RANDOLPH, Mass. -– For the first time in school history, Stoughton (5-0) captured the Blue Devils Holiday Classic tournament by defeating host Randolph, 66-36.
“They’re a good team,” said Randolph head coach Kalon Jenkins. “They’re a very good team, very well coached, they play tough, [and] there’s a lot of familiar faces for me on that team, [but] I thought for us, knowing how good they are, we had a little bit of stage fright, we had some moments to do some things, but that’s a very good team.”
The Black Knights wasted little time after winning the opening tip to secure the lead, and eventually the game, as senior forward Steffan Jackson sparked his offense with a highlight reel dunk, which then led to an 11-2 run to close out the first quarter. That gave them an 18-7 lead.
Randolph (3-1) attempted to rally midway through the second, as junior forwards Emmanuel Manoli and Chisom Echebiri connected on back-to-back three-pointers before Stoughton head coach John Gallivan called a timeout.
Stoughton then responded by scoring 16 points, and holding the Blue Devils to just four points for the remainder of the opening half to take a 39-19 lead into the break.
“[We had to] stop missing the box outs, and stop trying to run for dunks and just run for lay-ups,” said Gallivan, when asked to elaborate on what he said to his team during the second quarter timeout.
The head coach continued by saying, “I think we probably left eight points on the court tonight where we should have got a fairly easy lay-up, and we didn’t because we were trying to set our feet up or our hands up for a dunk, and we end up dropping the ball or missing the dunk.”
Junior co-captain Aaron Calixte (21 points, four assists, four steals), helped the Black Knights grow their lead even more during the first few minutes of the second half, as he knocked down his second three-pointer of the evening, as well as two back-to-back free throws before his team secured a 30 point lead in the fourth quarter.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and we’re always going to run every single game, but we just capitalized off the run, [and] didn’t make too many mistakes, and we [then] kept scoring and defending well,” said Calixte.
“I think we try to make it a one possession at a time mind frame,” said Gallivan. “They’re hard workers, and they want to play, they love playing, and whether it’s a starter or sub, they’re going to play as hard as they can.”
Stoughton’s reserves finished the game, and held Randolph’s bench to just five points during the closing seconds to preserve the win, and their fifth victory of the season.
Myers Struggles: Blue Devils senior co-captain Devante "D.J." Myers struggled all game, and didn’t record his first and only field goal until the fourth quarter.
“He’s been a little bit colder this year than last year. He’s taken some good shots,” said Jenkins. “As a coach, I just have to get him more opportunities to shoot the basketball. [If he] can get himself in a rhythm, he’ll be fine.”
Gallivan also commented on the play of Myers when he stated, “We talked about their guys, and he’s definitely one of their guys. Sometimes it’s like that. You have a tough night shooting the ball, but it does a lot of other things that are impressive that maybe don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
Calixte named Tournament MVP: After Friday’s game concluded, Calixte was awarded the most valuable player of the tournament. He was humble when asked about the honor, explaining that his team’s victory was more important than a plaque.
“It doesn’t mean anything [because] it’s a team effort, so it’s all about my team,” said Calixte.
Stoughton’s junior guard and co-captain Marcus Middleton (11 points) and senior forward Antonio Ferreira (8 points) were announced as two of the members of the all-tournament team as well.
Friends and Allies: After the game concluded, John Gallivan told the media that this game was special for him because he was able to coach against a former co-worker, but also a close friend. Jenkins was an assistant under Gallivan from 2003 to 2009.
“This is our first time [playing in the Blue Devils Holiday Classic],” he said. “It was a special game for me because Kalon and I coached together for seven or eight years, and we were very good friends. We talk every day. We talk about his team, and my team, and to have the two teams play is definitely different.”