For the second year in a row, the Oliver Ames boys' basketball team fell in the Div. 2 South Sectional Semifinals.
This time, it was to Davenport Division rival, Stoughton, 68-42 at a full-capacity Brockton High School gymnasium Tuesday night.
For the Tigers, who finished the season with a 14-9 record, the Black Knights' (19-4) athleticism and scoring ability was just too much to handle on that night.
"As good as they are, we don’t have control over a lot of the things they do," OA coach Don Byron said. "Athleticisim is a great thing and they’ve got it all over the place. A couple of the key things that we really wanted to accomplish here, we really didn’t get done. We wanted to take the easy hoops away from them by eliminating the turnovers.
"The other thing that I though was key was the play of their two big kids. I thought they were terrific. [senior forward Antonio] Ferreira and [senior forward Steffan] Jackson were just all over the glass. We just were not able to rebound."
The Black Knights will move on to play Hopkinton in the South Sectional Finals Saturday at UMass Boston at a time to be determined.
In addition to the their big men, Stoughton was led by standout junior point guard Aaron Calixte, who finished the game with 22 points. Ferreira added 16 points and junior guard Marcus Middleton ended with 12.
Stoughton led after every quarter, but was able to break the game open after halftime.
Trailing by 13 points, 33-20 at the half, the Tigers gave up two quick scores to fall behind by 18 tallies.
"We had a turnover that led to a hoop and we had a second chance hoop," Byron said. "Those were two things we emphasized at halftime, and easier said than done but that’s what we wanted to take away from them and we didn’t. We got hit by the same two issues we talked about at halftime right away."
For Stoughton coach John Gallivan, beating OA in a packed gym had an extra meaning.
"Anytime you beat OA it's special," he said. "Anytime you win a tournament game it's special. But to beat them in the tournament means a lot to our kids. And our kids were really up on this and they did their jobs."
Despite the loss, senior tri-captain Nick Bruha led the Tigers with 18 points, including 14 in the second half. Bruha, a member of OA's 1,000 point club, ended his career after running the floor as the Tigers' point guard since his sophomore year.
"The next time I walk into a gym he won’t be there," Byron said. "He’s a guy I’ve known for a long time, and some of the other seniors as well.
"...He’s had a terrific career - tremendous career."
While OA's season ended sooner than he would have liked, Byron said his team, particularly his seniors, have a lot to be proud of.
In addition to Bruha, guard Lance Handy, forward Denzel Bennett, forward John Moroney, tri-captain Alex Tepper, and center Jeff Babbitt ended their high school careers Tuesday.
"The seniors - we went around the room," Byron said. "We had contributions from each and every one of them. We had kids who played a lot, kids who played not very much at all, and kids who just played like crazy to get us to the point right now where we’re here. The legacy of OA basketball – they’ve become a part of."
For more commentary from Byron, check out the attached videos.