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Stoughton High Girls' Basketball Pulls Away Down the Stretch Against Mansfield

With Mansfield leading 46-45 about midway through the fourth, Stoughton closed Tuesday's game on a 15-2 run, winning 60-48.

Check out photos from the game and a video interview with Nicole Daniels and Mackenzie McGrath in the media gallery of this article.

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Tuesday's game with Mansfield was looking like it could be a repeat of the Foxborough game from last Tuesday where Mackenzie McGrath hit the game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds left to give the Stoughton High girls' basketball team a dramatic win.

Mansfield and Stoughton were trading points for pretty much the whole game, and as the fourth quarter progressed there was no sign that either team would let up.

But Stoughton made sure there was no late game theatrics this time around. Trailing 46-45 about midway through the fourth quarter after Mansfield had just retaken the lead, Black Knights went on a decisive 15-2 run to earn a 60-48 victory at home - a final margin not indicative of how close these two teams played until the game opened up in the final few minutes.

Stoughton is now 7-2 on the season, beating Mansfield without starting point guard Emma Zuk (who was out with an illness). Mansfield, meanwhile, falls to 2-8.

"Down the stretch the kids showed some composure and put the game away from the [foul] line," Stoughton coach Janet Sullivan said of her team's effort, noting Stoughton's 7/10 showing from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. "[Mansfield's] a good team. They're very, very aggressive, very scrappy and they gave us a good test tonight."

Stoughton entered the fourth quarter down 39-38, but a Mansfield three-pointer quickly made it a four-point deficit, 42-38. But back-to-back baskets from Nicole Daniels and Mackenzie McGrath tied the game. When Mansfield retook the lead, 44-42, McGrath answered again with a three-pointer.

Mansfield answered once more, giving the Hornets a 46-45 lead, but Daniels and McGrath stepped up again with back-to-back scores, giving Stoughton a 49-46 lead with 2:25 left to play.

A series of Mansfield missed shots and miscues, coupled with Stoughton's aforementioned performance from the free throw line allowed the Black Knights to increase the lead to double digits. Mansfield didn't score again until there was only half a minute left to play, as Stoughton came away with a 12-point win.

"We had some good looks, we just didn't make them," Mansfield coach Mike Redding said of his team's performance in the final minutes of the game.

"You get into those last [few] minutes in a 1-point game it's going to be the team that finishes," Redding said. "We were making the three to stay in it and then we couldn't make those big threes in the last two or three minutes to hang around. We played hard and got beat by a good team."

After Stoughton took a 22-20 lead into the half, Mansfield responded with an 8-0 run to start the third, but Stoughton erased the deficit, and the teams went back and forth for the rest of the third and the beginning of the fourth, until Stoughton made its final run.

Daniels led Stoughton with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

"We did as much as we could to take her away, but she got some big rebounds and made some tough shots. There's only so much you can do with that much skill and size in the paint," Redding said.

McGrath was Stoughton's other big scorer, finishing with 19 for Stoughton, including 14 in the second half. She also had 12 assists.

Sullivan said the plan was to get Daniels the ball in the post in the first half, opening up the court for the outside shooters in the second half. Stoughton executed this to near perfection with McGrath, Ashley Medeiros and Marlena Siegel all hitting key three-pointers in the second half.

Sullivan also praised the play of LeiAndra Busby, who started in place Zuk.

"[Busby] played very composed. She did a great job running the offense and her quickness made a difference for us on defense," Sullivan said.

McGrath and Medeiros also helped with the ball handling duties.

In addition to Daniels and McGrath, who accounted for two-thirds of Stoughton's scoring, Medeiros had 7 points, Busby had 4 points and Siegel had 3 points. Ariene Ohimor added 5 points and 7 rebounds.

Alyssa Kelley led Mansfield with 12 points, while Janet Maher added 11 and Gina Stoyle had 9.

Stoughton faces perhaps its toughest test of the season on Friday when 9-0 Oliver Ames makes a trip to SHS for a Hockomock League Davenport Division showdown. Mansfield plays North Attleboro the same night.

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