TAUNTON, Mass. – There was no hiding the fact that Wednesday’s game was a big one for both Taunton and Canton, two programs hovering around the .500 mark and trying to fight their way back to the postseason.
Behind 25 points and 15 rebounds from senior forward Hannah Jerrier and strong contributions off the bench on both ends of the floor, the Bulldogs turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 56-46 victory that brings them back to .500 overall and in the league.
“It was one of those things tonight where we said anything and everything we can possibly do, we need to do,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “We knew how good they were…we knew this was going to be a very long, tough night.”
Trailing by two at the break, the Bulldogs came out with a 2-2-1 full-court press and held Taunton without a made basket for the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Choquette said that Canton had not practiced the press this season, but the players decided it would be effective.
“It was very close, back and forth, and the girls at halftime said I think they’re getting nervous in the backcourt why don’t we do a two-guard press,” he explained. “We drew it up on the board…we went with it, they were confident, and it was probably the best thing we could’ve done.”
Following a pair of Taunton free throws, Jerrier scored in the paint off an assist by Erin Devine, who used her 6-foot-3 frame as a passer in the high post, and then Canton tied the game on a offensive rebound by Maggie Connolly (nine points and 12 rebounds). Julia Hamilton put the Bulldogs ahead with a pull-up jumper.
It was a lead that Canton would never relinquish.
Devine grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, as the Bulldogs pushed the lead to five points before the Tigers finally got a shot to fall in the second half. There were only 50 seconds left in the third when MacKenzie Handrahan (11 points and six boards) scored underneath on an assist by Tori DaRosa. Sonya Fernandez (nine points and eight rebounds) scored on a putback to cut Canton’s lead to 35-32 heading to the final eight minutes.
Canton broke the game open a little at the start of the fourth. Again, Devine played provider with an assist over the top of the Taunton defense to Jerrier on the block.
“She makes a difference because she’s able to pass high and catch high and Hannah is able to catch high and keep her position down low to get the inside shots,” said Harrigan about the connection between Devine and Jerrier. “They probably had 12-15 layups tonight and the offensive rebounds just killed us. We were trying to box but the size just killed us.”
Defense continued to turn into offense for the Bulldogs and Connolly scored off a steal and layup and then she scored on a back-cut off a feed from point guard Hamilton. Connolly scored seven points in the fourth.
“Maggie defensively is one of the ones who leads us,” said Choquette. “She’s obviously very fast, so when we get a steal we like to throw it ahead to her [because] we know she’s going to get it.”
The Bulldogs jumped out by nine points, but Taunton bounced right back with seven straight points. Handrahan scored in the post and then freshman Kelsey White (11 points) got a steal and a layup. After Handrahan scored on an offensive rebound to make it 43-41, Taunton got a steal but immediately lost the ball and Handrahan fouled out diving into the pack after the loose ball.
“We had a lot of momentum going at that point,” said Harrigan of the point when Handrahan committed her fifth foul. “We sort of felt like we had control of the game and it took the wind out of our sails at that point.”
He added, “Some of it is our inexperience. We’d get a steal and turn it over. We got it back down to three at one point and we stole the ball but turned it over and they went right down and got a layup.”
At times this season, Canton has struggled down the stretch of games. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs put Taunton away with a 13-5 run. Jerrier hit a pair at the line and got free underneath for two points on an inbound play. White drilled a three that cut the lead down to six but a Connolly steal and layup sealed the win.
“In the past few games, even in some of our wins, we’ve struggled to finish games off, so I think the difference tonight was getting loose balls and obviously most games we have a height advantage but that doesn’t always mean we win the rebounding or free throw battle and I think we did a good job of that,” Choquette said.
Taunton had the lead in the first half despite struggling offensively for long stretches. After an 0-for-11 start from the field, the Tigers made eight straight shots including a Fernandez jumper at the buzzer to have a 16-11 lead after one. Hannah Moniz scored all five of her points in the first.
In the second, Jerrier scored eight points and sophomore Lilah Milton added four of her eight, but the Tigers had another late flurry, including a White three in the final seconds of the half, to take a 25-23 lead at the break.
“The first quarter was 16-11 and I think we scored all 16 in three minutes and second quarter the same thing,” said Harrigan. “Give them credit, they dominated the boards and the inside and I think that was the difference in the game.”
Canton (6-6, 5-5) will step out of the Hockomock League on Monday when the Bulldogs travel to Dover-Sherborn. Taunton (6-9, 4-6) will try to bounce back on Tuesday at Stoughton.
FOXBORO, Mass. – Foxboro’s loss on Monday to fellow Div. 2 state title hopeful Hopkinton, which ended a 10-game win streak, delayed the Warriors booking a place in the state tournament, but the wait only lasted about 24 hours.
The Warriors seemed to have a renewed energy coming off the loss and rolled to an 85-27 victory over visiting Taunton on Tuesday to book a spot in the postseason earlier than in any other of head coach Lisa Downs’ seven seasons in charge. The win also marked a milestone for Downs, who earned her 100th victory as coach of the Warriors.
“I haven’t really had much time to think about it because all I’ve been thinking about is that loss last night to tell you the truth,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very lucky. There’s no way I would have 100 wins without the talent I’ve had coming through the ranks.”
After a trip to the TD Garden last winter, Downs believes that this year’s team has the potential to be the best in her time as coach thanks to the talent and the togetherness in the squad.
She explained, “This year I have the unique situation of having all those talented kids on the floor. The team chemistry we have, and it’s definitely obvious on the court, and there’s nothing like that. They all want to see each other do well.”
Senior Ashley Sampson, the Adelphi University-commit and reigning Hockomock MVP, was the star again on Tuesday with 26 points, six steals, and five rebounds, but the Warriors also got 19 points and nine rebounds from freshman guard Katelyn Mollica, eight points and five boards from Chelsea Gibbons, and six points and 10 assists from senior Lily Sykes.
“We’re a little shorthanded, but they play so well together,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan, who was missing his two leading scorers, junior Lily Patneaude and senior MacKenzie Handrahan.
He added, “They’re so talented, they’re long, they play good defense, they trap well, they make basketball plays and they’re going to do well in the state tournament.”
Hannah Moniz (10 points) drilled a three off an assist by Jaelyn Fernandez early in the first quarter that cut the Foxboro lead to 5-3, but, as they have so many times this season, the Warriors turned it one and broke the game wide open. Foxboro went on a 12-2 run to close the quarter and then added the first 10 points of the second.
Sykes knocked down both of her threes during that run and then assisted on a Sampson three. Sampson picked up a steal and raced down for a layup and Mollica knocked down a shot off another Sykes assist.
Moniz hit a three and scored all five of Taunton’s points in the second but Shannon Smally added four points in the post, Lizzy Davis scored on an offensive rebound, and Mollica drilled a three to push the Foxboro lead to 41-10 at the half.
The third quarter was even more prolific for the Warriors. Sampson scored plus a foul to kickstart a 10-point third, while Mollica buried a pair of threes in the quarter. Grace Tamulionis drilled a three and Abby Hassman scored four points, as Foxboro got points from nine different players.
Sykes continued to be the catalyst for the Foxboro offense, which has been highlighted by the extra pass to find open shooters. Downs said of Sykes, “She loves it. She would rather pass it to someone that’s open than take her threes. She’s just such a smart, heads up player, but she finds the girls that most other guards would not.”
Taunton continued to play hard into the fourth quarter, despite trailing by more than 50. The Tigers were starting three freshman and brought a freshman and eighth grader off the bench. Sonya Fernandez scored and got fouled on a drive, Tori DaRosa knocked down a pull-up jumper in the lane and eighth grader Abigail Souza (who also played in the freshman and JV games on Tuesday) buried a straightaway three for her first varsity points.
“You’ve got to take the positive from it over the last couple days, between injuries and everything going on,” said Harrigan about facing two of the top 10 teams in the state in a span of three days (the Tigers faced Coyle & Cassidy on Sunday).
He continued, “Hopefully this will help us become a little deeper and we still have a good shot at the state tournament and we’re going to work to get there. We had to get through some of these games and it’s unfortunate that we had to get through with a couple of injuries.”
Nine of the 11 wins for the Warriors this season have been by at least double digits and six wins have been by more than 30 points. Monday against Hopkinton was the second loss of the season (and first to count in the MIAA standings) and Downs saw it as motivation for the second half.
“We are going to have games like we had tonight and that’s honestly not going to prepare us for the Hopkinton game, but they realize they’re human, they’re beatable, and if we don’t show up any given night then that could happen,” she said.
“The sky’s the limit with this team and they hold their own destiny.”
Foxboro (11-2, 9-0) will put its unbeaten league record on the line against Oliver Ames on Friday, while Taunton (6-8, 4-5) will try to get back to .500 in the MIAA standings when it hosts Canton on Thursday.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Prior to the tip of Thursday night’s non-league game at Taunton High, Tigers junior guard Alexa White stood at center court and hit all the right notes with a rendition of the national anthem. Nearly 90 minutes later and White was again in perfect key when she nailed a base line jumper with only eight seconds remaining that turned out to be the game-winning hoop.
Visiting New Bedford had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but a runner at the buzzer hit glass and caromed away, sealing a 44-42 non-league victory for Taunton, improving the Tigers to 4-1 on the young season.
“It’s a good hard-fought win and I think it’s good for us,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We get into the league schedule after the holiday, so anything we can grab now is good.”
The Tiger struggled through a difficult winter in 2016-17 and are now off the best start in several seasons, which Harrigan believes is building confidence throughout the program. He said, “When you go 1-21 and you live through that and we’re missing some players…the start we’ve had is exciting and the girls are really happy.”
Taunton allowed only one made field goal in the first quarter but went into the first break tied at seven against a scrappy Whalers team that had size in the middle with 6-foot-3 Janice Lena and speedy guard Chiron Rose.
In the second quarter, Rose started to heat up, scoring six of her game-high 16 points. After a floater by Kinra Almeida (12 points), New Bedford led 21-12 and the Tigers were struggling on both ends of the floor. Jaelyn Fernandez started the Taunton comeback with a free throw and then an offensive rebound while falling out of bounds that she managed to squeeze into MacKenzie Handrahan for a layup.
Lily Patneaude (eight points and seven rebounds) buried a three-pointer and the Tigers went into the break down just three points.
“We just played Milford and it was the first this year really that we were down,” Harrigan said. “They’re a very good team but we just weren’t used to it and we kind of panicked. Tonight we were down three times and they were able to come back. We told them to forget the other night and focus on tonight and focus on getting this win.”
The Whalers pulled away again to start the second half, extending the lead to 29-22. Taunton made a change on the defensive end that proved critical, switching from man-to-man to an aggressive, extended zone that forced New Bedford into difficult passes and long jumpers.
Fernandez again sparked the comeback with a lefty runner off the glass, her only made field goal of the night, and Patneaude followed with a drive to the rim. Freshman Kelsey White drilled a three-pointer that brought Taunton back within a basket and, after a New Bedford hoop, Handrahan completed a three-point play to make it 33-32.
White hit a jumper to give Taunton a one-point edge, its first lead since it was 7-5 in the first quarter. Harrigan said of the switch to zone, “I couldn’t stay in man, their speed was killing us. We had to switch off to some pressure defense. We did some pressure trapping in the zone and I think the trapping got us back into it and the zone defense got us the win.”
New Bedford scored to retake the lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Kelsey White (11 points) again provided big baskets to put the Tigers in front again. The freshman scored on a drive over the outstretched arm of Lena and then nailed her second three, off an assist by Hannah Moniz (four assists and six rebounds), to make it 39-37 with 2:01 left.
“Her shot selection was good,” explained Harrigan about White. “She had a couple of drives, and they’re long whether they went zone or man they’re just long, and she went up over them for a couple hoops. Defensively, she was incredible in the trapping zone.”
Although there was little scoring through the opening five minutes of the fourth, the teams played out a frenetic, end-to-end finish.
Handrahan added a free throw for a three-point lead, but a Lena free throw and an Almeida basket tied the score at 40-40. Handrahan (14 points, eight rebounds, and five steals) scored in the paint again to make it 42-40, but once again the Whalers answered with Rose getting her final basket with 19.7 on the clock.
Taunton had the chance to run down the time for the final shot, but Alexa White (eight points and four steals) found space on the left side of the floor. She pulled up from 10 feet on the base line and swished the jumper.
New Bedford turned the ball over on the inbounds, giving Taunton the ball with 7.2 left. After a missed free throw, the Whalers raced up court with one last chance to stay alive, but the final shot would not go down and Taunton celebrated a clutch, bounce-back victory.
“Give New Bedford credit, they are so quick,” said Harrigan. “They’ve got some good size inside and it was a little bit intimidating to us. They’re just all good athletes…we haven’t seen a team like that this year.”
He added, “Give Taunton credit, it was a hard game for us and we were fortunate to come away with the win.”
Taunton (4-1, 2-1) will get a week off before returning to action against Durfee on Dec. 28.
The Bombardiers enter the season with a new coaching staff and a very different starting lineup to the one that nearly knocked off Mansfield in the Div. 1 South playoffs last season. Former King Philip coach Marty Crowley has taken over after Rick Patch stepped down in the off-season and he will have only a few returning varsity players to call on this winter.
Senior forward Sam Pierce will be the key piece on offense, as Attleboro tries to replace the more than 30 points per game that was lost with the graduation of Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan. Pierce has been a consistent scorer and rebounder for the past few seasons, but this will be the first time that she is the primary offensive weapon and could be poised for a breakout year. Junior Jordyn Lako and senior Grace Mayer are strong on-the-ball defenders and should help Crowley implement his high-pressure defensive scheme. Senior Kim White will also be one of Attleboro’s ball-handlers in the backcourt.
One of the players who saw a little time on varsity last season that is expected to make a big jump is sophomore Nyah Thomas, who has the length to be a tough defender and showed in her few appearances last year that she can rebound and take the ball to the basket. Sophomore Liv McCall is a fearless shooter that will stretch the floor and transfer Mackenzie Roberts will give the Bombardiers added size in the paint.
Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. Sam, I am sure, is going to draw a lot of attention from other teams, so we must make sure that we are smart offensively and get touches for everyone.”
2016-2017 Record: 6-14 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been excitement around the Canton program for the past few seasons and that continues this winter, as the Bulldogs look to secure a place in the state tournament behind an experienced lineup that has been developing together for several years.
Senior Hannah Jerrier is the key for the Bulldogs, as the forward is coming off a league all-star season in which she emerged as a potential double-double night after night. Jerrier is a solid rebounder and scorer in the paint, reaching the 20-point mark nine times last season and averaging more than 16 points and nine rebounds per game. Junior Julia Hamilton will be back at point guard for the Bulldogs to help get the Canton into its offensive sets and provide pressure, on-the-ball defense. Senior Jess Powers is also back after missing a season to a knee injury and will add a boost to the team’s outside shooting and take pressure off Jerrier on offense.
Junior Maggie Connolly returns for her second year in the backcourt and seniors Lindsey Barrett, Nikki Gefteas, and Leya Conard will all add depth to the Canton roster this season, while junior Erin Devine adds another important post presence on both ends of the floor. The versatility of the roster will allow head coach Jim Choquette to change his game plans every game, slowing it down to play half-court or ratcheting up the pressure to go up tempo.
“Canton remains focused on playing together and staying positive for the best season possible,” Choquette said. “Leading up to our first game there’s been an extreme amount of effort and energy by a large group of unselfish girls and our seniors have all been great examples of staying positive throughout all situations!”
2016-2017 Record: 22-3 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 State Semifinal Coach: Lisa Downs
After winning the Div. 2 South title and reaching the TD Garden last winter, this year’s Foxboro team will have high expectations, but with four starters returning, including reigning Hockomock League MVP Ashley Sampson, the Warriors will once again be the favorites to take home the Davenport division crown.
Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career, Sampson enters her senior season as the focal point of the Foxboro offense. Her ability to get into the lane and finish, as well as step back and knock down shots, makes her a tough cover and opens space for her teammates. Fellow senior Lily Sykes is one of the beneficiaries of that space and she can take advantage of open looks on the perimeter. Senior Grace Tamulionis is another player who can stretch the floor for the Warriors and can be an ‘X’ factor for Foxboro in big games. Senior Shannon Smally adds rebounding and post presence to keep defenses honest.
The Warriors are now the veteran team in the division, but there are also several younger players that have developed into critical pieces off the bench, including sophomore Abby Hassman, who has grown in the off-season into a strong rebounder. Freshman Katelyn Mollica will add backcourt depth with her tenacity on defense and already impressive court awareness. Junior Chelsea Gibbons is another player that is expected to step into a bigger role this season.
Foxboro coach Lisa Downs said, “This group of seniors have been part of our Varsity team since their freshmen year and with each year, they have learned and developed more – all of the girls on this year’s team put in the necessary work; now its time to execute.”
2016-2017 Record: 9-11 2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason. Coach: John Leighton
Franklin got off to a rough start last season, beginning 0-6 with an inexperienced roster, but then closed the year with nine wins in the last 14 games, just missing out on a return to the postseason. This year, the Panthers will try to build on that year of experience and book a return to the playoffs.
The Panthers will have strength in the middle to try and get off to a much better start this season. Sophomore Ali Brigham, last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, has received several Div. I NCAA offers, including one from the University of Minnesota, and at 6-foot-3 can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. Franklin will also have outside scoring with junior guard Bea Bondhus, who is a consistent three-point shooter and will stretch defenses to open up the post for Brigham.
Franklin has plenty of size this season. Sophomore forwards Breanna Atwood (5-foot-9) and Megan O’Connell (5-foot-10) and senior forward Kate Morse (5-foot-11) will provide plenty of depth on the inside. Junior Shannon Gray will be back to run the point and senior Grace Sameski will add backcourt depth. Freshman guard Elizabeth Wilson is poised to make an instant impact for the Panthers, as she did in the season opener by knocking down three free throws in the final seconds to force overtime against Holy Name.
“We are a young team with only two seniors, but I am very pleased with the effort and progress of the team,” said Franklin coach John Leighton, who is excited about the return of the majority of the team’s scoring and the potential of the youth on the roster.
King Philip has a new coach this season, with former Wellesley assistant Amy Siggens taking over for Marty Crowley, and there could be a period of adjustment for a still relatively young Warriors roster to adapt to the new system, but there is excitement about the progress being made by the seven returning varsity players.
Boston University-commit Shannon O’Connor will once again be a player to watch for the Warriors this winter. The junior’s ability to shoot off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and take the ball to the basket has made her one of the league’s elite perimeter players. As O’Connor continues to develop as a playmaker that will create open looks for her teammates, including junior Julia Leroux and sophomore Faith Roy. Senior Christina Hathaway (one of only two seniors on the roster) will add strength in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Warriors will not lack for size this season. O’Connor is listed at 5-foot-11, junior Catherine Cummings and sophomore Faye Veilleux are listed at 5-foot-10, and Roy is listed at 5-foot-9. The versatility of those players will give Siggens room to switch up lineups when needed. KP is still pretty young and Siggens has added two freshmen, Emma Glaser and Brianna James, to this year’s roster.
Siggens said, “Early on we will stress the importance of being unselfish on offense and being tough and aggressive on defense. Knowing mistakes will be made, there will be no small emphasis on the importance of playing hard all the time… I am encouraged by our team’s enthusiasm and attitude.”
2016-2017 Record: 20-4 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final. Coach: Mike Redding
Replacing the production of last season’s HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Jen Peel is a difficult task, but Mansfield has the talent, depth, and experience in the roster to make it work. The Hornets return four starters from last year’s squad and will lean on a loaded and versatile junior class to try and make it a three-peat of league titles.
The key returner for Mansfield is 6-foot-3 center Meg Hill. The Stonehill College-commit is already the program’s best in blocked shots and is soon to be the career leader in rebounds, while improving her offensive game every season. With Peel gone, junior Mady Bendanillo will be tasked with getting the ball into the post to Hill and to fellow junior Maggie Danehy, who had an impressive start with a double-double against Medfield in the Endowment Game. Reigning HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year Ann Maher will also be back at shooting guard and is one of the team’s most consistent three-point threats.
Juniors Erin Daniel, Emily Vigeant, Sydney Mulkern and Kara Bendanillo will likely compete for the fifth starting spot and all should see plenty of playing time this year. With 5-foot-11 senior Maeve Carney and 5-foot-10 freshman Ashley Santos, the Hornets should be able to dominate the paint and sophomore Becca Hottleman will add depth at the point guard position.
Mansfield coach Mike Redding said, “We have a chance to be very good again with our junior group getting a ton of experience last year and we hope to compete for league title again.” He added that the Hornets bolstered the schedule this season as well. Redding said, “Our record may not be as good as last year when we earned the No. 1 seed, but we will be more battle tested for the state tourney in March.”
2016-2017 Record: 10-11 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central first round. Coach: T.J. Dolliver
A year after returning to the postseason for the first time since 2012 (and nearly pulling off an upset of Marlboro on the road), Milford brings back seven seniors to try and make a push for a Davenport division title and another state tournament appearance.
The Hawks have a versatile lineup led by four-year starter Kate Irwin. The lefty point guard is one of the most dynamic perimeter scorers and playmakers in the league and she continues to improve each season. Her ability to get into the paint opens up room for her teammates and she can also step back and knock down threes. Irwin will be helped by fellow seniors Gillian Valanzola and Juliana Tracy, who add size on the post.
Senior Emily Piergustavo is a knock-down shooter from beyond the arc and her classmate Jess Tomaso has proven to be a solid rebounder from the guard position. There are also two sophomores and four freshmen on the roster this season to add depth and build for the future under third-year head coach T.J. Dolliver.
Dolliver said, “I am very excited for our team this year. This is my 3rd year with a lot of these girls and seeing how they have progressed over the years have really set this team up for a fun season.”
Last season, North Attleboro boasted one of the most experienced lineups in the league with five of its top six players being seniors, but this year the Rocketeers will be incorporating a number of new faces, as only six players (only starter) return from last winter.
The lone returning starter is junior guard Julia Feid, who had a breakout season on the wing and will be counted on to lead the offensive attack this year. Feid’s classmate Emily Haskell will also be on the wing for North this season and will also have a large chunk of the offense run through her. Senior Emily Pastore, junior Liz Smahi, and sophomore Michelle Pothier will also contribute scoring from the wing, while junior Lauren Pezzi and sophomore Olivia Forbes will run the point and distribute the ball in the half court.
The graduation of Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse leaves an opening on the post, but North has several players that will step in to provide a presence in the paint. Senior Julia Santos and juniors Emma Noreck and Kaley Sullivan will each get opportunities to contribute. North faces a tough early season schedule with the likes of Franklin, Oliver Ames, Archbishop Williams, and Hingham, so it will be critical for the new players to find their feet quickly.
North Attleboro coach Derek Herber said, “The team has quickly began to gel and I am hopeful that we if we can survive the early part of the season, we can qualify for the tournament.”
2016-2017 Record: 13-8 2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round. Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames struggled to find consistent offense last season and it kept the Tigers from being able to challenge Mansfield for the league title or make another run in Div. 2 South, but a healthy lineup with several key returning players has OA optimistic for improvements this winter.
The main focus will be on senior forward Kayla Raymond. The Stonehill College-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with the length and leaping ability to dominate in the paint and the range to step out and knock down jumpers. Raymond is listed as a forward/center but could potentially be used at multiple positions. Senior guard Abby Reardon is back to get the Tigers into their offensive sets and as one of the league’s top on-the-ball defenders. Classmate Katie Flynn also returns to give Raymond help in the post.
In addition to the seniors, junior Alex Sheldon will provide depth at the forward position and junior Sadie Homer was a dynamic scorer on the perimeter before an injury cut her season short last year. Homer was a solid three-point shooter last year and will be expected to stretch defenses again this season. Sophomore guard Meg Holleran emerged as a playmaker during her freshman campaign and could see a bigger role this year.
“OA is looking to blend some younger talent and are working hard to provide some depth in the backcourt,” said OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook. “Looking forward to the fight for the Kelly Rex Division.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Sharon will see a number of new faces on the roster, as several of last year’s players are focusing on other sports this winter. Former Rockland and East Bridgewater assistant Sandra Lombardi takes over for Cliff Tomassian and will have a young group to work with in her first head coaching position.
Junior small forward Emma Eberhardt is one of the returning players that will be expected to provide leadership and scoring for the Eagles. Eberhardt, a HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team performer last year, was Sharon’s top scorer last winter and also has the size to be a problem for opponents on the glass. She scored 16 points in Sharon’s win over Nipmuc in the season opener. Senior guard Miranda Cheung will also be back for Sharon to provide ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
Sophomore Telishya Herbert made the jump from JV to varsity midway through last season and had an instant impact on the Eagles with her athleticism and her ability to score in the paint. She had 10 points against Nipmuc and could be ready for a breakout year as Sharon’s second scorer to take some pressure off Eberhardt. Also back from last year’s roster are junior Evanjuline Elisma and sophomore Ally Brown.
Lombardi said of her new team, “We are going to be quick and aggressive. I’m excited to see what the season will bring.”
The Black Knights narrowly missed out on the postseason last year, despite having a number of underclassmen in the roster, and expectations for this season include a return to the playoffs under third-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.
Senior Val Whalen was the team’s MVP last season after leading the Black Knights with more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game. Whalen has improved every season and her intensity on defense and on the glass boosts is contagious. Stoughton is a physical team that likes to put pressure on the ball defensively and Whalen sets the tone. Senior Jordan Motley is also a tenacious rebounder and gives the Black Knights another strong presence in the paint.
Sophomore guard Shyanne Trinh had a breakout freshman campaign, scoring more than 10 points per game, and her ball-handling and long-range shooting opens things up for the post players. Fellow sophomore Aliyah Wright also had a strong rookie campaign and her size is a difficult matchup for many of the point guards in the Hock. Stoughton will also count on junior guards Lindsey McDonald and Hailey Egan and sophomore Lexi Baptista. Freshman Sydnee Hyacinthe has also been called up to add depth in the backcourt.
Steele-Jordan said of her senior forwards, “I’m looking forward to their leadership, hustle on the court and their defensive presence this year. Whalen and Motley’s veteran play along with our returning sophomores will be great for the Black Knights this season.”
2016-2017 Record: 1-21 2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason. Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton is coming off a difficult season in which the Tigers finished with just one victory, but one game into the new year and Taunton has already matched that total. The season opening win over Cumberland (R.I.) fits with the optimism around the program, as the Tigers blend youth with experience in the hopes of making a run at a playoff spot.
The Tigers will be led by senior forwards Hannah Moniz and Mackenzie Handrahan, who combined for 26 points in the win at Cumberland and provide a mix of rebounding, scoring at the rim, and outside shooting to balance the Taunton offense. Junior Lily Patneaude also returns from an all-star season and is Taunton’s most dynamic scorer with range from well beyond the arc. Junior Alexa White is another guard that will provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
Junior Shantel Andrew, a 5-foot-7 forward, is expected to be a significant contributor this season, after missing two years with knee injuries. As usual, Taunton has plenty of youth on the roster with four freshmen making varsity, a couple of whom got playing experience last year as eighth graders. Forwards Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez and guards Kelsey White and Tori DaRosa are going to be counted on to play big roles this year for the Tigers.
Taunton coach Walter Harrigan said, “Our goal for this year is to continue to work hard while focusing on the development of good habits which will hopefully lead to team improvement and a trip to the state tournament.”