Taunton Ends Mansfield’s Home Winning Streak

Taunton senior Jose Merardo dribbles around a defender in the first half against Mansfield. (Tom Madigan/Photo).
Taunton senior Jose Merardo dribbles around a defender in the first half against Mansfield. (Tom Madigan/Photo).

By Lance Reynolds. HockomockSports.com Contributor

MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Taunton boys’ basketball team executed all of the required steps to beat Mansfield on Friday night in a stunning 61-47 road victory. The win streak snaps the Hornet’s 18 -game home winning streak, dating back to the 2013-2014 season.

The Tigers played ferocious man-to-man defense, holding Mansfield to 15 points under their per-game average.  Offensively, the trio of Carlos Borrero, Jose Mercado, and Tommy MacLean offered a tough task for the Hornets to stop as the three combined to score 48 of the team’s 61 points.

“This is sweet coming up here. This is the place. Everything runs through here by the way of the league – here and in Franklin,” Taunton coach Charlie Dacey said. “We beat Franklin earlier in the week, and now we get them here.”

“It’s the statement of the Hockomock League that you’ve got to beat Mansfield.  It’s just as simple as that – you’ve got to beat Mansfield, and you’ve got to beat Franklin.”

Taking a seven-point lead, 22-15, into the halftime break, Dacey told his players that if they could carry over their intense effort level from the first half into the first few minutes of the second half that things would look very promising. 

The Tigers more than followed suit, starting the third quarter with 14-0 run including four three-pointers to take a commanding 39-15 lead just under two minutes into the frame. 

Mercado nailed the first three from the top of the key, Borrero drained the second while the shot-clock expired, and MacLean knocked down the final two within a span of 10 seconds with the latter coming at the 5:22 mark.

“That was huge,” Dacey said. “I told them that if we could withstand the first three minutes, we’re going to be in real good shape.  We more than withstood it, and we pulled it open a little bit. “

Although Mansfield found themselves in unusual territory, trailing by more than 20 points at home, the Hornets refused to not put up a fight over the remaining 13 minutes of the contest. 

There were even points that it seemed that Mansfield was going to find a way to overcome the hefty hurdle during a 21-4 run that began in the final minutes of third quarter and lasted until the midway point of the final frame. 

Matt Ehrlich drove to the hoop for a score to generate some positive momentum, and Sam Goldberg added seven quick points before time expired in the quarter with Mansfield cutting the deficit to 14 at 43-29.

The home crowd started to get into it, and there was hope that the Hornets would avoid a painful loss as Mansfield saw themselves get to seven with plenty of time left.  Phil Vigeant gathered an offensive rebound for a put-back, and then followed by hitting a jumper to make it 43-33 with 5:34 left.  On the ensuing possession, Tyler Boulter swished a three-pointer from the corner, and after being down by 24, the Hornets were just seven points away at 43-36. 

However, that was the closest that Taunton let them get for the final four minutes of play. Borrero scored nine of his 14 points in the quarter, including three from the line while Mercado and Dominique Smith each chipped in with four apiece.

“Honestly, I think you have to give a lot of credit to Taunton. Taunton hasn’t beaten a Mansfield team since they’ve joined the Hockomock League,” Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan said. “Charlie is as good as they get in the business, and he had his kids with a game-plan.”

“They executed it, and there was a few times where you could see them getting out of the game-plan, and Charlie got them back into position. They did exactly what they had to do to take us out of our comfort zone, put pressure on us, and ultimately, they won the game.”

Mercado led the Tigers with a team-high 19 points while grabbing 14 rebounds, MacLean contributed with 15 points, 12 of them coming from three-point range, and Borrero was the third Taunton starter to find double-digit points with 14.  Smith tallied seven while Quan Roberson had six to go along with eight boards.

“We have five guys that can put the ball onto the floor so we spread the court,” Dacey said, “and we run our offense and when there’s a mismatch, we can go by them to try to break them down that way.”

“We’re little bit of a streak shooting team, like a lot of teams,” Dacey added, “but if you give us the open look, we’re pretty good at it.”

For Mansfield, Goldberg was the game’s high scorer with 21 and was the Hornet’s leading rebounder with nine.  Vigeant tossed in nine points, and Ehrlich and Max Boen had five apiece. Mansfield made just 16 out of their 54 shot attempts due in large part to the fact that the Taunton defense was all over the Hornets shooters, not allowing them to find any room.

“That’s what it was all about.  We were executing our defensive plan nearly flawlessly,” Dacey said.  “We know they can shoot, we have to close out, and we have to get help when they penetrate by us.  It was just simple fundamental defense.  No wrinkles, no nothing.  Just executing the basics of defense which we work on all the time, and that’s what you have to do to beat them.” 

“They play tremendous defense,” Vaughan said. “It was not only the way that the kids played but it was a lot of their execution.  The way that the kids stuck in and trusted their coach. It’s a very good Taunton team, and it’s a team that’s going to cause a lot of people some headache down the stretch.”

The Tigers got out to a fast start in the opening eight minutes, claiming a 9-2 lead, and then taking a five-point margin into the second quarter.

After Ehrlich and Vigeant tied it 13-13, Taunton ended the first half on a 12-2 run.  MacLean scored five points during the run, while a Smith steal and Roberson block led to transition baskets.

“The mindset is that we got something to prove,” Dacey said. “We lost a couple of games that we shouldn’t have lost, and now, we found that piece in there to be tougher particularly at the other team’s site, and that’s important in this league.”

Mansfield (5-1, 4-1) will try to rebound when they host Oliver Ames on Tuesday night. Taunton (5-2, 4-1) looks to carry the momentum when they travel to city rival Coyle & Cassidy on Sunday afternoon.

All-Around Team Play Lifts Mansfield Girls Over Taunton

In the first game of the doubleheader, the Mansfield girls took a commanding 14-3 lead into the second quarter and never looked back in a 59-32 win over the Taunton girls.

The Hornets stifling defense limited the Tigers to just five made field goals in the first half of play, and got scoring contributions from seven different players.  Meg Hill led the team into break up 32-12 with eight points and nine rebounds.

During the second half of play, Mansfield coach Mike Redding emptied out his bench as the Hornets held a comfortable lead.

Thirteen different Mansfield players tallied at least one point.  Hill finished with a team high 10, nine rebounds and six blocks. Senior Lindsay Dalton added a career-high seven points, knocking four free-throws and a three pointer.

Hannah Moniz was the Tigers’ high scorer with eight points.

Mansfield (7-2, 5-0) next plays at Oliver Ames on Tuesday while Taunton (0-6, 0-5) looks to pick up their first win of the season on Sunday at Coyle & Cassidy.