MANSFIELD — Visiting Franklin barely had room to breathe, let alone get good looks at the basket early in Friday’s boys’ basketball tilt at Hockomock League rival Mansfield.
Behind that stifling defensive effort, No. 12 Mansfield built a commanding 25-point lead through three quarters and survived a late push from third-ranked Franklin for a 59-47 victory, snapping the Panthers’ 13-game winning streak.
Mansfield (17-2, 13-1 Hockomock League), which has won the Hockomock Kelley-Rex Division five consecutive years, can seal its eighth league title over the past nine seasons with two more conference wins.
“The last two games we’ve played have been as good of defensive efforts as I’ve seen in a long time,” said Mansfield coach Mike Vaughan. “Offensively, we controlled tempo instead of getting into an up-and-down game. We wanted to take the shots we wanted to get.”
Senior John McCoy led the way for Mansfield with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a game-high 6 steals. The 6-foot-4-inch forward hit 3-pointers at the end of the second and start of the third quarters, then found teammates Tyler Boulter (7 points, 3 assists) and Justin Vine (11 points) for triples to open a 39-17 advantage midway through the third quarter.
Franklin (15-2, 12-2) stormed back with a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter, but ran out of time to fully overcome a 25-point deficit.
“We see [Franklin] twice a year,” McCoy said of the rivalry. “We knew what they were going to do and who does what well. Everyone stayed engaged and we executed.”
After losing at Franklin, 67-52, on Jan. 12, the Hornets made key adjustments for this rematch. Defensive specialist Sam Hyland contained Panthers star sophomore Chris Edgehill (16 points) and the Hornets drew five offensive fouls through three quarters.
“[Franklin] had their way with us when we played them last month and that added some motivation,” said Vaughan. “We changed some things defensively instead of letting them get what they want.
“Since the last time we played [Franklin] we’ve gotten significantly better on both ends of the floor. We’ve made a commitment to how we’ve practiced and you’re seeing it in how we’ve played defensively.”Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.