After a quarter of play and down by six, the Mansfield Hornets unexpectedly found themselves in trouble against the rival Foxborough Warriors. While the game had the makings of the upset, the final score reflected the contrary as the Hornets blew out the Warriors 90-43.
“I was impressed with the aggressiveness of our guys early in the game. They didn’t play afraid of the high seeded team or anything like that," Foxborough head coach CJ Neely said. "They gave them (Mansfield) a little scare for a few minutes and then they adjusted and gave it to us pretty good."
The win improves Mansfield's record to 15-1 overall and 12-0 in the Hockomock League. Foxborough is now 8-7 overall and 5-6 in league play.
A back and forth first quarter, a hook shot from Nick DiTullio helped the Warriors take a three-point lead early on. Going on a run, Foxborough’s Justin Zupanick was able to work under the basket despite the bigger Brendan Hill and Greg Romanko working the low post area. A pair of three point plays from Zupanick helped the Warriors jump out to a 14-10 lead midway though the quarter. Tim O’Halloran’s three-pointer from NBA distance continued the Warrior rally as a shocked Mansfield found themselves down 25-19 after a quarter of play.
While the Warriors were able to hold off Mansfield early in the second quarter, a steal and recovered loose ball by Rocky DeAndrade led to back to back baskets from the guard and tied the game at 28 midway though the quarter. A pair of three pointers from Romanko at the end of the half contributed to the 25-2 run by the Hornets to give Mansfield a 44-30 lead at halftime.
“Once we got some separation, there’s a confidence factor and I thought we started to play real well,” Mansfield head coach Michael Vaughan said.
At times trailing the Warriors by a much as eight, the Mansfield rally quickly turned a potential upset into a blowout as three pointers and quick baskets overwhelmed Foxborough.
“They’re capable of making 3-4 three pointers in a row and making a quick 12-0 run before you realize what happened and that’s pretty much how it went down at the end of the second quarter,” Neely said.
With three Mansfield starters scoring in the double digits and a strong bench, the Warriors struggled compete with the Hornets as Foxborough was held to only 15 second half points.
At times scoring at will, five points each from DeAndrade and Michael Boen in the third quarter kept plenty of distance between them and their rivals as Foxboro was quickly worn down by the 35 point deficit with one quarter to play.
The Hornets had a minor scare about a minute into the third quarter as Kyle Wisnieski went down in pain after tweaking his ankle. According to Vaughan, Wisnieski, who did not return to the game, will ice his ankle over the weekend and may return for the team’s next game on February 5.
Five more points from Romanko and a basket from Jacob Ascoli in the fourth quarter helped capped off a 47 point win for the Hornets.
Returning from injury, Michael Hershman picked up six points during the second half as a large piece of the Hornets’ puzzle came back for the first time in a little under three months.
“He’s a step slow and we tried to give him some extra minutes without overworking him a little bit,” Vaughan said. “He hits the pull-up on the baseline and you’re like ‘that’s what we need,’ the element that we’re losing with him that he brings back to the table that puts us that much deeper.”
Romanko led the Hornets with a game high 21 points while Hill picked up a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. DeAndrade had 12 points.
Zupanick led the Warriors with 13 points and O’Halloran had 10.
The Hornets and Warriors return to action on February 5 when Mansfield visits Milford and Foxborough hosts North Attleboro.