D2 South: Bishop Feehan 73, Canton 56

ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- Bishop Feehan head coach Matt Freeman admitted he couldn't have scripted junior Frank Oftring's role in Friday night's game any better.

Oftring exploded for a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds to lead the top-seeded Shamrocks to a comfortable 73-56 win over Canton in the Division 2 South Quarterfinals.

Freeman said he had a clear message for Oftring in the days off between the Shamrocks win over Foxborough on Wednesday and their contest against Canton on Friday.

"I told him, 'If we can get the ball to you in places where you can do damage, you can absolutely be dominant on the interior against this team.' That's exactly what happened. I couldn't have scripted it any better the role he would have in this game."

The Bulldogs opened the game up in typical Canton fashion -- with a three-pointer -- but it was Oftring that answered on the other end, converting the layup and and-one to really set the tone for what would happen the rest of the game. Oftring finished with 12 points in just the first quarter alone as the Shamrocks raced out to a 25-9 lead.

"That's a very, very good team," said Canton head coach Ryan Gordy. "They have a lot of different weapons and a lot of different guys that can hurt you. It's an excellent ball club and they're well-coached. We had no answer, absolutely no answer for Oftring. The better team won tonight."

The Bulldogs made it interested with an 8-0 run in the middle of the second quarter, shrinking the Shamrock's lead to 11 at 31-20, but Oftring broke the run and sparked a Feehan one, scoring seven of Bishop Feehan's 14 points as the Shamrocks closed out the quarter on a 14-0 run and had a 45-20 lead at halftime.

"They were sitting in that extended 1-3-1 zone for a good position of the game," Freeman explained. "We worked on it in practice in the two days between. Because it was a little spaced in the middle of the floor, we wanted to try and get the ball in Frankie's hands and he could look opposite. When they collapsed there, we were able to get the cross pass or to the corner and we knocked down a couple of those. I think what really made the difference was with the movement, we were able to get guys to leave their feet and we could turn the corner and get into the lane and dish for easy layups or get fouled going to the basket."

The Shamrocks had little trouble on the offensive end of the floor and a big part of that was their ball movement. The team combined for 16 assists and often used an extra pass to find a wide open team for either an easy lay up or a open three.

"A lot of teams have been able to get the extra pass on us this year but they haven't had that extra option," Gordy said. "[Feehan] has a lot of weapons. We've done a good job all year of taking away team's weapons but they just had too many weapons."

Canton heated up in the third quarter, hitting four three-pointers and outscoring the Shamrocks 19-10 in the quarter to trail 55-39 heading into the final frame. After being shutout in the third quarter, Oftring dropped 11 points in the final frame, including a three that pushed Feehan's lead past 20.

Shamrock sophomore guard Mike Nelson has proven himself as a scorer but it was his defense that stood out. He was assigned the task of guarding Canton leading Sam Larson throughout the game and though Larson finished with a team-high 17 points, Nelson didn't allow many clean looks - if any at all - for Larson.

"He may have actually been the unsung here with his defense. We all know he can score but he's such an unselfish player and when he digs in on defense and slides the feet and cuts off driving lanes, he made Larson take very difficult shots."

Eight different Feehan players made a mark in the scorebook as David Carchedi chipped in with 10 points, Austin Burlone added seven points and both Nelson and Nick Botelho each had six points.

Canton senior Tristin Morris added 16 points for the Bulldogs and Ato Botsio chipped in with 12 points.

Bishop Feehan now advances to the D2 South Semifinals to face off against No. 12 seed Milton.