Ryan Carney and Andrew Reardon led the Oliver Ames boys' basketball team in scoring Friday night at Stoughton, but it was the fourth quarter efforts of Nick Cidado and St. Clair Ryan, who scored eight points apiece in the final frame, that led the Tigers past the Black Knights.
Oliver Ames came away with a 77-70 win, spoiling Stoughton's Senior Night. The Tigers improve to 10-6, clinching a spot in the postseason state tournament. The Black Knights, meanwhile, fall to 8-10, needing to win both of their final two games to make the playoffs.
"It's a great accomplishment for these kids," Oliver Ames coach Don Byron said of making the postseason. "We started the year with 14 kids on our roster and 11 of them were JVs last year. We relied a lot on Andrew Reardon, St. Clair Ryan and Nick Cidado as kids who have been through it before. But it's a real testament to the kids' hard work to get here."
Stoughton took a 43-35 lead at the half, outscoring Oliver Ames 9-0 in the final minute of the second quarter. Four quick points extended the Black Knights lead to 12 about a minute into the third quarter.
But Oliver Ames responded with an 18-0 run over the next five minutes, which included a pair of big three-pointers from Carney and another from Reardon, to give the Tigers a 53-47 lead with 2:20 left in the third.
Stoughton fought back, tying the game at 56 at the end of the third on a deep three-pointer from Marcus Middleton at the buzzer.
A Middleton three from the corner at the start of the fourth gave the Black Knights a 59-56 lead, but about 1:30 later a three pointer from Cidado tied the game at 61 with 6:10 remaining.
With the game tied at 65, Chris Duggan hit two free throws with 3:41 left to give the Tigers the lead for good. Duggan hit four free throws in all in the fourth quarter.
From there, St. Clair Ryan carried the Tigers over the final three minutes of action. The senior captain scored six points in a two minute stretch to extend the Oliver Ames lead to 73-68 with 50 seconds to play.
"He's one of the handful of best competitors I've ever coached," Byron said of Ryan. "And he's a great guy to have on your side in games like this."
Stoughton got as close as three points, trailing 73-70 with 41.7 seconds left, after a two-pointer from Eddie Grant, but Cidado and Carney hit their free throws down the stretch, giving the Tigers a seven-point win.
Oliver Ames hit 13 free throws in 18 attempts in just the second half of Friday's game. Oliver Ames shot 11 for 25 (44 percent) as a team in the third and fourth quarters, compared to just 9 for 42 (21.4 percent) for Stoughton, which allowed the Tigers to erase the eight-point halftime deficit.
After a high-scoring first half, Stoughton coach John Gallivan said it "came down to which team was going to buckle down and play better defense."
"[Oliver Ames] went to the zone and in the beginning we hit shots against it but in the second half we cooled off," Gallivan said. "I thought we did a pretty good job moving the ball; I thought we did a pretty good job getting open looks and sometimes the ball just doesn't go in and that was really the difference."
Carney led Oliver Ames with 23 points; Reardon had 18; Ryan had 13 and Cidado had 12. Brandon Welch added 7 and Duggan had 4.
Middleton led Stoughton with 30 points and is just four points away from joining Stoughton's 1000-point club.
Oliver Ames plays in a tournament at Bridgewater State Sunday and Monday, while Stoughton plays in a tournament at Walpole High those same two days.