The Stoughton High boys’ varsity basketball team started strong and finished strong Monday evening, beating Walpole 57-40 in the consolation game of the Walpole Hoop Classic at Walpole High.
“Losing is never a good thing, but you learn from it,” Aaron Calixte said.
Stoughton started the game on a 16-2 run and ended on a 16-3 run, but in the middle, Walpole made things interesting.
After taking a 21-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 28-16 lead at the half, Walpole cut Stoughton’s lead to just six, 39-33, heading into the fourth.
Walpole’s Johnny Adams fed Tim Merrigan underneath the hoop with 5:50 left to bring the Rebels within four, 41-37, with 5:50 left.
But then Stoughton pulled away with a decisive 16-3 run. Mauro Oliveira started the run with back-to-back three-pointers over a 30-second span to push the Black Knights’ lead to 10, ending any threats of a Walpole comeback.
“We just played better defense in the fourth quarter. We had more of a purpose out there and Mauro did hit some good shots and that’s what we needed at that point,” Stoughton coach John Gallivan said. “He’s had a few games like that this season. Hopefully that’s a good sign going forward.”
Gallivan gave credit to Walpole, a 2-17 squad, for not quitting after falling behind by double-digits.
“They didn’t quit at all. They played hard, hit some shots and I think we kind of played like it was in the bag for a while there and had to reach down in the fourth quarter and find an extra gear,” he said.
Marcus Middleton added, “I think we were just all tired of having that feeling of teams coming back and the feeling of we could possibly lose this game. We wanted to come out and just play so that we didn’t [lose] so we could have that bounce back game and get back on the right track again.”
Middleton was named to the Walpole Hoop Classic All-Tournament Team. The junior tri-captain led Stoughton with 19 points against Walpole, and had 31 points overall in the two-game tournament.
Aaron Calixte had a bounce back game himself. After Needham held him to six points on Sunday, Calixte had a triple double against Walpole, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Both Calixte and Middleton were unanimous selections on this year’s Hockomock League All-Star squad.
“It’s a testament to the way they play together and the way they have led us this year,” Gallivan said.
Oliveira had 8 points against Walpole, while Mike Gallagher added 4 points. Antonio Ferreira had 8 points and 12 rebounds.
Merrigan led the Rebels with 10 points, while Adams had 9.
Stoughton ends the regular season with a 16-4 record and will find out its tournament opponent on Friday. The Black Knights will most likely be a 3 or 4 seed in the Division 2 South Sectional bracket of the MIAA State Tournament.
“We like the fact that we’re relatively healthy. Steffan [Jackson] is closer and closer to coming back and we seemed to have survived the illnesses that plagued us earlier and now it’s just time to start the new season,” Gallivan said.
“Everybody’s record is the same when you throw that ball up in the first round and we’ll find out our matchup on Friday and we’ll be scouting all week. It’s a great time of year.”