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.
“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.
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.