Mass High School Hoops: Brighton 53, Stoughton 42

The Brighton Bengals clinched a spot in Saturday's Div. 2 state championship with a win against Stoughton High School on Monday. (Photo Credit: C.J. Legner)

By Tim Rosenthal 

BOSTON, MAAfter falling just short of appearing at the TD Garden last season, Brighton and Stoughton went into Monday’s Division 2 State semifinal matchup looking to advance one step closer to Massachusetts high school glory.

Stoughton got the first shot taking a 16-13 first quarter lead, but Brighton adjusted and took control with a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter – spanning nearly eight minutes – and came away with a 53-42 victory.

Brighton will face the winner of the St. Bernard’s-Mahar matchup in the Division 2 state finals on Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester.

“It feels good in this moment,” said Brighton coach Hugh Coleman, whose team is now 21-3 on the season. “For us, I think we feel that this is a natural progression for us to get this far, but we know that it won’t be handed to us by any team and that we have to go out there and work for it.”

Working through its share of struggles in the first half, Brighton worked to take the lead just before halftime thanks to a clutch shot by sophomore Malik James, (the team’s co-scoring leader with 11 points). But after James’ missed a lay-up with seconds left in the first half, Stoughton regained momentum with a dunk before the buzzer, as senior Antonio Ferriera tied things up at 26-26.

Thankfully for James and his teammates, Brighton regained its composure in the locker room.

“I was a little mad at myself because it was a wide open lay-up and I should’ve just laid it in,” James said. “I was kind of mad at myself but then I had to get my mind back in the game and play the rest of the 16 minutes to pull out the victory.”

After playing man-to-man for most of the first half, Brighton adjusted to a zone defense near the end of the half and the result paid dividends.

Brighton came out of the locker room in the same defense, which frustrated Stoughton all night as seen with its 19 turnovers.

Moreover, Brighton also had a distinct rebounding advantage on both sides of the glass making things difficult for Stoughton coach John Gallivan and company.

“They were awfully big and we didn’t do a great job boxing out,” Gallivan said. “We can’t do that against a team that’s that long and that aggressive…A lot of times we made the first stop, but they got the putbacks and they just wore you down after awhile. They are a tough team.”

With the takeaways and rebounding, Brighton used the transition game to run the floor behind James and fellow junior guard Theo Oribharbor, who both dished out several assists in the victory. The duo put the team ahead for good when they started the 10-0 run in the middle of the third quarter that also saw a clutch shot from junior Daivon Edwards (11 points) and an alley-oop to senior Jerard Mayes (8 points).

While Stoughton was able to stop the bleeding and pull back within three late with under four minutes left – behind three’s from juniors Aaron Calixte (game-high 17 points) and Mauro Oliveira (9 points) – Edwards sank another clutch shot from beyond the arc and sank the Black Knight’s hopes for an upset on this night.

“He’s a really, really good shooter,” Coleman said about Edwards. “[He’s] a little streaky at times and he’s kind of struggled this tournament. But there’s been stretches where he came out and hit big shots and he’s more than capable of doing it.”

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