Led by Joe Bunce-Grenon's 23 points and 16 rebounds, the Stoughton High boys' basketball team built a double-digit lead and held on for a 61-55 victory over Canton Wednesday in Stoughton.
With the win, Stoughton improves to 8-9, needing two wins in its final three regular season games to qualify for the state tournament. Canton falls to 6-11.
With Stoughton trailing 16-15 after a Sam Larson two-pointer midway through the second quarter, Bunce-Grenon took over the game for the remainder of the half, scoring 10 points in the final 3:35 of the second.
The senior captain ripped off eight straight points, including back-to-back three pointers, to turn a one-point deficit into a 23-16 Stoughton lead. Mauro Oliveira hit a three to extend the lead, and after Canton snapped Stoughton's 11-0 run, Bunce-Grenon ended the half with a two-pointer to give the Black Knights a 10-point lead, 28-18, at halftime.
"We had trouble defending the three-point line and they got hot. Bunce-Grenon killed us in the first half," Canton coach Ryan Gordy said.
"Their athleticism showed tonight," Gordy said of Stoughton. "Hats off to a very athletic and a very good shooting Stoughton club."
Stoughton extended the lead to 13 points, 42-29, following another 3-pointer from Oliveira with 2:19 to go in the third quarter.
Canton didn't go away though. The Bulldogs twice cut the Stoughton lead to five points midway through the fourth quarter.
A pair of free throws from Larson made it a 52-47 game with 4:03 left in the fourth. Then Bunce-Grenon helped to end the Canton comeback. After Eddie Grant hit two free throws of his own to make it a seven-point game, Bunce-Grenon had a one-handed dunk, followed by a layup from Marcus Middleton, which pushed the Stoughton lead to 58-47 with 2:22 to play.
One of the keys to Stoughton's victory was the Black Knights defense on Larson, one of the Hockomock League's top scoring threats. While the junior forward finished with 14 points, 8 of those came in the fourth quarter. He was limited to just four field goals on the night.
"To hold [Larson] to six over three quarters is terrific," Stoughton coach Gallivan said. "Mike Gallagher gets all the credit in the world. He must be exhausted."
Tristin Mullen had 17 points for Canton and Matt Kelley led the Bulldogs with 18.
"It was one of those nights where [Kelley] was hitting his shots and they did a really good job guarding our best player Larson, who is our leading scorer - he's the fourth leading scorer in the league - so we needed someone else to step up and Kelley got a lot more touches than he normally would and he did a good job with it. He executed," Gordy said.
Canton will host Foxborough on Friday, while Stoughton hosts Oliver Ames.