2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2018-2019 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
Foxboro sophomore Katelyn Mollica will try to keep the Warriors on top in the Davenport division, as the new Hockomock League girls basketball season gets underway. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 9-13
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Martin Crowley
The Bombardiers were just two wins shy of a playoff spot last season under new head coach Marty Crowley and Attleboro brings back three starters and has added several new faces to the roster to try and make a postseason push this winter.

The graduation of leading scorer Sam Pierce (16 points per game) means that a number of players are going to need to step in and make up for production on offense and on the glass. Senior point guard Jordyn Lako will be back to run the Bombardiers offense and provide three-point shooting, while junior Nyah Thomas is a versatile weapon on the offensive side of the ball. Both are also aggressive defenders, who set the tone on that end of the floor. Senior forward Mackenzie Roberts can score in the post or from beyond the arc and junior Liv McCall is a dynamic guard who is capable of big scoring nights.

Defense has always been the focus of teams that Crowley coaches and the Bombardiers will be no different. To keep up that defensive intensity, the Bombardiers have added depth to the rotation. Seniors Abby Struminski and Dom Garnes (who was out last season with an injury) provide leadership, while sophomores Gabby Bosh and Sonny Stuger and freshmen Meghan Gordon and Lillian Froio are newcomers to keep an eye on.

“Hopefully we can generate scoring opportunities off our defense and use our athleticism to create baskets,” said Crowley. “We have a great mix of experience and youth. We are excited about what lies ahead. Practices have been spirited and the kids have been working hard.”

Canton

2017-2018 Record: 10-11
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South first round.
Coach: Jim Choquette
Last winter, Canton got a taste of the postseason for the first time in seven seasons and now the program will try to build on that momentum while finding a way to replace the scoring and rebounding of Hannah Jerrier, who averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs last winter. An exciting crop of underclassmen has been added to the roster and now Canton will try to build experience with a schedule that puts them on the road for the majority of the first half of the year.

While Jerrier will obviously be missed, the Bulldogs bring back the other four starters and other players with plenty of experience to try and make it a much shorter wait to get back into the playoffs. Senior point guard Julia Hamilton is back to run the offense, senior Erin Devine gives Canton control on the glass and a rim protector on defense, senior Molly Ludwig gives balance to the offense, and senior Maggie Connolly is one of the league’s top defensive players on the perimeter. Senior Nicole Galvin will add depth to the backcourt.

Junior Lilah Milton came on strong at the tail of end of last season, including a huge game in the playoff-clinching win over Weymouth, and could take up some of Jerrier’s scoring from the power forward position. Sophomore Kayla Albert gained valuable experience last season as a freshman and current rookies Sydney and Fay Gallery, and Kiara Cerruti have the potential to step right into the rotation and contribute.

“Details are everything to us,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “If our group of young talent and veteran leadership/experience can continue to stay focused on the details during the good times and tough times of a season then we should continue to improve and have a very excited and successful season.”

Foxboro

2017-2018 Record: 26-2
2017-2018 Finish: Won Div. 2 state championship.
Coach: Lisa Downs
Last season was one to remember for the Warriors, who rolled through the regular season in dominating fashion and lived up to the team’s immense potential by bringing home the Div. 2 state title. With the graduation of a very strong senior class, the expectations are much lower for the Warriors this season but there are several returning players and new faces that have Foxboro coach Lisa Downs confident that the program can continue its recent run of success in the Davenport division.

Losing players like Ashley Sampson, Lily Sykes, Grace Tamulionis, and Shannon Smally is a challenge for any team, but the Warriors will bring back a pair of starters from the playoff run in sophomore Katelyn Mollica and junior Abby Hassman. Mollica is the team’s top returning scorer and will be one of the top point guards in the Hock with her ability to shoot and score off the dribble. Hassman gives Foxboro a strong presence on the glass and showed increased confidence in her offensive game at the end of last season. Senior Chelsea Gibbons and junior Lizzy Davis should see increased minutes and bigger roles in the offense this year.

Juniors Shakirah Ketant and Yara Fawaz should give Foxboro more depth in the post and contribute on the glass and both saw limited minutes in the playoffs last winter. Sophomores Adrienne Dunn and Jordyn Collins will be newcomers to the backcourt and have impressed during the preseason, while junior forward Anita Busznyak is expected to see a lot more time this year and could be a player to watch.

Downs is hoping this year’s team will learn from the graduating class. She said, “The time they spent practicing with and playing against these girls has really paid off – they know what is expected of them on the court and what is required to be a winning team. We have established a winning culture at Foxboro and the players know that I expect nothing more than what they should expect from themselves.”

Franklin

2017-2018 Record: 15-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central first round.
Coach: John Leighton
The Panthers bring back 10 players from last year’s roster, which reached the state tournament but lost in the opening round to Natick, and there are high expectations on Oak St. as the new season gets underway. Franklin enters the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and its balanced lineup has the potential to make a run in the state tournament as well.

Much of the enthusiasm for Franklin’s chances this winter come from 6-foot-3 center Ali Brigham. The junior recently committed to George Washington (where her father once played) and is the lone returning player from last season HockomockSports.com First Team. While she (deservedly) garners much of the attention, the Panthers have a number of other weapons to give the opposition headaches. Senior guard Bea Bondhus, who committed to Springfield College, is one of the top three-point shooters in the Hock and sophomore guard Elizabeth Wilson is back from an injury that cut short the promising start to her varsity career.

The Panthers will also bring back versatile junior forwards Megan O’Connell and Breanna Atwood, who add size in the paint but can also take defenders off the dribble or knock down outside shots. Seniors Hailey Sanders and Calen Frongillo add depth to the frontcourt, while senior Shannon Gray and juniors Kelsey MacCallum and Sydney Garilli are capable of stepping in at either guard position.

“It is our goal to compete each night and to improve from last year,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “With 10 returning players, we feel our experience will help us to better prepare for the season and compete against the best in our league.”

King Philip

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens
King Philip had to battle injuries throughout head coach Amy Siggens’ first year in charge, including a late season injury to leading scorer Shannon O’Connor, but the Warriors are healthy coming into this season and with a year to get use to a new system, confidence is high that KP can make a push up the standings and fight for a postseason berth this winter.

O’Connor is the key piece returning for the Warriors. A four-year varsity player who has been recruited by Div. I college programs, O’Connor gives KP a consistent scorer and someone who will draw opposing defenses. Senior Julia Leroux will be back at the point and running the KP offense, while junior Faith Roy is the team’s best outside threat and has developed as a ball-handler who can score in a variety of ways. Sophomore Emma Glaser, who battled injuries throughout her freshman season, will add versatility to the lineup and can play multiple positions and her classmate Courtney Keswick is a newcomer to watch in the backcourt.

The Warriors will also have strength in the post with senior Catherine Cummings providing a solid presence on the glass and junior Faye Veilleux giving KP length and athleticism at the forward position. Newcomers like junior Taylor Butler and returning senior Kendall Mason will give added depth and strong play on the defensive end of the floor.

There is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding our team this year with our sights on continued growth and improvement upon our overall record from a year ago,” Siggens said. “Our practices have been very competitive and I’m encouraged by our team’s attitude and overall interest in getting better. I like this team a lot and I look forward to the challenge of helping each girl reach her maximum potential.”

Mansfield

2017-2018 Record: 20-6
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South final.
Coach: Mike Redding
After three straight league titles and four trips to the Div. 1 South semifinal in the past four seasons (including back-to-back finals), Mansfield has been one of the most consistent teams in the Hockomock League, but the Hornets enter this season trying to replace Meg Hill, who scored more than 1,000 points and pulled down more than 1,000 points in her stellar career. With 10 seniors and loads of athleticism, this might be a very different looking Mansfield attack, but one that has the potential to keep the Hornets right back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and capable of making another deep tournament run.

The Hornets have been known for slowing the ball down and running intricate sets, but this team is suited for getting up and down the court as quickly as possible, highlighted by senior guard Mady Bendanillo, one of the quickest players in the Hock. Senior forward Maggie Danehy has emerged as a strong interior scorer and someone who can control the glass, but she is also someone who can run like a guard and get out on the break for easy baskets. Seniors Sydney Mulkern and Erin Daniel add wing scoring and are both solid shooters who can spread the floor and open lanes to the basket.

Athletic senior forwards Emily Vigeant and Steph Kemp can outrun many of the guards in the league and senior point guard Kara Bendanillo is another speedster who can push the ball off makes or misses. Sophomore Ashley Santos saw time last year as a rookie and adds to the frontcourt depth and versatility, while junior Becca Hottleman will be back to give Mansfield another option at guard.

It is a different feel to the lineup but one that Mansfield coach Mike Redding feels can be effective. He said, “We need to rebound as a team and must change our style to up-tempo with defensive pressure/fast breaks and play to our strengths (athleticism and depth).”

Milford

2017-2018 Record: 13-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central quarterfinal.
Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford coach T.J. Dolliver brings back six players from the team that not only reached the state tournament last season but also went on the road and beat Burncoat handily, the program’s first playoff win since 2001. The problem for the Hawks is that almost the entire rotation from last year’s team has graduated, including 1,000-point scorer Kate Irwin.

While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hawks, Dolliver sees it as an opportunity for players to step into new roles and establish themselves as starters and as regular contributors. The lone senior back from last year is forward Grace Risio, who Dolliver said made a difference when she was given the opportunity last year, and sophomore guard Jillian Michelson saw some time in the backcourt as a rookie.

The Hawks will have eight sophomores on the roster this season, so it is clear that Milford is going to try and build with youth, similar to several teams from last year. Among the players from last year’s roster, forwards Katie Maietta, guard Emma Lawrence, and forward Carly Ferreira all got time as freshmen and could see those minutes increase significantly this winter.

Dolliver said, “With our entire rotation graduating last year, there are a lot of opportunities waiting for everyone in the program. It will be exciting to watch who emerges within the group and elevates their game to compete at the varsity level.”

North Attleboro

2017-2018 Record: 4-16
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Derek Herber
Last year was a tough transition season for the Rocketeers, as North Attleboro moved on from a number of players who were starters for several years and incorporated a number of new, young faces into the lineup. North had a better second half to the season and will try to build on that this winter with a more experienced group of players.

Senior Julia Feid is back on the wing and is North’s top returning scorer, coming off a season in which she averaged more than nine points per game. Fellow seniors Liz Smahi and Emma Noreck will add leadership in the backcourt and try to set the direction for the team this year. Junior point guard Olivia Forbes, who was on the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team last season, will be back to get the offense going and provide strong defense on the perimeter. Junior Eliza Dion also returns to add rebounding and interior scoring for a team that can’t count on a lot of height in the paint.

The North offense improved over the course of last season with the addition of sophomore Amanda Kaiser (8.6 points per game) and junior Julia Kleczkowski (40 percent from three-point range), who can both fill it up from the outside and who are both willing to take any shot that presents itself. Several newcomers will fill out the roster with the potential of adding important minutes over the course of the season, including sophomore Lydia Santos and Siobhan Weir.

“We will rely on Julia Feid to be our first option on offense and the sooner we can develop a consistent second option will be a factor in the early part of the season,” said North Attleboro coach Derek Herber. “The inside scoring option will hopefully be Eliza Dion, while both Amanda Kaiser and Julia Kleczkowski showed an ability to stretch the defense with their outside shooting in limited time last year.”

Oliver Ames

2017-2018 Record: 16-6
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal.
Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames will be making a transition this year following the graduation of Kayla Raymond, who was a two-time HockomockSports.com First Team performer and last year’s league MVP (and is already a three-time Rookie of the Week at Stonehill College), but the Tigers have a number of returning players to try and make up for Raymond’s production on both ends of the floor and make another run at a league title.

Senior Alex Sheldon grew in confidence over the course of last season and became a double-double machine by the end of the year, dominating on the glass and improving her finishing around the rim. Junior Erin Holberg emerged last year as a strong scorer on the perimeter with her touch from the outside and ability to take defenders off the dribble. Junior Meg Holleran is in her third season on varsity and is a tough, physical defender who can knock down shots from the outside.

Sophomore Caroline Flynn had a strong freshman season, playing several positions (from point guard to small forward), crashing the boards, and showing off decent range. The return of senior Sadie Homer will add energy on both ends of the floor and give the Tigers another strong outside shooter to stretch the floor, while senior Ally Scolnick came off the bench last season to add another shooter to the OA offense.

OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook said of the experienced returning players, “They will lead the youngest team OA has put on the court in quite a long time. We are looking towards gaining valuable game experience and coming into to our own as the season progresses.”

Sharon

2017-2018 Record: 2-18
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Sanda Lombardi

It was a tough winter for new Sharon coach Sandra Lombardi, as the Eagles struggled to a two-win season, but five of their losses were by 10 points or fewer and they return all but one player from last season’s team. With a year to get acclimated to Lombardi’s system, an experienced roster of returning players, and several newcomers, Sharon has its sights set on getting into the postseason for the first time since its run to the Div. 2 South final in 2013.

Sharon returns its leading scorer and playmaker in senior Emma Eberhardt, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team last season, and she will once again be the focal point of the offense, as well as one of the team’s leading defenders. Eberhardt’s versatility as a wing player should open things up for junior guards Kaitlyn Wallace and Ally Brown, who will both fill in as ball-handlers after the graduation of Miranda Cheung. Wallace will extend defenses with her shooting from the outside and Brown adds energy to the backcourt defense.

Senior guard Bridget McManus will add depth and junior forward Telishya Herbert provides a strong presence in the paint. Junior Olivia Langol-Leonard added frontcourt depth and was active on the glass in her time on the court, while senior forward Evanjuline Elisma can score in transition and adds another solid wing defender.

“We only lost one player due to graduation,” said Lombardi. “We have the entire team back and we added some height. I’m excited to see what the season brings. The girls are working hard and our goal is to qualify for the postseason.”

Stoughton

2017-2018 Record: 13-9
2017-2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South quarterfinal.
Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton started last season with five straight defeats and only one win in the opening eight games, but the Black Knights turned things around with a vengeance, winning 11 of its final 12 games of the regular season and winning its opening game of the state tournament. Stoughton’s only two losses in its final 14 games of the season were to state champion Foxboro. That is a lot of momentum for the Black Knights to carry into this year.

It may be a little different look for Stoughton this winter after the graduation of Val Whalen and Jordan Motley. Instead of being a team that dominates the paint, there will be a host of guards and wing players who can still battle on the glass, but will bring energy and tenacity on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Junior Aliyah Wright is back as the team’s point guard and her length makes her a factor guarding multiple positions. Senior Lindsay McDonald adds versatility as a combo guard and sophomore Sydnee Hyacinthe is a dynamic guard and stretches defenses with her ability to shoot from the outside.

While there are a lot of familiar faces returning for the Black Knights, there are several players who will have more responsibility this year and the potential to make big contributions. Junior Lexi Baptista defends well at the forward position and gives a different look on the post, while seniors Hailey Egan and Heather Maddalena will add extra toughness to the backcourt. Junior Shyanne Trinh is still battling an injury at the beginning of the season, but she will give Stoughton a big scoring boost when she returns.

“This season will be all about our effort, energy and enthusiasm on defense,” said Stoughton coach Charmaine Steele Jordan. “The Black Knights will be most successful when we put in work on the defensive end and finish each play with a Black Knights rebound.”

Taunton

2017-2018 Record: 7-15
2017-2018 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Walter Harrigan
Taunton started last winter well and had the potential for making a return to the state tournament, but injuries slowed things down for the Tigers and they missed out on the postseason. While the year didn’t end the way they would have hoped, a number of younger players were given valuable varsity experience and there are a number of returning players ready to make an impact.

Senior Lily Patneaude will be the player to watch for the Tigers, as the team’s leading scorer from last year. After battling an injury down the stretch, her return gives Taunton a consistent primary offensive weapon and takes some of the scoring pressure off her teammates. Senior point guard Alexa White is also back to provide leadership, energy, and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor. Sophomore Kelsey White showed flashes as a rookie of being the secondary scorer that Taunton needs, with her ability to knock down shots from the outside and take defenders off the dribble.

Even with a year of experience, Taunton is still a relatively young team. Sophomores Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will provide athleticism from the forward positions and give Taunton effort in the paint, while sophomore Tori DaRose, and freshmen Abby Souza (who saw brief minutes as an eighth-grader last season) and Braeley MacDonald give the Tigers depth off the bench.

“We have great group of enthusiast student athletes consisting of senior leadership, youth, athleticism, and talent,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “This team is looking forward to a fun and exciting season.”

Jerrier and Bulldogs Pull Out Big Win at Taunton

Canton girls basketball
Canton senior Hannah Jerrier (45) scored 25 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead Canton to an important road win at Taunton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Downs Nets 100th Win as Foxboro Beats Taunton

Foxboro girls basketball
Foxboro senior Ashley Sampson (23) watches one of her first half three against Taunton. Sampson finished with a game-high 26 points. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

White Jumper Seals Narrow Win for Taunton

Taunton girls basketball
Taunton junior guard Alexa White (3) sang the national anthem prior to the game and sank the game-winning jumper with eight seconds remaining to beat New Bedford. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview
The girls’ basketball season is about to tip off and we’ve got capsules for each of the 12 teams that are looking to bring home Kelley-Rex and Davenport division titles. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017-2018 Hockomock Girls Basketball Preview

Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 16-8
2016-2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Marty Crowley

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.”

Canton

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!”

Foxboro

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.”

Franklin

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

2016-2017 Record: 7-13
2016-2017 Finish: Missed postseason.
Coach: Amy Siggens

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.”

Mansfield

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.”

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

2016-2017 Record: 18-7
2016-2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal.
Coach: Derek Herber

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.”

Oliver Ames

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.”

Sharon

2016-2017 Record: 6-14
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Sandra Lombardi

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.”

Stoughton

2016-2017 Record: 8-10
2016-2017 Finish: Missed Postseason.
Coach: Charmaine Steele-Jordan

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.”

Taunton

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.”

Bulldogs Offense Clicks Into Gear Against Taunton

Canton girls basketball
Canton sophomore guard Maggie Connolly scored 10 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Bulldogs scored a season-high 63 points in a win against Taunton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


CANTON, Mass. – Canton has shown flashes of improvement on the offensive end this season, putting together strong stretches that kept the Bulldogs close with perennial powers like Franklin, Mansfield, and North Attleboro. While there have been good patches, Canton had only reached 60 points once this year, against Sharon, before Friday night.

The Bulldogs clicked on offense for four quarters against visiting Taunton, including a 20-point second quarter, had 10 players get on the score sheet, and had a season high for points in a 63-47 victory.

“We kind of have had spurts throughout the whole year where we show signs of being a good offensive team,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette, “but stretching it over four quarters has been the issue…Today, was all about execution.”

The Tigers had gotten off to a strong start to the game, building an 11-4 lead early on behind five of Lily Patnaude’s game-high 24 points and four from Hannah Moniz. Canton rallied with the final six points of the first quarter to close the gap to just one and had five players with two points apiece in the first, including a layup from Erin Devine, set up by Maggie Connolly.

MacKenzie Handrahan (eight points, nine rebounds) scored on a rebound to start the second and Patnaude buried her second three. Canton scored six straight to take the lead, including a three-pointer by Jess Powers, who was playing her first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury suffered during lacrosse season.

Abby Kingman knocked down a three to regain the lead at 19-18, but the Bulldogs closed out the half with 12 straight points to go ahead to stay. Taunton struggled against Canton’s height, particularly when Handrahan went to the bench with her third foul early in the second.

“It was a close game and we need her in there,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We need her leadership and just her hustle and determination and I thought we lost it when Mackenzie went out and we couldn’t regain it.”

Hannah Jerrier scored to give Canton back the lead and then assisted on a layup by Connolly (10 points, 14 rebounds), who added a jumper and pulled down eight boards in the first half alone.

“It’s hard to remember that she’s a guard because she’ll rebound more than anyone on our team, or on their team,” said Choquette. “She missed down here, was the last one down here, and raced back to block the girls’ shot. Her greatest attribute is she never gives up on a play; she’ll never give up for one second.”

Jerrier also assisted on a basket for Casey Shea (six point) in the second quarter, one of 18 assists for the Bulldogs on the night.

Choquette said of the ball movement, “We don’t try to put bigs in one spot or guards in one spot. It’s a motion-based offense where everyone has to be in the right positions and no matter where you are it’s fine for everyone to go.”

Canton kept pulling away in the third quarter, opening the lead out to 18 heading into the fourth. Jerrier was the key to the attack with nine of her team-high 19 in the third. Jerrier had all but five points in the paint (the other five were at the line) and Canton continued to get the ball into the paint, either off rebounds or over the top of the Taunton defense.

“They’re size absolutely killed us,” Harrigan admitted. “Many times we’d have them boxed out and they’d go right up and they’re just so much bigger than us. Give them credit, they were able to rebound well and that was really the difference in the game.”

Patnaude tried to keep the Tigers in the game in the second half, scoring eight points in each of the third and fourth quarters. Harrigan called it a “breakout” game for the sophomore.

“Lily came on strong and we’ve been waiting for that,” he said. “She’s been struggling a little bit this year, but this was a breakout game for her and we’re going to see a lot of good things from her going forward.”

The Canton offense continued to be unstoppable in the fourth. On back-to-back possessions, Shea popped out to the high post and hit Emma Murphy on back-cuts across the baseline for layups. Jerrier added six more in the fourth and Lindsey Barrett and Molly Ludwig came off the bench to knock down jumpers.

Choquette said, “I think a lot of it comes from playing really good defense. They like being aggressive, they like jumping out, they like trapping. When we’re playing defense like that and the excitement of being at home with the crowd and the band, all of that led to a really nice win.”

Canton (3-9, 2-8) will try to keep the momentum going on Sunday against Sharon at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Taunton (0-14, 0-10) will try to bounce back on Tuesday against Stoughton.

Girls Basketball: 2016-17 Kelley-Rex Division Preview

Kelley-Rex Preview
King Philip’s Shannon O’Connor (32) and Taunton’s Abby Kingman (1) are two returning players hoping to give their teams a shot at the postseason this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Kelley-Rex Girls Basketball Preview

ATTLEBORO

2015-16 Record: 21-3 (14-2)
2015-16 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 South quarterfinal
Head Coach: Rick Patch

The Bombardiers came within one game of winning their first Hockomock League title last year and despite the loss of 2015-16 Player of the Year Emily Houle to graduation, Attleboro comes into this season as one of the favorites in the Kelley-Rex again this winter.

One reason for the high expectations for the Bombardiers is senior forward Sarah Deyo. The Southern New Hampshire-commit comes into the season just 68 points shy of 1,000 for her career and is a matchup nightmare for the opposition with her ability to score in the paint and from the outside. Fellow senior Julia Strachan returns from a knee injury that cost her all of last season and the Adelphi-commit adds another strong shooter and rebounder to the front line. The Bombardiers are loaded at the forward position with junior Sam Pierce coming back after a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her average nearly a double-double.

While the strength of the Bombardiers is in the post, Attleboro has experience in the backcourt with senior Mish Logie and sophomore Jordyn Lako returning as the primary ball-handlers and strong on-the-ball defenders. Juniors Grace Mayer and Kim White will add depth in the backcourt off the bench. Guard Liv McCall is another who could contribute this season, among a group of six freshmen that will be on the varsity roster.

“We are very excited about our program and how its progressed over the last three seasons,” said head coach Rick Patch, “and the positive, entitled-to-nothing culture we have established that best represents ‘Blue Pride’ and the Attleboro community.”

FRANKLIN

2015-16 Record: 13-8 (10-6)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central quarterfinal
Head Coach: John Leighton

Franklin has been consistently one of the top programs in the league and despite losing a strong group of seniors, the Panthers are once again in the mix for a league title and a return to the Div. 1 Central tournament.

Leading the way this season is a core of five experienced seniors that offer Franklin a good balance of interior and perimeter scoring. Carli Koffinke is in her third year on varsity and is a threat from the outside, taking advantage of the Panthers’ drive and kick style of offense. Point guard Margaux Welsh will take over the primary ball-handling role and will be expected to get the offense going. Izzy Faught and Grace McDermott will add depth in the backcourt and forward Erin Skidmore adds athleticism and quickness in the paint.

In order to stay consistently competitive, the Panthers have always been able to count on new players coming in to refresh the roster. This winter will be no different with junior forward Kate Morse in her first year on the team as well as sophomore point guard Shannon Gray and three-point threat Bea Bondhus, who had a team-high 11 points in the season opener. Freshmen Ali Brigham and Megan O’Connell will add to Franklin’s front-court depth.

“With so many younger and newer players, we are hoping to build team chemistry and improve each and every day,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “We are very encouraged with our depth and will lean on our seniors for leadership.”

KING PHILIP

2015-16 Record: 6-14 (4-12)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Martin Crowley

Under head coach Martin Crowley, King Philip has been a very tough team to play against, focused on high-pressure defensive effort and not letting up from the opening tip to the final whistle. This year, the Warriors are hoping to get a little more consistency on the offensive end to match that defensive intensity.

KP will not lack for athletes this winter beginning with returning starter Shannon O’Connor, who emerged as a potential scoring threat on the wing as a freshman last season. Classmate Julia Leroux also impressed in her rookie season and they are already go-to players on the offensive end. Junior forwards Hadley Zolak and Christina Hathaway and senior Courtney Kelleher will give additional scoring and rebounding as athletic forwards that can battle in the paint and get out and run the break.

There is also a youth movement at KP this year with a strong, athletic freshman class that has already put in a standout soccer season this past fall and is ready to contribute to the basketball team as well. Chloe Layne has stepped right in and will be an instant contributor at the point guard position and will be joined by classmate Faith Roy on the varsity roster.

“Youth will be served,” said Crowley, “however our goal is the same it is every season whether you have a veteran team or not and that is to qualify for the tournament in what I believe is the most competitive league in the state.”

MANSFIELD

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (15-1)
2015-16 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Redding

The Hornets are coming off the program’s first ever Hockomock League title, edging Attleboro in the final game of a dramatic league campaign, in front of arguably the biggest crowd to watch a game (male or female) in the league last season. This year, Mansfield has the challenge of trying to defend its title despite losing eight seniors from last season.

Mansfield’s title defense begins with senior guard Jen Peel, who has been limited by an injury in the preseason and will be moving from the point to the off-guard position this year. She is one of the best playmakers in the league and will have junior center Meg Hill to find in the half-court. Hill is a dominant force on both ends of the floor and should expect to get even more touches this year and needs to be aggressive looking for her shot.

The Hornets will have plenty of size beyond the 6-foot-3 Hill. Senior Olivia Broyles and junior Maeve Carney are both over six feet tall and sophomores Maggie Danehy and Emily Vigeant are just under six feet. Sophomore twins Mady and Kara Bendanillo will add speed to the roster with Mady having the experience of playing time as a freshmen, including a start in the South semifinal against Bishop Feehan. Junior Ann Maher is another player that can be expected to take on a bigger role this year at the shooting guard position.

“We may be more athletic than a year ago and we’ll run as much as we can and press more than we did a year ago,” said head coach Mike Redding. “It should be fun and with seven sophomores in our top 11 we should get better and better as they get experience and confidence.”

OLIVER AMES

2015-16 Record: 21-4 (13-3)
2015-16 Finish: Won Div. 2 South title
Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook

Oliver Ames is coming off a remarkable 2015-16 season that saw the Tigers reach the 20-win mark, claim the Davenport division title, make a run to the Div. 2 South title and a chance to play at the TD Garden, and celebrate the career of head coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook, who became the state’s all-time career leader in wins (finishing the season with 645). This year, OA will face the challenge of trying to match that level of success while taking on a new division after being moved into the Kelley-Rex.

The key to the Tigers putting in league title fight is junior forward Kayla Raymond, who is one of the most talented players in the Hock and one of the toughest match-ups with her combination of size, speed, shooting touch, and handle. Raymond will get help from senior guard Hannah Carroll, who became one of the team’s top shooters from the perimeter and can stretch opposing defense. Senior Niyera Mitchell is coming back from an off-season injury and has the size and touch to be a strong performer on both ends of the court.

OA lost only two seniors to graduation but then also lost shooting guard Francesca Calabraro to a knee injury during the soccer season. Senior Abby Reardon will be one of the backcourt players that will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack, while Clement-Holbrook will be hoping for senior Brenna Burkett and junior Sadie Homer to provide a scoring touch at the forward position.

“Moving to the Kelley Rex will be a tremendous challenge for us,” said Clement-Holbrook. “Our goals are the same as before: Compete to qualify for the tournament, challenge for the Hock title and go as deep as possible in the tournament.”

TAUNTON

2015-16 Record: 4-16 (2-14)
2015-16 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Walter Harrigan

Taunton is coming off a tough year in which the Tigers only managed four wins, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get valuable varsity experience and Taunton will be hoping to have it pay off with seven returning players on this season’s roster.

One of the exciting younger players that emerged last year was Lily Patneaude, who showed off athleticism and a range of offensive skills as a freshman. Junior Hannah Moniz is another wing player that can provide scoring off the dribble or from the perimeter. Junior MacKenzie Handrahan will add rebounding and defense on the post and eighth grader Sonya Fernandes could be a newcomer to watch on the Taunton front line.

The back court has a mix of experience and youth led by senior guard Abby Kingman, whose ball-handling and speed will be vital. Kingman’s classmate Jess Regan is returning after missing her entire junior year to an injury and will offer a steady hand at the point guard position. Junior Dominique Bradley and sophomore Alexa White will add depth to the guard positions.

“Taunton has a combination of experience and youth,” said head coach Walter Harrigan, “along with some skill and athleticism that has the makings for a fun and interesting year.”

Lacroix Sparks King Philip’s Comeback at Taunton

KP girls basketball
KP senior Jen Lacroix scored all 12 of her points in the second half to help the Warriors bounce back and beat Taunton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – After scoring just three points in the second quarter and nine points in the first half, King Philip needed someone to provide an offensive spark and give the Warriors a lift to try and erase a 12-point deficit.
In the second half, senior guard Jen Lacroix gave KP the boost it needed, scoring all 12 of her points after the break and the Warriors pressure defense forced 19 second half turnovers to turn the deficit into a one-point win on Friday night at Taunton.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” said KP coach Marty Crowley, who noted the improved press break and different offense used against the zone. “We know our defense will keep us in games and tonight our offense picked up in the second half.”
“Jen Lacroix was more than huge for us,” he added. “Jen had a great night shooting the ball.”
The Tigers had a lot of success in the first half running the offense through senior forward Alyssa Gibson, who scored seven of Taunton’s nine first quarter points and finished with a game-high 13. She was able to drive through the lane as well as score on offensive rebounds (14 boards on the night).
“They were running a box on Jordan [Wade],” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan, “and we had a play set up to work the bigs inside and thought it worked pretty well.”
Wade and Lily Patneaude each knocked down threes in the second, as KP sank into the lane to protect against Gibson’s offense, although the forward added another four points in the quarter. Meanwhile, KP managed only two made field goals in the entire first half – one each for Shannon O’Connor and Sam Madden (eight points).
The second half was a very different story. Harrigan said, “I thought they adjusted to it well in the second half. They just overplayed us better. They were quicker to the ball.”
Lacroix knocked a jumper, which was answered by Mackenzie Handrahan, then she hit another shot off an assist by Maddie Purdue, but that was also answered by a drive from Maggie Sullivan, as Taunton kept the lead at 12.
After a pair of free throws from Gibson made the score 27-15, KP closed the quarter on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to just a single point. Madden scored on a layup following a Lacroix steal, Lacroix buried a jumper, Riley Dalzell drove to the basket for a layup and O’Connor scored off a steal, as the Warriors used their defense to create offense.
“We didn’t really have the greatest energy in the first half,” said Crowley. “We talked about being on the road that you need to create your own energy and second half…they’re very smart kids and they know what they need to do.”
He added, “Steal, score and steal, score and fight your way back into the game and the confidence – you can pick your shoulders up a little bit. It was a great win for us.”
The Warriors also started to crash the boards as a team. Although Gibson would lead all players with 14 boards, Dalzell (10 rebounds), Christina Hathaway, and Hadley Zolak all contributed on the glass for KP.
“In order for us to be successful, we don’t have that kid who is going to go out there and score 18-20 a night for us, so we need everybody to do their job,” Crowley explained. “They played together as a team tonight and that’s the most important thing.”
Taunton scored the opening four points of the fourth quarter, Wade and Kia Pate each getting baskets, to extend the lead back to five but then KP took control with a 10-0 run into the final 10 seconds of the game.
Again it was Lacroix with the big shot, as she buried a three that stemmed the tide and cut the lead to two. Riley Dalzell made a pair of free throws that put KP ahead 32-31, its first lead of the game, and then Lacroix knocked down a jumper following an O’Connor steal and Dalzell found Hathaway for a layup that put the Warriors ahead 36-31.
“Their pressure hurt us quite a bit and that pressure defense turned into good offense for them,” said Harrigan. “I think we panicked a little bit.”
Patneaude (11 points) hit a three that made it a two-point game, but O’Connor stepped up to the line and made both free throws to ice it. Patneaude hit another from deep at the buzzer but it was not enough.
Taunton (3016, 2-14) will close out its season on Monday against New Bedford. King Philip (6-13, 4-12) wraps up its campaign at Lowell on Wednesday.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Taunton Rallies Late to Beat Milford, Earn First Win

Alyssa Gibson
Senior forward Alyssa Gibson (24) scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Tigers to their first win of the season on Tuesday night. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor

TAUNTON, Mass. – The Tigers have a young roster, one that has suffered through injuries and missing players during a difficult first half of the season, but on Tuesday night Taunton set aside the early season disappointments and found a way to get its first win of the season.

Senior forward Alyssa Gibson led the Tigers with 13 points and nine rebounds, including five points in the fourth quarter as Taunton rallied from from five points down to pull out a 44-40 victory over Milford.

“We needed to pick it up,” said Taunton coach Walter Harrigan. “We needed a win. These girls have worked hard, we’ve been decimated with injuries and all the stuff going on this year, so they deserved it.”

At the start of the fourth, Milford had built a 34-28 lead behind nine of Kate Irwin’s team-high 12 points, but good ball movement against the Hawks’ zone got the ball to Jordan Wade (nine points) and the senior guard knocked down her third three of the game to cut the lead to just three.

After MacKenzie Handrahan scored her only basket of the game on a rebound putback, Emma Liskov answered with a layup that made it 36-33. Raquia Pate (eight points, 10 rebounds) scored on another offensive rebound to once again bring Taunton back within one.

“I thought we did a good job right from the beginning,” said Harrigan. “I thought we boxed out really well; offensively we’re just a little stagnant and we really weren’t getting the ball movement.”

After an Irwin free throw, Gibson twice was fouled taking the ball to the basket and each time made three of four free throws to tie the game at 38-38 with 2:15 remaining. It was the first time the game had been tied since the opening quarter. On Taunton’s next possession, freshman Lily Patneaude scored on a runner to give Taunton the lead  and then Gibson scored on a layup to extend it to four points.

Harrigan said, “We were hoping to get one run. We were hoping it would come early, but luckily we were able to get it late in the game.”

Irwin raced up the floor to score on a layup and cut it back to two and the Hawks managed to create a turnover on the sideline, but Jill Burley missed both free throws after the steal and Taunton claimed the rebound. Milford was only 3-10 from the line in the fourth and also missed several chances close to the rim.

“We couldn’t put the ball in the hoop and we couldn’t rebound,” said Milford coach T.J. Dolliver, “so it was kind of a combination of all of it. If you can’t make easy ones, can’t make free throws, then you have to rely on tough shots and that’s not the way you want to go.”

Patneaude made a free throw for the Tigers to make it 43-40, but missed the second. The ball bounced free and Hanrahan again chased down the rebound to save the possession. Maggie Sullivan was fouled and made a free throw to essentially ice the game up four in the final seconds.

“It’s just tough to watch because sometimes we just don’t have any fight,” Dolliver remarked. “We need to get angry sometimes and actually battle, but it’s something we need to work on as a team and I need to work on as a coach and try to figure out a solution.”

Milford took a 20-17 lead into halftime. Irwin and Gill Valanzola each scored five points in the opening half, while Pate led the Tigers with six and Gibson had four.

In the third quarter, the Hawks went on a run and jumped out to their largest lead of the game at 26-17. Irwin was proving difficult to stop for the Tigers, especially when she got into transition. Junior forward Nicole Dahlgren also provided an offensive spark with six of her 10 points coming in the third. Senior Jill Powers also chipped in with three.

The Tigers battled back to stay in the game heading to the fourth. Abby Kingman hit a jumper just as it looked like Milford may pull away. Gibson scored four points in the quarter, Hannah Moniz (five points) hit a perimeter shot and Wade knocked down a big three that cut the lead back down to two points.

Powers answered with a bucket on the other end and the Hawks went into the fourth with a five-point lead. It could have been another game in which the Tigers came close but Taunton showed resiliency to close it out and get its first win of the season.

Harrigan commented, “We’ve been close in a couple, but they’ve got to continue to work hard. We know what we have. We’ve got some senior leadership and then we’re very young and we’re going to continue to improve as the season wears on.”

Taunton (1-9, 1-7) will try to start a winning streak on Friday when it hosts North Attleboro. Milford (4-7, 1-7) will look to bounce back when it travels to Davenport leader Oliver Ames.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Girls Basketball: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2015-16

Kelley-Rex girls basketball
The Kelley-Rex division looks to be a season long battle again this winter with all six teams hoping to make runs to the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Attleboro

2014-15 Record: 14-9 (10-6)
2014-15 Finish: Lost in Div. 1 South first round
Head Coach: Rick Patch

The Bombardiers were disappointed at a first round tournament exit last season and are using that as motivation as they enter the second season under coach Rick Patch. Attleboro enters 2015-16 as one of the favorites in the Kelley-Rex Division and are getting plenty of hype from opposing coaches who feel that the program can win its first Hockomock title.

Expectations are extremely high because Attleboro returns all but two players from last year. The keys pieces will be senior guard Emily Houle and junior forward Sarah Deyo, who were both among the league’s leading scorers a season ago and have had strong off-season playing for their AAU teams. Each is capable of reaching the 1,000-point plateau for their careers but, maybe more important, both also emerged as elite defensive players last season.

Attleboro did not lose much from last year and added a second transfer in as many years with Julia Strachan coming from division rival North Attleboro. The junior forward adds depth to the forward position, shooting touch from deep, and another strong rebounder. Last year point guard Fatima McDonald came into the program and the senior adds toughness to the lineup with more expected from her now that she has a year of experience under her belt.

Sophomore Sam Pierce and senior Emma Vlashi were productive forwards last season and freshman Jordyn Lako is a newcomer to watch for the Bombardiers. Patch said, “Everyone is excited…We have taken the ‘hard hat’ mentality in putting forth a blue collar, blue pride effort. Our players have really focused on becoming great teammates and leaders.”

Franklin

2014-15 Record: 19-6 (13-3)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 1 Central final
Head Coach: John Leighton

Most programs that lose all but one starter from a team that reached a sectional final would be thinking about rebuilding and the need for a transition year as new players get integrated. Franklin is counting on its system and the depth in its program to reload rather than rebuild this year.

The Panthers reload will benefit from a healthy Lauren Rudolph. The senior guard missed a large portion of last season with an injury sustained during soccer season and added a big scoring punch off the bench when healthy, This year, Rudolph will take on a much larger role as Franklin’s primary scorer, but she also gives them a boost defensively and is good passer in the Panthers’ dribble drive set.

The lone returning starter is senior Aubrie Kutil, who gives Franklin size and strength in the post on both ends of the court. Kutil will be aided by senior forwards Erin Skidmore and Caroline Maguire (who recovered from a volleyball injury to play in the opener) to crash the boards. Senior point guard Olivia Adiletto saw a lot of action last year and will take over as a starter. Junior Carli Koffinke is another player that will step into a bigger role as an offensive spark off the bench.

Newcomers like juniors Isabella Faught and Margaux Welsh will help Franklin make another run at the Kelley-Rex title. Leighton said, “We’re blessed to have depth. We have girls that buy into the system and are willing to play their roles, which is huge for us.”

King Philip

2014-15 Record: 5-15 (3-13)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Martin Crowley

King Philip has been a competitive program since Martin Crowley took over two years ago with its focus on aggressive defense, rebounding, and being difficult to play against. Although last season did not finish the way that the Warriors had hoped, more than one opposing coach has mentioned KP as a sleeper pick to make a run this year.

Leading scorer Emily Sullivan graduated and Crowley noted that “her scoring can’t be replaced with only one player,” but he feels that the pieces are in place to make up for that loss in production. Senior Maddie Purdue will take over at the point guard position this season and she emerged last year as a solid ball-handler and shooter and never shied away from contact as she took the ball to the basket.

Purdue will get plenty of help from a host of versatile and athletic forwards that gives KP plenty of rebounders and active defenders in and around the post. Senior captain Riley Dalzell showed the ability to step back and knock down shots and she will be joined by classmates Sam Madden, Jen Lacroix, and Olivia Dort.

Freshmen Julia Leroux and Shannon O’Connor will also be added to the mix, as Crowley looks to get the Warriors back into the postseason. He said, “I like where we’re at so far. I like our athleticism and we have good depth. We’re trying to get everyone involved.”

MANSFIELD

2014-15 Record: 19-5 (13-3)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South semifinal
Head Coach: Mike Redding

There is plenty of buzz about the Hornets this season, as Mansfield brings back arguably one of the deepest rosters in the league, including four of its five starters from last year’s team that reached the sectional semifinal. Head coach Mike Redding always says that the goal is to be in the mix for the title at the end of the season, but several coaches have noted that the Hornets could be a threat in Div. 1 South not just the Hock.

Mansfield has loads of experience on its roster. Senior guard Caroline Maher, a former HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, can stretch the defense with her range and is also an elite finisher on the break. Fellow senior Jackie Carchedi was last year’s HockomockSports.com Defensive Player of the Year and adds wing scoring for the Hornets. Seniors Julianna Newell and Sarah Mullahy, fresh off a league title in volleyball, add depth to the forward line.

Jen Peel is back to lead the Hornets as the starting point guard after leading the team in assists and tying for the team lead in points last year. Peel’s ability to get to the basket opens up room on the perimeter for the shooters and draws defenders away from sophomore center Meg Hill. Hill is a double-double threat every game and as she develops more offensively will be a primary weapon for Mansfield this season.

Add in senior guard Jen Kemp, sophomore Ann Maher, among others on the roster and the options are plentiful for Redding. He explained, “We need to work harder on defense, find a good balance on offense with our options and be playing our best ball in February…The parts are all there, we need to put them together and develop some chemistry on and off the court.”

North Attleboro

2014-15 Record: 17-6 (14-2)
2014-15 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South semifinal
Head Coach: Derek Herber

The graduation of Melissa Beaupre and Danielle Perron and the transfer of Julia Strachan to rival Attleboro have many people assuming that the Rocketeers’ run of three straight league titles will surely come to an end. However, even with the turnover on the roster, North Attleboro has the talent to stay in the mix again in its last season in the Kelley-Rex (for at least four years).

One of the main reasons for optimism is the return of junior guard Ashley Ahern, who flirted with the option of transferring to prep school, but returned to North at the start of the school year. North coach Derek Herber called Ahern’s decision to stay “great not only for the team but for the league.” Ahern gives the Rocketeers a primary scorer at the two guard position and another solid ball-handler on the perimeter.

Joining Ahern on the perimeter will be junior point guard Samantha Taggart and junior Emily Schromm, who will be the third guard in the rotation. The strength of the Rocketeers this season is in the post with senior forward Emily Peters providing leadership and toughness and juniors Caroline Collard and Liz Morehouse adding scoring punch. Collard, in particular, had a breakout season as a sophomore and could be a player to watch offensively for North this year.

The losses from last season’s squad were important, but Herber brings seven players back and is bullish about what the Rocketeers can accomplish. “It’s not going to be helter skelter and run and gun like it was last year,” he said, “but we’re going to play good, solid man-to-man defense.”

Taunton

2014-15 Record: 9-13 (5-11)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Walter Harrigan

Taunton struggled with injuries early last season and got off to a sluggish start. As the Tigers got healthier, they finished the season with momentum and ended the year with nine wins. Taunton coach Walter Harrigan is hoping that the momentum will carry over to this winter and give Taunton a chance at getting back to the postseason.

Unfortunately, injuries have popped up again. Senior forward Abby Small, who Harrigan thought was poised for a great season, injured her knee in the soccer team’s playoff game at Wellesley and will be out for at least a while. Harrigan is hopeful that Small can get back on the court at some point this season and give the Tigers a boost. At the start of the season, the Tigers will turn to senior guard Jordan Wade and senior forward Alyssa Gibson to lead the way as both have been in the program for five years.

Junior point guard Jessica Regan will be “critical,” according to Harrigan, as she will get Taunton into its offense every trip. Fellow junior Abbey Kingman is another player that the coach expects to make a big jump this season. There are also seven freshmen and sophomores on the roster highlighted by sophomore wing Hannah Moniz, who at nearly 6 feet tall has the size to cause any team problems and has the athleticism to play on the perimeter or in the post.

Freshman Lily Patneaude could join Moniz in the starting lineup when she returns from an early season injury. Harrigan said, “I’m excited for the season. We’re not really deep, but we’re athletic. Our defense has really improved and I think we have a chance to sneak into states.”

For a list of 10 Players to Watch in Hockomock League girls’ basketball this season, click here