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High School Basketball

Abington 8 near end of an era

Among Abington’s senior brigade, captain Amanda Hawkesworth (above left) leads the team in scoring with 13 points a game, with consistent support from classmates Stephanie Cornish (right) and Haylee Rogers (below), who is, according to coach Steve Moore, an unsung hero on defense.

Photos by George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Among Abington’s senior brigade, captain Amanda Hawkesworth (above left) leads the team in scoring with 13 points a game, with consistent support from classmates Stephanie Cornish (right) and Haylee Rogers (below), who is, according to coach Steve Moore, an unsung hero on defense.

MANSFIELD — The Abington High girls’ basketball team has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division 3 South tournament each of the last two seasons.

Senior Stephanie Cornish

Photos by George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Senior Stephanie Cornish

But this year, the postseason will have a different feel: It will make the end of a 10-year journey for the eight Green Wave seniors, who have been together on the court since the third grade, when they suited up for the Waves, a travel team.

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“It’s so sad,” said senior captain Amanda Hawkesworth of her scholastic basketball career nearing the end. “So I think ending senior year with something big would just be awesome.”

Led by Hawkesworth, a 5-foot-10 forward who paces the South Shore League champions (20-1 overall, 14-0 league) in scoring (13 points per game) and rebounding (10 per game), the Green Wave has a good chance of pulling off something awesome.

In a matchup against Lincoln-Sudbury Regional in the first round of the Mansfield Roundball Classic on Monday, Hawkesworth scored a game-high 21 points in a 62-54 win.

Two of those points came in the final minute of the second quarter when she took a pass on the left side and drove to the hoop for an easy layup.

Seemingly a routine play — senior forward Stephanie Cornish instantly remembered the team’s code word for it after the game — the basket was significant not only because it gave the Green Wave the lead going into the half, but also because Hawkesworth beat 6-1 L-S star Ashley Lutz to the hole.

Senior point guard Nora O'Neill.

Photos by George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Senior point guard Nora O'Neill.

“We had just got out of a timeout, I’m pretty sure, and our assistant coach [Jen Clifford ] just told us we need to attack their zone,” Hawkesworth said. “I just had the mentality that I saw a lane and just took it. Once you’re driving to the basket you forget about who’s there and keep going.”

Abington coach Steve Moore called the win, against a perennial Division contender, the biggest of the season for the Green Wave, which also topped Duxbury, 48-43, at home on Dec. 27.

But like any team with deep postseason hoops, Abington is not fueled by a single player.

Cornish (eight points per game) and senior point guard Nora O’Neil (six points per game) are also key cogs in a balanced attack that outscores opponents by more than 20 points per game.

Both captain and coach also gave much credit to senior forward Haylee Rogers, who only gets a bucket or two per game, but regularly holds the other team’s best player to up to 10 points under their average, according to Moore.

“Haylee Rogers is kind of a kid that’s not always in the paper, but she plays 28, 29 minutes. She’s always playing the biggest kid,” Moore said. “She has the highest basketball IQ on the team. . . . She’s just an unsung hero for us.”

Even with postseason experience, scoring balance, and a strong defensive presence in the paint, Moore is wary of what is ahead. There is always the possibility Abington could receive a tough draw in the tourney, as was the case a year ago when the Green Wave was ousted by Archbishop Williams.

Moore said that idea is particularly potent for the eight seniors — nine when he counts team manager Alicia Reid , who “does as much as they [the players] do,” according to Moore — for whom each game could be the last.

“We gotta get them ready for that because they know it’s going to be a big stress,” Moore said. “Once it’s all done, it’s all done.”

That said, Abington heads into the tourney with what could prove to be a useful mind-set: expect a very hard time.

Senior Haylee Rogers

Photos by George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Senior Haylee Rogers

Nerves are “still there, but I think we know what to expect now, more or less,” Cornish said. “ The players know that “not every game is going to be easy. [Teams are] in the tournament for a reason.”

Four other girls’ programs to watch in the tourney (the pairings were released Friday):

 Oliver Ames (19-1): It’s hard to argue with near-perfection. Senior forward Caitlyn Abela (21 points per game) paces the Tigers, who lost their regular-season final to Medfield, 61-55, in the Rebel Hoop Classic Wednesday night.

 Braintree (19-2): Since a two-game skid at midseason, sophomore Ashley Russell and the young Wamps have ripped off eight straight wins.

 Duxbury (18-2): The Dragons are dangerous with a pair of 6-foot-2 senior captains,
Michela North (18.2 points
per game) and Bridget Quilty , but guard Katelyn Norton ,
also a captain, is a pivotal player.

 Quincy (10-10): The Presidents are one of the most interesting teams in the tourney. After a slow start, they battled back from injuries to win four of their last five games and earn a playoff berth. Freshman Nicole Jorgensen, a 6-foot-4 center, no stranger to 20-point, 20-rebound games, could very well steal a win or two.

Boys’ teams to watch

There are no shortage of contenders on the boys’ side. But here are five to watch:

 Mansfield (19-2): Since they are averaging nearly 70 points a game, it should not come as a surprise that the Hornets boast four starters in double digits. Sophomore Brendan Hill’s 13.9 points per game lead the way for the Hockomock League’s best team.

 Rockland (17-2): Senior Tyler Gibson is the star, but take note of senior point guard Bryan Tavares and junior forward Matt Nicholson . If teams focus too much on Gibson, a 6-6 center headed to the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Bulldogs will make them pay.

 Wareham (18-1): The Vikings have not lost since their season opener (North Quincy, 61-58) and are determined after last year’s run to the Division 3 state semifinals. Senior point guard Darien Fernandez , leads Eastern Massachusetts
in scoring (21.8 points per game).

 Cardinal Spellman (17-3): The Cardinals suffered two of their three losses to Westport, which will be seeded a division lower, in the D4 South. Rory Donovan, a 6-6 junior, leads an imposing lineup.

 Brockton (12-8): The Boxers ran into some problems after a very good first two months, but their tough nonconference schedule — with games against Mansfield, BC High, and New Bedford, among others — will help them in the tourney.

Tim Healey can be reached at timothy.healey@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.
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