Boston High School: Mike Vaughn

Prep finishes strong, punches ticket to D1 final

March, 16, 2011

BOSTON -- Mansfield scored seven points in the first quarter, all by senior Jeff Hill. In the second quarter when the St. John’s Prep Eagles’ section in the TD Garden chanted “sin-gle dig-it!”, there is a chance that may have been in response to Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan being quoted this week as saying that defense could be deemed a “weakness” of the Prep.

Although they were able to avoid a total thrashing, the St. John’s Prep defense put on a clinic and stunned the Hornets who were unable to score consistently, finally dropping in a 64-55 decision that put the Eastern Mass Division 1 title on a course to the Spring Street campus.

“I guess I misspoke a little,” said Vaughan. “I meant if they had a weakness, that was where it was at.”

Mansfield’s usual offensive leader scorer, Michael Lofton, was kept to 10 points, five of those coming in the fourth quarter.

“Coach prepared [us] for them, but he didn’t really talk about them being that good at defense, just offensive wise,” said Lofton. “He knew that our defense would be able to beat their offense, but unfortunately their defense was pretty good tonight.”

St. John’s Prep (24-1) coach Sean Connolly prescribes to the "Understanding by Design" method used by teachers: choose your desired outcome first, and then implement the necessary exercises to produce the desired result.

“We wanted to work him (Lofton) the full court all day and pressure him… try to wear him out a little bit,” said Connolly. “Connor Macomber did a very good job on him throughout the game.”

The leading scorer for Mansfield (24-3) was Hill with 20 points. In the fourth, with 5:59 left, Hill scored off of a Joseph Gracia assist to cut the Prep's lead to 44-41. Connolly called a timeout, but the Prep players had internal conversations before he addressed the huddle, according to Notre Dame-bound senior forward Pat Connaughton (23 rebounds, 15 points, five steals, five assists).

“Before coach started talking, everyone paused and I think everyone thought the same thought,” said Connaughton. “That was really like a time check. ‘We got here, are we satisfied with just getting here or are we trying to do what we’ve been saying we’re going to try to do all season?’”

Although Lofton got another steal and Hill scored on a drive to the hoop off of the outlet pass to make the game 44-43 with just over five minutes to go, the score slowly spaced out from that point. With 2:45 to go, Steve Haladayna (20 points, six rebounds) scored on a Connaughton assist to make the game 52-47. On the next trip to the basket, Connaughton drained two free throws to spread the lead out to 7.

Mansfield would come closer, within six on a Lofton score with 1:03 left to make it 57-51, but sophomore Kevin Conner and senior Daniel Dion would be the sole Hornets to score in the last minute; the rest of the team was stifled by the Prep’s swarming defense. Connaughton felt that although Mansfield worked their way back into the game, his team was not sticking to their game and that contributed to the potential comeback.

“We were just trying to hold the lead, but that’s not how we play,” said Connaughton. “We play to try to extend the lead, we play aggressively and that’s how we built the lead in the first place, so why not go back to that?”

Sophomore Isiah Robinson had eight points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block for the Prep. He was not a staple in the lineup in the beginning of the season, but as time has passed, so he has grown.

“He’s getting better and better everyday,” Connolly said. “He’s a big body, he rebounds well, got good post moves, so it’s just a matter of him finding his rhythm. We’ll probably be running a lot of offense through him next year.

“I felt like I should step up and make some plays out there,” said Robinson. “I know that I am a sophomore, but I felt I could go out there and do it; coach believes in me and the team believes in me.”

Freddy Shove also scored seven points and had three steals for the Eagles.

“He’s just all over the place,” said Connolly. “He works hard, he sprints after rebounds, he defends, he boxes out, he’s a very physical kid. He does all the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet a lot.”

“They’re deep, they’re talented and they give you a lot of different options,” added Vaughan, saying that there is a good reason why the Eagles were predicted to win the state title during the preseason. “They don’t sub to weaken, they sub to reload and tonight was no different.”

Lofton lobs up winning play in D1 South

March, 11, 2011

BOSTON, Mass. -- Why play hard when you can play smart?

With three seconds left in the game, Mansfield’s Michael Lofton was being contested for the potential go ahead point after battling back to break even after being down as many as eight points in the fourth quarter. Instead of scoring point 18, he dumped off to his teammate Chris Johnson, who had scored earlier in the fourth, for the go ahead win, sending the Hornets (24-2) into the Eastern Mass Division 1 finals against St. John’s Prep on Tuesday night.

“Michael’s been our best player all year long,” Mansfield head coach Michael Vaughn said. “But the staple of our team has been our ability to pass the basketball and share. I really think if Michael goes up with that, now it’s a challenged shot, the result might have been a little bit different, but just playing the way we’ve been playing all year, he throws the extra pass to an uncontested (player).”

“It feels good that I know that I have other scorers that can score like CJ,” said Lofton (16 points, 12 rebounds, three steals). “He’s a great scorer. He’s one of those 50/50 winners that can get the ball and score in the paint… He came through for us.”

With 1:50 left in the game, after Lofton got one of his three steals on the day, Jeff Hill made the layup in transition to tie the game at 42.

“The shot clock was running down and I just took it to the hoop, which was open so I took the layup,” said Hill (6 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals)

Luke Westman made the return basket for Newton North (19-7) on as assist by Avi Adler-Cohen to put the Tigers up 44-42. Lofton got an offensive rebound off of a miss on the next possession and tied the game up again, at 44. Playing tenacious defense, the Hornets had the Tigers on their heels, and as Adler-Cohen dove out of bounds near the scorers’ table to keep the wayward ball in play, Lofton intercepted the save, zoomed half the distance of the court to the basket and flushed the ball with :35 left, sending the Mansfield pride soaring behind the same basket that he had just kissed with the ball, putting his team up 46-44.

“I was getting a little tired,” added Lofton. “But the drive to keep me going, keep me on my feet was that this is my senior year, and we had to put it all out there to win this game. Not many people get this opportunity to play at The Garden twice.”

After a Newton North timeout, Tevin Falzon (14 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks) drained another two free throws after being fouled on a rebound to tie the game up at 46. Coming down the court, the Tiger defense was expecting for Lofton to take the last second shot, but he found the rolling Johnson down low who put it in without opposition, putting the Hornets up 48-46 with three seconds left.

“He had great court vision looking for me and finding me under the basket wide open,” said Johsnon. “I’m just glad that I finished it.”

The ensuing inbounds pass was deflected by Johnson (12 points, five rebounds, four steals), sending the ball up in the air and the Mansfield boys into each other’s arms, celebrating their comeback victory, as Newton North held the lead since 4:25 in the second quarter, when a Brian Santana layup pushed the Tigers past the Hornets 18-17.

“I think that’s how our whole team has been made up all year,” added Vaughan of Johnson, who had three steals in the first quarter, but didn’t make another standout defensive stop until the last seconds of the game. “Guys like Johnson who come up with big plays when we need them.”

BABC: Mansfield topples No. 4 New Mission

December, 30, 2010
CHELSEA, Mass. -- Mansfield's 20 points in the fourth quarter barely beat the 19 points tallied by No. 4 New Mission, but the Hornets picked up a 61-54 victory on Wednesday at the BABC Holiday Tournament.

Mansfield improves to 3-1 on the season, while the fourth-ranked Titans fall to 3-3.

A basket scored by the Hornets' senior Mike Lofton erased an early 5-5 tie, igniting a 11-2 rally that put Mansfield ahead of New Mission, 18-7, by the end of the first quarter.

Hornets freshman Kevin Connor scored three of the first six points in the second quarter, helping the Hornets to a 14-point cushion over New Mission. Trailing 25-13, the Titans' senior Darius Davis hit back-to-back shots from long range, bringing the Titans within eight points of Mansfield.

Finishing the quarter with seven points, Connor ended out the half with a pair of free throws, making the score 29-19.

Back-and-forth traffic in the third was halted by a 6-0 run by New Mission, which included four points scored by junior Leroy Hamilton. Mansfield outscored the Titans 6-4 to close out the quarter, making the score 41-35.

Despite New Mission coming within four points of the Hornets, 52-48, halfway through the fourth quarter, the game momentum stayed with Mansfield. The Hornets didn't look back, taking a 8-6 scoring advantage in the final minutes of regulation, securing its third win of the season.

Three of Mansfield's seniors finished the day in double figures, with Jeff Hill leading all scorers with 16 points, followed by Lofton with 15 and Leonard Richardson with 12 points.

Mansfield's head coach Mike Vaughn said, “[Hill] was good throughout the game; he is by far our effort leader on this team.”

“He hit some free throws, which really made a big difference in the end.”

New Mission's Davis ended the day with 14 points, while Leroy Hamilton recorded 12.

“I think both teams came out kind of sluggish, but we were able to make some plays down the stretch,” said Vaughn. “It was good to get out of here with a win.”

24 seconds.

An entire game of basketball all came down to the final 24 seconds for Everett as the Crimson Tide edged past Springfield's Putnam Vocational Technical High, 47-46.

“I'm really proud of these kids, it's been a different person [leading the team] every game,” said Everett head coach Bippy Manuel.

Everett started out with a quick 7-2 lead over the Beavers, including five points scored by by senior Andrew Brant. Putnam (3-4) was able to get within two points of the Crimson Tide, 10-8, but a 5-2 run to close out the quarter gave Everett a 15-10 lead.

The Crimson Tide defense held Putnam to just two points for the entire second quarter, while its offense was led by Brant with six points. A jump shot by sophomore Gilly DeSouza at the buzzer gave Everett a 28-12 lead at the break.

The halftime break was exactly what Putnam's offense needed, as the Beavers went a 7-0 run to open the third quarter, led by junior Jordan Almore with five points.

Putnam continued its offensive burst, cutting its deficit to two points, 34-32. A shot from beyond the arc by senior John Toledo gave the Beavers their first lead of the game, 35-34.

Everett was outscored 25-12 to end the third quarter, falling behind 37-36 lead.

Refusing to give up, the Crimson Tide quickly scored six points in the opening minutes of the four quarter to take 43-37 lead.

With two minutes remaining in the game, Putnam's seven point deficit was quickly erased by a 6-0 rally. A pair of shots from the free throw line by junior Melquan Pinkney brought the Beavers within one point, 47-46.

Everett answered back by stalling the Beavers' offensive attack in the final 24 seconds of the game, edging out a 47-46 victory.

Almore led all scorers with 17 points, while Brant finished with 16 points and Everett's senior Erno Deshommes tallied 14 points.