Taunton, Mass. – In a showdown of top teams in the Hockomock League, Taunton ended Milford’s unbeaten start to life in the Hockomock League with a resounding 73-53 win on Tuesday night.
The Tigers (8-1) regularly pushed the tempo on Milford and got into a better offensive rhythm than they had shown for the past few games. The quicker pace of the game also seemed to disrupt the normally prolific Hawks offense. Milford shot only 1-10 from three-point range in the first half (3-17 for the game).
Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey spoke after the game about the importance of his team playing with a quicker tempo and keying off the defense.
“We’ve been trying to do that all year,” he said. “I thought we made them play faster than they wanted to. When the tempo slowed down a little, they became more efficient in the second half; that wasn’t the plan.”
Milford (9-1) got off to a slow start but weathered the storm to cut the deficit to just two points at 22-20 with 3:21 left in the half. The Hawks missed a shot to take the lead and Taunton closed out the half with a stunning 13-2 run that made the score 35-22 at the break.
Senior guard Fawaz Mass was the star of the first half with 14 points (he finished with 19), including six straight points, all on layups, just before halftime. Forward David Briody also stepped in with a steal and three-point play during the run. The senior finished the half with seven points (14 points in the game).
Dacey was pleased with his team’s ability to run the Hawks off the three-point line.
He explained, “Mansfield taught us a lesson on that. You have to close out on Mansfield and you have to close out on these guys and make them put it on the floor and see what happens.”
Milford continued to battle throughout the second half, but every potential shift in momentum was answered by the Tigers. The Hawks continued to struggle with their shooting touch, including just 5-12 from the line in the final two quarters.
David Mercier, Milford’s leading scorer this season, was the game-high scorer with 20 points, including 12 in the second half. But the senior was the only Milford player to reach double-digits as opposed to four Tigers that scored more than 10 points.
Mass led the Tigers with 19 points, but he had plenty of help. Junior guard Shaquille Davis had 15 points and four assists and Briody added 14 points. The star player after the break was senior forward Anthony Parker, who finished with 12 points (all in the second half), seven rebounds, and six blocks.
“He’s a senior; he should play with confidence and when he does you can see what we get,” said Dacey. “We have the bodies. We should be able to handle whatever is thrown at us in a low-post offense.”
Dacey added, “We didn’t play well at all against Attleboro and we really keyed on this game. They came in undefeated and we were fired up for this game.”
Milford will have the chance to bounce back from its first ever Hockomock League loss when it hosts Davenport rival Sharon on Friday in the HockomockSports.com Game of the Week. Friday night, Taunton will travel to King Philip.