In a game that spotlighted , it was the efficient shooting of one team that stole the show.
The upended the Burlington Red Devils, 79-66, with tremendous shooting from beyond the arc, netting 16 three-pointers,
The Black Knights start the season 1-0, while Burlington now falls to 0-2.
“Shooting,” replied Stoughton head coach John Gallivan when asked what worked for his team Tuesday night on the road.
“If we shoot the three like that, everything seems easy; the middle opens up. The kids moved the ball well, they didn’t settle for a good shot when they could make an extra pass and get a great shot.”
Burlington head coach Tom Lyons shared the same sentiment as Gallivan.
“That’s one of the top teams I’ve ever seen come in here,” he said. “We stayed with them in the first quarter in terms of shooting. We shot the ball very well. But they just shot it well all night long.”
It looked as though things weren’t going to go the Black Knights’ way at first, as Burlington quickly jumped out to a 12-2 lead. Then Stoughton pulled a play from their bag of tricks, to set up Antonio “Nuke” Ferreira for an alley-oop.
“He’s night and day [from last year],” Gallivan said. “I thought his dunk early on was a big turning point. It kind of lit the spark a little bit.”
Stoughton went on a 21-7 run to close the first quarter, ending the period up 23-19. The Black Knights took a double-digit lead, 43-32, into the half. Burlington was unable to mount a comeback in the second half, with Stoughton coming away with the 13-point road victory.
Stoughton junior led all scorers with a career-high 28 points while classmates Aaron Calixte chipped in with 22 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals and Mauro Olivera added 15 points in his varsity debut.
“He’s a leader,” Gallivan said of Middleton. “Him and Aaron have been together forever. He just had a phenomenal game tonight, both offensively and defensively.”
For Middleton, he knew he would have to step up this year in the absence of , who graduated this past spring.
“As a captain, I thought I’d have to step up my scoring game,” he said. “I know people are going to come in knowing Aaron can score and do a lot of things. He’s a phenomenal player. I thought that I’d have to help him out and be more aggressive on offense.”
Senior captain Mark Melanson and sophomore Christien Morneweck led the Red Devils in scoring with 17 points apiece, while Gallivan’s son, Connor, who is the starting point guard and a captain for Burlington, finished with 7.
“I think Connor was looking forward to that,” Lyons said of son playing against father. “Connor’s a very competitive kid. I think he was looking forward to it. I really wasn’t, for the simple fact John knows all my kids. Saying that, I think Connor really enjoyed playing against his dad.”
Ferreira finished the game with 6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals, while also altering many shots the Red Devils attempted. Though he didn’t score them, he had a direct effect on Stoughton’s ability to get looks from the perimeter.
“Nuke does so much,” Middleton said. “He’s such a big body; he’s tall, he’s lanky, he has a great leaping ability. When he’s down on the block, people have to know him as a threat so they have to sink down on him and that opens people up on the perimeter.”
When Stoughton fell behind early, they turned up their defensive pressure, applying a full-court trap.
“We’ve got two defensive backs from the football team in the second row [Middleton and Calixte] and that’s kind of what they need to be,” Gallivan said. “We’ve got two long guys in Mauro and Steffan [Jackson] in the front row and they force it to the second row guys.”
Stoughton will open up divisional and league play this Friday when they host the Foxboro Warriors.
“This Friday is going to be a big game,” Middleton said. “It’s the first division game, this game [Burlington] is behind us now. We need to go in and play hard and get the W.”
Check out video highlights from the game and postgame interviews in the media gallery above.