Run Comes to an End for OA at TD Garden

OA girls basketball
Francesca Calabraro scored nine points, seven in the third quarter alone, to lead the Tigers but it was not enough to beat Watertown in the Eastern Mass. final at the TD Garden. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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BOSTON, Mass. – At the end of the third quarter, Oliver Ames was feeling pretty good about itself. The Tigers scored 19 points in the third and had jumped in front of North champion Watertown by a point in Tuesday night’s Eastern Mass. final at the TD Garden.

Momentum seemed to be on OA’s side. But, the Tigers could not sustain that in the fourth.

Watertown clamped down on defense and started stretching the lead, slowly pulling away as OA struggled to find the bottom of the net. The streak started with five points, then nine, then 11 and six minutes into the fourth the Tigers finally scored their first point.

It would be the only one that OA scored in the final quarter. Thanks to a 16-1 run in the fourth, the Raiders pulled away for a 48-34 victory and advanced to Saturday’s state title game in Springfield.

“I think they were thinking about the end and not that there was still enough time left to do something,” sad Clement-Holbrook about how the fourth quarter unraveled for the Tigers.

“You’ve got to put the ball in the basket and I think ultimately that was the thing we didn’t do,” she added. “I think that’s an example of being in this situation before (Watertown started four seniors) where we’re kind of newbies. I’m hoping this will help for next year and the year after that.”

Coming off a struggle offensively in the South final, the Tigers got off to a perfect start at the Garden with Francesca Calabraro scoring a lay-up directly from the opening tip. Hannah Carroll followed with a three and the Tigers led 5-0. Watertown went on a 7-0 run, but Kaitlyn McCarthy buried a straightaway three to make it 8-7 after one.

The inconsistent offense continued in the second, as OA only managed six points. Abby Reardon came off the bench to score four points and Brenna Burkett scored on an offensive rebound but the Raiders took control behind junior center Shannon Murphy.

The Holy Cross-commit scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the second and dominated the lane, finishing with six blocks and 10 rebounds. OA struggled in the paint, especially with Kayla Raymond being forced to the bench with two fouls.

“You can’t shoot over her, you have to move her away from the basket, move the ball, kind of what we were trying to do in some of our previous tournament games,” said Clement-Holbrook of Murphy. “They fought but I think we were overmatched today.”

The Tigers went into halftime trailing 21-14, but it could have been much worse. The Raiders were only 9-19 from the line in the first half.

In the third quarter, something clicked for OA. After a Watertown basket extended the lead to nine, Sam Bamford drilled a three from the corner. Calabraro (nine points) picked off a pass and raced for a lay-up and then Raymond added a three-point play off an inbounds pass to cut the lead to just one point.

The Raiders answered with five straight points, but again OA came back. Raymond (seven points) finished over the top of Murphy and Calabraro had another steal that led to a transition basket.

Raymond knocked down a turn around jumper on the left block and then on the next possession drove baseline but was caught in the air under the basket. Somehow the sophomore spotted Calabraro hanging out by the three-point line and kicked it out for the open look that gave OA its first lead of the second half.

With 45.7 left in the third, Raymond picked up her fourth foul trying to contain Murphy and was forced to go to the bench. She would sit for a while and Watertown took advantage.

“It was detrimental especially where we changed it up on offense and put her out on the high post and were able to get some scores out of that,” said Clement-Holbrook of Raymond’s absence. “We kind of lost our mojo early in the fourth and I think it was really hard for them to bring it back.”

Michaela Antonellis started the fourth with a short jumper in the lane to give the Raiders back the lead, then Felicia Korte stepped outside for a big three. Murphy scored on an offensive rebound and then Korte (11 points) finished a baseline drive and suddenly Watertown was up by eight.

“I don’t know if they did it to us or we did it to us,” Clement-Holbrook explained. “We just didn’t get that pace going fast enough and get out but I think a lot of it was that we didn’t rebound well. If you don’t rebound then it’s hard to run.”

A couple of free throws pushed the lead to 43-33 with fewer than two minutes remaining in the game. McCarthy was fouled and made one of two for the only OA point of the fourth. Murphy capped the game with a lay-up in transition and Clement-Holbrook pulled both her seniors off the court to give the traveling OA contingent a chance to salute them for their efforts.

Clement-Holbrook said, “I don’t want them walking around with their heads down because there’s a lot to be proud of. It’s sadness right now because they know this is the last game they play with Kaitlyn and Sammy and they just love them.”

Coming into the season, Clement-Holbrook knew that she had a good team that could challenge for the Davenport division title, but she had no idea that the Tigers would be capable of making a run to the Div. 2 South title.

She credited her two senior captains, McCarthy and Bamford, for providing the leadership that took a group of relatively inexperienced players on the program’s longest tournament run since winning it all in 2010.

“They’ve been great leaders,” she said, “and I hope and pray that the kids who come back next year have learned a lesson from both those girls in terms of what wonderful role models they have been both in and out of school, on and off the court.”

“I just challenged them…if you can be half the leaders that these two girls have been for you, then that will be success for all of us.

Clement-Holbrook noted that the Tigers would be challenged in other ways, as they prepare for next season with a majority of the team coming back, including top scorers Calabraro and Raymond. OA girls basketball will not be considered a sleeper next year, but a favorite even as it moves up into the Kelley-Rex division for the first time.

“What’s going to happen now is there’s going to be expectations,” said Clement-Holbrook, who joked, “Next year people will probably say I don’t know what I’m doing!”

“These kids have to take this as a challenge to come back more skilled and as better basketball players.”

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Tigers Heading to First South Final Since 2010

OA girls basketball
Francesca Calabraro led the way on Tuesday with 16 points, including 10 in the third quarter, to help OA beat Falmouth. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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BROCKTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames coach Laney Clement-Holbrook had been on this stage many times before, but none of her players had ever been to a sectional semifinal before, many had never even won a playoff game until this season.

She admitted to being concerned about how the Tigers would react under the bright lights at Massasoit Community College and with a trip to the sectional final within their grasp.

As it turned out, Clement-Holbrook had no reason to worry. OA jumped out to an early lead, knocked down eight three-pointers and pulled away in the third quarter to beat Falmouth 56-40 and reach the program’s first sectional final since its last state championship season in 2010.

“Some of these kids have never been in a situation like this before,” said Clement-Holbrook. “When you think about all these kids who have never had this experience before, I’m just so proud of their personal growth because this can be a scary scenario and they didn’t lose their composure.”

The Tigers got off to the perfect start. Francesca Calabraro knocked down a jumper and then Kayla Raymond stepped outside for a straightaway three. Raymond added a pair from the line and a basket off an offensive rebound, scoring seven of her 12 points in the first and also grabbing five of her nine rebounds.

Calabraro scored a layup off a steal and Abby Reardon got a transition bucket after a long pass ahead by Hannah Carroll, who then added a three off a Raymond offensive board and kick-out pass. After all that, OA led 16-4.

“It gets them a little more settled when those early twos and threes happen,” said Clement-Holbrook about the hot shooting in the first. “We didn’t shoot well in the last game, so it was nice to come here and have that return because I think from a confidence standpoint that was really important.”

Falmouth cut into the lead, but OA responded with a layup by Niyera Mitchell and a three by Sam Bamford (eight points) to close out the quarter leading 21-9. Falmouth’s stars, point guard Jennifer Rose DiCecco (21 points) and center Taylor Miller (14 points, 11 rebounds) tried to keep the Clippers in the game, combining for all 13 of Falmouth’s points in the second.

“She’s the engine that makes the run, so to keep the ball away from Miller you have to control her,” said Clement-Holbrook of defending DiCecco.

“We got got caught up a couple of times; there was a double screen in the corner that we didn’t fight through to get over the top and same things happened at the top, so once we got that squared away that the post stepped out and gave a little interference I think that helped us.”

OA continued to respond to each basket by Falmouth. Carroll (seven points) chased down a rebound of her own missed free throw and then stepped out and buried a corner three to make it 25-14. On the next possession, Kaitlyn McCarthy swung the ball to her fellow captain and Bamford hit her second triple of the game.

It felt like OA had dominated the first half, but at the start of the third quarter it was only a 10-point lead (32-22). Any hope of a Falmouth comeback was erased by Calabraro. The junior guard scored 10 of her team-high 16 points in the third to extend the lead to as many as 21 and put the Clippers away.

She started the quarter with a corner three off another assist by Carroll, then followed a McCarthy layup with another trey from the corner that made it 42-23. She buried a jumper to give OA its biggest lead of the game and then ended a 7-0 Clippers run with a steal and layup.

“We need to take care of business because this team can creep back on you in a heartbeat,” said Clement-Holbrook about the message to her team as the second half got underway.

When asked about the team’s three-point shooting, she said, “Honestly I would say that has been our biggest improvement from an offensive standpoint is that we’re able to make shots from the perimeter and it’s not just one person it’s somebody different every time.”

The Tigers have relied on the defense for large stretches of the season and the combination of Raymond and Mitchell with McCarthy on the weak side limited Miller, who scored her 1,000th career point against Foxboro in the previous round, from getting touches in dangerous areas.

But it was on the offensive end that the Tigers really impressed with 15 assists as a team and several impressive passing sequences, such as McCarthy to Raymond to Mitchell across the lane for a layup to give OA a 48-30 lead heading to the fourth.

“It was exceptional,” said Clement-Holbrook about the passing. I think the fact that this is a big floor and there’s a lot of space…once we kind of got our spacing squared away I think that it actually helped us to spread them because I think we’re a little bit quicker.”

Miller scored six in the fourth and DiCecco added four but Falmouth’s remaining players only contributed five points on the night. Meanwhile, the OA offense was spread around with Bamford getting a layup off a diagonal pass from McCarthy (seven points) who followed it with a steal and layup.

After being challenged by North Attleboro and Notre Dame in the opening two rounds, OA was ready for the test it faced on Tuesday night and passed with flying colors.

“It’s been a little while,” said Clement-Holbrook. “It’s a good feeling.”

“It’s not something that we necessarily planned on but as the season went on I kind of had it in the back of my mind that if this defense can carry this club there’s no guessing as to where we can go.”

OA (20-3) will face No. 4 seed Hingham, which upset top seed Westwood in the second semifinal, at Durfee High on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Tuesday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 03/08/16

Today’s playoff games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
D1 South Semifinal
#4 Mansfield, 60 vs. #1 Catholic Memorial, 78 – Final – Nick Baskin led Mansfield with 15 points, Max Boen added 13 points and four rebounds, Christian Weber had nine points and Tyler Boulter chipped in with nine points.
Girls Basketball
D2 South Semifinal
#2 Oliver Ames, 56 vs. #3 Falmouth, 40 – Final – Francesca Calabraro scored a team-high 16 points, including 10 in the third quarter, to lead the Tigers to the Div. 2 South final. Kayla Raymond added 12 points and nine boards. Sam Bamford had eight points for OA and Kaitlyn McCarthy and Hannah Carroll each had seven. OA will face Hingham in the Div. 2 South final on Saturday at 12 p.m. at Durfee High.
Hockey
D1 South Semifinal
#4 Franklin, 3 vs. #8 Newton North, 0 – Final – Junior Joey Blasie scored a pair of goals and sophomore Luke Downie had an assist and an empty net goal to lead the Panthers. Franklin will play the winner of Marshfield and Natick on Sunday in the Div. 1 South final at Gallo Arena at 6:30 p.m.

OA Toughs Out Win Against Physical NDA

OA girls basketball
Francesca calabraro scored a team-high 18 points, as the Tiges beat NDA to advance tot he D2 South semifinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The Oliver Ames revenge tour continued on Saturday evening, as the Tigers welcomed Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) to the William Nixon Gym for a Div. 2 South quarterfinal game.

The last time that the Tigers and Cougars met in  NDA knocked off top seed Oliver Ames, which had finished its Hockomock schedule unbeaten and had only one loss at the time. Just like in the first round when OA faced league rival North Attleboro, which had knocked OA out of last season’s tournament, the Tigers exacted some revenge.

OA led by as many as 13 at several points in the fourth quarter and held off a very late charge by NDA to win 57-49 in a game that saw more than 40 fouls called between the two teams.

“It’s all this Twilight Zone stuff because we had North last time and they beat us and then NDA walks into our gym and the last time they were here it wasn’t a happy ending,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “I started thinking to myself this is getting a little bit weird.”

Both teams came out with the intensity that would be expected from a tournament game, but neither could find the basket in the early going. It took nearly three minutes before Kayla Raymond (15 points, 16 rebounds) got the opening basket of the game on an offensive board.

Francesca Calabraro was the big spark for a struggling OA offense, scoring 10 of her team-high 18 points in the first half. She scored off a Hannah Carroll lead pass plus the foul then hit a jumper to close out the first quarter, this time off a Carroll skip pass, to give the Tigers a 9-8 lead after one.

After Raymond scored on a putback, Calabraro drove to the basket for two and then on an inbounds play stepped back and buried a three to put OA up 16-9.

Offense remained a struggle for the Tigers, but they did get six points from the line in the second and held a 26-19 lead at halftime.

“I think our struggle on offense was self-inflicted,” said Clement-Holbrook. “I’ve got some really young players with inexperience and when you get to this level I think they’re over-analyzing things and over thinking things.”

Calabraro again stepped up in  the third quarter with another eight points and Raymond added four, all from the line. OA shot 9-14 from the line in the third as the game threatened to get out of hand with physical confrontations all over the court.

Clement-Holbrook said, “I knew it was going to be physical, but I didn’t expect it to be that physical. So I hope that gives us the potential for growth as we prepare for the next option.”

The Tiger continued to play their style of aggressive defense and were forcing a number of turnovers. Even when the offense was struggling, OA made the Cougars work for every point.

“That’s what has got us here is our defense and making it difficult for people to get a rhythm,” Clement-Holbrook remarked. “Honestly, I think if we didn’t play the level of intense defense we did tonight then I don’t think we’d be on the winning end of this because our offense really struggled.”

A by-product of the aggressive defense and the numerous fouls that were called was that for the second game in a row senior point guard Sam Bamford was forced to the bench with a fourth foul in the third quarter.

Going up against NDA guard Janey Mathisen (game-high 22 points), who like Bamford would not back down from the physical play, made it tough for Bamford to prevent fouls.

Clement-Holbrook said, “It’s intensity and she just has one speed. It’s either zero or 100 and she needs to learn how to ease up on the gas pedal a little bit.” The coach joked, “I’m just glad she’s not driving.”

In the fourth quarter, OA was on the verge of putting the game away. Abby Reardon (eight points) knocked down a pull-up jumper then Raymond added a couple of finishes at the rim and McCarthy hit a spinning layup that she threw up with her back to the basket and the Tigers’ lead grew to as many as 13.

NDA did not back down and continued to attack. An error on the scoreboard made the lead seem a point larger than it really was, but Mathisen cut the lead to as little as six, 55-49 (the scoreboard read 56-49 at the time), and the clock continued to stop as the fouls continued to pile up for both teams.

“We gave up a few more threes than I was really happy with,” said Clement-Holbrook, “and there were just too many fouls and too many free throws, especially in situations at the end when it could have gone either way and now the clock is stopped and now they’re getting points and that’s dangerous.”

McCarthy buried a pair from the line to ice the game and send OA onto the next round. “The thing for me honestly is that we finished, we finished it, and that’s what we had to do,” Clement-Holbrook said.

OA (19-3) will face Falmouth, which beat Foxboro in overtime on Saturday, in the Div. 2 South semifinal on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Massasoit College.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Raymond Finishes Classic Between North and OA

Oliver Ames girls basketball
OA sophomore Kayla Raymond (35) scores the game-winning basket in the final seconds to beat North Attleboro in the Div. 2 South first round. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – When Kayla Raymond arrived at the gym on Thursday night ahead of Oliver Ames’ Div. 2 South first round match-up against Hockomock rival North Attleboro, something was wrong. Instead of her lucky white socks, Raymond was wearing a set of orange ones.

After sitting almost the entire first half in foul trouble, the white socks arrived at halftime and although the magic did not take right away, as Raymond picked up a fourth foul in the third quarter, it kicked in down the final stretch.

She scored all six of her points in the final two minutes of the game and down by one with 18 seconds remaining, OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook drew up a play to get the sophomore forward the ball. Raymond got the ball out at the three-point lane and drove to her left into the lane and, despite near perfect defense from Caroline Collard, managed to finish in traffic.

The layup capped a back-and-forth, instant classic  that felt more like a final than a first round game. The Tigers exacted revenge for losses in last year’s playoff opener and in the regular season by beating North Attleboro 47-46.

“She was a nervous wreck because she didn’t have both of the white socks,” joked Clement-Holbrook after the game. “The white socks were really helpful on that last shot.”

She added, “The game plan was to take their posts away from the basket and try to rip and go and we did not do a good job of that in the first half. Thank god we did it in that last moment.”

The game started with OA jumping out to an early 9-3 lead off a layup by senior Kaitlyn McCarthy (game-high 13 points), but North came right back with the final seven points of the first, four from senior Emily Peters and another two on an offensive rebound by Emily Schromm.

Peters finished with nine points and five rebounds, but North coach Derek Herber credited the captain for providing the intangibles for the Rocketeers. He said, “She’s the rock. I don’t want her to graduate, I really don’t…She does all the rebounding and she’s also the kid that gets everyone going where they’re supposed to go.”

North continued the momentum in the second, taking advantage of Raymond being forced to the bench with a second foul. Sam Taggart (10 points) hit a step-back three and then after Caroline Collard (eight points, seven rebounds) laid it in from a Peters assist, North led 18-12.

OA got a spark off the bench from Niyera Mitchell. The junior forward scored seven of her 11 points and pulled in six of her 12 rebounds in the second to get the Tigers back into it and after Francesca Calabraro (seven points) took a feed from Abby Reardon for a jumper, OA led 25-22.

“She is a rebounding machine,” said Clement-Holbrook of Mitchell, “and she takes shots on the right side of the basket and amazingly, somehow, gets her own rebound on the left side of the basket and you can’t teach that. That’s just instinct and athleticism.”

North hit three free throws to tie the game heading into halftime and then came out of the locker room and threatened to pull away in the third quarter. The Rocketeers scored the opening 10 points of the half.

Ashley Ahern (six points) scored on a drive to the hoop, Collard scored in the paint, Schromm (eight points) buried a three and then Peters knocked down a shot to make it 35-25. Meanwhile, OA went more than six minutes before getting on the board.

Again it was Mitchell that gave the Tigers a lift with a putback and then a pair of free throws before McCarthy stepped up and got the crowd going with a three off a Mitchell kick out. Taggart hit a jumper just before the buzzer to put North ahead by five heading to the fourth, but momentum was swinging back to the hosts.

“We just told everyone to settle down and play our game and at our level,” said McCarthy about the timeout that helped turn things around in the third. “They can’t stay with us if we run it, but we needed good passes, we needed to fix a few things.”

With Raymond and point guard Sam Bamford on the bench each with four fouls, Reardon stepped up with four big points in the fourth and McCarthy knocked down her third three of the game to give OA a 41-39 lead, its first of the half.

“Kaitlyn is like my unsung hero” said Clement-Holbrook, “and she just does whatever we ask of her and she has a heart that’s as big as America.”

McCarthy passed along the credit to her teammates, particularly Mitchell and Reardon, for stepping up to the challenge. She said, “For Abby and Niyera to come out with so much energy…everyone just wanted this and everyone who came off the bench contributed so much to this game. I’m so proud of everyone.”

Taggart hit a jumper in transition to tie the game at 41-41, but then Raymond started to get going with a layup. Freshman Julia Feid and Collard each hit free throws for North to tie the game, as the intensity in the gym ratcheted up a few levels.

Both teams made defensive stands that only increased the tension in the gym and then Raymond knocked down a jumper from the left side with a little more than 20 seconds left. Rather than take a timeout or slow the ball down, Schromm quickly got the ball up-court to Taggart who did not hesitate before knocking down a three to give North the 46-45 lead.

“Ice water,” said Herber about Taggart. “We talked about it all week, drag the ball to one side and over here if you have a shot, take it, and she hit it.”

North called a timeout to set up a defensive plan to try and stop Raymond. On the other bench, OA was drawing up a play to give the sophomore the chance to win it.

“She just said rip it and go and that’s what I did,” said Raymond. When asked about having to sit almost the entire first half, she explained, “Just don’t think about it and don’t let it bother you.”

Clement-Holbrook joked afterwards, “It’s one of the first times that they’ve run something that we’ve set up in a timeout, so I thought well that’s growth.”

Raymond went right at her defender, North sent help, and still she was able to get the ball to the rim and finish with contact. As the crowd went nuts, North tried to get the ball back in play quickly but the outlet was overthrown and went out with 1.8 on the clock.

“We knew she was going to get it and we hoped that we could defend her and she made a great move,” said Herber. “I want to win but I’m okay with a Hockomock team going forward. We played hard, we played tough…and they made one more shot than we did unfortunately.”

Clement-Holbrook said, “I just want these kids to experience how much fun this is because this is why you play in the summer, this is why you practice in the driveway, is for this very opportunity.”

As the gym was slowly clearing out and still basking in the win, Clement-Holbrook spotted Thursday’s hero making her way to the exit. She gave Raymond a friendly reminder – make sure the white socks are packed and ready to go for the next round.

OA will host Notre Dame Academy on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Oliver Ames Clamps Down on Foxboro To Win Title

OA girls basketball
Hannah Carroll and the OA defense held Foxboro to just 10 points in the first half and Ashley Sampson to only three made field goals to beat the Warriors and win the Davenport title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH EASTON, Mass. – In the hallway outside the locker room, minutes after the Tigers walked off the court with a 55-40 victory over Foxboro, Oliver Ames coach Laney Clement-Holbrook reflected not only on her 17th career Hockomock League title but on what it meant to her players to leave the Davenport with another championship (sixth in the last eight years).

“This was the thing that we talked about was going out on top and that’s what we’re doing,” said Clement-Holbrook looking ahead to next season in the Kelley-Rex. She added, “For this to come down to this game…and for us this is great because we want to peak at the end [of the season].”

It was also senior night for the Tigers and on the board inside the locker room was written, “play with heart, this is our family.” OA came out and set the tone right from the opening tip as the ball was knocked to Francesca Calabraro for an easy layup.

The hosts were tenacious on defense and held the Warriors scoreless for the first 4:19 of the game before Carolynn Will hit a pair of shots to cut the lead to 5-4. A Calabraro three pushed the lead to 10-5 and then she scored again following a steal by Kaitlyn McCarthy.

As the final seconds of the quarter counted down, the Tigers grabbed a defensive board and got the ball quickly to Hannah Carroll, who buried a jumper at the buzzer for a 14-5 lead.

The second quarter was little better for the Warriors, who again took more than four minutes to get a basket, when Cassidy Harrison (12 points) buried her first three of the game. Samantha Bamford came down the other end and drew the defense before laying the ball off to Niyera Mitchell for an easy basket.

Kayla Raymond (11 points, 10 rebounds) scored a layup, Carroll followed with a three and then Raymond scored again to close out the half with a 25-10 lead.

“We just couldn’t make any shots,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs, “and that started getting in our heads and we were thinking about that. They were doubling the ball but we weren’t looking up to find the open person.

When asked if that was the best her team had played this season, Clement-Holbrook replied, “Without question. They scored 83 points against Stoughton…coming in here I knew it wasn’t going to be that many [points] but I knew it was going to be boatloads.”

“So, we really focused on defense, close outs, three-point shooters, screens and the hard work that these kids put in paid off.”

In the third quarter, OA continued to get contributions from its whole roster. Calabraro started the quarter with a corner three for the last of her 11 points and, after a Raymond finish in traffic, the senior captains scored seven straight. McCarthy (nine points) started it with a layup off a steal then Bamford (six assists) hit a pair from the line and scored in transition after her fellow captain’s steal.

In the fourth quarter, Foxboro started to crawl back into the game. The Warriors scored 21 points in the fourth, which was two points more than they had scored in the three previous quarters combined. Much of that was due to being in the bonus at the start of the quarter and shooting 12-12 from the line, including 8-8 from Ashley Sampson (15 points).

“We scored 30 points in the second half,” said Downs, “if we had some of that play in the first half then this could’ve been a different game. I give the girls credit for fighting and creeping back into it.”

Clement-Holbrook added, “The clock was stopped and they were scoring points and they can creep up in a hurry. I’m just so proud of them because they were willing to give everything they had.”

While Sampson (10 in the fourth) and Harrison (seven in the fourth) tried to get Foxboro going, OA turned to Mitchell. The lanky junior forward had her best game of the season and showed off her full arsenal, knocking down a shot from just inside the three-point line, taking the ball past her defender on the dribble, and finishing at the rim. She scored nine of her game-high 15 points in the fourth.

She also dominated on the boards, pulling down a game-high 17 rebounds in what was her best performance of the season and had her coach joking that whatever she ate for breakfast needs to be a game-day staple.

“When she’s on, it’s hard to defend her because she’s not a typical post player,” said Clement-Holbrook. “She’s got perimeter skills, she’s quick, she can rebound.”

“Hannah did such a great job on Sampson and when Niyera came in she just dominated the boards.”

Downs admitted that OA has been a bad match-up for her team this season. The Warriors also lost by 15 in the first meeting (by the almost identical score of 53-38) and had little answer for the length of Raymond and Mitchell in the post.

“When it’s one of them then you can try to double and send players,” said Downs. “[Mitchell] is knocking down shots from nearly three-point range…it’s a really tough match-up for us.”

With the final seconds ticking down, Clement-Holbrook took both of her seniors off the floor and they shared a hug on the bench. At the final buzzer the rest of the team joined them on the court celebrating the program’s first title in three seasons.

Oliver Ames (14-3, 12-3) will host Norwell on Tuesday night, while Foxboro (10-5, 9-5) will look to bounce back against Ursuline Academy on Monday.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Houle Drops 30, Bombardiers Outlast Oliver Ames

Attleboro girls basketball
Attleboro senior Emily Houle (3) scored 30 points on Monday night to lead the Bombardiers to a win against OA. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Davenport leading Oliver Ames has only allowed an average of 35.4 points per games to its opponents this season. On Monday night at Kelley-Rex leading Attleboro, the Tigers gave up nearly that many points to Emily Houle alone.

The Bombardiers senior guard scored 30 points to lead Attleboro to a 56-44 victory that temporarily moves it into first place alone in the division.

“Big time players play big games and I told her that I’m glad she played it there because we needed it,” said Attleboro coach Rick Patch. “I thought she was great.”

Houle scored Attleboro’s first seven points of the game, knocking down a couple of jumpers and a three-pointer. She scored seven points in each of the first three quarters and then snagged nine in the fourth to help the Bombardiers hold off the Tigers for back-to-back wins against division leaders.

“You can worry about Deyo and Pierce but everything goes through Emily Houle,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook, who was honored on the court before the game for setting the state record for career wins.

“She got seven points early on and if you’re a scorer and you have a scorer’s mentality that’s what happens. It’s like okay it’s going to go tonight.”

In the first, Houle scored the first seven for Attleboro and then Sarah Deyo added four as the hosts jumped out to an 11-4 lead. Oliver Ames responded with an 11-0 run to jump into the lead. Francesca Calabraro (11 points) knocked down a three-pointer and Kaitlyn McCarthy (eight points) knocked down a pair from beyond the arc. The Tigers forced 11 Attleboro turnovers in the first.

Deyo scored before the end of the quarter to cut the lead to two and Houle knocked down a three to put Attleboro ahead 16-15 early in the second. After a Houle free throw, OA bounced back, this time with a 9-0 run and took a 24-17 lead.

“It was almost like we were passing a volleyball out there; it was going so slow to our teammates, which is totally unlike us,” said Patch about the early turnovers. “I wasn’t panicking because I was like that’s not like us.”

He added, “When it got to 24-17…we just said we need to start making plays. Do not pass it unless it’s 100 percent you can get it there. If you don’t know what to do, attack the basket off the dribble.”

OA nearly had another solid defensive possession coming out of a timeout, but Houle threw up a 24-foot prayer as the buzzer sounded and, proving that it was going to be one of those nights for her, dropped through to cut the lead to four.

It proved to be the spark for the Bombardiers, who would go on an 11-0 run to close the half. Emma Vlashi came off the bench and scored five straight to give Attleboro a one-point lead and freshman Jordyn Lako buried a three to make it 28-24 at the break.

“She had a great little rebound, she had a banker from about eight feet,” said Patch about Vlashi’s contribution, “and when we got in here it was just let’s reset for the third quarter.”

Early in the third quarter, OA found itself in foul trouble. With a small roster to begin with, the Tigers struggled to get a flow to its offense when Sam Bamford (four assists) and Hannah Carroll (10 points) went to the bench.

“I don’t know that it hurt us from a defensive standpoint, but it hurt us a little on offense,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Early on I thought we moved the ball well and hit some shots from the perimeter, but then we had those issues where we had to move people around.”

Deyo (15 points, 11 rebounds) scored five straight points, including a step-back three, to give Attleboro an eight-point lead. Lako got a steal and a transition basket and Houle knocked down a shot to extend it to 12.

Kayla Raymond (seven points) and Niyera Mitchell (10 rebounds) each scored for OA to keep it close but Houle answered right back with four straight points. Calabraro got a layup at the buzzer, but Attleboro went into the fourth leading by 10.

Carroll scored six of her 10 in the fourth and Bamford scored all four of her points, but it was not enough to get back into the game. The Bombardiers had too much offense, even with under the weather sophomore Sam Pierce (seven rebounds) being held scoreless. Houle scored nine in the fourth and Deyo buried a big three.

“I thought we didn’t utilize the post as well as we could’ve tonight,” said Clement-Holbrook. “It’s all growing pains…We were fighting and it wasn’t for lack of effort, we just need to be smart.”

The Bombardiers have now won 11 in a row and are one ahead of Mansfield in the win column (the Hornets play Milford on Tuesday). Considering the injury issues that Attleboro has suffered this season, Patch is thrilled with where his team sits at this stage.

“To be where we are now, considering everything that’s happened, we’re very happy,” he said. “To get OA with only one day of practice…was very tough and now we can give the kids a chance to exhale a little bit and get ourselves ready for Friday night.”

The Bombardiers (15-1, 11-1) will host North Attleboro on Friday night. Oliver Ames (11-3, 9-3), which leads Foxboro by a single game, will travel to Sharon.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Historic Night as OA Coach Sets New Career Mark

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Laney Clement-Holbrook hugs captains Sam Bamford and Kaitlyn McCarthy after setting a new Massachusetts girls’ basketball record with her 634th career victory. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

NORTH EASTON, Mass. – She had tried so hard to hide the milestone, trying to keep it secret from her team, so that the players would not be worried about her looming record and could focus on continuing a league-leading start to the season.

Clearly, her attempts to hide it had failed, as signs adorned with ”634” started to filter through the Oliver Ames crowd like contraband, during the final minutes of Tuesday night’s 40-27 victory over King Philip. The printed signs, joined the multitude of homemade posters and even a giant photo.

As the clock ticked down and the win was assured, the crowd rose to its feet, roaring for the now winningest coach in Massachusetts girls’ basketball history. When the buzzer sounded, the intense scowl slowly disappeared and Laney Clement-Holbrook finally allowed herself to smile.

With Tuesday’s win, No. 634 in a career that stretches back 40 years (all with the Tigers), Clement-Holbrook eclipsed the previous career record held by another Bridgewater State alum, Vi Goodnow, who won 633 games in 40-plus seasons at Frontier Regional.

“It’s incomprehensible to me currently,” said Clement-Holbrook after the official on-court festivities had ended and she had a moment to speak with her team in the locker room.

She explained that while she knew Goodnow as a BSU graduate, she was unaware of the record or how close she was to it. She only discovered it after searching MassHoops.com to see if the site had put former star player Lauren Battista in its Hall of Fame.

“I was totally clueless,” she said. “I had no idea. If I hadn’t been snooping to make sure that LB got her just desserts, I would not even have known about it.”

In the past two weeks, as the record neared, news broke and the countdown began for staff, administration, and for players, which was something that Clement-Holbrook tried not to burden her team with.

“It wasn’t fair to them to be concerned about me because that’s the lesson you try to teach kids about a team – it’s not about any one individual,” she remarked. “It’s not about me; it’s a celebration of all of them. I’m just lucky, I landed in the right spot.”

Senior captain Samantha Bamford admitted that there was some pressure on the players entering Tuesday, especially with a packed house of alumni, including former players from all four decades of Clement-Holbrook’s career.

“We were a little shook up in the beginning because we had a lot going on in this game,” said Bamford. “There were a lot of tweets and stuff and then we found out the game before, but we tried not to focus on it.”

“We just couldn’t be more happy for her.”

Over the course of 40 years spent in one program and in one league, Clement-Holbrook has become a living legend but as Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “You measure yourself against her teams. OA has been the consistent measure of whether or not you’re doing well as a program in the Hockomock and in Eastern Mass.”

Redding has coached against Clement-Holbrook for more than a decade and in fact has coached against her longer than any other coach in the league. He also married one of Clement-Holbrook’s former players and he joked that when the Hornets face OA he is unsure for which team his wife is cheering.

“She’s such a class act on and off the court,” Redding said of Clement-Holbrook. “It’s more about the people than the Xs and Os.”

Last year, Redding hit a milestone of his own when he recorded his 200th career win, but he could only laugh when asked to put that in context with 634. He said, “Six hundred and thirty-four is beyond my imagination.”

On Friday, OA will travel to Stoughton and face first-year head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan, who is looking forward to her first battle of wits on the sidelines with Clement-Holbrook after playing against the Tigers for four years as one of the Black Knights’ all-time leading scorers.

“I’m excited to experience that again because for me as a player it was the one game on the schedule that I was really amped up for,” said Steele Jordan.

“The kids have great fundamentals, they respond, they can be coached and I think she does a great job putting effort into Easton basketball. Kids want to go there; they want to play there… Her fieriness and her passion for the game…I think her players really feed off that.”

Do not ask Clement-Holbrook to tell you about the first game that she won. She does not remember. She cannot remember the opponent, the score, or how the game went, simply that the Tigers came out on top.

She remembers the players though and many of them have stayed in touch for the past 40 years. One word keeps coming up when talking about the program and what has made the Tigers successful for so many years – family.

“She’s a mentor to all of us,” said senior captain Kailtyn McCarthy. “She puts her life into this program and we’re her family. She just loves us so much and it’s nice because we look up to her and she’s been there for us no matter what.”

In the preseason, Bamford was struggling as her father was hospitalized after an accident in his home (she said he is doing much better now) and Clement-Holbrook was there visiting the family in the hospital and allowing Bamford to miss practices to be with her family.

“She gets to know you really personally,” said Bamford. “ She’s just an amazing person and she tries to reach out and help everyone and she understands if something is going on in your life…I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

“I’ve been getting text messages all day long from kids that played for me in all the decades,” Clement-Holbrook remarked. “They’re like my family. From my perspective, I love them like they’re my own kids,” and then she smiled and added, “The only good thing is I didn’t have to take them home.”

When asked if some of the pressure was off now that the milestone had been reached, she quipped, “It’s a big deal. I’m going to be able to sleep now because I’m looking…a little ragged around the edges.”

When anyone thinks of Oliver Ames basketball, the two state championships, the eight 1,000-point scorers, the numerous league titles, there is always one name associated with thoseachievements, as much as she may hope to pass the attention on to others.

“It wouldn’t be the right thing to focus on that because that’s not we’re about here,” she said. “You walk into that gym and you see the banners on the wall and you know there’s a lot of pride and tradition here and it’s really important to all of us.”

“It’s not about me; it’s a celebration of all of them. I’m just lucky, I landed in the right spot.”

Oliver Ames basketball can count itself lucky too.

Laney Clement-Holbrook made her way down the hallway and back out onto the court to greet the dozens of alumni, friends, family, youth players, school staff, and former classmates who all waited for one more chance to say congratulations to a legend.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Friday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 01/22/16

Today’s games are listed below.
Boys Basketball
Franklin, 63 @ Attleboro, 53 – FinalFranklin was led by freshman Jay Dieterle, who scored 16 points. Paul Mahon added 13 for the Panthers. Jake Dunkley had 17 points and five rebounds and Kyle Murphy added 13 points and 12 boards for the Bombardiers. 
Canton, 53 @ Foxboro, 73 – FinalFoxboro was led by Jason Procaccini with 22 points. Alex DuBrow and Rob Lowey each chipped in with 14 points for the Warriors. Canton freshman Devin Foster netted a team-high 12 points. 
Mansfield, 73 @ King Philip, 50 – FinalSam Goldberg was the top scorer for the Hornets with 14. Tyler Boulter (13) and Matt Ehrlich (11) also got into double digits for Mansfield, which had 11 players on the score sheet. Tom Madden led KP with 15 points.
Oliver Ames, 55 @ Milford, 44 – FinalCarter Evin paced OA with 18 points. Nick Welch also had 14 and Shawn Cardoza had 12 for the Tigers.
Taunton, 62 @ North Attleboro, 60 – FinalJose Mercado and Tommy MacLean each scored 19 points in the win as Taunton avenged a loss from the first meeting. North was led by Jonny Friberg with 16 ponts. Mario Bresko and Brent Doherty added 14 points apiece for the Rocketeers.  
Sharon, 69 @ Stoughton, 67 – FinalThe Eagles got 15 points from Andrew Filipkowski and eights points each from David Roelke, Michael Zola, and Peter Banks. Brandon Teixeira led the Black Knights with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Cam Andrews added 17 for the Black Knights.
Girls Basketball
Foxboro, 64 @ Canton, 40 – FinalSenior Cassidy Harrison led the way for the Warriors with 20 points and Lily Sykes added 11.
Attleboro, 56 @ Franklin, 48 – Final – Emily Houle led the Bombardiers on Friday with 22 points.

King Philip, 30 @ Mansfield, 39 – Final
Milford, 30 @ Oliver Ames, 47 – FinalWith the victory, OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook ties the state career wins record with 633. Senior Kaitlyn McCarthy was the high scorer for the Tigers with nine points and classmate Sam Bamford added eight points.
North Attleboro, 46 @ Taunton, 47 – FinalJordan Wade was the top scorer for the Tigers with 16 points. Alyssa Gibson had seven points and 14 rebounds and sophomore Hannah Moniz scored eight points for Taunton, which has now won two in a row.
Stoughton, 52 @ Sharon, 49 – Final – Jess Greer led the Black Knights with 18 points and Alecia Quinones chipped in with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Angela Wallace had a career-high 15 points for Sharon and Shira Stoller and Alyssa Piazza each had 11.
Swimming
Milford boys, 51 @ Canton boys, 119 – Final
Milford girls, 70 @ Canton girls, 100 – Final
Stoughton girls, 67 @ Foxboro girls, 101 – Final
Franklin boys, 59 @ King Philip boys, 100 – Final
Franklin girls, 100 @ King Philip girls, 68 – Final
Oliver Ames boys, 79 @ Sharon boys, 91 – Final With the win, Sharon clinched the Davenport title.
Oliver Ames girls, 84 @ Sharon girls, 90 – Final
Gymnastics
North Attleboro, 131.65 @ Attleboro, 129.9 – Final
Wrestling
Oliver Ames @ Masconomet Quad – The Tigers went 3-0 to improve to 19-5 on the season. OA beat Arlington 51-12, Masco 48-32, and Burlington 42-32. Anthony Berksza (138) went 3-0 in the meet and Ryan Lehane (152) went 3-0 with three pins.

Taking Stock of the Hock: Girls Basketball 2015-16

Sarah Deyo
Sarah Deyo (32) has been one of the top scorers in the league this season and is one of the main reasons that the injury-hit Bombardiers have started 10-1. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

With nearly half of the games gone for all of the Hockomock teams, our editors Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry take a look at where things currently stand for girls’ basketball.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Player of the Year?

Josh Perry – Attleboro has been snakebitten with injuries this season. Just two games in and Player of the Year candidate Emily Houle and senior starter Emma Vlashi were both knocked out with knee injuries (both have returned and been productive for the Bombardiers) and then in game three junior forward Julia Strachan went down with a season-ending injury. Despite losing three-fifths of the opening night starting lineup, Attleboro is currently 10-1 overall and just one game back of Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex standings.

Much of that success can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Sarah Deyo. The junior forward is second in the league in scoring with 18.2 points per game and has been a double-double machine even as teams turn all of their defensive focus on her. After missing a game due to an arm injury, Deyo returned to score 20 points in a big win over Taunton. Attleboro still has a chance of bringing home its first Hockomock title largely because Deyo has been able to carry the team during the first half.

Ryan Lanigan – Foxboro is just one game out of first place at the midway mark in a very tight Davenport Division race and a big reason has been because of the player of Ashley Sampson. The sophomore is third in the league in scoring with 15.6 points per game and has been a big player for Lisa Downs and the Warriors so far this season. Sampson has the ability to cut through defenses, which can open up a lot of looks for a young Warriors team that can really stroke it from deep. She’s also one of the better shooters in the league and is tough to get around defensively.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Underclassman of the Year?

Perry There are so many great choices from Kayla Raymond at Oliver Ames or Sam Pierce at Attleboro or Meg Hill at Mansfield, which is really just the tip of the iceberg for young talent in the league, but my pick right now has to be Foxboro sophomore guard Ashley Sampson. Coming off a breakout rookie season, Sampson grew a couple of inches in the off-season and seemed to grow even more confident in running the offense as well.

She is currently averaging 15.6 points per game and seems to be stepping right into the considerable hole left by the graduation of Kat Tamulionis. Sampson is the primary ballhandler and despite being the target of every team’s defensive game plan still manages to get to the basket and to find her teammates for open looks. She has also emerged as a strong on the ball defender, the spark for the Warriors run and gun style, and even a contender for Player of the Year.

Lanigan – Since I picked Ashley Sampson as my current Player of the Year, I’ll go in a different direction here and go with Attleboro’s Samantha Pierce as the top Underclassman at the halfway point. The Bombardiers have been ravaged with injuries but one of the few constants in the lineup for Attleboro has been Pierce. She can knock down shots from deep and is a very good rebounder, especially for just a sophomore. The combo of Pierce and Sarah Deyo make it hard for opponents to get much going at the basket but Pierce can also stop out and guard on the perimeter. When Attleboro has needed someone step up through its injury issues this year, Pierce has been a big help.

Midseason First Team

Perry
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Caroline Collard, North Attleboro
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Caroline Maher, Mansfield
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton

Lanigan
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Alyssa Piazza, Sharon
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton
G – Jen Peel, Mansfield

What has been the biggest surprise this season?

Perry I think that everyone expected Stoughton to get a boost this year from the hiring of Charmaine Steele Jordan. One of the program’s best ever players and all-time leading scorers, she brings plenty of on the court experience and a renewed energy around the team, but it would have been hard to predict coming in that the Black Knights would be 6-2 at this point, with a win over Attleboro, and with Alecia Quinones leading the league in scoring at more than 20 points per game.

Stoughton is only a few wins away from qualifying for a return to the state tournament and is tied for the league lead with Oliver Ames. While things could get tougher for the Black Knights in the next couple of weeks (North, Mansfield, a rematch with Foxboro, and two games against OA are still left on the schedule) but to be in this position at this stage is still a great accomplishment and a big turn around for the program.

Lanigan – When we released our preseason Hock 5 rankings, we had Oliver Ames at No. 5. With a couple nice pieces back, we thought the playoffs would be within reach. As of this past week, we have them at No. 2 and not only is a playoff spot possible, but a Davenport title is a possibility. Laney Clement-Holbrook has the Tigers playing at a great pace and with strong leadership from Sam Bamford and Kaitlyn McCarthy, a lot of the younger pieces like Francesca Calabraro, Niyera Mitchell, Kayla Raymond and Hannah Carroll have been able to step up and make big plays. Although OA making a run for the division title and possibly a deep postseason run is my pick, we should never be surprised when OA has success with Laney Clement-Holbrook on the bench.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Perry – There are a lot of teams that have the potential to make a run in the tournament this season. The Hockomock is one of the deepest girls’ basketball leagues in the state and certainly does a lot to prepare teams for the rigors of making a push in the postseason. However, D1 South is an absolute bear with the likes of Braintree and Feehan (the top two teams in the state), so the road is extremely difficult for Attleboro and Mansfield.

Oliver Ames is my pick right now for the team with the chance to go furthest as the Tigers look to have the balanced scoring and the defensive intensity to give teams in D2 South fits. Also, OA is coming off a solid win over Foxboro, which would probably be the second favorite to make a push for a return to the D2 South final.

Although I think OA is the team that will be go the furthest, keep an eye on Franklin in D1 Central. The Panthers have a habit of reaching sectional semifinals and after a big win over Holy Name in the season opener will have thoughts of challenging Westford, A-B, L-S, and Wachusett for the district title.

Lanigan – This is always a tough one and I truly believe that the Hockomock League is one of the toughest for girls basketball this season. Oliver Ames is likely to be a threat in D2 South and Franklin should be the most battle tested team in D1 Central.
But my pick is for Mansfield. The Hornets have faced a number of stiff tests so far this year and so far, they have come out on the winning side. They picked up wins on the road at North Attleboro, Oliver Ames and Franklin and then came home to beat Foxboro. Each time so far this season when you think that Mansfield might drop one to another team in the Hock 5, they have emerged victorious. They still have two big tests with Attleboro left and a date with a strong Stoughton team next week. If they can get a strong seed in the D1 South bracket, I can see them making a return trip to the South Semifinals.
If Attleboro can get healthy and avoid the injury bug, they will be another team to look out for in D1 South.