By Matt Noonan
STOUGHTON, MA – On Tuesday evening, Stoughton high school junior Aaron Calixte, (31 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) proved what it means to be a champion.
With the Black Knights trailing the Dragons of Duxbury by eight-points entering the final frame, the junior co-captain flipped the switch, and tallied 13 points during the final minutes of regulation, which helped Stoughton escape with a 69-63 victory.
“Losing [is] not an option to me. I can’t let my team lose in the first-round of the playoffs, I’m not for that,” said a composed Calixte. “[I’m going to] lead my team, [and] do whatever I have to do [to earn] a victory.”
Calixte provided the necessary spark for the Black Knights, who capitalized on Duxbury’s four turnovers and three missed free throws in the fourth quarter to regain the lead, which they hadn’t possessed since the first quarter.
“He’s really good,” said Duxbury head coach Gordon Cushing. “We knew he was going to get his points, [but] we just tried to make him work for [them] as best he can. He passes the ball well, so [we were] just trying to make him work for [them] as hard as you can.”
“Aaron did a nice job penetrating and scoring or penetrating and dishing,” said Stoughton head coach John Gallivan.
Stoughton didn’t exactly gain their fourth quarter momentum after the opening tap, as both squads swapped buckets and leads until Duxbury senior co-captain Curtis Owen, (22 points) completed a three-point play, layup and free throw, mid-way through the second session to spark the Dragons offense to close out the first half with a 39-36 lead.
The Dragons then attempted to grow their lead once the second half began, but various turnovers or missed shots hampered Duxbury’s offense, and allowed Stoughton to enter the final quarter trailing their opponent, 58-50.
“We had some turnovers, [and] they hit some shots, too,” Cushing said of the Black Knights second half effort. “We actually at halftime said, let them shoot it a little bit more outside, and keep out inside because most of their scoring was done in the paint, so you pick your poison a little bit, we just [needed] to score a few more points.”
Once the whistle sounded to initiate the start of the fourth frame, Stoughton rallied and regained the lead for good, as Calixte and his teammates used their defense to propel their offense to tally 17 points, which helped preserve the win for the Black Knights.
“Aaron’s just a phenomenal basketball player,” said Stoughton’s Marcus Middleton. “There’s pretty much no stopping him.”
Stoughton will return to the court on Thursday when they meet Norwood High School in the MIAA Division 2 South quarterfinals, and one can certainly imagine that the Black Knights will rely heavily upon Calixte to be their catalyst.
“[He’s] the best player in the Hockomock League,” said Stoughton senior Raymond Bowdre. “He’s a good scorer, and he’s a good facilitator. One of the best that can ever pass, and create his own shot.”
Also, make sure to visit our friends at HockomockSports.com for news, scores and updates throughout the remainder of the Massachusetts high school playoffs.