Raftes (27 points) and a basket underneath from Jacob Hanson-Bartlett (11 points, 5 rebounds) to stretch the lead back to double figures. The Tigers finished the first half on a 5-0 run over the final minute – two free throws from Matt Muir (12 points) and a three from Welch – to stay within striking distance (38-31) at the break.
But a slow start to the second half quickly erased Oliver Ames’ chance to get close. A 6-0 run from Whitman-Hanson pushed the lead to 13 before Oliver Ames finally scored in the quarter. Welch hit a three just over two minutes in to make it a 10 point game – an advantage the Panthers held for the majority of the quarter.
It wasn’t until a wild final minute of the third quarter that the game became out of reach. Up 50-40, the Panthers managed an 8-0 run in 60 seconds to close the frame. A layup from Lucas Franklin (13 points), a jumper from Luke Tamulevich (21 points, eight rebounds), a bucket down low from Hanson-Bartlett and two free throws from Raftes made it 58-40 heading into the final quarter.
“We had to come out of ourselves a little bit, gamble a lot and foul and hope for the best,” Byron said. “And the best didn’t happen. They shot really well from the foul line, they never gave us a shot at getting it to six or seven. We could never quite get it there.”
The Tigers were forced into a full court approach. Already in the bonus, Oliver Ames attempted steals off the inbounds but often had to settle for fouls against the Panthers.
Whitman-Hanson didn’t blink – making 18 of their 24 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. The Panthers, who did have four turnovers in the final quarter, made 26/33 of their attempts from the charity stripe.
Throughout the season, Oliver Ames – as many teams do – thrived on small runs that can change the course of a game. They never got that run though, the best being either the 7-3 run to get within six in the second quarter or the 5-0 run to end the first half.
“That’s a credit to [Whitman-Hanson],” Byron said. “Their guard play is good. Lately, we’ve had pretty good success with what we do, with our matchups, to let Welch gamble a little bit and if you make a mistake he makes you play. He probably averaged five or six forced turnovers the second half of the season. But we didn’t get a ton of turnovers tonight because their guard play was solid.”
While Oliver Ames gambled and sent the Panthers to the line, their offense came to live. The Tigers scored 26 points in the final frame, with 19 coming in the final four minutes. Senior Carter Evin (seven rebounds) scored 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter.
“When we settle down and put the film online, I told the kids to watch the last four minutes of the game,” Byron said. “I was so proud of those four minutes as I was of anything we did all year. We did a lot too. There were people questioning if we could handle the jump to the big side [of the Hock]. And our non-league schedule became very difficult. People simply don’t want to play Hockomock teams. We’re a Division 2 team in name only, we’re looked at as D1 school because that’s what we play. We ended up with more Division 1 schools on the non-league schedule and the kids withstood the whole thing. They did a great job, it was a fun group that was very coachable.”
Oliver Ames boys basketball finishes the season 13-11.
Oliver Ames not only found the back of the net often, but scored at those important times as well, cruising to a 5-2 win over ninth-seeded Nauset.
The Tigers, seeded eighth, got its first goal less than three minutes into the game to set the tone. OA added its second less than two minutes after Nauset tied the game, scored its third on the power play, its fourth less than a minute after its third and the final goal under two minutes after Nauset cut the deficit to two.
“I think if we establish our forecheck, we move our feet and crash the net good things happen,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “We didn’t have any spectacular highlight goals tonight but that’s how we can move forward in the tournament, getting the tough ones.”
Oliver Ames set the tone with its very first shot of the game. Senior Jack Maloney found Brett Williams on a breakout pass and the sophomore skated to the center of the ice and unleashed a slap shot between a pair of defensemen that found the back of the net. Oliver Ames led just 2:31 into the contest.
Nauset leveled the game just over midway through the period, taking advantage of a one-on-one opportunity. Nauset’s Devin Roderick went into the offensive zone with just one defenseman in his way and was able to slide the puck just inside the post to tie the game.
But in the all important next couple of minutes, Oliver Ames went back up. Sophomore Cullen Gallagher collected a loose puck in the offensive zone, and with no pressure on his back, turned and fired a puck towards goal. With junior Rory Madden providing a screen in front, the puck went straight in.
Just 1:42 after the Warriors tied the game, Oliver Ames took the lead back.
“After that first goal, we relaxed a little bit,” Bertoni said. “The first period was an OK period for us, I didn’t think we forechecked as hard as we should have. We didn’t really get that many offensive chances, we got a couple of bounces which you need in the tournament.”
While Oliver Ames had two goals, Nauset brought a very physical approach to the game. Although that might have swayed other opponents, Oliver Ames has experience in that situation.
“We’re used to it,” Bertoni said. “The Hockomock League is very physical with Franklin, Canton, North, Mansfield, right down the line. We’re not the strongest team, we’re small but we can skate.”
Oliver Ames once again came up with a timely goal, scoring the all important next goal less than three minutes into the second period. Just 89 seconds into the second period, the Warriors were whistled for interference to put the Tigers on the power play. OA passed the puck around the offensive zone before junior forward Eric LeBlanc – patrolling the blue line during the power play – stepped into a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.
And less than a minute after that, the Tigers tacked on another goal. With the majority of players on the left side, a cross ice pass found junior Michael Nikiciuk along breaking into the offensive zone. With an odd-man rush, Nikiciuk centered his pass for an easy one time tap in from Madden to make it 4-1 with 11:29 to play in the second period.
“We changed our personnel on the player play for the last couple of games so it was good to see shots from the point,” Bertoni said. “We’re not the most skilled team but when we get shots from the point, good things happen…we love garbage goals. We want to get traffic out in front and we had two of those tonight.
“I thought our second period was very good.”
The Tigers took a penalty while on the power play to make it 4-on-4 and the Warriors were able to capitalize. As Oliver Ames’ defense inched forward, a turnover led to Nauset racing into the attacking zone. After beating one man, Nauset’s Nick Hull went in alone and tucked the puck in to make it 4-2.
But as they had done all game, Oliver Ames had a timely answer. Just 90 seconds later, Oliver Ames once again cashed in from a shot from distance. Sophomore Matt McCormack took a pass from classmate Collin Bourne and fired a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that found the back of the net.
Oliver Ames had a 24-14 lead advantage in shots.
The Tigers (14-6-1) await the winner of #1 Scituate and #16 Dedham on Wednesday. Oliver Ames hockey will play the winner at Gallo Arena in Bourne on Saturday at 12:30.
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.
Just like the first meeting, his team had a 12 point lead with the fourth quarter set to begin. In the first game, Taunton roared back to erase that deficit and get the win.
Not this time around.
Oliver Ames kept its lead throughout the final period, walking away with a 73-61 win and a berth in the Division 2 State Tournament. It marks the eighth straight year under Byron that the Tigers are postseason bound.
OA broke the game open with a big third quarter. After taking a one-point lead (39-38) into the locker room at halftime, the visitors doubled up Taunton with a 22-11 third quarter.
“They shot very, very well in the first half — and from deep,” Byron said. “Even if you tell the kids they can shoot from very deep, the kids take some time to adjust. I thought we did a better job on that in the second half, I thought cut down on the penetration more and when we did that, the kick outs weren’t there as much.”
Taunton hit an impressive nine three pointers (of 13 total field goals made) in the first half but were limited to just four in the second half. Taunton went just 1/7 from deep in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Oliver Ames was an efficient 9/14 from the floor, getting all of its offense from its starting lineup.
Nick Welch (19 points, four assists) hit a layup, Carter Evin (16 points, six rebounds), Dylan Mahoney (17 points, seven rebounds) converted in the post and Jack Spillane (19 points, four rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a put back to put Taunton up 48-41.
“We didn’t want to look at it as having to get one out of five games left, we wanted to look at it just one game at a time,” Welch said of earning the playoff berth. “We didn’t get it Friday against Attleboro so we were extra motivated to get it tonight. It was a good win against a good team.
Another three point play from Evin — who found a home in the post against Taunton’s defense — a three from Welch, two more from Evin, a trifecta from Spillane and suddenly Oliver Ames had a 59-45 lead late in the third quarter.
“We wanted to play inside-out,” Byron said. “I thought Carter and Dylan did some good stuff on the block. And Nick’s been terrific…the whole year but specifically the second half of the season.
“[Taunton] plays small. We have chase guys on the perimeter on the defensive end and maybe that’s a disadvantage for us but we’re not particularly big. We really have five perimeter guys out there. Carter’s a little bit bigger but he’s really just a stretched out three, Mahoney the same thing. We wanted to play inside out though so it helped with our size.”
The visitors deployed a press coming out of halftime. Although it didn’t force any turnovers, it wasn’t designed to. Instead, it was aimed to slowing Taunton down.
“That’s what it’s for,” Byron said. “We didn’t want them screaming up and down the court. It’s designed to keep the game at a pace that we’re comfortable in. If we can get a trap on the side and get a turnover, it’s a bonus.”
Oliver Ames led 61-49 going into the fourth quarter.
“I think it was almost the same lead. We talked about how we had been here before but we weren’t going to do what we did the last time,” Welch said. “We just took that message and went out and got it done. They can get hot quickly so we had to contain the three point line and we wanted to keep the lead at 10.
“All five of our starters can hit the three. Then Carter and Dylan can get down low, getting offensive rebounds. It distracts the defense a little, my man has to help, Jack’s man has to help so it gives us an extra step to get the shots off.”
Taunton cut the deficit to nine early in the fourth quarter on a three from Dimitri Barbosa and then to eight on a free throw from freshman Dante Law (19 points, nine rebounds) but that would be as close as the home side would get.
Evin pushed it back to 10 with a nice move in the post and OA’s defense kept Taunton off the board for three minutes. A three from Spillane extended the lead to 13 with 3:21 to play only for Taunton’s Tommy MacLean (nine points, six rebounds, six assists) to answer with a three of his own.
“You have to get to Mahoney, you have to get to Spillane, you have to get to them all…and we didn’t,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And then we came down the other end and we panicked. We were looking for the five point shot. It was not wise basketball for us on either end of the floor.
“[The nine three pointers in the first half] was fools gold. You’re not going to win the game from the three point line, I don’t care who you are. We got seduced by that and started taking the quick early threes rather than working it.
Oliver Ames’ defense was able to limit Taunton to 23 points in the second half after surrendering 38 to the hosts in the opening half.
“We’ve had good games with Taunton but we haven’t beaten them in the last couple of years,” Byron said. “We had the buzzer beater [two years ago], the last one was a one possession game at the end. We didn’t do much right in the fourth quarter the first game. It was remarkably similar tonight. It was essentially the same difference going into the fourth quarter. It was an easier sell to tell the kids to keep the focus because Taunton can score in bunches.”
Sophomore Luis Vendrell added 19 points for Taunton while Barbosa finished with eight.
Oliver Ames boys basketball (11-8 overall, 9-6) will try to improve its record for tournament seeding on Friday with a visit to Kelley-Rex champion Mansfield Hornets. Taunton (13-7, 8-7) looks to bounce back with a trip to Attleboro on the same night.
The Warriors took the lead less than three minutes into the game but that seemed to spark Oliver Ames. The Tigers responded with an onslaught of offensive pressure, including three great goal scoring chances in a three minute space. OA finally broke through to score back to back goals in less than a minute to take the lead.
“We responded very well,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “There’s only been about three games which we’ve come out on the attack. We’re a little bit of a slow team to get going but we pick it up as the game goes on.”
KP freshman Kyle Gray scored his first career goal 2:34 into the game to give the Warriors the lead. After an extended possession in the offensive zone, Gray took control along the blue line and wristed a shot through traffic that found its way into the back of the net.
But from that point on, it would be all Oliver Ames in the period.
With 10:45 to go in the opening period, Brett Williams circled behind the net before finding Eric LeBlanc open in front for he net but his point blank shot was turned aside by KP junior goalie Shane Frommer (44 saves).
With 9:15 to play, sophomore James Beatty took advantage of a miscue at the blue line by KP and race in along on goal but couldn’t get his shot past Frommer.
With 8:10 left, Max Ward hit Michael Nikiciuk for a shot from the blue line that Frommer got a piece of. Frommer scrambled and was able to keep the puck from crossing with the help of senior defenseman Jeremy Smith.
But on the ensuing face-off, Oliver Ames finally did cash in. Senior defenseman Jack Maloney ripped a shot that was saved, Beatty had his rebound shot saved but then was able to tuck his own rebound into the net to tie the game with 8:02 to play.
The Tigers kept the pressure up, taking the lead less than a minute later. With Oliver Ames cycling through the offensive zone, the puck popped free into the middle of the ice. OA senior Michael Ziino pounced on it and fired a wrist shot that found its way under Frommer’s arm to make it 2-1.
The momentum carried into the second period and it looked like Oliver Ames put the game to bed early in the middle fame.
Just 49 seconds into the second, Oliver Ames made it 3-1. Williams tracked down a puck in the offensive end and fired a perfect pass across the crease to an open Beatty. Beatty stepped around the goalie and tucked it home for a quick 3-1 lead.
The Tigers went on the power play following a late hit on the goal and took less than a minute to add another goal. Senior Jared Costello tracked the puck down off the side boards and took it right to goal, stuffing it in at the near post for a 4-1 lead.
“We had five or six goal scorers last game against Foxboro and then had four tonight so that’s nice to see,” Bertoni said. “That was Michael Ziino’s first start of the year, we had one of our top guys out for the first period and Michael stepped up. James Beatty has been a third line guy, he got to play on the second line today and scored two goals. We’ve been waiting for him because he’s got the skill. It was nice to see him get two big goals too.
“Our forecheck was very good tonight and we generated a lot of shots. We’re creating a lot of turnovers behind the goal line. The last three games we’ve had over 35 shots in each game. The theme this year has been finishing. The kids say it all the time, it’s just bearing down and having a net-front presence and making sure you’re buying the puck. The kids had a good response.”
Frommer denied Oliver Ames a fifth goal near the midway point of the period when LeBlanc had his breakaway chance turned aside. A minute later, KP went on the power play and took advantage.
Gavin Maxwell won a face-off in the offensive zone and junior Collin Cooke connected on a cross ice pass to find Jeremy Smith at the blue line. The senior took a step in and fired a rocket top shelf to cut the deficit to two with 7:36 left in the period.
After Walsh made a point black stop on a shot from Gavin Maxwell right in front with 44 seconds to go, Maxwell was able to find the back of the net with 19 seconds to play. The junior stepped in front of a clearance attempt and roofed his shot to make it 4-3 heading into the third period.
But a penalty just before the end of the second meant KP started the third in a four on four situation and then, after 90 seconds, went a man down.
The Warriors were able to fight off the penalty but Oliver Ames found the back of the net within a minute after going back to full strength. The puck popped free to Nikiciuk at the blue line and he fired through traffic to find the back of the net, making it 5-3.
King Philip picked up back to back penalties shortly after, first a minor for tripping and then a four minute penalty for boarding, halting any thought of a comeback.
OA put the game out of reach on the power play with 6:54 to go when Costello skated towards the center of the ice near the blue line and wristing a shot through a screen for the Tigers’ sixth goal.
“We had a variety of scoring, we had at least one power play goal,” Bertoni said. “We’ve been practicing on just taking the puck to the net, net drives in practice and it showed tonight. It’s good to see them sacrifice and go to the net, and they might get punished, but they might get a goal out of it.
“The players deserve all the credit but as coaches it’s nice to see when they run the system. One through three, all lines, it just shows when you establish a forecheck and stick to the system good things happen.”
King Philip added the final goal of the game with just over two minutes to play on the power play. Smith played catch with Garrett Maxwell on the blue line before the sophomore fired a shot on target. Walsh turned it aside but KP Freshman Chris Daniels was there for the tap in for his first career goal.
“You have to give OA credit, they came out and wanted it a little bit more,” said KP head coach Paul Carlow. “They went to a three man forecheck, put the pressure on us and definitely took the game over there for a stretch. We got back in the game at the end of the second but then we took a penalty. We start the third shorthanded, and even though they didn’t score on it, it burns your guys out. Then we took another penalty and that pretty much did it.”
Oliver Ames hockey (9-4-1 overall, 5-2-1 league) will take on North Attleboro in a non-league D2 showdown on Monday at 4:30 at Asiaf. King Philip (3-12, 3-5) will be the road team in a clash with Foxboro at the Foxboro Sports Center on Wednesday.