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Stoughton’s got winning chemistry

Old friends locked on the same page

Photos by George Rizer for The Boston Globe

Stoughton High School Black Knights (left) Marcus Middleton (12) and Aaron Calixte (21) look to make an entry pass in last week’s game against Foxborough High School. At right, Middleton hangs on to the ball.

The errant pass was a momentary lapse, and completely lost in the aftermath of what was arguably one of the biggest wins for the Stoughton boys’ basketball program in years, a takedown of Jake Layman-led King Philip Regional.

It did, however, catch the eye of Stoughton coach John Gallivan.

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Junior guard Aaron Calixte had collected a rebound at the defensive end and fired an outlet pass to the near sideline intended for MarcusMiddleton, his backcourt mate. Middleton, however, was already upcourt, anticipating a fast-break opportunity.“That was the first time in forever that I remembered them not being on the same page,’’ said Gallivan.

That chemistry developed from a friendship that started off with an unconventional introduction. When Calixte was in fourth grade, he was approached by Middleton’s mother, Tiffany, at the supermarket.

She coached her son’s travel basketball team in Stoughton with her husband, Glenn, and asked Calixte if he’d like to try out for the squad. He had not played organized team sports before, but accepted the offer.

The two young boys quickly developed a chemistry, on and off the court, and they teamed up to lead Stoughton to three Metrowest Division 1 titles in three seasons, including two visits to the state championship game.

In the championship game as seventh-graders, Stoughton trailed North Attleboro in the final seconds. Calixte fired a pass up to Middleton - on a play that they had practiced a dozen times - and then ran the sideline before making a cut for the basket. Calixte collected the return feed from Middleton, banking in the layup with five seconds remaining to give Stoughton the 71-70 victory, as well as the state championship.

“We had chemistry from the get-go,’’ said Calixte. “We got really good when we hit sixth grade and seventh grade. It really developed over middle school and now it’s just as strong as it could be.’’

Now juniors, the 5-foot-10 Middleton and 6-foot Calixte form one of the formidable backcourts in the state, helping lead the Stoughton Black Knights to a 12-1 start (9-1 in the Hockomock’s Davenport Division). The duo and the Black Knights aced a huge test against host King Philip.

In front of a sold-out crowd, Calixte and Middleton combined for 50 points in a 73-69 victory.

“I loved it,’’ said Middleton, who gave nearly a foot in defending the 6-9 Layman. “It was like nothing I’ve ever played before, playing against a Division 1 player who has easily a foot over me. I just loved the environment and the atmosphere.’’

“It was a great feeling,’’ echoed Calixte. “I can’t even explain how great of a feeling it was to beat that team.’’

Gallivan considers the King Philip effort a testament to the chemistry of both Calixte and Middleton in the backcourt, as well as the bond his squad has developed, especially in the midst of a hostile environment.

“King Philip last week, 10 feet away they couldn’t hear me,’’ said Gallivan. “They had to really work together to communicate. You need guys out there who understand what we try to do without being told what they have to do.’’

When they’re not on the court at Stoughton High, they frequent Capp Playground. The asphalt is where Calixte and Middleton work together for hours at a time to fine-tune their game.

“We use each other’s strengths,’’ said Middleton. “He’s a good dribbler, and I pride myself on my defense. So I’ll play defense on his dribbling skills and we’ll work on it, and vice versa.’’

When they’re not on the court, they trade text messages and phone calls, hang out, or catch a movie.

Though they are juniors, the two are already attracting the interest of college programs.

Calixte has an offer from Towson and a handful of others. Middleton, too, is confident that he will play at the next level.

“It’s a good feeling [the possibility of college ball], but it’s also really weird,’’ said Calixte. “I didn’t expect to go to college this early in life. High school is flying by. It’s going to be another experience, and I can’t wait.’’

Canton aiming high

The Canton girls entered Friday night’s game against Foxborough at 6-8, on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.

But don’t tell senior center/forward Olivia Murphy that the Bulldogs do not have a shot. The 6-foot-1 Murphy posted up for a career-high 33 points and tallied 22 rebounds in a 57-53 victory over Hockomock rival Sharon on Tuesday night. The following night, she racked up 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 66-55 victory over Norwood.

“She’s been 100 percent reliable, said first-year coach Caitlin Jamiel. “Every time she’s in the game I have confidence she’ll go to the rim hard and try to get every single rebound.

“She’s our leading scorer and our leading rebounder. She’s just an incredible athlete. She’s all over the place on defense and working very hard to make her senior season the best she can.’’

In addition to leading the team in points and rebounds, Murphy leads the Bulldogs with 31 steals.According to Jamiel, Canton must win three of its final five games to qualify. The schedule includes games against Westwood (5-8), Stoughton (9-4), and Oliver Ames (12-1).

“I expect us to be competitive regardless of [the opponent’s] skill level,’’ said Jamiel. “Winning three of five games is a realistic goal for us, and we’re going to have to work hard to reach that goal, [but] I think that we should be able to achieve that goal.’’

Nick Volpe hits 1,000

In a 61-53 victory over defending Division 4 South Sectional champion Cohasset, Norwell senior forward Nick Volpe reached the 1,000-point milestone in style. The senior forward nailed a fadeaway 3-pointer with a defender in his face to give the Clippers a 50-33 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Josh Patkin acts up

Foxborough guard Josh Patkin put on a show for the home crowd on Tuesday. Hosting Hockomock power Stoughton, the junior made seven of his 11 3-point attempts, finishing the night with 22 points. “I was watching [Patkin] in the corner,’’ said Stoughton basketball coach John Gallivan. “He was almost out of bounds on those shots. His left heel was almost out of bounds; that’s how deep he was. Give the kid credit; those are tough shots to hit with a hand in your face.’’

The Warriors (2-11), however, fell 62-55.

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