If you were watching last night’s Celtics game, there’s a good chance you either turned the TV off or changed the channel before the game ended or right after the final buzzer. That means you missed the second episode of TNT’s “The Dunk King” – now in its second season. The show is a reality competition that offers “ballers the opportunity of a lifetime. To make the leap from obscurity to celebrity and win $100,000.”
Stoughton High graduate Joe Bunce-Grenon (’13) made his debut on the show on Friday night as one of the 24 contestants. After his first attempt wasn’t televised, Bunce-Grenon impressed the judges with a 360 slam on his second dunk.
Co-host Kenny “The Jet” Smith remarked “the ups that he had was impressive” while analyzing the dunk on replay.
Bunce-Grenon admitted this was only his second legitimate dunk contest while the majority of contestants have competed in dozens, with some participating in over 100.
“I applaud your effort and your courage for being here. If you’d have more flair you would have gotten more points,” said 2016 Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who gave the dunk a score of 93.
“Way better than the first dunk. You came out with confidence, you got straight to it,” said former Boston Celtic and three-time NBA Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson, who scored the slam a 94.
And the show’s third judge, Julius Erving, gave it an 89 and said it was a big improvement from Bunce-Grenon’s first attempt. That gave him an average score of 92, which put him in fourth place at the time.
Bunce-Grenon’s athletic ability shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watching his three years on varsity at Stoughton High. Check out a clip from his senior year in a game at Walpole High School against Boston Latin.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With ten seniors on the roster, there aren’t many situations that Stoughton baseball hasn’t experienced over the past few seasons.
That helps explain why there was no panic among the Black Knights heading into their last three outs, trailing KP 1-0.
Stoughton plated the tying run in the top of the seventh and scored the winning-run in the top of the eighth to escape with a 2-1 win over the Warriors at newly dedicated Gary Lombard field on the campus of King Philip Regional High School.
Both Stoughton senior Justin Hutchinson (compete game, six hits, two strikeouts) and King Philip senior Stephen Murray (7.2 innings, six hits, six strikeouts) dominated throughout the contest, turning a matchup between two strong offenses into a pitcher’s duel.
With the Warriors holding a 1-0 lead through six innings, Stoughton senior Luke Johnson reached on an infield error to lead off the seventh. Nick Hardy came through with a sacrifice bunt to move Johnson to second and Pat Hagerty drilled a single down the right field line to bring Johnson home to tie the game.
Hagerty stole second to move into scoring position but Murray picked up a strikeout and induced a fly ball to escape.
Murray singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh but a pinch runner was caught in a run down between first and second after Stoughton catcher Evan Gibb quickly fired to first after a missed bunt attempt. Hutchinson sandwiched a pair of fly balls around a walk to send the game into extra innings.
After a pair of groundouts for the Black Knights, senior Jack Connelly stepped to the plate. The first baseman launched a 1-2 pitch over the fence in right field — estimated at 400 feet by the grounds crew — to put Stoughton ahead 2-1.
“They don’t get any bigger than that,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “And Pat Hagerty coming through with the single to tie the game in the top of the seventh. He’s been a little snakebitten this year, hitting the ball on the screws a lot. So it’s nice to see him come through. If he doesn’t get that hit, Jack doesn’t have the opportunity to get his hit.”
Hutchinson needed just six pitches to get three straight ground balls in the bottom of the eighth to earn the win.
“Both kids were pitching really well,” Armour. said “Their guy [Murray] kept us in check, hit his spots and established the zone early. And then Hutch does what he always does. It was a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel. KP got their run across the plate…it was one of the craziest runs I’ve seen scored. I was just hoping that wasn’t the difference in the game.”
“We’ve had our tight games before today. These guys are just ball players. I think the experience they have, having a decent little run last year and the senior leadership, there’s 10 of them…they want to get it done every day they step out there.”
Both Stoughton and KP threatened in the third inning but both were denied at home on throws from the left side of the infield. In the top half, Matt Gallagher singled and Ruben Gonzalez had a bunt single to put move Gallagher all the way to third. Gonzalez stole second to put runners in scoring position with one out.
Murray then got a ground ball to shortstop Will Weir, who fired home to Nolan Bradley for the tag. Murray then induced a ground ball to escape without any damage.
In the bottom of the third, Jeremy Rhines led off with a second and moved to second on a sac bunt from Bradley. Rhines took third on a single from Chris Wing but was tagged out at home when a grounder went to Johnson at third and he fired home to Gibb for the tag.
KP broke the scoreless tie an inning later, needing just one hit to bring in a run. Murray connected on a two-out single, moved to second on a passed ball and stole third without a throw. With Murray taking a big lead at third, Stoughton catcher Evan Gibb elected to fire down the third base line to try and pick him off after a pitch from Hutchinson.
However, Gibb’s throw hit Murray in the helmet as he retreated back to third. The ball bounced into foul territory, temporarily freezing the defense. Murray took off for home and beat the throw to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
“That was a great baseball game,” said KP head coach Pat Weir. “There were a couple of mental errors, a couple of mental mistakes. Stoughton is a great hitting team. Stephen pitched his heart out, he deserved a better outcome than we gave him. But Stoughton is going to battle every time you play them. They’re well coached and they hit the ball very well, they’re a darn good baseball team.’
Hutchinson allowed just one hit between the fifth and sixth innings, and the runner was erased immediately. Bradley hit a fly ball down the right field line that just eluded the dive of Stoughton right fielder Ryan Sullivan. But Sullivan was quick to his feet and got the out as Bradley tried to leg out a double.
Murray also allowed just one hit between the fifth and sixth innings, a two-out single from Connelly but quickly got a ground ball to get out of the inning.
Stoughton baseball (7-2 overall, 6-2 league) is back in action on Monday night on the road at Franklin with first pitch scheduled for 7:00. King Philip (5-4, 4-4) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts Sharon on Monday at 3:45.
2016 Record: 2-18 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher MacKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4 2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Meghan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
BROCKTON, Mass. – Stoughton senior Jon Lessa and sophomore Sean Doherty each recorded a pair of points and sophomore goalie AJ Scott had an impressive performance in net as the Black Knights beat Attleboro, 2-1.
Less than a month after the Bombardiers beat the Black Knights in a league game by the same score, Stoughton flipped the script this time around to get two points in a non-league clash.
Scott made 34 saves, including 16 in the first period, while Lessa and Doherty took turns setting each other up for go-ahead goals for the Black Knights.
“And Attleboro has a great offense, the first time we played them we couldn’t stop their chances,” said Stoughton head coach Dan Mark on Scott’s play. “They have some good forwards. I thought overall we did a pretty good job. We gave up 35 shots but it went progressively down each period.”
The Bombardiers struck first in the team’s meeting back in January, building a 2-0 lead in the second period.
This time around, Stoughton took the lead, not wasting much time on the game’s first power play. An interference call put the Black Knights on a man advantage opportunity and just over a minute in, Stoughton took the lead.
Lessa, a captain, raced past a defenseman and dropped a shot on target as he wrapped behind the net. The puck popped free right in the middle and Doherty pounced, firing one in from close range to put Stoughton up 1-0.
But less than a minute after taking the lead, the Black Knights took a penalty. Attleboro needed just 10 seconds to tie the contest.
Attleboro won the face off, senior PJ Elliott ripped a shot from the slot that Scott was able to stop but sophomore Cam Littig came flying around the back of the net and tucked the rebound chance in from a tight angle to make it 1-1.
The Bombardiers nearly carried that momentum into the second period with a big chance early on but Scott stood tall for Stoughton. Just over a minute into the middle frame, the Bombardiers won an offensive face off and the puck ended on the stick of Littig for a close range bid but Scott got just enough to turn it aside.
The save turned out to be a big one as the Knights regained the lead just a minute later.
This time Doherty played the role of helper and Lessa took on the role of finisher. The sophomore staked past a defenseman towards the boards behind he net, but slammed on the breaks, turned back and fired a centering pass for a one timer that Lessa roofed to put Stoughton up 2-1.
“They played well today,” Mark said of his first line of Lessa, Doherty and junior Brendan Campbell. “They created a lot of good opportunities. I thought their goalie [Evan Andrews] played really well too. That breakaway save was huge.”
The breakaway Mark was referring to came at the midway point of the second period. After the Bombardiers hit the crossbar on a shot from Jake Parker, the two teams traded penalties.
That gave Attleboro a man advantage opportunity but it was Stoughton that came away with the best scoring chance.
Campbell broke free and was able to go in alone on goal but Andrews stood his ground and denied the bid with a leg save.
Scott had one his best sequences near the end of the middle period. Both Parker (20 goals on the season) and Littig had shots through traffic that somehow Scott was able to get with a piece of his glove (on Littig’s shot) and then blocked the second with his chest.
Neither side found the back of the net in the third period, both Scott and Andrews making big saves in the frame.
First it was Scott, as Parker raced around a defenseman and fired a tight angle shot but the sophomore made the stop with his paddle.
While on a power play, Lessa found Doherty on the doorstep but Andrews was quick to react to deny the sophomore. A minute later, Doherty and Lessa used a quick give and go in the attacking area with the latter releasing a close range shot but it sailed wide.
Attleboro had its best chance to level the game with 30 seconds to play, skating six players with the goalie pulled. Elliott ended up with the puck in the slot for an open shot but Scott made the point blank save to preserve the win.
“We’re not used to being in that position so sometimes the kids get nervous but I thought they kept their composure pretty good there at the end,” Mark said.
Attleboro finished with a 35-20 advantage in shots on goal.
“I thought we played well to the point where we had a lot of offense zone times,” said Attleboro head coach Mark Homer said. “It’s one of those frustrating games where you feel like you outplayed the other team but the other team’s goalie makes all the stops. Kudos to [Scott]. Similar to the OA game, when it was 1-0, OA didn’t get to the hard parts of the ice in front of the net and we did the same thing tonight. We had chances but we didn’t take advantage of them.”
Stoughton hockey (4-11-2 overall, 1-7 Hockomock) hosts Bellingham on Tuesday while Attleboro (6-11-1, 2-7) will host Shawsheen on Wednesday. The Bombardiers need two points against either Shawsheen or Dighton-Rehoboth to qualify for the state tournament.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Taunton sophomore Luis Vendrell kept his team afloat in the first half and freshman Dante Law took control in the second half to lead the Tigers to an 80-61 win at Stoughton.
Vendrell scored 11 big his career-high 17 points in the first half as the Tigers took a 32-29 lead into half. Law – who drained a three before the halftime buzzer to give the Tigers that slim lead – went on to score 15 of his career-high 22 points in the second half.
It was a stark comparison in performances for Taunton, who were limited to just 36 points on Monday in a game at Franklin.
“It was better [than Monday] but we are just not doing a good job rebounding,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “With our size, OK that’s an issue but still you have to lay a body on someone and keep them off the boards. It’s almost like they saw our game on Monday, decided to sell out on the boards and send six, seven guys on the boards.”
After a back and forth first quarter – a period that featured five lead changes and three ties – the Tigers held 14-11 lead. A three from Tommy MacLean (nine points, eight assists, four steals, four rebounds) stretched Taunton’s to six but Stoughton rattled off a quick 6-0 run to tie the game again.
The teams traded baskets until the final seconds, when Law drained his free throw just before the buzzer off an inbounds play.
The teams stayed within possession or two of each other for the first half of the third quarter and Colin Sanda’s (career-high 13 points, five rebounds) bucket brought Stoughton within three, 40-37 with just under fourth minutes to go.
But that’s when Taunton was able to gain some separation, rattling off a 14-4 run to conclude the quarter. Freshman Naz Kenian (11 points) got the run going, Law drained a three and Vendrell drove the lane for a quick 7-0 spurt. Stoughton freshman Ajahn Rue converted a three point play for the Black Knights but Vendrell got back to back baskets inside the final minute and Law beat the buzzer once again with another three to hand Taunton a 54-41 lead through three.
“The threes loosened it up a bit for us,” Dacey said. “But our gym is such a comfort zone for us. We play so differently. This gym and Attleboro are the two bugaboos for us.” Taunton shot just 6/22 from three (26/45 from 2PT).
The Tigers had their best offensive quarter of the game in the fourth, dropping 26 points.
Stoughton cut the lead to nine with three minutes to play but Taunton responded with a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach. Kenian drained a three, Lens Esquil (14 points, 10 rebounds) converted a layup and a pair of three throws and Vendrell his a pair of free throws to put the Tigers up 73-55.
Matt Valle added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Black Knights while sophomore Josh Cocchi chipped in with a career-high 10 points. Cam Gomes had eight points and eight rebounds.
Taunton boys basketball (12-6 overall, 7-6 Hockomock) is scheduled to be back in action on Friday when they host King Philip. The Warriors won the first matchup 70-51. Stoughton (3-12, 2-11) will host North Attleboro on the same night.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Franklin had three individual champions, two second place finishes and four more grapplers finish third or fourth to win the team title at the Hockomock League Wrestling Championships at Oliver Ames on Saturday.
The Panthers registered 218.5 points, edging out North Attleboro (212.5 points) and Foxboro (200.5 points).
Franklin’s Ian Bakalars won the 113 title with a 6-2 decision, Mike Racca notched a first round pin to win the 120 title and Dylan Maclean earned the 145 title with a pin. Jordan Carlucci (106) and Brian Perry (285) had second place finishes, Evan Hernandez (182) and Kyler Colella (195) each came in third and TJ Remillard (126) and Brian Farrell (132) both placed fourth.
The Rocketeers, who have clinched at least a share of the Davenport division dual meet title, only had one winner in the tournament but once again show off its depth with three second place finishes, and nine other wrestlers finishing either third, fourth, fifth or sixth. North Attleboro’s Nick Gould was the team’s only champion, scoring an impressive 14-0 win at 152. It marks the second straight year Gould won a Hockomock title after winning the 145 title a year ago. Dan Cooper (113), Jake Direnzo (120) and Brandon Graveline (132) each placed second for Big Red.
Foxboro’s Matt Kelley was impressive in winning his third straight Hockomock League title. Kelley raced out to a quick 14-0 lead before scoring a pin to earn the Hockomock title at 132. During his sophomore year, Kelley won the 120 title and during his junior year, Kelley scored an 8-0 decision to win the 126 title. Brian Kelley was equally impressive, notching a 10-0 win in a very competitive 138 bracket to win his first Hockomock title. Matt Mullally held on for a 6-5 win to claim the Hock title at 160 – his second straight title at that weight class.
While plenty of veterans claimed titles, there were three freshmen that won Hockomock League titles in their first ever championship event. Mansfield’s Antonios Sevastos, who suffered a first round pin to Franklin’s Jordan Carlucci in a dual meet earlier this week, avenged that loss by scoring a takedown in the final 20 seconds to win the 106 crown. Teammate and classmate Vinnie Holmes continued his stellar freshman campaign, rolling through the bracket and picking up a 14-2 win in the finals. Canton’s Eddie Marinilli made his mark as well, winning four matches on the day, including an 11-2 decision in the 126 final match.
Oliver Ames was fifth on the day, the top finishing team without a champion. Sophomore Anthony Berksza was second at 145 and sophomore Dean Pacini made a run to the finals before falling to Milford’s Ryan Gray (7-1) at 195.
STOUGHTON, Mass. – In a game in which the largest lead either side had was four through the first three quarters, it was only a matter of time before one side rattled off a game-changing run.
That run came from the King Philip Warriors, who went on a 10-0 spurt that took less than two minutes in the final quarter to pick up a 62-51 win over Stoughton.
The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter (15-15), separated by just two at halftime (29-27 Stoughton) and again knotted through 24 minutes of play (42-42). The largest lead at that point was when the Black Knights led 25-21 late in the first half.
Stoughton scored on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter on baskets from Cam Gomes (12 points) but wouldn’t add another field goal the rest of the way. Nolan Bradley started the run, taking a pass from Pharoah Davis to tie the game at 46 with 5:44 to play.
Seth Sullivan (14 points) took in a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup on back to back possessions to give the Warriors a 50-46 lead. Sophomore Kyle Layman (21 points, six rebounds, three blocks) hit a jumper and then found Sullivan on a cut up the middle for a layup to cap the 10-0 run with four minutes to play.
A free throw from Stoughton’s Cam Andrews (17 points, seven rebounds, three assists) followed by two more from Craig Goodrich brought the Black Knights within five (54-49) with 3:08 to play but Justin Vine answered on the other end for KP. After a stop defensively, KP missed on the other end but Will Weir grabbed the rebound and Sullivan converted two free throws with just under two minutes to play to make it 58-49.
“The wins are huge at this point in the season,” said KP head coach Mark Champagne said. “We have to win 11 [to qualify for the tournament] because we have the 21 games. It’s a really good win and we really needed the win too.”
“I think [the run] was all driven by their defense,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “They just stepped it up a notch and took it to a level that we didn’t have an answer for. A six point lead seemed like 26 when it’s been that kind of game. They stepped it up and we stepped it back, and that’s what happens.”
After missing time in the first half because of an eye injury, Sullivan gave the Warriors a big boost in the second half. The senior scored all of his 14 points in the second half with 10 of them coming in the final quarter.
“We had a lot of adversity int he first half with Seth out, [Tom] Madden sick – I thought he sucked it up and played well – and Noah Goodwin isn’t even here, he’s got the bug. Every team is going to go through the flu,” Champagne said. “That was a good, gritty win. We were tied after three, down two at halftime. We came out and did a good job against their pressure. I thought we scored off of it a lot. Down the stretch, it was a little scary with some of the decisions we made playing against the clock but they had to foul just to get the bonus so that wasted more time.”
Both Layman and Andrews had strong starts for their respective sides. Layman was 4/7 from the field to net nine points in the opening quarter while Andrews was 3/5 (2/2 FT) to lead the Black Knights with nine points as the teams were tied 15-15.
Although King Philip won the game, the Warriors were held without a three point field goal (0/10).
“Seth wasn’t in the game as much, [Justin] Vine stepped in on one he made – Justin did a good job down the stretch and Pharoah was in foul trouble in the first,” offered Champagne. “I thought Adrian Castillo and Nolan Bradley did a great job off the bench. Bradley only had seven points but they were big points.”
The win marked the second time Layman, just a sophomore, went over the 20-point mark this season. He scored a career-high 24 points earlier this month in a win over Taunton.
“It’s becoming more consistent, and as it should be,” Champagne said. “Just like Cam Andrews is for them, he’s a very good player. I think it’s a matter of confidence for a sophomore. Sophomore year is an interesting year but he’s done a great job for us.”
King Philip (4-8 overall, 3-6 Hockomock) will look to make it two in a row when they welcome Sharon to Wrentham on Friday night. Stoughton (3-8, 2-7) tries to bounce back the same night with a trip to Franklin.