Boston High School: Fawaz Mass

D1 South: Taunton 65, Catholic Memorial 50

February, 28, 2013

TAUNTON, Mass. -– After an entertaining, back and forth first quarter that ended with No. 7 Taunton up 13-10 on No. 10 Catholic Memorial, a tough battle throughout seemed to be in the forecast.

Instead, Taunton used the second and third quarters to showcase its half-court offense, shooting an impressive 17-for-25 from the field in those quarters to pull away from Catholic Memorial, finishing them off for a 65-50 win.

“We respect that program,” Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey said. “We communicated to the kids the tradition that that school has and how they play. They always play hard and they’re always disciplined. I think we transmitted it to them what to expect.”

Taunton used a 14-3 run to open the second quarter, paced by seven points from reserve guard Corey Green. Junior Gerald Cortijo added five points in the run, and scored a deep three later in the quarter to make it 34-20 Taunton.

“My team told me to just stay aggressive and shoot the ball every time I had a chance, that’s what I did.” Cortijo said. “Just one person has to get it going and it’s going to open up the court for everybody.”

Shaq Davis scored another deep three for Taunton to give them a 37-22 lead at the break. Taunton shot 8-for-11 in the second frame compared to Catholic Memorial’s 3-for-13.

“They just made some shots and we just a little drought offensively,” CM head coach Denis Tobin said. “We just had trouble putting the ball in the basket in the second quarter and they didn’t at all.”

The halftime break helped Catholic Memorial break out of their offensive woes briefly, but Taunton didn’t miss a beat either. The Tigers matched each of CM’s baskets and then some, increasing a 15-point halftime lead to a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“They shot the ball extremely well tonight,” Tobin said. “I give them a ton of credit. We wanted to try and slow them down some, and we did. They ran their half court offense tremendously and if we gave them an open shot, they made them.”

Cortijo tied for the team high with senior Anthony Parker with 14 points apiece. Green added 12 while both Davis and Fawaz Mass chipped in with nine.

“We made the rhythm three’s, which changed the way they looked at the game,” Dacey said.

Catholic Memorial outscored Taunton 14-7 in the final quarter, but was due in large part to the Tigers using the entire shot clock before firing up a shot.

Taunton will travel to play fourth-seeded Newton North on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Taunton came into the tournament boasting a 15-5 record, but was still in search of a big time win.

The Tigers lost to the South's No. 1 seed Mansfield Hornets twice, but only by a combined 10 points. They lost a one-point nail-biter to fifth-seeded New Bedford in late January, and then another one-point loss to the Whalers in an exclusion game just before the playoffs. They beat No. 9 seed Franklin on the road by two, but saw those same Panthers come in and beat them on their home court.

With their big win over Catholic Memorial, they might have found that confidence-boosting win they’ve been looking for.

“We know it’s playoff time,” Cortijo said. “We slacked a couple of games, but it was time to put it all together.”

With the confidence, it’s not only Cortijo, Davis, and Mass that are demanding defensive pressure. Senior Anthony Parker used his athleticism to his advantage, working his way to 14 points and eight rebounds.

“Anthony, when we find a mismatch, we go at it,” Dacey said. “He’s a matchup problem for people. He’s quick, he’s a leaper and when we have the matchup out there, that’s what we want.”

Parker’s athleticism was contagious, as the majority of Taunton is very quick.

“We’re a fast team, we like to run,” Cortijo said.

For Catholic Memorial, it wasn’t their most talented team they’ve had over the years, but Tobin made sure to credit their work ethic.

“This wasn’t the most talented team I’ve ever had, but it was by far the hardest working team,” Tobin said. “That’s a credit to the seniors, who day in and day out, gave more than 110%. They showed my younger guys, who are very talented, the amount of effort it requires to be successful.”

The Knights will lose captains Pat Hurley, Rich Lopez, and John McDonough, along with D.J. McClure and Chris Siggers to graduations.

They will return big man Gerard Adams -– who had a team-high 12 points and 10 boards –- and talented guard Guilien Smith.

Recap: No. 1 Mansfield 45, No. 20 Taunton 41

February, 8, 2013

MANSFIELD, Mass. –- Clinching a tournament berth was nice. Taking over the top spot in the statewide's statewide poll was a great honor. But, winning the league title on its home court was the only accomplishment that mattered to Mansfield on Thursday night.

As the ladder was pulled out and the players one-by-one climbed up to snip off their piece of the net, nothing was going to wipe the smiles off their faces.

The Hornets (17-1) wrapped up first-place in the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex division with a hard-fought and at times scrappy 45-41 win over the Taunton Tigers. It was Mansfield’s 12th consecutive win and finished a season sweep of Taunton (13-4), the division’s second best team.

Hornets head coach Mike Vaughan was understandably thrilled at winning another league title, the team’s third in four years.

“We’re excited,” he said. “It was our second goal. The first was getting in the tournament, the second was winning the league and we got it done.”

Junior guard Rocky DeAndrade led the way for the Hornets with 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers. In the midst of having a celebratory cupcake smeared on his face, he explained what the title meant to him.

“The offseason, a lot of the guys were down at the gym knowing that it would pay off. And it did,” said DeAndrade. “There’s definitely a tradition at Mansfield, winning three out of four times is really great. I played with the guys that started the whole thing as a freshman so right now as a junior it feels great. It’s an honor.”

Mansfield got off to a sluggish start as Taunton’s defense did not allow a point for almost five minutes. DeAndrade hit a three for the Hornets first points of the game and cut the lead to 4-3. That was to set a pattern for the game as both teams locked down defensively and neither team managed many open looks.

After managing only six points in the first quarter, Taunton found some rhythm in the second and scored 13. Senior forward Anthony Parker had seven of those points, including a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock that ended a 19-6 Hornets run. Brendan Hill matched Parker with seven of his own and Mansfield went into halftime with a 23-19 lead.

“We’re two of the better teams in the league defensively and when you play good defense it makes the offense look sloppy and that’s ultimately what happened tonight,” explained Vaughan about both team’s struggles to make shots.

He added, “They put just enough pressure on us that it bothered us but not enough that they were giving up backdoors or easy threes. When they did get in transition they were pretty quick to get back and protect the hoop.”

The offensive difficulties continued into the second half. Taunton tied the game at 29-29 on a pair of Fawaz Mass free throws, but junior Kevin Connor finished an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Hornets back the lead heading to the fourth.

Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey marveled at the defense that was being played by Mansfield.

“They’re very, very good defensively,” said Dacey. “We modified our offense, we tweaked it a little bit, but even going at what they were offering us we didn’t capitalize on that either. They chased us right out of our base offense.”

Mansfield built the lead up to as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter by getting a few baskets in transition. Hill had four of his 12 points in the final quarter, but missed all three free throws he took. The dagger for the Hornets was a corner three on the break by sophomore Ryan Boulter that made it 41-31. It was Boulter’s only basket of the game.

Dacey shrugged and commented, “I thought we did a decent job. I don’t think they got a whole lot of great looks either. You make a mistake with them and it’s three points.”

The Hornets could not relax after Boulter’s three because Mass kept bringing the Tigers back into the game. The senior guard scored 10 of his game-high 16 points in the final quarter. His finish in the lane for a three-point play and straightaway pull-up three-pointer pulled Taunton to 45-41.

“He makes things happen with his hustle and when you hustle, you can capitalize on opportunities and he was right there to do it,” remarked Dacey. “He’s been playing well of late.”

After a Hornets turnover, Gerald Cortijo missed the front end of a one-and-one and time ran out on the Tigers comeback.
Vaughan commented after the game that he hoped not to see the Tigers in the Division 1-South tournament.

He continued, “They match up well with us and they have unique personnel that they can match up with us and they’re physical. They rebounds the ball well, they’re well-coached, they do a lot of good things so we’re happy to get out of here at home and get the league wrapped up.”

Recap: Franklin 66, No. 15 Taunton 61

January, 30, 2013
TAUNTON, Mass. -- When the offense is bogged down and a team is struggling to create open looks, it is always nice to have a player that can take matters into his own hands and make baskets out of nothing. The Franklin Panthers (10-4) are grateful that they have that player in senior point guard Sam Bohmiller.

With the Panthers trailing 14-5 after the first quarter and the Taunton defense taking away the passing options, Bohmiller took over.

He scored 13 points in the second quarter (25 for the night) on a series of contested jump shots, baseline fallaways, and floaters in the lane. Bohmiller capped an incredible eight minutes with a buzzer-beating, step back three-pointer in the face of Taunton’s Fawaz Mass to tie the game at 27-27.

“The second quarter our offense wasn’t real good, but Sam made shots,” said Franklin head coach Dean O’Connor. “He’s making contested shots, fallaways, you know and he’s keeping us in the game.”

Franklin took over the game in the third quarter and held on to pull the upset over No. 15 Taunton on the road, 66-61, and move within a game of the Tigers in second place in the Hockomock’s Kelley-Rex division.

Taunton (11-3) jumped out to a 12-2 lead midway through the first half. Junior guard Gerald Cortijo knocked down two from beyond the arc and the Tigers were able to push the tempo. After a Franklin timeout, the pace dropped considerably and the Panthers halfcourt defense started to clamp down.

“They slowed us down,” remarked Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “They did a nice job of that. We didn’t get any easy stuff; I can’t recall an easy hoop all night long.”

Thanks to the heroics of Bohmiller, Franklin outscored Taunton 22-13 in the second quarter. In the third, it was junior Chris Rodgers’ turn to take over offensively.

Rodgers scored on a layup to start the half and give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 29-27. Mass answered for Taunton on the other end with an old-fashioned three-point play to take back the lead, but Rodgers was unstoppable and scored the next six points. He finished with 10 points in the quarter and 21 for the night.

O’Connor recognized the importance of Rodgers to the flow and spacing of the Panthers offense and is happy to see that the guard has gotten through the illness that held him back at the beginning of the season.

“It opens everything up, you know, for Sammy,” he noted. “He (Rodgers) was playing through itand he couldn’t score and I was like, ‘What’s wrong with Rodgers?’ Lately he’s been playing the way we expected, consistent double figure guy that rebounds the ball well.”

When asked if he was surprised at the ability of Rodgers to get to the basket for easy points, Dacey remarked, “I’m surprised and disappointed.”

He added, “We had to sit some people and bring some people in and the defensive continuity may have suffered but athletically if we do our job we should be fine. But we lose our mind here and there, not doing our job and it affects us.”

With Cortijo and senior forward Anthony Parker missing for the majority of the third quarter with foul trouble, Mass was forced to be more aggressive offensively. He had 10 points in the second half, a team-high 16 points for the game, and kept Taunton within 10 into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, Shaquille Davis started to create his own offense, but it proved to be too little, too late. Davis knocked down two three’s and had 11 points in the final quarter, but the Panthers offense was too balanced to allow the Tigers to make a run at the lead.

Jaquan James knocked down his second shot from deep and had six points in the fourth (nine for the game), while forward Patrick O’Reilly came up with five points and several offensive rebounds. Of course, Bohmiller also stepped up with nine points in the quarter and 5-6 shooting from the free throw line.

This was the second home loss in three days for the Tigers, after a last-second loss to New Bedford over the weekend. Dacey was disappointed with both the offense and the defense that the Tigers played on Tuesday night and let his team know after the game that they would need to improve.

Dacey said, “We didn’t have the discipline or patience to go to the second part of the offense. It broke down and they were there waiting for us either blocking a shot or taking a charge. They played good team defense.”

He added, “The two guards totaled 46 points. With the players that we have, we should be able to defend guards.”

Defense has always been a strong suit for O’Connor’s teams and he is happy to see the players buy into the scheme even if means more of the game being played in the halfcourt and at a slower tempo.

This was the sixth straight win for the Panthers. O’Connor chuckled when asked if this was the typical Franklin surge in the second half of the season. “You know, kids play in the summer and stuff but it still takes time to judge and to work out your rotations.”

“They’re a good team and to beat them here is a real good win,” O’Connor continued. “We’ve been playing well, but not sure how well and tonight we showed that we’ve come a long way. The kids are happy and I’m happy for them.”

Recap: No. 10 Taunton 74, Sharon 59

January, 22, 2013

SHARON, Mass. -– There are times when Taunton looks unstoppable offensively. The Tigers get into a rhythm, the defense creates turnovers, they get out on the break and into the lane, and it appears as though every shot is going to fall.

At the start of the third quarter in Tuesday night’s Hockomock League clash at Sharon, Taunton found one of those grooves. The Tigers scored the opening eight points of the second half and rattled off 21 points in 4 minutes and 17 seconds to break open what was, to that point, a tight game with the Eagles.

Sharon tried to fight back, getting as close as 12 points late in the third quarter, but thanks to that early second half surge, Taunton comfortably held on to a 74-59 win and improved to 10-1 on the season.

“They came out right away in the second half and upped it to 18-20 and we just never really recovered from that,” said Sharon head coach Bruce Jackman. “It was like a knock-out punch.”

Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey credited a defensive switch at halftime for creating turnovers and allowing the team to have a strong third quarter.

“We switched from a zone press to a man-to-man press and we can do that and we got the reaction, which was positive,” he said. “It opened up a little gap for us and then the game is played differently.”

Taunton senior guard Shaquille Davis sparked the second half outburst by knocking down a three-pointer, dishing to a wide open Gerald Cortijo-Pamilla for another three, and then finishing at the basket. Davis is beginning to find his scoring touch after a tough start to the season and, on Tuesday, led all scorers with 20 points.

“I was in a little slump at the beginning of the season, but I’m finally coming out of it,” said Davis after the game. “I was also trying to make my team better.”

The Eagles star player Brian Mukasa finished with 15 points, but he was forced to work for all of them against a rotation of Taunton guards, including Cortijo-Pamilla, Fawaz Mass, and sophomore Corey Green. Taunton held the high scoring guard to just 5-15 from the field and 2-6 from three-point range.

“We want to deny him the ball, which is pretty hard to do,” said Dacey about the plan for defending Mukasa. “We had three kids running at him all night long and, you know, he had to work for everything. I thought we played well tonight.”

Jackman noted, “Their guards are real good, they’re physical, and we’re just not as physical as they are right now. They’re very good and they’re very strong. We just couldn’t handle it.”

Taunton jumped out early with the first eight points of the game, but Sharon (7-5) dropped into a zone, which frustrated the Tigers and did not allow them to get out on the break. The Eagles battled back to end the opening quarter down just one at 13-12. The second quarter showed a much improved offensive effort from the Tigers following a dismal 3-14 shooting performance in the first. Taunton outscored Sharon 24-15 to open up a 10-point halftime lead. Davis had nine points at the half as did Sharon senior captain Kevin Bartas.

Senior forward Anthony Parker was strong again for Taunton, finishing with 16 points (10 in the second half) and 6 rebounds to help make up for the loss of fellow forward Enrique Perez to a sprained ankle. Cortijo-Pamilla (13 points, four steals) and Green (12 points on 5-5 shooting) also finished in double digits.

Dacey was impressed by the maturation of his young guard.

“He (Green) was big. Twelve points and he played great defense,” he remarked. “He’s coming along nicely."

The Eagles had three players join Mukasa in double digits. Bartas, who had nine at the half, finished with 11 points, senior Ian Beach had 10 (eight in the second half), and junior James Fritzon (3-9 from three-point range) battled illness to score 13.
Jackman gave credit for his team’s struggles (the Eagles shot just 21-62 from the field) to the talent on the Taunton squad.

“Once we get down by 15 or 16 and we get out of our offensive sets,” he explained. “A lot of that has to do with them (Taunton). That’s why they’ve only lost one game.”

Taunton will play its next three games at home including a showdown with New Bedford on Sunday. Sharon will face rival Stoughton on Friday in a critical league game for both teams.

Recap: No. 5 Mansfield 68, No. 15 Taunton 62

January, 8, 2013

TAUNTON, Mass. –- Mansfield sophomore Brendan Hill may not be your ideal point forward, one you would most expect with the ball in his hands for the majority of any given game.

But if you ask the 6-foot-5 Hill, he’s more than suitable to fill the role.

That much was evident Tuesday night as the Hornets (7-1), led by a game-high 24 points from Hill, eked out a difficult Hockomock League road win at Taunton and handed the previously undefeated Tigers (6-1) their first loss of the season.

“The ball is kind of in my hands more,” Hill said. “I like that; I can make plays for other people, score if I can. Just try to take my guy off of all our shooters, and it seems to be working.”

It was actually clearly working, especially in the fourth quarter. Hill scored seven of his 24 points in the frame, and as Mansfield’s floor general, put the game in his own hands to put away the Tigers.

After a 7-0 Hornets run made it 54-47, Taunton answered with a quick 4-0 run of its own to cut the deficit to three with 3:39 left in regulation. But the Hornets answered that with a 6-0 run of their own that gave the visitors firm control, aided by the strong play of Hill. After a jumper from teammate Kevin Conner, Hill took the ball down the floor on the ensuing possession, drew a foul, and sunk a pair of foul shots.

Then, on the Tigers’ ensuing possession, on an inbounds play under their own basket, Hill, guarding the inbounder, stole his pass, took it the other way, and ultimately found a wide-open Kyle Wisnieski for a lay-up that gave Mansfield a commanding 60-51 advantage with 2:10 left and forced Taunton coach Charlie Dacey to call a timeout.

The Tigers furiously rallied and cut the deficit to three with 17.4 seconds left after back-to-back 3-pointers from Corey Green and Fawaz Mass, but the Hornets ultimately made enough free throws to prevail.

“That’s a very good Taunton team, all the picks that have them as a sleeper in Division 1, I agree with it 100 percent,” Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan said. “That’s a very good basketball team and we’re fortunate to get out of here.

“I think that was probably the difference in the game, is that we strung three stops together and three baskets together and created enough separation that when they threw their last punch at us, we were able to absorb it.”

A concise offense: One thing Vaughan was disappointed about from Dec. 28's loss to New Mission was his team’s inability to move the ball on offense.

In that game, he said the offense went about in three passes or less before firing up a shot, which added up as one ingredient to the team’s loss. On Tuesday, however, the Hornets offense played anything but that style, going through a pass-heavy scheme and finding better shots, which worked to their advantage.

Since the Mission game, Vaughn said he’s spent most of practice time drilling in the idea of deeper possessions and running that kind of pass-heavy offense.

“Tonight we got into six, seven, eight passes on a possession, which for any team to play that way is very difficult to play for that many passes,” Vaughan said. “The guys are really starting to buy in to the idea that the same guys are going to get the same opportunities to score, but we’ve gotta get into those deeper possessions.”

While Vaughan has tried to get his team in better sync on offense, he was also telling his guys, specifically junior guard Ryan DeAndrade, to not be afraid to take a shot here or there.

DeAndrade -- while making a number of plays Tuesday finding his teammates for baskets -- took his coach’s advice and poured in 16 points, playing aggressively when opportunites were there for the taking.

“Coach has always been saying don't be so passive,” DeAndrade said. “Look around for your teammates but if the shot is there you need to take it, so I looked for my shot a little more tonight.”

Breathing by the 3: While some detest the moniker “Live and die by the 3,” Vaughan embraces it.

“It’s who we are,” he said. “We’ve gotta shoot them to keep people honest.”

The 3-pointers weren’t dropping Tuesday for the Hornets with the same regularity that they have this season, though. They finished with just four makes from downtown, something Vaughan credited to Taunton’s swarming defense.

“I don’t remember one uncontested shot,” Vaughan said. “I mean there were a couple of times we penetrated and pitched, we’re pulling the trigger and there’s a kid that’s flying from a block who’s getting there because their athleticism and length allows them to do that.”

The 3-pointers Mansfield did make, however, came at crucial junctures. Sophomore forward Ryan Boulter, with his team trailing in the final minute of the third quarter, made back-to-back 3’s to give the Hornets the lead and momentum heading into the final quarter.

Then, as part of Mansfield’s 7-0 run in the fourth, sophomore forward Michael Boen made a 3-pointer from the top of the key, which helped the Hornets gain much-needed separation from the Tigers in the closing minutes.

In the end, DeAndrade and Hill agreed that they have to trust their teammates to hit those shots, no matter how much they’re slumping.

“It’s very important, because this team right here is one of the best shooting teams,” DeAndrade said. “These guys, they know how to shoot, and they’ll keep shooting if you give them the ball, so I trust these guys more than anything. They’re really good shooters.

“They know that if they’re not hitting a shot, the next one they’re gonna shoot they’re gonna hit it,” Hill said. “They have that shooter’s mentality and I think that’s really important.”

Div. 1 Boys: Taunton 60, Needham 55

March, 1, 2012
TAUNTON, Mass. –- Taunton coach Charlie Dacey may have made the understatement of the season regarding sophomore point guard Shaquille Davis after Thursday’s MIAA Division 1-South first-round game against Needham.

“He wants the ball,” Dacey said after No. 7 Taunton rallied for a 60-55 victory over 10th-seeded Needham. “He’s a sophomore but he wants the ball.

“Too many times he didn’t have the ball. But when he did get the ball he did something very constructive with it. I don’t know what the percentage was but it was a high percentage of him doing something constructive.”

How true.

Davis scored 22 of his overall 31 points in the second half – including 16 in the fourth quarter during which the Tigers (14-3) out-scored the Rockets (15-6) by a 27-15 margin.

“I just had to take over when it got close,” Davis said. “They just gave me the ball and I had to go to work. I wanted to play good defense and just take over on offense and not force any bad shots.”

Davis really “took over” at the free throw line where, because he was able to penetrate, he connected on 87 percent (13-for-15) of his attempts.

In fact, Davis sealed the deal by twice converting both ends of a two-shot foul in the final seconds.

“I had to block everyone out and concentrate,” Davis said of his proficiency at the stripe. “I’ve been practicing after practice on my free throws. They’re free so you’ve got to hit them.”

That Davis was in that position in the first place was noteworthy considering Needham led for all but a few seconds of the first quarter and Taunton didn’t grab its next lead until 5:40 remained in regulation.

Needham led by as many as 11 points (25-14) late in the first half and by seven (42-35) after 38 seconds had elapsed in the fourth quarter.

“We’re young and they’re young,” Dacey said. “We can do some fairly brilliant stuff and then we can shoot ourselves in the foot. That’s sort of the way it went. We just didn’t want to pull away from them.

“The tournament pressure is a matter of who can withstand the jitters that we obviously had in the first half. We scored 43 points in the second half so we began to make sense of things at that point.”

Defense a key: What Davis meant to Taunton on offense so did Gerald Cortijo-Pamilla (13 points) mean to Taunton on defense.

“If we get the ball into the open court we’re effective,” Dacey said. “But that’s predicated on defense. Gerald did a great job pressuring the ball.

“Their whole offense was pushed out much further than where they wanted it, and that made a big difference.”

How big a difference did Taunton’s defense make in pushing out the Rockets?

Needham only shot 29.7 percent (11-26) in the second half which was a key factor in Taunton’s being able to rally.

“Playing defense and upping the tempo of the game … that’s the way we have to play,” Dacey said. “We have don’t have to trap. But if we can force the ball out that far, it’s a long trip to the hoop if they get by us and, hopefully, we’ve got people stepping in and helping out.”

Short trip in first half: Needham’s first-half shooting reflected the fact Taunton wasn’t as effective on defense as it was in the second half.

The Rockets, who were led by Connor McLeod (16 points), Shy Davis (12) and Ryan Charter (12), shot a commendable 48 percent (12-for-25) in the first half which ended with their leading 26-17,

Then, with Needham leading 42-35, Taunton went on a 14-2 run (eight points by Shaquille Davis) and forged a 49-44 lead.

And with 1:10 left in regulation, Charter converted both ends of a one-and-one which pulled Needham within 57-55.

After a Taunton turnover, Shy Davis missed a jumper and Shaquille Davis snared the rebound and was fouled.

He then sank both ends of a two shot foul for a 59-55 lead with 14 seconds left, and Fawaz Mass added a late freebie to set the final score.