Last Friday's games vs. Oliver Ames marked the midway point in the 2012-2013 winter season for the Stoughton High boys' and girls' basketball teams. Both have played 10 games and both have 10 remaining.
Here's a look back at the first half of the season for both teams and a look ahead to the second half and what each squad needs to do to earn a postseason berth.
Both squads made the postseason last season and are looking to do so again this winter.Stoughton High Boys Stoughton High Girls Current Record 4-6 7-3 First Half Report
After losing a strong core of players from last season's Division 2 South Sectional championship team, Stoughton was looking to find a new identity throughout the first half of the season.
Despite a below .500 record Stoughton has shown flashes of a team that can make another run in the MIAA state tournament. Stoughton has done a solid job of hanging tight with tough teams, playing very close games against Hockomock power houses Milford and Mansfield and have proven they can compete with the "big boys."
However, Stoughton has come up short in several close games with three of the team's losses coming in the final minutes of play.
Throughout the first half of the season Stoughton has received strong performances from senior captains Marcus Middleton and Joe Bunce-Grenon. Senior captain Mauro Oliveira has been another scoring option. Junior big men Joey Wilder and Stanley Sajous have also been key assets for the Black Knights as both are strong on the boards for Stoughton thus far. Junior Mike Gallagher drew praise from Stoughton coach John Gallivan for his consistency and "top notch" effort. Galagher has been solid defensively, guarding the opposition's most dangerous player and handling the ball at point guard on offense.
Led by senior captains Nicole Daniels, Emma Zuk and Mackenzie McGrath, the Stoughton girls' basketball team has put together an impressive first half of the season and the Black Knights look to build on the 7-3 start in the second half.
One of the keys to the team's 7-3 start is the complimentary inside-outside game Stoughton has been executing on offense. It starts with Daniels inside and her presence in the key opens up the outside shooting and the likes of Zuk, McGrath, junior Ashley Medeiros and senior Marlena Siegel have taken advantage. Daniels and senior Ariene Ohimor have also cleaned up on the boards on both ends of the court. Daniels alters how the opposition runs its offense. Senior Megan Crimmins, junior Kayla Motley and sophomores LeiAndra Busby and Taitenna Thomas have also played well.
Health is the biggest concern right now as the team goes through it's toughest stretch of the season, which started vs. Oliver Ames last Friday (a loss to the now 10-0 Tigers) and continues with games this upcoming week at North Attleboro (9-3) and Sharon (5-3).
Against Oliver Ames on Jan. 18, Zuk, Busby, Ohimor, Crimmins, Sarah Purcell and Emily Cramer were all out. While Stoughton figures to still be short-handed this upcoming week, the team is on its way to getting healthy, coach Janet Sullivan said.Road to the State Tournament To qualify for the MIAA state tournament and make a run back to the TD Garden, Stoughton needs to get 6 wins in the remaining 10 games to reach the 10-win threshold. There is not much room for error here.
The Stoughton girls are in good shape in terms of earning back-to-back berths in the state tournament. Stoughton needs just 3 more wins to qualify for the postseason with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
High Point Stoughton's impressive win against Sharon, 63-54, back in December deems to be the high of the season thus far for the Black Knights as Sharon has since heated up, going 7-2 since that loss. Stoughton's gritty comeback win at Canton Jan. 12 was also a highlight. While the Stoughton girls crusied to a title in their winter vacation tournament in Hingham, the highlight of the season thus far is the team overcoming an early deficit at Foxborough Jan. 8. MacKenzie McGrath hit a game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds left to give Stoughton a dramatic 45-44 victory. Low Point Stoughton's last game against Oliver Ames was a game that Stoughton was viewing as very important not only in their quest for 10 wins but also because any game against rival Oliver Ames is one that Stoughton would like to win. Stoughton came out flat and the Black Knights were not able to hit shots consistently throughout the game, losing 74-62. While it was just the second game of the season, Stoughton's 48-27 home loss to Sharon is the low-point. Stoughton has been competitive in its other two losses at Franklin and vs. Oliver Ames. Stoughton will have a chance to avenge the Sharon loss this upcoming Friday, Jan. 25. Remaining Schedule North Attleboro (1/22); Sharon (1/25); @Milford (1/29); @King Philip (2/1); Taunton (2/5); @Foxborough (2/8); Canton (2/12); Oliver Ames (2/15); @Walpole Tourney vs. Boston Latin (2/17); @Walpole Tourney vs TBA (2/18)
@North Attleboro (1/22); @Sharon (1/25); Milford (1/29); King Philip (2/1); @Taunton (2/5); Foxborough (2/8); @Canton (2/12); @Oliver Ames (2/15); @Sharon High Showcase vs. Holliston (2/18); @Sharon High Showcase vs. Notre Dame Academy Second Half Outlook
"We need consistency in the second half of the season. You can't go into a game wondering who is going to step up," Stoughton coach John Gallivan said.
"It comes down to simple math. Ten games left - we need to find six wins. It doesn't matter who they are, we just have to get to six," Gallivan continued.
"We need six [wins], but you can't get six at a time," Gallivan added. "So we look at North Attleboro as the most important game of the year and go from there.""We've had a great first half," Stoughton coach Janet Sullivan said. "I'm just so impressed with the way they've pulled together, the team chemistry, Every game somebody new is stepping up."
"I'm very optimistic about our chances to make tournament at this point and maybe make some impact in tournament this year," Sullivan continued.