Canton Survives Second Half Surge From Sharon

Canton boys basketball Nick Cushman
Canton senior Nick Cushman goes up for a layup in the first half against Sharon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
SHARON, Mass. – To foul or not to foul?

Holding a three-point lead late in the game, it’s a question that has divided basketball coaches for years.

But there’s no doubt which side of the argument Canton head coach Ryan Gordy belongs too.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With a 58-55 advantage with 9.7 seconds to go, the Bulldogs fouled as Sharon crossed half court, “well before the Eagles had a chance to think about launching a tying three-pointer.

It worked as the Eagles came up empty on the first shot and had a violation on the second. Canton couldn’t quite put the game away, missing their chances at the free throw line but immediately fouled on the defensive rebound.

Again, the Eagles came up empty from the line and a defensive rebound and free throw from Dillon Nguyen pushed Canton’s lead to 59-55 with 2.1 seconds left, a scoreline that held through the final buzzer.

“We have rules about when to follow under a certain amount of seconds,” Gordy said. “We were up three and we figured if we fouled, they can’t make a three and they can’t tie the game. As long as we know to get the foul at the right time, then fundamental box outs on the free throws, I feel like it’s the right decision every time.

“We had to do it twice because we didn’t get our free throws but finally on the third time, we got it to four and then we don’t foul.”

The Bulldogs had to hold on at the end because of a second half comeback from the hosts. Canton pushed its lead to 14 early in the second half but the Eagles got a boost from an unexpected source.

After Sharon managed just one free throw total in the second quarter, the Bulldogs outscoring the hosts 10-1, head coach Andrew Ferguson went deep into his bench, putting junior Owen Conway and sophomores Ryan Zunenshine and Sam Cohen — who had each played three quarters of the JV came — into the lineup to start the second half.

On Sharon’s very first offensive possession of the second, Cohen splashed an open three and on the next trip down, drained a contested look from downtown, as the Eagle faithful exploded in the stands, an atmosphere usually reserved for the postseason.

Conway took a feed from sophomore John Baez (five points, six rebounds) and converted through the foul. Despite missing the free throw, Zunenshine battled for the offensive board and putback, swinging momentum in favor of the hosts.

Cohen sank another triple and Baez sliced through the Canton zone for two, getting the Eagles within five at 39-34.

“Execution aside, our effort wasn’t good [in the second quarter],” Ferguson said. “I thought waking up the rest of the roster by playing the swing guys there in the third. Sam Cohen did what he’s been doing at the JV level, what he did the year before at the freshman level…he can shoot the basketball. It was good to see that and it woke the rest of the guys up.

“It woke them up and the first unit played their butts off. I told them if they played with that kind of effort in the first and second quarter, we win that game.”

Canton senior Robbie Gallery (16 points, eight rebounds) used a nice move in the post to convert at the time and then found junior Matt Giglio (nine points, seven rebounds) in the same spot for another two in the final moments of the third quarter to stem the momentum some, giving the Bulldogs a 43-34 lead heading into the fourth.

Sharon’s first unit responded to the wake-up call as Matt Baskin (10 points) hit an early three and Baez added one of his own to get the Eagles within one possession.

Gallery came up with a clutch offensive rebound and putback for a traditional three-point play only for Baskin to answer with a similar play. Kiran Chandrasekaran tied the game with a pair of free throws with 3:41 to play but Giglio knocked down a three on the other end to keep Canton ahead, 51-48, with 3:17 to play.

“Hats off to Sharon on senior night, that crowd brought it tonight,” Gordy said. “I think the most impressive part was [Eric] Mischler’s foul trouble and being able to play that game without our best player. He’s been our best player all year, he’s in the top 15 in scoring [in the Hockomock], and I think he played a total of six minutes, if he played that much. To be able to get a win without him was an awesome experience for our guys, guys that have been practicing and working really hard and tonight they got opportunities, and a lot of guys capitalized.”

Mischler, who averaged a team-high 13.8 points per game entering the game and had a career-high 36 point performance three games prior, finished with three points in those limited minutes.










Gallery again scored for Canton and sophomore Lanse Dorcelus (nine points, three rebounds) sank a free throw for a 54-50 lead but Caleb Gayle hit his second straight shot to halve the deficit and Baskin came up with a strong take for a three-point play and a 55-54 lead with 40.1 to go.

On Canton’s next possession, it appeared Andrew Burton (19 points, 10 rebounds) read a handoff but was called for a foul instead of a jump ball. Gallery hit both for a 56-55 lead and the Eagles lost the handle on the other end, leading to two free throws from Dorcelus to push the lead to 58-55, setting up the fouls at the end.

“We didn’t show up for the first half,” Ferguson said. “Mentally and physically, we just didn’t play well. We didn’t share the basketball, we didn’t set screens and that bled into our defense and we started losing guys, stopped communicating like we had talked about. I was glad to see the sophomores get a run there in the third quarter and kind of wake up that first group that needed it.

“In this league, you can’t play for 16 minutes, you have to play for 32 minutes. Against any team in this league, doesn’t matter what their record is, if you don’t play for 32 minutes, you’re going to get beat and that’s what happened to us.”

The Bulldogs had a strong start to the game, shooting 9-for-13 over the first eight minutes of the game. While Mischler and Gallery dealt with early foul trouble, senior Nick Cushman (14 points, six rebounds) gave the Bulldogs a boost with six points in the opening quarter. Six players scored in the first for Canton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

”Cushman has been our unsung hero this year,” Gordy said. “He was slated behind Kyle Fitzgerald and when Kyle got hurt, he went into a starting role and he ran with it. He’s been one of our top guys this year, and he did some good things tonight before he fouled out. Robbie did some good things for us too, he did what a senior captain should do.”

Canton put up 23 points in the first quarter and would have had a big lead if not for a brilliant start for Burton. He scored 15 of Sharon’s 17 points in the opening quarter to keep the Eagles close before Sharon went cold in the second.

Canton boys basketball (2-12 Hockomock, 5-14 overall) is back home on Tuesday against North Attleboro. Sharon (1-13, 1-15) travels to Foxboro on the same day.

Foxboro Rides Strong Start To Big Win Over Canton

Foxboro boys basketball Donald Rogers
Foxboro boys basketball senior Donald Rogers drives to the basket in the first half against Canton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – When it comes to vacation games, you never know what you’re going to get. Add in a noon tipoff on a Friday and it could make for a long afternoon.

But with a senior-laden team, Foxboro had no problems with the early start. The Warriors’ 21-point first quarter was its best offensive frame of the game, one in which it built a double-digit advantage that it never surrendered in a 58-39 conquest of division foe Canton.

The Warriors had six players register in the scoring column over the first eight minutes, connecting on eight field goals on over 60% shooting from the field, with half of the makes from downtown. And Foxboro got it done defensively too, holding the visitors to just three makes with three turnovers.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“It was a big part of what we talked about before the game, being a noontime vacation game,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We talked about the team being more awake and ready to play would have a huge advantage in terms of winning the game. And I thought we really did a good job with that. I thought we came out with a ton of energy and a ton of fire.

Foxboro’s defense only improved over the next two quarters, holding the Bulldogs to nine points (no made threes) in the second quarter and just six points (on 20% shooting) in the third quarter.

“We set the tone with our defense, holding them to 10 points in the first quarter,” Gibbs said. “Even a lot of the shots they got were contested shots, tough shots. So our defensive energy that we brought in the first half was huge even though our offense was a little out of sync.”

Dylan Barreira’s (seven rebounds, five assists) offense rebound and free throw gave the hosts early momentum while Ryan Hughes (seven points, five rebounds), Brandon Borde (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists), and Donald Rogers (16 points, five rebounds) followed with consecutive baskets for a quick 7-0 lead.

Foxboro added to its offensive attack with a trio of three-pointers as junior Kevin Gallagher (17 points, four rebounds) sandwiched a pair of triples around one from Borde to extend the hosts’ lead to 16-6. Senior Liam Devlin made Foxboro’s fourth three of the opening quarter on a feed from Barreira while Borde finished off after a team offensive rebound to push the lead to 21-7.

Canton’s Nick Cushman sank a three off a feed from Steve Burbank just before the buzzer to make it 21-10 at the end of a quarter.

Both defenses clamped down early in the second with each time scoring just once in the first three minutes but Rogers sank a big three off a feed from Michael Devlin. Another three minutes passed before Borde scored a tough jumper. Kyle Fitzgerald (six points) and Burbank each scored late in the quarter, and Robbie Gallery had six points and three rebounds in the first half, to keep Canton in shouting distance at halftime.

“Foxboro’s a good team and one of the better defensive teams in our league and the area, so if you get down early and dig yourself a hole, it’s really hard to come back on them with the way that they guard,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “We couldn’t string things together, they had an answer…if we did a few good things on defense, we couldn’t get it going on offense. If we did a few good things on offense, we couldn’t string together a few stops on defense. We have to be more consistent.”

Foxboro quickly extended its lead early in the second half as Gallagher opened up the third quarter with a triple, Rogers lowered his shoulder and drove hard to the basket for two. Canton sophomore Lanse Dorcelus (nine points) sank a three and the Bulldogs got back-to-back stops but couldn’t get any closer before Rogers answered with another strong take.

Dorcelus sank another three and Eric Mischler came up with a steal but Canton’s next trip came up empty and Hughes was left alone down low for an easy two and a 40-25 lead. Gallagher scored on a baseline take and Rogers beat the buzzer with a three as Foxboro closed the quarter on a 7-0 burst to take a 45-25 lead into the fourth.

“We talk a lot about handling and responding to advertising because in a league this tough, you’re not going to have any games where it goes your way for the entire 32 minutes,” Gibbs said. “There’s always going to be those runs and tough stretches from the other teams so we talk a lot about that and how to handle those moments.

“And the other part of that is having a veteran team full of experienced players that have been there before. They’ve been in that situation so many times so they don’t get rattled or panic because Canton made a big shot. I thought that was key for us in both of our wins this season that when the other team made a run, we were able to punch right back.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The teams traded baskets for the first three minutes of the final quarter, keeping the lead around the 20-point mark until the reserves were put into the game. Gallagher scored Foxboro’s first five points while Dorcelus sank another triple for Canton.

Foxboro pushed the lead to 53-30 before Canton junior Colton Mirliani (nine points) came in and hit his first of three triples. Foxboro freshman Alex Penders scored his first basket with a three-pointer in the final minute.

Foxboro boys basketball (1-1 Hockomock, 2-1 overall) will take on a strong Needham team in the Westwood tournament on Sunday while Canton (0-3, 1-3) has a quick turnaround, traveling to Norwood on Saturday at 12:30.

Foster Carries Canton Past North Attleboro

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Paul Corcoran goes up for a layup against North Attleboro’s George Ladd in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Locked in a defensive battle, the North Attleboro and Canton boys basketball teams spent the majority of the fourth quarter in a one-possession game.

For the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, only one minute of it was spent with Canton holding more than a one-possession lead. And for a three and a half minute stretch, neither side could make a move to either pull away or erase the deficit.

North Attleboro senior Josh Montague converted a tough layup to bring the Rocketeers within three at 41-38 with just over four minutes left in the game. Canton had plenty of chances to pull away, but the Rocketeers wouldn’t allow it.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Over the next three and a half minutes, Canton went 0-for-5 from the field, leaving the lead at just three points and the door open for the Rocketeers.

But while Canton’s offense sputtered, its defense continued to force the Rocketeers into tough shots. North Attleboro didn’t fare any better in the stretch, going 0-for-3 from the field, missed the front end of a one-and-one, and had three turnovers.

Despite the lack of success for North, it’s defense also kept them in the game, and the Rocketeers trailed by three the under a minute to go.

It wasn’t until Canton forced a turnover off an inbounds play and with just under 20 seconds to go in the game, the Bulldogs turned to the man who had carried them virtually the entire game: senior Devin Foster.

Foster made a cut through the lane and took a feed from Kyle Fitzgerald and laid it in for a five-point lead. And to seal the deal, Foster stepped in to take a charge on North’s next possession to get the ball back.

With the 43-38 victory, Canton clinches sole possession of the Davenport division title. It marks the second straight year the Bulldogs have won the division.

“It was a strange game because of the flow of it, or lack of flow to it,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “It was kind of a unique game. We had a really bad first quarter, giving up 18 points but then we held them to 20 points the rest of the way. And they are a good team, they have bigs, they have shooters. For us to be able to hold a good team like that through the final three quarters is big for us. It was a defensive battle, a classic Davenport division game.”

Foster’s last bucket was just the cherry on top of a terrific performance. The senior guard scored all of Canton’s eight points in the final quarter, and accounted for 19 of the team’s 22 points in the second half. Foster finished with 29 points and five rebounds.

“They were switching, and we knew that coming in, so we drew some plays up to try and get him some easier baskets and put him in different matchups that we felt we could take advantage of,” Gordy said. “So the gameplan kind of just went that way. And the other thing is our road woes. Over the last three years, we’re much better at home than on the road. Devin has been great both at home and on the road but we have to get everybody else playing like they do at home.”

North Attleboro’s offense came out strong, scoring 18 points in the opening quarter. But it fizzled from there as the Rocketeers managed just 20 points over the final three quarters, going just 2-for-18 from three point range for the game. The Rocketeers opened by hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field but managed just six field goals on 31 attempts over the final 24 minutes.

“I’m proud of the effort, but, defensively obviously Foster is a handful,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We tried a couple of different things and he found ways to make plays and make shots. Ultimately we just didn’t down enough good looks, some great looks. I’m proud that we got those looks, we’ve knocked them down the last couple of games but tonight, for whatever reason, we just didn’t knock enough down shots. Holding them to 43 is good but scoring 38 isn’t enough.”

The teams combined for just 14 points in the second quarter. Sophomore George Ladd (10 points, nine rebounds) scored the first three points for the Rocketeers while Nate Gonsalves hit a pair of free throws. For Canton, Fitzgerald drained a three, Robbie Gallery added a free throw, and Foster scored four straight to get the Bulldogs within two, 23-21, at halftime.

The Bulldogs seemed to make a concerted effort to get Foster the ball in the third quarter, and the senior delivered. After Fitzgerald hit a three to open the frame for the Bulldogs, Foster scored the next 11 for Canton.

He followed Fitzgeralds three with a triple of his own and drove to the basket for two more for a 29-25 lead. Foster and North’s Jake Petersen traded two points apiece before Foster hit back-to-back shots for a 35-28 advantage, the largest lead of the night for Canton.

“They made some more significant changes defensively at halftime,” Mulkerrins said. “They defended our sets pretty well, they did a better job of closing down our driving lanes. In the third quarter, we didn’t get as many looks. In the second and fourth quarter, we got the looks but if you don’t capitalize on them you won’t win the game.”

Josh Porter and Montague connected on back-to-back chances to bring North Attleboro within three heading into the final quarter.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Nate Gonsalves got North within two early and a pair of free throws from Joe MiloshCanton boys basketball (9-6 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) concludes its league schedule when it hosts Milford on Friday night. North Attleboro (6-9, 8-9) hits the road to take on Foxboro on the same night.

Bulldogs Pull Away From Big Red For Key Division Win

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Devin Foster (4) goes up for a shot against North Attleboro’s Jake Petersen (50) in the second quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Holding an eight-point lead entering the final eight minutes of the game, the Canton boys basketball team did all the little things to extend that advantage and hold on for a win at the end.

The Bulldogs used a pair of steals and a pair of offensive rebounds to open the fourth with a 7-0 run, jumping out to its largest lead of the game at 45-30, and then held off a late push from visiting North Attleboro over the final three minutes to secure a 58-54 victory.

North Attleboro started with possession trailing 38-30 in the fourth but Ryan Lentol (nine points, seven rebounds) came up with a steal that led to a layup from Kyle Fitzgerald (11 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Rocketeers tried to go down low on the ensuing possession but Devin Foster (21 points, seven rebounds) came from the weak side to knock it free. Canton’s first shot was blocked by Jake Petersen but Fitzgerald grabbed the offensive board and found Foster for a triple. After an empty trip from the Big Red, Canton missed a triple, but Foster was there for the putback to put the Bulldogs ahead 45-30 with six minutes to play.

Canton had half of its eight offensive rebounds in the final quarter and out-rebounded the Rocketeers, 10-6, in the final frame.

“To get those extra possessions against a good team, it was the difference,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “We talked about it at halftime because we were behind on the glass. We talked about being able to get a little lower and crashing on the weak side for offensive rebounds. Felt like we made that adjustment and did a good job in the second half.”

The Bulldogs led by 11 with just over a minute to go but the Rocketeers continued to battle to the final white. Josh Montague (15 points) hit free throws and followed with a strong take to the Tim to make it 51-44 with a minute to go. Canton pushed the lead back to 10 behind free throws from Lentol and Foster, but Montague answered with two free throws and junior Ethan Friberg connected on a three to cut the deficit to six with 21 seconds left.

Canton also applied a press at various times in the second half, mostly intended to keep the pace slow while holding the lead.

“It becomes a time management thing,” Gordy said. “Once you get up 12 in a Davenport game in this rock fight type games, anytime you can have time management in the fourth quarter is valuable. The press helped take some time off the block and got the ball out of Montague’s hands, he’s such a good player, he kind of makes the whole thing work for him so we kind of wanted to get the ball out of his hands with that press.”

North forced a turnover but couldn’t convert and Foster tacked on two more free throws to make it 57-49. Josh Porter added five points over the final seconds to get North within four at the buzzer.

“I thought our defensive effort overall tonight was subpar,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “There was always one rotation that we missed. Coach Gordy made a great adjustment, they were slipping hard in the third quarter. Foster got going, which you know he’s going to, and then in that fourth quarter when they had that run, we’re down so every minute and every possession matters. We just didn’t play well and Canton made us look pretty bad at times.”

Canton’s eight-point lead to start the fourth was the result of a strong third quarter. Leading by two at halftime, the Bulldogs opened the second half with an 11-1 run. After Foster was held to six points on two made field goals in the first half, Canton made it a priority to get their leading scorer looks early on.

Foster answered the challenge, driving to the basket on Canton’s second possession for two. After a miss from North, Foster again was able to get into an isolation situation and used the glass to sink another layup. Canton came up with two offensive rebounds on its next trip, the latter leading to a corner three from sophomore Eric Mischler and the Bulldogs suddenly led 30-21.

Foster came up with a steal, and despite losing possession for a split second, grabbed it back and went in for two. North got on the board via a free throw from Friberg but Canton countered with a nice feed from Lentol to a cutting Matt Giglio (13 points, four rebounds) and the sophomore finished to extend the advantage to 34-22 halfway through the quarter.

“The whole thing starts with Devin, everyone knows that, and then it becomes contagious,” Gordy said. “When good things are happening with Devin, other guys step up and play well as well. Devin only had six at halftime so we wanted to get him some good looks so we ran a few sets for him early and to his credit, he knocked down shots and made plays. He might have cold stretches but he’s too good of a player to play like it for a whole game.”

North responded with an 8-4 run over the final four minutes to stay within striking distance going into the final quarter.

To begin the game, Canton built an 8-2 lead over the first four minutes but the teams combined for 20 points over the final four minutes of the first. Foster and Giglio each had a pair of threes in the frame while five different Rocketeers hit a field goal, including a three from Nate Gonsalves (12 points). Canton led 16-11 after one.

The Rocketeers’ defense shined in the second quarter and helped the visitors get back in the game. North limited Canton to 2-for-14 shooting in the frame, held the Bulldogs without a three-pointer, and forced three turnovers. Meanwhile, North’s offense got into gear scoring all of its points over the final 5:43, including a 7-1 run to finish the quarter.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Gonsalves bookended the run with a triple and a layup while Petersen and Friberg hit free throws and sophomore George Ladd (eight points, six rebounds) converted with a nice move in the post. North trailed 23-21 at half.

“I thought in the first half, we had two possessions we didn’t run the right thing, we missed some free throws, they had some offensive rebounds, and we were only down two,” Mulkerrins said. “So we tried to address those fixable things but the biggest thing is we have to defend better. We’re not going to put up 75 points. The defense just wasn’t there, and that has to be better.”

Canton boys basketball (6-2 Hockomock, 7-3 overall) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Taunton. North Attleboro (3-5, 5-5) will visit King Philip on the same day.

Canton’s Machuga Makes Return To Basketball Court

Xavier Machuga
Canton senior Xavier Machuga puts up a shot in the opening minute against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Less than two years after suffering a life altering brain injury, Canton senior Xavier Machuga hit one of the biggest milestones on his road for recovery.

He made it back onto the basketball court.

A swing player during his sophomore season, Machuga was slated two be a starter for his final two years of high school before suffering a brain aneurysm in early May 2017. He spent over a week in a medically induced coma and could barely move when he regained consciousness after the stroke caused bleeding in his cerebellum. He had to learn to talk and walk all over again.

Over the past 18 months, Machuga has achieved plenty of milestones all while attending Bulldog practices and games during their historic season a year ago. During that run, Machuga and head coach Ryan Gordy, who formed a special bond in 2015 when Machuga moved from Connecticut for his freshman year, had a conversation about what could have been. During that conversation, the idea that Machuga would never play for the Bulldogs again came up.

“Why not?” Gordy asked. “Let’s create that opportunity for you as a senior.”

After months of strenuous rehab, and more recently, hours of layup practice, the moment came in the opening minute of the Bulldogs’ clash with defending D1 State Champions Mansfield. Machuga earned his first career start and scored the first points of the game for Canton, hitting a layup to standing ovation from both teams and fans.

“To be honest, it felt nothing less than awesome,” Machuga said. He was the first Bulldog to be named a captain for this season. “To be out there again with all my teammates, it’s a great feeling. It’s another milestone for me to take the floor with my fellow teammates and score a bucket, that was awesome.”

Machuga has made terrific strides in his recovery, and currently walks with the aid of a cane. And there is no denying his love for basketball. Before his injury, the story goes that Machuga made friends with the custodians at Canton High in order to get in extra shots up inside the gym.

“Xavier’s moment, it’s bigger than basketball,” Gordy said. “To see all the hard work he’s put in to get back to that moment, it’s pretty emotional for me, him and his family, and all the guys on the team. It’s been a long road to recovery and it’s just a really awesome, special moment for him and everybody in our community to see that happen.

“Tonight was pretty special, it was one of the coolest moment I’ve been involved in in my life.”

Gordy was hopeful the moment would happen this year but he left it up it Machuga to pick when. The senior forward hand picked Tuesday’s matchup with Kelley-Rex leading Mansfield, but not because of the showdown between division leaders, but because of his relationship with Hornet head coach Mike Vaughan. It was important for Machuga to have personal connections with both coaches and Vaughan coached Machuga in AAU basketball prior to the incident.

“It’s so much bigger than basketball,” Vaughan said. “Just to be able to recognize a kid who, given different circumstances, would have been here and been a key contributor to the Canton High team, but because of some unfortunate events had to take another path. I knew X before he got sick and now I’ve been able to see what he’s been able to do after he got sick. What’s amazing is he still wants to impact people. You just can’t say enough good things about when people live their life that way and want to do good things. There’s a lot of people who take adversity and fail and he’s doing nothing but being successful out of this. This was an opportunity for him to get highlighted, all the people chanting his name, my kids engaged and excited for him. It was very special, it was very touching. It was something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Canton dedicated last year to Machuga and used the slogan “Soldier X.” The Bulldogs went on to earn a share of the Davenport division title, the program’s first league crown since 1992.

“I was super determined to play again,” Machuga said. “The team winning the league championship last year drove me to make the comeback that I did. I mean I was working hard already but seeing what they did really pushed me inside.”

Machuga’s teammates fed off the moment, trailing by just one (15-14) and leading 26-25 over the once-beaten Hornets heading into the locker room. But Mansfield proved to be too much in the second half, using an early 9-0 run in the third to flip the game. The Hornets outscored Canton 24-9 in the third and finished with a 70-43 victory.

“I can’t thank Mike and the whole Mansfield program enough for their sportsmanship and participation,” Gordy said. “They had the ‘Soldier X’ warmup shirts which were awesome, those were a surprise to us. Xavier got emotional when he saw that, it was a really cool thing. The way the Mansfield kids reacted, it was really cool to see.”

Foxboro Grinds Out Win Over Canton To Pull Even

Foxboro boys basketball
Foxboro’s Joe Morrison rises up for a shot in the first half against Canton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – For nearly nine minutes in the second half, Foxboro’s offense was stifled by Canton’s 1-3-1 zone defense.

It was just the latest move in a chess game between the Warriors and the Bulldogs.

During that span, Canton cut the 10-point deficit down to just three, 29-26, with five minutes to play. Out of a timeout, Foxboro responded with its move, adjusting its offense to get the ball into the post.

The adjustment resulted in a 6-0 spurt over a two-minute span, helping the Warriors hold on for a 39-34 win over the Bulldogs, putting the teams into a first-place tie atop the Davenport division with just one game left.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“What you saw tonight was two evenly matched teams and two teams that were very well prepared for each other,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “Once you get to this point in the season, teams know each other so well and they’re going to take away what teams want to do. I thought you saw two teams tonight that played really well on defense and took away some of the top options on both sides. I’m just really proud of our guys the way we came out defensively with such energy.

“Obviously Canton is a team that can put up a lot of points, [Devin] Foster and [Tony] Harris are both phenomenal offensive players that are really difficult to stop. I thought Joe [Morrison] and Brandon [Borde] were outstanding with their effort.”

Over its scoreless span, the Warriors tried to shoot out of the zone but went 0-for-9 from three-point range, 0-for-1 from two-point range and had one turnover. But out of the timeout with five minutes to go, Gibbs had the offense focus on getting the ball inside.

Matt Rongione (eight rebounds, five assists) executed the game plan, finding Borde (seven points, four rebounds) on the baseline with a bounce pass for an easy two. On the next trip up, Rongione hooked up with Borde once again down low for another two. Canton came out of the zone and Borde was able to track down a miss, leading to two free throws from Anthony Mollica, giving Foxboro a 35-26 lead.

“We definitely knew the 1-3-1 was a possibility so we spent some time over the past two days and had a couple of different packages,” Gibbs said. “Early on we were taking a lot of jumpers, and I thought they were good looks, but unfortunately none of them were going in. So at some point, you have to make an adjustment so we went with another look that got us some more paint touches and we were able to get free down low for a couple of layups and that forced them to come out of it.

“Canton’s 1-3-1 is really difficult to simulate in practice because they do it so well so I was really proud of our execution with some of that stuff.”

Canton made one more push as Foster (13 points) drilled a three with two minutes to go and Austin Maffie converted a putback with 1:25 to go, bringing the deficit to four at 35-31.

But Borde hit a free throw on the other end, Canton had a three rim out, and Rongione came down with the defensive board. Bobby Harrison (eight points) hit three of four free throw attempts in the final minute to ice the game.

“I feel like both teams know each other so well, each team knew what the other team was running, we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “I just thought it came down to a couple possessions here and there where there was a tip or a deflection, all of those little things add up. I thought the first game when we beat them we made more of those plays and this game I thought Foxboro made more of those, so hats off to Foxboro.”

Foxboro created its largest lead between the end of the second and early in the third. Harrison drove to the basket for two, Morrison (14 points) drained a three on a feed from Rongione, and Rongione converted at the rim himself to give Foxboro a 22-15 lead.

To start the third, Rongione hit a free throw, Borde hulled in an offensive rebound for put it back in for two, Morrison scored after a steal from Teddy Maher, and then Maher scored again after another steal of his own to make it 29-19.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We talked a lot about winning plays and hustle plays because the first time I thought Canton made all those plays down the stretch,” Gibbs said. “There were so many times where they won the 50/50 plays, they got the offensive rebounds, the loose balls, all that stuff. I challenged our guys to be that team tonight and I thought we were. Some of the biggest plays we had were either offensive rebounds or diving on loose balls. We got two over the back calls because we boxed out so well.”

Canton then made the switch to the zone, which afforded its offense some time to get back into the game. Foster scored on a feed from Verille off an inbounds play and Foster hit two free-throws to get within five (29-24) at the end of three. Harris (nine points, eight rebounds) scored in transition on a pass from Foster to make it a one-possession game with 6:25 to play.

It took over three minutes for the teams to open the scoring in the first quarter. Foxboro led by as much as five on a Maher three, but Canton outscored the hosts 7-2 over the final two minutes, including a coast-to-coast layup by Harris at the buzzer to put the Dogs ahead, 11-10.

Foxboro boys basketball (11-4 Hockomock, 15-4 overall) pulls into a tie atop the Davenport alongside Canton with the win. The Warriors have a chance to win at least a share of the division title if they can beat North Attleboro on Friday. Canton (11-4, 15-4) is in the same boat and will have another shot at winning the division when it hosts Stoughton on the same day.

Defensive Adjustment Helps Canton Hold Off Taunton

Canton boys basketball
Canton junior Devin Foster drives to the basket against Taunton in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – After leading by as much as 20 points, a second-half resurgence by Taunton saw Canton’s lead shrink to just six early in the fourth quarter.

Taunton sophomore Dante Law (12 rebounds, three blocks) drained the Tigers’ only three of the game with five minutes left in the game, bringing the visitors within two possessions at 42-36.

Coming out of a timeout, the Bulldogs decided to switch things up. After playing man-to-man defense for the majority of the game, the hosts switched to a 1-3-1 zone.

The result was a scoreless stretch of over four minutes for Taunton, allowing Canton to regain its footing and get just enough separation for a 48-38 win. It marks Canton’s first win over Taunton since the Tigers joined the Hockomock League.

“I thought we had to change the momentum of the game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy of changing defenses. “They had us on the ropes a little bit, they were making a good comeback. I just like we had to change something. They were taking us off the bounce a little bit and doing a good job attacking our guys. So we decided to change the defense to see if we could get a few stops in a row and it worked.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton built a 14-4 lead after one quarter and took a commanding 30-11 lead into the locker room at the halftime break.

“We were ready to play but we need to be able to play like that for four quarters on offense,” Gordy said. “I still don’t know if we’ve played our best basketball game yet for a full game. We’ve been an inconsistent team throughout the course of the season. When we take quarters off and allow teams back into the game, it becomes a rock fight. So we have to do a better job of being more consistent throughout the court of a 32-minute game.”

But Taunton had its best quarter of the game in the third, putting up 14 points while holding the hosts to just seven points. The Tigers attacked the basket with purpose and got to the line nine times, sinking eight of those attempts.

Taunton closed the third with a 10-2 run including a layup and two free throws from freshman Diamond Blakely (six points) and four free throws and a late layup from sophomore Naz Kenion (14 points).

The Tigers continued that run into the fourth with a 9-5 run capped by Law’s three, prompting Canton’s defensive switch. Against the 1-3-1 zone, Taunton’s offense sputtered, going 0-for-5 from the floor with two turnovers.

“It slowed us down and made us think,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. In the first half, the Tigers shot just 14% from the floor on 14 shot attempts while having 12 turnovers. “It stifles [the offense], it absolutely stifles it. That was a stifled, stagnant offense out there. It’s not like we haven’t worked on it, you have to slip the screens when they switch. We’ve worked on it, but we didn’t hit a slip screen all day long.

“We picked it up defensively in the second half. And that’s how we have to play. We have to get into the open court and finish.”

For Canton, Tony Harris (11 points, 10 rebounds) hit a free throw, Jake Verille hit a free throw and Robbie Gallery converted a fast break with a minute left to help the Bulldogs pull away.

Before that final stretch, junior Devin Foster (23 points) was responsible for keeping the Dogs ahead. He scored seven points in the opening quarter to help the hosts build a double-digit lead and scored eight more in the second period as Canton took a 30-11 lead into the half.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

He hit an early three in the third quarter, and had Canton’s first five points, including a traditional three-point play, of the fourth quarter.

“I can’t say enough about what Devin does for us,” Gordy said. “He’s one of the best players in the league and he shows it every night. I’m really proud I have the opportunity to coach a kid like that. He’s a great kid, he’s a kid of high character so when he does well you get really excited for him.”

Canton boys basketball (8-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) will finish up its crossover games on Tuesday when the Bulldogs visit Oliver Ames at 6:30. Taunton (5-5, 9-6) will look to bounce back when it hosts Taunton on the same night at the same time.

Canton Pulls Away From Foxboro In Fourth Quarter

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Devin Foster drives to the basket in the first half against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – In a game when points are at a premium, even the smallest of runs can make the biggest difference.

After six lead changes in the third quarter alone, Canton rattled off an 8-0 burst over a two-minute span to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the game. The hosts never looked back from there, earning a key 61-48 win over Foxboro to give the Bulldogs sole possession of first place in the Davenport.

“That was just a great basketball game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “The score says it was a 13 point game but it really wasn’t, free throws extended it at the end, it really could have gone either way. Two teams that play really hard-nosed basketball, I thought the stars were stars…[Devin] Foster and [Tony] Harris for us, [Brandon] Borde and [Joe] Morrison for them. Both teams have really solid role players…just a really awesome high school basketball game. And my hat’s off to Foxboro, they do a really good job with their guys, they’re always well coached and well prepared.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton junior Devin Foster (24 points, five rebounds) banked in a step-back three-pointer at the buzzer of the third quarter to give the Bulldogs a 44-43 lead, and arguably, more importantly, the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs led by one (10-9) at the end of the first and a late three from Foxboro senior Teddy Maher sent the teams into the locker rooms tied 26-26. Neither side led by more than six points through three-quarters of play.

After Foxboro scored the first basket of the fourth to retake the lead, 45-44, the Warriors’ offense went quiet. Canton’s Tony Harris (23 points, six rebounds) started the run with a pair of free throws, Foster drained a deep three from straight away, and after a steal from Ryan Lentol, Harris hit a trey of his own to give the Dogs its largest lead at 52-45 with 3:32 to play.

The Warriors couldn’t answer as they had a turnover on the ensuing possession and then three straight misses. With just over a minute left and the shot clock winding down, Foster took his man baseline and finished at the rim for a 54-45 lead.

Foxboro finally broke its scoreless streak (spanning 6:20) when sophomore Brandon Borde (17 points, seven rebounds) hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to seven, but Canton hit seven of nine free throw attempts in the final minute while the Warriors went without a field goal.

Canton outscored Foxboro 17-5 in the final frame.

“Foster’s three at the end of the third quarter I think really changed the momentum of the game,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I think it gave Canton a big boost and kind of sucked away some of our energy, unfortunately. Canton was obviously very well prepared and they were prepared to take away some of the things we like to do offensively and they were able to make things really difficult on us. Give Canton credit for their defense. I think it had to do with their defense more than anything else.

“Foster and Harris were tremendous, it seemed every time we started to build momentum, one of those two hit a big shot. They hit huge shots time and again, and they were really clutch. They did what big-time players do and really carried Canton. We’ll have to figure out how to do a better job next time around.”

Canton built a 10-4 lead through the first seven minutes of the first quarter, holding the Warriors to just 1-for-11 shooting. But after hauling in an offensive rebound, Joe Morrison (17 points, seven rebounds) drained a three and Borde scored on a layup on the next possession to bring Foxboro within one after eight minutes.

The Bulldogs never trailed in the second period either, but couldn’t pull away thanks to Foxboro’s work on the offensive glass. Harris had a three erased when Borde answered off of Morrison’s offensive rebound.

Jake Verille gave Canton its largest lead of the first half with a layup (19-13) but Borde converted at the rim, later hit a free throw and Morrison hit a pair of free throws to get Foxboro within one. Harris finished a traditional three-point play only for Borde to keep Foxboro close with a triple. Foster and Bobby Harrison traded baskets, Austin Maffie then put Canton up three, but Maher’s triple tied the game.

“A game that tight, every possession is so valuable that they really stick out…an offensive rebound really sticks out cause its an extra possession,” Gordy said. “That game came down to who was able to execute and grind out stops. Any offensive board or tip we got or they got, it just seemed huge.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

In the third quarter, Morrison hit a three to put Foxboro up 29-28, only for Foster to convert to give Canton the lead back. Morrison drained another triple but four straight from Foster put Canton ahead again. Matt Rongione went on a personal 5-0 run and two free throws from Borde gave Foxboro its biggest lead (40-35) with 2:30 in the third.

“Devin was just feeling it in that quarter,” Gordy said. “He had 11 in the quarter and it felt like he got hot at the right time, he put us on his back for a quarter and we were able to come out and play better team basketball in the fourth to put it away.”

Kyle Fitzgerald and Lentol scored back-to-back but a three from Anthony Mollica kept Foxboro up four. Harris brought Canton within two before Fitzgerald’s offensive rebound set Foster up for his buzzer beater.

“Kyle Fitzgerald, all that kid does it make toughness plays,” Gordy said. “He’s undersized but he plays big. He’s our catalyst, he does so much for us. He’s a spark plug off the bench and his contributions tonight should absolutely be noted.”

“I thought in the second half they started to get more of those 50-50 balls, more of the loose balls, more of the rebounds in the paint on both ends,” Gibbs said. “Those plays add up and can make a huge difference over the course of a game. Especially these grind-it-out Davenport games, every possession matters. If you can get your team an extra shot or extra possession, it’s huge. I thought Canton was really hungry in the second half…that huge three by Foster at the end of the third was off an offensive rebound. And we weren’t able to get enough of those for us in the second half.”

Canton boys basketball (6-1 Hockomock, 8-1 overall) moves into sole possession of first place of the Davenport and will be in action again on Friday at Stoughton. Foxboro (5-2, 9-2) will look to bounce back the same night when it travels to North Attleboro.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton Turns Defense Into Offense Against North

Canton boys basketball
Canton’s Jake Verille (right) tries to get past North Attleboro’s Josh Montague (left) in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – With North Attleboro’s half-court defense giving Canton’s offense fits, the Bulldogs needed to find other ways to get its offense in gear.

The offensive jumpstart that Canton needed started on the defensive end, as the Bulldogs’ defense came up with continuous stops that allowed the team to cash in in transition. And on top of that, five of the Bulldogs’ six offensive rebounds resulted in second-chance points.

That combination gave Canton’s offense the boost it needed and the defense did the result, earning a 53-35 win over the Rocketeers.

“It all started with our defense,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “[North] has a lot of size and we were concerned about post entries so we worked really hard on defending it. I felt like we did a good executing our defensive gameplan.

“I thought North did a really good job in the half court against us defensively, we struggled. They did a good job containing our guards. We talked about it during a timeout in the quarter. We said tonight our best offense is going to be getting stops and then pushing the ball in transition. That’s a credit to North, they did a nice job taking away some things.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton got off to a strong start, limiting Big Red to just a pair of field goals in the first quarter. The Bulldogs hauled in nine defensive rebounds and got out running, leading to a 14-5 lead after eight minutes.

North Attleboro’s offense got back on track in the second, which also helped slow Canton’s offense down. After a transition bucket from Devin Foster (13 points) put Canton up 21-8 early in the quarter, North’s offense rattled off an 11-4 run to end the half.

North junior Josh Montague (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists) was the catalyst of the run. Matt Seavey’s two free throws started the surge but Montague scored the Rocketeers’ next nine points, including a putback, a drive the length of the court after hauling in a defensive rebound, and one at the free throw line.

But as quickly as North got back into the game at the end of the half, Canton recreated its lead with a surge to open the third quarter. Austin Maffie (10 points, six rebounds) converted a putback to open the scoring, senior Tony Harris cut across the paint and took a feed from Jake Verille (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists) for an easy two, and then Foster capped the run with a triple, followed by a strong take to the rim.

“I thought our defense was bad pretty much throughout,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “I didn’t think we had any passion, I didn’t think we tried to do what we wanted to do. They dictated the pace and had a good game plan against us. We didn’t make shots but that doesn’t excuse the lack of effort. They killed us on 50/50 balls, seemed like they got everyone. Then we’d finally defend for 25 seconds, their shot goes up and we’d get beat to the rebound. We have to defend better than that to be competitive”

Big Red rattled off four straight points to get within 11 again but a bucket from Kyle Fitzgerald in transition was followed by a putback from Matt Warburton to swing momentum back in favor of the visitors.

“North did a good job mucking it up so we needed to find other ways to score,” Gordy said. “If you can get some offensive rebound putbacks or offensive rebounds that turn into points, and then also score in transition, those are the extra little things that make the difference in the game.”

Canton’s defense limited North Attleboro 10 points or less in three of the four quarters, 26% shooting from the field overall, and just four three’s on 19 attempts.

“The defense set the tone for us tonight,” Gordy said. “If we can defend like that and push the ball like that…that’s when we’re at our best. Especially since we sometimes play two or three point guards who can handle it and get it going in transition.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Canton had an answer for every push North made in the final quarter. Junior Jake Petersen (eight points, nine rebounds) scored down low off a feed from Montague but Verille answered with a three-pointer. Peterson scored off an offensive rebound and Montague hit a step back triple for a quick 5-0 spurt but Maffie hit back-to-back baskets in response.

“Those second chance points kill any momentum you might have,” Mulkerrins said. “Points were at a premium, they didn’t exactly light it up with 53 points, but for us…I just kept yelling ‘wake up’ because I didn’t think at any point during the game we played to our ability level. It starts with us being aggressive, being passionate…being excited to be there. I just kind of felt we were a bit lethargic today and Canton does such a good job of getting Foster and Harris the ball and their other guys fill their roles great for them. Hats off to Canton, they showed up today and we didn’t.”

Canton boys basketball (3-1 Hockomock, 5-1 overall) will be back in action on Tuesday night when it hosts Milford. North Attleboro (1-3, 3-3) will try to bounce back when the same night when it takes a trip to Sharon. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 6:30.

Foster, Canton Squeeze Past Archbishop Williams

Canton boys basketball
Canton boys basketball huddles up before the opening tip. (Danny Emerman/HockomockSports.com)

By Danny Emerman, HockomockSports.com Contributor

BRAINTREE, Mass. – Archbishop Williams’ Patrick Sexton converted a layup through contact. Though he missed the ensuing free throw, his teammate Thomas Veasey corralled the offensive rebound and completed his own traditional three-point play.

The five-point play swing, emblematic of a back-and-forth game, cut the Canton Bulldogs’ once 12-point lead down to just four with 41 seconds remaining.

But Canton made enough plays down in the final minute and held on for a 62-57 win.

“They found a way to make the game ugly, and we found a way to win an ugly game,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy.

Canton started the game in control from the tip, breaking the Archies’ zone defense for easy looks. The hosts hung around by attacking the rim, getting to the basket, and feeding the post, where they had size advantages.

Canton played man to man defense in the first half, aggressively denying passes and switching on-ball screens. They fronted the post without weak side help, but Archies elected to go over the top to find some success in the post.

“We wanted to front because we knew they had a little bit of size,” Gordy said. “They did a good job lobbing it over the top. We have to do a better job pressuring the inbounds pass to the post.”

Inside, Archbishop Williams’ big men either converted layups or got fouled, which put Canton in the bonus early.

“We did a good job of that lead pass and our bigs did a good job of finishing,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jimmy Dolan said. “We had a good balance of working the ball in and out, getting to the line,” Dolan added.

The Bishops went on a remarkable 18-3 blitz to open the second quarter, swinging the momentum in favor of the hosts. Archies entered halftime with a slim 31-26 lead by winning the second quarter 23-9.

Archbishop put their stamp on the second quarter, but Canton returned the favor by outscoring the Bishops 23-6 in the third, taking a 12-point lead into the final frame.

The difference, simply, was Devin Foster (23 points). Archbishop had no answer for the junior guard down the stretch, as Foster poured in 15 points in the second half, including 11 in the third quarter.

“He can do it all,” Gordy said of Foster. “He can shoot it, he can handle it, he makes guys better because when he attracts the defense, he likes to pitch and kick. We just have to make sure other guys are knocking down shots when they get opportunities so we can allow him the space he needs to operate.”

Canton opened the second half on a 12-0 run to retake the lead, with Foster responsible for 10 of those points.

Gordy aimed to “neutralize” Archbishop’s big men in the second half by switching to a high 1-3-1 trapping zone and by giving senior center Matt Warburton more minutes. “[Warburton] didn’t play a lot in the first half, but he was a huge X-factor for us,” Gordy said.

Foster’s electrifying play combined with Canton’s defensive adjustments had them in pole position, but the Bishops never went away.

A Sebastian Joseph (11 points) and-one cut the Bulldog lead to single digits, then James Dolan’s (10 points) triple cut it to six early in the fourth quarter. The rare five-point possession brought the Bishops within four.

Patrick Sexton’s three-pointer from the top of the key after a pair of Canton free throws made it 60-57 with 15 seconds left, but it wasn’t enough.

Canton senior guard Jake Verille stepped up on the offense end. Verille dropped 13 points and dished out a handful of pretty assists by swerving into the teeth of Archbishop Williams’ zone defense and kicking out to shooters.

Canton boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 4-1 overall) enters division play on Friday, with Milford scheduled to come to town at 6:30.