Holliston Youth Basketball – Playoff Edition

The season is now done, and these recaps were a lot of fun 

On behalf of the Holliston Youth Basketball Board (Tom McHugh, Kevin Quinn, Michelle Friedman, Jason Cooper, and Derek Cordon) we would like to thank all the coaches, players, and parents for all their support this season.  We know that players aren’t showing up to practices and games without rides and we know they aren’t improving their game without some great coaching.  But most importantly, we would not have the joy of cheering from the stands each week without the players who put in the effort and time!  Thank you to everyone that was involved in making this basketball season a success.   

We would also like to extend a BIG thank you to the Holliston Reporter.  They welcomed the idea of weekly recaps without hesitation.  From the feedback we received, the players and parents enjoyed being able to read about their teams and possibly seeing their own names in the recaps.  Thank you very much Holliston Reporter.    

We had 13 teams play basketball this season for Holliston.  Everyone was able to play at least one playoff game, with many teams moving on to play a second game.  Two of the Holliston teams are still involved in their playoff run – the 6th grade girls team and the 5th grade boys (White) team.  The 6th grade girls play on Friday night at 5:15PM at Mass Premier courts in Foxboro.  Their opponent has yet to be determined.  The 5th grade boys (White) team plays Newton on Thursday night at 6:30PM at Mass Premier.  Good luck to both squads – we will all be rooting for you!

Girls’ 4th Grade

The Holliston 4th grade girls traveled to Mass Premier to take on Northboro for the third time this year.  The Panthers came out flying in the opening round of the playoffs with an all-out intense effort by the team.  While the girls played perhaps their best game of the year, however, Holliston couldn’t hold off their opponents and fell 23-20.  Emily Spurway pulled down 2 rebounds and had a steal while playing lock down defense.  Ella Bennett dropped 8 points on Northboro while also snagging 3 steals.  Danika Do Rosario added 7 points and 4 steals to help keep the game close.  Reese Leverone added 4 points and a rebound for the Panthers.  Despite only having only a few kids ever play basketball before the girls won an amazing 8 games through their hard work and determination.  A huge shout out to the assistant coaches Katie Malvey and Jacquie Miranda for sharing their basketball knowledge and helping the girls improve throughout the season.  The 4th grade girls are looking forward to coming back in 2022-2023 for a run at the MetroWest championship.

Girls’ 5th Grade

The Holliston 5th grade girls drew a tough draw for the playoffs, taking on Westwood, who just three weeks ago beat the Holliston squad 20-12.  Knowing defense has been their greatest strength this season, the girls made it their top priority in the challenging rematch.  Their strategy proved effective holding Westwood to 6 points in the first half, unfortunately Westwood held Holliston to 4.  Holliston opened the third quarter with an offense push led by back-to-back baskets by Brooklyn Lessard, but Westwood fought back regaining the lead.  Down 14-13 with two minutes left in the game, Emerson Harrington scored a basket to give Holliston the 15-14 lead.  Holliston had applied the full court press at the three-minute mark holding Westwood scoreless from then on.  Ironically, team play, and defensive pressure proved to be the difference rather than the efforts of any one individual, which has been the theme all year. Having lost three regular season games by two points or less, the girls thoroughly enjoyed the moment.  Unfortunately, playoff brackets reward the successful with bigger challenges and Dover Sherborn proved to be too much for Holliston, beating them 30-10.  In true fashion, the girls never gave up, giving 100% throughout and supporting one another along the way.  This season has been a special one for a group of 13 girls who missed the opportunity to begin playing a year earlier due to the pandemic.  They tried something new, gave it their all and learned valuable lessons.  The unknown doesn’t need to be intimidating, practice improves skills and hard work pays dividends.  Most importantly, the girls walked away with the greatest life lesson sports offers us, the value of being a good teammate.  Throughout the year, the girls were great to one another, taking every opportunity to support and congratulate each other.  Arguably, the true definition of a perfect season.

Girls’ 6th Grade

The Holliston 6th grade girls team were matched up against Milford in their playoff game and what a nailbiter of a game it was.  In team win fashion, each and every player performed on the hardwood to contribute to this playoff game win 33-30.  Cate McCarron was the lead scorer with 12 points. Mia Faletra netted 9 points with Lucy Mancuso following with 8 points. Beyond the scoreboard were players like Maddy Moore, Skylar MacDonald and Ashleigh Dickinson working the plays, boxing out, diving for balls, and gritting their teeth for those jump balls. The tightly called game left key players in a vulnerable position.  Special shoutout to Lauryn Mulvaney for all she gave that led to her shining game falling short with 5 fouls. The girls wanted this win and had to rally together to lift one another to play their game and their finish was victorious.  The team will now wait to find out who their next opponent is for a Friday night game (5:15PM) at Mass Premier.

Girls’ 7th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 7th grade girls (Red) team travelled to Attleboro for their opening round of the MetroWest Tournament.  The Panthers took on Sharon in the first round of the playoffs.  Holliston came out of the gates slowly trailing 10-8 at half-time.  After the half the girls confidence started rolling.  Hadley McAdams came out strong defensively with 3 quick steals and forced turnovers to start the 2nd half.  The girls took over early in the 4th quarter mounting a 10 point lead to cruise to a 30-23 victory.  Hadley led Holliston with 10 points as well as 3 rebounds.  Reese Friedman controlled the boards once again with 6 rebounds as well as 3 steals while running point for Holliston.  Grace Gorham was a force down low with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal and a block.  Callie Dietz was automatic from the outside adding 6 points to go along with a steal and rebound.  Josie Henson added a key late free throw and 2 steals in a stellar defensive game.

In the 2nd round Holliston took on 12-0 and #1 seed Barrington.  Again, the Panthers started slow trailing by 8 points going into the 4th quarter.  The Panthers started attacking defensively in the 4th quarter and the game looked like it was within reach.  A late timeout allowed Asst coach Denis Dietz to map out a brilliant play to get up a quick three pointer.  Hadley McAdams stepped up and hit the 3 pointer with under 30 seconds left to pull Holliston within 3 points, 29-26.  Holliston continued to press Barrington and forced a turnover with under 20 seconds remaining.  The Panthers attempted 2 more 3 pointers, but both fell short of the basket.  The Holliston girls fought hard but couldn’t prevail losing 29-26.  Katie Joslin came ready to play with 6 rebounds and 3 points.  Callie Dietz added another 6 points in the 2nd game.  Grace Gorham was all effort with 4 points, a team leading 4 steals, 5 blocks and 2 rebounds.  Hadley McAdams led the team with 7 points.  Aaria Prajapati was a force inside with 6 rebounds and 3 steals.  Kate McGovern hit a 4th quarter basket to help keep the game close and Reese Friedman played exceptional defense to go along with 4 points, 2 steals and 4 rebounds.  The girls played hard all year and will be looking for a championship next year as 8th graders.

Girls’ 7th Grade (White)

The Holliston 7th grade girls (White) team were matched up with Southboro, a better division drop down team, and unfortunately, Holliston was overmatched and eliminated from the playoffs.  The playoffs didn’t go the way the team wanted, but the season overall was a giant success.  They finished 2nd in their division with a 7-4 record and including tournaments, had an overall record of 9-6.  This group of players were unbelievable teammates to one another – they were always positive, respectful, and courteous.  They never got down on each other and always picked each other up.  I know I speak for all the coaches when I say that being a part of the team with Campbell Harris, Ella Coughlin, Emma Kampersal, Kadence Lynch, Grace Schoenberg, Kaitlyn Cordon, Eliza Gebski, and Adriana Bulmer has been a true pleasure and a lot of fun.  I look forward to watching you all “flip the switch” in everything you do.

Girls’ 8th Grade

The Holliston 8th grade girls’ team would like to thank Derek Cordon and Michelle Friedman for all their support this season, as well as for taking it upon themselves to provide the team with a weekly chance to see their names in the Holliston Reporter!  Believe me, they look forward to it and love it!  We would also like to thank Tom McHugh who does so much for Holliston Basketball.  His efforts are incredible, and he does an outstanding job of providing the children of Holliston the opportunity to improve at, and grow their love of, the game of basketball.

On Friday night the 8th grade girls opened the post-season with a tilt against Watertown.  Nerves were certainly evident as the girls struggled out of the gate and found themselves down 12-6 after the first quarter.  Knowing what they needed to do, they clamped down defensively, which led to offense, and they took off!  Grace Whitten was hitting on all cylinders, leading the way with 12 points and joining Parker Friedman, Lindsay O’Connell, and Claire Fitzgerald in an absolutely suffocating press.  10 of the 13 players scored, including 4 points each from first year players Nat Sipsma and Julia Galipeau.  Keira Lucas and Lena Jankovsky controlled the boards as the team yielded only 11 pts after the 1st quarter en route to a 42-23 team victory.  Their reward was a quick turnaround the next afternoon for a battle with #1 seed Westwood.  Unfortunately, the efforts of the previous evening left the girls tired, which led to a couple of mistakes and a 34-27 loss.  The entire team battled extremely hard and left everything they had on the court.  Using the last of their energy, they cut an 8 point deficit to 2 midway through the 3rd quarter, but their tanks were empty.  Sophia Lynch led the way with 10 pts.

The coaching staff is extremely proud of the effort the team put forth all season long.  We were given the chance to practice Thursday night prior to the games.  An email was sent out late Wednesday.  The ENTIRE team showed up to practice to work on their shots!  They are a tremendous group of girls, and we wish them nothing but the best as they head to high school next season.

Boys’ 4th Grade

The season came to an end for Holliston’s 4th grade boys team with a 38-27 loss to Milton.  Despite the outcome, the boys played a great game, and the score was neck and neck for most of the contest.  Gavin Bausch and Devin Doray provided most of Holliston’s scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively.  Ryan Magoon grabbed five rebounds and, along with Nick Gorham, Nathan Eppinger, Joseph Lawendi and Brody Stanley provided intense defensive pressure throughout the game. John Gebski, Ahkil Ande and Logan Kanavich each played their best game of the season against a much larger Milton team.  While the outcome was disappointing, the boys showed great progress since the start of the season, and they look forward to coming back next year and going deeper into the playoffs. 

Boys’ 5th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 5th grade boys (Red) team finished their season this past weekend on a disappointing note but feeling proud of a successful season.  We entered as a 6 seed and faced a tough 3 seed in Lincoln Sudbury resulting in a loss 48-20.  The boys played hard and smart the entire game against a top team in the division.   We got our scoring started behind an aggressive Sam Peters.  Sam Israel, Eli Boggess and William Hayes also contributed offensively.  Our defense was led by Nathan Chiantera, Charlie Bowser and Chris Sipsma who all had several key steals and rebounds.  William Hayes added an exciting 3 point buzzer beater to end the game on a high note.  The boys all hustled and made Holliston proud to end the season.  After missing their first year of travel basketball due to the pandemic, the boys entered the season inexperienced and nervous to take the court that first game.  Over the course of the season the visible nerves went away, and the boys played confidently with purpose and showed improvement week after week.  The boys should be proud of their progress.  It will be fun watching this group grow over the years.  We’re already looking forward to next season.  

Boys’ 5th Grade (White)

The first game of the playoffs for the Holliston 5th grade boys (White) team featured a rematch against the Framingham team that Holliston beat in the season finale.   This time, #9 seed Framingham came prepared with a shutdown defense that saw the halftime score tied at 10-10.   Chris Baker followed his great offensive performance from the last game with the first points of the game, followed by Marcus Burian and Jack Firmani.  In the second half, it was Quinn McErlean who sealed the deal with 6 4th quarter points to help the boys win their first playoff game 23-18!

In their second game of the playoffs, Holliston faced number #4 seed Woburn.  After the close call against Framingham, the boys came out focused and played perhaps their best overall team performance of the season.   Andy Heller and Animesh Gongireddy had great performances on defense and rebounding, Orson Daniels scored 6 points and dominated the boards, while Nick DiPippo had a great overall offensive and defensive performance.  The team passed well, had good motion, fought hard for rebounds, and created great opportunities for open shots.  The result was a 42-27 win.

The team now moves on to the final four round, retaining the #1 seed as they face #4 Newton.  Should they win, they’ll play for the Championship Saturday morning at the Mill Works.

Boys’ 6th Grade

In the first playoff game, on Friday night, the Holliston 6th grade boys coasted to a win against an overmatched Bellingham team, 59-50.  Paced by Sean Sullivan’s 20 points, it was tremendous guard play by Colin Doherty and Gavin McGann, who chipped in 8 points, that helped seal the win. Timely buckets and defensive stops by Connor McDonough and Grayden Vaughn were key to the victory as well. Nate Howell was a force inside, with a monster block down the stretch helping to curb a Bellingham comeback. Quality minutes from Max Colletti and Brady Hastings helped seal the win and put the Panthers into the next round.

Holliston lost a heartbreaker on Sunday morning to Seekonk, 52-50 in the second round of the playoffs, ending a fun and rewarding season.  Going in as underdogs to the top seed, Holliston gave them everything they could handle, and the game came down to one last possession.  Needing to go the length of the court with only three ticks left on the clock, our team simply ran out of time.  Led by Nick Flannery’s 19 points, the team also got major contributions from Anthony Faletra (17 points) and Sean Sullivan (13 points).

As for the season, although it ended on a loss, we will certainly call it a huge win. The boys went 9–5 this year as their first season in division 3.  When called upon to think about how far they have come in just two short years since fourth grade, and in turn think ahead two years to eighth grade, the boys stated examples of what they look like in fourth grade and what they look like now. And looking ahead, they noted that they’ll probably be dunking by eighth grade! Set your sights high, boys! This group is determined, and with the continued support of their wonderful families, this group will go far! 2021–2022 season = a HUGE win!

Boys’ 7th Grade

The Holliston 7th grade boys won their first playoff game against future TVL rival Westwood 64-49.  The Panthers came out fast connecting on their first five FG attempts to jump out to a 21-9 lead after one quarter.  The teams traded baskets in the 2nd quarter with Holliston maintaining their lead finishing the first half 33-20.  Holliston was sharing the ball well throughout the game with six different players scoring 6 or more points.  The team ended with 14 assists.  Ethan Suhajda led the way with 18 points including a buzzer beater from midcourt as time expired in the 3rd quarter to extend the lead to 51-33.  Westwood made a run in the 4th, but the Panthers hung on to win the game 64-49.  Ethan also added 12 rebounds.  Jack McDonald scored 13 and added 3 assists.  Jake Brodsky scored 8 including two 3-point field goals.  Remy Mandeville, Cal Leverone, and Luke McHugh chipped in 6 points each.  Luke also had 6 assists.  The following morning the 7th graders faced the #1 seed, Foxboro.  Unfortunately, the season ended here as Foxboro connected on nine 3-point shots to defeat Holliston 47-36 which was by far their best shooting performance all year according to their coach.  Throughout the season, the Panthers would rally behind one another coming back from deficits in the 2nd half, 4th quarter, and twice trailing in the final minute to win.  Once again, they used an intense team defense approach holding Foxboro to only two points in the final quarter to make a run.  Jack McDonald led the Panthers with 13 points, Cal Leverone and Ethan Suhajda added 8 for the Panthers. Overall, it was a great season for Panthers finishing 17-4. 

Boys’ 8th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 8th grade boys (Red) team went into the playoffs this weekend playing their best basketball of the season, coming off their best game of the season.  In the end, however, it was not enough to top the Easton Tigers.  The two teams were equals on paper with similar scores against common opponents, sharing similar records at 6-6 and 6-5.  The game played out that way through three quarters with back-and-forth lead exchanges.  At the start of the 4th quarter, Holliston had a 1 point lead, 36-35, but Easton’s swarming defense eventually got the better of the Panthers who managed only 3 points in the final quarter, falling 50-39 and ending their season and their youth careers.  Everyone contributed in this game, from Max Maurao’s half court three pointer to end the half, to Cooper Firmani’s devastating drives to the hoop.  This has been a team that I have helped coach for the past four years and that Ray Howell has helped coach for the past three years.  It is a group of boys that we have been proud to work with.  Tyler Mottor, Alessio Pinci, Tommy Quinn, Alex Robie, Sean Warner, Cooper Firmani, Gabe DeJesus, Jayden Hayes, Robbie Howell, Nathan Dickinson, and, my son, Max Maurao, who I will truly miss coaching, have worked together to become a team and a group of friends.  No one on this team gave anything less than their best every time they stepped on the court.  There was not one selfish player among them.  They went out every year, every game, and did what they could to win.  Sometimes they did, sometimes they did not, but they always fought hard and never gave up.  This is a testament to their parents who got them to practices and games, cheered them from the stands, and raised really great kids.  It also has a lot to do with their head coach, Kevin Quinn.  I did some quick calculations and I figure after coaching 5 kids through the youth basketball program, he has probably somewhere approaching 300 games.  A lot of people say it’s not all about the wins, but I had never met anyone who truly meant that before Kevin.  Before every game, he would tell the boys it would be great to win this game, but if you just go out and do what we practiced and give everything you’ve got, that’s really what matters.  He has been a gift to Holliston Youth Basketball and has helped shape this group and many before into outstanding young men and women.  He has coached my son in every sport he has played since he was in second grade.  He has become a second father to him and a good friend to me.  I know I will miss coaching by his side, but not nearly as much as he will miss it.  I know I speak for everyone on this team and their families when I say we have been lucky to have had Kevin coach our boys.  Truly, a coaching career to write about. 

Boys’ 8th Grade (White)

Holliston 8th grade white lost to Seekonk 41-29 on Wednesday night. Holliston had the lead in the 3rd quarter with a strong effort across the board, but Seekonk’s intense press defense proved to be too much. Edward Daniels led the team with 10 points and Liam Brannigan had 7. Coaches Bill Klein, Stephen Peters and I really enjoyed coaching this group of boys. Even though our record wasn’t what we all had hoped, it was obvious throughout the season that the team and each individual player had improved. We appreciate all the time and hard work put in by the players. Also, thank you to the parents that helped with the score board, play book and to the ones that came to support the team.

Derek Cordon and Michelle Friedman

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