OA boys' basketball coach Don Byron knew that to beat the 13-1 Stoughton Black Knights, the Tigers would have to play well in all phases of the game.
His team didn't miss a beat.
Offensively, defensively, on the glass and from the free-throw line, everything clicked for the Tigers in the 75-67 Davenport Division win at on Senior Night Tuesday.
With the win, OA improved to 10-5 (4-2 Davenport) and qualified for the MIAA tournament.
"That was terrific end to end on both ends of the floor," Byron said. "I thought defensively, while [Stoughton guard Aaron] Calixte got his 24 (points), he had to work like crazy to get them. And, we managed to hold some of the other guys down. They have weapons everywhere. They have kids that are great on the glass, they have kids that can shoot the ball."
Byron was particularly happy with his team's production from the free-thow line. OA went 17 of 22 from the line, including 10 of 14 in the final period to seal the game.
Stoughton dropped to 13-2 on the season with the loss (5-1 Davenport). While shots fell for the Tigers, the Black Knights just couldn't get things going.
"We got outplayed in almost every phase of the game," Stoughton coach John Gallivan said. "Those kids had a great game plan. They executed. They hit big shots, and they deserved every bit of it."
Stoughton started in a hole. Led by senior forward Duane Johnson's eight points and senior center Jeff Babbit's dominance of the glass, the Tigers took a 21-13 lead into the second period.
Although the Black Knights outscored OA, 20-12, in the second period to tie the game going into the half, they seemed to always be playing catch-up.
"I don’t think we ever kept everything going consistently," Gallivan said. "We had a couple of comebacks. We tied it up a couple of times, we took the lead a couple of times. [Byron] called a timeout and they came down and hit a shot and then hit another shot and all of a sudden you’re back in a hole again. They just did all of the little things that they needed to do."
Stoughton captain Aaron Calixte kept his Knights in the game, finishing with a game-high 24 points. Junior captain Joe Bunce-Grenon ended the game with 10 points and Stoughton's third tri-captain Marcus Middleton added 8.
For the Tigers, junior captain Andrew Reardon led the way with 22 points, including 11 in the fourth period.
"That, and maybe the Dartmouth game early in the year, were the two best games he’s played," Byron said. "Not only 22 points, but he distributed the ball well. He got our big kids a couple of looks. He rebounds well for a guard and he did a lot of nice things tonight."
Senior captain Nick Bruha added 16 points from the point-guard position. He was joined by Johnson, who scored 16 points off of the bench, including knocking down two three-pointers and two additional buckets on his first four shots.
"[He was] just an enormous spark all over the joint," Byron said. "He was hitting threes and pull-up jumpers off the offense. He did a great job."
Gallivan said Stoughton was able to keep OA's leading scorer, Bruha, from scoring for most of the game, but the newly annointed 1,000-point-club member was still able to find members of his team and run a solid offense.
He had just seven points at halftime.
"We talked at halftime about how he wasn’t scoring, but he was controlling the game and controlling the tempo," Gallivan said. "They got other guys open and they hit big shots. They just really played well."
Stoughton will look to bounce back Friday night when they travel to Sharon.
"It stinks right now," Gallivan said. "But when we lost to Mansfield a month ago, it made our practices that much better, and to be honest with you, we haven’t had a good practice the last couple of days and we need to focus on the little things on the defensive end."
For OA, beating the Hockomock League front-runner will be a major confidence boost as the Tigers travel to Canton Friday and begin preparations for the Div. 2 tournament.
"I think the fact that we’re playing in this league and playing teams like King Philip on the DII side, its helping. Hopefully we’re going to capitalize on it as we move forward," Byron said.
"I think the kids feel good about it - to know that they can come out and do what they did tonight has got to help confidence-wise."