Rocketeers Ride Experience Past Young Warriors

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd
North Attleboro senior George Ladd takes a shot over Foxboro sophomore Alex Penders in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 FOXBORO, Mass. – The final eight minutes of Wednesday afternoon’s contest gave us a glimpse into the future as a young Foxboro squad scratched and clawed its way back into the game, showing what the Warriors are capable of.

But the first 24 minutes belonged to North Attleboro, a veteran group that built a big cushion through the first three quarters and showed its experience by making enough plays down the stretch to fend off Foxboro’s ferocious comeback attempt, earning a 61-53 win.

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd

The Rocketeers’ offense exploded for 21 points in the first quarter and added 19 more in the second, carrying a 17-point lead into the final quarter. The Warriors made things interesting, cutting the deficit to single digits with three minutes to play but North Attleboro did enough to close out the win.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Basketball is a game of swings, I always say it,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “They are a younger team, we have an older group and I didn’t want us to have a hangover from the 23-point final to lead into this start so I want at them pretty hard yesterday and prior to the start of the game to stress how important a good start was. Jon [Gibbs] obviously does a great job and they came back with a counter punch and thankfully we had just enough of a cushion.”

North Attleboro followed a similar blueprint from its win over the Warriors (58-35) on Monday evening as Mulkerrins stressed the importance of a strong start, fully aware of what Foxboro can do (as seen in the fourth quarter).

The Rocketeers heeded the advice of their coach and came out flying in the first eight minutes. North score on six of its first eight possessions to build a 13-4 lead over the first four minutes of action. After missing on the first possession, Casey Poirier (nine points, five rebounds) took a feed from Edan Kelley (nine points) to break the ice and get the run started.

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd

“North is an excellent team, they are a veteran team and they execute extremely well on offense,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “They get the ball to the right guys in the right places and put you in difficult positions. And defensively they are so well prepared and they do a great job taking away what you want to do, which is a credit to their coaches and players. Playing against a good team like that, it certainly gives us a good measuring stick moving forward.”










Brody Rosenberg (nine points, five assists, four rebounds) sniffed out a pass and laid it in for two and Poirier scored after Jared Vacher forced a Foxboro turnover. The Big Red missed on its first shot of the next possession but junior Gavin Wells (career-high 13 points) crashed hard and tipped it back in. North’s defense got its sixth stop of the game and Rosenberg cut to the basket, taking a feed from Kelley for two and a 10-2 lead, forcing the home side into a timeout.

Foxboro got one stop but couldn’t turn it into points and North came back down and senior George Ladd (21 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) came down with a traditional three-point play. JuniorDylan Gordon (16 points) hit two from the line but Kelley answered with a three to make it 16-6, a double-digit lead the visitors would carry for the majority of the game.

“We knew that Foxboro would be ready and it wouldn’t be a continuation of what the scoreboard was from the first game,” Mulkerrins said of the strong start. “I was real happy with the way our guys were locked in. There were a couple of things, counters to the counters so to speak, that I thought we were ready for. Defensively we were locked in too.”

Ladd added two more and Rosenberg drained a three off a feed from Poirier and the visitors staked a 21-8 claim through one quarter.

Foxboro made things interesting in the opening moments of the second with back-to-back threes from sophomore Sam Golub (12 points, four rebounds) to get within two possessions but North responded with a pair of runs to regain a comfortable lead. Wells, Kelley, and Poirier all hit from two-point range and then Jason Rodriguez linked up with Ladd for two more. Ladd used a strong post move for two to cap a 10-4 surge that put the Rocketeers ahead 31-20.

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd

Gordon finished at the rim to get Foxboro back into the scoring column but North used another run, this time a 9-2 spurt to close out the first half. Wells drained a corner three off a feed from Ladd and then Rosenberg rewarded Ladd for his movement down low. Kelley scored off a turnover and then fed Wells for two in the final minute to put North ahead 40-22 at the half.

At halftime, North Attleboro had 12 assists on its 18 makes from the field.

“Our guys have done a great job committing to sharing the ball with each other,” Mulkerrins said. “It starts with George because if your best player offensively isn’t willing to share the ball then it creates some issues. We know he’s going to get doubled, going to get tripled and he’s willing to share it and I think there’s a domino effect.”




Foxboro’s defense started to slow the Rocketeers’ offense in the third quarter, limiting the visitors to just 10 points on four makes from the floor while forcing three turnovers. Foxboro’s offense was steady. Four players scored for the Warriors with Gordon getting four, Golub and sophomore Alex Penders (16 points, 15 rebounds three blocks) had a bucket each, and Sean O’Leary drained a three but the deficit was 50-33 going into the final quarter.

The Warriors made things interesting with a quick 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter, Golub making an early three, and Gordon scoring four straight in just 1:30 of action. Six straight from Ladd, including a traditional three-point play, kept the visitors ahead, pushing the lead back to 56-42, but Foxboro continued to claw its way back.

“Penders is a heck of a player, he’s a bull,” Mulkerrins said. “We tried to go to George early and often to try and see what counter [Foxboro] would make defensively. They did a good job on him but I thought later in the contest, a couple of penetrations he made from the right-wing area, I thought he showed his senior stripes a bit there and made some big buckets for us.”

Penders had back-to-back strong takes down low and Gordon sliced through the defense for two more and the lead was down to just six, 56-48, with three minutes to go. Foxboro fouled to try and extend the game and North obliged with some missed free throws but the Rocketeers’ defense clamped down and didn’t let Foxboro get any closer.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Wells added four free throws down the stretch to help ice the game.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of their effort,” Gibbs said. “North made some timely shots throughout the game and we missed some shots that we probably hope to make. We had a couple of stretches where we got sloppy with the ball and had some turnovers and that allowed North to build a little bit of a lead.

“But at the end of the day, our effort and energy was phenomenal and it could have been easy for a team that’s 2-8 to quit when you’re doing 17 points going into the fourth quarter but we fought and scrapped and battled and made it a game and a had chance to steal it. I think that speaks a lot to the character of those kids and I’m really proud of that.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (7-2 Davenport, 7-2 overall) kept its hopes for a share of the division title alive with a win at the time but Oliver Ames won it outright with a victory over Stoughton later in the day. The Rocketeers travel to Sharon on Friday to close out their division schedule. Foxboro finishes its season at 2-8 in the division and 2-9 overall.

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd

North Attleboro Edges Canton In Overtime Thriller

North Attleboro boys basketball Julius Hicks Edan Kelley
Canton’s Julius Hicks goes up for a shot with North Attleboro’s Edan Kelley defending. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – It was a tale of two halves between the Canton and North Attleboro boys basketball teams.

But the overtime period? That was completely up for grabs.

In the end, the pendulum swung in favor of the Rocketeers just once more than it did for the visiting Bulldogs as North Attleboro claimed a 52-50 win over Canton inside Kenneth Pickering Gymnasium.

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The decision was split after 32 minutes of action, North Attleboro claiming a double-digit first half advantage only for Canton to completely flip the script in the second half, stifling the Rocketeers’ offense and turning stops into points, and a deficit into a lead.

“We felt good about getting to overtime because we were on our last life for what felt like forever,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “To get to overtime, we stole the momentum and their bench quieted down a bit. It was big to get points on the first possession. For us, it was just continuing what got us back into it against their zone and we had to keep playing good defense. It was a great Hockomock basketball game, felt like a playoff game almost. We made just enough plays.”

North Attleboro boys basketball

North Attleboro’s lead at halftime, 26-10, took a major hit when Canton came out swinging in the form of a 10-2 run in just over two minutes of action, putting the hosts on their heels. By the end of the third eight-minute segment, North Attleboro’s lead shrunk down to just five, 31-26, the Rocketeers getting a much-needed three from senior Tommy Onorato in the final minute.

It turned out to be a sign of things to come for Onorato, who finished with a career-high 12 points, and the Rocketeers. Canton’s comeback continued into the fourth though as a pair of free throws from Steven Burbank (12 points, six rebounds) preceded a three from Will Keefe (12 points) that gave Canton its first lead since the opening moments of the game.

Eric Mischler (11 points, eight rebounds) sliced his way to the rim for two, the Bulldogs earned back-to-back stops and Keefe tossed another triple in and Canton, on the back of a 12-1 run, suddenly had a 40-34 lead with 1:34 to play.










“It’s kind of been like that in the Davenport this year, seems like one team brings it for a half and another brings it the other half,” said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. “It was kind of the opposite when we played them at home, we had a good first three quarters and they came back in the fourth. We talked at halftime about how we could get back into this game. Instead of quitting, the kids made a commitment and the effort to really start rebounding and playing defense, which got us back into the game.”

North Attleboro had an answer to stem the tide. With the defense collapsing on him in the paint, senior George Ladd (16 points, 15 rebounds) dished it out to Brody Rosenberg (seven points), who hit his first field goal of the game with a triple to halve the deficit.

Ryan Connerney (13 points, five assists) pushed the lead back to five when he sank a pair of free throws but North Attleboro had another answer from downtown. This time, Casey Poirier (four points, eight assists, four rebounds, two steals) dished it to Onorato for a three with 41.1 left to make it 42-40.

Canton added to its lead with a free throw but once again the Rocketeers, who had just five makes from three-point range through the first three quarters, hit their third three of crunch time. Poirier was short on his attempt from the corner but followed his shot, got the rebound, and dished it to senior Edan Kelley for a three – his first make of the game – from the top of the key to tie the game with 12 seconds to go.

“Tommy Onorato, I’m really proud of him, the second half of the season he’s really stepped into a nice role for us and understood what it took to be on the court,” Mulkerrins said. “Edan, a senior co-captain, missed some time this year and still isn’t completely back but hit a big shot. He’s got that big moment in him.”

The Bulldogs’ attempt at a game-winner was off the mark, only getting a chance to chuck a shot off an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds to go.

In overtime, the momentum swings continued back and forth as North opened the scoring when Ladd converted an offensive rebound but Canton went back ahead on their third look of the possession on a Mischler three, with Dillon Nguyen’s offensive rebound the catalyst of the play.

North Attleboro boys basketball

But just seconds after Mischler gave the visitors a slight lead, Rosenberg hit his second three of the night to put the hosts ahead. The teams traded stops as the game ticked under a minute to go, North Attleboro getting its biggest stop forcing a turnover. With the shot clock shrinking, Onorato stepped up and drained another three, this one with 14 seconds to go in overtime, to give North a 51-46 lead.

Canton fought to the very end, getting two free throws from Burbank to make it a one-possession game. A trap on the inbounds led to a jump ball and Canton getting possession back. Another foul led to two free throws from Connerney, making it a one-point game, 51-50, with 7.8 seconds to go.

The Bulldogs trapped once again and got another jump ball called, but the ball stayed with the Rocketeers. Rosenberg added a free throw to make it 52-50, and North Attleboro held on as Canton’s half-court heave was just off the mark.

North Attleboro had full control of the opening half, hitting 7-of-10 field goals from two-point range to go along with four three-pointers. And on the defensive end, the Rocketeers were doing just enough to keep the streaky Bulldogs from getting going.

Tied early, North closed the final three minutes of the first with an 8-0 burst. Onorato hit his first three of the game, Poirier added a triple, and Ladd attacked the rim for two and a 14-6 lead after one.




Big Red’s run continued into the second with Jared Vacher tossing in a three, Ladd getting back-to-back baskets and Nate Bennett scoring from in close for a 17-0 run in total. Jimmy Caraballo added a three as well as North staked a 26-10 halftime lead.

“Basketball is a game of runs and there’s some psychology behind it,” Mulkerrins said. “I thought the scoreboard was deceptive at half. I thought we played good but not as good as the other night and I felt Canton missed a lot of shots that they can make. I told them at half, if they make a couple in the second half they are going to relax, and then their defense will get better, and sure enough they hit some shots right away. Then the basket on our end starts looking smaller.

“Coach Gordy did a great job adjusting, made some changes. You never know exactly what you’re going to get with him, you’ll get the kitchen sink of tricks and if you aren’t mentally ready, which we learned on Monday night, you’re going to be on the wrong side of games against them. So hats off to them, they had a great season with a lot of great seniors, we have nothing but respect for that program.”

After North found success against Canton’s 1-3-1 defense in the first half, the Bulldogs elected to shake things up defensively, going with a 2-3 zone — a defense they hadn’t utilized all season.

Despite their inexperience in the set, the defense was very effective as North’s offense came to a screeching halt, managing just five points in the third. Meanwhile, those stops turned into buckets for the Bulldogs. Connerney scored on Canton’s first possession, Keefe got going with a triple, and Mischler added one from downtown as well. Burbank got a layup to fall and Canton’s 10-2 run to open the second half turned the game around.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We haven’t practiced the 2-3 zone this season,” Gordy said. “Ladd’s a nightmare for us to match up with, Rosenberg, Poirier, and Kelley are all really good players. I didn’t think we could guard them man-to-man for an extended period of time. We had a lot of success with the 1-3-1 on Monday, they figured out some things tonight. They were getting to us on the glass so we went to the 2-3 to try and clean some things up on the rebounding which I thought helped big time in the game.

“It all flows, once you’re getting stops you can push in transition. Will Keefe got hot a little bit in the second half and a lot of those came from us getting stops, getting out, and not letting them set up in the half court.”

North Attleboro (5-2 Davenport, 5-2 overall) is back in action on Monday when it hosts Foxboro. Canton wraps up its season at 4-6 in the Davenport and 4-9 overall.

North Attleboro boys basketball

North Attleboro Holds On For Close Win Over OA

North Attleboro boys basketball Jason Rodriguez
North Attleboro’s Jason Rodriguez sores through the air on a layup attempt in the second half against OA. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The defensive game plan for the North Attleboro boys basketball team was clear and concise: try and stop Amari Brown.

Short of the kitchen sink, the Rocketeers threw everything — and nearly everyone — at trying to stop the senior guard. The plan worked enough for the hosts, who made just enough plays down the stretch on the offensive end to earn a 48-43 win over Oliver Ames, handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.

“Amari is one of the best players in the league, he’s tremendously dangerous in transition, even on made baskets and he’s able to score before your defense is set,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “And then even in the half court he’s so quick, he can make the three, and the element of his game that gets overlooked is he’s so strong, even at whatever he’s at height-wise, he’s able to get guys in the box and score. Our game plan was pretty straight forward, we wanted to build a wall and really pack it in around him. And we had to get back on transition defense and rebound because OA does a great job crashing.

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Brown, one of the top players in the Hockomock League and one of the leading scorers this season, accounted for over half of the Tigers’ points (24) in the first meeting between Oliver Ames and North Attleboro, a win for the former back at the start of January.

North Attleboro boys basketball

In order to prevent an encore performance, North Attleboro sprinted back on defense to prevent transition opportunities, brought double teams to contest three-point looks, and built a “Big Red” wall with up to three or four players in the way on the defensive end to try and prevent one of the most dynamic guards in the league for getting to the rim.

Oliver Ames’ defense was up to the task as well, holding the hosts to just seven points in the second quarter and 17 total first half points. Both teams started to pick it up offensively in the third and North’s offense had just enough of a run in the final quarter to create enough separation to hold on.

“I thought out guys were focused defensively and that was the difference,” Mulkerrins said, holding the visitors to just three made three-pointers and forcing the Tigers into 15 turnovers. “We definitely weren’t in cruise control on offense but I felt like our defense was so solid that our offense would figure it out and we have a lot of high IQ guys that will make plays for us. And we made just enough of them to get the win.”

North Attleboro nearly matched its first half offensive output in the third quarter, turning a one-point deficit through 16 minutes of action into a three-point edge going into the final frame.

North Attleboro boys basketball










Gavin Wells, one of eight Rocketeers to hit a field goal, opened the quarter with a corner three, and senior Jason Rodriguez drove hard to the rim for a layup and then got out in transition, resulting in two free throws and a 38-32 lead two minutes into the fourth.

Brown (eight points) hit a free throw to cut the deficit to five but North Attleboro senior George Ladd (19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) came back with back-to-back field goals to give the hosts their largest lead, 42-33, and forced an OA timeout with 4:41 to play.

Different faces stepped up for OA as the Tigers grinded their way back into the game. Jake Grimaldi came off the bench for two in the post, Brown hit another free throw, and Drew Nickla added two more from the line to make it 42-38 with three minutes left.

Wells hustled to earn the Rocketeers a second chance on the offensive board before the teams traded turnovers, the latter a steal from Brody Rosenberg that resulted in a layup from Casey Poirier.

With under a minute to play, Drew Baxter (13 points) earned a trip to the line and sank both chances and Oliver Ames’ full court resulted in a traveling call to get the ball back. Will Whiteside got an open look from straight away and drained it and what was once a nine-point lead shrunk to just one, 44-43, with 40.4 seconds to play.

“That’s not a lot of difference between that game and what we’ve been doing all year,” said OA head coach Don Byron. “We’ve managed to be on the right side of the games before this but they’ve all been around this. It wasn’t that much out of character. I think sometimes the thought of a big game, doesn’t necessarily get you nervous but you get caught standing around waiting for something to happen. I think we did a lot of that early on. Defensively we were still pretty good, put ourselves in a position to win.”




The Tigers were whistled for an off ball foul in the post and Ladd sank both attempts of his one-and-one from the line with 27.5 to go. OA launched two threes to try and tie the game but couldn’t convert and Ladd came down with the second miss, went to the line again, and iced the game with two more free throws.

“I never felt like the game got away from us, OA’s defense is so solid, they are bumping cutters, and so much of our offense is dictated by moving the ball, moving people, moving defenders, and they were doing such a good job grabbing and holding, matching wanting what we wanted to do,” Mulkerrins said. “We never got really going offensively but I had faith we could make plays down the stretch.”

North got off to a strong start with Edan Kelley hitting his first shot in his first game back and Ladd going for six straight and an 8-0 lead. OA responded with strong defense, forcing Rocketeer turnovers into layups for Whiteside and Brown while Trey Buggs added a three to get within three, 10-7, after a quarter.

The Tigers’ strong defense continued into the second quarter, limiting the hosts to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting from the field with four turnovers. That gave the visitors enough of a chance to claw their way through North’s tough defense. Baxter hit an early three and then drove to the basket for two, Jaden Krowski cut to the basket to beat the shot clock, and Nickla scored the final four points of the quarter as OA staked an 18-17 halftime lead.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

North Attleboro hit on six of its nine field goal attempts in the third quarter to jump back ahead. Jared Vacher sandwiched a pair of buckets around a putback from Ladd, Tommy Onorato drained a three-pointer when Ladd was triple-teamed in the post, and then Ladd himself stepped out of his comfort zone and sank a rare corner three.

“Eight guys got into the scoring column for us, which was great to see,” Mulkerrins said. “We know what George is going to bring and that he’s going to get a lot of attention. We just keep preaching movement off the ball and cutting to the rim. I have a lot of faith in everyone on this team.”

Oliver Ames (6-1, 6-1) travels to rival Sharon on the same day.

North Attleboro boys basketball

Rocketeers Run Away With Win Over Black Knights

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro senior George Ladd goes up for a shot in the first half against Stoughton. Ladd finished with 21 points. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro boys basketball team was on the verge of running away with a win during the third period, but visiting Stoughton made enough plays to stay in striking distance.

When given a second chance to put the game to bed, the Rocketeers didn’t take their foot off the pedal and ran away with a 61-36 decision over the Black Knights.

North extended its lead to 15 points with three minutes left in the third but the Black Knights chipped away, led by some hustle plays from junior Connor Andrews. Andrews took a charge and hauled in a pair of defensive rebounds on one end, and scored five straight on the other end to keep the visitors’ hopes alive, down 36-26.

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But the Rocketeers’ offense couldn’t be contained in the fourth quarter. Senior George Ladd (eight rebounds) scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final frame, taking advantage of Stoughton turnovers and second-chance points. North ended up with 25 points in the quarter, pulling away for the win.

“In the third quarter we kind of relaxed a little and took our foot off the gas,” admitted North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins, who is in his eighth year at the helm. “In the fourth, I thought our defensive focus was better, our rebounding focus was better, and our attention to protecting the ball was better and I think that was the difference. We thought we had a better man-to-man defense scheme than we executed the first game so we worked a lot on that in practice.”

Junior Casey Poirier set the tone in the first minute, taking a charge as the Rocketeers’ defense forced back-to-back turnovers to start the quarter. On the other end, senior Edan Kelley (seven points, five assists) found Ladd cutting backdoor on an inbounds play, a lob finished plus the foul for a three-point play and the Rocketeers were off and running.

Kelley found Jared Vacher for two and Ladd hit two free throws after a Stoughton turnover. Kelley and Ladd hooked up once again with the latter using a nice scoop finish. Poirier’s hard drive drew the defense’s attention and Ladd was there to finish again. Vacher missed the front end of a one-and-one but grabbed his own miss and snuck a layup in.

Three of Stoughton’s next four possessions resulted in turnovers, the last two turning into back-to-back buckets for Ladd and Brody Rosenberg (11 points, seven rebounds), as North opened the quarter with a 17-7 run and took a 53-33 lead with just over three minutes to go.

North Attleboro boys basketball

“We’re not really a team that gets up and forces a lot of turnovers, we’re trying to play solid defense without giving up easy ones,” Mulkerrins said. “With everything going on this season, lack of practice, roster moves, I think that’s naturally going to lead to turnovers so if you can just be solid defensively, more often than not you’ll be in a good spot.”










Besides the first basket of the game from Stoughton junior KC Ugwuakazi (eight points, 11 rebounds), the Rocketeers never trailed. The response was a 14-2 run in the opening quarter. Rosenberg sliced through the defense, Ladd cleaned up a miss, Kelley confidently sank a triple, Poirier hit one from the line and Ladd scored again. Kelley scored back-to-back baskets and North stretched its lead to double digits in the opening quarter.

“When a couple of things go wrong, and it feels like we’re down a hundred then we try to make up all the points on one play instead of slowly chipping away at it,” said first-year Stoughton head coach Evan Taylor. “I think it starts with a better start at the beginning of the game.”

“I think the biggest concern is on the offensive end. We’ve been playing pretty well defensively, holding teams to reasonable scores besides tonight. But we’re just not scoring enough, we’re not being aggressive enough. I don’t think we’re being unselfish enough. We have too many guys looking for their own shot and it shows on the scoreboard. Our offense as a whole needs to play more together.”

The second was a bit better for the Black Knights, who outscored the hosts 10-9 in the frame. Both Andrews and Jake Queeney connected from three-point range to keep Stoughton close but North got some key contributions from its bench, as it did throughout the entire game.

After Queeney’s triple cut the deficit to four, Nate Bennett’s hustle led to a putback off his own miss. And Rosenberg hit a key triple late in the quarter, getting an open look after a nice off-ball screen from Jason Rodriguez.

The contributions from the bench continued into the third as Tommy Onorato knocked down a triple on one end and Rodriguez stepped in to take a charge on Stoughton’s ensuing possession.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I have all the faith in the world in every single one of these kids,” said Mulkerrins, who played his entire available roster, most in meaningful minutes. “They are here every day, working hard in practice…we’re trying to pride ourselves this year on having really competitive practices and giving guys a chance. We talk about when guys come off the bench, the energy level has to go up. We had guys do that tonight, Jason Rodriguez stepped up and his focus was there, we got the ball in his hand on offense. I was really proud of the group tonight, they really made the best of their minutes.”

Stoughton got a stop early in the third but the defensive rebound was quickly turned over and Rosenberg dished it off to Ladd for two. Two more from Rosenberg and Onorato’s three pushed North’s lead to 32-17.

North Attleboro (2-1) returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to take on Canton (3-1). Stoughton (0-4) will look for its first win when it hosts Foxboro on the same day.

North Attleboro boys basketball

Borde Hits Milestone As Foxboro Earns Share Of Title

Foxboro boys basketball Brandon Borde
Foxboro senior Brandon Borde gives a thumbs up to the crowd after scoring his 1,000th career point in the fourth quarter against North Attleboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Foxboro senior Brandon Borde was certainly happy when he scored his 1,000th career point, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. And how it happened was pretty cool, too.

The Warriors’ once 14-point second-half lead had dwindled over the third quarter and the Red Rocketeers were threatening early in the fourth, getting within five.

Just three points away from the milestone, Borde instead recorded an assist to Will Morrison for a three-pointer, and two possessions later, the senior guard got within one point when he converted down low on an inbound pass from Donald Rogers.

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The next possession up, Borde (21 points, four rebounds, four assists) used a screen to break free from his man, taking a pass from Ryan Hughes in the corner and hit nothing but net from three-point range, surpassing the milestone with 5:55 left. The shot also proved to be the dagger the Warriors needed to fend off North Attleboro.

Foxboro went on to pick up a 68-57 win, clinching a share of the Davenport division title alongside Stoughton and Milford, who also won on Friday night.

“It means a ton to me, since I was a little kid, I’ve pictured this,” Borde said. “I came to the high school games, shooting around in the gym, watching all the guys ahead of me. It means a lot to represent the town in that way, and I wouldn’t have gotten here without all of the guys I’ve played with since my freshman year to now.

“We had a lot of adversity, dealing with injuries, so [the division title] means a lot. We had two big things happen besides the 1,000, we won a share of the division and we qualified for the state tournament so it was a big night for the team. And it was nice to hit it on a three, kind of cooler than a layup.”

For Foxboro, it was the punctuation of a run that sealed the win, a division title, and a playoff spot. The Warriors had an 11-point lead at halftime (39-28) and pushed the lead to its peak at 44-32 with 6:43 to play on a layup from Borde.

But North Attleboro refused to go away, getting six straight from sophomore Brody Rosenberg — three from deep, three the traditional way — and two more from senior Josh Porter. Junior George Ladd, who was the focus of the North offense for most of the night, got going in the post, scoring through contact to make it 46-42.

Borde stemmed the tide with a finish through traffic and Morrison (15 points, three assists) set up Rogers (15 points, five rebounds, four assists) for a triple, one of 10 made from downtown from the Warriors.

Edan Kelley answered from deep and Ladd (20 points, seven rebounds) added a traditional three-point play but Hughes (eight points, nine rebounds) had four points for the Warriors in the final minute to keep the visitors ahead 55-48 through three quarters.

“In the second half, they really went inside to Ladd and take advantage of their size to get some easy baskets,” Gibbs said. “We had to make some adjustments on how we were defending the post. I was just really proud of the resiliency of our guys. The first half went pretty smoothly for the most part but then they cut it down to four, and the momentum had totally turned.

“Given the circumstances, the pressure of what was at stake, the way the game was going on the road, we could have folded but we didn’t. I thought we really locked in, we got some big stops, got some big rebounds, and we came down and executed on offense and guys made some big shots. I was just really proud, that’s what you hope your team is going to do with a lot of seniors and they did that tonight.”

Ladd sank a pair of free throws to get the Rocketeers within 11 with just under five minutes to go and North’s defense got back-to-back stops but the offense couldn’t cut into the deficit any further. A long possession from the Warriors ended in a three from Rogers on a pass from Dylan Barreira.










“They were the better team tonight, I thought their kids played really hard,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “Brandon Borde is a really tough player, it’s a great achievement to get 1,000 points. He’s a tough matchup. I thought our kids fought hard we just had too many breakdowns, especially on defense. To Foxboro’s credit, when we made a mistake, they generally finished. That was probably the difference.

“It’s frustrating because our guys are better than some of the breakdowns we had. [Foxboro] had a good game plan, they wanted to get us into help, get us into rotation and our rotation was just not where it needed to be. It’s basic fundamental things that we need to be better at and stuff that I have to do a better job of getting them to the level they need to be defensively in the Hockomock League.”

Rogers got Foxboro off to a strong start, getting to the basket three times for six points in the opening quarter while Borde and Hughes each had four, and Morrison hit the first of his five three-pointers. North Attleboro senior Ethan Friberg hit three three-pointers to keep the Rocketeers close, down 17-13 after one.

Borde had a steal and layup to push Foxboro’s lead to nine in the second, and Barreira finished off a three-point play at the midway point of the second to push the Warriors’ lead to 28-17. Tommy Whalen, Rosenberg (13 points, six rebounds), and Ladd kept the Rocketeers in it but Liam Devlin scored off his own miss and then beat the buzzer from three-point range to give Foxboro its 39-28 halftime edge.

With the win, Foxboro earns a share of the Davenport division title, the program’s third since 2016. The Warriors share the crown with Stoughton and Milford, the Warriors split the season series with both teams. Foxboro had to win its final two games to earn a share.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I just said to them in the locker room, out of the three league championship teams I’ve been fortunate to coach, I’m most proud of this one because of the adversity that they’ve had to overcome,” Gibbs said. “A lot of things in the team with injuries and illnesses that have made it tough for us to have competitive practices at times, made it hard to establish roles and rotations.

“And we’ve had some tough, heart-breaking losses to good teams over the course of the season and every time that happened, they bounced right back. I think throughout the season, we showed a lot of resiliency and that was on full display tonight when North made that run. I’m just really proud of them.”

Foxboro boys basketball (9-7 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) will wrap its season up with three non-league games, starting with a first-round matchup in the Warrior Classic against Holliston on Monday at 2:45. North Attleboro (4-12, 5-14) will close the season with a trip to rival Attleboro for a non-league game on Wednesday.

Attleboro Rides Dominant Fourth Quarter Past North

Attleboro boys basketball Bryant Ciccio Qualeem Charles
Attleboro’s Bryant Ciccio (left) and Qualeem Charles (35) double team North Attleboro’s Edan Kelley (15) in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – For three quarters, not much could separate rivals Attleboro and North Attleboro on the hardwood inside Kenneth Pickering gymnasium.

A two-point lead for the visitors after a quarter, a tied game at the halftime break, and just a one-point advantage for the Bombardiers made it anyone’s game heading into the final frame.

And even two minutes into the final quarter, just one basket separated the rivals with Attleboro holding onto to a 45-43 lead.

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But just like that, the Bombardiers flexed their muscles on both ends of the court. Attleboro hit six of their next seven attempts from the floor with the lone miss hauled in for an offensive rebound that resulted in two free throws. And defensively, the Rocketeers missed three shots while committing four turnovers.

The result was an 18-0 run that turned the game on its head and a close contest into a comfortable 63-46 win for the Bombardiers.

“We made that run because we played defense,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Houle. “You can’t score 18 straight if you’re giving up baskets on the other end. We talk about being consistently good on defense and during that segment, we were very good.

“We went to a little different look on offense and we were able to spread them out a little bit. Obviously, when you make shots it changes everything. But we were stagnant on offense but it was because their defense kind of made us play like that.”

North Attleboro junior George Ladd (eight points, five assists) finished off a tough layup through contact to bring the hosts within 45-43 with 6:01 left on the clock.

Nick McMahon (nine points, seven assists) penetrated the North Attleboro zone and kicked it out to classmate Tim Callahan (17 points) for his fifth trifecta of the game, a shot that sparked the Attleboro offense.

Attleboro got a stop on the other end and senior Bryant Ciccio (15 points) sank a difficult baseline jumper before the Rocketeers had an empty trip. Ciccio took a pass from Jason Weir at the top of the key and sank another three for the Bombardiers, putting the visitors up 53-43 with just under four minutes to play.

North’s turnover woes (16 in total) factored in as Ciccio came up with a steal, the play resulting in two made free throws from Qualeem Charles (16 points, nine rebounds). It was near deja vu on the ensuing Rocketeer possession as Ciccio stripped the ball free and went in for an uncontested layup.

“We have to have more urgency at all times,” said North Attleboro coach Sean Mulkerrins. “When the moment gets big, we can’t change our focus level or let the scoreboard dictate how we play. It’s a hard lesson for our guys to learn but that’s back-to-back games, five minutes to play against a quality team…we’re not about moral victories, we have to be better. We have to do a better job coaching too.

“Credit to their better players, Ciccio stepped up in that fourth quarter, McMahon had a nice play, they hurt us inside on the glass. But selfishly from my end, we can’t turn the ball over and then have a breakdown defensively, it’s a double whammy. And then look up at the scoreboard and feel bad for yourself and let that dictate how you play. It certainly snowballed. Ultimately we have to step up and have more urgency.”

A travel gave the visitors the ball back, and despite their first miss of the stretch, Charles hauled in the board and was fouled going back up. He hit two more free throws while North’s cold stretch continued with a missed corner three.

McMahon capped the run with back-to-back strong takes to the rim sandwiched around a Rocketeer turnover after a double team from Ciccio and Charles.

“I thought Nick started feeling more comfortable towards the end,” Houle said. “He’s been terrific for us this year and against a zone, you can’t just pass it around the whole time you have to slip and look to attack a little bit. And then he started hitting wide open guys. So it was a win-win when you knock them down, you get a paint touch on the dribble penetration then kick it out.

“And for us in the second half, every time Q touched it we wanted him to score it. He’s a very unselfish player, he’d rather pass to his teammates but for us to be successful, we need him scoring in there.”

While the Bombardiers finally pulled away in the fourth quarter, they were on the verge of doing so in each of the previous two quarters but the Rocketeers continually made timely shots and stops to stay in it.

Callahan (twice) and Ciccio both connected on early threes for the Bombardiers but Brody Rosenberg (eight points), Edan Kelley, and Ethan Friberg (11 points, eight rebounds) were equal to the task. A bucket from Lorenzo Wilson and two free throws from Ciccio had Attleboro up 15-13 at the end of one.

Another triple from Callahan opened the second quarter, Charles finished off a three-point play, and Callahan sank yet another three as Attleboro started the frame strong. But a triple from Rosenberg and another from Friberg kept the Rocketeers in the game.

After a Callahan putback, the Rocketeers closed the first half on a 7-0 run with Ladd scoring down low, Friberg connecting on his third trifecta of the half, and Tommy Whalen finishing off a nice pass from Josh Porter to make it 26-26 at the break.

“They shot very well tonight, they had nine threes,” Houle said. “When they hit them back-to-back, you can’t get over that hump to pull away. They started to miss some shots but I think our defense started forcing some different things. And then they started over-penetrating a little bit and we swallowed them up.”

Timmy carried us in the first half, he was terrific. And he needed that because he’s had some good looks throughout the season and he really stepped up tonight.

Attleboro created some room with a 9-4 run capped by a Ciccio three to start the second half but Whalen answered with a triple and Jared Vacher hit back-to-back threes as North Attleboro surged ahead for the first time, 39-37.

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But North closed the quarter with a pair of misses and three straight turnovers, the latter turning into a bucket from Alvin Harrison that gave Attleboro a 40-39 lead heading into the fourth.

“I think it was a combination of them having a concerted effort on where to attack us,” Mulkerrins said of the fourth. “We were mixing up man and zone, I have to see it but my feeling is that we got a little tired and got stuck watching. You can’t be late against that quality of a team.”

Attleboro boys basketball (4-1 Hockomock, 5-2 overall) will host King Philip on Friday. North Attleboro (2-3, 3-5) will try to bounce back when it hosts Milford on Friday.

Ladd Lifts Rocketeers To Win Over Framingham

North Attleboro boys basketball George Ladd
North Attleboro junior George Ladd puts up a shot from in close against Framingham in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming off a big loss to division rival Stoughton, North Attleboro boys basketball head coach Sean Mulkerrins was encouraged with how his young squad bounced back on the road at Oliver Ames.

But the Rocketeers, filled with a roster still getting its feet wet at the varsity level, let a double-digit lead and a win slip through their fingers on this past Friday night against the Tigers.

Fast forward to Monday night and the Rocketeers were deadlocked with visiting Framingham, tied at halftime and again after three quarters of action inside Kenneth Pickering Gymnasium.

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The growth of the young Rocketeers, even just one game later, was on display as North Attleboro dominated the final eight minutes of the contest to earn a 51-38 win over the Flyers.

“We talked a lot after the last game about playing for 32 minutes,” Mulkerrins said. “I’m proud of the guys for coming out in those final eight minutes and lock it in mentally. We’re a young group, and that’s not an excuse, but experience does count for something.

“I thought our guys made a concerted effort on the defensive end and I thought we rebounded pretty well all night. In that fourth quarter, we got the ball inside to George [Ladd] a lot, and defensively I think we did just enough.”

Junior George Ladd poured in a career-high 26 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four assists while sophomore Casey Poirier chipped in with a career-high 15 points to pace the Rocketeers. Ladd (10) and Poirier (seven) combined to score all of North Attleboro’s fourth quarter points, a frame it won 17-4.

Poirier opened the fourth by taking a pass from senior Ethan Friberg and draining his third triple of the game, having hit two in the opening quarter. A steal from junior Edan Kelley led to another three attempt from Poirier, and even though it was off the mark, Ladd battled for one of his six offensive boards for an easy putback.

Poirier used a nice take to the basket for two and Ladd followed with a two of his own off a nice post move, turning to his left to finish. Framingham sophomore Dante Kikuba snapped the Rocketeers 9-0 run with a nice finish in traffic but Ladd came right back down and scored off a feed from Kelley for a 45-36 lead.

North’s defense got another stop, forcing a turnover and turned it into points on the other end. Poirier got around his man then used a nice behind-the-back dribble and hesitation move before sinking a floater. Kelley came up with another steal on the other end, senior Josh Porter hauled in an offensive rebound and then found Ladd in the post for another bucket and a 49-36 lead with two minutes to play.

“We made an effort to get [Ladd] the ball more [in the fourth],” Mulkerrins said. “Framingham does a good job of crowding the paint and I thought early on, guys were forcing it a little and they were almost surprised there were four guys there to defend. We ran a set that we had run against them last year, we did it a little in the first half and I knew I wanted to go back to it. I was expecting a counter in the third quarter so I waited until the fourth. And we ran a lot of our offense through him.”

The Rocketeers had a lead after eight minutes of play thanks in part to three-point shooting. Despite finishing 4-for-16 from downtown in the game, North Attleboro his three of those in the opening quarter. Poirier sank his first off a feed from Ladd with 4:37 left and then his second off another pass from Ladd with 1:06 to go.

“Casey is a sophomore but he has varsity speed,” Mulkerrins said. “What’s exciting tonight is that we played against a team that is extremely disciplined at being inside the paint and I thought he made a lot of good decisions in the second half. He made plays in tight windows and knocked down some shots.”

Friberg gave the hosts a little bit of a cushion, 13-9, at the end fo the first when he sank a triple with Ladd assisting once again.

Framingham came to life in the second quarter with senior Jack Murphy draining a corner three early, and senior James Allen hitting two from deep after coming off the bench for the Flyers. Senior Sam Whiting completed a traditional three-point play and scored four straight points to push Framingham’s lead to 25-17.

Kelley had a nice up-and-under finish to keep North close. Ladd then sparked an 8-0 run to close the quarter with a layup plus the harm, Poirier sank to free throws, and Friberg converted late to make it 25-25 at the break.

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In the second half, the Rocketeers’ extended their defense to a three quarter press. While it only resulted in a pair of turnovers, North was able to slow Framingham down and limited the visitors to nine points in the third and four in the fourth.

“I thought our press did a pretty good job of just taking them out of their rhythm, giving them less time,” Mulkerrins said. “[Dante Kikuba] is a sophomore, I really like his game but I thought we were able to slow him down with that press. But it was really about triggering us defensively, trying to get us more involved.”

North Attleboro boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 2-2 overall) is back in action on Monday when it travels to Lincoln-Sudbury for a 6:30 tip.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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

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

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