Foster Carries Canton Past North Attleboro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

King Philip Squeaks Past North Attleboro In Overtime

King Philip boys basketball Bruce Saintilus
King Philip senior Bruce Saintilus puts up a shot against North Attleboro’s Nate Gonsalves (15). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip senior Bruce Saintilus didn’t see much time in the first half after picking up a pair of quick fouls and was held scoreless through three quarters of play.

Warriors head coach Dave DeStefano knew if his side was going to pull off the win, he needed to get Saintilus going, so he made him a focal part of the offense down the stretch.

Sanitilus delivered, scoring all nine of his points between the fourth quarter and overtime period to help the Warriors edge North Attleboro, 55-52.

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After scoring five points in the fourth quarter, the senior forward scored KP’s first bucket in overtime to tie the game, and then used a strong take to give the Warriors a 50-48 lead with 2:36 to play, a lead that the hosts wouldn’t relinquish.

North Attleboro had two looks to tie the game but didn’t convert and Saintilus aggressively attacked the basket to draw the defense and the senior dumped it off to classmate Sam Sesay for an easy layup to go up 52-48.

“With about four minutes left in the fourth quarter I told him that he needs to take over a little bit,” DeStefano said. “If we’re going to win this game we need him getting downhill and going strong, and there will be chances, and to look for the dump downs. He did a great job of doing that in that stretch, and that was huge for us to win that game.”

Rocketeer sophomore George Ladd (12 points, 10 rebounds) converted on an offensive rebound and North Attleboro caught a break when KP missed on a fast break attempt after breaking the Big Red press. But North once again went 0-for-2, and KP gained possession with a minute to go.

KP whittled the shot clock down before missing a jumper, but Saintilus grabbed the offensive rebound. His putback attempt was off, but he was able to knock the rebound out to Alex Fritz, who was intentionally fouled with 34 seconds to go.

Fritz hit both to make it 54-50, and North Attleboro missed on the other end. KP failed to connect on a one-and-one, and North senior Josh Montague (12 points, five rebounds) drove to the basket for two with 4 seconds to go. Tim Nault hit one of two free throws to extend KP’s advantage to three and Sesay was able to block North Attleboro’s three-point attempt from behind just before the buzzer.

“That was a typical Sunday matinee game where the kids aren’t ready to come out and play right away,” DeStefano. “I think the end, the reason we got those offensive rebounds, is that those kids just didn’t want to lose. They are sick of losing so they’re committed to making the plays they need to.

“Two or three weeks ago this group probably would have lost this game. But tonight they hung in there and wanted to win.”

After a relatively slow start from both sides, North Attleboro took a slim 20-18 lead into the halftime break, with the teams combing to shoot under 30% from the field with a combined 15 turnovers.

“We have to learn we can’t just turn it on and off,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “We have to do a better job of getting our guys to give effort and communicate. Other teams in this league are too good, too well coached, and too well prepared. And they want to win just as bad as we do, and sometimes more it looks like. It’s a hard lesson to learn but its’ something we have to.”

King Philip’s offense got going in the third quarter, nearly equaling its first half production by putting up 15 points. The Warriors warmed up from three-point range in the period as well, hitting 3-of-7 shots from deep after just one in the first 16 minutes.

Junior Alex Fritz hit two of those triples, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points in the quarter. His first triple sparked an 11-4 run that saw buckets from Tyler Nault and a three from Ian Khung, helping KP take a 33-28 lead into the final frame.

“Making shots helps but I thought we did a better job of moving the ball and looking for the slip action,” DeStefano said. “Before in the first half, we were a little stagnant. Typical Sunday afternoon game but in the third quarter they were really making sure they were swinging the ball and making hard cuts to the hoop.”

The Warriors extended that lead to seven early on two Saintilus free throws, but North closed it to two (39-37) on a turnaround post move from Matt Seavey (eight points, 11 rebounds). KP again pushed the lead to five with 1:41 to play.

North Attleboro turned to a press in the fourth quarter that helped jump start things. While it wasn’t perfect and KP was able to get some easy looks out of it, the energy it provided sparked the Rocketeers’ offense and helped complete the comeback.

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“We don’t really have a pressing team, but we’ve done it in spots,” Mulkerrins said. “We thought they might have some trouble against some pressure. The effort it inspired was great but we have to be able to get that in our half court and be more consistent in our defensive effort and offensive execution. We had too many turnovers and we need to be better from the free throw line.”

A KP turnover led to two points from Nate Gonsalves (16 points, six rebounds). And then Ladd came up with a steal with 30 seconds to go to get North the ball back. The first three rimmed out but Seavey made a big play to keep it alive, kicked it out to Gonsalves and he sank a three to knot it 46-46 with 18 seconds left. Neither team was able to convert on their final chance, and the game went into overtime.

King Philip boys basketball (4-6 Hockomock, 5-7 overall) is on the road on Tuesday when it takes on Foxboro. North Attleboro (3-7, 5-7) returns home and will host Mansfield.

Bulldogs Pull Away From Big Red For Key Division Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attleboro Pulls Away From Rival North For Big Win

North Attleboro boys basketball
Attleboro’s Mason Houle drives to the basket as North Attleboro’s George Ladd (33) attempts to block the ball. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Throughout the first 10 minutes of Tuesday night’s rivalry showdown, Attleboro and North Attleboro went back and forth trying to grab hold of the momentum.

With five minutes left in the second quarter in a one-point game, Attleboro turned it up a notch — on both ends of the floor — and orchestrated a 14-0 run to finish the first half and build a double-digit lead it never relinquished the rest of the way en route to a 68-50 win over the visiting Rocketeers.

North Attleboro hit four shots in the opening four minutes, including a pair of three-pointers, to build a 10-6 lead. Attleboro responded on the back of junior guard Bryant Ciccio, who scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the opening frame, to take a 19-13 lead after one.

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The Rocketeers got the momentum back on their side with a 7-2 spurt to open the second quarter. Ethan Friberg (10 points) scored down low, and Josh Montague (11 points) hit five straight points while North’s defense got five stops, including a turnover, to get within one at 21-20.

After a timeout by the hosts, Attleboro rattled off 14 straight points to change the complexity of the game.

“We’ve really been focusing on ending quarters and halves strong,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “When you can get those runs, like 8-0 or something, during those stretches, that’s when you get really separate yourself. I think we’re starting to figure out how to do that. We did a little last game, but we were certainly able to do that more tonight, and it put us in a good position. It starts with defensive energy.”

Mason Houle (nine points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals) started the run with a strong take to the basket, Qualeem Charles (six points, seven rebounds) added two more off a nice feed from Ciccio, Houle went coast-to-coast for two and then found Ciccio for a triple to make it 30-20 with two minutes to play.

Attleboro forced a turnover and then was fouled going for the offensive rebound on a missed three. Keep possession resulted in two from Lorenzo Wilson (from Houle) and then Houle capped the run with a triple with under a minute to go to send the hosts into the locker room with a commanding 35-20 advantage.

“Our defense tonight wasn’t good,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. The Rocketeers had allowed 46.5 points per game on average entering the game and held its past five opponents under 50 points. “You give all the credit in the world to [Attleboro], they beat us one-on-one and then our rotations on the weak side weren’t there. Ciccio had that big first quarter and then they had that run in the second quarter. We just couldn’t get any momentum off of our defense. And offensively we weren’t countering what their aggressive defense was giving us. I felt like we lost our composure a bit when we weren’t defending well. We’ll bounce back, but that was a tough one for us.”

North Attleboro senior Nate Gonsavles (12 points, four rebounds) hit an early triple in the third quarter but Attleboro’s Kevin Velazquez (18 points) had his best frame of the season to keep the Bombardiers ahead. Velazquez opened the quarter with a layup and added two more after a near two-minute gap without scoring.

“A couple of our last games, our defensive intensity has been there, but now we’re playing smarter defensively,” Houle said. “We’re not gambling, we’re making the other team work hard. When you do that, you put the other team in pressure situations and force tough shots. And on top of that, we’re getting to those 50-50 balls and getting some transition baskets from it.”

Tim Callahan hit a three in the corner and Velazquez converted from deep after an offensive rebound from Ciccio. Gonsalves answered with a triple of his own but Velazquez game right back down the other end and sank a three-pointer to extend the lead to 48-26.

“I think we’re starting to see that our shooting percentage is a lot better when we get so many touches per possession,” Houle said. “There’s a magic number that we want to get to and what I think that does is gets the defense moving and gets us open looks. I think for the second game in the row, we’re starting to build some consistency with it. When we didn’t do it, you saw turnovers. When we did, we got some good looks. I thought defensively [North Attleboro] did a nice job inside, we didn’t get a lot of looks inside tonight, but we were able to shoot the ball pretty well.

After Gonsalves hit a floater, Velazquez came right back down and made his third straight triple to help the Bombardiers take a 53-32 lead into the final quarter.

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“Kevin had his best shooting game tonight,” Houle said of Velazquez, who went 4-for-8 from deep and shot 47% from the field overall. “We told him it would take a couple of weeks coming off a fall sport, just getting in a rhythm. He’s starting to come along and get his basketball legs back, which means he’s getting his shot back which is nice.

“In the first half, I thought Bryant played terrific. There are times in a game where you can see someone trying to take it over and Bryant had a four or five-minute stretch where he was terrific.”

Ciccio and Velazquez each connected on a three in the opening 90 seconds of the fourth quarter to effectively put any thoughts of a miraculous comeback away.

Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 6-2 overall) is back in action on Friday when they travel to King Philip. North Attleboro (2-3, 4-3) hits the road on the same night with a visit to Milford.

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/HockomockSports.com)
 
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – 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 2014.

“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/HockomockSports.com)
 
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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/HockomockSports.com)
 
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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/HockomockSports.com)
 
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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/HockomockSports.com)
 
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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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