Boston High School: Gerald Cortijo

Recap: Taunton 57, Attleboro 52

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
11:28
PM ET
ATTLEBORO, Mass. -– Senior guard Gerald Cortijo scored 17 points, including a go-ahead three-pointer with just 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter to help Taunton (6-2) pull out a 57-52 victory on the road at Attleboro (6-3) on Friday night.

With the score tied 49-49 with just 2:46 left in the game, Taunton guard Shaq Davis hit a free throw to give the Tigers the lead. On the next possession, Cortijo hit a turnaround baseline jumper over Brandon Clark to extend the lead to three.

Attleboro responded through an unlikely source. Senior guard Stanley Beaubrun hit a straightaway three-pointer that touched every part of the rim and hung precariously on the front before finally dropping in to tie things up. It was Beaubrun’s first three since the second game of the season.

After a timeout, Attleboro came out in a match-up zone, but there was some confusion and Cortijo was left wide open in the corner. He buried the shot with just 19.1 on the clock. Attleboro was able to get two looks for its top scorer Tim Walsh (17 points) but he was not able to hit and Cory Green tacked on two free throws in the final second to ice it.

Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey knew that he could count on a big game from Cortijo after he had been forced to sit out Tuesday’s match-up with the Hornets.

“He missed the Mansfield game and...he was ready for this. He’s a competitor,” said Dacey. “We always have a rock fight with them (Attleboro). It’s not pretty basketball but slug it out a little bit, make a big hoop, and it’s over.”

Attleboro head coach Mark Houle was disappointed with the defensive mistake that left Cortijo open but noted several missed opportunities that the Bombardiers had throughout the game that could have made the difference.

“We were in a bit of a match-up zone and we didn’t get to the spots,” he explained. “We had several opportunities to change the game in the first half that we didn’t take advantage of...So, it was a big play by Gerald but it was a 32-minute game and we didn’t do it as well as they did tonight.”

It was Attleboro that jumped out early. The Bombardiers built an 11-4 lead behind seven points from Walsh, but Taunton came right back with a 16-3 run between the first and second quarters. Cortijo was the spark off the bench with nine points during the run including a pair of three’s and a drive that he finished by circling the ball around his back before scoring in traffic.

Taunton went into the break leading 26-22, but early in the third quarter Attleboro started to get the ball inside to good effect. Shawn Reardon showed some nice interior passing to get a pair of lay-ups for E.J. Santarpio. Sophomore Kyle Murphy added a putback basket to give the Bombardiers a 37-35 lead, but Green buried a three to end the quarter (his first points of the game) to put Taunton back on top.

“When we were successful, we started getting the ball inside, running our offense, and getting to the free throw line,” said Houle. “Their defensive pressure was good, but overall the pace of the game, the tempo, was where we wanted it to be.”

In the fourth quarter, Davis started to become more aggressive taking the ball to the basket and had a pair of lay-ups and four free throws in the fourth. He finished with 14 points (10 in the second half) and went over the 1,000-point mark for his career.

“Our execution wasn’t great,” said Dacey about the Tigers offense. “That’s all we talked about at halftime and it got a little better in the second half. With better execution, we get better looks. We forced some shots.”

Attleboro stayed in it, despite solid defense from Green and Cortijo on Walsh, by making its free throws. In one stretch, nine straight points for Attleboro were scored at the line. Santarpio (11 points, seven rebounds) went 5-6 in the fourth quarter from the line.

Dacey applauded the defensive work of his two guards for keeping Walsh mostly under wraps in the second half.

He remarked, “That was the tandem thing. One guy takes him, rests, and the other guy takes him. We know that we can’t stop him; we just want to disrupt him. We made Walsh work for everything and, in my mind, that’s the key.”

Recap: No. 19 KP 41, Taunton 6

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:47
PM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Every game, each team is looking to come out and set the tone early on.

King Philip accomplished that by recovering their own kick off at the Taunton 11-yard line and, two plays later, Joe Johnston ran it in from eight yards out for a quick 7-0 lead 16 seconds into the game.

The No. 19 Warriors continued to roll, beating Taunton, 41-6, in the Hockomock opener for both sides.

"It was huge," Johnston said of the opening kick recovery. "As we were running out there, coach said 'you've got to capitalize on these opportunities.' We had two plays and just punched it in. Right then we weren't going back from there."

Things didn't start much better for the Taunton offense, who looked to be mounting some momentum on their first drive, but after an illegal shift on a third and 2, Jason Wholly intercepted Kyle Medeira to give the ball back to the Warriors (3-0, 1-0). Taunton's defense was able to make a stand but again the offense flustered, this time Andrew Hayward was able to come up with a strip and recovery on Taunton's Domingo Jenkins.

King Philip's ensuring drive went 70 yards on 14 plays, capped off with a J.J. Dillon quarterback keeper from inside the 1-yard line.

"Turnovers are just a huge part of the game," KP head coach Brian Lee said. "You break down the statistics on turnovers and wins. If you can force a turnover, things are going to do your way. You get the ball and it’s uplifting for your team and its disheartening for the other team."

The Tigers (2-1, 0-1) responded with their best play of the game on their next drive. After a run play went for negative yards, Madeira used play action to draw the defense in and then launched a deep ball to a wide open Gerald Cortijo for a 66-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 13-6.

But that would be the lone tally for the Tigers as King Philip went on to score four more touchdowns, including a backbreaker for Taunton right before half. The Tigers defense were able to stop KP three times in a throw from inside the 10, but on fourth and goal, Dillon found Johnston out on a flat for a touchdown. The extra point made it 19-6 with just 30 seconds to go in the half.

"The beginning of the season everything was falling our way," Taunton head coach Chris Greding said. "We had one turnover on offense at the beginning of the season. The wheels came off in the first half. We're not good enough to allow that to happen especially against a great team like King Philip. With the penalties and the turnovers, and the opening kick off, we just couldn't respond."

KP scored three more times in the third quarter: Johnston’s 28-yard run, Christian Flaherty’s 1-yard run, and Mark Glebus’ 39-yard run.

Johnston finished with 157 yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a 6-yard touchdown reception. Both Johnston and Lee credited the KP offensive line for their offensive play.

"We get a lot from those guys," Lee said. "They're not humongous, they're not particularly angry they're very nice boys. But they do what they're told to do and they work hard and they're a good unit."

Johnston took a step further to credit not only his offensive line, but the fullbacks and tightens.

"They were great," Johnston said. "Offensive line, fullbacks, tight ends. We needed them to be great because they're stout up front. Last year we didn't have this much success up front. Once we figured out what they were doing on defense we couldn't be stopped."

JOHNSTON A STUD: By halftime, Johnston had already amassed for over 75 yards, a rushing touchdown, and a receiving touchdown. On the second play of the second half - a first and 20 for KP - Johnston took a play action pass for 21 yards. He then took the handoff three times in a row, and on the third try, burst through the right side, hurdling over Taunton defenders for a 28-yard touchdown run.

The run had a high degree of difficulty, but Johnston made it seem like it was a walk in the park.

And Johnston's philosophy behind his runs is even more elementary.

"I don't like to be tackled," Johnston laughed. "I try to run angry, I'm generally a really happy kid. Once I get on the football field, something gets into me and I like to run angry."

Even as King Philip seemingly was trying to run out the clock in the second half, Johnston broke off a 45-yard run that brought the ball down to the Taunton 6 yard line.

"Twenty-eight -- that kid's a stud," Greding said referring to Johnston's number. "He's real good."

THINGS DON'T GET EASIER: One game down, four more to go for both KP and Taunton against their Kelley-Rex opponents. But with each week, there will be more challenges.

The Warriors will now host four straight games against their divisional opponents, starting with North Attleborough, who are coming off a loss against Mansfield. Taunton will travel to Franklin, a team that they were able to beat last year for their first ever Hockomock win.

"We're just happy to be moving on to next week and getting out of here healthy," Lee said. "The Kelley-Rex right now is just loaded with some very good, physical teams. Its more about survival than anything else."

SIGH OF RELIEF FOR TAUNTON: Late in the first quarter, KP running back took the carry towards the left sideline and up the field for a gain of 17 yards.

But all eyes quickly shifted back to the line of scrimmage, as Taunton junior defensive lineman Cian Doherty lay face down with little movement. There was a quick decision to call for an ambulance and minutes later paramedics arrived. Doherty was stretchered off the field but there was good news after the game.

“His neck kind of flung back and sent a sensation down his spine,” Greding said. “He has movement. It just more or less was a precautionary thing.”

Even better for the Tigers was that Doherty tweeted later Friday night that he was doing well.

Roundtable: Bigger things to come for Xaverian?

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:59
PM ET
1. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYED A MAJOR FACTOR IN XAVERIAN'S 49-13 DRUBBING OF BRIDGEWATER-RAYNHAM, RETURNING TWO BLOCKED PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNSW, BUT A.J. KING (2 TDs) DIDN'T HAVE A BAD DAY EITHER. IS THIS XAVERIAN SQUAD CAPABLE OF ROUTINELY PUTTING UP BIG NUMBERS?

Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: If this were 2012, or any other recent year for that matter, I would lean towards labeling that game an anomaly. Xaverian squads typically aren't known for blowing up the scoreboard, instead moving the chains rather steadily behind a conservative multiple offense and relying on change-of-pace backs to grind out the tough yardage. I've been in this for 10 years, and this year's Xaverian team feels like one of the more unpredictable squads that I can recall. And when I say that, I mean you just don't know that they're going to throw at you. Certainly, Jake Farrell brings about an escapeability intangible they typically haven't had with quarterbacks, and there is some promising sophomore talent.

By the way, whoever the special teams coach is at Xaverian, give that man a raise. If you think the B-R game was an aberration, ask the BB&N coaches how their scrimmage with the Hawks went.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: I know we all thought the Hawks’ defense would be ahead of the offense entering the season, but this looks like a much-improved group thus far. I like the one-two punch Shayne Kaminski and Noah Sorrento provide in the backfield. They have some legit targets in the passing game with King and D.J. Sperzel and Jake Farrell has looked great at quarterback. If the offensive line keeps creating holes and pass protecting the way they have in the first two weeks, I don’t foresee a slowdown.

John McGuirk, ESPN Boston correspondent: With the talent Xaverian has they should continue to put up decent numbers. They have four 'big' games left on the schedule in Barnstable, Brockton, BC High and St. John's Prep. All four of those programs are outstanding but all have issues on defense as well which should work in the Hawks' favor.

2. NASHOBA OWNS THE STATE'S LONGEST ACTIVE WIN STREAK (28 GAMES), BUT TWO TOUGH OPPONENTS LAY AHEAD IN WACHUSETT AND ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY. DO YOU SEE THE CHIEFTAINS MAKING IT TO 30 STRAIGHT?

Hall: Wachusett matches up evenly on paper with Nashoba, but watch out for St. John's. Andrew Smiley is heating up (380 passing yards the last six quarters), and the running game seems to be hitting a groove with St. Louis transplant Shane Combs taking over the feature role. The "blur" offense is a whirlwind to handle when all is going right, and you always have to watch where Davon Jones lines up. I see the Pioneers stopping Nashoba's streak at 29.

Barboza: I think it’ll end at No. 29. The Chieftains will get by Wachusett, but I think the Pioneers’ athletes, particularly on the perimeter, will prove too much to handle.

McGuirk: I see Nashoba reaching 30 straight wins. Wachusett is going through a down year, having already lost to St. Peter-Marian and Fitchburg. And what has been noted many times, St. John's biggest weakness the last couple of seasons has been its porous defense and inability to make tackles consistently. If you look past those next two games, the Chieftains will face a pair of unbeatens (Marlborough and Leominster). That is where the streak could possibly come to a close.

3. BETWEEN THE SUPERB STARTS FROM BROCKTON, TAUNTON, TEWKSBURY AND WESTFIELD, THE TRIPLE OPTION IS MAKING A COMEBACK. WHICH TEAM RUNS IT BEST?

Hall: It's tough to argue against Westfield's ridiculous numbers -- there are running backs that will go a whole season not putting up as many rushing yards as the Bombers have their first two games of the season. But it's hard to argue against Brockton's talent. Aaron LeClair and Jamal Williams get to the perimeter quick, and the Boxers can steamroll you inside with counters and dives. All four of these teams have a dynamic playmaker in the backfield -- LeClair, Tewksbury's Eddie Matovu, Westfield's Ben Geschwind and Taunton's Domingo Jenkins -- but I will give Brockton the edge here because of what they have in the trenches. Aaron Monteiro, the Boxers' prized prospect at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, is a road grader at left guard with a pretty high ceiling.

Barboza: As of right now, I don’t see how you can argue with Westfield. The Bombers are running roughshod over opponents behind senior fullback Ben Geschwind. After running for 348 yards and six touchdowns as a team during last week's 49-20 win over West Springfield, Westfield has scored 109 points in two games, with Geschwind averaging more than 150 yards per game.

Josh Perry, HockomockSports.com: I can’t say whether or not Taunton runs it better than other teams in the state, but I can say that the Tigers do make it look fun. With Gerald Cortijo and Steven Harrison giving star back Domingo Jenkins some help in the backfield, the Tigers have speedy and shifty runners. It’s almost enough to make you forget just how good the ground game would have been without Jamal Williams’ move to Brockton. Taunton’s ability to run the triple option will of course get a much tougher test this week against King Philip and its strong defense, but the Tigers are unique among the other Hockomock teams and it can be fun to watch.

McGuirk: The way Westfield is dominating the competition (109 points in two games), I would say the the triple option is working best for them. They have the right personnel to execute it and coach Bill Moore is very good at putting the right players in place to keep it rolling effectively, especially his tandem of Ben Geschwind and Jake Toomey, who are both averaging over 10 yards-per-carry.

4. TWO OF THE MERRIMACK VALLEY CONFERENCE'S BEST SQUADS, CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND LOWELL, SURRENDERED A COMBINED 73 POINTS AGAINST NON-LEAGUE TOP 10 OPPONENTS LAST WEEKEND. ARE WE HEADED FOR ANOTHER SEASON OF HIGH SCORES IN THE MVC?

Hall: Tough to tell, because Tewksbury has more than pulled its weight in the defensive end so far. If there's one team that can avoid track meets, it's the Redmen. Everyone else, good luck. We anointed the MVC "Death By 1,000 Shallow Crosses" a year ago, and with the amount of spread offense and no-huddle tempo deployed in this league, we could very well be in for another season of Wild West scores.

Barboza: I'd take my chances with the defensive units of Andover, Central Catholic, Lowell and Tewksbury against just about any offense in the state, but what comes into play in the MVC is the teams' offensive style of play. With so many teams in its ranks adopting the spread offense, the big numbers put up seemingly on a weekly basis are more a function of the pace of the game, with shortened drives as opposed to rushing-oriented, ball-control styles of play. But as long as MVC teams continue to live and die by the sword (or the spread), I think we'll continue to see some lopsided numbers.

Mike Abelson, ESPN Boston correspondent: Yes and no. Central and Lowell, when the blur is working as advertised, can drop basketball scores on lesser teams because of the athletic talent. That being said, through three weeks there are only two MVC teams averaging 30 or more points. Central is one, and the other, North Andover, hasn't won a game. The only two remaining undefeated teams, Tewksbury and Methuen, are averaging 27 and 18 points a game, respectively, and winning games without all the flash and dash of putting up buckets of points. Yes, the MVC will have it's share of high-scoring contests (I'll put the over/under for Central-Chelmsford at 90.5), but it won't consistently translate to W's.

5. AFTER A ROUGH FIRST WEEK, HAS BARNSTABLE FIGURED IT OUT? CAN THEY KNOCK OFF NO. 1 XAVERIAN?

Hall: I feel like this is a sneaky good matchup. Let's not forget Barnstable was our preseason No. 12 before getting shell-shocked by Dennis-Yarmouth in the opening weekend. There is talent, between versatile athlete Hayden Murphy, shutdown corner Derek Estes and elusive scatback Justus Chafee.

Defensively, Barnstable typically likes to stretch vertically and keep everything in front of them, which can be a bad matchup against spread teams like Dennis-Yarmouth. Last week against BC High, they looked like they cleaned up a lot of their mistakes. Xaverian's offense, while a bit more creative, has some similarities to BC High's. Going the other way, the Red Raiders use some funky misdirection in the run game to prevent linebackers from filling gaps. On their first touchdown against BC, for instance, a receiver backpedaled off the line of scrimmage, feigning a bubble screen, putting several defenders on their heels as Chafee came up the gut on a zone read.

That kind of stuff can keep even the best defenses on their toes. Expect some fireworks, and some dynamic playcalling, in this one.

Barboza: This is a yes-and-no proposition to me. I think the Raiders righted ship after an embarrassing loss to Cape rival Dennis-Yarmouth in Week 1, going on the road to beat another Catholic Conference foe in BC High. But I think Barnstable would need to play a near perfect game, while forcing the Hawks into some turnovers in order to make it four straight defeats of an ESPN Boston No. 1 squad. I'm not saying it will not be a close game, I just like Xaverian a little bit more.

Perry: In a preseason roundtable, I said that Barnstable was a team that was getting overlooked because of the players that it lost from last year. I’ll stick by that and say that the Raiders give Xaverian a run for their money. The No. 1 ranking has been more of an albatross than an honor this year, so I’ll say that Barnstable has a good chance of causing the Hawks problems.

McGuirk: Barnstable is good but Xaverian is playing with a lot of confidence, especially following the huge win over B-R last week. The Hawks should take care of the Red Raiders who gave up 37 points to D-Y in Week One but did bounce back nicely last week against BC High.

Abelson: In Hayden Murphy I trust. In the ESPN Boston poll curse I believe. Barnstable, 27-21.

6. THE HOCKOMOCK LEAGUE'S KELLY-REX DIVISION MIGHT BE THE STATE'S MOST UNPREDICTABLE RACE THIS FALL. AS LEAGUE PLAY OPENS UP THIS WEEK, PROJECT YOUR CHAMPION AND DARK HORSE.

Hall: Mansfield was the prohibitive favorite in most minds heading into the season, and so far they've done little to suggest otherwise. Consider that nearly three weeks out from their shocking upset of Dunbar (Md.), the Hornets are still without five starters. They're already a dynamic offense, between quarterback Kyle Wisnieski, 6-foot-5 flex tight end Brendan Hill, and space-carving tailback Miguel Villar-Perez. Hard to go against that.

For dark horses, I like Attleboro. I think it's understated how big their line is, particularly at defensive tackle, and there are plenty of weapons on offense between quarterback Tim Walsh, tight end Luke Morrison and receiver Brendan Massey. This program has long been a sleeping giant, and new coach Mike Strachan has re-awakened those sentiments.

Barboza: All along, I've penciled in Mansfield as the team to beat in the Kelley-Rex. I believe they had the most complete group of talent on either side of the ball, and also had the most upside. The scary part is that, due to injury, the Hornets might not have yet hit their apogee and will continue to strengthen as the season progresses.

Now, for the sleeper, I know we've talked up Attleboro up a lot in the early going -- to the point that I really think they're a threat in Division 1 South. Seeing that the Blue Bombardiers are for real in the first two weeks of the season, I'm going to go with Taunton. I don't think Chris Greding has gotten enough credit for the job he's done turning around the Tigers program in short order. Of course, an infusion of talent led by Domingo Jenkins helps, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Taunton knocks off one of the Hock's "Big Three" -- King Philip, Mansfield, North Attleborough -- at some point this season.

Perry: The favorite heading into the Hockomock League season is defending champions Mansfield and its new spread attack that takes advantage of its great weapons like senior quarterback Kyle Wisnieski and junior tight end Brendan Hill. Attleboro has gotten a lot of hype from media, me included, in the preseason as a sleeper in the Hock. A new coaching staff, a new field, and new schemes on both sides of the ball have made the Bombardiers a much more confident crew and better utilize the weapons that it has. The Bombardiers were only a few mental mistakes from beating Mansfield last season and Tim Walsh is on fire running the spread formation – watch out for Attleboro. Of course, watch out for KP, Franklin, and North Attleborough, too. It really is up for grabs

McGuirk: The Kelly-Rex Division is solid with four teams still unbeaten (Mansfield, Attleboro, North Attleboro and Taunton). When it is all said and done. I believe it will come down to Mansfield and North Attleborough for the title because of their high-octane offenses. Attleboro has to be considered the darkhorse here because of its stingy defense which could carry them through. It will be interesting to watch all four of these team beat up one another during the season and see who survives.

D1 South: Taunton 65, Catholic Memorial 50

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
10:50
PM ET


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.

CONFIDENCE BOOST
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.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME?
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
2/08/13
12:43
AM ET


MANSFIELD, Mass. –- Clinching a tournament berth was nice. Taking over the top spot in the statewide ESPNBoston.com'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
1/30/13
12:03
AM ET
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: New Bedford 77, No. 10 Taunton 76

January, 27, 2013
1/27/13
10:58
PM ET
TAUNTON, Mass.- – One pre-season scouting report described New Bedford senior guard Rylin Collazo as “The team’s floor general who can do it all.”

To say that report was accurate would be like saying Larry Bird knew something about playing basketball.

The 5-foot-5 Collazo played like he was 6-foot-5 on Sunday as he scored 31 points (including a trio of three-pointers) which helped the Whalers upset No. 10 Taunton, 77-76 in a non-league game on Tyree Weston’s tip-in with 2.0 seconds remaining.

Not only did the victory break Taunton’s five-game winning streak but it also put the Whalers (10-4) in better position to qualify for the MIAA playoffs.

“He does everything for us,” Whalers coach Tom Tarpey said. “He gets us in our offense. He hits big shots. When we spread the floor, there aren’t many people who can stay with him. He’s extremely fast with the basketball. And he was finishing today.

“And the foul line...He struggled early in the year from the foul line. But in the last couple of games, he’s been lights out. He’s really worked on it hard. After the first eight games, he was shooting something like 46 percent.”

Against Taunton (11-2), Collazo shot a scalding 91 percent (10-for-11) at the stripe.

Weston added 18 points while Quincy Pope chipped in with 11.

Shaquille Davis paced Taunton with 22 while Anthony Parker added 18 and Gerald Cortijo 13.

Crunch time: Davis scored on a driving layup and was fouled with 49.6 seconds left. But he missed the free throw which left Taunton’s lead at 76-73.

Weston then was fouled on a three-point shot and sank two of his three free throws to slice the Whalers’ deficit to one point. But after a Taunton miss, Weston snared a missed shot and tipped it in.

A last-second heave by Parker fell way short which enabled New Bedford to bus home with a prime victory –- one which underscored the Whalers’ resilience because they trailed by as many as 11 points (48-37) early in the second half. And except for two small leads early in the game, New Bedford never led again until Weston came through in the end.

“We were down at the end of the first half (43-35),” Tarpey said. “They went on a little run. We’re a young team and could have folded. We played at their place against one of the best teams in the state and we didn’t.

“We kept plugging. We gutted it out. We had a couple of guys hurt and we had guys playing different positions. But we dug down and got stops when we needed to get stops.”

The Whalers without question got stops in the fourth quarter due in large part to their tenacious defense.

The Tigers, who shot 49.2 percent (32-for-65) for the game, connected on a mere 35.7 percent (5-for-14) of their shots in the fourth quarter.

Putting the “D” in defense: “This week in practice we practiced really hard,” Collazo said. “Today, we were a little sloppy at times on ‘D’ but we picked it up at the end when it counted.

“When we put our minds on defense, we play very well. That’s what picks up our offense for us.”

Collazo’s point was verified by the fact New Bedford outscored Taunton, 19-13, in the final period and held the Tigers to one lone basket in the first 3:41 of that seession.

Davis went “off” in the first half as he scored 12 of his points - including a jumper that sparked a 13-3 run which gave Taunton a 36-26 lead.

Davis and Parker then combined for five points early in the third quarter which gave Taunton its largest lead of the game (48-37).

But Collazo torched Taunton for 13 points in that quarter, which helped New Bedford pull within 63-58 at the break.

“I definitely was in a zone today,” Collazo said in a massive understatement. “But we never give up. We just played hard until the end of the game.”

Collazo figured in that “end-of-the-game” mix because he sank both ends of a two-shot foul and drained his last trey, with 2:07 left, which sliced his team’s deficit to 72-71.

“We played a little matchup zone but we mostly played man,” Tarpey said. “Actually we went with a 2-3 zone on their last possession just to confuse them and we got the ball back. But we’re mostly a man team.

“We play summer league against these guys all the time. We know them and they know us. We know Shaquille’s a great player. Cortijo’s a great player. Parker had a great game. But we hung in there.

“My sophomores, Quincy Pope and Tyree Weston, really picked us up,” Tarpey added. “And Rylin Collazo was just phenomenal again tonight."

Recap: No. 10 Taunton 74, Sharon 59

January, 22, 2013
1/22/13
10:47
PM ET


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.

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