Monday, March 5, 2018

Mansfield Overpowers Newton North to Land Fourth Sectional Final Berth in Six Years

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Taunton, Mass. – It was the middle of January, and Mike Vaughan was worried.

Vaughan saw his team, looked at the landscape of Division 1 South and pondered how his Mansfield Hornets would be able to navigate one of the more competitive fields in recent memory.

Two months later and the Hornets are on the verge of South Sectional title as behind 25 points from Johnny McCoy and 23 points and 12 rebounds from Damani Scott, No. 1 Mansfield dominated No. 4 Newton North on Monday night, 70-50, to advance to the Division 1 South Sectional Final.

The sectional final berth is Mansfield’s third in four years, and fourth in the last six years.
"Damani (Scott) played tremendous and Johnny (McCoy) was awesome in the second half after not playing so well in the first half," said Vaughan. "He answered my calling at the half of just needing to be better and he did it. That's why he was the (Hockomock) league MVP."

Defensively, the Hornets (23-2) were nothing short of spectacular.

Led by Sam Hyland, Mansfield held Tigers’ star guard Ethan Wright to just nine points limiting his touches and forcing the senior into off balanced shots.

Hyland, who has been one of the top defenders in Massachusetts all season long, noted the importance of preventing Wright from getting into any sort of rhythm.

“I wanted to let him get off the least amount of shots as possible," said Hyland. "Coach (Vaughan) said make him go right because if he goes left he's impossible to stop. So I tried to get him going right and overall I thought I did a decent job."

Scott and McCoy alternated their stretches of dominance throughout the game.

Scott scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, while McCoy scored 18 of his game-high 25 points over the final two frames.

The Hornets led by 13, 31-18, coming out of the half, but an 8-2 Tigers’ spurt capped off by a Tom Andreae three-pointer trimmed Mansfield’s lead to single digits.

McCoy, however, converted a trio of old-fashion three-point plays over the next two minutes to give Mansfield a commanding 46-28 lead.

Newton North tried to stay within striking distance as Noah Neville knocked down a foul line jumper and Wright threw down a break away slam.

The Hockomock League's Most Valuable Player came right back, however, driving baseline for a bucket as the third quarter came to a close before starting the final frame with yet another and-one to give Mansfield a 53-37 advantage.

Scott then put the exclamation point on the Hornets’ victory splashing his only trey of the night from the wing to give Mansfield an insurmountable 56-38 lead with six minutes left.

"I think the first and-one (got me going)," said McCoy. "It showed me that I could get to the hoop. I think once the first one went, the next followed and everything started to click."

From the opening tip Mansfield controlled the game’s pace.

The Hornets attacked the basket at will knowing Newton North was unlikely to bring help so as to keep Mansfield’s players lurking behind the arc from getting free.

Scott scored four first quarter points, while Tyler Boulter chipped in a three-pointer, to give Mansfield a 15-6 lead after one.

In the second quarter, the Hornets' senior point guard in Scott took over.

First, he drove straight down the middle of the lane for two and then cut baseline before finishing through contact to give the Hornets a 20-6 edge.

Andreae and Neville combined for five straight Tiger points, but Scott came right back with a runner to help Mansfield maintain its double digit lead.

McCoy then proceeded to get in on the action draining a left wing three-pointer.

As the half came to a close, Scott put the finishing touches on a flawless first two quarters for Mansfield scoring four straight points to send the Hornets into the locker room on top 31-18.

“We are playing good at the right time," said Vaughan. "Hopefully we get one more against a Brockton or Needham team on Friday or Saturday."

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