The objective was simple for the Stoughton High boys’ basketball team: play the whole game. After giving up the lead against and almost letting come back earlier this season, falling asleep was not going to be an option against King Philip.
“All we talked about is [playing] 32 minutes or more if we have to,” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan said.
In a jammed pack KP gym, the walked away with an important win. With both schools’ fans bringing the noise, it was the Stoughton fans who had the last laugh Tuesday night.
“It feels good, really good. We came to their home court, they had a crazy crowd and we shut them up,” Stoughton guard Aaron Calixte said.
Stretching the lead to 11 late in the game, the Black Knights beat the Warriors 73-69 in a pivotal Hockomock League matchup between 9-1 teams.
A close game for most of the first half, the Black Knights made their stand in the second half when a switch to the zone defense made life tough for Jake Layman (30 points, 13 rebounds). The Maryland bound senior had 17 points in the first half but made sure that he couldn't get to the basket too easily.
“It took Jake out of the flow of the game,” KP head coach Sean McInnis said. “It was tough to get Jake inside because he was fighting so hard just to get down there, he exhausted a lot of energy just to do that.”
“Marcus is just an animal defensively,” Gallivan said. “He covers everyone’s best player so why should we switch it? He did a great job.”
Struggling to get to the basket, KP was forced to go to the three point shot but couldn’t find success with the outside jumper.
“Our problem was that we took too many threes and stopped going inside which was very successful for us at the start of the third period,” McInnis said.
Once again the Stoughton backcourt of Calixte and Middleton stole the show. The speed of the two guards alone was too much for the Warriors and both players were successful in driving to the basket and drawing valuable fouls. Calixte alone was 17-22 from the line while Middleton was 8-8 with both hitting big free throws at the end of the game.
“Middleton and Calixte were tremendous tonight,” McInnis said.
Calixte ended the game with 29 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. It was one point shy of the game high set by Layman at 30 points. Layman also had 13 rebounds. Middleton ended the game with 20 points. Sam McDonald scored 13 points for KP.
Stoughton held a 21-18 lead after one, and a 44-36 lead at the half, but KP went on an 11-3 run in the first 4:30 of the third to tie the game at 47. The Black Knights went into the fourth quarter with a slim one-point lead, 53-52, before holding off KP in the final eight minutes for the win.
The victory now gives the Black Knights a Hockomock-best record of 10-1 overall and 7-1 in league play.
The Warriors now fall a game behind Mansfield in the race for first place in the Kelley-Rex Division standings with a record of 9-2 overall and 6-3 in league play.
The Black Knights will host Attleboro on Friday, January 27 while King Philip will travel to Oliver Ames High School on the same night.
Take a look at postgame video reaction from Stoughton Coach John Gallivan and Aaron Calixte in the media gallery above (videos by Ryan Lanigan).