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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
D1 South: Mansfield 72, Weymouth 52

By Ryan Lanigan

MANSFIELD, Mass. -- Back on Feb. 19, Weymouth stunned the state by beating Mansfield on a buzzer-beater to earn a postseason berth.

Fast forward one week with the two teams meeting again, this time in the first round of the D1 South playoffs. This go around, there wasn't even a chance for a last second shot, as Mansfield dominated from start to finish on their way to a 72-52 win over the Wildcats.

Mansfield hit 10 first-half three-pointers, part of a 13-of-22 effort from beyond the arc, to jump out a 20-point halftime lead. They held that separation throughout the second half for a comfortable win.

"We hit shots," said Mansfield head coach Michael Vaughan on what the difference from a week ago was. "Obviously, we're a much different team when he make shots. I think we had 10 three's in the first half and it makes a big difference. They can't stay in that 3-2 zone that they do such a good job with. They're long up to and cut down a lot of passing lanes. I thought we took care of the ball better and I thought defensively we played better."

The Hornets didn't take long to hit from beyond the arc. Point guard Rocky DeAndrade hit his first of six first-half three's for the game's opening basket. Six of the Hornets' first seven field goals came from downtown on their way to a 20-11 lead after the first quarter.

It didn't get any easier in the second quarter as Mansfield's Ryan Boulter hit his second trey of the game to open up the second quarter, and scored nine straight Hornet points to build a 29-14 lead and forced a Weymouth timeout. Out of the timeout, though, DeAndrade gambled and came up with a steal and easy two, keeping the momentum with the Hornets. After the two teams traded baskets, DeAndrade then hit consecutive three pointers to extend Mansfield's lead from 39-18. Another DeAndrade three near the end of the quarter helped the Hornets head into halftime up 42-22.

After struggling to connect one week ago, Mansfield finished shooting over 50 percent from the floor, including nearly 60 percent from three-point range.

"I'd say that's a good day," Vaughan said. "I always say when you don't shoot well the next typically goes in your favor in terms of hitting shots. Guys stuck with it, we had a good couple of days of practice and the guys were up for the game and excited. It's just a matter of sticking to the game plan and limiting turnovers."

There wasn't much Weymouth could do, as they tried variations of their 3-2 zone. But with four players continuously on the floor that could connect from deep, they were forced to take their chances.

"They had what, 13 or 15 three's," said Weymouth head coach Jim Dolan. "They're a great team and when a team shoots like that, it's hard. our kids never quit and they kept battling. They were getting bloody lips and twisting ankles but we never quit and I'm so proud of our kids. What's tough is that we don't have practice tomorrow. They kept shooting and shooting and shooting. They're a great team and we tip our caps to them and we wish them well."

It ended up an even second half, with both teams scoring 30 points but the deficit that Mansfield created in the first half was too much for Weymouth to come back from.

Weymouth finishes the season 11-11 with the loss. Dolan called this "the best group of kids" he's been around after the team's win over Attleboro, and his eyes watered on Wednesday night talking about this season.

"Our kids, I'm really proud of them," he said. "It's a great group of kids and it's tough that we don't have practice tomorrow."

The Hornets know that they can't ride just their hot shooting throughout the playoffs, as they experienced in last year's state finals against Putnam.

"Now its a new season and last year we learned a valuable lesson in the tournament," Vaughan said. "If you don't shoot well, a team can beat you in a 43-43 fist fight. I want to try and find other ways to score when we're not shooting well."

Mansfield will now advance to host No. 11 seed Brookline on Friday after Brookline took down Taunton in double-overtime.