Trailing in the middle of the fourth quarter, Stoughton’s two best players each stepped up to do what they do best. Junior guard scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the final frame, while classmate Marcus Middleton provided “the best defense” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan has ever seen in .
Despite falling behind as much as 8 points late in the game, the fourth-seeded stormed back to knock of #13 Duxbury, 69-63, in the first round of the MIAA Division 2 South Sectional boys’ basketball tournament, Tuesday night.
“Offensively it was Aaron of course,” Gallivan said of what sparked the comeback. “Defensively, Marcus turned that game around putting that kind of ball pressure on the perimeter. Anybody who tried to bring the ball up, he was a nightmare for them.”
Along with his 31 points, Calixte added 9 rebounds and 8 assists. The dynamic point guard scored in various manners in the fourth, including from behind the arc, by driving in the lane, and from the charity stripe.
“I didn’t look at the score, I just looked to get points on the board,” Calixte said. “If I’m not shooting well, I know I have to work inside to outside. I just kept shooting, that’s what shooters do.”
Stoughton (17-4) was sparked defensively by seniors Antonio Ferreira, who had 4 blocks – including a thunderous block during Duxbury’s last ditch effort – and Steffan Jackson, who made his first appearance since injuring his ankle .
Duxbury was paced offensively by Curtis Owen (22 points) who consistently found success with his mid-range jumper. However, Jackson clamped down in the fourth quarter, catching on to Owen’s quick catch-and-shoot method, and allowed Owen to score only one point.
“We’re a different team with [Jackson] and we’re a different team without him and we’re just glad he’s back,” Gallivan said. “That’s a credit to our training staff. Our trainer Jen [Dowd] is amazing. She did yeomen’s work getting him back here.”
Gallivan called Duxbury (11-10) one of the best teams that Stoughton has played all year, which is a high praise considering Stoughton has played , Mansfield, , Oliver Ames, and Needham.
“Maybe getting the home game was bigger than we thought,” he said. “I thought that the kids were really excited to play here and play in front of the crowd. And the crowd stayed with them.”
After two Duxbury free throws by Khai Perry, the Black Knights finished the game on a 15-1 run.
Trailing 62-54, Calixte came back down and nailed a three. After Duxbury turned the ball over, Calixte drove to the basket for another two points, bringing the Black Knights within three, 62-59. After another Stoughton defensive stop, junior Mauro Oliveira drained a three from the corner to tie the game at 62, sending the Stoughton gymnasium into a frenzy.
It was then Calixte who put the Black Knights ahead for good with a layup underneath the basket. Solid free throw shooting from Calixte (4/5) in the waning minutes sealed the deal for Stoughton.
After Stoughton took a 22-21 lead at the end of the first quarter, Duxbury held a 39-36 lead at the half and a 58-50 lead at the end of three quarters. Stoughton still trailed by 8 points with less than five minute to go, before going on the decisive run to complete the comeback and win the game.
The Black Knights will now face Norwood, the #12 seed in a Division 2 South Sectional quarterfinal game on Thursday, March 1. The Mustangs (12-9) upset the #5 seed, Medfield (14-7), 62-50 Tuesday night in a first round game.
Thursday’s quarterfinal game will take place at Canton High, but Stoughton will be the “home” team.
Take a look at the updated Division 2 South Sectional Bracket in the media gallery, or by clicking on the link: South Division 2