Holliston Youth Basketball – Playoffs

 By: Derek Cordon – (Insert Witty and Clever Job Title here) at Recaps

The Holliston Youth Basketball program would like to extend a huge thank you to The Holliston Reporter for allowing us to post these weekly recaps.  It has allowed players, family, and friends near and far to be able to check in on the Holliston teams and the feedback has been positive all around.  Thank you, Yvette and Chris, for everything.

It is playoff time!  Let’s find out how everyone did.

Boys’ 4th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 4th grade boys (Red) team made their playoff debut in exciting fashion on Wednesday March 1 against Canton at the Dana Barros Basketball Club. Holliston came in as the 11th seed, playing their best basketball of the season. Holliston jumped out to a lead in the first half, with Canton making a comeback in the second half. The teams traded baskets at the end of the 4th quarter, which resulted in a 27-27 tie at the end of regulation. In overtime, Holliston inbounded the ball at half court with 7.5 seconds left, trailing 31-30. Logan McDonough received the inbound pass and took an elbow jump shot that just missed. Ryan Baker grabbed the rebound and put it back up at the buzzer to give Holliston a 32-31 win over 6th seeded Canton. The gym went wild and it was a moment that the players will never forget. Ryan finished with a game high 18 points.

The team was rewarded with an early morning matchup with 3rd seeded Milton on Sunday back at Dana Barros. Milton came in with just one loss on the season, which came in early December. Holliston got off to a hot start, leading by 2 after the first quarter. Ultimately Milton came alive and it was too much for Holliston to overcome, resulting in a 37-23 loss. Despite the final score, the Holliston coaches could not be more proud of how the team played. They hustled and shared the ball, and as a result every player took at least one shot and 6 different players scored. Logan McDonough had a game high 9 points. Max Metivier had 2 points and Paul Antony hustled and played great defense.

The future is bright for Holliston basketball with this group of young players. Coach Joe Sgarano would like to thank the team and parents for making this season so enjoyable.  A special thank you to Assistant Coach Scott McDonough, Matt Baker for keeping the book, Chris Dennison for manning the scoreboard and Bill Finneran for providing stats.

Boys’ 4th Grade (White)

This past Saturday morning the Holliston 4th grade boys (White) team headed east to Watertown Middle School to face off against Arlington in the first round of the playoffs.  Despite a close, hard-fought game, the boys ended up losing in a nail biter 27-25 against a scrappy Arlington squad.  Declan Aldredge led the scoring with 11 while Owen Jacquet hit for 10.  Ty Looney and Jacob Snow each chipped in with a basket a piece.  Despite tough defense from Teddy Miller and Aryan Simhadri, a great rebounding/blocked shot effort by David Blackerby and hustle off the bench from Tommy Ogoreuc, the boys season wrapped up.  Great season and effort by the whole team this year including Bauer Black who was unable to attend the final game.  The boys will start to get their golf swings ready for the offseason in hopes of returning next year to taking it farther into the playoff season.

Boys’ 5th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 5th grade boys (Red) team finished up the season with a hard fought loss against Walpole, losing 36 to 34.  The boys built up a 10 point lead at the half, but Walpole kept chipping away at the lead, taking full advantage of a 31 to 15 free throw disparity to secure a last minute win.  The Holliston boys fought through every minute, with each member of the team contributing in one way or another.  While painful to go out with a loss, the boys played some of their best games late in the season, demonstrating improvement with each passing week.  Overall, it was a great season for the team, with many of the boys getting their first real experience with competitive basketball.  While disappointed with the loss, the boys are excited to continue their basketball journey next season.

Boys’ 5th Grade (White)

The Holliston 5th grade boys (White) team won its first-round playoff game against #9 seeded Newton by a score of 32-29 and dropped its quarterfinal game against #1 seeded Milton by a score of 44-15.  Leading both games in scoring was Joseph Lawendi with 18, followed by Devon Doray (11), Logan Kanavich (4), Brody Stanley (4), Austin McGuire (4), Jakai Antoine (2), Noah Keller (2), and Laksh Khatri (2).  Leading the team in rebounds was Austin McGuire (13), followed by Joseph Lawendi (11), Laksh Khatri (7), Brody Stanley (6), Jakai Antoine (6), Noah Keller (3), Devon Doray (3), Logan Kanavich (2), Dylan Perrett (2), and Nolan Burke (1).  The team finished with a record of 9-8 on the season and are looking forward to improving that record next season. 

Boys’ 6th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 6th grade boys (Red) team’s season ended on Saturday with a 34-23 loss to Randolph.  While overmatched in size, they were not overmatched in grit and determination.  The boys played an excellent defensive game, keeping the opponent to one of their lowest points totals of the season.  After a slow start, they made a game of it late.  Unfortunately, however, Randolph made their free throws in the 4th quarter to pull away for the victory.  William Hayes played an excellent game with 12 points and 5 steals, including two clutch 3 pointers to get Holliston back into the game before halftime.  Eli Boggess had a monster block, sending the ball into the stands and will no doubt be seen on SportsCenter’s Top 10 tonight.  Charlie Bowser was also strong on defense pulling in 5 rebounds and a block.  Quinn McErlean (6), Ben Furey (4) and Eli Bogges (1) rounded out the scoring.  It was a fun season with a lot of development.  Next year can’t come fast enough.  

Boys’ 6th Grade (White)

After stunning Bellingham 40-19 in the first round of the playoffs, followed by a “gritty” win over #1 seed and rival, Ashland 36-32, on Sunday, the Holliston 6th grade boys (White) team lost to the Dover-Sherborn Raiders on Wednesday by a score of 35-24, ending their remarkable playoff run. With the majority of the team having never played organized basketball before this season, the boys showed incredible skill development, in-game grit and poise, and “whole-game” effort that should make Holliston Basketball proud.  Finding their identity as a team, the Panther’s full-court press wore down and forced each opponent to adjust their style of play, and their “whole team” mentality to offense and defense allowed the Panthers to advance far in the playoffs. Interviewed after the game, their coach said, “I’d like to take a moment to thank each and every player on this team for all their effort and mental toughness that they gave; it was a special season and THEY made it fun to watch.  I am proud to be their coach – thank you to Cameron Baker, Nick DiPippo, Zach Ennis, Liam Forbes, Vinny Lima, James Negri, Sam Peters, Charlie Peterson, Achyut Pingali, Ben Rebello, and Tristan Snyder.”

Boys’ 7th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 7th grade boys (Red) team opened their playoff run with a first round win over Norwood, 54-50.  In that game Sean Sullivan and Anthony Faletra led the way with 17 points each, with Connor McDonough going a perfect 3-3 from the floor for six points, and Gavin McGann doing a little bit of everything with three points, two rebounds, three assists and a steal.  Onto the next round!

The boys team advanced to the semi-finals of their playoff bracket with an upset win over Dedham, 33-24. Buckets were tough to come by for both teams in the first half, but the boys exploded for 14 in the third quarter behind Anthony Faletra’s six of his nine total points, to go along with three rebounds and three steals.  The team was led in scoring by Nick Flannery’s 11 points while also pulling down a team high seven boards.  Jack Whitten was tireless on defense, grabbing four rebounds to go along with two steals. And then it was the semi-finals…

The boys found themselves facing Needham at 7:45pm at the Dana Barros Basketball Courts in Stoughton. Needham played primarily a Division 1 schedule this year, but the Division 3 Holliston boys never backed down and played confidently throughout the game. Despite the final result of 56-42 on the scoreboard in Needham’s favor, the boys held their heads high walking out of the gym for the last time this season.  Forward Nick Flannery (15 pts), Center Sean Sullivan (8 pts), and Point Guard Anthony Faletra (10 pts) worked together to produce the majority of the offense.  Connor McDonough was the Defensive MVP holding Needham’s key player to single digits in scoring; he was phenomenal.  Colin Doherty logged key minutes and made several smart plays to help the team.

The team would like to thank all of the family and extended family who have traveled near and far to support them in their season.  Coach Meredith Faletra would like to thank all the willing scoreboard operators and scorebook keepers throughout the year.  She would also like to thank the assistant coaches Cory McGann and Scott McDonough.  Scott’s enthusiasm for the game and Cory’s attention to detail (including writing all of the game writeups this year) have been essential elements that make this team tick.

And a huge thank you to the players.  Max Coletti’s extraordinary shots were always a highlight. The hard work and individual development of guard Jacob Lewendi was great to watch. Nate Howell’s aggressive play at the center position improved throughout the year.  Jack Whitten was a tireless defender who could change the tempo of a game each time he entered the floor. Forward Grayden Vaughn’s offensive moves and court sense always “wowed” the crowd. Colin Doherty was a presence and always able to stick the open jumper or a key shot from the foul line. Gavin McGann’s three pointers and ability to take a charge were highlights of many games. Connor McDonough’s defensive presence as well as his disciplined offense were notable. Point guard Anthony Faletra’s court sense and calm leadership on the court were evident throughout the year.  Sean Sullivan may just have been the strongest and best all around center in D3 of Metrowest.  Nick Flannery’s dominance at both ends of the floor was amazing to witness this year, and watch out as he continues to grow! The chemistry on this team grew throughout the year.  The love of the game was evident in each practice and game.  The support of one another was fun to watch.  All the coaches were proud of the development of each player and their growth as a team. Great season…keep it up, boys!

Boys’ 7th Grade (White)

The Holliston 7th grade boys (White) team lost an absolute heart breaker in the first round 44-42 against Canton.  Holliston fought hard after going down big early to take a 4 point lead with 2 minutes left in the game.  The Holliston lead was 2 with about 20 seconds left when a Canton player heaved up a 3 and it went in to take a 1 point lead…the only 3 pointer they had all game.  Holliston got a great look for the game winner, but unfortunately the shot rimmed out.   The team played with heart and determination and didn’t give up when they were down.  They hit clutch free throws and did everything right in the end but the Basketball gods had other plans.  Holliston had a very balanced scoring attack which was led by Will Dietrich with 10 points, Jesse Brodsky with 9, Max Mcfadyen with 5, Josh Xuanye with 4, Brady Hastings with 4, George Kuttab with 3, and Jake Rosenfeld with 2.  Coach Sweet wants the whole team to know how proud he is of their efforts all season and he looks forward to seeing them all continue their basketball career next year.

Boys’ 8th Grade

The Holliston 8th grade boys team opened the playoffs against Franklin.  Franklin was a tough, physical team and showed right away with 8 free throw attempts in the first quarter.  Holliston played great defense led by Remy Mandeville forcing a turnover while defending the post and Ben Dufault diving on the floor for a steal.  Holliston was able to take a slim 15-13 lead after one quarter.  Holliston stepped up their team defense helping each other consistently which led to many shot attempts from Franklin against a double team.  Holliston held Franklin to zero baskets to extend the lead to 13 points at halftime.  Ben Dufault took the ball strong to the basket to get to the free throw line in the 4th quarter to extend the lead for the Panthers.  Ben finished with 5 free throws made for the game.  Franklin cut the lead to 12, but the Panthers held on to win 68-48.  Jack McDonald led all scorers with 24, Ethan Suhajda had 16 points, and Luke McHugh added 12 points for Holliston.

The 8th grade boys returned to the court on Tuesday to face Ashland.  The two teams know each other very well.  Ashland is one of the best defensive teams in the league as they use a press defense for the entire game.  Holliston did a great job breaking the press in the first quarter and played tremendous team defense to jump out to an early lead.  However, the Ashland press was relentless leading to a couple of steals.  The first quarter ended with Holliston leading by two points, 13-11.  Holliston continued to execute the press break very well leading to baskets from Jake Brodsky and Ethan Suhajda to extend the lead to 25-18 at half.  Holliston was able to keep pace with steals from Henry Hayes and Ben Dufault and a key basket from Jonathan Casey to maintain an 7-point lead entering the 4th Quarter.  Ashland then extended their press to full court which led to steals and Ashland went ahead midway through the 4th quarter.  Holliston fought back and executed their press break with great team passing leading to two baskets by Cal Leverone and a 3-pointer by Luke McHugh to put the Panthers ahead by 4 points with under 2 minutes to play.  Jack McDonald and Ethan Suhajda connected on free throws to seal the victory, 45-38 Holliston.  Cal Leverone led the Panthers with 12 points, Jack McDonald and Ethan Suhajda added 11 points each for Holliston.  The 8th grade boys will continue their playoff run and face the #1 seed, Walpole on Friday.

Girls’ 4th Grade

The Holliston 4th grade girls team finished the season with a playoff loss to North Quincy, 23-14.  The team fought hard and were led in scoring by Gwen Rosen with 8 points.  The Panthers saw a tremendous improvement this season as the team grinded through their first season of travel basketball.  Coach Cooper noted in the Monday morning press conference, “We left everything we had on the court, and I could not be prouder of a group of 4th grade basketball players.”  The team players were Samyra Baweja, Molly Starr, Aarya Sharma, Brianna Cooper, Gwen Rosen, Bridget McAuley, Ruby Smith, Vivian McCarter, Emma Sochanek, Lexi Chek, Kendall Hanlon, and Ellie Brown.   

Girls’ 5th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 5th grade girls (Red) team opened the Metrowest tournament vs the Wellesley Red Raiders.  The game was a back-and-forth defensive battle with Holliston taking the 15-12 opening round win.  Avery Palma lit up the scoreboard with 9 points, 4 rebounds and a steal.  Ella Bennett’s defense was critical in the win with 4 steals and 5 rebounds.  Ella also added 4 points and 2 assists.  Addy McAdams helped control Wellesley’s taller front line with a team leading 7 rebounds to go along with 2 points and a steal.  Audrey Mancuso once again cleaned up the boards with 5 big rebounds.  With the win Holliston advances to the final 8 of the 5th grade girls division 4.
In the 2nd round the Holliston team took on their rivals, the Hopkinton Hillers. The Panthers started off on fire opening the 1st quarter 14-0.  Holliston’s red-hot shooting went ice cold and Hopkinton took advantage closing the 1st half to within 1 point, 16-15.  The game was close to the end, but Holliston prevailed with a 27-23 win under interim head coach Katie Malvey.  Avery Palma’s hot streak continued with a team leading 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals.  Ella Bennett added 8 points and 2 rebounds in the match.  Louisa Bigelow and Mia Malvey added 2 points each and contributed 4 and 2 rebounds respectively.  Sophia Teixeira hit a crucial bucket in the 4th to help seal the win.  The playoff run continues for Holliston where they will be taking on 13-1 Raynham in the 5th grade final four on Friday.

Girls’ 5th Grade (White)

In their first playoff game as a team, the Holliston 5th grade girls (White) team, a 5th seed, faced 6th seed, Norwood.  Holliston once again dominated on defense.  Gwen Miranda ripped down rebounds and outlet passes assisted the offense in this fast-paced game.  Norwood’s number 50 scored a three pointer in the second quarter, the only points the Holliston defense gave up. While Holliston led in the first half 12 – 7, Norwood was making them work for their points.  Danika DoRosario got the team hyped up with her first shot of the half making a three-pointer.  She continued to move the ball across the court.  Stella Alexis scored 2 points and Jackie Shiavoni made a clutch jump shot in the fourth quarter. Holliston moved on to the second round after defeating Norwood 22-18.

Holliston next played Ashland, the one seed, for the second time this season. Previously Holliston had lost by two points. This game was up for grabs. Holliston once again came out on fire scoring 10 points in the first quarter and shutting down Ashland scoring.  Danika DoRosario led in steals and points contributing 6 steals and 20 points.  Reese Leverone and Stella Alexis lead in rebounds for the team. Aahanna Kulkarni worked the offense passing and driving the lane for 6 points. Holliston outscored Ashland in each quarter on the way to the win 34 – 14.  Holliston now moves on to the championship round with a matchup against Somerville on Friday night.

Girls’ 6th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 6th grade girls (Red) team faced Westwood in round one of the playoffs on Saturday.  Both teams played conservatively in the first half as they were getting a better sense of one another, resulting in a 12-11 Holliston lead at halftime.  As they have in the past, the girls started the second half with renewed vigor and enthusiasm, outscoring Westwood 10-1 in the third quarter.  From there, defense took over as Holliston prevailed with a 26-16 win.  Riya Yedugani led the team in scoring with 10 points, Mackenzie McDonald scored 6, and Olivia Kerchner scored 4.  Chelsea Dufault led the team in rebounds with 7.  On to the second round!

Monday the girls faced a challenging Ashland team who relied on their size and a compressed zone defense that created challenges for Holliston’s offense.  The girls did their best, playing a very physical game, but the disadvantage in size was too great to overcome as Ashland continued to score from down low and secured an 18-12 win.  Nonetheless, the Holliston crew never gave up, chasing every loose ball and giving it their all until the very end.  Mackenzie McDonald led the team in scoring with 8 points.  Sedona Cicciarella and Chelsea Dufault had 4 rebounds each.  In the post-game meeting, the coaches reminded the girls that with their 4th grade season lost to covid, 15 months ago, none of them had ever played organized basketball.  Individually and collectively, they have come so far and they have been a true pleasure to coach.  Congratulations to Brooklyn Lessard, Caroline Coughlin, Chelsea Dufault, Emerson Harrington, Emma Arsenault, Lila Cohen, Lucy Downin, Mackenzie McDonald, Maddie Sullivan, Olivia Kerchner, Riya Yedugani and Sedona Cicciarella on a fantastic season.  Job well done!

Girls’ 6th Grade (White)

The season comes to a close for the Holliston 6th grade girls (White) team with a defensive battle and eventual loss to Norwood 13-10.  The girls dominated the first half with a complete defensive effort, giving up only 2 points to Norwood. Shamili Potturi, Ashten Arsenault and Olivia Yang were a force at the top of the zone, constantly forcing turnovers and pushing the pace in transition.  Despite a center that was a foot taller than anyone on the Holliston team, Kayla Hayes, Violet Polny and Emma Starr controlled the boards all game, limiting the second chance points for the Norwood team.  Ellory Avakian, Diya Simhadri and Maria Burke played critical roles in pressuring the Norwood wing players and opening up opportunities on the offensive end.  The team sorely missed Riley Whitehead and Sage Passier who were unable to attend but played vital roles all season for the Holliston Hoops.

Clip from the Coach Arsenault, Coach Polny and Coach Hayes press conference after the game…”we could not be prouder of the girls and how hard they played all season.  They all improved each and every game, bonded as a team, and certainly had the most fun of any team in the league.  Can’t wait to see them all back next year!”

Girls’ 7th Grade

The Holliston 7th grade girls faced Brookline for the second time this season in the playoffs. After a double overtime battle won by Holliston in the regular season, Brookline came to win this playoff battle and did by 2 points – 32-30. Holliston was led at the offensive end by point guard Mia Faletra (12 points) and at the defensive end by Lucy Mancuso. Gianna Sgarano had 5 points including a key basket down the stretch. They narrowed larger deficits over the course of the game to only 2 points with every final second mattering, never giving up until the final buzzer. While the team was disappointed with the outcome and to end the season, they spoke post game about next season starting now.

A big thank you from the team to all of their fans including parents, grandparents, siblings and more, and to those who helped with the clock and stats. A huge shout out to Team Manager Extraordinaire, Sarah Ingoldsby for her support keeping the book and making sure every game operated smoothly.  Coach Meredith Faletra would also like to thank assistant coaches Nichole Dickinson and Jason MacDonald. Jason’s basketball wisdom (and wit) and Nichole’s attention to detail (including authoring these articles all year) have been keys to the success of the team.  And thank you to the girls! It was great to see the growth of new players to the team Ella Lombardo and Drew Andreola.   Ashleigh Dickinson and Gianna Sgarano’s growing confidence throughout the season changed them as basketball players. Corinne Bailey and Keira Brannigan were successful in learning to use their athleticism in different parts of their games. Lily Ingoldsby’s heart and perseverance inspired her teammates, along with the leadership and communication skills of Skylar MacDonald that she displayed throughout the season. Mia Faletra and Lucy Mancuso’s skills and determination to win throughout the season were keys to the success of this amazing team.  Looking forward to the opening game in December 2023! “Holliston on 3…1,2,3, Holliston!”

Girls’ 8th Grade (Red)

The Holliston 8th grade girls (Red) team opened the Metrowest tournament vs a familiar opponent, Westboro.  The teams split 2 earlier contests this season.  The Panthers came out ready to play and took a commanding early lead, but Westboro kept the game within reach.  Holliston broke the Westboro press with ease and kept the defensive pressure on Westboro’s top players throughout the contest.  Holliston walked away with a 31-21 win in the opening round.  Callie Dietz led the Panthers in scoring with 11 points including three 3 pointers to go along with an assist, steal and 2 blocks.  Grace Gorham played fantastic perimeter defense and added 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.  Hadley McAdams ran the point and handled Westboro’s pressure with ease while scoring 2 points, pulling 2 rebounds and gathering a team leading 4 steals.  Campbell Harris controlled the inside with 10 rebounds, 7 points and a season high 4 blocks.  Kate McGovern ripped 4 rebounds and gathered multiple jump balls on Westboro possessions.  Adrianna Bulmer calmly nailed 2 free throws late in the 4th quarter to seal the game in addition to a steal.  Injured stars, Katie Joslin and Aria Prajapati helped put together the pre-game plan and cheer their teammates to a big tournament victory.  Holliston advanced to the final 8 of the 8th grade girls division 4.

In the 2nd round, the Holliston team took on #1 seed Westwood.  Holliston went cold from the start with countless shots rolling in and out of the carnival like rim.  The team was executing well but was down early after not being able to convert.  Westwood’s depth proved too much for the Panthers.  The Panthers continued to battle but couldn’t overcome the slow start onto a 44-21 loss.  Holliston was led in scoring by Callie Dietz and Hadley McAdams who scored 6 points each.  Campbell Harris added 9 rebounds to go along with 7 points and 3 blocks.  Grace Gorham helped with 4 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 2 steals.  Josie Henson added 8 rebounds and 2 steals.  The loss marked the end of the season and their Metrowest basketball careers.  The coaches and parents thank the girls for all their hard work, great attitudes, and dedication this year and the past 9 years in the Holliston Youth Basketball program.   We wish them all the best of luck and hope to see them on the High School hardwood next year.  Great job girls!

Girls’ 8th Grade (White)

The Holliston 8th grade girls (White) team lost their playoff game to a bigger and stronger Arlington team 39-13 (Arlington then went on to upset the #1 seed as well).  Kadence Lynch scored 6 points, Ella Coughlin had 4 and Sasha Wang accounted for the other 3 points. 

This team dealt with a lot of adversity this season – schedule, injuries, sickness, etc. but they never got down.  They showed up for every practice and game with a positive attitude and gave 100% effort, and even managed to have a little fun along the way.  Every single player showed such a huge improvement from the start of the season.  “The Great Eight” featured Ella Coughlin, Kadence Lynch, Kaitlyn Cordon, Eliza Gebski, Ari Carbino, Elena Hoffey, Addie Snow and Sasha Wang – it was such a fun season with all of you.  You showed such resilience to all the curve balls that were thrown at you during the season, and you kept your heads held high – it was truly inspirational, and you should all be so proud of yourselves – I know Coach Snow and I are proud of you.  I look forward to watching your basketball careers continue, and who knows, maybe someday you will be the next Mia Quinzani or Caroline Brady.  

Derek Cordon

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