Tamulionis, Mollica Keep Warriors Afloat Against Lakers

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro senior Grace Tamulionis shoots a three-pointer against Silver Lake in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — For the first time all season, the Foxboro High girls basketball team had to deal with a change to its lineup.

After senior Shannon Smally suffered an injury in the Warriors’ win over Stoughton in the quarterfinals, the Warriors had to make an adjustment in the semifinal matchup against #5 Silver Lake.

Head coach Lisa Downs inserted freshman Katelyn Mollica into the lineup, and after a close first quarter, the Warriors pulled away from the Lakers over the final three quarters to pick up a 63-37 win.

With the win, Foxboro returns to the D2 South Sectional Final for the second straight year.

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“We knew going into it not having Shannon for the first time, there would be an adjustment. For a freshman to start in the in the sectional semis, it’s intimidating so I wasn’t sure how [Katelyn] would react, and she was a little tight in the first quarter, as we all were. Once the second quarter came, we started to hit more shots and I think that gave us confidence.”

“Defensively we made a few mistakes that I wasn’t psyched about but they picked up the intensity when we needed to on the offensive end. And defensively we did a better job on the boards in the second half, still not as good as we need to be. On offense we started making the extra pass, making some open shots and shooting a little bit more confidently.”

It was a rapid start to the games the Warriors, who are known for their ability to get out in transition and score in bunches, found themselves squaring off with a team that played at the same pace.

“Honestly all season long we’ve been the fastest ones out there,” Downs said. “They were getting back quicker than we were accustomed too, hats off to them they had a nice job. And they were getting back on our fast breaks and we usually can get a couple three on ones and we didn’t have the numbers we usually have.”

Silver Lake’s Annabella Boudreau hit her first two threes of the game to give the Lakers their lone lead (6-3) but Foxboro received trifectas from senior Grace Tamulionis (19 points, seven rebounds) and Mollica (16 points, four assists) to keep pace.

The Warriors finished the first with an 11-4 run over the final 4:33 to play, getting buckets from Ashley Sampson (eight points, six rebounds, three assists), a jumper from Chelsea Gibbons and another three from each Tamulionis and Mollica.

The confidence from the successful shooting over the final four minutes carried into the second quarter, and the offense continued to roll.

The Lakers cut the deficit to five but Tamulionis answered with her third triple of the game off a pass from Mollica, then Abby Hassman matched a jumper from Silver Lake’s Holly Reeder-Morning. Mollica found Tamulionis once again behind the line and she drained her fourth three to make it 25-14 with under four minutes to go in the first half.

Silver Lake kept it close with a 5-1 run only for Lily Sykes (seven points, five rebounds, four assists) to answer with a triple.

Foxboro amped up its defensive pressure to end the half with a steal from Sampson leading to two from Tamulionis, and then a steal from Hassman resulting in a triple from Mollica, giving Foxboro a 36-22 edge at the break.

The Warriors pesky defense came alive in the third quarter, holding the Lakers to just 4-for-17 shooting from the floor in the third quarter while forcing four turnovers. Foxboro used a 12-2 surge to start the quarter, pulling away from the Lakers for good.

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Tamulionis drained another three to start the second half followed by two each from Mollica, Tamulionis, and Hassman. Mollica connected for a three on a feed from Hassman to cap the run.

“I told Grace before the game that we needed a big night from her on the scoreboard and she delivered,” Downs said. “Usually once she hits that first shot she’s more relaxed and all of a sudden the floodgates open. She did what we needed her to do. Her and Katelyn Mollica, very happy with what they contributed tonight.”

Foxboro finished with 11 three-pointers on 27 attempts. Tamulionis led the way with five threes made while Mollica had four.

“Grace loves that [three-point] shot,” Downs said. “We’re so lucky this year with Abby [Hassman] doing as well as she does that I can put Grace out on the wing. When she has the shot on, she’s deadly with it. She’s a tough matchup because you kind of need a guard to defend her. So when they put a big on her, she’s able to up fake and go a little bit. She’s doing a great job.”

The Warriors held the Lakers to just seven points in the final quarter, limiting Silver Lake to just 15 point total in the second half.

Foxboro girls basketball (23-2) returns to the D2 South Final and will take on #3 Nauset on Saturday at 5:30 at Taunton High. Nauset has averaged 50.6 points per game so far in the tournament while allowing 37 points with wins over NDA, Duxbury, and Pembroke.

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Atherton Tosses Gem, Milford Wins South Title

Milford Softball
Milford celebrates with the Div. 1 South championship trophy following a 4-0 win over top seed Silver Lake at Taunton’s Jack Tripp Field. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – In each of the past two seasons, Milford and Silver Lake have met in the Div. 1 South quarterfinal and each time the Lakers had come out on top. On Saturday afternoon, the two teams met again, but this time the sectional’s top two seeds faced off at Taunton High’s sun-drenched Jack Tripp Field with the South title on the line.

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For the Milford seniors, whose careers began just a year after the program won the second of back-to-back state titles, this was not just a chance to get revenge on the Lakers, but also an opportunity to add to the program’s legacy of success.

It was an opportunity that those seniors would not let slip away.

Ali Atherton tossed a one-hitter against the potent Silver Lake lineup, which had put up 18 runs in two other games against Hock opponents in the tournament; Maggie Farrell went 3-for-4 and drove in what turned out to be the game winning runs with a third inning double; and Kaitlyn DeCapua went 2-for-4 with an RBI, as the Hawks beat previously unbeaten Silver Lake 4-0 to clinch their second South title.

“That’s what seniors do,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “They were just outstanding today. On the bus it was crickets on the way here, that was the focus and that’s how they’ve been all year.”

He added, “Ever since we lost here in early April (in the season-opener against Taunton), they’ve been on a mission and they’re not going to let anything get in their way.”

Atherton, the Southern New Hampshire-bound pitcher, stepped into the circle as a freshman with the unenviable task of following arguably the best pitcher in state history, Shannon Smith. Four years later and facing the biggest game of her career, Atherton rose to the occasion and matched one of Smith’s achievements by tossing a shutout in the South final.

“Obviously not her greatest outing the other night (against Hopkinton),” said DiVitto, “and she comes out here today and [has] probably one of her better outings she’s had in her four years. What a great job by her today.”

Atherton held the Lakers hitless through 4-1/3 innings, allowed only one infield single, one walk, and just two balls out of the infield. Considering the stage and the lineup that she was facing, it could could be argues this was the best pitching performance of her career.

“On the bus, I was thinking about how I was going to pitch these girls,” Atherton explained. “I’ve faced them so many times, I know how they’re going to hit. I know what they want to do with the ball, so I know where I want to put my pitches.”

She continued, “The outside low corner was crucial for me today, especially against the top of the order. They want to pull the ball, they want the ball inside, so I didn’t throw much inside. My catcher (Emily Hartman) and I were working all game and I knew I wanted to stay low today.”

The Hawks also needed to flash the leather behind Atherton, who remarkably finished her one-hitter with no strikeouts. Maddy Bonvino got it started with a leaping grab of a liner in the second inning to rob Anna Battista of a hit and in the fourth Farrell came charging in to make a shoestring grab on a sinking line drive off the bat of Kelly Danahy.

“Our defense has been rock solid all year long,” said DiVitto, “and today was just an example of that and Ali having the confidence in the girls behind her to be able to throw strikes.”

Milford had a base hit in each of its first two at-bats but Silver Lake pitcher Jillian Richards also looked sharp, using her off-speed pitches to keep the Hawks guessing. That changed in the third.

Shannon Cormier started the inning with a single to second and moved up a base on a wild pitch. Kate Irwin followed by beating out an infield single. A grounder to first moved both runners up into scoring position for Farrell, who got the pitch she was waiting for and drilled a double into the gap in left center.

“It was just like the perfect pitch, right where I wanted it and I knew I had to go for that one,” Farrell said. “As long as we just kept our head on it then she was right down the middle.”

With two outs, DeCapua singled up the middle to bring Farrell around with the third run and the Hawks had momentum and budding confidence.

Farrell said, “We knew we had to jump on them early and keep going throughout the game. Once we got those three runs, we weren’t done. We had to keep pushing and keep trying to get more runs.”

Milford had the chance to tack on runs in the fifth when Farrell singled with two outs and Jess Tomaso reached on an error, but Richards got a ground out to end the inning. In the bottom half, Battista reached on a grounder that was knocked down by Bonvino for the Lakers first hit, but Atherton got back-to-back grounders to end any threat.

In the sixth, the Hawks added an insurance run. Kelley Reichert and Bonvino each singled with one out and Cormier drew a walk to load the bases. Irwin blooped a ball in between the left field and shortstop to make it 4-0.

DiVitto said, “We’re a complete, total team effort and you could see that one through nine in our lineup today, girls making it happen in the lower part of the lineup getting things going for us. It’s a team effort…and it’s a great team win.”

Milford could not break the game open, as Richards got out of the jam without allowing another run. A two-out walk to Danahy in the bottom of the sixth put a little pressure on Atherton, but she got Caroline Videtto to ground out to second leaving power hitter Emily Critch waiting in the on-deck circle.

The Lakers put on their rally caps for the bottom of the seventh and the Silver Lake bench was as loud as it had been all game, but Atherton made short work of the final inning before leaping into her teammates’ arms as South champion.

“This is an amazing feeling,” said Atherton. “This is what me, Kaitlyn and Maggie wanted to do all four years. We’ve been working towards this point. My team did amazing today and they’re really the reason that we won.”

When asked about the reasons for the team’s success, DiVitto added, “Terrific kids that show up every day with a positive attitude that support each other. It makes our life that much easier to come to the field every single day with a group of girls that want to be here [and] that want to be with each other.”

He also noted, “It’s great to get the win here today, but we’re not done, we’re not satisfied. We need to be ready to go on Tuesday against a really good team from the North.”

Milford (23-1) will put its 23-game win streak on the line against the North champion (either Newton North or Billerica) on Tuesday at Jack Tripp Field at 7:00.

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Rocketeers Battle But Fall to Top Seed in Semis

North Attleboro softball
North Attleboro’s Sam Courtemanche lays down a bunt against Silver Lake. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – North Attleboro came into Thursday night’s Div. 1 South semifinal against top seed and unbeaten Silver Lake at Taunton High’s Jack Tripp Field as the heavy underdog. The Rocketeers were the No. 12 seed, had three freshmen in the starting lineup, including a freshman starting pitcher, and were playing their fourth game in seven days.

When the Lakers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning, the game seemed like nothing more than a formality on Silver Lake’s path to the sectional final, but North did not go quietly and continued to battle all the way to the final out, making the top seed work for the win.

In the end, Silver Lake had too much for North Attleboro, pulling out a 12-5 victory and setting up a match-up with No. 2 seed Milford in Saturday afternoon’s South final. Despite the defeat, North coach Bill Wallace was proud of how far his young team had come this season.

“I like how they didn’t give up…and it’s hard,” said Wallace. “Even when it was 11-3, we’re still banging hits and, you know, we had the bases loaded…I’m thrilled with the way the kids played this year.”

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The Lakers looked every bit the top seed with six runs in the first two innings. A two-out single by senior pitcher Jill Richards scored an unearned run in the first and in the second inning the Lakers sent 10 batters to the plate and brought home five runs, including a two-out, two-run single by senior catcher Emily Critch.

Trailing 6-0 and with no hits through two innings, the Rocketeers could have rolled over and called it a spring, but instead North showed signs of life in the third and cut the lead in half.

Freshman Ashley Cangiano (4-for-4) and junior Andrea Miceli started the inning with singles and freshman Abby Gallagher reached on an error to load the bases. The Lakers got the first out at the plate but senior Megan Barlow drew a walk to get North on the board. Senior Liz Morehouse followed with a two-run single off the glove of Silver Lake shortstop Caroline Videtto.

The Lakers responded in the bottom half of the inning with another five runs to break the game open again. After freshman Bella Erti got a comebacker for the first out, the Lakers had five straight hits, including a two-run single by Videtto to make it 11-3 heading to the fourth.

Wallace said of Silver Lake, “That team can rake. They get the barrel on the ball quite a bit.”

Gallagher got one back for North in the fourth with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Cangiano, who had somehow gotten to third on the play before with an unorthodox slide to avoid the tag.

In the fifth, the Rocketeers got a fifth run with a two-out rally. Pinch hitter Amelia Murphy, who has battled injuries all season, reached on an infield single, took second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a single to center by Kristina Murphy.

After a rough start, Erti settled into her start and, despite having pitched a complete game against Marshfield just a day early, seemed to get stronger as the game went on. She retired eight Lakers in a row between the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

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“Bella is a freshman and she just kept gutting it and gutting it and I couldn’t be any prouder of her,” said Wallace. “She’s a tough nut and when you’re a freshman you have the weight of the seniors on your shoulder and all the upperclassmen and she’s handled it great. She’s very coachable and she’s just going to get better.”

In the top of the sixth, North had the chance to make things interesting when Cangiano and Miceli started the inning with singles, but Richards struck out Gallagher, Anna Battista chased down an Olivia Capobianco fly ball in foul territory, and Barlow lined out to second to end the inning.

“The kids just kept battling, but when you’re chasing you can’t do the things that get you there,” Wallace said. “We’re a little bit of a different team when we’re ahead than when we’re chasing runs, but we’ve got more dimensions.”

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Alexandra Ruprecht reached on an error. Two batters later, Hannah Mitchell singled to right center for an unearned insurance run.

In the seventh, North continued to put pressure on the Lakers. Morehouse and Murphy each singled to get things started. Morehouse was forced out at third and Sam Courtemanche lined out to short before Cangiano got her fourth hit of the day to load the bases. Richards closed out the hard-fought win with a strikeout.

While the night ended in defeat for North Attleboro (14-7), there is plenty for the Rocketeers to be optimistic about. Six of the nine starters will be back next season, including Erti in the circle.

“If you could’ve told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be standing here in the semifinal, I’d say that’s great, but not only did they get it but they got to live through the four games to get here.”

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Hawks Grounded By Defending South Champs

Milford softball
Milford third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua had a solid game in the loss to Silver Lake in the D1 South quarterfinal. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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KINGSTON, Mass. – Coming into the game, Milford knew the challenge that it would face against top seed Silver Lake. The Lakers were undefeated and boasted the top player in the state in senior pitcher Maddy Barone. They had also beaten the Hawks in the regular season and in last year’s tournament.

Knowing what is coming does not always prevent it from happening.

Barone was stellar in the circle, striking out six and limiting the Hawks to just two hits and three base runners, and also went 3-for-4 at the plate with the game-winning RBI in a 5-0 victory that sends the Lakers into the Div. 1 South semifinal.

“She’s the Gatorade Player of the Year for a reason,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “She’s an outstanding pitcher and outstanding player and I thought we put the bat on the ball a couple times but not in the right spots.

“You have to tip your cap to a pitcher and player like that.”

Silver Lake coach Tony Pina admitted that Barone and her battery mate, catcher Emily Critch, learned from the team’s meeting in May (the Lakers won 5-2).

He explained, “It definitely helped us in terms of knowing what to expect. Because we know their approach at the plate and have seen them before, it allows Maddy and Emily to call the game they need.”

Megan Jacques had Milford’s first hit in the second inning, but pinch runner Antonia Bonina was caught stealing to end the inning. Barone retired the next 11 hitters before allowing a two-out single to Shannon Cormier in the sixth.

Pina said, “Maddy did what we expected her to do – hit her spots and get us ground balls, fly balls. I thought her ball was moving pretty good. I thought she did a good job keeping them off-balance today.”

Milford starter Ali Atherton, who will join Barone at Southern New Hampshire in 2017, got through the first inning unscathed with help from third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua who made a pair of excellent plays on two hard hit balls.

The second time through the lineup the Lakers did not hit it quite as hard but seemed to find some holes. With one out, three straight singles loaded the bases for Barone, who lined a two-run single into right center to get the Lakers on the board.

“The way that this turned out today was a lot like the first time we played them – a lot of dink and dunk hits there in the middle and Barone with that big two-run single,” said DiVitto. “That’s the way it goes.”

A sacrifice fly and an RBI single made it 4-0 after four innings, which was plenty for Barone but in the fifth Silver Lake added an insurance run on a fielder’s choice with runners at second and third. After a walk loaded the bases again with no outs, DiVitto made a change and brought in sophomore Kelley Reichert.

Reichert escaped the difficult situation without allowing another run. She induced a comebacker to get the lead runner and a grounder to DeCapua at third to again force the runner at the plate and then a line drive to Emily Piergustavo at short to end the inning.

Milford finally put together something at the plate in the top of the seventh. Piergutavo led off with an infield single and Jess Tomaso drew a walk to get the Hawks a runner in scoring position for the only time in the game.

Barone bore down and struck out Maggie Farrell, got a line drive from DeCapua and then a grounder from Jacques that shortstop Caroline Videtto fielded in the hole and managed to scoop to third to force Piergustavo and end the game.

“I know our girls came out today and put forth a great effort,” said DiVitto. “I’m really proud of what they accomplished this season.

“I’m never satisfied and I know they feel the same way. I told them that remember that taste in your mouth and that feeling in your gut and let it fuel you moving forward.”

There is plenty of optimism around the program, as the Hawks will bring back 14 of 16 players from this year’s roster and will be one of the few top teams in Div. 1 South that will bring back two starting pitchers.

“But you can’t overestimate the seniors (Jill Powers and Megan Jacques) that we’re going to lose,” said DiVitto. “I know it’s only two but sometimes it’s quality not quantity. Those are going to be two very tough seniors to replace.”

He added, “We’re going to try and reload and come back even stronger next year.”

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