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)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

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)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.