MANSFIELD — Trevor Foley wasn’t happy with his first half Tuesday night. The Mansfield junior missed a few good looks in close and finished the opening 16 minutes with just two points. Before the second half started, he set up in the paint to practice those shots he missed in the first.
Practice made perfect, as Foley found his rhythm in the second half. He scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the third quarter to help the No. 10 Hornets take down sixth-ranked Franklin, 56-46, in a thrilling Hockomock League battle.
As the Panthers (9-1) attempted to rally in the third quarter, Foley was there at every turn with an answer for the Hornets (13-1). He threw down a powerful dunk to force the Panthers into a timeout with a few minutes remaining in the quarter, then ended the frame with a layup with three seconds left on the clock. He also added seven rebounds and played key defense on Franklin junior Sean O’Leary (15 points).
“He self-motivates,” Mansfield head coach Mike Vaughan said of Foley. “I don’t need to get on him about that. He knows how important this is … That’s why we can win games, because we have special kids like him on the floor.”
After both sides opened with a three-point barrage that saw a combined eight triples in the first quarter (Mansfield went 5-12 from deep in the frame), the shots went cold in the second. It allowed the Hornets to stretch their lead to nine at the half, holding Franklin to just four second-quarter points.
“Early in the year, we weren’t hitting, so our average shooting was way down,” Vaughan said of Mansfield’s outside shooting. “But now that we’re starting to make some, guys are getting a little more comfortable and the roles are getting defined a little bit more.”
After the Panthers opened the second half on a run and started to hit shots they were missing in the first half, Foley and the Hornets did the same. They held off the third-quarter rally then did the same in the fourth, with Foley adding five more in the final frame.
Mansfield senior Chris Hill delivered the dagger, connecting on a deep 3-pointer with two minutes to play to push the lead to 10.
“We all believe in each other,” Foley said. “We believe in me; we believe in all our teammates. They just have the confidence in me to make the plays, and we have that confidence in each other.”
Senior Justin Allen led Franklin with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Allen and O’Leary combined for 16 of the Panthers’ 18 points at the half.
Along with his scoring in the second half, Foley helped limit O’Leary with his defense. Mansfield threw double teams at O’Leary in the post as well, but Vaughan said Foley’s impact on the interior was a huge boost.
“That set the tone right off the bat,” Vaughan said. “Guys coming out, making plays, taking care of the ball, and doing all those little things was definitely big.”
Junior Davon Sanders added nine points and five assists for the Hornets while senior JT Veiking scored eight. All seven Hornets who played scored four or more points.
“That was the complete game we’ve been looking for all season,” Vaughan said.