But over the final eight minutes, on the back of senior captain Ryan Sullivan, Stoughton dominated in the rebound category, which translated into a 60-56 win over the Blue Devils.
Trailing 56-55 with less than a minute to play, Sullivan came down with his fourth offensive rebound of the quarter off a missed layup. Instead of going right back up in traffic, Sullivan spun around and found a wide open Colin Sanda, who drained the go-ahead three pointer with 30 seconds to play.
Sanda came down with the rebound on the other end off a missed three from Randolph, who had to foul. Stoughton missed both free throws with 12.8 seconds to play but Sullivan muscled his way to his fifth offensive rebound of the quarter. He quickly found Cam Andrews, who was fouled. Andrews drained two free throws with 7.8 seconds to play to ice the game.
Sullivan finished with 10 rebounds, seven of which came in the fourth quarter. Stoughton and Randolph finished with 28 rebounds apiece despite the Blue Devils holding a 24-16 advantage through three quarters.
“The toughness factor, at times, has been missing…Sullivan came through,” Stoughton head coach John Sullivan said. “Sanda doesn’t get to shoot that three without Sullivan getting that rebound and making a great decision to kick it out an open shooter instead of forcing it up against a guy who already had blocked a couple of shots. We were really pleased with how the kids finished the job, down to Andrews hitting his free throws, it’s obviously nice to have that four point lead.”
While Stoughton’s offense stalled over the final couple of minutes, the Black Knights relied on an extended 3-2 zone, keeping the Blue Devils scoreless over the final three minutes of the game. Stoughton had kept Randolph in check with the zone through the first half but switched to man-to-man in the third quarter.
Gallivan elected to go back to the zone with just under four minutes to play and Randolph scored just four points.
“We were hoping just to get a turnover, like a travel or a ball thrown out of bounds,” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan said. “[Randolph] is too well coached to stay in one thing all game. [Randolph head coach] Kalon [Jenkins] is going to pick it apart eventually, and they did. So we thought maybe we could go back to it and it’d take them awhile to make the adjustments. When they hit Robinson in the middle, the zone looked awful but when they couldn’t hit him, it looked great. It was a risk and it paid off.”
The Knights got that turnover with just under a minute to go, with led to the sequence of Sullivan’s rebound and Sanda’s three point.
It was Sanda’s second triple of the game. After Stoughton went just 2/15 in the first three quarters, Sanda stepped up early in the fourth quarter. With Randolph up 46-42, Sanda hit a three to cut the lead to one with just under seven minutes to play.
Randolph’s Davon Robinson (22 points, 10 rebounds) gave the Blue Devils their largest lead at 52-47 with five minutes to play. But Stoughton answered right back as Cam Gomes (nine points, six rebounds) drew a double team and found a wide open Matt Gallagher (four points, three assists, three steals) for an easy layup to get within a possession.
Gomes hit two free throws to get within one but Robinson answered with a bucket inside. Andrews (21 points, five rebounds) came back with a traditional three point play to tie the game, 54-54, with 3:15 to play.
“Colin hit those threes when we really needed them too,” Gallivan said. “I thought Gomes was terrific too, recognizing when he got it on the block, there was a double and someone was open and he hit Gallagher on the weak side for a layup so I thought his recognition skills were terrific. And Andrews, I thought he sucked it up through a lot of thing being throw at him. He played AAU for Kalon so he knows him as well as we do. I knew it’d be a tough game for him but he hung there and was productive.”
Stoughton boys basketball earned its first win of the season with the victory, improving to 1-4. The Black Knights first four opponents had a combined 17 wins entering Friday night’s games.
“The longer it goes the more frustrating it gets and little things become big things,” Gallivan said of the tough start to the season. “But strength of schedule being what it is, there isn’t a team on that list of losses that anyone would say “we want to play them.” There’s no easy games on the schedule. We have to make it ugly, we have to make it a rock fight…and bring enough rocks.”