Whalen Double-Double Earns Stoughton Win at North

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton senior forward Val Whalen (14) scored 19 points and pulled down 19 rebounds to help the Black Knights earn their first league win of the season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Coming into Friday night’s game at the Pickering Gym, Stoughton had lost four games by seven or less points, struggling to find ways down the stretch to pull out wins. When North Attleboro climbed back to within five points in the fourth quarter, it looked like that may happen again for the Black Knights.

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Instead of letting the game slip away, senior forward Val Whalen took over down the stretch. She scored 10 points, made 8-of-10 from the free throw line, and dominated the paint to help Stoughton close with a 17-6 run that sealed a 59-43 victory over North and ended the Black Knights’ winless start in the league.

“This is the best game of Val’s senior year so far and I know she’s going to continue to do great things,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “It was clutch. She stepped up to the line and knocked them down. Obviously, her offensive rebounds were important, but it was nice to see her do well from the free throw line.”

Whalen finished the game with 19 points and 19 rebounds, while also adding four assists and two blocks. North struggled to find an answer for the senior on either end of the floor.

“She’s a nightmare and causes a lot of problems,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “She can shoot a little bit and it drags you out and then you’ve got [Jordan] Motley to grab all the backside rebounds. So, you’ve really got to have two posts and if you don’t have two posts you’re always playing a matchup game.”

Stoughton took over on the boards right from the opening tap. Whalen pulled down nine rebounds in the first quarter and scored seven points, with both of her baskets coming on putbacks at the rim. Sophomore guard Aliyah Wright (13 points, nine rebounds) also chipped in with six in the first.

North tried to stay close with its perimeter game. Julia Feid (team-high 12 points) and Emily Haskell (eight points) each knocked down threes to keep North within seven (17-10) after one quarter.

The Rocketeers made only one shot from the floor in the second, but were managing to stay close thanks to 9-of-12 shooting from the free throw line. Stoughton’s aggressive defense was giving North free points, but sophomores Shyanne Trinh (14 points) and Mariah Harris (seven points) each hit threes to keep the Black Knights ahead.

With North hanging around, down just eight inside the final few seconds of the half, Trinh took off on a coast-to-coast run that ended with a layup and a 30-20 halftime lead, which left North’s bench frustrated.

“We did okay with our game plan, but they’re a good team, they’re battle-tested, and they’ve got some kids who’ve been on varsity for two or three years now,” said Herber.

Fouls continued to rack up for Stoughton in the second half. North shot 12 free throws in the third and reached the bonus before the end of the quarter. Feid scored on an offensive rebound to cut the lead back to 10 and Julia Santos (eight points, 11 rebounds) added a putback as well.

Heading to the fourth quarter, Stoughton’s lead, which had been as many as 13 was down to just seven.

“We were in foul trouble and that really hurt us,” said Steele Jordan, “but we’ve had several close ones that we needed just a little bit more and I think those games helped us in this instance.”

North continued to battle early in the fourth. Sophomore Eliza Dion (seven points) drove through the Stoughton defense for a layup that made it 40-35 and, after a pair of Whalen free throws, Haskell drove on the other side for a bucket that again got the Rocketeers within five points. It was as close as North would get.

Herber said, “They fight, they fight and that’s why I feel so bad for them because they do fight. We’ve been in the last couple of games but we just couldn’t get that big shot.”

Wright scored on a runner in the lane and found Whalen leaking out in transition for an easy basket to push the lead back to nine. Whalen grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Trinh for an open three that put Stoughton up by double digits and then Whalen sealed the win with six free throws in the closing minutes.

“They can do some things in the post that we didn’t have any answers for,” Herber admitted. “Whalen and Motley (14 rebounds) down the stretch really gave us problems and we tried to get them in foul trouble but couldn’t at the end.”

Steele Jordan said, “It’s tough. You have a few tough losses back-to-back, but I have a fantastic team and they work hard for me every day. They dug down, played solid ‘D’, and took their time on offense and it showed today.”

After earning its first win in the league, Steele Jordan is hoping that the team can build off this performance. She said, “They’re young, but they’re coming into their own, which is nice because you always worry about peaking too soon. I’m glad my team is starting to turn the wheels now and really get going.”

Stoughton (2-7, 1-5) will travel to Sharon on Tuesday night trying to make it two in a row in the Hock. North Attleboro (1-7, 0-6) will try to get its first win in the league on Tuesday at Milford.

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Andrews, Gonzalez Spark Stoughton To First Win

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Cam Andrews converts a layup against Randolph in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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RANDOLPH, Mass. – With a pair of starters out, Stoughton head coach John Gallivan turned to senior Ruben Gonzalez to give the Black Knights a defensive spark.

Not only did Gonzalez deliver a pesky defensive performance (three steals), the senior connected on five three-pointers and poured in a career-high 19 points to help the Black Knights pick up their first win of the season, an 80-60 decision over Randolph in the first round of the Blue Devils Holiday Classic.

Stoughton will play Natick in the championship of the tournament on Saturday night.

“What a spark he was,” Gallivan said.

Gonzalez got Stoughton’s offense going early, scoring eight of the team’s 18 first-quarter points including a pair of triples. And when Randolph’s defense decided to face guard senior Cam Andrews (career-high 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) for the entire fourth quarter, Gonzalez helped put the game to rest with eight more points, again on a pair of threes.

And in the two middle quarters, Andres took care of business. He scored 13 of his points in the third quarter, helping the Knights turn a seven-point lead at the end of the first (18-11) into a 36-23 advantage going into the halftime break.

When Randolph had its best offensive quarter of the game, netting 24 points in the third quarter, Andrews was equal to the task, scoring 12 of his own in the quarter to keep the lead at 13 (60-47) heading into the final frame.

“I thought he did a good job of letting it come to him,” Gallivan said. “And I thought our kids did a nice job of finding him on offensive rebounds. That’s the most open he’s going to be when they reverse pivot and kick it out to him. One that comes to mind is when Alex Sjoquist ripped one and instead of a 5’9 kid going up against a 6’4 kid, he turned and found Cam.”

The Blue Devils got within seven points just over the midway point of the second quarter, but Stoughton rattled off a 13-4 run over a two and a half minute span to build the separation it needed for the rest of the game.

Gonzalez got the run started with his third triple, and Andrews blew by his defender with a strong take to the hoop for a layup. Stoughton’s press worked as Gonzalez came up with a steal in the Randolph backcourt and tossed up a pass for an easy alley-layup for Andrews.

After a Randolph timeout, the Blue Devils got back on the board with a layup but Stoughton had a quick answer. After a miss, Sjoquist pulled in the rebound and found Andrews for the three, plus the foul, for a four-point play. It was the play that Gallivan alluded to.

Stoughton capped the run when Gonzalez forced another turnover and Andrews finished at the rim once again.

Randolph cut the deficit to single digits once in the second half, midway through the third quarter, but five straight points from Andrews restored Stoughton’s comfortable lead.

Colin Sanda added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for Stoughton while Steevens Phelimond (six points, five rebounds) and David Bell (five points, five rebounds) gave the Knights a presence in the paint.

“I think the important thing for us was to survive those first three Kelley-Rex games,” Gallivan said.

The Black Knights lost to Oliver Ames, Attleboro and Mansfield top begin the season; the three teams had a combined 9-3 record entering games on Thursday night.

“We actually had stretches where we played well against all three teams. If you lose those three games spread out over a couple of weeks, it’s no big deal. But you lose three in a row and it can seem like the sky is falling. These guys have done a good job of keeping their composure and doing things the way we want to do it. And I thought they played a full 32 minutes tonight, which was one of the focuses tonight. We’ve had good minutes, but not a full 32 until tonight.”

Stoughton boys basketball (0-3 Hockomock, 1-3 overall) will try to make it two in a row when it tips off against the Redhawks in the championship of the Blue Devils Holiday Classic on Saturday at 6:30.

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys and Girls Hockey Preview
Canton and North Attleboro will once again battle for the Davenport division crown this winter, as Hockomock League hockey kicks off a new season. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Boys Hockey Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Mark Homer

Attleboro struggled in its closing games of 2016-17 and narrowly missed out on a place in the state tournament via the Sullivan rule. This year’s Bombardiers are hoping that a mix of youth and experience will be enough to get the team over the hump and back in the playoff mix.

The main scoring threat for Attleboro this season is senior forward Jake Parker, a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection last winter who led the team with 20 goals despite facing regular double teams and playing loads of minutes. Parker will be joined up front by sophomore Ryan Morry, who is coming off a solid rookie campaign and will try to take advantage of the opportunities Parker creates near the net.

Attleboro’s experience is on the defensive side of the ice. Seniors Eddie Noel and Sam MacKenzie and junior Kyle McCabe provide size, physicality, and reading of the game to protect the Bombardiers goal. Attleboro coach Mark Homer, in his second season with the team, is expecting the defensemen to be aggressive in the zone and be more prepared to clear the puck. The Bombardiers are also experienced in goal with junior Evan Andrews and sophomore Derrik Rivet offering a solid one-two between the pipes.

“As a team, we are working on becoming more competitive in our games at all phases of the game, said Homer. “We will strive to be better today than we were yesterday but not as good as we will be tomorrow. Our success will be measured by how hard we work and not by our wins and losses.”

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 16-5-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal.
Coach: Brian Shuman

After another league title in 2016-17 and a run to the Div. 2 South semifinal, Canton has started this season with a win and a draw (that turned into an overtime win in the final of the Gormley Cup) and the expectations remain as high as ever for one of the teams to beat in D2.

Last season, Canton was by far the league’s best defensive team, allowing only 32 goals in 24 games. The next best defense allowed 48 goals. But, the Bulldogs will need to rebuild the blue line this season after the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jackson Maffeo and Third Team selection C.J. Martin. Defensemen Brad Murphy and Nick Allen have experience and will be counted on to step up to bigger roles this year.

The key for the Canton defense, which has allowed only one goal in two games so far this season, will be junior goalie Quinn Gibbs. He was a HockomockSports.com First Team choice last year with a league-best 0.924 save percentage and there is hope he can get even better with a year of experience. Offensively, the Bulldogs bring back most of the goals from last year with Ryan Nolte, Johnny Hagan, Bubba McNeice, and Jack Goyetch all returning this season and all having scored big goals in big moments for Canton during last season’s tournament run.

“I think the most important determinant of our success will be whether we can find some depth at forward and defense,” said Canton coach Brian Shuman. “Teams need more than two lines and four ‘D’ to make a deep run, so we need some guys to compete for those remaining spots.”

Foxboro

2016-2017 Record: 6-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 3 First Round.
Coach: Mark Cedorchuk

Foxboro saw improvement last year, increasing its win total, goals for, and allowed fewer goals than the season before. Head coach Mark Cedarchuk is hoping that trend continues this season as the Warriors look to try and compete for the spot in the postseason.

The Warriors will be relying on a mix of experience as well as youth to try and compete in the Hockomock League this year. Senior captain Aidan Sullivan (two goals, six assists) has been an anchor of the team’s blue line unit over the past couple of seasons and will be relied upon to lead the way again this year. Senior captain Taylor Sharfman is another defenseman that gives the Warriors two capable and reliable options in the back. Junior Tanner Kennedy is also back after a solid sophomore year and Warriors added junior Brendan Tully to the defensive unit.

On offense, Foxboro graduated its top three goal scorers but sophomore Ronnie MacLellan (four goals, seven assists) is back after a strong sophomore year. He will be joined up front by senior Sam Garrabrant and sophomore Sebastian Ricketts, who had four goals and two assists last year.

Foxboro will have to find a replacement for goalie John Cronin, a multi-year starter in between the pipes for the Warriors. Foxboro has three goalies – freshman Jack Spinney, sophomore Espen Reager, and freshman Connor Callahan – listed on the roster.

“With a combination of experienced upperclassman and talented underclassman, we’re looking forward to an exciting and competitive season,” Cedarchuk said.

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 14-9-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Chris Spillane

Although last winter was atypical for the Panthers, losing two games in the league for the first time in several years, Franklin won another league title and with 20 players back for this season the expectation is that a seventh straight league crown is a distinct possibility – not to mention making a run in the state tournament.

Experience will be the key for the Panthers. Most of the forwards were members of the team that won the state championship two years ago and know what it takes to get goals against top competition. Leading scorer Brendan O’Rielly is back after scoring 20 goals and recording 11 assists last season. He should have plenty of help up front with classmates Luke Downie, Jeremy Miller, T.J. Durkin, and Ken Demerchant, who are all three-year varsity players for the Panthers.

Defensively, Franklin has lost several talented young defensemen to other programs in recent seasons, but still boasts a strong defensive corps heading into this winter. Jack McGrath, Matt Crane, Connor Norton, Cam Cassella, and sophomore Tom Tasker will all contribute to the defensive pairings this season and that depth will be important over a long season. The goalie position is a battle between three seniors, including returning netminders Owen Ginley and Dan Sheehan, who both saw time last year.

“I will be looking to our leading goal scorer from last year Brendan O’Rielly to once again lead the offensive charge,” said Franklin coach Chris Spillane. “From a small practice sample (one skate) I was impressed with our team speed.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 4-16-0
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Paul Carlow

King Philip finished just below .500 in the league last season, and just five points out of second place in the Kelley-Rex division, but struggled in the non-league schedule, losing all 11 games outside of the Hock. The Warriors will look to improve that considerably this year with an experienced roster that wants to challenge for a league title.

KP returns 13 players from last year’s squad and that experience will be vital to allow the Warriors to compete not only in the league but against a schedule that has been bolstered because of the program’s move up to Div. 1 several seasons ago. Offensively, the attention will be on senior forward Collin Cooke, who chipped in with 10 goals and seven assists and has been drawing the focus of opposing defenses for several years. Senior Gavin Maxwell had nine goals and eight assists last season and will again be a solid counterpoint to take some of the pressure off Cooke in the attacking zone.

On the defensive side of the ice, KP continues to be a physical team that likes to be aggressive attacking the puck. Senior defensemen Will Connor will get some help at the back with the return of senior Mike Curtin from juniors, who head coach Paul Carlow said could be an “anchor” on defense. Senior Shane Frommer, fresh off a stellar football season and another Super Bowl title, will quickly transition from the gridiron to be the team’s starting goalie, after posting a 2.66 goals against average in 2016-17.

“Our strength is that we have a total of 13 returning players from last years team,” said Carlow. “We have experience up front and on the back end. We should see some team chemistry with this many returning players.”

Mansfield

2016-2017 Record: 12-8-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round.
Coach: Mike Balazarini

In last year’s state tournament, Mansfield held its own against perennial power Xaverian before losing 2-1 in the opening round and that defeat is spurring the Hornets on this season, as the team has built a deep roster that believes it can challenge for the Kelley-Rex crown.

Team speed is going to be a strength for the Hornets this season, even without several key pieces from last winter, including breakout freshman Chris Jenkins, lost to graduation or to juniors. Senior forward Dylan Tivnan and Cullin Anastasia will be back to man the top scoring line along with freshman Coleman Jenkins. The second line will feature a lot of youth with sophomore Jake Lund and freshman Matt Copponi alongside junior Chris Copponi.

Seniors Tyler Oakley and Tim Arnold will be the leaders on the defensive side this year, while senior Ryan O’Hara and juniors Nick Levine and Austin Ricker will give the Hornets depth in the defensive unit. That depth should make things easier for sophomore Sean McCafferty, who will be stepping between the pipes for Mansfield this season.

“I think everyone wants to pick up where he left off last year,” said Mansfield coach Mike Balzarini. “We’ve had a good mindset early on this season. We have some new faces and everyone has gelled so far. We can’t take everyone lightly, we have to play every shift as its out last.”

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 14-4-4
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Ben McManama

North Attleboro is coming off its most successful season in program history, and will be starting a new chapter with new head coach Ben McManama.

The Rocketeers will be tasked with finding replacements for some of the top players in the league from a season ago. Someone will need to step up in order to fill the void left by Zach McGowan (19 goals, 13 assists for 32 points – third most in the Hockomock) as well as Hunter Sarro’s 22 points and Erik Clements’ 20 points.

Senior Jason McNeany is a key piece back for the Rocketeers, fresh off a terrific football season. He scored 13 goals last season and added 13 assists, and has been a big piece of the offense for many years now. He will be counted on to be a leader this season, both in the locker room and on the ice.

Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 14-7-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Sean Bertoni

Under first-year head coach Sean Bertoni, Oliver Ames proved to be a strong skating team that could cause a number of problems with its dangerous attack. That speed up front will be put to the test again this year, as the Tigers look to jump from second in the Kelley-Rex division to the top of the standings.

The Tigers have a number of talented forwards returning from last season’s team, which reached the Div. 2 South tournament and beat Nauset only to run into state finalist Scituate in the second round. That loss will provide motivation for junior forward Brett Williams, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team with 12 goals and eight assists last year, and the rest of the OA forwards. Williams will be joined up front by seniors Eric LeBlanc and Rory Madden and junior Max Ward.

On defense, junior Matt McCormick returns to be one of the top four along with senior Mike Nikiciuk. Both players will provide leadership for a defensive unit that promises to be aggressive in both zones, as Bertoni continues to implement his system at OA. Sophomore goalie Owen Connor will be the new goalie for the Tigers.

“We will continue to use our team speed and play an aggressive style offensively and defensively,” said Bertoni. “We hope to compete at a high level in all three zones. If we bring an aggressive forecheck we can create turnovers which should result in production.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 7-12-2
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Dan Mark

Numbers are a bit down for the Stoughton High hockey team this season, so the Knights will be relying on their most experienced players to lead the way, especially early on.

On offense, the Knights boast senior Brendan Campbell at center and junior Sean Doherty at wing. Campbell had a team-high in points last season, finishing second with 11 goals while recording a team-best 15 assists for 26 points. Doherty was third on the team, tying for the team lead with 12 goals and finishing with 25 points.

Senior Cam Nelson and junior Josh Hough will be the leaders of the Knights’ defensive unit. Hough is a captain along with Campbell and Doherty and has the most experience on the blue line. Nelson also saw plenty of time last season, recording an assist.

“We are an inexperienced team that will improve as the season goes on,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark.

Taunton

2016-2017 Record: 12-9-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round.
Coach: Kris Metea

Taunton has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons, setting new program bests for wins and making the state tournament two seasons in a row. This year’s team features only three seniors, so the Tigers will be hoping recent success will continue with a youthful lineup.

Senior forward Will Walsh has returned from junior hockey and will provide a boost to the front line, which head coach Kris Metea has high hopes for this season. Senior Jake Roberts is also back for the Tigers after scoring 18 points last year and junior Cam Sneyd is back after a 16-point season last winter. Metea is counting on high energy from the offensive unit and believes that the roster is capable of creating loads of scoring opportunities.

Sophomore Sean Bunker will be in net for the Tigers and the defensive unit is fairly inexperienced, although the coach believes that by working together Taunton will be able to put together a solid back line. The hope is that defense will become a strength of the Tigers by the end of the season.

“The players enjoy wearing the orange and black and look forward to coming to the rink every day,” said Metea. “The coaching staff has preached about enjoying the journey of a season and the developmental process. These players strive to work hard and get better every day. They will be fun to watch grow throughout the season.”

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview
Colleen Kelleher and Canton will be one of the favorites to win the inaugural Hockomock League girls’ hockey season, which begins this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Hockey Preview

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 14-5-6
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Final
Coach: Dennis Aldrich

Canton is coming off a remarkable state tournament run that took the No. 14 seed all the way to the TD Garden and the program’s first state title game appearance since 2006. After years of competing in the SEMGHL Coastal division, the Bulldogs are excited for the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and enter the new season as favorites to bring home the first Hock title.

A number of key players are back from the team that battled Notre Dame Academy (Hingham) in the state championship game last March and will be counted on to put together another solid defensive effort that made the Bulldogs so tough to play against during the tournament run. Spearheading that defensive unit is senior goalie Colleen Kelleher, who was stellar throughout the state tournament with clutch saves in key situations.

On offense, Canton returns plenty of firepower. Juniors Maggie Malloy and Lauren Fitzpatrick emerged as big time scorers last year and came through with important goals to help the Bulldogs make a run to the Garden. Senior forwards Melissa Devane, Kendra Farrelly, and Andrea McNeil give Canton a loaded attacking unit that always seemed to pop up with goals when the team needed it most.

“The strength of the Bulldogs will continue to be a tenacious, smothering team defense, strong goaltending, and balanced, opportunistic scoring,” said Canton coach Dennis Aldrich. “We are proud to have our roster filled with 11 Canton team captains amongst our 22 rostered players.”

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 4-15-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Marjorie Burke

Franklin enters the first Hockomock League girls’ hockey season with a young roster, but one that is expected to compete with the other four teams and have a shot at bringing home the inaugural title.

Junior Regan Paterson and senior Jackie Connelly will be expected to provide leadership and create scoring opportunities for a roster that is loaded with underclassmen. Both players provide speed and playmaking ability in the attacking zone and the Panthers will be counting on their experience to make the difference.

Leadership is going to be critical for this year’s team and head coach Marjorie Burke is looking to her senior class to provide direction for the youthful lineup on both ends of the ice. Among the seniors that Burke is looking to this season are Bella Trask, Caroline Hedvig, Maddie Hinkley, Jillian McGlaughlin, and Connelly.

“We are excited about the upcoming season,” said Burke. “We are young but look to be competitive.”

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 11-10-2
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach:

Three years ago, King Philip was the top seed in Div. 2 and after two more playoff appearance, the Warriors now have the opportunity to bring their recent success into the first ever Hockomock League girls’ hockey season and hope that an experienced lineup could make them the first Hock champs.

Junior Nicole Connor is off to a strong start this season and has the potential, according to KP coach Jack Unger, to be one of the top players in the Hockomock League this year. Connor will play both at forward and along the blue line, crucial versatility that makes her an important piece for KP. The Warriors return five seniors who will be the “backbone” of the squad, said Unger. Kyleigh Remmes, Olivia McCarthy, Jessica Daniels, Katie Crowther, and Talia Quinn give the Warriors depth all over the ice.

Lilly Potts returns for her third year in between the pipes, while sophomore Cristina Coleman will be the backup netminder. Freshmen Avari Maxwell and Jordyn Remmes will be instant contributors on offense, while classmate Marin Cormier will step in on defense. Sophomores Abby Carr and Sammy Robison are also expected to step in at forward this season.

“[The roster is] rounded out by a number of talented juniors who should be able to spread out the scoring amongst the three starting forward lines,” said Unger.

Mansfield/Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 14-6-1
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 First Round.
Coach: Mike Dalton

Mansfield, Oliver Ames, and Foxboro have joined forces since the 2014-15 season and have reached the postseason each of the past two winters, suffering an overtime loss to Walpole in the first round of the state tournament last year, and have started this season with an impressive win in the opener.

The Warriors will be led by Foxboro’s Catherine Luciano. The senior was the team’s leading scorer last year and scored a hat trick in the season opener to get off to another strong start. Joining Luciano on the top line will be Mackenzie Fraser and Isabelle Shanteller. Other contributors in the offensive zone include senior Kayla Dalton, Kristina O’Connell, and Lindsey Corning.

While the Warriors are expected to create a number of scoring opportunities, defense will be just as important if Mansfield/OA (MOA) is going to make it a third straight playoff appearance. Denea Reager, Ali Delano, and Emily Bubencick will all be critical components of the Warriors defensive unit. Senior Kerren Holmes will be back in goal this year to stifle the opposition, while freshman Cate Gallegher will be the backup netminder.

“A strong freshman class will assist the team with help on both offense and defense,” said MOA coach Mike Dalton. “The team looks to compete for a top position in the Hockomock League and secure a spot in the tournament.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 1-19-1
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Richard Grasso

The newest of the programs in the inaugural season of Hockomock League girls’ hockey, Stoughton is in only its third season of varsity play, but the Black Knights are counting on last year’s experience and the growth in the program to make them a team to watch out for this winter.

Two-time all-star Julia Russell will be one of the key defenders for the Black Knights, but also brings an offensive punch with her speed forcing opponents to worry about her carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Senior Sarah Widrow will join Russell at the blue line and provides consistency in the defensive zone. Both will be expected to provide leadership for the less experienced players on the roster and try to make Stoughton a team that is tough to play against.

The offense will be sparked by a pair of freshmen. Hailey Nelson and Morgan Lesso made an instant impact on their debuts, helping Stoughton start the season with a 6-5 win at Framingham in the season opener. Lesso recorded a hat trick against the Flyers to set a high standard in her first varsity action.

“Stoughton will be a much stronger team this year than last,” said Black Knights coach Richard Grasso. “However, this will be a great challenge for our program. We have a lot of respect for the teams in the Hockomock League. There’s a lot of talent out there and each team is well-coached.”

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
The girls’ basketball season is about to tip off and we’ve got capsules for each of the 12 teams that are looking to bring home Kelley-Rex and Davenport division titles. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 16-8
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Marty Crowley

The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.

Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.

One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.

Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”

Canton

2016-2017 Record: 6-14
2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Jim Choquette

There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.

Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.

Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.

“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”

Foxboro

2016-2017 Record: 22-3
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal
Coach: Lisa Downs

After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.

Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.

The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.

Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”

Franklin

2016-2017 Record: 9-11
2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: John Leighton

Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.

The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.

Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.

“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.

King Philip

2016-2017 Record: 7-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens

King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.

Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.

The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.

Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”

Mansfield

2016-2017 Record: 20-4
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final.
Coach: Mike Redding

Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.

The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.

Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.

Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”

Milford

2016-2017 Record: 10-11
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round.
Coach: T.J. Dolliver

A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.

The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.

Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.

Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 18-7
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Derek Herber

Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.

The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.

The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.

North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”

Oliver Ames

2016-2017 Record: 13-8
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round.
Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook

Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.

The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.

In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.

“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”

Sharon

2016-2017 Record: 6-14
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Sandra Lombardi

In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.

Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.

Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.

Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 8-10
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Charmaine Steele-Jordan

The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.

Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.

Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.

Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”

Taunton

2016-2017 Record: 1-21
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Walter Harrigan

Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.

The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.

Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.

Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”

Canton Snaps Skid, Wins Big On Thanksgiving

Canton football
Canton’s Alec Ragusa (center) is tackled by a pafourof Stoughton players, including Alex Sjoquist (right). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
CANTON, Mass. – Canton head coach Dave Bohane and his team heard the whispers.

After a dominating win by Stoughton on Thanksgiving last year, and a shutout over Canton during the regular season earlier this year, the Black Knights had won seven of the past eight meetings, and for straight on the holiday.

“There was some local talk that this rivalry had lost some luster,” Bohane said. “I couldn’t disagree more.”

And by the the way the Bulldogs played on Thursday morning, neither could they.

In its best game of the season, Canton scored a 27-0 win over the Black Knights. It marked the first since on the holiday since 2012, and first win at Veteran’s Memorial Field against Stoughton on Thanksgiving since 2003.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A suffocating defense limited the Black Knights to less than 100 yards, and became the first group to shut out Stoughton since October 2010.

“This rivalry has respect on both sides and we love to play each other,” Bohane said. “This rivalry is going strong, and today we came to play. These kids talk about this game all year long, this is part of the voyage of being a football player at Canton, you play Stoughton on Thanksgiving”

The Bulldogs’ defense looked as though it had been ready for this game all year, allowing just 36 yards total in the first half, with 27 of them coming on one play. It forced Stoughton into a three-and-out to start the game and the offense came through right away.

Highlighted by a 25-yard run from senior Alec Ragusa (15 carries, 102 yards, touchdown) and a 10-yard pass from sophomore Johnny Hagan to Ryan Lentol on fourth down, the Bulldogs marched 67 yards on nine plays.

Hagan capped the drive, eluding a pair of Stoughton defenders on a 22-yard scramble into the end zone. Owen Lehane’s first of three successful extra points put Canton up 7-0 with 4:33 left in the first quarter.

After trading punts, Stoughton’s third drive of the game was halted by a turnover on just the second play. After Justin Ly scampered for 27-yards on first down, the Black Knights fumbled on their next play, and Ragusa quickly scooped it up and sprinted 45-yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with under a minute left in the first quarter.

“It had been eight quarters in a row that we were shutout by them so you start second guessing yourself but we stuck together as a team and as a staff,” Bohane said. “Coach Burke’s defenses are always among the best in the state, and we get to see it every year. We just stuck with what we do.”

Stoughton’s offense continued to struggle to move the ball against the Bulldogs. On third down of its next drive, junior Evan Gibb was sacked by Ragusa and the Knights were forced to punt.

Canton took advantage of a short field two series later. It took the Bulldogs just five plays to cover 34 yards, with Ragusa capping the drive with his first rushing touchdown of the day from four yards out. Junior Brendan Albert put an end to Stoughton’s final drive of the half with a sack on third down. Canton took the 20-0 lead into halftime.

The Bulldogs’ defense held Stoughton to just three first downs all game, and didn’t allow a third (0-for-8) or fourth (0-for-1) conversion. Canton took advantage of its defense right away, scoring on its first drive after Stoughton was forced to punt to start the game.

The Black Knights’ defense came up with a big three-and-out stop to open the second half but Canton’s defense responded with a huge stop on third and one and got the ball back for its offense.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The offense rewarded the defense with its longest drive of the game, covering 70 yards in nine plays before finding the end zone again. Sophomore Gersom Rivera (nine carries, 66 yards) got the drive started with a 32-yard dash, and, despite a holding penalty, Hagan moved the chains with a 21-yard run of his own.

The Bulldogs went with four straight running plays, the last a QB option that Hagan kept and extended over the goal line while being tackled to make it 27-0 late in the third quarter.

“I don’t like talking young, but we are young and I think we made our fair share of young mistakes during the year,” Bohane said. “The first game against Stoughton we made every mistake and we only lost 12-0, it was a frustrating game. We had a steady improvement all season. Today I thought we stayed clean and that helped us get the momentum. Stoughton is a real good team, but we just kept plugging away.”

Stoughton’s offense moved into Canton territory for the first time on the final play of the third quarter, but three plays into the final frame, the Black Knights were forced to go for it on fourth down. Canton senior Tony Harris jumped the quick out-route and intercepted the pass, returning it 29 yards to get the Bulldogs the ball back.

“We were up 20-0 on them a couple years ago and we managed to lose the game, so we’re always on edge…but the defense played phenomenal,” Bohane said. “Coach Carew does a great job for them with the offense but we just kept plugging away. He makes adjustments, we make adjustments. The kids played great. We don’t have a lot of mottos and we don’t use cliches, but we say Gang Green on defense and pursue the football. Overall we base everything on being tough and I thought our kids were tough today.”

Canton football finishes the season 5-6 overall, with half of their losses coming by less than six points. Stoughton finishes the season 6-5.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.