When Sharon's Brian Mukasa hit a two-pointer to give the Eagles a 54-46 lead with 5:15 left to play in the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Sharon High boys' basketball team was going to pull away from Stoughton down the stretch.
But, Mukasa's two-pointer turned out to be the final basket of the night for Sharon, with the Eagles scoring just one more point the rest of the game, on a free throw from Brian Lawrence with 45.4 seconds left.
With the door left open for Stoughton to climb back into the game, the Black Knights took advantage and came away with a 58-55 win Friday in Stoughton.
Stoughton is now 6-6 on the season and has swept the season series with Sharon. The Eagles, meanwhile, fall to 7-6. After an 0-3 start, Sharon ran off seven wins in a row, but now has lost three straight again.
"We're a pretty good team. I think all the boys are disappointed." Sharon coach Bruce Jackman said. "There's no finger pointing, but we know that we have to play better."
Jackman said he felt his team "self-destructed" down the stretch with a number of missed layups and missed foul shots.
After Mukasa hit his shot, Stoughton's Joey Wilder scored, Marcus Middleton hit a pair of free throws, Mauro Oliveira had a free throw and Wilder scored again on a put-back to close the gap to just 54-53 with 2:30 left.
Middleton then had the ball with a chance to give Stoughton the lead, but Brian Lawrence leaped in the air and blocked him. Sharon missed on its ensuing possession, and Middleton, unfazed, found the ball back in his hands and this time sank a three-point shot near the Stoughton bench to give the Black Knights a 56-54 lead with 57 seconds left, their first lead since midway through the third quarter.
"Joey [Wilder] recognized that he didn't have good position and kicked it out to a wide-open Marcus [Middleton] and I'm sure no one in this league wants to see a wide-open Marcus. That was a huge play," Stoughton coach John Gallivan said.
Stoughton's defense didn't buckle in the final minute and Middleton sank two free throws to make it a three-point game with 4.4 seconds left. Sharon was unable to get a final shot off.
It's fitting Stoughton won thanks to a three-point shot because the three-pointer carried the Black Knights in the early going. Stoughton hit five three-pointers in the first quarter.
Stoughton led 15-12 at the end of 1, but Sharon started the second with an 11-2 run. Stoughton closed the quarter strong, however, and tailed 30-27 heading into the locker room at the half.
The Black Knights briefly took the lead, 39-38, midway through the third quarter after Oliveira hit a three-pointer, but Kevin Bartas answered with a three-pointer on the other end of the court to give Sharon the lead back.
The Eagles went into the fourth quarter up 47-42 and extended their advantage to eight points, but couldn't hold on for the win.
After scoring 11 points in the first half, Stoughton (led by Middleton and Mike Gallagher) limited Mukasa in the second half, holding the star guard to four points, for a total of 15 on the evening. Lawrence caused Stoughton fits in the second half, however, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the third and fourth quarters. Bartas added 11 points for the Eagles.
Jackman was impressed with Lawrence's performance.
"We know he has great skills. It's just a matter of when he's going to step forward and do things and tonight he played very, very well," Jackman said. "I'm very pleased with what he did. He's had a couple of good weeks of practice and I think he's starting to understand what we want from him."
Stoughton's Middleton led all scorers with 21 points, including five three-pointers. Wilder had 8 points, all in the fourth quarter.
Sharon hosts Foxborough on Tuesday and travels to Attleboro next Friday. And, Stoughton travels to Milford on Tuesday and heads to King Philip next Friday.