BOSTON -- Forgive the Mansfield boys’ basketball team for appearing human in stretches of its non-league matchup with BC High on Sunday afternoon.
After earning double-digit wins over Hockomock League foes Taunton and Milford on Friday and Saturday, respectively, No. 10 Mansfield struggled early against the Eagles, who came out firing from the opening tip.
The Hornets fell behind 10-6 early, as BC High’s zone offense stirred up trouble for the team’s offense. Eventually Mansfield figured out a way to beat the Eagles’ stingy defense, however, as the visiting Hornets rallied to earn a 84-69 win after making a dozen shots from behind the arc.
“I thought we were so hesitant shooting,” said Vaughan of his team’s early struggles. “For a team that shoots a lot and has a lot of different people that get shots off, in that first quarter that triangle and two sort of disrupted our flow. Guys who normally make shots weren’t hitting, (BC High’s defense) kind of took away from what we do well.”
It didn’t take Mansfield (16-2) long to find its stride. The visiting Hornets went on a 15-2 run to take a 21-12 lead when sophomore Philip Vigeant sunk a dead-center three-pointer with less than two minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Despite Mansfield’s shots starting to fall, BC High (5-9) did not back down. The Eagles went on a run of their own, as freshman Travis Evee’s jumper in the frame’s final seconds capped off a 9-0 run for BC High and tied it 21-21 after eight minutes of play.
Ultimately, the Eagles, who were led by senior Isaiah Bowman (26 points) and junior Jack Loughnane (17 points) were unable to contain Mansfield’s plethora of perimeter shooters. Senior Ryan Boulter finished with a team-high 24 points for the Hornets, while sophomores Philip Vigeant (17 points) and Matthew Ehrlich (15 points) each added crucial buckets to go along with 15 points from senior Michael Boen.
“We see that a lot with the schedule we play, which is why our record is what it is,” said BC High coach Bill Loughnane of Mansfield’s shooting ability. “Those guys hit the shots when they were open, they moved the ball well and were unselfish with each other, and every time they did that we paid.”
Boen & Boulter: The two senior captains have a history of providing the Hornets with a jolt when they need it the most, and Sunday’s victory was no different.
Boulter, who also led Mansfield with eight rebounds, scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half. The 6-foot-6 forward not only shined from behind the arc where he hit four three-pointers, but was also effective attacking the rim.
“He’s been doing it all year, he just finds ways to chip away and hit a big shot or get to the foul line,” said Vaughan. “But talk about a player who completed his game. He used to be a stand-still three-point shooter, and now he’s getting to the rim and the foul line. He’s becoming a very difficult player to defend and its fun to watch.”
Boen, who also grabbed seven rebounds in the win, scored nine of his 15 points in the second half. Although it wasn’t the senior’s best offensive performance of the season, Vaughan believes it’s the little things the 6-foot-4 forward does that make the biggest difference.
“Everything he does, it’s all a benefit,” said Vaughan of Boen. “He plays hard, he competes, he’s moving different guys, taking different tasks, rebounding the ball—it was a great performance from him. He doesn’t always have to score a lot, we can still be a quality team as long as he’s doing the other things.”
Three in a Row: Sunday’s win marked the eighth consecutive for Mansfield, who has yet to lose since falling to Brighton 71-69 on Jan. 19. The team dominated Taunton and Milford with 78-51 and 70-47 wins on Friday and Saturday, respectively, with its win over BC High putting the stamp on a huge weekend for the Hornets.
“We had two great teams, both potential Division 1 south opponents in Taunton and BC High with Milford in the middle,” Vaughan said. “It’s great that the kids responded, sometimes you worry about the mental fatigue that a game like that plays -- maybe that affected us a little bit in the first quarter -- but as the game went on I thought we got better and stronger and guys stepped up to make plays.”
Among those who stepped up was Vigeant, who came off the bench to bury five three-pointers against the Eagles.
“It’s a good three wins for us,” added Boulter. “I feel very confident in this team going forward. Our bench is finally stepping up, if they keep playing the way they’re playing I don’t think anyone can really stop us right now.”