2020 Hockomock League Golf Preview

Hockomock League Golf
Mansfield’s Ryan Dow tees off during the 2019 Hockomock League Championships at Blue Hill Country Club. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2020 Hockomock League Golf Preview

Attleboro

2019 Record: 6-10
Coach: Jon Burre
Despite graduating over a half a dozen seniors from last year’s squad, head coach Jonathan Burre is excited to see what the new faces will bring to the table this season. One constant the Bombardiers have is junior captain Brendan Raymond, who led the team with an average score of 40.3 last year as a sophomore. Not only is Raymond a solid player on the course and great around the greens, but Burre also said he’s a great leader for the young squad.

Junior captain Parker Sackett, junior Jackson Sweeney, and sophomore Carter Shelton are all back after picking up valuable match experience last season and will be counted on to be key scorers for the Bombardiers, who are playing out of Stone-E-Lea Golf Course for the third straight season. Sophomore Leo Lombardo has made a big leap and will factor into the scoring for the squad while freshmen Dane Holske and Ryan Hill have shown promise in tryouts and practices.

“I like what I have seen from the underclassmen and I am looking forward to seeing who steps up and grabs those last few match spots each week,” Burre said. “The team has been coming in each day with good attitudes and competing at practice. We are well led by our captains and ready for the season!”

Canton

2019 Record: 13-1 (Davenport division champions)
Coach: Mike Barucci
The three-time defending Davenport division champions will be looking to stretch the streak to four this season, which would be a program first. The Bulldogs earned their third straight crown last season on the back of Hockomock League MVP senior Chris Lavoie, who led the league in average for the regular season, as well as a very deep lineup behind him. The Bulldogs will host division foes at Blue Hill Country Club on the challenger course.

Canton also won three straight league titles from 1998-2000 and the Bulldogs head into this season as the favorite to win a fourth straight Davenport title. Despite losing Lavoie to graduation, Canton returns three other Hock All-Stars in juniors Conor Hunter, Will Gefteas, and Michael Leonetti — all three shot an average of under 40 during breakout sophomore campaigns. They will be joined by four-year starter Thomas Singleton in the quest for a four-peat in 2020. Head coach Mike Barucci praised the improvement of senior Owen Donovan and expects a lot of golfers to be in the mix for a spot in the lineup including Nate MacDonald, Andrew Middleton, Aiden French, Charlie Cohen, and Ryan Doucette.

“We have a lot of depth this year and a lot of guys returning who have experience playing in matches,” Barucci said. “We should have a very competitive and exciting season.”

Foxboro

2019 Record: 10-6
Coach: Jared Tise
It might be a month later than anticipated but the Foxboro Warriors are excited to hit the links and get back out on the course to try and build on their 2019 campaign. Posting an 8-2 record against division foes and a 10-win season overall — the squad’s best in nearly a decade — Foxboro is looking to challenge Canton for the top spot in the Davenport.

Teeing off on the front nine at Foxborough Country Club, the Warriors will be anchored by a pair of senior captains in Dylan Quinn and Luke Davies. Quinn, who qualified for states as an individual last season, spent the summer improving all parts of his game and will be in the mix among the top golfers in the league this year. Davies was apart of the Warriors lineup each match last season and head coach Jared Tise expects him to be a big factor this year.

“[Davies] has improved to come out of tryouts as our number two player,” Tise said. “Luke, like Dylan, has worked very hard this summer improving his game while keeping his strength of iron play.”

Foxboro will turn to a handful of juniors to round out the top four this season, including Jack Rounds, Matt Fossella, Jack Watts, and Dylan Pothier. Rounds and Fossella each played in all of Foxboro’s matches last season while Watts and Pothier gained some valuable experience; all four are likely to factor into scoring this year.







Franklin

2019 Record: 14-4
Coach: Dustin Picillo
With six starters returning from last year’s 14-win team, including five experienced seniors, the Panthers are primed to make a push for the Kelley-Rex division title. After sharing the crown with OA in 2018, the Franklin finished second last year but will be one of the top challengers as rival Mansfield looks to repeat. Franklin calls Franklin Country Club home and will host teams on the front nine (par 35).

Spearheading the way for the Panthers will be senior Jack Paterson, returning after a stellar 2019 campaign. After finishing the regular season in the top five with an average score of 38.2, Paterson capped the season by shooting a 76 at Blue Hill Country Club to take home the individual title at the Hockomock League Championships. Seniors Nolan Norton, Brian Sandham, Sean Connelly, and Pat Dolan, who is coming off a breakout season in 2019, will make up the backbone of the Panthers this season. Juniors Caroline Woelfel and Jack MacKinnon will also be in the mix after gaining valuable experience on the course a year ago, while underclassmen Jack Hagerty, Ben Paterson, and CJ Steel have impressed in the early going.

“We are excited about our team this year,” said head coach Dustin Picillo. “Greens are firm and fast at FCC which has given us an early test of where we are at. We’re excited to get started against Attleboro.”

Hockomock League Golf

King Philip

2019 Record: 9-5
Coach: Myles McHugh
Despite a late start to the season, King Philip is aiming to be a spoiler in the Kelley-Rex division title hunt this season. Coming off a nine-win season, the Warriors are hoping to take the next step this year. Junior captain and Hock all-star Mike Matheson will lead the way for the Warriors, fresh off a strong 2019 campaign in which he averaged 39.9. He will be joined by senior captain Aidan Leonard, a four-year member of the program who will provide leadership and guidance for a squad with 11 juniors and nine underclassmen.

Head coach Myles McHugh will be leaning on Jared Curran, Pat Reardon, and Kevin Birenbaum — three returners from last season. Juniors Timmy Hartwell and Markus Paschke have shown a lot of improvement from a season ago and will be in the mix for the starting lineup when the Warriors tee off at Wentworth Hills Country Club. Sophomore James Boldy and freshmen Ethan Sullivan and Tyler Douglas have impressed in the early tryouts and practices and will be pushing for spots in the KP lineup.

“With 21 players on the team this year, the eight varsity travel spots are sure to be hotly contested,” McHugh said. “And as always, I would like to thank Wentworth Hills Country Club for hosting our team. It’s is a beautiful course that has afforded us a strong home course advantage for several years now.”

Hockomock League Golf

Mansfield

2019 Record: 14-2 (Kelley-Rex Division Champions)
Coach: Chris Hall
The Hornets had a banner year in 2019, winning the Kelley-Rex division for the first time since 2015 and went on to take first place at the Hockomock League Championship with a 12-stroke margin of victory. With virtually its entire starting lineup back this season, Mansfield enters the season as the favorite to repeat as division champions under the guidance of fourth-year head coach Chris Hall.

Playing the front nine at Norton Country Club its home course, the Hornets will face stiff competition as they try to secure another division championship. But with a strong senior class that features 11 golfers, Mansfield remains the team to beat. Ryan Dow, who led the team with an average of 38.8 and placed second at each of the last two league championships, is joined by brothers Jason See (39.1) and Brian See (39.5) at the top of the lineup for the Hornets. And don’t forget senior Nate Morreale (40.3), who took home the individual title as a sophomore at the 2018 league championship meet. Mansfield boasts incredible depth with seniors Joe Gormley (41.8) and Ava Haggis (42.8), both consistent scorers over the past couple of seasons, back in the lineup.

“Rounding out the team are a variety of incredibly talented senior athletes, mixed with a strong group of juniors and underclassmen looking to complete,” Hall said. “The Hornets have truly worked together to build a successful program at Mansfield High School. While our short term intentions are clear, the future is bright for the Hornets.”




Hockomock League Golf

Milford

2019 Record: 3-12
Coach: Jason Potty
Milford is hoping to have a bounce back season after just three wins in 2019. Hosting division rivals at Hopedale Country Club (par 35), the Scarlet Hawks will lean heavily on their most experienced golfers as they battle against Kelley-Rex foes this season. While the Hawks will have home course advantage against most of its new division rivals, they will be venturing to a handful of courses for the first time this season.

Seniors Dave Pacella (captain) and Wesley Murdock will lead the way and have a big impact for Milford this season. They will be joined by juniors Ronan Fleming and Tom Donato, who both picked up valuable experience last season as sophomores. After that, the Hawks will turn to youth to fill out the lineup card. First-year sophomores Eric Farrell and Tyler Caldon are going to be in the mix while freshmen Anthony LaPierre, Nate Lawrence, Jacob Hipolito, and Joe Pezza have shown promise early on and could factor into the scoring for Milford.

“We’re really excited that we actually have a season even if it is shortened so the seniors can have a nice send off and young guys can get match experience and play the other golf courses in the Hock,” said head coach Jason Potty.

Hockomock League Golf

North Attleboro

2019 Record: 8-8
Coach: Steve Nelson
After spending the past two seasons on the gridiron, junior Tyler DeMattio will be hitting the links this season and will be one of the main players for a Rocketeers squad that is looking to break Canton’s streak atop the Davenport division. With football pushed to the wedge season between winter and spring, athletes have the opportunity to participate in a different fall sport and DeMattio is taking advantage, trading his helmet and shoulder pads in for a driver and putter.

Along with the addition of DeMattio, the Rocketeers have sophomore Jake Gaskin back in the fold at Heather Hill Country Club. As a freshman, Gaskin burst onto the scene with an average of 40.6 during the regular season and tied for North’s top score at the league championship match. With a year under his belt, Gaskin will likely be in the mix among the top golfers in the division. Senior co-captains Aidan Weir (43.6) and Sam Gallagher (43.0) will lead the way both on and off the course this season. Head coach Steve Nelson has eight golfers battling it out for the last four spots, hoping the competition among teammates will bring out the best when the Rocketeers tee off this week.

Oliver Ames

2019 Record: 9-5
Coach: Ryan Riley
After a four-year stint in the Kelley-Rex that featured three division titles, the Tigers are back in the Davenport where they won four straight titles from 2012-2015. With its seven-year title streak snapped in 2019, Oliver Ames is looking to knock off three-time defending champion Canton behind a deep, but young, squad.

Head coach Ryan Riley will lean on senior captain James Walsh and junior captain Jo Jo Gaultier to provide some stability to a team that graduated six seniors, including all three of its participants in last year’s league championships. Senior Logan Domenico and junior Carter Allbritton have match experience and will be key pieces this season while junior Jake Kaplan has impressed in the early going. Freshmen David Rodgers and Sean Kearns don’t have any match experience yet but will be in the mix for the Tigers’ starting lineup. Oliver Ames plays off the white tees at Pine Oaks Golf Course in Easton.




Hockomock League Golf

Sharon

2019 Record: 5-8
Coach: Thor Van Vaerenewyck
Sharon lost two starters to graduation and has just one senior on the team this year, but with two of the top returning golfers back in the fold, the Eagles will contend against division foes this year on the front nine at the Cape Club of Sharon.

Senior Ethan Skelly has been among the league leaders in each of the past two seasons (37.5 average over two seasons) and that trend is likely to continue this year. Skelly, who finished tied for sixth at Hocks last year, is joined by juniors Nathan Daley and Eric Carter, who not only picked up valuable match experience last year but were key contributors in the Eagles’ starting lineup. Daley had a strong finish to his 2019 campaign with a fourth-place finish at Hocks while Carter has shown improvement from a year ago. Juniors Owen Kevorkian and Rosie Leonard will also factor into the scoring for Sharon after getting their feet wet last season.

Hockomock League Golf

Stoughton

2019 Record: 1-14
Coach: Brett Boyd
With all eight starters back from a year ago, the Black Knights are aiming to have an improved season on the links. Led by senior captain Max Huminik, who had the top average on the team and was the team’s medalist in almost all matches, the Knights are hoping to increase the win count this year under fifth-year head coach Brett Boyd.

Juniors Anthony Hearn and Patrick Smith are aiming to build on some great rounds from last year, gaining valuable experience as sophomores on courses they will see again this season. Senior Jake Curtis will be another key contributor for Stoughton, who hosts teams on the front nine at Easton Country Club. Curtis is a consistent player and will likely factor into the scoring in each match. Boyd noted how all four golfers have made great adjustments off the team and have positioned themselves to improve their scoring. Jonah Hochberg, Brooke Bulger, Joseph Mark, and Joseph Rush have impressed early on and will be battling for spots in the starting lineup.

“I’m looking forward to having the same squad back from last year that now has experienced playing in matches and seen these other courses,” Boyd said.
“It will only help make us more competitive down the stretch.”

Hockomock League Golf

Taunton

2019 Record: 2-13
Coach: Brad Koneski
The Tigers boast four returning starters from last year’s squad and are aiming to improve as the season progresses. The Tigers are set to tee off on the road against King Philip but later in the week will entertain the Warriors, as well as the rest of the Kelley-Rex division, at Segregansett Country Club.

Seniors Spencer Andrews, Colton Fagan, Dillon Schofield, and Kyle Robinson are the key contributors back for the Tigers in 2020 and will all be important pieces for this season. All four were apart of the Tigers’ starting lineup a year ago and that experience should help as they battle through a loaded Kelley-Rex division. Head coach Brad Koneski, now in his sixth season at the helm, also expects Nathan Fernandes and Alex Dias to factor into the scoring for the Tigers this season.

Late Push Lifts Stoughton Over Sharon in Finale

Stoughton girls basketball
Stoughton’s Aliyah Wright scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to close her high school career with a win against Sharon. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


STOUGHTON, Mass. – Stoughton and Sharon had combined for 13 points through the opening 12 minutes of the second half and the Black Knights went into the closing stretch holding onto a slim six-point lead in Friday night’s season finale for both teams. Needing a spark to finish with a win, Stoughton turned to its senior and leading scorer.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Shyanne Trinh scored five of her team-high 11 points in a 30-second span to turn a close game into a double-digit lead and the Black Knights scored the game’s final 10 points to pull out a 37-22 victory that split the season series with the Eagles.

“They knew it was their last game, so there was a lot of emotions for them,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan of her seniors, Trinh, Aliyah Wright, and Heather Papagno.

“It hasn’t been the easiest season for us because there’s been a lot of close games that they just didn’t finish off but tonight they fought and they’re a representation of what I hope for the future of this program with their heart and their hustle.”

Trinh hit a step-back, straightaway three for her first points of the second half and then Wright (10 points and 15 rebounds) grabbed a defensive board on the next Sharon possession and her quick look ahead found Trinh for a transition basket.

After not having scored for more than four minutes in the fourth, Stoughton found the spark it needed to put the game away. A couple of free throws and a runner off the glass by Jess Maddalena sealed the win.

Sharon (4-16) was held to only eight points after the break and the 15-point deficit at the final whistle could have been much narrower, but the Eagles shot only 8-for-27 from the line and made only two shots from the field in the second half.

“Especially against a team that’s playing a zone, you’re attacking the rim but you’ve got to finish or get to the line, which we did but just couldn’t hit our foul shots tonight,” said Sharon coach Sandy Lombardi.

The hosts got off to a strong start to the game, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. Wright scored six in the first quarter, including a defensive rebound that she turned into a fastbreak layup. Mackenzie Manning also started well, scoring five of her seven points in the first. She buried a three that put Stoughton ahead 13-3.

Kaitlyn Wallace (six points and eight rebounds) made a three in the first and Leah Fandel got her first points on an offensive rebound, but the Eagles trailed 16-6 after one.

Lombardi said. “I knew being their senior night that they were going to come out rip-roaring and ready to go and we beat them last time, so maybe a revenge night on senior night. They came out and were ready to play and I don’t think we were at the beginning of the game.”

Offense became a grind for both teams starting in the second, as they combined for three made field goals, Fandel (10 points and 11 rebounds) had both buckets for the Eagles and scored five points in the quarter, but Sharon only managed eight points in the second.

The positive for the Eagles was defense, as they held the Black Knights to only seven. Trinh scored four for Stoughton, including a tough runner, but it was the only made shot in the second.

“Our defense always keeps us in games,” said Lombardi. “I thought we played pretty good defense. We just sometimes struggle to score and that’s what happens tonight.”

It remained a struggle on offense heading out of halftime.

Sharon made only one shot in the third, a Fandel post move off an assist from Ally Brown, and knocked down three free throws (on eight attempts). Stoughton managed to hit two shots, one from Wright off a Trinh assist and another on a Manning drive to the rim, but those were the only points from the Black Knights, who led 27-19 heading to the fourth.

Steele Jordan said, “Every time we’ve got to play them, you just know it’s going to be a fight. We’re crosstown rivals and it’s a battle. Wallace is a tough player and No. 1 (Fandel), they were exposing us on the low block.”

Brown got the fourth quarter started well by knocking down a three that cut the lead to just five. Kyla Sheedy-Goff (five rebounds) got a free throw to push the lead to six, but both teams went scoreless for several minutes until Trinh turned the game on its head.

Stoughton (9-11) finished the season one win shy of a playoff berth, which includes a loss to Sharon in the first meeting. “You always want to finish the season on a win,” said Steele Jordan. “There are games that I can point to, there are a lot of games you look back on think, dang we were right there.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton Outlasts Milford In Overtime Thriller

Stoughton boys basketball Myles Grigalunas-PowellByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Stoughton head coach John Gallivan has seen a lot in his 16 years patrolling the sideline as the head coach of the Black Knights, and even he had trouble trying to put Tuesday night’s game into words.

A wild back-and-forth contest between Stoughton and Davenport foe Milford, a battle for first place in the division that saw a handful of momentum swings with the biggest one coming in the final seconds of overtime.

Trailing 74-73 with under a minute to go in overtime, Stoughton senior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals) made a move to the basket before pulling up at the free-throw line.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The shot was off the mark but the senior forward alertly followed his shot, the rebound tipped right to him. He pulled the ball back to the corner, took a quick look around the court before pulling up and sinking a contested three-pointer for a 76-74 lead with 10 seconds left in the overtime period.

The Scarlet Hawks beat the buzzer in regulation to force the extra period but Stoughton’s full-court press prevented the visitors from getting a look at the tying or winning basket. A trap in the backcourt led to a turnover and an emphatic slam from senior Obinna Ugwuakazi (15 points, five rebounds) just before time expired to seal a 78-74 win for Stoughton.

“Everyone was crashing the boards on the left side, I followed my shot and it came back to me on the right side, I grabbed it and went to the corner,” Grigalunas-Powell said. “At first I hesitated to see if anyone else was open but then I just pulled it.”

With the win, Stoughton pulls into a first-place tie with Milford and Foxboro with one game to go. None of the three teams are playing each other, meaning there could be anywhere from one to three Davenport champions. It also marks Gallivan’s 175th career win.

“We’ve had a couple of games like that, we’ve had some comebacks like that,” Gallivan said, citing close losses to Franklin and Randolph. “The first half didn’t go our way. They smashed us so early that we kept saying we had time.”

Long before Stoughton’s mini-comeback in overtime, the Black Knights had to erase a much larger deficit.

Milford came out on fire, with five players hitting a three-pointer in the opening eight minutes of play. Ben Blanchard (13 points, four rebounds), Colby Pires (20 points, five rebounds), Matty Varteresian, Jordan Darling (14 points, six rebounds), and Tyler Wetherbee (eight points, seven assists, three steals) all connected from downtown as the Hawks seized a 23-11 lead.

The momentum carried into the second quarter as the Hawks’ offense continued to find success and its’ defense, using a full-court press, forced Stoughton into 12 first half turnovers.

Just beyond the halfway point of the quarter, Milford used a quick 9-4 surge to push their lead to its peak, a 19-point advantage, 41-22, following a triple from Pires with 1:45 left in the second quarter.

But Stoughton had arguably its most important stretch of the game to close the first half. Reserve Eddie St. Hilaire drove to the basket for two, Donte Tyler came off the bench to grab back-to-back steals, the latter resulting in two free throws. Ahmad Jahed (14 points, four rebounds) came up with a steal and went in for a dunk, and then got back on defense to get a steal that led to a three from Grigalunas-Powell that beat the buzzer, an 8-0 surge that gave Stoughton life.

“What Ahmad did in the last 30 seconds was unbelievable,” Gallivan said. “To steal it, go the length of the court and dunk it, and be the first guy back to steal the next one, that’s amazing. The kids needed something and that was huge right before halftime.

“And [Milford] kept coming each time. I wasn’t there the first time, video does not do them justice, they are really good. It’s a hard 32 minutes and tonight it was a hard 36 minutes.”

This time the momentum stayed with the hosts as Stoughton opened the third quarter on a 16-4 run with five straight from Jahed, a three from Tyler, two from Tahkwan Gates Brown (18 points, seven rebounds), and back-to-back threes from Grigalunas-Powell tied the game at 46-46 with four minutes left in the third.

Tyler sank his second triple of the game and Stoughton had its first lead of the contest.

“He was a spark for us,” Gallivan said. “He hasn’t had a ton of minutes for us this year but talk about seizing the opportunity. Both ends of the court, gave us something on defense and offense.”

Buckets from Darling and Pires helped Milford keep pace but a baseline jumper from Ugwuakazi gave Stoughton a 53-50 lead after three.










“We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy game but we’re confident in each other and we knew we could pull through,” Grigalunas-Powell said of the turnaround. “We’re all confident that anyone on the team can make a shot, can make a play.

“We just told each other it’s not over, we weren’t going to give up.”

Stoughton pushed its lead to seven early in the fourth but Pires buried a three, Dom Schofield (11 points) beat the shot clock with a baseline jumper and then crashed the boards for a tip in to bring the Hawks within two. Jahed converted off a steal for Stoughton but Pires scored off a nice feed from Wetherbee and Darling had a strong take to make it 61-61 with 2:50 to play.

Ugwuakazi responded for Stoughton with back-to-back buckets but Wetherbee hit a three from the corner to keep Milford close. After a pair of empty possessions from each side, Jahed hit one of two from the line with 12 seconds to go to make it 66-64 but Pires came down and sank a jumper from the free throw line to beat the buzzer and send the game to overtime.

“It’s a new game [to start] overtime,” is what Gallivan told his team before the extra period. “Just take a deep breath, whatever happened that was great, whatever happened that was bad…put it away. Let’s just play four minutes.”

Ugwuakazi and Wetherbee traded baskets before the Hawks got a stop and Blanchard converted in transition to give Milford its first lead since the third quarter. Grigalunas-Powell collapsed the defense when he started to the basket but dumped it off for an easy two from Gates Brown to tie it again.

Blanchard put Milford back up with a pair of free throws and Stoughton threw the inbounds play away, giving the Hawks the ball back. Ralph Franklin Jr. had a strong take through the heart of the defense and Milford took a 74-70 lead with a minute to go.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Milford even got a stop on Stoughton’s ensuing possession but the Black Knights forced a quick turnover to get the ball back and Grigalunas-Powell found Gates Brown for two, plus the foul. After hitting the free throw, Stoughton’s full-court press paid off as Milford was whistled for a backcourt violation, the Hawks’ 17th turnover of the second half/overtime, leading to Grigalunas-Powell’s go-ahead three.

“In the last two games, when we’ve needed [Grigalunas-Powell] at his best, he’s been almost perfect in terms of knowing when to pass, when to shoot,” Gallivan said. “And [Tahkwan] had a good game too, we talked about how he did well the first game against them. We tried to run stuff to Obinna’s side so it’d end up with Tahkwan at the end but [Milford] does such a good job mixing up their defenses that when you finally get the guys where you want then, they aren’t in the defense you wanted them in.”

Stoughton boys basketball (8-7 Hockomock, 11-8 overall) has a chance to clinch a share of the division title when it hosts Sharon on Friday night. Milford (8-7, 10-7) has the chance to do the same when it entertains Canton on the same night.

Stewart Powers Taunton Past Visiting Black Knights

Taunton boys basketball Tyler Stewart
Taunton junior Tyler Stewart goes up for a shot between Stoughton’s Donte Tyler and Jake Queeney (11) on Tuesday night. (Jakob Thorpe/Taunton High)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Each time the Taunton boys basketball team hits the court, the first option in the offensive game plan is to get junior Tyler Stewart the ball.

The Tigers didn’t need to look for a second or third option many times on Tuesday night as Stewart, a 6’5 center, delivered a career-high 34 points to lead the hosts to a 73-63 win over visiting Stoughton. With the win, Taunton punched its ticket for the postseason.

Stewart, who also hauled in 13 rebounds and had a pair of blocks, shot 16-of-24 from two-point range and came away with points after each of his nine offensive rebounds to lead the way for the Tigers.

“What a night,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey about Stewart’s performance. “When we’re practicing, there are all sorts of convolutions we expect people to do to him, and we were expecting doubles from all over the place and it just didn’t happen tonight. If you leave him alone down low, obviously he can do some business. He’s used to waiting for the double and he’s able to finish when he’s close to the rim like that.”

Taunton wasted little time getting Stewart the ball as he scored the first two buckets for the home team, including a three-point play on the first possession of the game.

Only five times in the game did a possession that included a shot from Stewart not result in points for Taunton. He had back-to-back misses early in the first quarter, and another one later that resulted in a missed putback from a teammate. He converted his only other miss of the first with a putback of his own.

He did the same with his lone miss of the second quarter and shot 5-for-7 in the third quarter, but one miss was a full-court heave to try and beat the buzzer. And in the fourth, he had just three shots but the one time he missed, he gathered the offensive rebound and scored himself.

“That’s always going to be the first look, getting Tyler a touch,” Dacey said. “If the double comes, we can kick it out but he’s our go-to guy. And the rest of the league has smartened up on Trent [Santos], Canton was denying him the ball and Mansfield is just Mansfield, they can deny anyone. But if they deny those guys, that leaves Tyler down low. And Danny [MacDougall] and Faisal [Mass] are doing a good job recognizing the double team.”

Stewart’s early success (14 points in the opening quarter) resulted in a big lead for the Tigers after eight minutes (18-6). Taunton added 19 more points in the second quarter, getting four apiece from sophomore Faisal Mass (14 points, seven rebounds) and junior Josh Lopes (eight points, four assists), and a pair of layups from sophomore Tristan Herry (nine points, six rebounds, four assists) and junior Nigel Choate.

But Stoughton’s offense showed signs of life as well, with senior guard Ahmad Jahed (eight rebounds, five assists) scoring half of his 16 points in the second quarter and Myles Grigalunas-Powell (16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists) and Donte Tyler hitting three-pointers to get the Black Knights within 11, down 37-26, at halftime.

Stewart scored eight points early in the third with Trent Santos (from Danny MacDougall), Mass, and Choate also chipping in as the Tigers stretched the lead to 17 points, up 49-32 with 3:30 to play in the third quarter.

Stoughton turned to the three-point line to get back into the game and found success, closing the third quarter on a 12-4 run. Grigalunas-Powell, Brett Pendenza, Jake Queeney, and Obinna Ugwuakazi (12 points, eight rebounds) all connected down downtown to cut the deficit to 53-44 entering the fourth.










Queeney and Ugwuakazi sandwiched three-pointers around a make from Stewart to open the fourth quarter and suddenly Stoughton was down just five with seven minutes to play. After Taunton missed on back-to-back three-point chances, they got the ball back down low to Stewart, who ended up grabbing his own miss and putting it off the glass.

Another stop preceded a free throw from Lopes to make it 58-50 with 5:26 to play and Mass drove the baseline with a strong take to push the advantage back to double figures, 60-50, with 4:39 left.

“He’s really improved over the course of the season,” Dacey said of Mass. “He was in football shape at the beginning of the year and now he’s got a little bit of quickness, he has the toughness…and he’s just a sophomore too. It was just important for us to get into a flow because we didn’t on Friday night.”

Mass scored twice more in crunch time with Herry and Lopes each adding buckets as Taunton increased its lead to 68-54. Queeney sank another three late to make it an 11-point game but Stoughton was unable to get the deficit within single digits again.

“We started to relax,” Dacey said. “And we’re not young anymore, that’s no longer an excuse. The sophomores have had a ton of experience now. There’s no such thing as relaxing in this league, especially against that team. They play on emotion and I didn’t want them to get going, because when they get going they are tough. They are so athletic, they can obviously hit the three, so they can get back into a game pretty quickly.”

Taunton boys basketball (7-4 Hockomock, 11-4 overall) will visit Oliver Ames on Friday. OA nipped Taunton with a three-pointer in the final seconds in the first meeting on December 18th. Stoughton (4-7 Hockomock, 7-8 overall) will travel to North Attleboro on the same night. The Black Knights handed Big Red a loss in the first meeting.