Stoughton Stuns Foxboro With Late Game Surge

Stoughton boys basketball Ajahn Rue
Stoughton’s Ajahn Rue splits a pair of Foxboro defenders for a layup in the fourth quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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FOXBORO, Mass. – While the Stoughton Boys basketball team spent the majority of Friday night’s contest trailing Foxboro, the Black Knights never let the Warriors run away with it.

Staying within striking distance for the majority of the game, the Black Knights made their move late in the fourth quarter. Stoughton used an 8-0 run to tie the game with just over two minutes to play, and finished the game with a 9-0 burst.

All in all, Stoughton outscored Foxboro 17-0 over the final 4:24 to stun the Warriors with a 63-52 decision. The win moves Stoughton into a four-way tie in the Davenport division along with Foxboro, Milford, and North Attleboro with two division games left.

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“Nothing came easy tonight,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “We had to stay with our stuff. We said at halftime it was the luckiest five-point deficit because we didn’t do anything we talked about doing. The third quarter got a little better, but we were still down three. Then we got down eight. They just stayed with it, stayed with it, and finally got a couple of breaks.”

Foxboro junior Dylan Barreira drained a three to put the Warriors up 53-45 with 4:43 to go. It marked the seventh time that the Warriors had led by eight or more points in the game. But similar to each of the previous times, Stoughton clawed its way back in.

This time, however, the Black Knights were able to tie the game. Junior Thomas Sanda (eight points) scored on a shot from the block, junior Ajahn Rue (13 points, five rebounds) beat his man and attacked the rim on two straight possessions, and senior Kevin Dixon had a strong take to make it 53-53 with 2:07 left.

Foxboro called a timeout to try and stem the tide, but Stoughton junior Ahmad Jahed stole the inbounds pass and found Dixon for an easy bucket and the lead. The Warriors came up with an offensive rebound on its next possession, but Rue was able to knock the ball free for a turnover. Rue once again went to the basket, this time sneaking a layup under the defender for a 57-53 advantage with a minute to go.

The Black Knights continued to get stops, including a big block from Obinna Ugwuakazi. Ugwuakazi, Jahed, and Rue each hit from the free throw line down the stretch to get Stoughton to the final score.

“The lead never felt comfortable, but there were moments I felt we could put them away if we maybe made a couple more shots in a row or a couple of more plays [defensively],” said Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs. “It seemed like we could never make that last momentum play. We’ve got a young group, so we have to go back to the film and see what went wrong and learn to execute better down the stretch. That’s how our league is, every game is going to be like that.

“We didn’t execute offensively. We had some bad possessions where we weren’t able to get into the right spots or execute what we wanted to. We rushed some shots and I think we just got a little rattled and lost our composure a little bit. And defensively we gave up the paint a little too easy. We gave up some offensive rebounds, they posted up our guards a little bit. In the end, we weren’t able to execute on either end under pressure.”

Foxboro had leads at 15-7 to end the first quarter, 23-15, 26-18, 28-18, and 30-20 in the second quarter, and a 38-29 advantage midway through the third quarter. Stoughton was able to respond each time, cutting into the deficit to get within five or three before Foxboro could pull away.

“They are a hard team to chase,” Gallivan said. “They spread the floor so well and if you have to double, one of their great shooters is going to get a wide open shot. I think it probably would have taken one more and it could have been the dagger but the kids just stuck with it.”

Rue was limited to just two points (on four field goal attempts) entering the fourth quarter, but seemed to flip the switch to get the Black Knights going. Even before sparking the comeback run, Rue gained confidence by converting a traditional three-point play early in the fourth quarter. He had 11 of his 13 points come in the final frame.

“I thought Ajahn took over,” Gallivan said. “I think at one point they had three guys on the floor with four fouls so if you’re switching screens, it becomes which kid do you want to get in foul trouble there. He was able to get to the rim, finished, and I think that got everyone going.”

Foxboro junior Brandon Borde (23 points, nine rebounds) had his way for the most part, scoring seven points in the opening quarter to help the Warriors create a 15-7 lead. The Warriors used a 13-5 run to create a 10-point lead with a minute to go in the half. Borde had three baskets, Ryan Hughes added two field goals, and Will Morrison (10 points) drained a three. Stoughton got some momentum back before the half as Tahkwan Gates Brown (nine points, four rebounds) converted a putback and Myles Grigalunas-Powell drained a three after an offensive rebound from Gates Brown to make it 30-25 at the half.

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A three from Foxboro sophomore Kevin Gallagher sparked an early 8-0 run for the Warriors, with Borde adding two field goals and Morrison with a free throw to put the hosts up 38-29.

But as they had done all game, the Black Knights battled back, closing the quarter with an 11-5 run. Zak Paquette sank two free throws, Jahed scored after a steal, Dixon hit a pair from the line, Gates Brown scored down low, and Sanda made both ends of a one-and-one situation to bring the Black Knights within three, 43-40, entering the fourth quarter.

Stoughton boys basketball (6-8 Hockomock, 9-9 overall) hits the road on Tuesday to take on Milford. Foxboro (6-8, 9-8) will look to snap its two-game skid when it travels to Sharon on the same night.

Vendrell Sparks Taunton To Win Over Stoughton

Taunton boys basketball Lou Vendrell
Taunton senior Lou Vendrell drives to the basket for a layup in the fourth quarter against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – A shorthanded Taunton team has seen a pair of seniors step up over the past two games. Tuesday night on the road against Stoughton, they had a third senior rise to the occasion.

Following in the footsteps of John Martins (30 points against Canton) and Ryan Sullivan (27 points against Mansfield), senior Lou Vendrell came off the bench to provide a big spark for the Tigers, leading Taunton to a 70-61 win on the road.

Vendrell scored a season-high 20 points, including 11 points in the fourth quarter, to help the Tigers secure an important win as they inch closer to a postseason berth.

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“It was a huge win, being shorthanded,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “These guys that have carried us for three games are all good kids, they’ve done a nice job.”

Without three starters, the Tigers posted a 1-1 record last week so Tuesday’s road trip to Stoughton was an important one. Martins had another solid effort for the Tigers, dropping 15 points and hauling in eight rebounds while sophomore Josh Lopes came off the bench and scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half.

Taunton built a 10-point lead by using a 13-4 run over the final 2:15 of the first half. In the second half, Stoughton continued to push back into the game but the Tigers never surrendered the lead.

The Black Knights kept the visitors scoreless for the first 4:13 of the third quarter but could only muster six points of their own. Martins scored off a turnover and assist from Vendrell to get Taunton on the board, up 37-31. A three from Lopes extended that advantage to 40-31 with three minutes left in the third.

But Stoughton continued to chip away. Four points from Obinna Ugwuakazi (21 points, 11 rebounds) and two from Tahkwan Gates Brown (six points, five assists) got the Black Knights within five but a three-point play from Lopes kept Taunton ahead, 43-47, going into the final quarter.

“Those two guys are learning to play together,” Gallivan said of Ugwuakazi and Gates Brown. “At the beginning of the season we were playing one at a time, but they’re learning. They are looking for each other too. It’s not always pretty, but it can be effective.”

Taunton’s lead ballooned to 12 when sophomore Tyler Stewart come up with a steal then found Vendrell on the break early in the fourth quarter. Vendrell returned the favor to Stewart for two and a 51-40 lead, and then Stewart found Quinn in the corner for a three and Vendrell converted on a breakaway to make it 56-42 with 4:38 to play.

The 14-point lead was far from safe, however, as Ugwuakazi converted down low, Kevin Dixon splashed in a triple, and sophomore Jake Queeney came off the bench to drain a three to make it 58-50 with 2:14 to play.

“Queeney did a nice job, came off the bench and hit some shots,” Gallivan. “He’s played a couple of varsity quarters, he had one quarter of eligibility left tonight so we put him in and he did well.”

A free throw from Ugwuakazi cut the deficit to seven, but Vendrell responded with a jumper in the paint to put the Tigers up 60-51.

“If he starts off playing well, he does well for the game,” Dacey said of Vendrell. :He was confident tonight. He had a lot of momentum and was participating on both ends of the floor too which I think factored in.”

Ugwuakazi and Quinn traded two points apiece and Queeney hit another triple to get Stoughton within six, 62-56, with 1:29 to go. Each team had an empty trip, and Lopes raced out for a layup and a 64-56 lead.

“14 points out of a sophomore in a pressure situation like that? He’s a worker,” Dacey said of Lopes. “He’s worked his butt off, he’s in a good spot right now, and he deserves it.”

With under a minute to go, the Black Knights were forced to foul and Taunton was able to hold on for the win.

In the first half, Stoughton junior Myles Grigalunas-Powell (13 points, five rebounds, four assists) helped the Black Knights jump ahead 12-8, but Taunton closed the opening quarter with a 6-0 run (two each from Krishon Nairne, Martins, and Vendrell) for a 14-12 lead.

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In the second quarter, Martins took control of the offense and scored eight points in the quarter. A three-pointer from Ajahn Rue brought Stoughton within one at 22-21 with under three minutes to go but the Tigers finished the quarter strong with a 13-4 run.

Martins made back-to-back triples, Vendrell added in five straight, and Martins converted shortly before the buzzer for a 35-25 lead at the break.

“[John] makes good decisions out there,” Dacey said. “We’re trying to run some things, and he manages to settle it down and occasionally takes care of business himself. That’s the senior leadership we need.”

Taunton boys basketball (7-4 Hockomock, 10-5) begins a three-game home stand when it welcomes Oliver Ames on Friday night. Stoughton (4-7, 7-8) has its second straight home contest when it entertains North Attleboro.

Black Knights Battle Back To Beat Weston

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Kevin Dixon goes up for a layup against Weston in the first quarter. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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RANDOLPH, Mass. – The Stoughton boys basketball team felt like it had let a win slip through its grasp on Friday night against Natick in the opening round of the Blue Devils Holiday Classic.

Facing a 17-point second half deficit, the Black Knights were starring at the possibility of a second straight loss against a team they were capable of beating.

Behind a ramped-up defensive effort, improved shooting, and a big fourth quarter performance from senior captain Josh Cocchi, Stoughton erased that deficit and walked away with a 64-58 win over Weston.

“We’re thrilled to get this one today because we knew we could have played better on Friday night,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan.

A big second quarter gave the Wildcats a 37-24 advantage at the break. Weston extended that lead to 43-26 on a three-pointer by Jake Corbett with 5:44 to play in the third. Stoughton, which had struggled from the field in the first half (22% shooting) began to find its rhythm.

A pair of free throws from junior Obinna Ugwuakazi (26 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals) started a 10-0 burst for the Black Knights. Stoughton’s improvement on offense was almost a direct result from its defensive energy. The Knights extended a 2-2-1 press that forced Weston into four turnovers and 0-for-5 shooting from the field in that stretch.

Ugwuakazi scored down low on an assist from Ajahn Rue after a Weston miss, and Myles Grigalunas-Powell scored on a break after Rue came up with a steal. Zak Paquette found Ugwuakazi for a tough two, and the press forced a turnover on a carry.

A steal from Eddie Aldama led to an elbow jumper from Ugwuakazi to make it 45-38 with 2:28 left in the third. A three-point play from Weston pushed the lead back to 10 but a baseline drive from Paquette and a three-point play from Ugwuakazi with just 6.5 left brought the Knights within five but Weston beat the buzzer to take a 50-43 lead into the fourth.

“I think starting 13 or 14-for-14 from the free throw line helped a lot,” Gallivan said of what went into the comeback. “We did a good job of changing of the tempo with the three quarter court zone press. It just made them maybe think a little bit before they stepped into wide open shots like they had in the first half. They looked unbeatable in the second quarter. But the kids hung in there, and we talked at halftime about having one run in us and we did.”

Ugwuakazi had 13 of his 26 points in the third quarter.

“He had a great practice yesterday,” Gallivan said. “They probably didn’t get a good look at him when they scouted Friday night (limited minutes). So it was a good opportunity for him and he took advantage of it.”

A free throw from Ugwuakazi was followed by a turnover by Weston — a travel forced by Stoughton’s pressure. Senior Josh Cocchi hit three-pointer for the Knights, making it a three-point game with 6:22 to go.

It marked Stoughton’s first triple since 2:19 left in the first quarter. The Black Knights had shot 1-for-22 from deep before Cocchi’s make.

“We haven’t shot well all year,” Gallivan said. “It’s about that time to start shooting well. But defense helps obviously. You can’t let your defense, or lack thereof, affect your offense. And we did that at times during the first half.”

Cocchi sank a pair of free throws to get within one but Corbett answered on the other end for the Wildcats. Cocchi came back down the other way, took a feed from Rue and drained another three while being fouled. He converted the free throw to give Stoughton its first lead of the second half, 53-52, with 4:32 to go.

Weston briefly regained the lead on a three-point play by Corbett but Rue answered with a three on the other end to put Stoughton back in front, 56-55, with 3:49 to go.

The Knights got a stop on one end with Ugwuakazi grabbing the rebound. On the other end, Rue found Ugwuakazi with a nice pass and he extended the advantage to 58-55. Cocchi hit one of two free throws after earning a trip to the line with a nice box out.

Thomas Sanda came up with a key loose ball, and after a pair of empty trips from each side, Sanda took a nice feed from Cocchi for an easy two to make it 61-55. Cocchi (1-for-2) and Sanda (2-for-2) added free throws in the final minute to make it 64-58.

“Josh Cocchi was huge [in the fourth],” Gallivan said. “Obinna obviously had a good game but Cocchi was great in the fourth quarter with 11 points. And Tommy Sanda…we say it all the time, he’s always in the right place, he’s always listening, he’s the smartest player on the court so at some point I have to say to myself, ‘Why isn’t he playing more?’ I told him after the first half to be ready because he was going to go back in and he did a nice job.”

Stoughton boys basketball (5-2) resumes Hockomock League play on Friday, January 4th when it travels to Davenport division rival Canton (2-1) for a 6:30 tipoff.

Stoughton Opens Season With Win Over Archies

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Obinna Ugwuakazi goes up for a shot in the second half against Archbishop Williams. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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 STOUGHTON, Mass. – With a combination of experienced, young, and new players on the team this year, Stoughton head coach John Gallivan has yet to determine how the pieces of the puzzle best fit together.

And while it may take a couple of games to integrate the team and find the best lineups at the right times, his most experienced varsity players stepped up in key moments to help deliver a 66-62 win on opening night against Archbishop Williams.

Senior captain Zak Paquette scored nine of his career-high 16 points in the final quarter while junior Ajahn Rue (10 points) buried a three with under a minute left to help the Black Knights fend off a comeback attempt from the Bishops.

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“Zak had some big buckets for us in the fourth quarter and I thought the three that Ajahn hit by our bench late was huge,” Gallivan said. “It came right in the flow of the game and it was the kind of thing that should have happened instead of being forced. It was a gutsy shot when it should have been taken and obviously we needed it.

“We still have to figure out a lot of pieces, where they go and how they fit.”

While Archies had the strong start (11-2 lead in the first quarter), it was Stoughton that had success throughout the middle quarters. Paquette’s first triple of the game just under a minute the final quarter off a pass from Kevin Dixon gave Stoughton its largest lead at 55-39 and it looked like Stoughton was set to run away with the game.

But Archies refused to go away, making it a single digit game (59-50) but the midway point of the quarter, and used a 7-2 spurt to get within four, 61-57, with just under two minutes to go.

Stoughton responded with a key stretch, Paquette finishing underneath after a nice feed from senior Edward Aldama (four points, four rebounds) and then Rue came up with a steal to get possession back. Rue and Paquette combined for a two-man game in the corner, the passing resulting in a three from Rue and a 66-57 lead with 38 seconds to play.

Archies took an early lead but Stoughton was able to claw back into the game and make it a one-possession game after eight minutes. After an emotional pregame ceremony that honored David Bell and Nick Joyce, two of four Stoughton students that passed away in a tragic accident last May. Bell was slated to be a senior captain this season and Joyce played of sub varsity last season but attended plenty of varsity games over the years watching older brother Kris Joyce (1,000 point scorer).

Stoughton came out flying but the energy didn’t translate into points as the Bishops staked an 11-2 lead. From there, the Knights settled in and made a game of it. Rue, Myles Grigalunas-Powell, and Tahkwan Gates Brown (six points) came off the bench to help Stoughton get in gear.

The Knights closed the quarter with a 7-2 run, highlighted by a pair of putbacks from Obinna Ugwuakazi (11 points, 10 rebounds) and a triple from Rue and trailed just 19-17 after one.

“If we could have started that way instead of going down….we talked about using the emotion but not getting swamped by it,” Gallivan said. “We left a lot out there, we got some decent looks and we tried to do some things we’re not capable of doing. To [Archbishop Williams’] credit, they knocked some shots down.”

A three from sophomore Brett Pendenza and a midrange jumper from Ahmad Jahed helped Stoughton jump in front, a lead they didn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Paquette had a traditional three point and Josh Cocchi hit a pair of three throws to give Stoughton a 31-26 lead at half.

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Stoughton extended its lead by outscoring the Bishops 19-11 in the third quarter. Ugwuakazi had five of his points in the frame, Aldama scored a pair of buckets, Cocchi drained a triple wit just over a minute left in the third, and Kevin Dixon converted a putback at the to make it 50-37 heading into the fourth.

“I thought the middle third of the game, we were pretty good,” Gallivan said. “The beginning and the end were shaky but that could be a product of having so many new faces.”

Stoughton boys basketball (1-0) opens Hockomock League play on Tuesday with a trip to Oliver Ames for a 6:30 tipoff.

Defense, Rebounding Help Stoughton Beat King Philip

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Colin Sanda (left) and David Bell (24) celebrate after Bell converted an offensive rebound while being fouled. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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WRENTHAM, Mass. – Throughout the game, Stoughton had struggled to score against King Philip’s half-court defense. So with 37 seconds left, holding a three-point lead and in need of some insurance, the Black Knights found a way to get an easy bucket.

Coming out of a timeout after a near turnover and the inbounds at midcourt, Stoughton sent three of its players down one end of the court and kept Colin Sanda (17 points, 10 rebounds) alone in one half. The Warriors’ defense lined up in man-to-man, allowing Cam Andrews to get the ball into Sanda.

It seemed like a normal inbounds play into the backcourt, but that was only because of how the Black Knights lined up. Sanda was, in fact, in his offensive half and took the feed down for a wide-open layup with just 30 seconds to play.

That bucket, along with some late free throws, gave Stoughton enough of a cushion to hang on for a 60-55 win on the road.

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The Black Knights led by as much as 11 in the fourth quarter and had a nine-point lead with just two minutes to go before King Philip made a late charge. Kyle Layman (23 points, eight rebounds) scored inside and Brendan Kinghit a pair of free throws to make it a five-point game, 55-50.

Stoughton hit a free throw to extend it to six but Layman collected three points (free throw, field goal off Bruce Santillus’ offensive rebound) to make it a one-possession game, 56-53, with just under a minute to play.

That’s when Stoughton ran its play to Sanda for an easy two to keep the lead. King Philip once again got it down to three on an offensive putback but David Bell (career-high 19 points, 13 rebounds) hit free throws down the stretch to ice it.

While the inbounds play and free throws iced the game for Stoughton, it was the Black Knights’ full-court pressure defense and strong rebounding that really put them in position to win in the first place.

“We played with some energy tonight,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “We were a little shorthanded tonight and I think they recognized that so they picked each other up. We were trying to mix the defense up with some zone, some scramble, some straight man-to-man. After a while, we just stuck with what we were using and it ended up being enough.”

The Knights’ pressure really started paying off in the third quarter, and even more so when King Philip’s starting point guard Pharoah Davis had to leave the game for a stretch due to a head injury.

Stoughton outscored KP 15-9 over the final six minutes of the third. Trailing 29-25, Stoughton forced a turnover that led to a triple from Bell. Stoughton had a miss a possession later but Sanda flew in for an offensive rebound and easy putback. Layman tied the game with a traditional three-point play but Stoughton finished the frame with a 7-0 burst.

After another miss, Ruben Gonzalez came in for an offensive rebound and putback, Sanda made a jumper after KP missed the front end of a one-and-one, Andrews hit the first of two free throws for a 38-34 lead, and then Steevens Phelimond hauled in Andrews’ miss on the second attempt and put it back for a 40-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“The press is trying to get them out of a rhythm, get turnovers, its all of the above,” Gallivan said. “But we can’t score on their set defense, they are too long. When we tried, it looked awful. But when we got out in transition, and even though it might seem like a quick shot, it was the best shot. The press can make you or break you but I thought we got enough out of it to stay in it. Even at the end, we backed it up some but stayed in it just to slow them down and make them think a little bit. If that game went on for 30 more seconds, who knows.”

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Stoughton started the fourth when it forced a turnover and Andrews found Bell for an easy two. Layman answered with a triple and Stoughton missed its ensuing shot, but once again Sanda came flying in unguarded and converted the putback.

Holding a 44-38 lead, Stoughton’s effort on the offensive glass paid off once again. Its first shot missed but Bell grabbed the board and put it back up while being fouled. He sank the free throw for a 47-38 lead with 5:39 to play.

Stoughton won the rebounding battle, 45-31.

“I thought all of the putbacks were huge because maybe the original shot wasn’t a great one, but the putbacks were key,” Gallivan said. “I thought Sanda really started that whole thing, he got a couple early on. I said the kids before the game that if they win the rebounding battle that you’ll win this game. We know long shots mean long rebounds and those go to the quicker team.”

The Black Knights used the full press from the beginning of the game and forced 10 turnovers in the first half. While only four of those came in the first quarter, Stoughton’s defense mainly focused King Philip into bad shots. The Warriors shot just 24% in the first eight minutes (4-for-17) while going 0-for-4 from three-point range.

Though King Philip’s offense struggled to find a rhythm, its defense kept them in the game and in the lead. Even though Stoughton made nearly half of their shots in the opening quarter, the Black Knights turned the ball over 11 times and trailed 11-9 after one.

Stoughton took a lead, 14-13, on a triple from Phelimond but Santillus (17 points, 11 rebounds) caught fire to bring the hosts back in front. He converted a feed from King for two, drained a three on a feed from Tim Nault, and after Layman and Sanda traded basket, the junior splashed in another shot from downtown. Andrew McKinney capped the run with a runner to give KP a 25-16 edge.

But the Black Knights refused to go away, closing the half on a 6-0 run to get within three at the break. Bell contributed three straight points and Andrews drilled a three with two minutes to go. Neither team scored in the final two minutes of the half.

“It was 25-22 at halftime, there really wasn’t a lot of rhythm,” said KP head coach Mark Champagne. “We lost Pharoah for a stretch in the third, and then the other guys were tentative against it so [the press] did hurt us. Pharoah can create more against it so not having him hurt. But I thought our shot selection was poor, I thought we really regressed on that. We had the wrong guys shooting the ball, just because they were open doesn’t make it the best shot.

“I told them if anybody asks what happened, tell them you were poorly coached because you really looked like it tonight, they really did it. We had mental lapses. We wanted to foul coming out of a timeout and we didn’t. We have a major focus problem. Kyle did a good job in his first game back, he was tired but he sucked it up, no issues with him. They had a lot of offensive rebounds, not so much by big guys cause they don’t have much. [Sanda] got a couple extra ones, again mental lapses from us not boxing out. We just can’t seem to get out of the gate, it’s frustrating.”

While KP’s defense focused on Andrews (eight points), Sanda and Bell picked up the slack. Sanda tied a career-high while Bell set a new mark. Both had double-digit rebounds as well.

“We need that balance,” Gallivan said, who also got seven points and solid defense from senior Justin Ly. “It can’t be one guy, no matter who the one guy is. Our best games are when its spread out among three guys. And it could be any three guys. Ruben did it earlier this season against Randolph, it just shows it can be anyone. It was good to see other guys step up and help Cam out because they obviously focused a lot on Cam.”

Stoughton boys basketball (2-7 Hockomock, 3-8 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts Franklin. King Philip (2-7, 2-9) will try to bounce back when it visits Sharon on the same night.

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Andrews, Gonzalez Spark Stoughton To First Win

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Cam Andrews converts a layup against Randolph in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
 
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RANDOLPH, Mass. – With a pair of starters out, Stoughton head coach John Gallivan turned to senior Ruben Gonzalez to give the Black Knights a defensive spark.

Not only did Gonzalez deliver a pesky defensive performance (three steals), the senior connected on five three-pointers and poured in a career-high 19 points to help the Black Knights pick up their first win of the season, an 80-60 decision over Randolph in the first round of the Blue Devils Holiday Classic.

Stoughton will play Natick in the championship of the tournament on Saturday night.

“What a spark he was,” Gallivan said.

Gonzalez got Stoughton’s offense going early, scoring eight of the team’s 18 first-quarter points including a pair of triples. And when Randolph’s defense decided to face guard senior Cam Andrews (career-high 31 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) for the entire fourth quarter, Gonzalez helped put the game to rest with eight more points, again on a pair of threes.

And in the two middle quarters, Andres took care of business. He scored 13 of his points in the third quarter, helping the Knights turn a seven-point lead at the end of the first (18-11) into a 36-23 advantage going into the halftime break.

When Randolph had its best offensive quarter of the game, netting 24 points in the third quarter, Andrews was equal to the task, scoring 12 of his own in the quarter to keep the lead at 13 (60-47) heading into the final frame.

“I thought he did a good job of letting it come to him,” Gallivan said. “And I thought our kids did a nice job of finding him on offensive rebounds. That’s the most open he’s going to be when they reverse pivot and kick it out to him. One that comes to mind is when Alex Sjoquist ripped one and instead of a 5’9 kid going up against a 6’4 kid, he turned and found Cam.”

The Blue Devils got within seven points just over the midway point of the second quarter, but Stoughton rattled off a 13-4 run over a two and a half minute span to build the separation it needed for the rest of the game.

Gonzalez got the run started with his third triple, and Andrews blew by his defender with a strong take to the hoop for a layup. Stoughton’s press worked as Gonzalez came up with a steal in the Randolph backcourt and tossed up a pass for an easy alley-layup for Andrews.

After a Randolph timeout, the Blue Devils got back on the board with a layup but Stoughton had a quick answer. After a miss, Sjoquist pulled in the rebound and found Andrews for the three, plus the foul, for a four-point play. It was the play that Gallivan alluded to.

Stoughton capped the run when Gonzalez forced another turnover and Andrews finished at the rim once again.

Randolph cut the deficit to single digits once in the second half, midway through the third quarter, but five straight points from Andrews restored Stoughton’s comfortable lead.

Colin Sanda added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for Stoughton while Steevens Phelimond (six points, five rebounds) and David Bell (five points, five rebounds) gave the Knights a presence in the paint.

“I think the important thing for us was to survive those first three Kelley-Rex games,” Gallivan said.

The Black Knights lost to Oliver Ames, Attleboro and Mansfield top begin the season; the three teams had a combined 9-3 record entering games on Thursday night.

“We actually had stretches where we played well against all three teams. If you lose those three games spread out over a couple of weeks, it’s no big deal. But you lose three in a row and it can seem like the sky is falling. These guys have done a good job of keeping their composure and doing things the way we want to do it. And I thought they played a full 32 minutes tonight, which was one of the focuses tonight. We’ve had good minutes, but not a full 32 until tonight.”

Stoughton boys basketball (0-3 Hockomock, 1-3 overall) will try to make it two in a row when it tips off against the Redhawks in the championship of the Blue Devils Holiday Classic on Saturday at 6:30.

King Philip Rides Fourth Quarter Run Past Stoughton

King Philip boys basketball
King Philip’s Pharoah Davis (right) goes up for a shot against Stoughton’s Cam Andrews (4). (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – In a game in which the largest lead either side had was four through the first three quarters, it was only a matter of time before one side rattled off a game-changing run.

That run came from the King Philip Warriors, who went on a 10-0 spurt that took less than two minutes in the final quarter to pick up a 62-51 win over Stoughton.

The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter (15-15), separated by just two at halftime (29-27 Stoughton) and again knotted through 24 minutes of play (42-42). The largest lead at that point was when the Black Knights led 25-21 late in the first half.

Stoughton scored on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter on baskets from Cam Gomes (12 points) but wouldn’t add another field goal the rest of the way. Nolan Bradley started the run, taking a pass from Pharoah Davis to tie the game at 46 with 5:44 to play.

Seth Sullivan (14 points) took in a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast for a layup on back to back possessions to give the Warriors a 50-46 lead. Sophomore Kyle Layman (21 points, six rebounds, three blocks) hit a jumper and then found Sullivan on a cut up the middle for a layup to cap the 10-0 run with four minutes to play.

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A free throw from Stoughton’s Cam Andrews (17 points, seven rebounds, three assists) followed by two more from Craig Goodrich brought the Black Knights within five (54-49) with 3:08 to play but Justin Vine answered on the other end for KP. After a stop defensively, KP missed on the other end but Will Weir grabbed the rebound and Sullivan converted two free throws with just under two minutes to play to make it 58-49.

“The wins are huge at this point in the season,” said KP head coach Mark Champagne said. “We have to win 11 [to qualify for the tournament] because we have the 21 games. It’s a really good win and we really needed the win too.”

“I think [the run] was all driven by their defense,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan. “They just stepped it up a notch and took it to a level that we didn’t have an answer for. A six point lead seemed like 26 when it’s been that kind of game. They stepped it up and we stepped it back, and that’s what happens.”

After missing time in the first half because of an eye injury, Sullivan gave the Warriors a big boost in the second half. The senior scored all of his 14 points in the second half with 10 of them coming in the final quarter.

“We had a lot of adversity int he first half with Seth out, [Tom] Madden sick – I thought he sucked it up and played well – and Noah Goodwin isn’t even here, he’s got the bug. Every team is going to go through the flu,” Champagne said. “That was a good, gritty win. We were tied after three, down two at halftime. We came out and did a good job against their pressure. I thought we scored off of it a lot. Down the stretch, it was a little scary with some of the decisions we made playing against the clock but they had to foul just to get the bonus so that wasted more time.”

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Both Layman and Andrews had strong starts for their respective sides. Layman was 4/7 from the field to net nine points in the opening quarter while Andrews was 3/5 (2/2 FT) to lead the Black Knights with nine points as the teams were tied 15-15.

Both sides got help from the bench in the second quarter. While Adrian Castillo and Bradley provided a spark for KP, Stoughton got four points from Izon Swain-Price and two points apiece from Justin Ly, Luis Monteiro and Matt Gallagher to take a 29-27 advantage into the break.

Although King Philip won the game, the Warriors were held without a three point field goal (0/10).

“Seth wasn’t in the game as much, [Justin] Vine stepped in on one he made – Justin did a good job down the stretch and Pharoah was in foul trouble in the first,” offered Champagne. “I thought Adrian Castillo and Nolan Bradley did a great job off the bench. Bradley only had seven points but they were big points.”

The win marked the second time Layman, just a sophomore, went over the 20-point mark this season. He scored a career-high 24 points earlier this month in a win over Taunton.

“It’s becoming more consistent, and as it should be,” Champagne said. “Just like Cam Andrews is for them, he’s a very good player. I think it’s a matter of confidence for a sophomore. Sophomore year is an interesting year but he’s done a great job for us.”

King Philip (4-8 overall, 3-6 Hockomock) will look to make it two in a row when they welcome Sharon to Wrentham on Friday night. Stoughton (3-8, 2-7) tries to bounce back the same night with a trip to Franklin.

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Second Half Adjustments Push Milford Past Stoughton

Milford boys basketball
Milford’s Kayden Kelley (left) and Zack Tamagni (right) surround Stoughton’s Izon Swain-Price in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – After 16 minutes of play, Milford head coach Paul Seaver knew he needed to change something.

Although his Scarlet Hawks trailed by just one, the defense was having a tough time stopping Stoughton junior Cam Andrews, who had 17 points by the halftime break.

The change came in the form of an intensified defensive effort with a full court 2-2-1 press, a switch from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone and a strong focus on getting offensive from down low.

Those changes resulted in a strong second half for the Scarlet Hawks and a 56-50 win over the Black Knights in both teams’ first Davenport clash of the season.

“It’s good to start the division games off on the right foot,” Seaver said. “It was a frustrating non-league loss on Wednesday. To bounce back two days later shows a lot of resiliency from the guys. We finally get to go home next week after five of our first eight on the road. But we have to turn the page and have a good practice tomorrow.”

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Stoughton jumped out to an early lead but Milford chipped away and took its first lead, 11-10, behind a layup from Zack Tamagni (17 points) in the final minute.

Andrews (20 points, seven rebounds) took control of the second quarter – a frame that saw five lead changes in the first minute alone before Stoughton held a slim lead the rest of the way. Andrews shot 4/5 from the field and 4/4 from the free throw line for 13 points in the quarter. Tamagni helped keep the Scarlet Hawks close, registering eight points in the frame while Zach Tomarro hit a late three to bring Milford within one, 27-26, at halftime.

With the changes installed to start the second half, the first four minutes when nearly as perfect as Seaver could have hoped for. Milford’s zone disrupted the rhythm of Stoughton’s offense as the Black Knights went 0/5 from the field and had four turnovers in four minutes.

“Even when we got open looks, we didn’t him them and we were tentative,” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan said. “I thought a lot of that started at the far end with their full court stuff. Even if they didn’t get a steal, they made everyone think twice before you do one thing. Sometimes if it was between ‘A’ and ‘B’ and we chose ‘A,’ it should have been ‘B.’”

Meanwhile on the other end, Milford’s game plan to get junior Kayden Kelley (16 points 11 rebounds) touches was working. Kelley went 4/6 to start the quarter, including a put back off a miss for an 8-0 run of his own to start the second half.

“Cam Andrews ate us up in the first half so that’s pretty much why we needed to go zone,” Seaver said. “[Getting the ball down low] was a focus for us and [Kayden] wanted the ball, he was demanding the ball tonight and he did a good job and that’s what he needs to do,” Seaver said. “He’s an upperclassman now, he’s been on the team for a couple of years. Tonight might have been his best offensive game of his career.”

Cam Gomes (13 points, 10 rebounds) converted a traditional three point play to break Stoughton’s scoreless skid but Kelley came back down the other end with another post basket. Stoughton’s Matt Valle (eight points) drained a three late to cut the deficit to four but a pair of free throws from Milford’s Brendan White gave the Scarlet Hawks a 41-35 lead going into the final quarter.

Tamagni had four points in the first three minutes of the final quarter while Gomes had a pair of free throws. With Milford leading 45-37, Tammaro stepped up to bury a three on back-to-back possessions and the Scarlet Hawks took a 51-37 lead with four and a half minutes to go.

“I thought the kids played hard, I thought they did a nice job of executing our defensive game plan,” Gallivan said. “Milford has some tough guys out there, they have a lot of weapons. If you focus too much on the three-point line, and you saw what happened in the third quarter with Kelley, he was a beast in that quarter. You choose your poison and sometimes its not pretty either way.”

Milford was able to keep a 10 point cushion for the rest of the way until Stoughton scored four points in the final 30 seconds.

Milford boys basketball (4-3 overall, 2-2 Hockomock) return to action on Tuesday with a visit from Canton. Stoughton (1-5, 0-4) will try to bounce back on the same day when it hosts Foxboro.

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Late Rebounds Help Stoughton Land Win At Randolph

Stoughton boys basketball
Stoughton’s Cam Gomes goes up for a shot in the second half against Randolph. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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RANDOLPH, Mass. – Through three quarters, Randolph held a significant advantage on the boards and a four point lead on the scoreboard.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Boys Basketball: 2016-17 Davenport Division Preview

2016-2017 Davenport Boys Basketball Preview

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2016-2017 Davenport Boys Basketball Preview

Canton

2015-2016 Record: 2-18
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ryan Gordy

After a difficult 2015-2016 season, the Bulldogs are looking to build on a strong offseason to have successful season this time around. Canton returns a strong core group that has a year of varsity experience under their belts now.

Junior Tony Harris had a strong sophomore year, leading the Bulldogs in scoring with 13.6 points per game and should be a big factor on both ends of the court this season. Sophomore Devin Foster had a terrific freshman season and will pair with junior Jake Verille, who saw plenty of time a year ago, to form an experienced backcourt.

The Bulldogs will rely on that experienced back court to pace the offense. Canton has a handful of weapons that can connect from deep as well. Defensively, expect Canton to rotate small and big lineups, depending on the matchup.

“The feeling around our program is that we are building momentum and have a chance to be pretty good relatively soon,” Canton head coach Ryan Gordy said. “This is a connected team who will be ready to grind out the always tough Hockomock League schedule.”

Foxboro

2015-2016 Record: 19-5
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinal
Coach: Jon Gibbs

Out of all of the teams in the Davenport division, the Warriors certainly have the most holes to fill from a year ago. HockomockSports.com First Teamer Alex DuBrow (15 PPG, 7.1 APG, 2.8 SPG), leading scorer Jason Procaccini (16.3 PPG) and leading rebounder Robbie Lowey (10.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG) all graduated.

The good news is that Foxboro does have some players coming back that have varsity experience, including Joe Morrison, Jamaine Few, Andrew Block and Mark Clagg – his fourth year on varsity. Freshman Brandon Borde could make an impact right away for the Warriors as well.

The Warriors will continue to prioritize defense and rebounding again this season but the offensive game will have to change. Without their top three scorers, Foxboro will rely on sharing the ball and a balanced scoring attack for this season.

“We have a group of high character kids that are working extremely hard every day, they are fun to coach,” Foxboro head coach Jon Gibbs said. “Practice has been very competitive, and we are focusing on daily improvement. If we stay committed to continuing to get better, we believe that we will be in position to achieve our goals at the end of the year.”

Milford

2015-2016 Record: 10-11
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 Central First Round
Coach: Paul Seaver

After making a big jump in wins last season, head coach Paul Seaver and his Scarlet Hawks are looking to continue that trend in the 2016-2017 season. Milford qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2013 a year ago and are looking to make it two seasons in a row.

One big challenge will be replacing some of the scoring that graduated. Leading scorer Dimitry Torres (14.5) and second leading scorer Dwight Anderson (12.7) both are gone but senior Zack Tamagni, who scored 10.4 points a game a year ago, is back to lead the Scarlet Hawks this season.

Tamagni, who will pace the offense from the point guard position, will be helped along by senior Anthony Arcudi, who saw plenty of minutes a season ago, and junior Kayden Kelley, who begins his third year on varsity.

Arcudi will help replace some of the outside shooting that graduated while Kelley will give Milford a presence in the post. Tamagni can score from multiple spots on the court and his ability to move the ball and find the open teammate will pay dividends this season.

“Our goal this season is take the next step forward with our program,” Seaver said. “We have some production to replace, but we have the leadership and experience to do so. This is my third season at Milford and I believe that this is the best defensive team that I’ve had.”

North Attleboro

2015-2016 Record: 8-12
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Sean Mulkerrins

A switch to the Davenport division might have come at the perfect time for the Rocketeers, who have a strong core of experienced players looking to make a push for the postseason.

The Rocketeers have seven varsity players back from a year ago, including seniors Brent Doherty and Jonny Friberg, who have both started since their sophomore seasons. Doherty was third in scoring in the Hockomock a year ago with 16.8 points per game, as well as 4.2 RPG and 3.0 APG while Friberg offered Big Red rebounding (5.8 RPG) and a post option on offense (8.8 PPG).

Doherty and Friberg have a strong supporting cast with Kyle McCarthy, Chad Peterson, Tom Reynolds and Hacmoni Cuevas all getting plenty of minutes last season. The Rocketeers deployed more man-to-man defense a year ago after relying on zone the year prior. Expect Big Red to mix it up this year, and with experience using both, the defense could be a solid weapon.

“We believe our strength will be our experience in running our system,” North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins said. “The experience should allow us to develop a more consistent offense which relies on ball movement, spacing, and great shot selection.”

Sharon

2015-2016 Record: 12-10
2015-2016 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Andrew Ferguson

Sharon is bringing back just three players from a year ago so the Eagles will be relying on new faces to step up for the 2016-2017 season.

Though just three players are back, three-year starter Ricardo Ripley is one of them. His experience and skill will be vital, quarterbacking the offense and leading the charge defensively. Both Jimmy Fitzhenry and Malik Lorquet picked up varsity experience last year and will likely see expanded roles this year.

Expect the Eagles to use their speed and athleticism on both ends of the court to try and bother teams. Offensively, Sharon has a couple of shooters that can help space out the floor, which can provide Ripley with the space he needs.

“We’re going to need some of our less experienced varsity players to step up throughout the year,” Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson said. “There is some great chemistry on our team and we’re pushing each other in practice, so hopefully that extends into the season.”

Stoughton

2015-2016 Record: 7-13
2015-2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: John Gallivan

The Black Knights will be relying on a big senior class in the 2016-2017 while trying to get back to the postseason and make a push for the division title.

Stoughton has 10 seniors, including captains Ryan Sullivan, Cam Gomes and Matt Valle. Junior Cam Andrews is also a captain for the team. The Black Knights were able to give teams problems with their pace last year and will look to do the same again this year.

With plenty of athletes, the Black Knights will use their speed to try and run past teams while applying lots of pressure on the defensive end. Andrews (12.9 PPG as a sophomore) is one of the top returning scorers in the league and can be a handful for defenses to deal with.

“All four are captains and have two to three years of varsity experience each,” Stoughton head John Gallivan said. “Although we aren’t a real tall team, we have great speed and quickness and plan to play fast as much as possible.”