Early on in Friday night's boys' basketball Hockomock League clash between Mansfield and Oliver Ames, things were looking up for the Tigers against one of the top teams in the state.
OA's signature stifling defense and fast break attack administered by senior point guard Andrew Reardon and executed by St. Clair Ryan, Ryan Carney, Nick Cidado and Chris Duggan, was too much for the Hornets to handle to start the game. The Tigers led after one quarter, 16-9.
Then, the Hornets started to hit their shots.
More specifically, Mansfield sophomore Ryan Boulter started to hit his shots.
Boulter hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter to turn the tide of the game and give his team the lead. They never looked back, and ended the game with a 82-54 win to improve to 6-1 overall. OA dropped to 4-2.
"I thought early on our shots weren’t falling and I thought OA delivered a great punch," Mansfield coach Mike Vaughn said. "They came ready to execute and had a good game plan and they put us in some tough situations. I think overall, we were just able to knock down some more shots. It was a battle. I knew coming in it wasn’t going to be an easy game and I don’t think the score shows the effort that OA put forth."
Boulter led the Hornets with 22 points, thanks to six 3-pointers. Sophomore Brendan Hill added 17 and Ryan De-Andrade added 14.
Mansfield led 37-31 at the half. A 26-10 third quarter put the game out of reach. Captain Gregory Romanko led the charge scored all of his 11 points in the third.
"He played tremendous in the third quarter and it wasn’t just the scoring, it was the defensive side," Vaughn said. "A couple of blocked shots; got one charge; a couple of big rebounds. He was a big difference maker."
The Tigers were led in scoring by sophomore Ryan Carney, who knocked down 21 points. Ryan, Reardon and Cidado all added 8 points.
For head coach Don Byron, he was encouraged to see his team put up a fight against one of the best teams in the state. Mansfield's only loss was to Mission Hill High, but they have beat the likes of Amityville, NY and BC High.
"We managed to play and compete for 16 minutes, and probably outside of the one loss they had to Emission, we probably gave them the hardest time they’ve seen this year for a good half," Byron said. "That’s not everything, but it’s still encouraging to see the kids compete. I don’t think we let down. What kids will do is try to do more instead of stay solid with what we do on offense and defense."
The Tigers will look to bounce back with another tough test against Milford Tuesday night. Mansfield will travel to Taunton High. Both games are set for 6:30 p.m.