Hornets Make It Clean Sweep of Attleboro to Advance

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield senior guard Jen Peel scored the Hornets final eight points of the night to hold off Attleboro and advance to the Div. 1 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – As the final seconds ticked off and Attleboro sealed its first round win against Brockton on Tuesday night, the Attleboro student section started a “We want Mansfield” chant, directed at the Hornets who had come to watch the game as a team. After two losses to the Hornets in the regular season, the Bombardiers believed that the third time would be the charm.

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After three quarters of Thursday’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal in the Albertini Gym, it looked like Attleboro may just pull off the upset of the league champion and top seed. That was when Mansfield senior guard Jen Peelstarted to get going.

Peel scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth, Mansfield’s final eight points of the game, and helped the Hornets gut out a 33-31 victory, earn a three-game sweep of the season series, and advance to the South final for the third season in a row.

“It’s always tougher the third time around,” said Mansfield coach Mike Redding. “It’s funny, 33-31 and you say what an ugly game, but it was intense, it was well-played, just no easy shots. We each took each other’s best players away. I told them at one point that a four- or five-point lead is like a 15-point lead, if you get a two-possession lead you can win.”

With the Hornets trailing by three to start the fourth, Peel drew the defense and found an open Ann Maher for her second three of the game to tie it. On the next possession, Meg Hill tracked down the rebound of a wild three by Peel and then fed it to the guard who drove to the basket for a layup.

After Attleboro tied it with a layup by Sarah Deyo (five points, 14 rebounds), Peel used a pump fake to get her defender to fly by and drilled her second three of the night to make it 30-27. Following a hustle rebound by Deyo, Julia Strachan (14 points) answered with her fourth three of the night to tie the game again with 3:50 remaining.

Again it was Peel that had the response for the Hornets, getting around a double screen into the corner and drilling her third from beyond the arc for what turned out to be the game-winner.

“Im going to see Jen Peel in my nightmares,” Attleboro coach Rick Patch joked. “She’s a clutch player. She’s an MVP-player in this league and she really makes that team go. She wants the ball when the game’s on the line.”

Peel said, “They’re a great team, they’re great defenders, and I knew from the start they were going to be up in my face. I knew this game it wasn’t going to be as easy, so we just made sure our screens were strong and I got around them.”

Deyo made one of two from the line and Attleboro had several chances on drives to the basket but were not able to get the tying basket. With one last chance, the Bombardiers tried to get the ball into Deyo at half-court, but it was tipped by Hill and chased down by Mady Bendanillo to seal the win.

“Our defense was brilliant for the most part,” said Patch, “and I think the girls just had a little bit of heart and they wanted to win and move on. We had our chances, we a bunch of layups at the end, but just couldn’t convert.”

Peel started the game with a deep three that prompted Attleboro to switch over to a triangle-and-two defense. After scoring four points, Hill picked up her second foul and sat for the rest of the half. Shortly after, Maher joined her on the bench as well, but Mansfield held the 9-4 lead after the first quarter.

With two key players on the bench, the Hornets went cold in the second, shooting 0-for-14 from the field and scoring only four points on 4-of-8 from the line.

Also, with Maher on the sidelines, Strachan got loose and found the range from deep. Strachan buried three from beyond the arc in the second and Jordyn Lako added a basket and an assist. The visitors led 17-13 at the half and Mansfield was looking for someone to knock down shots.

“All of a sudden you’re asking kids who haven’t taken a lot of shots all year to take big shots in a quarterfinal game,” said Redding of the struggles offensively for the Hornets against the Attleboro defense.

Stephanie Kemp hit a jumper to get the third quarter started, but Grace Mayer knocked down a three off a Deyo assist to extend the lead to five. It was the largest lead for either team in the second half.

Maher got free for a three-pointer and then Hill snagged an offensive rebound on the baseline and with the shot clock buzzer about to go off hit a 13-foot jumper that gave Mansfield the lead. Lako made sure it was short-lived, as she nailed a three on the other end to give Attleboro a slim lead heading to the fourth. She also scored on a layup to open the final quarter.

“She was excellent when it came right down to it,” said Patch of Lako. “She listened to what we were telling her and attacked the basket. Grace Mayer did a good job. We were just wearing Jen down…and did pretty good at it, but just not quite good enough.”

Peel came through with the points in the fourth to lift Mansfield to the win, but it was the other end of the floor that drew praise from her coach. Redding said, “She played 32 minutes and she played very good defense…Sometimes she takes some possessions off, but she played hard on the defensive end, got some big rebounds, gave us some great help.”

“I know it too, I’m not the best defender…I tend to think get the outlet and just run,” Peel joked. “I think our defense saved us in that first half and then we were just like, this is our home court, our gym, our game, let’s just show them that’s how we play.”

The loss ended a remarkable career for Deyo, who finishes as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,341 points. Despite being on crutches before the game, after suffering an injury against Brockton, she still managed to pull down 14 rebounds and block three shots against the Hornets.

“Sarah, just a gutsy effort on a badly sprained ankle,” said Redding. “She’s on crutches for two days and comes in and plays her heart out. I’m not going to miss defending her, but I’m going to miss watching her play. She plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen.”

Mansfield (19-2) will face No. 4 seed Wellesley in the semifinal at Massassoit Community College in Brockton at a date and time to be determined.

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Strachan Steps Up in Big Spot, Attleboro Edges Brockton

Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro senior Julia Strachan knocked down a long jumper with 57.4 remaining in the game for what turned out to be the game-winning points in a 63-58 playoff victory against Brockton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Entering the state tournament, Attleboro had been struggling to find the consistent form that got the Bombardiers off to an 8-0 start to the season. Blown leads and close losses in rematches against Franklin and North Attleboro in the final week highlighted what was a 7-7 run over the last 14 games.

In the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s playoff opener against Brockton, it seemed like Attleboro would once again struggle to pull out a win in a close game. The Boxers rallied from as many as nine points down in the second half to take the lead on a Jade Wilt (10 points) jumper with a minute remaining.

This time, Attleboro did not fold. Senior guard Julia Strachan capped off a 24-point night by driving up the court and pulling up for a jumper with her toe on the three-point line that put the Bombardiers ahead 59-58 with 57.4 on the clock.

A pair of free throws from Sam Pierce (11 points, six rebounds) and two from Jordyn Lako (six points) sealed a 63-58 victory for Attleboro, which avenged a first round playoff loss to the Boxers in 2014 and sets up a third meeting with league champion Mansfield, the top seed in Div. 1 South.

“I thought they did a great job handling the adversity this time,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When Brockton took the lead, we didn’t wilt. Strachan came down and made a big shot.”

Patch was asked about the difference it makes for Attleboro when Strachan (five three-pointers) starts knocking down shots from the outside. He responded, “Just for her to get her confidence like that, she is a bona fide shooter. She likes to shoot the ball, she’s very good at it and she feels like she can’t be stopped.”

He added, “That’s a kid who wants to win and who is an offensive threat inside and out.”

The Bombardiers needed Strachan to be on fire early, as Attleboro was slow out of the gates against an aggressive Brockton team that dominated on the glass and in hustle plays for much of the first half. Strachan had nine of Attleboro’s 14 first quarter points, but the Boxers held an 18-14 lead after one.

In the middle of the quarter, Patch called a timeout and laid into his team to try and wake the Bombardiers up. He explained, “We were getting beat to every loose ball, every rebound. They must have had six offensive rebounds in the first four minutes and that was the discouraging part. We called timeout to challenge them.”

The challenge was not accepted right away and, after a layup by freshman Alexandra Giannaros (team-high 14 points), Brockton led 28-20 in the closing stages of the second quarter. Attleboro finally responded with eight straight points to end the half tied.

Pierce drilled a three and scored off a nice bounce pass by Grace Mayer (three assists). Pierce then assisted on a basket by Sarah Deyo, who added a free throw to even the scores.

“As a staff, we were going into half thrilled that it was 28-28,” said Patch. “Last time we played them, they were up two. We knew if we could come out in the second half and get two or three positive possessions it would help.”

The Bombardiers came out of halftime determined to grab the lead and to gain control of the glass. Deyo scored 10 of her 18 points in the third, twice scoring on offensive rebounds and also a three-point play on another Mayer assist. Deyo started to dominate the boards and finished with 19 rebounds.

“Sarah is literally a rebounding machine,” Patch said. “She gets anything within six or eight feet of her, which is great. It’s what I was emphasizing to everyone else to just get your five rebounds this half, get the rebound.”

Strachan nailed her third three to put Attleboro ahead by five, then Pierce scored off an inbounds pass by Mish Logie, and Madison Brown came off the bench to snag her only rebound and turn it into her only basket to push the Bombardiers in front by as many as nine.

The lead was six heading to the fourth, as the Boxers just would not go away. Jalani Jackson (12 points) assisted on a three by Makayla Robinson to start the final quarter, but that was quickly answered by a long-range shot by Strachan, who also matched a three by Wint to keep the lead at eight points.

Brockton crept back into the game at the line. The Boxers went on a 9-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the second half and were helped by going 7-for-8 at the line, including two clutch free throws by Giannaros that cut the Attleboro lead to one.

Strachan provided the heroics for the Bombardiers and sent Attleboro into the next round for a heavily-anticipated third meeting with Mansfield. The Hornets won both meetings in the regular season and there is little mystery between these rivals.

“The good thing is we have one day to prepare for them and we’ll see what happens,” said Patch. “We have our work cut out for us.”

He smiled when asked if there was anything specific that the Bombardiers would try to do differently the third time around. “Score more points than they do,” he quipped.

Patch added, “We’ve tried a lot of different things and the last couple times they seemed to be a step ahead of us, so we expect a great challenge ahead of for sure.”

Attleboro (16-7) will travel to Albertini Gym on Thursday night at 6:30 to face Mansfield (18-2).

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.

Peel Powers Hornets Past Attleboro and to League Title

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield senior Jen Peel (14) scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the Hornets to a season sweep of Attleboro and clinched at least a share of a second straight league title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Last winter Mansfield edged Attleboro on the final night of the league campaign to earn the program’s second Hockomock title. Coming into this season, the Hornets were young with only two seniors on the roster and a host of talented, if inexperienced, underclassmen.

Hornets coach Mike Redding knew his team would still be good, and would get better over the course of the season, but he had no idea that with three games left to spare Mansfield would have the chance to win back-to-back titles for the first time in program history.

That is exactly what the Hornets accomplished on Monday night. Led by senior point guard Jen Peel, who scored a game-high 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds despite being the focal point of the Attleboro defense, Mansfield pulled out a 54-47 victory in the James Albertini Gym to sweep the season series against the Bombardiers and clinch at least a share of the Kelley-Rex title.

“If you told me we’d clinch a share of the title with three to play, I’d say no way,” said Redding. “I think we were hoping we’d be hanging around at this point and the girls have played above and beyond all year. They played really high-level basketball beyond their years.”

Peel came out firing and buried a pair of threes, as the Hornets jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. She added seven points in the second to give Mansfield a halftime lead and in the fourth quarter Peel knocked down the final two of her five three-pointers on the night to extend the Hornets’ lead to as many as 11 and seal the victory.

“I think the bottom line is Jen Peel took over the game. She hit some big threes, was driving and creating, and played great,” said Redding. He added, “She’s just so good with the ball and her vision is great, she finds open people, and she’s the difference tonight.”

Mansfield got off to a quick start in the first, but Attleboro answered back with an 11-0 run take the lead for the first time. Julia Strachan found Sarah Deyo open in the corner for her second three-pointer of the quarter and a piece of program history.

With that basket, Deyo recorded her 1,222nd career point, which moved her past Becky Hardt (Class of 1994) on the school’s all-time scoring chart. Deyo, who finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds on the night, is now the highest scoring female player in Attleboro history.


“That’s a great testament to her hard work,” said Rick Patch of Deyo’s accomplishment. “She takes a beating, she does a lot of little things, and she’s worked hard for that since elementary school. It’s great for her to see her hard work pay off.”

After Deyo’s slice of history, Kara Bendanillo answered back with a three of her own to tie the game at 11-11. Following a pair of free throws by Sam Pierce (eight points), Bendanillo drove and kicked a pass to Meg Hill (eight points, eight rebounds) for a 15-foot jumper that tied the game at 13 apiece after one.

Despite being in the double bonus for the majority of the second quarter, Attleboro struggled to get consistent offense. Strachan was held scoreless for the entire first half and Deyo had no points in the second. The teams traded baskets with Kim White (eight points) knocking down a jumper and Mish Logie and Jordyn Lako scoring on drives that gave Attleboro its last lead of the game at 21-19.

Erin Daniel came off the bench to give Mansfield a spark, assisting on a Mady Bendanillo (eight points, nine rebounds) three and knocking down a long jumper to tie the game. After a Peel free throw, Ann Maher drove to the basket and Peel hit three from the line to close out the half with a six-point advantage.

Attleboro hung around in the third quarter. Grace Mayer banked in a long jumper from a tough angle, Deyo scored on an offensive rebound, and Strachan hit her only shot from the field to cut the lead to 34-32. Mansfield saw Hill head to the bench with her fourth foul with five minutes remaining in the third, but the Bombardiers struggled to take advantage.

Senior Olivia Broyles gave the Hornets a huge lift with a putback and, after Deyo got a three-point play, she scored on a layup off a Peel assist. Those were her only four points of the game, but Broyles also played an important role as a defensive substitute for Hill down the stretch.

“The hidden hero of the game was Olivia Broyles, just playing unbelievable defense and rebounding when Meg got into some foul trouble,” said Redding.

Patch said, “There was no offensive sync. It was like we were playing downhill; we were playing at a breakneck speed. I think we went like 1-for-8 in the next eight possessions. That would’ve been a point to regain momentum, take the lead, and…we didn’t.”

Maggie Danehy and Hill scored the opening four points of the fourth to give Mansfield a little cushion and then Peel put the game away for the Hornets with three-pointers on back-to-back possessions that extended the lead to 11 at 50-39.

“Jen Peel was just on fire when she needed to be,” said Patch. “She hit big shots when she needed to and that’s why she’s an MVP-caliber player. She makes that team go.”

Redding added, “These are two very, very good games and I’m just praying we don’t play again in D1 South, which could happen and if it does it will be another battle.”

Mansfield (14-2, 12-1) can clinch the outright title on Friday night and avenge its only league loss of the season against Franklin. Attleboro (13-4, 9-4) will also look to avenge an earlier defeat and take control of second place in the division with a trip to Oliver Ames.

Sampson Powers Foxboro to Critical Win at Attleboro

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro junior Ashley Sampson (5) put up a game-high 27 points to lead the Warriors to a road win at Attleboro that keeps them tied with North Attleboro atop the division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Over the past couple of games, Foxboro has been able to turn to some of its supporting cast for big nights. Lily Sykes scored 19 in the win over Oliver Ames and on Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center it was Grace Tamulionis who stepped up with a career-high 20 points to beat Sharon.

On Wednesday night at Attleboro, the now league-leading Warriors were able to turn to star Ashley Sampson. Not only did the junior guard scored a game-high 27 points and snag seven steals, but she also took turns guarding Bombardiers star forward Sarah Deyo. It was the kind of all-around performance that head coach Lisa Downs has been counting on from Sampson.

“She was a leader on the court tonight, which is what I’ve been asking of her pretty much from day one,” Downs explained. “She took control of the offensive end and she had the tough defensive matchup…so it wasn’t like she got to take a rest on the defensive end.”

Sampson’s big night helped Foxboro pull out a 58-46 victory over the Bombardiers and keep the Warriors in a first place tie with North Attleboro atop the Davenport division standings. Meanwhile, the defeat dropped Attleboro two games behind Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex.

“It all comes with preparation and we’re not preparing ourselves well enough for a team that’s aggressive and fast like that,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “When you get off to a slow start and get down a little bit, it’s hard to come back against a team like that.”

After the game, Downs called the first half defensive performance by the Warriors as their best of the season. Foxboro used its team speed, depth, and versatility to stymie the Bombardiers. The Warriors held Attleboro to just 17 points as a team in the half and held Samantha Pierce and Julia Strachan scoreless over the opening 16 minutes of play.

Downs added, “That was the key. We had to keep fresh legs on Strachan and they did a fantastic job holding her to zero points in the first half and then Deyo is a matchup nightmare, so we had to know whoever we put in there had to be as physical as they can be, which is not always our strong suit.”

Foxboro added Lauren Flahive to the starting lineup on Wednesday, going smaller but adding speed. It paid dividends immediately, as the Warriors used a 13-0 run to break the game open in the first quarter. Sampson scored seven in the first and Kristen Bortolotti added four. Tamulionis (team-high nine rebounds), fresh off her career-high on Sunday, buried a pair from beyond the arc for six of her 12 on the night.

Deyo had four in the first and assisted on a three by Jordyn Lako to close out the quarter but the Bombardiers trailed by 12 points. Deyo, who finished with 15 points an 15 rebounds, added another six points in the second, but she was struggling to get the ball in good positions and four of her five baskets in the first half came from offensive rebounds.

“We go up and down too,” said Patch, ‘and my whole point with [the girls] was push the ball, go to the basket, and get points in the paint. That’s how we beat them last year with all our kids down and this year it was the game plan but it just wasn’t happening.”

Sampson buried a three off a Shannon Smally kick out and then stole the ball from Deyo, who was also bringing the ball up the court at times, and went in for a layup. Sykes (10 points) drilled a three and it was a 31-17 lead at half for the visitors.

“We knew we had to play our best defense to beat a quality team like Attleboro,” said Downs. “They’re going to fight you tooth and nail every possession, so if you can take care of business on the defensive end and hold their offense lower than they have in recent game then we knew we’d be in decent shape.”

Coming out of halftime, Attleboro started to pick up the pace and tried to cut into the lead, scoring as many points in the third as it had in the entire first half. Deyo twice got the ball at the rim for easy baskets, Grace Mayer (five points) buried a corner three, and Pierce (eight points) finally got going with four in the quarter.

Foxboro held onto a double digit lead through the third thanks to eight more points by Sampson, including a baseline drive to the basket plus the foul that pushed the lead to as many as 17 points. Bortlotti (seven points) ended a mini-run by the Bombardiers to give Foxboro a 47-34 lead heading to the fourth.

Attleboro gave the Warriors a scare in the fourth by scoring the opening eight points to cut the lead down to as little as five. Pierce had four of those points and Lako scored in transition from a Mish Logie assist. The home crowd was making noise and the bench was fired up, but the Warriors forced a pair of turnovers and took back control.

After Sykes knocked down a couple of free throws, Sampson took the ball baseline and got to the rim and then on the next possession again got into the heart of the Attleboro defense for another layup that put Foxboro ahead 53-42. Sykes closed out the game going 5-of-8 from the line.

“We just lost our poise, had two or three turnovers that resulted in two baskets on the other end that made it 11 and it’s hard to overcome that,” Patch said. “It’s definitely discouraging but we’ve got to get better preparation.”

This was a big win for Foxboro to stay level with the Rocketeers, which beat King Philip earlier in the night.

Downs said, “It was huge. Before tonight we were tied with North but head-to-head they were one up on us, so we knew we had to win this game. It was a big one.”

Foxboro (10-2, 9-2) will look to extend its win streak to five games at Sharon on Friday. Attleboro (12-3, 8-3) will try to bounce back at home against King Philip.

North Makes Plays Down the Stretch to Beat Attleboro

North Attleboro boys basketball
Jonny Friberg scored a career-high 24 points to lead North Attleboro to a come from behind win over Attleboro on Tuesday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Trailing in the second half at home in front a packed crowd in the Kenneth Pickering Gym against rival Attleboro, the Rocketeers switched the defensive look to a 2-3 zone and turned the offense back over to senior forward Jonny Friberg and senior guard Brent Doherty.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

After scoring 11 points in the opening quarter, Friberg had seen far less of the ball after the Bombardiers turned up the defensive pressure on the North Attleboro guards and had managed only two points in the quarter and a half since. Meanwhile, Doherty was held in check with just six points midway through the third.

That changed down the stretch.

North started to pound the ball into the paint in the final 12 minutes and Friberg (10 rebounds) responded with 11 of his career-high 24 points and Doherty added 11 of his 17 as well, as the Rocketeers turned an eight-point deficit into a 62-55 victory that extended their win streak to four games and moved them into a tie with Milford for the Davenport division lead.

“They did a great job adjusting defensively,” said North coach Sean Mulkerrins about Friberg’s drop from 11 points in the first quarter to none in the second. “They didn’t allow us to move the ball and then they doubled inside. At halftime we talked about using that to our advantage. We knew it would either get [Jonny] or a shooter and Chad [Peterson] and the guys on the perimeter knocked down some big shots.”

In addition to the change of emphasis offensively, which included getting the ball into the post quickly to force the Attleboro defense to send help on Friberg, the Rocketeers also switch into a zone that slowed down the Bombardiers.

“The change of pace kind of hurt us a little bit,” said Attleboro coach Mark Houle. “In the end, they went to their strength; they went to Jonny inside and, as mightily as we tried to fight in there, we just didn’t have enough muscle.”

North took control in the opening half by getting the ball into the block where Friberg used his size to overpower the Attleboro defense. He scored 11 of North’s 20 points in the first with a series of baskets from in close and then a three to close out the half off a feed by Kyle McCarthy.

Despite Jake Dunkley’s seven points in the first, Attleboro trailed by six heading to the second. The lead grew to as many as 11 points (30-19), as Peterson drilled back-to-back threes and McCarthy came through with four of his six points.

After a timeout, Attleboro turned things around with pressure defense by freshman Bryant Ciccio (seven points) and seniors Nate Douglas (12 points) and Lucas Boucicaut (four assists). Forcing turnovers allowed the Bombardiers to get in transition and they closed the half with a 10-0 run. Douglas scored twice on offensive rebounds and Ciccio and Dunkley each grabbed steals and layups.

“I thought in the second quarter and definitely in the third quarter their athleticism, we started getting long in the legs,” said Mulkerrins. “We’ve played a lot of zone in the past but we haven’t played a lot of it this year and it’s a risk…but we made just enough plays.”

The run stretched to 14-0 and 19-3, as Attleboro turned the game around and built the lead to as many as eight points in the third quarter after Elvin Sam stole the ball from Friberg under the basket and fed it to Andrew Milliken (10 points) for the finish plus the foul.

North started to creep back into the game thanks to its seniors. Friberg drilled a straightaway three to cut the lead to five and then added a fall-away jumper to make it 44-41. Milliken scored off a Dunkley assist to make it a five-point game heading to the fourth, but North had stemmed the tide.

“We’ve been talking all season about being scoreboard watchers; we don’t want to be scoreboard watchers,” said Mulkerrins. “It shows the resiliency of the kids. I’m proud of them.”

Doherty started the fourth with a basket in transition and, after a Friberg free throw, scored again on the break to tie it. Douglas knocked down a big three to put Attleboro back on top but it was answered by three at the line from Peterson. The junior guard then pulled up and the free throw line to give North its first lead since the opening minute of the third quarter.

Friberg scored the next two baskets for North and the lead stretched to six. Attleboro tried to extend the game by crashing the boards and getting its chances at the line, but the Rocketeers closed out the game shooting 6-of-7 on free throws to earn the win.

“Down the stretch you have to execute,” said Houle. “Brent and Jonny made big plays in those situations and those are the players that need to make the plays and they did.”

Mulkerrins added, “I think it’s the maturity of the group…I was yelling at the guys the word complete; we needed to play a more complete game than we did against Foxboro because we knew Attleboro was going to bring it.”

North Attleboro (8-4, 5-3) will travel to Mansfield on Friday before facing Milford in a battle for first in the division at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence on Sunday. Attleboro (8-5, 4-5) will try to put an end to its five-game skid (and help North) against Milford on Friday.

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Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro junior forward Sam Pierce (44) swoops to the basket for two of her 11 points, as Attleboro rolled to a victory over North. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Lady Bombardiers Dominate Start to Finish Against North

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In the opening game of a the basketball doubleheader at the Kenneth Pickering Gym, the Attleboro girls set aside the struggles of last week and put in a dominating performance to hand North Attleboro its first league loss of the season, 56-19.


Senior Sarah Deyo led the way for the Bombardiers with another double-double of 22 points and 18 rebounds. She also added five blocks, as the Attleboro defense held North scoreless for the opening seven-plus minutes, allowed only two points in the first, gave up seven points in the opening half, and only 19 for the game.

“We didn’t hurt ourselves,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “We kept possession, we got good looks…and the defense has always been really good.”

Deyo scored eight in the first and North did not get on the board until the closing minute when Caroline Collard knocked down a long jumper. Attleboro essentially put the game away with a 26-point second quarter, highlighted by Deyo scoring another six points and junior Sam Pierce scoring 11, including a deep three at the buzzer.

Senior Julia Strachan marked her return to North Attleboro, where she transferred from after her sophomore year, with 12 points and Jordyn Lako chipped in with five.

Patch said of the team’s ability to bounce back after the losses to Mansfield and Oliver Ames, “We just refocused everything and the girls have been doing a great job. It’s more of a team offensively rather than just a few great individual plays.”

North was shorthanded on Tuesday night with senior guard Ashley Ahern ruled out due to injury. Julia Santos led the way with eight points, Samantha Taggart added five, and Collard had four points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

Attleboro (11-2, 7-2) stayed one-game back of Mansfield in the race for the Kelley-Rex title and will travel to Milford on Friday. North Attleboro (10-3, 8-1) has a one-game lead on Milford and Foxboro in the Davenport and will host fellow league leader Mansfield on Friday.

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Hornets Shut Down Explosive Attleboro in Big Win

Mansfield girls basketball
Mansfield swarmed the high-powered Attleboro offense and held the Bombardiers to 40 points below their per game average in a 61-30 road win that gives the Hornets an early edge in the Kelley-Rex division. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Tuesday night’s game, unbeaten Attleboro was averaging more than 70 points per game, which was the highest scoring total of any basketball team in the Hockomock (male or female). Meanwhile, Mansfield was unbeaten on the back of a stingy defense that was allowing opponents only 40 points per game.

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It was a battle of contrasts and a battle of two teams that had developed a rivalry over the course of last year’s Kelley-Rex title race, which came down to the final night of the regular season. The intensity was high on and off the court on Tuesday and it felt like the playoffs not a game from the first half of the season.

The Bombardiers will be thankful that there are still 11 league games left to play, including a rematch in the Albertini Gym on Feb. 6, because this night belonged to the Hornets. Behind 22 points and five steals from senior Jen Peel and a stifling defense that limited Attleboro to two made field goals in the first half, Mansfield rolled to a 61-30 victory that gives the Hornets an early edge in their quest to repeat as league champs.

“This win was one of the most important wins that we’re going to have to get,” said Peel. “It sets the tone for the rest of the league, gives us the top spot for league champs and when we get them again it’s going to be a huge game.”

Mansfield coach Mike Redding added, “It was our night. Everything went our way. When you’re shooting threes off the backboard when you don’t mean them to it’s a sign that it’s going to be a good night.”

Sophomore Maggie Danehy got things started with a layup that was answered by a basket for Jordyn Lako (on an assist by Mish Logie), but then Mansfield took control with a 14-0 run. Peel knocked down a pair of threes, including one that caromed off the glass, and scored eight points in the first. Ann Maher (15 points) banked in the first of her five threes on the night and Mady Bendanillo (eight points, eight rebounds, five assists) buried one from the corner.

Logie hit a three off a Sam Pierce assist to close the quarter but the Bombardiers found themselves in an 18-7 hole and with the ‘Big Three’ of Sarah Deyo, Julia Strachan, and Pierce held to only two free throws.

“You have to give Mansfield all the credit,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “They were the better prepared team, they were the tougher team, and they beat us in the categories we usually win, which is defense, rebound, hustle, and they really took us out of it.”

The Hornets continued the defensive pressure in the second, holding Attleboro to six points (all from the free throw line). Mansfield went into halftime holding a 28-13 lead and the Bombardiers looked stunned.

In Mansfield’s season opener, Maher (with help off the bench from Kara Bendanillo) held Foxboro star Ashley Sampson scoreless and on Tuesday she put in a similar effort on Strachan (seven points), who came in averaging more than 20 per game.

“She’s not really our most athletic player but she’s one of our smartest kids,” said Redding of Maher. “She always had good position, stayed tight, didn’t let her go to her right, and we didn’t give her very many open threes at all.”

In the third quarter, Attleboro tried to make a concerted effort to get the ball to Deyo (12 points, 12 rebounds), who would score seven in the period but she was having a difficult time getting good looks in the paint against Meg Hill (six points, six rebounds, four blocks). Strachan scored five in the quarter, but the Bombardiers could not piece together the possessions it needed to make a run.

Redding explained, “Bottom line, I thought we played really good man-to-man defense.”

Peel added six points in the third (four from the line), Maher knocked down another three, and Mady Bendanillo scored off a defensive rebound that she took the length of the court for a layup.

“She’s just so fast off the dribble and creates so much,” said Redding of Bendanillo. “She’s finding the right people, getting steals and we sub her out but I don’t think we need to. She could probably play a full 32 minutes.”

Mansfield won the third quarter, which Redding said was the focus coming out of halftime, and then put the game away with a 16-0 run to start the fourth with Peel and Maher each knocking down a pair of threes.

“Every quarter we came out, I said play like we did in the first quarter, with the same intensity,” Peel explained. “If we let down even a little bit that’s when Attleboro makes those shots that changes the game and we did a great job of shutting them down.”

Redding said, “We’re deeper. I think they’re big three got a little tired as the game went on. That was a big emphasis pregame that our bench would make a difference tonight.”

He continued, “Everyone stepped up…It was just everything we could’ve hoped for in 32 minutes.”

When asked if it was better to get a game like this out of the system early in the season rather than late, Patch responded, “Every year, in every sport, a team has a game where nothing goes right. It’s never a good time to have it…We had a really flat practice yesterday and it carried over.”

Mansfield (7-1) will try to keep the momentum going on Friday when it travels to Franklin. Attleboro (8-1) will look to bounce back when it heads to Oliver Ames.

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Deyo Hits Milestone as Attleboro Wins at Sharon

Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro senior Sarah Deyo (32) celebrated with her teammates and her family after reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career in a win at Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – Attleboro senior Sarah Deyo stepped to the line in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Sharon needing just one point to reach 1,000 points for her career. Her friends and family, including her parents and her brother, were cheering in the stands just over her right shoulder while her teammates stood in anticipation on the bench to her left.

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Deyo took a breath and shot the front end of a one-and-one. That is when things got a little different.

The shot missed short, but none of the rebounders had moved and the ball caromed directly back to Deyo. She grabbed it and looked down at the ball, seemingly in shock. Still, no one moved. It seemed like an eternity (but was most likely only a second) before Attleboro coach Rick Patch yelled at Deyo to shoot and the Southern New Hampshire-commit realized what was happening and drove to the basket for the milestone-achieving layup.

“Everyone just stood there and everyone was just looking at me,” joked Deyo after the game. 
“I was just looking at the ball and was like what am I supposed to be doing until someone said, shoot it! I just dribbled and shot the ball.” She added with a laugh, “I was so confused.”

Deyo finished the game with 28 points, leaving her at 1,002 for her career, and Julia Strachan added 30 points, on 10 made three-pointers, to lift the Bombardiers to a 92-55 victory. It was Attleboro’s third straight win by at least 30 points to start the season.

But after the game, all the talk was about Deyo and her accomplishment. Patch said, “You’re looking for a leader and often times she’ll finish doing cardio and she’ll see other kids still running and she’ll jump in and she continues to encourage.”

When it was mentioned that Deyo reached the milestone while unselfishly dishing out seven assists (and pulling down 15 rebounds), Patch replied, “I think that says everything about her and what our program is about… That’s part of her commitment to the team…She’s a very selfless kid who really just wants to win.”

As she was surrounded by well-wishers after the final whistle, Deyo explained, “I wasn’t trying to force anything, I just wanted it to happen when it was meant to happen. I just felt like if I continued to play how I play, rebounding, passing the ball, shooting, then it was going to come.”

She admitted, “That last free throw that I missed, it was definitely on my mind. I could just see everyone standing up and I was like, oh God.”

The Bombardiers came in focused on getting the ball to Deyo and allowing her to make a run at the milestone and their press forced turnovers and led to easy baskets in transition. Sharon scored the opening basket on a layup by Emma Eberhardt (team-high 20 points), but Attleboro would go on a 21-2 run to break the game open early.

Deyo scored eight in the quarter and Strachan knocked down a pair of threes. Jordyn Lako added four points, including a fast break layup off a Sam Pierce (nine points) steal. The Eagles tried to stay close when Kaitlyn Wallace (14 points) and Veronica Wallace(nine points) buried threes to end the quarter but the hosts trailed 23-10 after one.

Sharon coach Cliff Tomassian said, “We talked about running our press break in our positions the way we were supposed to be and a couple of times we just didn’t have a girl in the middle where they’re most vulnerable. We got over half-court and the girls didn’t know what to do anymore.

“Once that got going, it was just tough for us to get back into it.”

As a contest, the Bombardiers put the game out of reach in the second, outscoring Sharon 30-5. The Bombardiers hit seven shots from beyond the arc with Strachan hitting four, Lako (12 points) knocking down two and Deyo stepping back to make one as well.

The hot shooting carried over to the third quarter with Strachan again showing off the range. The Adelphi-commit made three more from outside, two from the corner including one off a drive and kick by Deyo. With 10 threes on Tuesday, Strachan has already made 20 on the season and hit the 30-point mark in a game for the second time this year.

“When she gets one of her first two it’s like a confidence boost for her,” said Patch. “She is probably one of the best shooters, male or female, I’ve seen in high school. She’s had…20 threes; that’s a lot. That’s a season for some kids.”

The Eagles continued to play hard in the final quarter despite the big deficit. Shira Stoller (eight points, seven rebounds, and four assists) knocked down a pair of threes and Kaitlyn Wallace added a pair as well. Eberhardt led the way with 11 of her 20 points in the fourth.

Tomassian said, “I know they took most of their starters out at that point but it’s good to see that our bench players and even our starters were still engaged in the game. It’s good to know they’re all staying positive.”

Last season, the Bombardiers had another player chasing 1,000 but Emily Houle did not close in on the milestone until the final few games of the regular season. This year, the Bombardiers will not have to worry about that and can now focus solely on their quest for a first Hockomock title.

“Last year was a perfect storm for everyone but us,” Patch admitted. “That was a big wear and tear on everybody. I just told [Sarah] to go out and play and once she gets close you know we’re going to pound it to you.”

Attleboro (3-0) will step out of the league next week to play in the Cranston East (R.I.) tournament, with the first game against Cranston West (R.I.) on Tuesday. Sharon (2-2) has eight days off before hosting Holliston.

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Balanced Bombardiers Put Knights Away In Second Half

Attleboro girls basketball
Senior forward Julia Strachan (20) scored a game-high 14 points to lead four Bombardiers in double figures in a 30-point win for Attleboro against Stoughton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Before Friday night’s game, last year’s league MVP Emily Houle was honored for reaching the 1,000-point plateau and had her name added to the gym’s banner. Once the game tipped off all eyes were a current MVP candidate as she went in search of the same milestone.

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While much of the focus from the fans, and from the Stoughton defense, was on Attleboro senior forward Sarah Deyo, who came into the game needing 36 points to reach 1,000 for her career, the Bombardiers showed that they have other weapons to give opponents problems.

Led by a game-high 14 points from senior Julia Strachan, Attleboro had four players reach double digits and saw 10 players record at least a single point in an emphatic 65-35 victory over Stoughton. Deyo finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds on the night, leaving her 26 points short of the milestone.

“Even last year, we had the ‘big three’ and this year people are saying the ‘big three’ again but we think we have another three that can do that on any given night,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. He added, “We don’t even play polished basketball and we still win by 30.”

Stoughton jumped out to a 3-0 lead on early free throws and after a Jordan Motley layup led again at 5-3, but Attleboro took over and went on a 24-2 run to seemingly take control of the game. The Bombardiers knocked down four shots from beyond the arc in the opening quarter with Jordyn Lako (11 points and eight rebounds), Mish Logie (six points and six assists), Sam Pierce (11 points and six rebounds) and Strachan each knocking down one.

“For us it’s mentally we have to decide that we’re not going to let anyone outwork us,” said second-year Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The threes they got early were uncontested. Our hands were down and we’ve got to keep improving being long on defense.”

The Attleboro run continued in the second with Lako scoring off a Logie assist then feeding freshman Nyah Thomas for a layup. A Deyo putback and another Strachan three had the Bombardiers ahead 27-7 and forced a Stoughton timeout.

The Black Knights got themselves back into it after the breather. Motley (four points and 11 rebounds) got a putback basket and freshman Aliyah Wrightdrilled a three. Another three from senior Lili Njiem and a layup for freshman Shyanne Trinh (team-high 12 points) cut the lead to just 12. Deyo hit a corner three to stem the comeback, but the Black Knights were down just 13 heading into halftime.

“We were disappointed with the last three- or 3-1/2-minute stretch,” said Patch. “We made an emphasis at that point to call out the entire team for the effort and having the bench more engaged. When they’re in you really can’t skip a beat.”

The Bombardiers heeded the coaching staff’s message and put the game away in a dominant third quarter. Attleboro outscored Stoughton 19-2 in the third, held the Black Knights without a point for the first 6:30 of the half and extended the lead to 30 points heading to the fourth.

“We kept them to one-and-done and kind of dictated the play and put them in positions not to get great looks,” Patch explained. “None of them were layups.”

While the trapping defense of Attleboro certainly played its part against a very young Stoughton lineup that features three freshmen, four sophomores, and just two seniors, Steele Jordan also saw the Black Knights miss some looks that could have kept them in the game.

“We missed a lot of shots,” she said. “We had open threes that didn’t fall for us. We’ve just got to keep getting to the rim.”

Deyo got another rebound and putback to start it and then Strachan, who transferred from North Attleboro last winter but injured her knee in the third game and missed the rest of the 2015-16 season, knocked down a jumper. Pierce buried a three and freshman Liv McCall hit one as well to help Attleboro pull away. Lauren Berteletti had the lone bucket in the third for Stoughton.

In the fourth, Attleboro continued to pile on, eventually getting the lead to as many as 36 points. One of the question marks for the Bombardiers coming into the season was who would run the point for them and Patch credited Logie for working hard to make that position hers.

“This year she’s in much better shape,” he said. “We’ve demanded of her to shoot her shot. Last year she was very tentative but she’s much more confident.”

Stoughton’s biggest bright spot on Friday was the play of Trinh. Despite missing a large portion of the game due to foul trouble, she stepped up in the fourth quarter with seven of her 12 points, including a three and a runner in the lane. Steele Jordan admits it will be a steep learning curve for her young roster (especially with Oliver Ames and Attleboro as the opening two games) but she is still confident in the Black Knights’ potential.

“I’m excited for my whole team,” she said. “Everyone brings something different. Shyanne was bright spot and she works hard for us. There’s a lot of season left and we’re just going to keep grinding it out.”

Attleboro (2-0) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night, while Stoughton (0-2) continues its very difficult stretch by hosting Mansfield.

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Girls Basketball: 2016-17 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Kelley-Rex Preview
King Philip’s Shannon O’Connor (32) and Taunton’s Abby Kingman (1) are two returning players hoping to give their teams a shot at the postseason this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Basketball Preview

ATTLEBORO

2015-16 Record: 21-3 (14-2)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal
Head Coach: Rick Patch

The Bombardiers came within one game of winning their first Hockomock League title last year and despite the loss of 2015-16 Player of the Year Emily Houle to graduation, Attleboro comes into this season as one of the favorites in the Kelley-Rex again this winter.

One reason for the high expectations for the Bombardiers is senior forward Sarah Deyo. The Southern New Hampshire-commit comes into the season just 68 points shy of 1,000 for her career and is a matchup nightmare for the opposition with her ability to score in the paint and from the outside. Fellow senior Julia Strachan returns from a knee injury that cost her all of last season and the Adelphi-commit adds another strong shooter and rebounder to the front line. The Bombardiers are loaded at the forward position with junior Sam Pierce coming back after a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her average nearly a double-double.

While the strength of the Bombardiers is in the post, Attleboro has experience in the backcourt with senior Mish Logie and sophomore Jordyn Lako returning as the primary ball-handlers and strong on-the-ball defenders. Juniors Grace Mayer and Kim White will add depth in the backcourt off the bench. Guard Liv McCall is another who could contribute this season, among a group of six freshmen that will be on the varsity roster.

“We are very excited about our program and how its progressed over the last three seasons,” said head coach Rick Patch, “and the positive, entitled-to-nothing culture we have established that best represents ‘Blue Pride’ and the Attleboro community.”

FRANKLIN

2015-16 Record: 13-8 (10-6)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central quarterfinal
Head Coach: John Leighton

Franklin has been consistently one of the top programs in the league and despite losing a strong group of seniors, the Panthers are once again in the mix for a league title and a return to the Div. 1 Central tournament.

Leading the way this season is a core of five experienced seniors that offer Franklin a good balance of interior and perimeter scoring. Carli Koffinke is in her third year on varsity and is a threat from the outside, taking advantage of the Panthers’ drive and kick style of offense. Point guard Margaux Welsh will take over the primary ball-handling role and will be expected to get the offense going. Izzy Faught and Grace McDermott will add depth in the backcourt and forward Erin Skidmore adds athleticism and quickness in the paint.

In order to stay consistently competitive, the Panthers have always been able to count on new players coming in to refresh the roster. This winter will be no different with junior forward Kate Morse in her first year on the team as well as sophomore point guard Shannon Gray and three-point threat Bea Bondhus, who had a team-high 11 points in the season opener. Freshmen Ali Brigham and Megan O’Connell will add to Franklin’s front-court depth.

“With so many younger and newer players, we are hoping to build team chemistry and improve each and every day,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “We are very encouraged with our depth and will lean on our seniors for leadership.”

KING PHILIP

2015-16 Record: 6-14 (4-12)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Martin Crowley

Under head coach Martin Crowley, King Philip has been a very tough team to play against, focused on high-pressure defensive effort and not letting up from the opening tip to the final whistle. This year, the Warriors are hoping to get a little more consistency on the offensive end to match that defensive intensity.

KP will not lack for athletes this winter beginning with returning starter Shannon O’Connor, who emerged as a potential scoring threat on the wing as a freshman last season. Classmate Julia Leroux also impressed in her rookie season and they are already go-to players on the offensive end. Junior forwards Hadley Zolak and Christina Hathaway and senior Courtney Kelleher will give additional scoring and rebounding as athletic forwards that can battle in the paint and get out and run the break.

There is also a youth movement at KP this year with a strong, athletic freshman class that has already put in a standout soccer season this past fall and is ready to contribute to the basketball team as well. Chloe Layne has stepped right in and will be an instant contributor at the point guard position and will be joined by classmate Faith Roy on the varsity roster.

“Youth will be served,” said Crowley, “however our goal is the same it is every season whether you have a veteran team or not and that is to qualify for the tournament in what I believe is the most competitive league in the state.”

MANSFIELD

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (15-1)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Redding

The Hornets are coming off the program’s first ever Hockomock League title, edging Attleboro in the final game of a dramatic league campaign, in front of arguably the biggest crowd to watch a game (male or female) in the league last season. This year, Mansfield has the challenge of trying to defend its title despite losing eight seniors from last season.

Mansfield’s title defense begins with senior guard Jen Peel, who has been limited by an injury in the preseason and will be moving from the point to the off-guard position this year. She is one of the best playmakers in the league and will have junior center Meg Hill to find in the half-court. Hill is a dominant force on both ends of the floor and should expect to get even more touches this year and needs to be aggressive looking for her shot.

The Hornets will have plenty of size beyond the 6-foot-3 Hill. Senior Olivia Broyles and junior Maeve Carney are both over six feet tall and sophomores Maggie Danehy and Emily Vigeant are just under six feet. Sophomore twins Mady and Kara Bendanillo will add speed to the roster with Mady having the experience of playing time as a freshmen, including a start in the South semifinal against Bishop Feehan. Junior Ann Maher is another player that can be expected to take on a bigger role this year at the shooting guard position.

“We may be more athletic than a year ago and we’ll run as much as we can and press more than we did a year ago,” said head coach Mike Redding. “It should be fun and with seven sophomores in our top 11 we should get better and better as they get experience and confidence.”

OLIVER AMES

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (13-3)
2015-16 Finish: Won Div. 2 South title
Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook

Oliver Ames is coming off a remarkable 2015-16 season that saw the Tigers reach the 20-win mark, claim the Davenport division title, make a run to the Div. 2 South title and a chance to play at the TD Garden, and celebrate the career of head coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook, who became the state’s all-time career leader in wins (finishing the season with 645). This year, OA will face the challenge of trying to match that level of success while taking on a new division after being moved into the Kelley-Rex.

The key to the Tigers putting in league title fight is junior forward Kayla Raymond, who is one of the most talented players in the Hock and one of the toughest match-ups with her combination of size, speed, shooting touch, and handle. Raymond will get help from senior guard Hannah Carroll, who became one of the team’s top shooters from the perimeter and can stretch opposing defense. Senior Niyera Mitchell is coming back from an off-season injury and has the size and touch to be a strong performer on both ends of the court.

OA lost only two seniors to graduation but then also lost shooting guard Francesca Calabraro to a knee injury during the soccer season. Senior Abby Reardon will be one of the backcourt players that will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack, while Clement-Holbrook will be hoping for senior Brenna Burkett and junior Sadie Homer to provide a scoring touch at the forward position.

“Moving to the Kelley Rex will be a tremendous challenge for us,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Our goals are the same as before: Compete to qualify for the tournament, challenge for the Hock title and go as deep as possible in the tournament.”

TAUNTON

2015-16 Record: 4-16 (2-14)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Walter Harrigan

Taunton is coming off a tough year in which the Tigers only managed four wins, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get valuable varsity experience and Taunton will be hoping to have it pay off with seven returning players on this season’s roster.

One of the exciting younger players that emerged last year was Lily Patneaude, who showed off athleticism and a range of offensive skills as a freshman. Junior Hannah Moniz is another wing player that can provide scoring off the dribble or from the perimeter. Junior MacKenzie Handrahan will add rebounding and defense on the post and eighth grader Sonya Fernandes could be a newcomer to watch on the Taunton front line.

The back court has a mix of experience and youth led by senior guard Abby Kingman, whose ball-handling and speed will be vital. Kingman’s classmate Jess Regan is returning after missing her entire junior year to an injury and will offer a steady hand at the point guard position. Junior Dominique Bradley and sophomore Alexa White will add depth to the guard positions.

“Taunton has a combination of experience and youth,” said head coach Walter Harrigan, “along with some skill and athleticism that has the makings for a fun and interesting year.”