Monday, March 12, 2018

Mansfield Punches Ticket to State Final For Rubber Match with Franklin

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

BOSTON - For Mansfield, the TD Garden floor may as well have been someone’s backyard.

The Hornets continued their white-hot tournament run defeating Everett, 73-65, behind 17 points and 9 rebounds from Damani Scott in the Division 1 State Semi-Finals at the TD Garden.

With the win, Mansfield (25-2) advances to the Division 1 State Title for the second time in school history.

Four different Hornets finished in double figures, with Tyler Boulter (14 points), Johnny McCoy (13 points) and Khristian Conner (13 pints) joining Scott in double figures.

“On any given night there is different guys who can step up,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “There were games back in 2012 and 2013 when we made those runs that you did not know who the superstar was going to be.”

The Hornets will take on archrival and Hockomock League foe Franklin in the Division 1 State championship on Saturday night.

“The first game they waxed us, second time we controlled most of the game,” said Vaughan. “They know us, we know them. If this isn’t Duke-UNC at its finest I don’t know what is. There will be no secrets.”

Everett superstar Ghared Boyce shined in the final game of his career scoring 22 points.

The Hornets, as they have done all postseason, controlled the pace of play from the opening tip.

Patient, disciplined, and meticulous the Hornets offense gradually picked Everett’s offense apart over the first three quarters with back screens and flare screens, baseline cuts, and cross court passes.

Everett jumped out to a 14-10 lead midway through the first quarter on two free throws from Boyce but the rest of the first half was all Mansfield.

Khristian Conner came off the bench and provided a spark for the Hornets scoring four straight to even the score.

Sam Hyland capped off the 11-3 spurt for the Hornets to end the quarter going coast to coast at the buzzer to put Mansfield up 21-17 after one.

The Hornets offensive efficiency continued to excel to begin the second quarter with Justin Vine splashing a left wing trey off a Tyler Boulter steal to increase the Hornets lead up to seven.

Mansfield’s lead got as large as 15 in the first half on a Johnny McCoy left wing trey but five points from Caleb Jacobs and two more from Boyce highlighted an 11-4 run that brought the Tide back within 38-30 at the half.

"Well I know I can trust the help behind me so I can pressure him and contest shots," said Hyland who had the responsibility of guarding Boyce. “Then I just try to out-smart him and take away the shots he wants to get off."

The Crimson Tide cut the Hornets’ advantage to five to begin the second half on a Boyce three-pointer but the Hornets remained in control.

Boulter responded with a corner trey before cutting through the middle at the shot clock buzzer to put Mansfield, 45-34.

Trailing 53-46 entering the final stanza the Crimson Tide defense stiffened up allowing just two field goals over the final 5:30 of play.

Those two hoops, however, proved large.

The first came from Hyland, a deep left wing three-pointer to put Mansfield up 62-51.

Erick Thompson tipped one home to pull Everett back within 10, but Conner picked Boyce’s pocket and went coast-to-coast for two give the Hornets a 12-point lead.

Down 68-60 with just over a minute left the Tide made one last run on an Isaiah Likely transition bucket and a Nathaniel Mehu layup off a steal.

The Hornets, however, hit four free throws in the game’s waning moments to seal the win.

“This has been a really fun run,” said Scott. “I think we’re the best team in the state. Franklin probably has something to say about that. We’ll see on Saturday.”

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