Attleboro Rides Big Second Half Past North Attleboro

Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio attempts a layup against North Attleboro in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The six of the last seven contests between rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro have been decided by 10 points or less, and the Rocketeers have walked away victorious in all of them.

Attleboro was ready to buck the trend.

After being limited to 18 points in the first half, the Bombardiers made the necessary adjustments to get the offense in gear and picked up a 60-38 win over Big Red. It marked Big Blue’s first victory over their neighbor since January 2004.

“Anytime it’s Attleboro against North Attleboro, we want to play our best,” said longtime AHS coach Mark Houle. “We had an opportunity to go out and cement a victory against a good team. I think our kids did a nice job executing in the second half and I was really proud of them.”

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The Bombardiers relied upon improved rebounding (a 22-11 advantage in the second half), transition offense, and improved three-point shooting (six triples in the second compared to one in the first half) to turn a two-point deficit at halftime into an eight-point lead entering the fourth and a 22-point win.

And the biggest reason for a lot of that was Attleboro’s Qualeem Charles (17 points). The 6’5” sophomore hauled in 10 of his 14 rebounds in the second half, which help set up the transition game. And on offense, Charles demanded the attention of North’s defense, which helped open things up on the perimeter.

“I think Mark [Houle] did a great job at half, they adjusted to our fronting and double teaming of Charles,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “To his kids’ credit, [Kevin] Velazquez and a couple other guys hit some open threes in the weak side corner. It was a little frustrating because we know its the read and we know its the counter to our counter, so maybe we just need to recognize it a step sooner on the skip pass.

“Hats off to Attleboro, they out-executed us in the second half. I feel for our two seniors, tough to go out this way. But Attleboro is a well-coached team and they have a lot of kids that can put the ball in the hoop.”

A triple from sophomore Bryant Ciccio (nine points, four rebounds) helped tie the game, 23-23, with under five minutes left in the third quarter. From there, the Bombardiers rattled off a 12-2 run to seize control of the game.

Nate Douglas (10 points, eight rebounds) went baseline for two, Ciccio hit a pair of free throws, Charles converted a putback and Mason Houle and Tim Callahan each hit a three-pointer to stretch Attleboro’s lead to two.

A putback at the buzzer from North’s Matt Seavey (eight points, three rebounds) cut the deficit to single digits heading into the fourth quarter, 35-27.

That’s when things clicked for Attleboro.

Charles scored down low on a feed from Ciccio, and then Attleboro took advantage of North bringing weak side help on the big man. Douglas found Velazquez (14 points, three assists) on skip passes into the weak side corner for back-to-back three-pointers.

Then the Bombardiers got out in transition with Velazquez threading the needle with a long bounce pass for an easy two for Jason Weir.

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“We were just going too fast so we just slowed it down on offense,” Houle said. “We were trying to attack the rim and everything was clogged. They were switching on defense so our motion offense really wasn’t doing anything. So we went to some of our quick hitter stuff.

“They really looked to front Q and bring help from the weak side. If we couldn’t get it into Q, we could skip it and get some good looks and Kevin was able to hit them. And then after that, we finally got Q inside on the seal. Those were the adjustments we worked on and it was good to see them execute in the second half.”

North’s Derek Shanks (nine points, six rebounds) had six consecutive points for the hosts but Attleboro had an answer each time. Ciccio sandwiched a pair of buckets around another triple from Velazquez in the weak side corner to give the Bombardiers a 52-36 lead with 3:40 to play.

Charles scored down low on two consecutive possessions while Douglas put an exclamation point on the win with a breakaway dunk.

“When he’s inside like that, he’s a mismatch,” Houle said of Charles. “North is big and long but he’s still a mismatch because he’s so good with his hands and his feet. They have to put another body in there, and when we can hit the shots, it works well. Fortunately for us, we hit the shots. If we don’t hit the shots then they are winning those possessions.”

North Attleboro raced out to a 6-0 lead after hitting its first three shots of the game but Attleboro closed the game with a 6-2 run over the final six minutes.

Shanks tied the game, 12-12, in the second quarter with a pair of free throws, Josh Montague (eight points) hit a triple, Jake Petersen (eight points, four rebounds) converted a putback and Nate Gonsalves hit a three late to give North a 20-18 lead at halftime.

“I thought we defended fairly well in the first half. We knew where they wanted to go and with the exception of one set play they ran, we didn’t feel like they ever got their first option. Second half, they made a couple of extra buckets and we had some empty possessions, and I think we started losing a little bit of confidence we had in the first half.”

Attleboro boys basketball (12-9 overall) will close out its regular season when it hosts Durfee on Wednesday night at 6:30. Attleboro (8-11) concludes its season when it travels to rival Bishop Feehan on the same night at the same time.

“It’s North Attleboro and Feehan so I shouldn’t have to say much to motivate our guys,” Mulkerrins said. “It’s the last game for our two seniors and our manager so there’s motivation to play for those three games. When they know it’s their last game, I’m sure the kids will have a little extra motivation.”

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Foxboro Beats North To Clinch Share of Davenport Title

Foxboro boys basketball
Foxboro’s Teddy Maher (middle) attempts to get past North Attleboro’s Josh Montague (left) and Chad Peterson (24) in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/
FOXBORO, Mass. – After falling on the road to Milford last Friday night, the Foxboro boys basketball team fell a game behind in the race for the league’s Davenport division title.

But the Warriors entered this week with control over their destiny, and they didn’t let the opportunity slip away.

Following a big win over Canton on Tuesday evening, Foxboro used a big third quarter surge to create separation and earn a 56-38 win over North Attleboro, clinching a share of the program’s second Davenport title in the past three years.

Foxboro held a five-point lead (13-8) after eight minutes of play and stretched the advantage to seven (30-23) at the halftime break.

North Attleboro’s Josh Montague (10 points) scored at the midway point of the third quarter to keep the deficit at seven, but that’s when Foxboro blew the game open.

The Warriors rattled off a 13-1 run over the final four minutes of the third quarter. Senior Matt Rongione (six points, five rebounds, three assists) started the run with a three in the corner off a feed from senior Teddy Maher, sophomore Brandon Borde (16 points, five rebounds) converted a strong take to the basket and Anthony Mollicaa hit a free throw for a 6-1 run.

Over the final 60 seconds, Foxboro added seven more points. Joe Morrison (19 points, three assists) scored and then set up Borde for another basket. And then just before the buzzer sounded, Borde returned the favor, finding Morrison for a triple at the end of the period.

“I felt like the run was coming all along,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I felt our defense had been pretty good. At times North made some tough shots and we missed some easy ones. I felt like it was just a matter of time until we made the run and we started finishing pays in transition.

“We have an unbelievable group of seniors, it’s the biggest senior class I’ve had. They have so much character, grit, and toughness. Their leadership has been unbelievable. Both games this week they came with incredible focus, effort and energy and they weren’t going to be denied. I’m really happy for them.”

The run gave the hosts a 51-32 advantage heading into the final period.

“The trademark of this team has been to win with defense,” Gibbs said. “I think that’s what you saw tonight. Our offense was somewhat inconsistent early in the game but we kept defending and getting stops. And eventually, we put enough baskets in the hoop to get the separation.”

Despite limiting Foxboro to just five points in the final frame, North Attleboro was unable to mount a comeback attempt as the Rocketeers scored just six points in the final eight minutes.

“I thought we worked hard, that’s been true most of the year,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins, “We had a couple of breakdowns, we let Morrison get way more touches than we wanted. Give them a lot of credit, their back cuts hurt us in the first half and we weren’t able to react or adjust enough. 

“On the offensive side it’s frustrating but I give our kids a lot of credit because we started to get the shots we like and as a coach that’s what you want. You just have to make more than we did tonight.”

Foxboro’s defense helped build the lead early on. Despite North shooting 50% from the field in the opening quarter, the Rocketeers had eight turnovers in eight minutes. The Warriors capitalized with senior Bobby Harrison (11 points) accounting for nearly half of the first quarter points with six.

Both offenses came alive in the second quarter. Foxboro led by seven twice early on in the quarter, while the Rocketeers cut it down to three two times. Morrison’s traditional three-point play made it 19-12 but a three from Nate Gonsalves and back-to-back baskets from Jake Petersen (10 points, five rebounds) and Montague brought the visitors within three.

Chad Peterson kept it a three-point game with a nice pull-up but consecutive triples from Harrison and Morrison gave Foxboro a 30-21 lead with just over a minute left.

“They are well coached, they make good reads,” Mulkerrins said of Foxboro. “That’s the toughest thing to defend because it’s not a set thing. Our kids were working hard but we aren’t as experienced as they are and that showed tonight. When teams make runs we need someone to step up and tonight, I appreciate the guys trying, we just didn’t make the shot or get the stop or get the call.

“Hats off to Foxboro for the league title. That’s a team that’s really good defensively and [coming into the season] had some questions about offense but Jon and his staff did a fantastic job, they should be proud of themselves.”

Foxboro boys basketball (12-4 Hockomock, 16-4 overall) will close out the regular season with a pair of non-league games starting on Monday with a visit from Bishop Feehan. anorth Attkbopp(6-10, 8-10) needs to win both of its remaining games to earn a playoff berth. The Rocketeers will host rival Attleboro on Monday at 6:30.

North Attleboro Edges King Philip With Late Surge

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s Josh Montague drives to the basket in the second half at King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/
WRENTHAM, Mass. – In a back and forth battle between King Philip and North Attleboro, it was the visiting Rocketeers that landed the biggest blow of the game, rallying over the final five minutes to earn a 55-51 decision over the Warriors.

While the first half was a see-saw type game, featuring four lead changes and four ties, King Philip was in control for the majority of the second half.

The Warriors led by as much as 10 points early in the third quarter only for North to get within four heading into the final frame. The hosts extended their lead to seven with five minutes to go in the game, but KP’s offense went cold from there.

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North finished the game on a 12-1 run, rattling off eight straight to take its first lead of the second half with two minutes to go. Big Red tacked on a big three and a key free throw to go up by four in the final minute.

“I thought our kids worked really, really hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “In the first half, [King Philip’s] screens were bothering us, which they shouldn’t have. Some guys had some miscommunications, some breakdowns. And then at times, it was giving up open shots. You give KP a lot of credit because they put us in a lot of tough spots but give our kids a lot of credit to finish the game the way they finished and make just enough plays to get out of here with a win.

Rocketeers junior Josh Montague (25 points, four assists) scored on back-to-back drives to open the final quarter, tying the game at 43-43. King Philip responded with a 7-0 run with a bucket from Kyle Layman (14 points, eight rebounds, three assists) down low, a three from Tim Nault (career-high 13 points) and a pair of free throws from Bruce Santillus. King Philip led 50-43 with just over five minutes to play.

That’s when North went on its run. Junior Matt Seavey (six points, five rebounds) converted a putback, junior Jake Petersen scored an easy bucket after a strong drive and dish from Montague, Nate Gonsalves (seven points) came up with a huge steal that led to two points from Montague, and then Gonsalves beat the shot clock buzzer with a deep two, giving the Rocketeers a 51-50 lead with two minutes to play.

King Philip looked to answer but Gonsalves came up with yet another big defensive play, blocking a shot at the free throw line. The Warriors had another chance on the play but couldn’t get their three-point to fall.

Meanwhile, on the other end, Gonsalves wasn’t lacking any confidence when he launched a deep three from straight away, sinking the shot with a minute to go to put North up 54-50.

“Nate’s got a knack for scoring, he’s got pretty good instincts,” Mulkerrins said. “Defensively, he’s like a lot of our guys – a work in progress – but in the fourth he had that steal, that block…so for a kid like him who isn’t naturally gifted on the defensive side of the ball to make defensive plays down the stretch is so important. We know he can make threes, he’s becoming a pretty good consistent big game shooter for us.”

The Warriors missed on the other end but got the ball back with a North turnover. Pharoah Davis (15 points) sank one free throw to get within three. Montague sank a free throw of his own with 13 seconds to play, icing the win for the Rocketeers.

King Philip led 28-24 at the half-time break and came up with a quick 8-2 burst to take its largest lead of the game. A strong move from Davis, a jumper from Nault, a nice post move from Layman and a layup from Davis helped the Warriors build a 36-26 lead.

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But Montague spearheaded an 11-3 run from the visitors, hitting a pair of threes in the stretch while both Ethan Friberg and Seavey scored down low to bring North within two at 39-37.

“We’ve been trying to add a little bit of ball screen to our offense and I thought, on short notice, the guys did a pretty good job of getting pretty good looks,” Mulkerrins said. “[Josh] has that ability to get by most defenders in one-on-one, but its a matter of his ability to make the right read. Tonight I thought he did a better job of getting into that second level and finishing so a lot of credit to him.”

North Attleboro built an early 9-5 lead but five straight from Davis put the hosts in front. Junior Owen Nassaney (seven points) came off the bench and scored four straight of his own to give the Rocketeers the 13-10 edge after one.

Nassaney started the second quarter with a bang. Gonsalves came up with a steal, tossing it ahead to Nassaney for a two-handed dunk while being fouled. He made the free throw for a 16-10 lead.

“Owen’s someone I have to give a lot of credit to tonight He’s had a lot of good practices over the past week, week and a half,” Mulkerrins said. “And it’d be really easy for a kid in his situation, not playing a lot and watching his junior classmates play a lot, to just mail it in. To his credit, he’s stayed hungry. We’ve talked a lot as a team about being ready, being in the moment and he’s a great example of a kid caring about the team more than himself. He had a fantastic two days of practice and then it carried it over to tonight.”

King Philip responded with an 8-2 run of its own with two from Layman, a free throw from Tom Madden, a bucket from Davis, a triple from Nault and another layup from Davis for a 20-18 lead.

Montague tied the game at 20-20 but King Philip won the final tow minutes 8-4, including threes from Nault and Nolan Bradley.

The Warriors won the rebounding battle (30-27) but had 14 turnovers and shot 38% from the field.

“We seemed to play scared, we seemed to tighten up a little bit,” said KP head coach Mark Champagne. “It’s a little bit of a broken record a bit. Tim [Nault] played well for us, that was the best game he’s played. It was more minutes than he’s played, and he was solid for us. But overall, it’s just been frustrating.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (5-6 Hockomock, 7-6 overall) is back in action on Friday when it resumes play against division foes with a road trip to Canton at 5:00. King Philip (2-9, 2-11) will try to snap its current skip when it hosts Attleboro on Friday at 7:00.

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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/
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.”

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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.”

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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.

Franklin Gets Past North Attleboro In Defensive Battle

Franklin boys basketball
Franklin’s Matt Elias (right) pulls up for a shot against North Attleboro’s Jake Petersen. (Ryan Lanigan/
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a game when points are at such a premium, even the smallest of runs can be game-changers.

Franklin used a pair of those short spurts to create enough separation and delivered a signature tough defensive effort in a 45-28 win over North Attleboro.

With both squads playing their best on the defensive end, points were especially hard to come by early on.

Franklin’s first field goal came with 6:31 left in the first quarter, and North tied it with 3:41 to play as the teams combined for just four points over the opening six minutes.

But in the last two minutes of the opening frame, Franklin’s offense came to life with an 8-0 run. Sophomore Chris Edgehill (eight points) drained a step back three and hit one of two free throws to start the run. Paul Rudolph scored in transition and Matt Elias converted an offensive rebound shortly before the buzzer to give the Panthers a 10-2 lead after one.

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Franklin kept that lead for the majority of the second quarter, leading 19-10 entering the final two minutes of the half. Edgehill got the run started again with a strong take to the rim, Jalen Samuels (nine points, nine rebounds) hit the first of two free throws and Elias drained a pair of threes inside the final minute, giving the Panthers a 28-10 lead at the break.

“It feels like a 16-0 run in a game like this,” said Franklin head coach CJ Neely. “Those runs are enormous. Seeing the ball go in the hoops is huge. It’s good to see Matt Elias come out and bury some shots. We know he’s capable of doing that. That’s his game, he’s a great catch and shoot player. He wasn’t himself the first couple of games so it was nice to see him out there tonight leading us in scoring.”

“That’s where I think you see experience factor in,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “I thought those two threes at the end of the second quarter really stung our guys mentally. If you take those two shots away, you’re going into halftime holding Franklin to 22 points. Those shots were just back breakers. And when you’re not putting the ball in the hoop, and give Franklin a lot of credit for that, it puts so much pressure on your defense to be perfect. And our defense was good, so those shots hurt even more.”

While Franklin’s offense was able to create separation with those runs, North Attleboro never got into a groove. Big Red turned it over 10 times, partly due to the pressure of Franklin guard Paul Mahon, playing in his first game of the season. While North’s defense forced nine turnovers of its own, the offense shot just 24% from the field in the first half, including just a pair of two-point field goals.

North Attleboro’s defense was just as strong in the second half, limiting the Panthers to under 10 points in each the third (nine points) and fourth (eight points) quarters. The Rocketeers held Franklin to 25% shooting from the field in the second half.

“[North Attleboro] did a great job defensively,” Neely said. “We’ve been struggling to score so far this season, and they were giving us some fits for a while. We were able to figure a couple things out and get some looks. But it was just one of those ugly games of basketball. We kind of like it, we’re not against it. But we wanted to be tougher after the Foxboro game.

“We really wanted to grind out stops, get on the loose balls, fight for rebounds. Looking at the scoreboard, we probably should have done some more offensive work in practice but the guys competed and I thought that was important.”

While North’s offense struggled, especially in the first half, the Rocketeers are hoping that it can build upon its strong defensive performance. North is just the fourth team since the beginning of last season to hold the Panthers to 45 or fewer points (Mansfield, Canton, Cambridge).

“I just told our guys that we have to look at this as a glass half full situation,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought our defense was good. I think there is another level though, and I think Franklin was an example of it tonight. The way they rotate, the way they move the ball….our guys were in the right places, and maybe its a lack of experience or technique, we just have to be a bit better on rotating. It was a great effort from our guys but we just have to put the ball in the hoop more.”

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Franklin’s defense got a big boost on the defensive end with Mahon making his season debut. After missing the first two games of the season with an injury, the senior captain was back and made an immediate impact. While he will certainly have better offensive showings during the season, his presence on defense was felt immediately.

“Whoever he’s guarding is going to have a tough light,” Neely said. “Even if they get their points, they’re going to be annoyed, he’s going to bother them. He picks everyone up. When the rest of the team sees how he gets after a ball handler, it inspires everyone else behind him. He brings the toughness level up. He might tell you had a bad night, but he was very valuable for us tonight. He had a big night without having to score.”

North Attleboro junior Nate Gonsalves netted a career-high with 11 points to led the Rocketeers while classmate Josh Montague had six points and six rebounds.

Franklin boys basketball (2-1 Hockomock, 2-1 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it heads to Somerville High for a tournament, starting off against Malden Catholic. North Attleboro (1-2, 1-2) will look to bounce back the same day at Lincoln-Sudbury’s tournament when it takes on Reading at 5:00.

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North Edges Attleboro On McCarthy’s Buzzer Beater

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro players swarm Kyle McCarthy following his game-winning buzzer beater against Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro senior Kyle McCarthy took the inbounds pass with 5.7 seconds to go and streaked up the right side of the court. He switched the ball to his right hand before crossing back to his left as he hit the three point line. He found space between a pair of defenders, rose up and released.

The ball seemed to take a deflection off a defenders hand, hit the front end of the rim, took a bounce and fell through the net as time expired.

The result was a 56-54 win for North Attleboro in a non-league contest with rival Attleboro, giving the Rocketeers a season sweep of the Bombardiers.

“I saw a couple of defenders in front of me but coach wanted us to attack the hoop,” McCarthy said. “I got to the rim, put it up, it might have been tipped in but it went in, that’s what matters. It was just a great team win. North Attleboro against Attleboro, we couldn’t have scripted it better, it was just an unreal game to be apart of.”

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Both sides traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter, with Attleboro taking a 50-49 lead with just over three minutes to play on a jumper from Nate Douglas. But North had an answer right away as Hacmoni Cuevas took a pass from McCarthy and drained a three near the end of the shot clock to put North ahead 52-50.

The teams traded misses before McCarthy came away with a steal and went down for a layup. His shot rimmed out but senior Jonny Friberg (22 points, 12 rebounds) was there to clean it up with the put back with 1:22 to play.

“When it comes down to it, they made some big plays down the stretch,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “That three by Cuevas was a big one. And then McCarthy is just a gamer, he made a nice play. We were trying to get a sub in to get a matchup but we didn’t get it in. Bottom line, we needed to stop the ball and we didn’t do that. Our kids battled, I think we did a better job on Friberg than we did the first time. Brent’s a terrific player, you can’t make mistakes on him. For them to go back to back and beat two teams is not easy.”

Attleboro senior Jake Dunkley (20 points, 10 rebounds) cut the deficit in half with a pair of free throws with 1:01 to play. The Bombardiers came away with a stop on the defensive end and sprinted ahead to try to find the tying bucket, but North came away with a steal to take possession with 28 seconds to play.

Attleboro was forced to foul its way into the bonus, sending the Rocketeers to the line for a one-and-one opportunity. North missed the front end, giving the Bombardiers a final chance with 12.9 to go.

Douglas navigated his way around a screen and drew the foul to head to the line with two shots. North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins called a timeout before the shots to draw up the play.

“We wanted to get the ball to either Kyle or Brent [Doherty] off the inbounds, get Jonny down for a rebound and then get Moni and Chad [Peterson] set up for a shot,” Mulkerrins said. “We wanted to penetrate and have two guys ready for a shot or Jonny for the rebound. I think there might have been a little luck involved in the shot going in but Kyle did a nice job and we’ve been on the other side of that a couple of that so I think our kids deserved it.”

The largest lead of the entire game was nine, coming midway through the first quarter when Attleboro raced out to a 15-6 lead. Back to back threes from Cuevas and McCarthy helped the Rocketeers cut the deficit down, trailing 17-12 after one quarter.

North surged back to take the lead on back-to-back baskets from Doherty (17 points) and McCarthy but a quick 6-2 surge from the Bombardiers gave the hosts a slim 29-27 advantage at half.

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“We knew after the first game this season, they’d come at us with everything,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought Mark [Houle] and his staff did a tremendous job being without a starter or two or at least kids that can play starter minutes. Coming out, they were so intense defensively and that led to some good offense opportunities for them. Coming off a back to back, we came out a little slow but to our kids’ credit, their mental toughness, we punched back after the first and kept it close.”

It was a see-saw third quarter with Andrew Milliken (eight points, seven rebounds) hitting a three to put Attleboro ahead only for Doherty and Friberg to hit back to back buckets to take the lead back. Dunkley converted a three point play, Friberg responded with two free throws to tie it and then Dunkley drained a three for another three point lead.

Friberg added two but baskets from Dunkley and Lucas Boucicaut created a five point separation. Doherty cut into that with a three, Attleboro’s Elvin Sam (13 points) pushed it back to four with a layup, Friberg answered again but Dunkley had the final basket of the quarter to give the Bombardiers a 46-42 edge heading into the final quarter.

“For us, playing Attleboro at their place, regardless of or record, or scenario or situations, it’s always a tough game,” Mulkerrins said. “It’s one of my favorite places on our schedule to play because the people of Attleboro love basketball. There’s always a great atmosphere and you can’t play in a better gym to get more prepared for the tournament.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (14-7 overall, 10-6 Hockomock) will conclude the regular season on Wednesday when they host Bishop Feehan. The Rocketeers have a chance to earn a home playoff game with a win. Attleboro (12-9, 8-8) will finish the regular season with a trip to Durfee on Wednesday in a showdown of two D1 playoff teams.

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North Attleboro Pulls Away From Milford In The Fourth

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro senior Brent Doherty cuts down the net following a win over Milford. North Attleboro won the Davenport title on Friday night. (Ryan Lanigan/
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. — It’s been quite a 10-day stretch for North Attleboro, qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2011 last week and winning their first Hockomock championship since 2001 on Friday night.

But the Rocketeers had no problem getting motivated for Sunday night’s contest with the visiting Milford Scarlet Hawks.

All they had to do was look back three weeks when the Hawks went coast-to-coast to beat the Rocketeers on a buzzer beater at the Dunkin Donuts Center.

Or two seasons ago, when a pair of free throws with no time left turned a one-point advantage into a one-point loss.

In fact, North Attleboro’s senior class was winless against the Hawks heading into the final Hockomock League game of the season.

Not anymore.

Hosting Milford for the first time in four years, the Rocketeers closed out the fourth quarter in true championship fashion, outscoring the Scarlet Hawks 20-1 over the final six minutes of play to turn a close game into a 66-45 win.

“We just clinched playoffs, we just won the league championship but we didn’t need any extra motivation for this one,” said North Attleboro senior Thomas Reynolds, who was on the court for both of Milford’s last second wins. “You just have to look back at the last couple of years. Losing on the free throw, losing at the Dunk twice, we had never beat them. It was definitely nice to come in here to get the last league win.”

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“It’s a satisfying win for the kids, especially for the seniors,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins, who also picked up his first win over Milford. “For the past four years, Milford has been our boogeyman, we just couldn’t beat them. Hopefully this is just one in a string of games that we’re in here that could potentially get us a home game in the playoffs.

North Attleboro’s strategy to feed big man Jonny Friberg paid off in two ways – the 6’6 senior poured in a career-high 28 points while hauling in 11 rebounds and the pounding inside resulted in some fouls for the Hawks.

Milford was whistled for eight fouls in the third quarter — four of them on Hawks leading rebounder Kayden Kelley (five points, six rebounds).

The Rocketeers started their big run taking advantage of Kelley’s absence with Chad Peterson (eight points, six rebounds, five assists) finishing a put back, Reynolds (nine points, two rebounds) hitting a free throw and then Peterson draining a three off of an offensive rebound.

Brent Doherty (14 points, four rebounds, four assists) found Friberg in the post for two to extend North Attleboro’s lead to 55-44 with four minutes to play. After a pair of stops from the Rocketeers’ defense, Reynolds drained a three off a pass from Peterson to make it 57-44 with 2:31 to play.

“It’s just about confidence,” Reynolds said about being able to close out games better. “We’ve figured out how to win games, close out games. We’re all confident in each other, it doesn’t matter who takes the big shot. We all just want to make sure we get a great shot over a good shot.”

Doherty added a layup and Reynolds added two more free throws to push the run to 15-0 over a five minute span. It marked the second straight game that North Attleboro kept its opponent for five minutes in the final quarter.

Milford shot 0/6 and had five turnovers in the stretch.

“When guys are thinking about defense first and you play good defense, you don’t have to think too much about the offense,” Mulkerrins said. “You look at that 20-1 run down the stretch and a lot of people look at the 20 but I look at the one. If you want to beat teams like Milford and Foxboro, the one is much more important to us.”

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North Attleboro had a near flawless start to the game, finding Friberg early and often. The senior scored 11 of the team’s first 14 points while Doherty added five and Peterson had a trifecta. North shot 8/11 from the field while forcing four turnovers.

But Milford responded with an even better second quarter to take the lead into halftime. After North scored the opening bucket of the quarter, the Hawks went on a wild 18-0 run to seize a five point advantage. Zack Tamagni (14 points, four assists) bookended the run with a pair of layups while both Nate Davila (nine points) and Shane Cosquete (nine points, five rebounds) hit a pair of three pointers in the stretch.

The Rocketeers closed the deficit some in the final two minutes of the half, with Doherty finding space for a layup and Friberg grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring right before the buzzer. Milford led 28-25 at half.

Big Red carried that momentum into the third quarter and used a 12-0 run to take the lead back. Reynolds started the run with a three, Friberg added two free throws and a bucket in the paint and Doherty hit a three and converted a put back in the stretch.

“We knew it’d be a game of runs,” Mulkerrins said. “We knew they’d punch back. I thought Milford did an excellent job in the second quarter of executing their game plan and moving the ball and getting the pace that works for them. I was proud of how we finished the second quarter and then we started the second half on a much better run. I’m real proud of the guys for counter punching.”

North Attleboro finished with 19 assists on 23 made field goals and won the rebounding battle 30-27.

“This group has really bought into the concept of team over individual,” Mulkerrins said. “We’re always striving to get a great shot instead of a good shot. To their credit, they continued to share the ball and gave up individual opportunities for the greater good of the team.”

“This has been surreal,” Reynolds said.”To go 0-20 my freshman year and see how far we’ve progressed, it’s just an unreal feeling. I couldn’t be prouder to be teammates with these guys.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (13-7 overall, 10-6 Hockomock) is back in action on Monday when they travel to take on rival Attleboro in a non-league contest at 6:00. Milford (9-10, 7-9) is also back in action on Monday when it hosts Medway. The Scarlet Hawks need a win to get into the state tournament.

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North Attleboro Beats Foxboro, Clinches Davenport

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s Brent Doherty attempts to dribble past Foxboro’s Joe Morrison in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It’s time to dust off the boys basketball league championship banner hanging inside Pickering Gymnasium at North Attleboro High School.

It’s time to add 2017 to the list.

For the first time since 2001, the Rocketeers are Hockomock League champions following a 45-40 win over Foxboro on Friday night. With a win, and a Milford loss to Sharon, North Attleboro clinched the division title outright.

It’s been a long four year stretch for head coach Sean Mulkerrins and his squad. The Rocketeers went 0-20 in his first year at the helm, won just five games a year later and eight games one season ago.

Now, North Attleboro has 12 wins with three games to go and sits atop the Davenport division as Hock champs.

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“To be honest, it’s been a roller coaster,” Mulkerrins said of the past four seasons. “At times, it felt like insurmountable odds, it felt like we were putting in a lot and not necessarily getting a lot. I credit [former Rocketeers coach] Chris Perron, who’s been everything to me as a mentor and a father figure when I played for him here at North, and opposing coaches like Jon [Gibbs] and Mike Vaughan who were helpful along the way.

“Every year we’ve taken a small step. Four years ago, my first captain Jake Lang kept that locker room as positive as it could be. And I think it kept those freshmen seeing and hearing those positive things. It feels good to see those kids go through the process and get here.”

The three freshmen on that winless team were Brent Doherty, Jonny Friberg and Thomas Reynolds. All three, along with classmates Kyle McCarthy and Hacmoni Cuevas, have been a vital part of keeping the program moving forward and winning the title this season.

“This feels great, I couldn’t be happier for the coaches and the team,” Doherty said. “Coming from where we were earlier in my career to winning the Hock tonight is the best feeling. All the hours of practice paid off and now we’re looking to do as much damage as possible in playoffs.”

It took a defensive stand over the final six minutes of the game for the Rocketeers to hold off Foxboro, who secured a second play finish and a trip to the postseason based on all of the results in the league.

“We didn’t talk or say much about a league title, or talk about the tournament during the season because we want to focus on the process,” Mulkerrins said. “We finally mentioned it the other day because we had to come out and play and we wanted to motivate the guys. The defense down the stretch was great. Jon [Gibbs] does such a great job, isolating guys, getting the matchups. It was kind of like playing chess and he’s freaking good. I have so much respect for him. But hats off to our guys, they played just well enough and I’m so proud of them.”

“I thought our effort was terrific all night,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “I thought we really battled and competed. I thought defensively we did a really good job. We came into the game with a plan to deal with Doherty and Friberg. We didn’t want them to beat us, we’re going to try and make other guys step up and make shots and they did. So give credit to North Attleboro, it was a great team win for them.

The Rocketeers led by as much as 10 early in the third quarter but the Warriors fought back to make it a one possession game. North’s Hacmoni Cuevas converted a three point play to put the Rocketeers up 34-25 with 3:51 to play in the third, but Foxboro closed the quarter with a 9-3 run.

After Mark Clagg and Doherty (nine points, three assists) traded three pointers, the Warriors were able to pull within three by shutting down North for the rest of the quarter and both Joe Morrison (nine points) and Teddy Maher connecting from beyond the arc. The Rocketeers led 37-34 heading into the fourth.

That lead didn’t last too long. North’s scoreless streak stretched over two minutes into the final period while Morrison hit a jumper and Andrew Block (seven points, five rebounds, four assists) drove the lane for an easy two to take a 38-37 lead.

While the momentum seemed to be swinging in Foxboro’s favor, suddenly it stopped.

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North broke through on the offensive end, with the inside-out game paying off as Friberg (12 points, 14 rebounds) kicked it out to Cuevas for a three and a 40-38 lead with 5:40 to play.

Foxboro wouldn’t score again until under a minute to play.

“It speaks to the metal toughness of this group,” Mulkerrins said. “Similar to the game at the Dunk against Milford, we were up big, then down big and we could have quit. And this game, same thing. Maybe in years past, this team might have, but I think they finally found out what it means to be a winning team.”

It actually took the Rocketeers two minutes to add onto the lead with Reynolds hitting a pair of key free throws to double the lead with 3:31 to play.

The Warriors had a couple of open looks during the stretch, but were unable to convert.

With just under a minute to play, Friberg took it baseline and somehow managed to reach back underneath the basket and lay it in for a 44-38 lead. Foxboro responded with a putback with 30 seconds to play but Chad Peterson(seven points) iced the game with a free throw as Foxboro missed on the other end.

“I thought down the stretch we got some good looks and we just didn’t make them and that’s just basketball,” Gibbs said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow because at times I thought we executed fine but just didn’t put it in the basket…but that happens some times. At the end of the day, I’m really proud of them. We battled and held them to under 20 points in the second half.

“North did a nice job defensively, they did a lot of things to take us out of our rhythm. Both times we’ve played them this year they made it really difficult for us to score. So give a lot of credit to Sean [Mulkerrins] and credit to those guys on North.”

It was a bit of a slow start for both sides, combing for just five points in the five 5:32 of play. North eventually was able to get into a rhythm and threes from McCarthy and Billy Drummond handed Big Red a 15-9 lead after one.

Foxboro cut the deficit to one (18-17) midway through the second quarter, but North finished the frame with a 9-2 run — a Peterson three, a layup from Doherty, and four straight from Friberg — to take a 27-19 lead into the locker room.

North Attleboro boys basketball (12-7 overall, 9-6 Hockomock) is back in action inside Pickering Gymnasium on Sunday when the Milford Scarlet Hawks come to town. Foxboro (9-9, 8-8) can finish no lower than second in the division, thus clinching a playoff spot. The Warriors will look to improve their record and seeding next ween as they host a February vacation tournament, starting with a game against Randolph.

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Friberg, North Attleboro Overcome Sharon in Overtime

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s Hacmoni Cuevas drives to the basket in the first half against Sharon. (Ryan Lanigan/
SHARON, Mass. – Standing at 6’6, North Attleboro senior Jonny Friberg often gives the Rocketeers the edge in the paint.

But due to foul trouble, North Attleboro was forced to find other ways to keep pace with the red-hot shooting Sharon Eagles.

While the Rocketeers did enough to keep pace, Friberg came back in midway through the fourth quarter. He went on to score eight points down the stretch, including the tying basket with 5.9 to send the game into overtime. And in overtime, he scored North’s first nine points and the Rocketeers came away with a thrilling 81-75 win over the Eagles.

Friberg finished with a career-high 27 points and hauled in 13 rebounds to lead the Rocketeers.

“Everything starts with [Friberg] inside and then with the shooters on the outside,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “[Foul trouble] is something we’ve unfortunately had to deal with before. I’m really happy with how Tommy [Reynolds] and Moni [Cuevas] played inside. Hats off to Sharon, they played their butts off tonight. It’s frustrating when Jonny goes out but we’re a team and we have to win like a team, which I think we did tonight.”

It seemed like there would be no stopping the Eagles, especially after they connected on their 12th three pointer (on just 20 attempts) with just under four minutes to play in the game to go up 64-55. Jimmy Fitzhenry’s (16 points) trifecta capped a 10-1 run over the first 4:09 of the period for the Eagles.

“It reminded me of some games against Milford in the last couple of years where we fight back and they counter punch,” Mulkerrins said. “It speaks to the kids’ mental toughness, not giving up in that situation. There wasn’t much to say then we needed to defend better. They have some great kids, [Sharon coach Andrew] Ferguson does a great job with them.”

But North chipped away with Friberg finally back on the court. Senior Brent Doherty (17 points, five assists) drained a three in response to stop the run and after a stop, Friberg hauled in the defensive board and then converted on the other end. Another stop and another Friberg board led to a jumper from Doherty to make it a two point game.

Sharon’s Alex Kaufman (15 points) extended the lead back to four but Friberg hit back to back buckets down low to tie the game with 1:32 left.

With under 30 seconds to play, Sharon senior Ricardo Ripley (17 points) came away with a steal at midcourt that turned into two free throws to put the Eagles up 68-66.

Friberg took a pass from North sophomore Josh Montague (eight points) and muscled in the tying basket with 5.9 to play. Sharon’s buzzer beater attempt came up short.

In overtime, it was all Friberg – no one else on the Rocketeers attempted a field goal. After Sharon took a brief lead on a free throw, Friberg converted his own miss. Reynolds drew a charge on the other end for the Rocketeers and Friberg hit a free throw on the other end.

Kaufman drove to the basket to cut the deficit to two (73-71), but the Rocketeers simply went back to Friberg, who made a nice move in the post for two. Kyle McCarthy (six points, five rebounds, seven assists) hauled in a Sharon missed three and then assisted on another Friberg basket to put North ahead 77-71 with a minute to play.

Along with his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Friberg had seven of his 13 rebounds.

“This was a huge game for us,” Friberg said. We always preach getting the ball inside because we can have success there. If I don’t have something I’ll pass it. I just took advantage of what we had. The foul trouble is frustrating because I want to be in there but you just have to deal with it.”

McCarthy added three free throws down the stretch and Chad Peterson (eight points, four rebounds) also had one.

“We tried like hell to get [Friberg] his fifth foul but he’s just so big, he finishes around the basket so well,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “He’s gotten so much better than a year ago. I’m looking at the fourth quarter and overtime stats and he just killed us. We did a good job on for three quarters, and it helped he was in foul trouble. But him and Brent, those are big time players and we didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

The nine point fourth quarter deficit that the Rocketeers overcame wasn’t the largest deficit they erased during the game. After Sharon took a 20-17 lead after the first quarter, the Eagles rattled off a 13-5 run to build an 11-point lead with less than three minutes until halftime.

But a three from McCarthy, two free throws from Friberg, a put back from Montague and a corner three from Montague helped Big Red get within one. A late three from Ripley gave the Eagles a 36-32 lead at halftime.

Doherty was a big reason that North Attleboro entered the final quarter of the game tied. Doherty netted 10 of his points in the third quarter alone, including a three to open the frame, a field goal that gave North it’s largest lead (46-48) and five straight points late that had the game tied 54-54 after three.

“I don’t know what he was in the first half, he just was off,” Mulkerrins said of Doherty. “It almost felt like he was second guessing his shooting and decision making. We told him at halftime if he’s open just shoot the ball. We said that too everybody. It was huge to get Brent going. The second half by Brent was huge, a lot of contributions from guys in the second half.”

Cuevas finished with eight points and four rebounds while Reynolds had seven points, three rebounds and two assists for Big Red.

Malik Lorquet added eight points and nine rebounds for Sharon.

North Attleboro boys basketball (10-7 overall, 7-6 Hockomock) moves into a tie for the lead in the Davenport division with the win. The Rocketeers have the chance to clinch a playoff berth on Friday on the road at Stoughton. Sharon (3-13, 2-12) has a week off until they are back in action with a trip to Stoughton on Valentine’s Day.