Taking Stock of the Hock: Girls Basketball 2015-16

Sarah Deyo
Sarah Deyo (32) has been one of the top scorers in the league this season and is one of the main reasons that the injury-hit Bombardiers have started 10-1. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

With nearly half of the games gone for all of the Hockomock teams, our editors Ryan Lanigan and Josh Perry take a look at where things currently stand for girls’ basketball.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Player of the Year?

Josh Perry – Attleboro has been snakebitten with injuries this season. Just two games in and Player of the Year candidate Emily Houle and senior starter Emma Vlashi were both knocked out with knee injuries (both have returned and been productive for the Bombardiers) and then in game three junior forward Julia Strachan went down with a season-ending injury. Despite losing three-fifths of the opening night starting lineup, Attleboro is currently 10-1 overall and just one game back of Mansfield in the Kelley-Rex standings.

Much of that success can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Sarah Deyo. The junior forward is second in the league in scoring with 18.2 points per game and has been a double-double machine even as teams turn all of their defensive focus on her. After missing a game due to an arm injury, Deyo returned to score 20 points in a big win over Taunton. Attleboro still has a chance of bringing home its first Hockomock title largely because Deyo has been able to carry the team during the first half.

Ryan Lanigan – Foxboro is just one game out of first place at the midway mark in a very tight Davenport Division race and a big reason has been because of the player of Ashley Sampson. The sophomore is third in the league in scoring with 15.6 points per game and has been a big player for Lisa Downs and the Warriors so far this season. Sampson has the ability to cut through defenses, which can open up a lot of looks for a young Warriors team that can really stroke it from deep. She’s also one of the better shooters in the league and is tough to get around defensively.

Who is the midseason girls’ basketball Underclassman of the Year?

Perry There are so many great choices from Kayla Raymond at Oliver Ames or Sam Pierce at Attleboro or Meg Hill at Mansfield, which is really just the tip of the iceberg for young talent in the league, but my pick right now has to be Foxboro sophomore guard Ashley Sampson. Coming off a breakout rookie season, Sampson grew a couple of inches in the off-season and seemed to grow even more confident in running the offense as well.

 

She is currently averaging 15.6 points per game and seems to be stepping right into the considerable hole left by the graduation of Kat Tamulionis. Sampson is the primary ballhandler and despite being the target of every team’s defensive game plan still manages to get to the basket and to find her teammates for open looks. She has also emerged as a strong on the ball defender, the spark for the Warriors run and gun style, and even a contender for Player of the Year.

Lanigan – Since I picked Ashley Sampson as my current Player of the Year, I’ll go in a different direction here and go with Attleboro’s Samantha Pierce as the top Underclassman at the halfway point. The Bombardiers have been ravaged with injuries but one of the few constants in the lineup for Attleboro has been Pierce. She can knock down shots from deep and is a very good rebounder, especially for just a sophomore. The combo of Pierce and Sarah Deyo make it hard for opponents to get much going at the basket but Pierce can also stop out and guard on the perimeter. When Attleboro has needed someone step up through its injury issues this year, Pierce has been a big help.

Midseason First Team

Perry
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Caroline Collard, North Attleboro
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Caroline Maher, Mansfield
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton

Lanigan
F – Sarah Deyo, Attleboro
F – Alyssa Piazza, Sharon
G – Ashley Sampson, Foxboro
G – Alecia Quinones, Stoughton
G – Jen Peel, Mansfield

What has been the biggest surprise this season?

Perry I think that everyone expected Stoughton to get a boost this year from the hiring of Charmaine Steele Jordan. One of the program’s best ever players and all-time leading scorers, she brings plenty of on the court experience and a renewed energy around the team, but it would have been hard to predict coming in that the Black Knights would be 6-2 at this point, with a win over Attleboro, and with Alecia Quinones leading the league in scoring at more than 20 points per game.

Stoughton is only a few wins away from qualifying for a return to the state tournament and is tied for the league lead with Oliver Ames. While things could get tougher for the Black Knights in the next couple of weeks (North, Mansfield, a rematch with Foxboro, and two games against OA are still left on the schedule) but to be in this position at this stage is still a great accomplishment and a big turn around for the program.

Lanigan – When we released our preseason Hock 5 rankings, we had Oliver Ames at No. 5. With a couple nice pieces back, we thought the playoffs would be within reach. As of this past week, we have them at No. 2 and not only is a playoff spot possible, but a Davenport title is a possibility. Laney Clement-Holbrook has the Tigers playing at a great pace and with strong leadership from Sam Bamford and Kaitlyn McCarthy, a lot of the younger pieces like Francesca Calabraro, Niyera Mitchell, Kayla Raymond and Hannah Carroll have been able to step up and make big plays. Although OA making a run for the division title and possibly a deep postseason run is my pick, we should never be surprised when OA has success with Laney Clement-Holbrook on the bench.

At this point, which team will be going furthest in the tournament?

Perry – There are a lot of teams that have the potential to make a run in the tournament this season. The Hockomock is one of the deepest girls’ basketball leagues in the state and certainly does a lot to prepare teams for the rigors of making a push in the postseason. However, D1 South is an absolute bear with the likes of Braintree and Feehan (the top two teams in the state), so the road is extremely difficult for Attleboro and Mansfield.

Oliver Ames is my pick right now for the team with the chance to go furthest as the Tigers look to have the balanced scoring and the defensive intensity to give teams in D2 South fits. Also, OA is coming off a solid win over Foxboro, which would probably be the second favorite to make a push for a return to the D2 South final.

Although I think OA is the team that will be go the furthest, keep an eye on Franklin in D1 Central. The Panthers have a habit of reaching sectional semifinals and after a big win over Holy Name in the season opener will have thoughts of challenging Westford, A-B, L-S, and Wachusett for the district title.

Lanigan – This is always a tough one and I truly believe that the Hockomock League is one of the toughest for girls basketball this season. Oliver Ames is likely to be a threat in D2 South and Franklin should be the most battle tested team in D1 Central.
But my pick is for Mansfield. The Hornets have faced a number of stiff tests so far this year and so far, they have come out on the winning side. They picked up wins on the road at North Attleboro, Oliver Ames and Franklin and then came home to beat Foxboro. Each time so far this season when you think that Mansfield might drop one to another team in the Hock 5, they have emerged victorious. They still have two big tests with Attleboro left and a date with a strong Stoughton team next week. If they can get a strong seed in the D1 South bracket, I can see them making a return trip to the South Semifinals.
If Attleboro can get healthy and avoid the injury bug, they will be another team to look out for in D1 South.

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Ryan Lanigan

Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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