The Brighton Tigers held Stoughton to 4 of 20 shooting in the second half and got 11 points from sophomore guard Malik James to lead them past the Black Knights, 53-42, for the Division 2 EMass title Monday night at TD Garden.
“It feels good in the moment,” said Brighton coach Hugh Coleman. “In this moment, for this game it feels great.”
Stoughton came out shooting in the opening minutes of the game, netting a quick three and another layup before Brighton managed a basket. Sophomore guard Malik James kept the Bengals in the game with his team’s first four points. Brighton handed the Black Knight’s four first-quarter points with fouls under the basket. Stoughton went 4 for 4 from the line in the opening eight minutes, including capitalizing on two three-point plays, giving them the 16-13 lead after the first.
“It was kind of difficult because during crunch time we weren’t playing to the best of our ability. We had to get everyone together, get them focused,” James said. “As soon as we started playing like a family again we just put them away.
The two squads traded baskets to open the second quarter before Brighton’s Daivon Edwards tied the game with a long trey with 2:15 remaining in the half. The Bengals took the lead for the first time in the game with a basket from Prince Unaegbu with just seconds remaining in the half but Stoughton's Antonia Ferreira raced the ball up the court to cap the half with a monster dunk and 26-26 tie.
The Bengals stepped up their defensive pressure in the second half, limiting Stoughton to six third quarter points. Brighton played a box-and-one defensively, with James going one-on-one with Stoughton’s best player, 6-foot guard Aaron Calixte. Calixte managed to net 17 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Brighton.
“I told my coach, ‘we go box and one on him.’ I’ll step up and take the responsibility so we can put them away early,” James said. “I played good defense on him, got a few steals and helped my team. I think that’s what helped us get this victory tonight.”
Transition offense accounted for six of Brighton’s nine points in the third. Edwards again hit a big three to give the Bengals the 33-32 lead with 1:07 remaining in the quarter. Theo Oribharbor put Brighton up 35-32 with a steal and a layup in the offensive end, to give the Bengals the lead after three.
Brighton kept Stoughton from netting any points for the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Black Knights' Mauro Oliveira bucked that trend with a 3-pointer to narrow Brighton’s lead to six, 45-39, with 3:59 left in the game. But once again it was Edwards with the big three for Brighton. He hit his third trey of the game with 1:15 remaining to open up a nine-point lead for the Bengals and essentially seal the game.
“Daivon is a really really good shooter,” Coleman said. “There have been stretches where he has just come out and hit big shots and he’s more than capable of doing it.”
Brighton will move on to the Division 2 state championship on Saturday night at the DCU Center in Worchester. They’ll face the winner of Wednesday night’s game between St. Bernard’s and Mahar.
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