After watching her players struggle to break King Philip’s fullcourt press in the first half, Mansfield girls’ basketball coach Heather McPherson put the emphasis on the importance of better decision-making and crisp passing in a halftime chat.
The Hornets responded with a dominant third quarter, stretching a tie game into a 9-point lead on the way to a 56-48 Hockomock League win at Mansfield High in the season opener for both teams.
And the first career win for McPherson, a Mansfield graduate who was hired last spring to replace her mentor, Mike Redding, now the school’s athletic director (and 34-year football coach).
Senior Kayla Vine led Mansfield with 13 points, and Sarah Dooling added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Caroline Aaron scored a game-high 14 points for KP.
“We really stressed the fundamentals and it sounds so elementary but we needed to go to passes and break the chaos,” said McPherson. “We talk a lot about being mentally tough and having to grind down and make good decisions with the ball.”
With the score tied, 27-27, coming out of halftime, Dooling converted a 3-point play on the bookend of a press-breaking sequence to spark the third-quarter run. Vine, the team’s leading scorer from last season, also chipped in six of her 13 points in the frame to open up a 40-31 lead after the third.
The inaugural win settled a lot of pregame nerves.
“I think I just needed the ball to tip off because I tend to overthink things,” said McPherson. “Coach Redding is a legend and there’s big shoes to fill. But it was nice to see it all come to fruition.”
Foxborough 75, Sharon 14 — Senior Katelyn Mollica scored 19 points and Aislinn Servaes added 10 for the host Warriors (2-0) in the Hockomock win.
Franklin 71, Milford 23 — With 12 players netting points, Olivia Quinn (12 points) and Jess Pingeton (12 points) paced the Panthers (2-0) in the Hockomock victory.
Canton 46, Stoughton 40 — Senior forward Eric Mischler scored a game-high 17 points to pace the visiting Bulldogs (2-0) in the Hockomock League win.
Belmont 4, Lexington 2 — Senior Emma Donovan rifled in three goals, classmate Samantha Rocci netted the other, and sophomore Bridget Gray made 29 saves for the Marauders in the Middlesex League victory at O’Brien Arena.