In the opening two contests, the Tigers have led nearly wire-to-wire but for the final seconds of each contest. North Attleboro buried the go-ahead three with 6.7 seconds to go in the season opener and Oliver Ames drained a triple with 8.5 seconds to play for its first lead on Wednesday night.
Taunton found itself in a similar situation on Thursday night, having led for the entire second half with visiting Foxboro mounting a comeback. This time, the Tigers never allowed the lead to evaporate and held on for a 58-52 win over the Warriors, who were playing in their first game of the season.
“That’s a really good win for us,” Dacey said. “[Foxboro] is better than the two teams we’ve played. Coming off back-to-back games, missing Danny MacDougall (sick), it’s a short bench and we’re playing guys that might not normally be playing. We got a little something from everyone.”
With very little varsity experience on the current roster (two seniors, both new to varsity), the Tigers felt like they let two wins slip through their fingers. With Foxboro pushing hard to complete the comeback, Taunton showed some mettle to earn the win.
Foxboro senior Brandon Borde (11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) converted off a Taunton turnover and then set up classmate Ryan Hughes (eight points) for an easy two on back-to-back possessions to cut the Tigers’ lead to 49-46 with just over two minutes to go.
Instead of allowing that momentum to carry over out of a timeout, Taunton sophomore Trent Santos (10 points) pulled up and sank a big three-pointer to answer with 1:44 to play. After trading turnovers, Taunton sophomore Tristan Herry (10 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) came up with a steal that led to an easy two and a 54-46 advantage with 1:02 to play.
Foxboro refused to go away as junior Kevin Gallagher (nine points, three assists) sank one of two free throws, senior Will Morrison (12 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals) picked off a pass that led to a three from Borde, and a full-court press resulted in an errant pass out of bounds by the Tigers to get the visitors the ball back.
Taunton got an important stop as Foxboro missed from downtown but the Tigers, holding a 54-50lead, missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Warriors missed another three attempt and both Herry and junior Tyler Stewart (14 points, 12 rebounds) sank their free throws to ice the game.
In the win, the Tigers had eight of the nine players that played score, and all nine players had at least one board to contribute to a 37-30 advantage on the glass.
“It has to take everyone,” Dacey said, as four Tigers reached double figures in scoring. “They all play hard, they all practice hard. They are a coachable group of kids that have been fun to work with.”
Taunton faced an early deficit (6-0 three minutes in and 9-6 with two minutes to go in the first) but took the lead by the end of the first quarter (13-9). The Tigers only fell behind one, at 19-18 with 2:51 left in the second, the rest of the way.
Any time the Warriors made it close in the second half, Taunton had an answer. The Warriors knotted the score 29-29 early in the third but Taunton senior Logan Lawrence finished through contact to regain the lead, sparking an 11-3 run.
During that run, Stewart converted in the post, junior Josh Lopes (10 points, four rebounds, three steals) had a steal for an easy layup, Stewart finished off a nice feed from Herry, and Santos drained another three for a 40-32 advantage late in the third.
Foxboro answered with a 7-1 burst between the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, Dylan Barreira (eight rebounds) battled for an offensive board and earned a free throw, Gallagher converted in the lane, Liam Devlin opened the fourth quarter with a basket on a nice pass from Morrison, and senior Donald Rogers scored off a turnover to make it a two-point game again at 41-39.
Sophomore Faisal Mass (five points, three rebounds) gave the Tigers a nice boost off the bench, coming in to convert an offensive rebound to help halt the Warriors’ momentum. Lopes followed with two, Herry sank two more free throws, and another finish from Stewart pushed the lead back to 49-42.
“I thought offensively it looked like our first game,” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “We were just sloppy and out of sync offensively, and Taunton’s defense had a lot to do with that. But I thought early on we had too many sloppy turnovers with guys trying to do too much early and we couldn’t find our rhythm. Game speed and game atmosphere is obviously different than practice but it was good to get this first one under the belt, and I think we’ll get a lot better moving forward. At Taunton is a pretty unforgiving opener, and give Taunton credit because they capitalized on a lot of our mistakes.
“But I’m proud of the guys that they hung around too. We trailed for most of the game but they hung in there and fought to the end and put ourselves to maybe steal it down the stretch. I thought our defense was good overall but [Taunton] had some timely shots that broke our momentum.”
Herry scored seven of his points in the second quarter and Lopes netted half of his total in that frame to help Taunton take a 29-24 lead at halftime. Juniors Kedrick Santos, Nigel Choate, and William Rowan all came off the bench to provide valuable minutes in the first half.
Both Morrison and Gallagher had a pair of triples to make up half the Warriors’ first half scoring while Devlin came off the bench and had two blocks.
Taunton boys basketball (1-2 Hockomock, 1-2 overall) is back in action on Saturday when it takes on Bishop Stang at New Bedford High School. Foxboro (0-1, 0-1) is back in action against Bishop Feehan on Monday.