NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Canton has been searching for the right lineup combination all season. Based on its performance in Monday evening’s battle of Davenport co-leaders in the Nixon Gym, it seems the Bulldogs might have finally found their best rotations.
The Bulldogs put together a complete performance, never trailing until late in the third set, and never allowing Oliver Ames to build momentum and get into the match. Canton won 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23) and now has a one-game lead on the Tigers with three matches left in the season.
“We always try to get off to a good start,” said Canton coach Pat Cawley. “Whether you can or you can’t, it depends on the day. It’s a lot easier to play when you’re ahead and that was to our benefit but we did let them catch up in the second set and again in the third. To the kids’ credit they did buckle down and get it done.”
Canton showed off a balanced attack to build a lead in the first set. Liz Bickett (11 kills and 17 digs) had back-to-back hits to put the Bulldogs in front 10-7. After Caroline Flynn’s kill got OA back within two, the Bulldogs kept winning rallies, got an ace from Taylor Reynolds and pushed the lead to as many as five (15-10).
A block by freshman Sarah Hilliard and an ace from Amanda Barth kept the Tigers hanging around, but a pair of kills from outside hitter Anna Verille extended the lead back to four. Back-to-back blocks by Hadley Rhodes (21 assists and seven kills) and Tori Harneyy and then a tip by Flynn (11 kills) tied things up at 19-19.
Just when it looked like OA might be able to steal the first set, Canton ran off four straight, including an accurate tip by setter Jackie Morrissey and a big swing from Angie Elias (14 kills). Elias sealed the 1-0 lead with a well-placed tip, her fifth point of the first.
The visitors seemed to carry over the momentum into the second, continuing to win the battles at the net, led by Elias, Bickett, and Sydney Gallery (seven kills), who stepped into the middle in the absence of Shannon Malloy and had an impressive match on both sides of the ball. Her tip put the Bulldogs up 10-5.
“Syd’s first time playing middle and she did a great job,” said Cawley. “We didn’t even get to practice with her in the middle.”
Flynn capped a long rally with a cross-court kill, but Elias answered back with two of the next three points for an 18-11 lead. Down 20-13 and in danger of falling behind by two sets, OA managed to fight back and won nine of the next 11 points to tie it up at 22-22.
“We’ve made it interesting, but I want to make it count,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham. “Our lineup changes every single game, but it builds opportunities for everyone on the team, which I appreciate, and their willingness to try and give it their all.”
The Tigers were playing better defense in that stretch, although a block by Talya DeGraw and an ace by Nikki Desjardins slowed the comeback. Hilliard came through with another block in the middle and Harney found an angle for a big swing. An ace by Sarah Morley (23 digs) and quick tip by Rhodes tied the set and then Jordan Bennett made it 23-23 with a kill.
Again, the visitors had an answer. Bickett restored the lead with a tip down the line and then closed out the second with a kill to put the Bulldogs in control.
Cawley said, “I thought our ball control today was excellent. I thought our defense did a great job. We focused on being there to block, but I think our offense kept their defense off-balance. That’s a credit to our defense, which got the ball to our setter so we could put pressure on their defense.”
The familiar pattern continued in the third set, as Canton jumped out in front again. Down 14-8, OA started to climb back into it, following an ace by Alexandra Zwerle and a block by Courtney Raymond. Elias answered with an ace and the Bulldogs remained in front 16-12. The Tigers rolled off six of the next seven points to grab their first lead of the match.
Raymond added an ace to her earlier block and Flynn had a big swing on the outside. Bennett added another kill and OA led 21-19 in the third, looking to try and extend the match.
“These games are what will make us stronger,” said Cunningham. “They’re fighting. I get to give other kids the opportunity to play and they’re feisty. Them taking those risks definitely helps ignite a little bit of energy our team needs right now.”
Canton just seemed to make the big plays when it needed and found any openings in the OA defense. Verille dropped a shot in between a few Tigers and Bickett scored with a block to tie the set. Raymond had a kill to tie things back up at 23-23, but the Bulldogs won the final two points to seal the match.
“Their coverage was fantastic,” Cunningham added, “and that challenges us because we’re suffering on coverage right now. We’ve just got to bounce back. Hopefully it will be a quick turnaround.”
The Bulldogs have now won four straight after being swept by Sharon. Cawley saw that match as a good reminder to her team about how little separates the teams in the Davenport this season.
“Every loss is a learning experience,” she explained. “Last year we lost twice to North and I think it was the best thing for us to understand that you can lose. Every team out there is good and you can’t take anyone for granted. We’re not above the rest of the competition at all, we’re right there with everyone.”
Canton (6-1) will host Oliver Ames (5-2) on Wednesday looking to move one step closer to a 14th league title in the past 15 seasons.
Mansfield, 3 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – Mansfield went on the road and won in three straight for the sweep (25-12, 25-20, 25-17). The Hornets had a strong showing from the service line including 12 aces from Olivia McGrath (five kills, eight digs), five aces from Lauren Knight, three aces from Nicole Santos, and two aces from Julia Kelly (five kills, six digs).
Oliver Ames, 3 @ Sharon, 1 – Final – After dropping the first set, Oliver Ames rallied to win three straight, including two sets that went past the 25-point threshold (22-25, 25-12, 29-27, 29-27). Sharon came out with a 25-22 win in the first set but the Tigers tied things up with a 25-12 win in the second set to make it 1-1. OA went on to edge Sharon in the final two sets, 29-27. Senior Tori Harney had a big game for the Tigers with 12 kills and four blocks, senior Sarah Morley added 27 digs and 26 serve receptions, junior Hadley Rhodes had 32 assists, and junior Amanda Barth chipped in eight ace and eight digs.
Franklin, 3 @ Taunton, 0 – Final – Franklin bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-19) win on the road at Taunton. Cailyn Mackintosh dished out 26 assists in the win while Ally Bonnet-Eymard (eight kills) and Taylor Lacerda (six kills) paced the offense.
There is a new level of excitement in the gymnasium at Attleboro High as Mary Katherine Runey takes over as the varsity coach for the Bombardiers.
Attleboro has a mix of returners with experience and new faces to the varsity level, and Runey believes her squad has a tremendous amount of potential. It all starts with senior Ana Leonardo, a four-year starter at the setter position for the Bombardiers. Attleboro has plenty of depth at the setter position with freshman Natalie Brojek joining the mix right away. Leonardo and Brojek will have some experienced hitters to work with including senior opposite Krista Greening, senior middle Kosi Igbobi, and junior outside Delia Barthel. Junior captain Lilly Boedeker brings a lot of energy and experience to the defensive end as the libero, anchoring the Bombardiers’ back row.
“Our program is very excited to be back on the court,” Runey said. “We have a great mix of returning players as well as athletes new to the varsity level. I believe our team has a tremendous amount of potential, and I cannot wait to see what we accomplish this year. Ana and Natalie will certainly bring an intensity to our offense and Lilly matches that defensively.”
2019 Record: 22-3 (Davenport Division Champions) 2019 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Pat Cawley
The 2019 season was a banner year for the Bulldogs, claiming the Davenport division, the D2 Central sectional crown, and the program’s first ever D2 State Championship.
The returners have been eager to defend their championships, and after waiting just a little bit longer, the Bulldogs have their chance to at least battle for another Hock title. There’s an obvious void in the lineup with the graduation of HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Taylor Harris, one of the most feared hitters in the entire state. But longtime head coach Pat Cawley has an arsenal of weapons at her disposal that makes Canton the team to beat again this year. Senior middle Liz Bickett gets it done both offensively and defensively at the net and is a reliable option in the back row. Senior outside hitter Angie Elias is a reliable option at the net as well as senior middle Shannon Malloy. Senior Jackie Morrissey stepped into the setter role last year and really improved as the season went on while classmate Olivia Chinsen, a captain, is another option at setter after returning from injury. Seniors Nikki Desjardins (libero) and Stephanie Trendell will anchor the Bulldogs’ defense in the back row.
“We are excited and grateful to be back on the court,” Cawley said. “Although we have big shoes to fill at the outside hitter positions, we return several experienced players at middle blocker, setter, and defense. Senior captain Olivia Chinsen and junior Sydney Gallery are back from season-ending injuries and will help make us a stronger team. We are concentrating on building better chemistry and communication, always striving to be the best we can be!”
2019 Record: 11-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Vicki Santana
In head coach Vicki Santana’s first year in charge, the Warriors won 11 games and reached the postseason and Foxboro will hope to build on that momentum this season with 10 seniors on the roster.
Defensively, the Warriors should be tough. Kelsey Treweek returns at libero along with defensive specialists Pam Nelson and Grace Fortune. Nelson and Treweek were among the league leaders in digs in the 2019 season. Leading hitter Grace Boudreau graduated, but Santana is counting on several players to provide points with versatile hitters Emma Keefe and Shannon McDonald in the starting lineup. Underclassmen Sami Sloan and Mallorie Meyer will add depth at the net and have the potential to provide an instant impact
“Tryouts and practice were a little bit of a challenge to make sure we are following the Covid guidelines while still having fun and being competitive,” Santana said. “The girls have been so great and are staying positive through all of this. They are taking all of the guidelines seriously because they are so happy to be back in the gym!”
Franklin is coming off back-to-back Kelley-Rex division titles and is in search of their third straight this season, but will be doing so under new guidance. Sam Elliott takes over as head coach of the Panthers after Kelsey Weymouth moved on to the collegiate level after two successful years at the helm.
Elliott is familiar with the program after serving as an assistant last season and she knows she has the pieces to make a push to hang another division title banner in this abbreviated season. Senior captain Ally Bonnet-Eymard enters her fourth year with the team and is among the most dangerous hitters in the league (205 kills) from the left side. She’ll be flanked by senior Emma Chase, who is back for her second straight year starting at middle and gives Franklin a weapon both offensively and defensively. Junior Cailyn Mackintosh really impressed in her first season last year and will be the starting setter while Jill Benoit returns as the starting libero. Elliott is also looking for some younger faces to push for time including sophomore Meghan Linkkila and freshmen Taylor Lacerda and Grace Lacerda.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to play this year, with six seniors it is important that they were able to have their final season,” Elliott said. “As a program we are excited to compete and improve, our group is a mix of returners and new players so it will be fun watching them all come together.”
There will be a lot of familiar faces on the court this season for King Philip, who is looking to ride a strong senior class and an experienced group of players to a second straight Kelley-Rex crown.
Head coach Kristen Guess has weapons all over the court, starting with her three senior captains. Middle Nicole Coughlan has been a force at the net for the past two years and will be one of the toughest players to stop this year. Fellow captains Emma Brooks and Lily Carlow, who both have a lot of experience at the varsity level will anchor the Warriors’ defense from the back row. Senior Giovanna Fruci will be one of KP’s top options at the net as well as sophomore Ahunna James, who had some impressive swings in limited action last year. Guess is looking for seniors Paige Kannally and Camryn Buckley to step up and help with blocking at the net while senior Lauren Peterson will set the entire team in motion from the setter position. Junior Stella Bailey and sophomore Sami Shore have played well in preseason and should be in the mix as well.
“This the most experienced team I have coached, we have depth on the team with strong newcomers,” Guess said.
We are excited to have a season and are ready to play.”
2019 Record: 8-11 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mark Ledwich
Longtime head coach Melissa Heeden stepped down over the offseason so the Hornets enter this season under the guidance of their new head coach Mark Ledwich. Ledwich is familiar with volleyball in the area as the director of the sport at Mass Premier Courts and brings experience from the collegiate level to the job.
Ledwich has an experienced group to work with during his first year with six players back from last year’s team, most of which saw either starting or at least valuable minutes at the varsity level. The Hornets will have a variety of weapons on the offensive end with its top four attackers back from last year. Junior Julia Kelly (124 kills) led the squad in kills as a sophomore and will be one of the most dangerous hitters in the league this year while Alina Nowakowski, Olivia McGrath, and Kacey Veiking all provide legitimate threats at the net. All four will start the Hornet defense will their blocking with Veiking (35 blocks) among the top returners in that category.
“Our focus this season is on error management and when to stretch a point,” Ledwich said. “We have a lot of heavy hands this year, so knowing when to utilize them in each situation has been a huge focus of the pre-season. With the consistent height we have available in the front row this season we are spending a lot of time discussing approach paths of opposing attackers and how we should funnel each attack to best utilize our attacking strengths.”
2019 Record: 10-10 2019 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round Coach: Tammy Webber
The Hawks have reached the postseason in each of the past two seasons, and while there isn’t a state tournament this year, Milford is aiming to attain the success that comes with a playoff berth.
Making the switch to the Kelley-Rex will be challenging, but one the Hawks are ready for. With a strong mix of returning players with varsity experience and some new players looking to make a splash, Milford could surprise some teams along the way. Elise Fauerbach returns for her senior season after missing significant time last year due to an injury. Fauerbach will patrol the right side, giving the Hawks a good option defensively with her size, and has a high volleyball IQ. Milford has two key defensive players back with senior Eva Parson (106 digs), who took on the role of libero last season but is in the mix to step into the full rotation, even getting swings as an outside hitter. Junior Sarah Brogioli can play just about anywhere on the court, a reliable option in the back row (106 digs) while also capable of stepping up to the net and connecting on some big swings (96 kills). Lexi Stark is an athletic option at middle that can move side-to-side to help with blocking in all three spots at the net. Sophomore Emily Crouteau is penciled into the setter role to start the year while Aliza Syed will be an option at the net for the Hawks.
2019 Record: 13-6 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Kim Marshall
North Attleboro has been one of the biggest challengers to Canton’s reign atop the Davenport division in recent years, and the Rocketeers are going to be right back in the mix again during this Fall 2 season.
Head coach Kim Marshall has four returning seniors that all have valuable experience at the varsity level and then a strong junior class with consists of eight players ready to make a splash at the varsity level. Senior Joanna Collins-Bilyeu is one of the most experienced players in the league and will be a cornerstone at the net for the Rocketeers after putting down 67 kills a year ago. She will be joined by classmates Annie Grunewald and Jasmine Anderson along the net to give North a formidable attacking trio. Belle Clarkin will anchor the back row that features some new faces so the Rocketeers will be learning as the season goes on. Junior Katherine McHoul is stepping in to take over at the setter position to run the offense.
“I am really excited for this season to start, I just wish it wasn’t so short,” said Marshall. “I am very fortunate, again, to get a wonderful group of student-athletes who continually work so hard, support each other and are so much fun to be around.”
2019 Record: 18-5 2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Chelsea Cunningham
Oliver Ames made a run to the Div. 1 South final in 2019 and pushed perennial power Barnstable to a decisive fifth set and, after moving to the Davenport division this season, the Tigers have the potential to give defending state champ Canton a serious challenge for the league title.
Senior Caroline Flynn will be one of the team’s primary attackers on the outside and will get help from classmate Jordan Bennett, who is recovering from an injury but can play multiple positions along the front line. Senior Tori Harney is back after missing all of last season with an injury and will compete for a starting role as a middle hitter. Senior Sarah Morley will transition from defensive specialist to libero this year with senior Allie Zwerle providing leadership in the DS role. Junior Hadley Rhodes will step in as the setter this season, replacing the program’s all-time leader in assists, Allie Kemp, while sophomore Maddie Homer will add athleticism on the back row.
“This team has so much potential to build off of the best season this program has had to date- and we have work to do,” said OA coach Chelsea Cunningham. “With this season being so short, we are hoping to make every moment count in the gym. From bonding with everyone on the team, to mixing up the lineups, and everyone being ready to compete- it’s exciting to FINALLY play after the long wait.”
2019 Record: 6-13 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Andrea Lovett
The foundation of the Sharon volleyball this season will be its senior class, a strong group of experienced players hungry to make some noise in the Davenport division this season.
The Eagles have four returning seniors in Brynne Aidlin-Perlman, Yvette Nau, Leah Fandel, and Sarah Fandel; all four can play in a variety of roles for Sharon. Aidlin-Perlman is a leader both on and off the court and provides the Eagles with solid defense plus a strong swing from the outside hitter position. Nau is back for another year as the team’s setter and will quarterback the offense, having all three of her classmates as good options at the net. Sara Fandel put a lot of work in during the offseason and has improved greatly at the net and provides the Eagles with a reliable defensive option in the back row while Leah Fandel is a two-way threat at the net from the middle position.
“We have four returning seniors that provide a very solid base for a talented team,” said Sharon head coach Andrea Lovett. “The team is rounded out with talented juniors who will be taking us into next year. Sharon expects to be a threat in our “Hock Bubble” this season.”
2019 Record: 2-14 2019 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Felicia Baptista
The Black Knights are looking to bounce back in a big way during the Fall 2 season. Felicia Baptista is moving up from subvarsity to take over the varsity squad.
Baptista will have a lot of new faces that are new to the varsity level so she plans to rely heavily on her two returners, especially in the early going. That means senior Shanice Landrum and senior Camille Firmin will be key leaders both on and off the court this year as Stoughton looks to battle for the Davenport division crown. Landrum led the team in kills last season with 86 and was one of the best blockers in the Hockomock League with 63. Firmin should see an expanded role at the net as the Knights look to integrate new faces into its lineup under Baptista.
“Even though it is a big building season for us, our team dynamic seems like we have been playing together for years,” Baptista said. “Every day I see big improvements with communication on the court and our defense is looking solid. This year is unique for us because we do have a few boys on our roster and, not only do they bring talent, but they add a light and fun atmosphere to the gym.”
With a large group of experienced players returning this season, the Tigers are eager to put last season behind them and make a splash this year.
Taunton has 10 seniors in total, with nine of them returning players from last season along with one returning junior, so experience will be a strength for this year’s squad. The Tigers will be looking to turn their experience at the varsity level into success on the court in the abbreviated Fall 2 season. Senior captain Jaelyn Fernandez will put the offense into motion from the setter spot and will have some weapons to work with along the net. The Tigers have all three of their top attackers back from a year ago, including senior captain and outside hitter Ella Dunderdale, who led the Tigers in kills last season with 89 kills. Senior Sonya Fernandez (83 kills) and junior Mikayla Cleary (63 kills) will also give the Tigers options from the middle and opposite spots. Seniors Makena Travers, Kailara Andrade, and Fabiana Pereira will anchor the back row for the Tigers. With experience in multiple spots, depth will be key for Taunton this year.
“We are just looking forward to the competition but as we know in the Kelley-Rex you have to be focused and be ready to bring it every night as every team is tough,” said Taunton head coach Toby Chaperon. “We are just hoping we can rise to the challenge each and every match and hope that our execution is sharp.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – The Oliver Ames girls basketball rallied to erase a double-digit deficit in the first half in its D1 South First Round matchup with #10 Walpole.
The Tigers nearly did it again in the second half, but couldn’t complete the comeback bid in the final seconds, suffering a 53-45 loss to the Rebels.
Oliver Ames trimmed a once 14-point fourth quarter deficit down to five in the final minute, even getting a chance to shrink the lead even more but came up just short as the Rebels hit enough free throws down the stretch as OA’s offense ran out of gas.
“We just didn’t finish it, we didn’t take advantage of our chances late,” said longtime Oliver Ames head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We had the perfect scenario [at the beginning of the comeback], shooting free throws with no time coming off the clock trying to get back into it and we missed a couple.
“They were missing to keep us in it but we just didn’t step up to finish. We had the big comeback in the first and we had to get back into in the second, I wonder if we expended too much energy there.”
Walpole rattled off a 15-2 run over the final four minutes of the third quarter to create its second double-digit lead of the game and the Rebels’ advantage peaked just before the midway point of the fourth quarter when senior Ainsley Dundon drained a three for a 45-31 lead.
The Tigers slowly started to claw back into the game, first with defensive stops and then with trips to the line. OA went just 1-for-4 from the line in that span but sophomore Caroline Peper (19 points) sank her second three of the game on the next trip to make it 47-39 with three minutes to play.
A putback off an offensive rebound from Walpole freshman Catie Hurley and a free throw from senior Sydney Scales pushed the lead to 10, 50-40, with just over a minute to go but OA continued to fight back.
Peper scored off a nice cut to the basket, converting a feed from Tori Harney (five points, four rebounds, three assists). After Walpole missed the front end of a one-and-one, Harney drained a contested three and the Tigers were down just five, 50-45, with 57 seconds to play.
Walpole again missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Tigers a chance to make it a one-possession game but OA couldn’t find a clean look and had a three-point shot go off the mark. Scales sank two more at the line and OA again came up short on a three. Walpole gave OA a final shot with two more misses from the line but the Tigers had two shots off the mark.
“Walpole is a good team…the Hock and the Bay State are the two best leagues in the state,” Clement-Holbrook said. “To draw somebody from that league, you don’t look at the record, that means nothing. They play tough teams throughout the year and the had beaten us before too.”
The Tigers score the majority of their points between the second and fourth quarters as the Rebels’ defense limited the hosts to just two field goals in the first quarter and seven points total, and six points total in the third.
“They really were physical with us, they didn’t give us any open looks,” Clement-Holbrook said. OA finished 3-for-14 from three-point range and shot under 30% from two-point range. “They bumped us like we’re supposed to bump others. I hope the takeaway from this is we learn from that, that’s how you defend when you’re going against teams that can shoot. You have to be right up on them, be physical.”
Trailing 12-7 after a quarter of play, OA’s offense didn’t shift into gear until it was faced with a 21-11 deficit. Anna Murphy converted down low to get the run started and junior Caroline Flynn (11 points, 12 rebounds) scored off a feed from Meg Holleran (eight rebounds).
Harney came up with a big block on Scales on one end and Peper converted on the other, and then the Tigers’ defense forced a shot clock violation before Peper hit a jumper. Holleran battled for an offensive rebound and sank a pair of free throws to make it 21-21.
Flynn hit a free throw to cap OA’s 11-0 surge to take a brief 22-21 lead before Scales answered with one of her own to make it 22-22 at the halftime break.
Holding a 26-25 lead early in the third thanks to a pair of baskets from Peper, the Tigers’ defense continued to focus in on Scales. When the two teams met in the regular season, Scales accounted for over half of her team’s points (25 of 48).
While Scales finished with less points this time around (20 points), her teammates stepped up to hit big shots. In Walpole’s 15-2 run. Scales help set up a pair of threes from freshman Brooke Walonis, who also added a strong take to the rim for eight points in the frame. Scales put an exclamation point on the run with a three that beat the third quarter buzzer.
“You know who’s who in the neighborhood and you’re going to try and take them away, but those role players for them stepped up,” Clement-Holbrook said. “They had players hit those big threes, they had the offensive rebound [putback].”
Oliver Ames girls basketball finishes the season at 14-7.
Canton, 48 @ Milford, 68 – Final – Milford used a strong second half to pull away from Canton to get the win, clinching a share of the Davenport division title along with Foxboro and Stoughton. Milford held a 34-30 lead at halftime and pushed that advantage to nine, up 49-38, heading into the fourth. The Scarlet Hawks poured in 20 points in the final quarter to secure the win. Ben Blanchard hit four threes and went 6-for-7 from the free throw line for 18 points while senior Colby Pires had a pair of threes and was 8-for-8 from the line to also record 18 points for the Hawks. Ralph Franklin Jr. chipped in with 13 points in the win. Canton’s Nick Cushman scored a team-high 14 points while Robbie Gallery added 10 points.
King Philip, 62 @ Oliver Ames, 74 – Final – Oliver Ames’ offense was hot from the start, scoring 19 or more in each of the first three quarters, building a 20-point lead entering the fourth quarter. After 19 points in the first, the Tigers dropped 20 points in the second to take a double-digit halftime lead (39-25) and scored 19 more in the third to seize a 58-38 edge. Senior Jay Spillane scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the second while Adam Cann sank two of his three triples in the frame to help OA build its lead. Amari Brown added 10 of his 16 points in the third while Evan Craig scored half of his 16 points in the fourth. Ryan Burkett added 12 points for OA, scoring in each quarter. King Philip’s Alex Fritz scored a game-high 28 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Stoughton, 56 @ Sharon, 51 – Final – A close game throughout, Stoughton made the plays down the stretch to pull out the win and clinch a share of the Davenport division title along with Foxboro and Milford. Tied at 48-48 with 3:33 to go, the Black Knights used a 7-0 surge over two and a half minutes to close out the win. Obinna Ugwuakazi (10 points) hit two of three free throws, Donte Tyler drained a three, his first bucket of the game, and Myles Grigalunas-Powell (17 points) drove to the basket for two to give Stoughton a 55-48 lead with just under a minute to go. Tahkwan Gates Brown added 14 points for Stoughton, which led 14-12 after one, 29-25 at half, and 42-38 going into the final quarter. Andrew Burton scored a team-high 14 points for Sharon, Matt Baskin added 12 points, and Aidan Kane chipped in with 10 points.
Mansfield, 75 @ Taunton, 69 – Final (OT) – Mansfield used a three-point play to tie the game and got a stop on the final play of regulation, and then used a 6-0 surge in overtime to grab a win over the Tigers. Taunton had a 63-60 lead but couldn’t pad the lead with free throws and Mansfield junior TJ Guy (10 points) came down the other end and completed a three-point play to tie it 63-63. The Tigers had a chance with 12 seconds let but the Hornets defense locked in prevented Taunton from getting a look. Taunton’s Josh Lopes put the hosts ahead early in the overtime but Sam Stevens (23 points) brought the visitors level. After a Tiger miss, junior Matt Boen (28 points) sank two free throws, came up with a steal, and sank two more free throws to push the lead to 72-68. Taunton made it a one possession game but Stevens iced the game from the line. Taunton sophomore Trent Santos had a team-high 23 points while Tyler Stewart added 17 points for the Tigers, who trailed at the end of the first (11-7) and halftime (30-27), but took a 50-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
Milford, 33 @ Canton, 54 – Final
North Attleboro, 55 @ Foxboro, 73 – Final – Foxboro completed its league campaign with an eighth straight win, and its second win in as many nights. Lizzy Davis scored 24 points, a season-high, to lead the Warriors to the victory. Katelyn Mollica also had a big night, finishing with 23, and Yara Fawaz got into double digits with 12. The Rocketeers cut a 16-point halftime lead down to eight going into the fourth quarter, but the Warriors exploded for 24 points in the final eight minutes to pull out the win. “I told the girls at halftime we need to come out strong make a quick few baskets and get them to call a timeout,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “We did that and locked down on the defensive end but we just couldn’t sustain it.” Regan Fein led North with 12 points and Olivia Forbes scored 11 in the loss. Ava McKeon and Amanda Kaiser both scored nine for the visitors. North Attleboro goes into the final game of the regular season against Attleboro with both teams needing a win to qualify for the tournament.
Oliver Ames, 50 @ King Philip, 65 – Final – King Philip split the season series with Oliver Ames and won its third game in four days to close out the regular season. Brianna James scored 21 to power the Warriors to the win. Faye Veilleux added 10 points, Faith Roy scored nine, and Emma Glaser had a great all-around game with six points, eight rebounds, six steals, and six assists. Tori Harney led OA with 10 points while Caroline Flynn and Anna Murphy each chipped in with nine.
Taunton, 36 @ Mansfield, 45 – Final – Becca Hottleman scored a career-high 16 points to celebrate her senior night with a win. Ashley Santos chipped in with eight for the Hornets, who trailed 8-7 after one quarter but jumped in front by three by halftime. A 14-8 third quarter, thanks in part to a trio of three-pointers from Hottleman, extended the Mansfield lead to nine and that was how the game finished. Sonya Fernandez was the top scorer for the Tigers with 13, while Sam Lincoln added 10 and Kameron St. Pierre had eight.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Laney Clement-Holbrook took over at Oliver Ames in her early 20s and over the next 44 years turned the Tigers into a perennial power. Three years ago, Clement-Holbrook became the all-time winningest high school basketball coach in the state and on Friday night at the Nixon Gym she added a new historic milestone to her already legendary career when she became the state’s first member of the 700-win club.
It was a moment that she tried to keep quiet, wanting to keep the attention on her players, especially the three players celebrating senior night. Athletic director Bill Matthews sent a notice to the media the night before the game and word spread, drawing a big crowd for the visit of Mansfield.
Any worries that her team might be distracted or not be able to handle the moment were quickly dispelled. The Tigers won each of the individual quarters, took a double-digit lead by halftime, and pulled away in the second half for a 72-49 win and a season sweep of the Hornets.
“This is what we want them to be able to handle is the big stage, so I thought for the kids this was a great experience for them just because there would be a lot more people, a lot of energy,” Clement-Holbrook said. “Hopefully this will move us forward as a team.”
When asked what it has meant to coach at OA for as long as she has, Clement-Holbrook praised the coaches who she learned from, including Val Muscato, Bill Nixon, and Sue Rivard, and she also pointed to the numerous alumni that came back to celebrate the special night.
“Some of these kids played for me in the 80s,” she said with a laugh. “I’m just so grateful to have the chance to be here for so long. It was the first place and it will be the last place I coach. It’s a special moment.”
After the handshake line, Clement-Holbrook shared a quick word with Mansfield coach Mike Redding. He expressed his admiration for someone he has coached against for more than 20 years.
“It’s been an honor going against her. I’ve done 23 years and they have been the standard bearer,” he said. “Just the quality every single year is amazing. She still has the passion, the enthusiasm, she’s been doing it 40-plus years but it’s still like her first year coaching.”
OA senior guard Meg Holleran is the third member of her family to play for Clement-Holbrook, following her older sisters Kate and Shannon, who were both in attendance, and was a freshman on the varsity team when Clement-Holbrook set the wins record three years ago.
“She wanted this to be about senior night and just getting the win,” Holleran said. “We actually heard it was the 700th from a parent, she didn’t even tell us herself. We just wanted to come out and we had a big surprise for her at the end.”
The Tigers got off to a fast start, as Caroline Peper (21 points and four assists) drilled a pair of threes and scored eight points in the first. Her second attempt came on the third shot of a possession, as OA dominated the glass. Senior Tate Hadges (seven points) added four in the first and classmate Erin Holmberg (four points and five assists) got on the board off a pass from Holleran.
Sarah Dooling scored five of her eight points in the first and Abby Wager added four of her five points, but OA held a 17-12 lead after one.
Ashley Santos tried to keep the Hornets close in the second, as she scored 10 points in the quarter, but Mansfield only managed one more point as a team. Meanwhile, the Tigers were getting contributions from up and down the roster. Tori Harney (10 points) hit a couple of long jumpers and had six points in the second and Caroline Flynn (13 points, nine rebounds, and six assists) got a layup after a Peper steal.
Mansfield cut the lead from 11 points down to seven after back-to-back buckets by Santos, but the Tigers closed the half with threes from Jess Erlich (eight points) and Peper to go into the break up 36-23.
“We had some turnovers and they took advantage and it seemed like anytime we had a little momentum, we couldn’t get a stop,” Redding explained. “We try hard, but we’re just maybe not quick enough, tall enough. We had a decent effort, they just had some kids step up.”
OA broke the game wide open in the third. Peper came out firing again, scoring eight points on a pair of threes and a transition layup, all assisted by Flynn, who added four points of her own. Santos continued to stay hot for the Hornets with five more points and Kayla Vine got an and-one for her lone points of the night, but OA’s depth pushed the lead to 19 by the end of the quarter.
A three by Santos cut the lead to as little as 14 in the fourth, but the Tigers never allowed Mansfield to get too close, finishing the game on a 14-5 run. Hailey Bourne got it started with an offensive rebound and layup, Flynn added a drive plus the foul, and then Erlich had a corner three to restore a comfortable margin.
The final minutes were largely a countdown to history. Only when the horn sounded on another OA victory, did Clement-Holbrook finally crack and smile and acknowledge what the student section had been chanting about over the game’s closing minutes.
It was the perfect way to end a day filled with recognition of one of the state’s most successful coaching careers.
“It has been a very busy day,” said Clement-Holbrook, who gave the keynote address at the MIAA’s Girls and Women in Sports Day at Faneuil Hall in Boston in the morning. “What an incredible honor it was today to walk into Faneuil Hall and for it to be such a historical event. To see this game go from me playing six-player basketball at Dedham High School to this in my lifetime is incredible.”
Holleran added, “I’m so happy for her. She deserves it so much. I got to go see her give the speech today at the MIAA Girls and Women in Sports Day and it’s just surreal, she’s achieved so much, and I’m so proud of her. It’s great to be part of it.”
When asked to try and put 700 wins into perspective, Redding replied, “It’s mind-boggling. Just the longevity, the quality, and just classy young women. It makes this league special, such good people, great competition, and we’ve become good friends. Pretty special coach, got to be the best in Massachusetts history and one of the best in national history.”
Oliver Ames (13-3, 12-2) will travel to Franklin on Tuesday hoping to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season and push the Kelley-Rex title race to the final game of the season. Mansfield (6-12) will host North Attleboro on Sunday afternoon and try to stay alive for the postseason, needing to win out to qualify.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames has been primarily known for its defensive effort this season, as the Tigers remain in middle of the Kelley-Rex division title race by allowing less than 40 points per game. But, on Friday night at the Nixon Gym, it was the OA offense that took top billing.
The Tigers came roaring out of the gates, scoring 28 points in the opening eight minutes, and never let up, racing out to an 86-65 victory against King Philip. The Warriors like to press, run, and get as many possessions as possible and it played right into OA’s strength in transition. With the win, the Tigers opened a two-game lead over KP in second place and clinched a spot in the postseason.
“We did a lot of work in practice in terms of what we expected and I think that for the most part they stayed disciplined,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook about managing the KP press. “Even the kids that came off the bench, it wasn’t for long minutes, but it was to satisfy what the need was in the moment.”
Rarely does the opening shot of the game set the tone, but when senior Erin Holmberg swished a corner three the energy on the OA bench went through the roof. OA jumped out to a 16-2 lead, as Holmberg fed Hailey Bourne (eight points) for a layup and Caroline Flynn (game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds) for a transition jumper.
Holmberg (career-high 17 points, five rebounds, and five assists) also got a steal and layup to make it 22-6 and then she banked in a buzzer-beating three from a couple feet behind the line to put OA up 28-10 after one.
“When she hit that shot, my heart was…it was amazing,” said Clement-Holbrook, referencing Holmberg’s recovery from the surgery she had last winter. “It was amazing. That gave the energy to the rest of them when they saw her do that. It was awesome.”
Faye Veilleux (13 points and nine rebounds) opened the second quarter with a put-back, but then OA went on a 7-0 run to go ahead by 23. Holmberg (five assists) continued to be a spark plug, assisting on another Flynn transition basket, and Tori Harney scored on a rebound.
“They hit a lot of those mid-range shots, which are kind of the ones that we give up,” KP coach Dan Nagle explained. “They come down, 4-on-3 or 3-on-2, and they take that long two, which a lot of times is a long rebound and we get out and run but tonight it was just a swish.
KP loves to shoot threes, but the Warriors struggled to find the range in the first half. Faith Roy (team-high 16 points) buried one, but then Holmberg answered with a jumper and Kelsey Yelle (12 points) got free on an inbound play and Meg Holleran (nine points) fed her for a bucket. Emma Glaser (seven points) hit a three to close out the half, but OA went into the break up 41-20.
“I actually thought in the first half it felt like we played a lot worse than we did,” said Nagle. “We were missing a lot of good looks and then they were making every look that they got. That’s how we play, it’s who we are, and to their credit they made a lot of shots.”
In the third quarter, KP found its shooting touch and suddenly looked like one of the league’s top offensive teams. Roy drilled a pair from beyond the arc and scored 11 points in the third quarter alone. Veilleux also got free for a pair of threes and Brianna James (six points) hit one as well.
The Warriors scored 27 points in the third. The problem for KP was that it only took one point off the OA lead.
Yelle grabbed an offensive rebound for two, Bourne turned a defensive rebound into an assist for a Holmberg and-one, and then Yelle and Holmberg each scored in transition. There was a scary moment midway through the quarter when Holmberg went down holding her neck, forcing her to the bench for the final 12 minutes, but at that point Flynn turned it on. She scored 10 points over the final four minutes of the third to keep the lead at 20.
OA kept it rolling to start the fourth. Jess Erlich scored back-to-back baskets and Flynn got out on the break for a finish plus the foul, but she went down hard on her ankle and was forced to the bench for the final seven minutes.
With the OA point guard on the sideline, KP dialed up the pressure to try and make a late rally. The Warriors scored 12 straight points to get as close as 73-59.
Emily Sawyer (nine points and 10 rebounds) got the run started by getting on the offensive glass, then Glaser knocked down a jumper. Veilleux showed off her varied game by driving to the rim and then stepping back to hit a three. After a Glaser steal and layup, the lead was down to 14 and the home crowd was starting to feel a little nervous.
Bourne hit two at the line and Caroline Peper hit her biggest shot of the night. After the ball bounced around and KP nearly came up with a steal on multiple occasions, Peper scooped it up. The sophomore was battling a bad back and was limited all night, but she showed no hesitation and buried a three that stemmed the tide.
“Just shoot it, just let it fly,” Clement-Holbrook said about what she was thinking at that moment. “It was a huge three and the fact that she stayed composed, and we’re trying to get her healthy too but she was ready to go.
That shot proved to be a turning point, as OA settled back down and closed the game on a 13-6 run.
“That could’ve been a game where we felt bad about ourselves at halftime and came back out and didn’t have any fight at all, but I thought it was the exact opposite,” Nagle reflected. “I thought our fight, our energy for the entire 16 minutes of the second half was off the chart.”
Oliver Ames (10-2, 9-1) will be on the road on Tuesday at Canton, while King Philip (8-5, 7-3) will travel to Davenport division leader Foxboro.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – As a freshman, Franklin forward Olivia Quinn got to experience life on the varsity team, spending every practice going up against the Panthers star center Ali Brigham during the team’s run to a Div. 1 Central title. That experience seems to have paid off handsomely for the Panthers because Quinn has taken her game to another level this winter.
In a showdown at the Nixon Gym of the top two teams in the Kelley-Rex division, Quinn was unstoppable. She poured in a career-high 32 points, including 23 in the second half, and knocked down five three-pointers, including all four that she took after the break.
Quinn and Brigham combined to score 37 of Franklin’s 41 points in the second half, as the Panthers rolled to a 71-41 victory and grabbed control of first place in the division.
“I thought on offense we executed at a high level, especially in the second half,” Franklin coach John Leighton explained. “We got under control, we didn’t kick the ball around the gym, stopped fouling, and just got good possessions. When they doubled Ali, we moved the ball and kids knocked down open shots.”
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook added, “We just didn’t do the little things we needed to do to stay afloat. Give them credit. They’re the real deal, they certainly are, and I’m grateful that we get another chance because there are certainly things we need to work on. That’s the level that we’re trying to achieve.”
While Brigham, the reigning league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, will always be the primary focus for opposing teams, but the Panthers showed right away that there are other weapons for teams to deal with. Kaleigh Houlihan knocked down a pair of threes in the first quarter, including one in the corner off an inbounds pass from Elizabeth Wilson to put Franklin up 14-8 after one.
Wilson scored all four of her points in the second quarter, Brigham (22 points and three blocks) added four more and Quinn started to find the range with seven in the quarter to help Franklin build the lead. A Quinn corner three on a Houlihan assist made it 30-18, but OA got Caroline Flynn free inside for a layup to cut the lead back to 10 heading into the locker room.
It didn’t take long for the Panthers to break the game wide open, as the Tigers simply couldn’t contain Brigham in the third. The George Washington-commit scored 12 points in the quarter on a variety of post moves on both sides of the rim and even stepping back to drill a three that put the Panthers up 41-26.
“It’s nice having a Div. I kid sitting there,” Leighton said, “but it creates good spacing and (point guard) Erin [Quaile] did a good job creating, getting to the rim when we needed her to. It really puts the defense in peril when everyone is getting touches. No kid can be a spare part.”
When OA did get the ball out of Brigham’s hands, Quinn was there to create another difficult matchup. She scored with a lefty scoop, nailed a three off a Quaile assist, and then hit another from the corner, as Franklin led by as many 22 in the third. Quaile also got to the rim for the only two points not scored by Quinn or Brigham in the quarter.
“As a freshman, I had a lot less confidence,” said Quinn, who entered the week as the fourth leading scorer in the league at more than 15 points per game. “This year, I’m taking on a bigger role in the team and they’re all helping me out and it’s been a great season so far.”
Leighton noted, “Her playing time what it was but she worked her tail off. Going at that speed, going against Ali every day in practice, makes you better. The big thing is confidence. Tonight it all came together. They had a hard time closing out and it gave her the look and she knocked it down.”
Franklin’s defense was preventing OA from keeping the game close, holding the Tigers to just three made field goals in the third. Tori Harney got a jumper after Flynn (10 points and eight rebounds) snagged an offensive board and swung the ball around to the forward. Flynn also scored inside and Bourne managed to slip through the defense on a drive, but it was Franklin by 20 heading to the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, Quinn took over. Quaile set her up for a three and then, after Brigham got a bucket inside, she buried a second one on a kick-out. An offensive rebound for two and the layup plus the foul in transition after a Meghan O’Connell steal put the Panthers up by 27. Another basket on a Brigham assist and a pair at the line completed an impressive night for Quinn and the Panthers.
“We got beat off the dribble repeatedly, we didn’t cover three-point shooters, and I said to them that they’re not 30 points better than we are, but they are today. We didn’t execute any part of our game plan and we didn’t learn from our mistakes.”
Quinn said, “Them being the only other undefeated team in the Hock, this was a big game for us and we really came ready to play with a lot of intensity and gave it to them early.”
Franklin (9-0, 8-0) will be back home on Tuesday in another showdown, this time against Davenport division leader Foxboro. Oliver Ames (8-2, 7-1) will try to bounce back from its second loss when it hosts Milford.
2018-2019 Record: 8-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Martin Crowley
Attleboro was three wins shy of reaching the postseason last year, despite a roster filled with inexperienced players, and the Bombardiers demonstrated the potential in the squad by upsetting Franklin late in the season and handing the Panthers their only league loss. This winter, the Bombardiers will be looking to turn potential into reality and make a jump into the playoff picture.
Six players are returning from last year, including seniors Nyah Thomas and Liv McCall, who give Attleboro a talented backcourt on both ends of the court. Thomas adds length and slashing ability, while McCall is a sharpshooter who will be the team’s primary ball-handler. Sophomore Meg Gordon has taken a big leap from last year and head coach Marty Crowley thinks that she is ready for a breakout season on the wing.
Juniors Gabby Bosh and Emma Reilly will both be back to add some nous to the lineup, while sophomores Hailey and Lindsey Perry add grit and toughness. Junior Ryan Johnson will add size to the frontcourt, while sophomore Lillian Froio and juniors Jackie MacDonald and Laura McVeigh add depth and physicality. Overall, it is a much deeper, more experienced group for Crowley to build lineups with this season.
“For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound,” Crowley said. “Nyah and Liv I am sure are 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, however, we feel as if we have the players in place who will contribute offensively.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-7 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Jim Choquette
Youth was served for the Bulldogs last season, as a talented trio of freshmen jumped into the starting lineup and helped Canton have one of its most successful seasons in program history, with 14 wins and a return to the state tournament. There were still some learning curves to overcome, but now a more experienced group is play with speed and get out on the break as often as possible to give Foxboro a challenge in the Davenport title race and bring home a postseason win.
Although Canton is still a relatively young team, the talent on the roster is undeniable. Sophomores Kiara Cerruti and Sydney and Fay Gallery all had impressive rookie campaigns, showing off their skills on the wing, from three-point range, and in the paint. They will face even more pressure this season, as teams know what they like to do and will be even more determined to take them out of their games.
Sophomore Carly Fitzgerald will be one of the players stepping into the point guard role vacated by the graduation of Julia Hamilton and will be the facilitator getting Canton into its offense. In the paint, Canton has size and athleticism in senior Lilah Milton and junior Kayla Albert, who are both active rebounders and finishers at the rim and both have shown the ability to knock down the occasional jumper as well. Juniors Angie Elias and Sam Lamarr and sophomore Annie Hoban all have experience from last year to add to Canton’s depth.
Canton coach Jim Choquette said, “Each day we will try to improve as a coaching staff and a program. By the end of the season, our hopes are to be playing at our best.”
2017-2018 Record: 20-3 2017-2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal. Coach: Lisa Downs
The two-time defending Davenport division champions return all but one player from last year’s roster, so Foxboro remains the team to beat for the league title and expectations are very high heading into a new season. After a trip to the Div. 2 South semifinals last season, the Warriors will be aiming for even more this winter, trying to regain the top spot not just in the Hock but also in the South sectional.
Junior Katelyn Mollica was the team’s leading scorer last year and is already closing in on 1,000 points for her career. The team’s primary ball-handler and one of the best shooters in the league, Mollica will be one of the top offensive threats in the league. She will have plenty of help. Senior guard Lizzy Davis and senior forwards Yara Fawaz and Abby Hassman will also return to the starting lineup this season and add athleticism, speed, and tenacity on both ends of the floor, taking some pressure off Mollica with their ability to score in the open court.
Senior Shakirah Ketant came on strong at the end of last season and gives Foxboro a different, more physical look in the paint. Junior Jordyn Collins is a tough on-the-ball defender and has speed to burn. Seniors Jamie DeVellis and Julia Kelley both saw time on the floor last year and will add to Foxboro’s depth. Sophomore center Hannah Blake is a new face that could provide more strength in the post.
“The Hockomock League continues to produce teams, which make every night a tough one – there are really no teams that you can take lightly,” said Foxboro coach Lisa Downs. “The preparation required to compete in this league really benefits teams that get to the postseason.”
2018-2019 Record: 21-4 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 State Semifinal. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin is coming off its best season in program history and the Panthers have the talent returning to potentially surpass that success this winter. After winning the program’s first sectional title and coming within minutes of reaching the state title game, Franklin returns three of its starters and a host of bench players ready to step into bigger roles this year.
The key to it all is senior Ali Brigham. The George Washington-commit controlled the paint on both ends of the floor last season and remains the league’s most dominant star, as she continues to expand her game to make it even more difficult for the opposition. Teams can’t focus only on Brigham, as senior forward Meghan O’Connell showed in the playoffs the problems she can present with her ability to score and rebound and sophomore Olivia Quinn is another forward with size that teams will struggle to match up with.
Junior point guard Erin Quaile is a tenacious defender and a solid ball-handler, who is developing her outside shot. Senior Sydney Garilli and juniors Elizabeth Wilson, Teagan Collins, and Carissa Alers all saw time last season and will be in the backcourt rotation. Franklin will also add several newcomers, who could step right in and contribute, including juniors Katelynn Taylor and Kaleigh Houlihan and sophomores Emma Sousa and Stefany Padula. On balance, the Panthers look likely to be the team to beat again in the Kelley-Rex.
“I am excited by what I have seen to date,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They are a very motivated group who have bought into their team motto ‘We Over Me.’ They are good teammates who seek team success over individual glory.”
2018-2019 Record: 14-8 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip had a breakout season in 2018-19, winning 13 games and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. Returning seven players from last year’s roster, new head coach Dan Nagle takes over a program in solid shape and is looking to build on last season’s success and try to challenge Franklin at the top of the league standings this winter.
Senior Faye Veilleux spearheaded KP’s breakout season when she emerged as one of the top post scorers in the league. Her versatility and her ability to get out in transition will be crucial to Nagle’s fastbreaking style. Senior Faith Roy will give the Warriors a clutch outside shooter and classmate Taylor Butler adds physicality to the guard or forward position.
Junior Emma Glaser will be expected to take on a bigger role after a strong sophomore season on the wing and junior point guard Brianna James demonstrated the ability to get into the lane at will and finish even against taller opponents. Juniors Caroline Aaron and Courtney Keswick are also back from last year to provide depth on the wings and 6-foot-3 freshman Emily Sawyer will give KP much-needed size in the post, as they try to combat Franklin’s Ali Brigham. The Warriors are going to try and break teams down with aggressive defending and their speed in transition.
Nagle said, “It has been a great start to the year with this group of kids. From top to bottom our roster is full of girls who love the game of basketball and are enjoying the process of improving day to day here in the early going. I think we will be a fun team to watch this season, and I look forward to the challenge of having our kids compete night in and night out in an excellent league like the Hockomock.”
2018-2019 Record: 17-6 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Mike Redding
Mansfield has consistently been one of the top programs in the Kelley-Rex division but even the best programs are going to need time to overcome the graduation of 10 seniors. The Hornets will lack experience, but head coach Mike Redding will be looking for improvement over the course of the season and will be hoping to have the team playing its best basketball as the tournament rolls around.
Senior Becca Hottleman was recently cleared after knee surgery and will be back at the point for the Hornets. Hottleman is one of only two players that got starts last year. Junior forward Ashley Santos is the other and she will be one of the players expected to see her numbers take a jump, as she should expect to get a few more looks on the offensive end. Senior Kelly Doherty and junior Kayla Vine will jump into starting roles on the wings, while junior Sara Dooling will be a starter at forward.
While there is a lack of varsity playing time on the roster, there are plenty of upperclassmen that will be expected to contribute. Junior Sarah Sacco will back-up Hottleman at the point, while junior Ally Prentis and senior Grace Benton will add depth at the wing. Senior Grace Maher and juniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking will see time in the frontcourt and freshman wing Abby Wager should get opportunities to build experience this season.
“This group has very limited varsity basketball experience overall because we had that large and talented group of 10 seniors last year, but we’re not young and will rely on senior leadership and a deep junior class and all have varsity experience in other sports,” said Redding. “We have good size and depth in the post and all of them can shoot, handle the ball, and play like guards, which should cause some problems for the defense. It will be a work in progress and we’ll have to battle for wins in a very good league but this will be a good basketball team by February when the tourney rolls around.”
2018-2019 Record: 1-19 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Last year was a tough one for Milford. After graduating the bulk of the roster, an inexperienced group struggled through the season, but never lost the work rate and closed out the winter with its first win. The Hawks are still relatively young, but head coach TJ Dolliver is approaching the new year with optimism because of his team’s continued growth.
Four juniors are entering their third varsity seasons and the Hawks will be counting on them to provide necessary leadership on and off the court. Emma Lawrence, Jillian Michelson, Carly Fereira, and Katie Maietta have all gotten plenty of playing time last year and the hope is that experience will serve them well this winter.
This will be a guard-heavy lineup, especially with no player over 5-foot-8. Junior Elise Fauerbach will add some physical play to the frontcourt and sophomore forward Jill Araujo is a newcomer that can add some depth in the paint.
“There is a lot to pay attention to but what I care about the most is how we do this together,” said Dolliver. “I have a great group of girls and a great coaching staff and I believe this season will be very rewarding.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-14 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Nikki Correia
It has been a tough run over the last few seasons for North Attleboro, which won seven games and missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but there are still positives to take away as former assistant Nikki Correia takes over for her first year in charge. North has several experienced players returning to try and push Big Red back up the standings.
The backcourt should be a plus for North with senior point guard Olivia Forbes back to run the show and keep the Rocketeers getting into the transition game that Correia prefers. She will be joined at the guard position by junior Amanda Kaiser, who emerged as not only a threat from deep but also as a tough defender who gets her hands into the passing lane. Juniors Siobhan Weir and Lydia Santos will add to the depth at guard to help with the full-court pressure that North will turn to this year.
North hasn’t had much height in the past few seasons, but there are several forwards who can compete on the glass. Senior forward Eliza Dion is an aggressive defender and can take her defender off the dribble. Senior Regan Fein will add extra depth in the paint. Freshman guard Ava McKeown and sophomore guard Summer Doherty are two newcomers that could make an instant impact.
“I am looking forward to being apart of watching this team and this program grow this year,” Correia said. “There are six returning seniors, so that veteran play will be very helpful, as well as returning a great shooter and adding an athletic sophomore and freshman to the mix.”
2018-2019 Record: 13-9 2018-2019 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal. Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames had a lot of new faces last year, but the success was very familiar. The Tigers finished with 13 wins and reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal, giving Wellesley all it could handle on the road. A year of experience and the return of a strong core of players means expectations are even higher for OA this winter.
Sophomore Caroline Peper will be the player that is going to draw the most attention at the start of the new season. As a freshman, Peper was one of the league’s top scorers and its top shooters. Junior Caroline Flynn was also an all-star last year. She runs the point, is one of the top passers on the team, and also one of its top rebounders. Her overall game helps the Tigers control games. Also in the backcourt will be seniors Meg Holleran and Erin Holmberg, who is coming back after surgery cost her almost all of last season.
Senior Tate Hadges will be on the front line, giving OA another strong defender and rebounder. Sophomore Hailey Bourne, while undersized, gives the Tigers a lot of effort in the post even when matched up against some of the best frontcourt players in the league. Junior Jess Erlich and Tori Harney and sophomore Anna Murphy will add to the team’s depth on the wing.
“As always, the Hock will present with a very high level of competition,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We are looking forward to being capable of putting together a variety of strong personnel combinations which will provide us with depth as we face those challenges.”
2018-2019 Record: 9-11 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Sandra Lombardi
Sharon narrowly missed out on its first playoff appearance under head coach Sandy Lombardi, finishing just one win away from a tournament berth. With three returning starters and several younger players who got significant playing time last year, the Eagles will be eyeing that elusive postseason berth.
Three seniors will be counted on to lead the team at both ends of the floor. Point guard Ally Brown will be expected to get the Eagles into their offensive sets and is a strong defender on the other end, keeping pressure on the perimeter. Shooting guard Kaitlyn Wallace is the team’s top outside threat, stretching the defense with her range and also being a strong passer off the dribble. Forward Telishya Herbert led the team in scoring last year and is a matchup nightmare in the paint with her aggressive play going to the basket.
The starting lineup will be rounded out by junior Leah Fandel and sophomore Trinity Payne, two athletic forwards that will give Sharon decent size on the front line. Senior Nicole Teven, juniors Julia Early and Gaby Cabral and freshman Tess Letendre will all see plenty of playing time this season and will look to contribute to the team’s success.
“Ally, Kaitlyn, and Telishya have the most varsity experience and I expect great things from them this year,” Lombardi said. “We have a young team and I am hoping some of the younger players are able to step up this year as well.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-13 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
A new era will begin this winter, as Stoughton moves into its brand new gym with a lot of new faces on the roster, hoping to get the Black Knights back into the playoff race this season after missing out on the tournament last year.
The key for the Black Knights will be its senior leadership. Although Sydnee Hyacinthe has moved on to Milton Academy, they still return a strong core led by senior Aliyah Wright. The point guard can be a dominant presence on both ends of the floor, sparking Stoughton on defense and breaking down the opposition off the dribble. Senior Shyanne Trinh is healthy to start the season and will be the team’s top outside threat, with the ability to knock down shots off the dribble. Senior forward Lexi Baptista is an athletic post threat who can also step back and knock down the mid-range jumper.
Senior Hannah Pagano and juniors Brooke Bulger, Mackenzie Manning, and Catherine Downey will add to the team’s depth, especially in the backcourt. Sophomore Makaiyah Singleton Rivera and freshman Kyla Sheedy-Goff will be two of the newcomers to the roster that could make a name for themselves this season.
“Despite being somewhat young this season this group of ladies worked really hard in the off-season,” said Stoughton coach Charmain Steele Jordan. “The sky is the limit this season and our Black Knights are going compete hard until the final whistle blows.”
2018-2019 Record: 7-15 2018-2019 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Amy Siggens
After a number of seasons under coach Walter Harrigan, Taunton has turned to former King Philip coach Amy Siggens this year and she has brought plenty of energy into her first preseason with the Tigers, trying to push the program back into the playoff hunt.
As Siggens and the players become more comfortable with each other, the Tigers will count on their returning starters to get things off to a good start. Juniors Sonya and Jaelyn Fernandez and Kelsey White will be the players to watch this season after strong sophomore campaigns. All three have good size, with both Sonya and Jaelyn providing strong presences on the boards and out on the break and White causing match-up issues on the perimeter. All three will need to step up on the defensive end and keep the Tigers running.
Taunton also has depth, although it will be relatively inexperienced. Seniors Liz Crisman and Jaylah Chaves and junior Tori DaRosa will add more depth in the backcourt. Sophomores Braeley McDonald and Abby Souza (who has helped out on varsity since she was an eighth-grader) and freshman Kameron St. Pierre will also chip in this season.
“Any coaching change brings lots of challenges and, this season, we will be faced with our share,” said Siggens. “I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen thus far. Our bench is young and talented but how quickly a good group of less experienced players develop, will determine the degree of our progress and we are off to a good start.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames and Franklin had a lot on the line in Friday night’s game at the William F. Nixon Gym. The teams were tied for second place in the Kelley-Rex division and trying to stay within two games of league-leading Mansfield (which has to play both the Panthers and Tigers again this year), while OA was also trying to clinch its spot in the state tournament.
Behind 29 points from senior forward Kayla Raymond and defensive adjustments strong contributions off the bench in the second half, OA rallied from three points down at the break for a 61-54 come from behind victory and a split of the season series with the Panthers.
In the first half, everything offensively for the Tigers ran through Raymond. The Stonehill-commit scored 12 of OA’s 14 points in the first quarter, twice scoring on three-point plays taking the ball to the basket. She added another four in the second in the second, while Caroline Flynn knocked down a three and Abby Reardon added four.
With Raymond on one side and Katie Flynn or Alex Sheldon giving weakside help, OA double-teamed Franklin center Ali Brigham, forcing the Panthers to find scoring on the perimeter. Junior guard Bea Bondhus stepped right in and drilled four threes in the first half, scoring 14 of her team-high 18 points in the process.
Teagan Collins also nailed one from outside, as Franklin closed the half on an 11-4 run to lead 28-25.
“That was the game plan, don’t leave Bondhus alone,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “We lost her and she had 14 points in the first half. All I wrote on the board at halftime was 21 (Bondhus) [has] 14, that’s all. Defensively, we needed to make a couple of adjustments and I thought we did.”
OA switched to man-to-man and upped the full-court pressure to try and keep the ball out of Bondhus’ hands. After Raymond tied the game with a three, Megan O’Connell (11 points) scored off a Kelsey MacCallum assist. Erin Holmberg (seven points) hit a three to give OA a lead, but Brigham (14 points and 11 rebounds) answered with a three-point play on an offensive rebound.
“They can make it very tough,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “They made it so other kids had to score by focusing on Ali and Bea. I thought we countered it pretty well and we had some kids step up. We worked tremendously hard.”
Raymond continued to pour in the points, showing off nifty footwork under the basket to go up and under for a layup with Brigham on her back, but OA also started to get contributions off the bench. Caroline Flynn (six points) scored on a putback, while Meg Holleran and freshman Tori Harney also chipped in on both ends of the floor.
“They did a great job,” said Clement-Holbrook of the bench effort. “Honestly, we started see that become a part of who we are against Foxboro. I think from that point forward that’s what we want and I think they’re starting to believe a little more.”
OA caught Franklin in the press and Katie Flynn hit Raymond with a perfect pass over the top of the defense for a layup. It was one of five assists for Flynn, who caused problems for the Franklin defense in the high post. The senior also added four points, six steals, two blocks, and four rebounds.
“It’s not fancy, flashy,” said Clement-Holbrook about Flynn’s contributions. “That was one of the things we keyed on to try and get Brigham away from the rim. We had to come up with a scheme to see if we could get her out or over and Katie did such a great job because she hit some nice backdoor passes.”
OA led 44-39 heading to the fourth and Raymond drained a long jumper to get the final quarter started. Franklin would not go away, cutting the lead back down to four. The Tigers stretched it back out to nine on a basket by Holmberg and a jumper by Ally Scolnick, who came off the bench to score all seven of her points in the fourth.
“Kayla was kind of a one-man band in the first half,” said Leighton, “but in the second they got kids some open shots, especially in the transition when we were pressing.”
Clement-Holbrook explained, “Offensively, we did a reasonably good job of opening things up. The first time we played them with Brigham sitting in the middle like that it kind of took us a little while to figure things out. Because we moved people around, I think it made it a little more difficult for them to defend us.”
Brigham scored plus the foul off a feed from O’Connell to keep Franklin within six, but Raymond found Flynn with a wraparound pass on the baseline for a layup. Shannon Gray answered with a three on the other end, but OA beat the press and Scolnick set up Raymond for an easy basket. Raymond then returned the favor for a Scolnick bucket in transition.
“We gave up too many easy ones at the end,” Leighton said. “I thought we might be able to hang with them, but once they started getting those easy ones then they were able to pull away.”
Oliver Ames (10-4, 9-3) will be back at home on Tuesday to take on King Philip. Franklin (10-6, 8-4) will try to bounce back on Tuesday when it welcomes Taunton.