The last time the Oliver Ames boys’ basketball team traveled to Stoughton, the Black Knights came away with a in February of 2011 after Eric MacKinnon’s three pointer rimmed out as time expired in the fourth extra period.
This time around, there was no need for overtime or late game dramatics. Stoughton won the first matchup this season between the two Davenport Division rivals, , handing Oliver Ames its first loss of the season (5-1) Friday night in Stoughton. Meanwhile, Stoughton remains unbeaten at 6-0.
Despite the 19-point final margin, Stoughton coach John Gallivan will be the first to tell you the score was deceiving.
“Everyone is going to think it was easy, but it was hard,” he said.
Stoughton led the entire game, including by as many as 17 at the half (36-19). But each time it looked as if the OA deficit had become insurmountable, the Tigers started to make a comeback.
However, Stoughton always had an answer and they were able to respond with runs of their own.
“We got just enough stops and just enough big plays out of the guys that start and the guys that come off the bench,” Gallivan said.
Oliver Ames cut the Stoughton lead to 48-43 three minutes into the fourth, but the Tigers scored only one more point the rest of the way and took over the game for the Black Knights on the offensive end. The junior guard finished with a game-high 26 points, including 13 in the final quarter.
With Stoughton up 5, Calixte scored the next 8 points for Stoughton, pushing the Black Knight advantage to 56-44 with 3:50 left. Stoughton scored the game’s final 7 points to close with a 15-1 run, and take the victory.
“Once we had to come out of our scheme and match them up man we had problems,” OA coach Don Byron said. “Calixte is just a handful for one kid even with a lot of help. He’s just a handful to try to guard.”
Stoughton jumped out to a 9-0 lead early in the first, with four different players hitting shots for the Black Knights.
Calixte said it was “very important” to start strong against a quality opponent like OA.
“We always [want to] come out strong. We always [want to] play good and get a good run and then capitalize off it and keep the lead,” he said.
Byron added: “We got a little impatient and we shot the ball quickly and long and the rebounds were coming out long and all of a sudden we were looking at that deficit.”
After Stoughton held a 20-10 advantage at the end of one, Oliver Ames came out with a mini 5-0 run to start the second, capped by Nick Cidado draining a three-pointer. But, Calixte responded with 5 straight points, including a three of his own, and Stoughton went on a 16-4 run to close the half, highlighted by a Calixte dunk with 43 seconds left.
“At the end of the first half I thought our shot selection kind of triggered their offensive stuff,” Byron said. “We went from something manageable…to [trailing by] 16 or 17.”
A 7-0 run coming out of the half, and a 10-0 run later in the third brought OA within six points late in the quarter (42-36), but Stoughton didn’t buckle. After the Tigers outscored the Black Knights 17-8 in the third, Stoughton turned in a 19-8 effort in the final frame.
Calixte had 6 assists to go long with his 26 points. Marcus Middleton had 12 points and Mauro Oliveira added 11. Steffan Jackson (7 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Raymond Bowdre (4 points, 11 rebounds) contributed with all-around efforts on both ends of the court.
“The difference between us now and us a year ago is we have an inside presence defensively that we just didn’t before,” Gallivan said. “The OA games last year and the year before were all about them pounding it inside and us bombing away from the outside and sometimes it worked for us and sometimes it didn’t. Now we feel like we can contest much better inside.”
Nick Bruha led Oliver Ames with 20 points. Andrew Reardon and St. Clair Ryan both chipped in with six points.
“[Middleton] did a great job on [Bruha],” Gallivan said. “We felt we had to make him earn every point. He’s a great player. He’s been around forever. He was a problem for us in ninth grade and he’s still a problem for us. He got 20, but he earned it.”
Stoughton’s now the lone undefeated team left in the Hockomock League, but the win over OA means more than the 6-0 start to the season, Gallivan suggested.
“The 6-0 record is not something we make a big deal out of. Playing Oliver Ames we make a big deal out of and beating Oliver Ames we make a big deal out of because these games are always so great,” Gallivan said.
“If we were just 3-3 right now and just won that game, we probably would be just as excited as we are right now because its such a great rivalry and those OA kids, they play hard and they gave us all we could handle for most of the game.”
Stoughton hosts Mansfield on Tuesday, while Oliver Ames looks to bounce back against at home on the same night.
Friday's game, played before a capacity crowd (and then some), was dedicated to former Stoughton High Athletic Director , who died on December 23, 2011, after a four-month battle with brain cancer. A moment of silence was held prior to the start of the game.