Boston High School: Nick Bruha

Div. 2 Boys: Stoughton 68, Oliver Ames 42

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
11:17
PM ET



BROCKTON, Mass. -- Stoughton's star point guard Aaron Calixte said before the game that losing wasn’t an option. His performance showed just how serious he was.

The junior poured in 22 points, and added eight assists and three steals, to lead the No. 4 seed Black Knights to a 68-42 victory over Hockomock league rival and ninth seeded Oliver Ames, in a Division 2 South semifinal at Brockton High.

“He’s pretty good,” Stoughton head coach John Gallivan joked. “He’s the kind of guy when he gets the ball, it’s kind of an ‘Uh-oh, who has to go guard him?’ When we spread the floor like that, it’s a tough match up for anybody.”

After a back-and-forth first quarter, Calixte’s partner-in-crime Marcus Middleton scored a quick five points to push Stoughton ahead 18-13 entering the second stanza. Calixte then took over with 10 points, outscoring the entire OA team himself.

The Black Knights received a career night from senior Antonio “Nuke” Ferreira, who put up 16 points (10 in the first quarter) and 15 rebounds -- 10 of which came on the offensive glass. Both totals were career highs. He also added four blocks.

“He got his points when we were having trouble getting them,” Gallivan said. “He gave us some room to breathe and to catch our breath and get out legs under us, and that was huge.”

The two rivals split the season series with each team winning on their home court and the Tigers with the victory in the second meeting –- something Gallivan thought was beneficial, saying the loss was “possibly” a blessing in disguise.

“It’s hard,” Gallivan said of beating a team on the third game. “It’s hard to beat a team in our league two times.”

Oliver Ames head skipper Don Byron said his team was used to scoring in the 60-point range, and credited the Black Knight defense on how they played. Gallivan also credited his team’s defensive adjustments from the two teams’ prior meeting as a key.

“One was to stop their sideline break which killed us last game,” Gallivan said. “The other thing was in their man-to-man sets, we had trouble with some of their flex stuff. We paid a lot more attention to detail on that. I thought we did a much better job tonight.

“Defense was the main focus all week. Last time we played them, they scored more points against us than anyone had all season. We just made a commitment to defense.”

Bruha Goes Out Fighting: Oliver Ames senior captain and 1,000-point scorer Nick Bruha didn’t get off to the best start, but he made sure he finished the game -- and his high school career -- strong.

Off a combination of cold shooting and solid defense from Middleton, Bruha entered halftime with just one field goal and a total of 4 points. There was no quit in the guard, who dropped 14 in the second half to finish out his last game in orange with 18 points.

“It’s going to be real odd not to have him in the gym,” Byron said. “He’s been running the team. When I came, he was a sophomore and he started every game for three years.”

In traditional fashion, Bruha found success in a number of ways, including his aggressive drives to the hoop and his three-point game.

“The next time I walk into the gym, he won’t be there,” Byron added. “I remember Nick as a five-year-old kid. He had a terrific career, a tremendous career.”

A Rivalry Continued: The semifinals matchup between these two Hockomock Davenport Division rivals was just another chapter in the storied history between these schools. With their home courts separated by less than seven miles, these kids have grown up playing with and against each other.

“This rivalry is history and it’s epic,” Gallivan said. “Every time we play, there’s a story, and tonight obviously went our way. There was no telling going into this game what was going to happen.”

As soon as each of these teams won last week, they each eagerly tried to find out if their rival would be their next opponent. When they did, the hype began. And when it was all said it done, with Stoughton putting their mark on this chapter, it was hard to describe how it felt for Ferreira.

“I can’t, it’s like unexplainable,” he said. “And plus we’re going to the finals. It’s crazy.”

Role Players Fill in Nicely With the attention normally focused in on Calixte and Middleton, Ferreira stepped in nicely, but he wasn’t the only one. Junior Steffan Jackson -- who missed the majority of the teams’ second meeting, and the following three weeks -- grabbed 13 rebounds (6 offensive) and added two blocks.

“Steffan missed the last time against these guys,” Gallivan said. “That’s the big part of our team. He’s been the missing link the last couple of games. Having him back is huge.”

Stoughton also saw sophomore Mike Gallagher and senior Raymond Bowdre come in throughout the game and play an important part. Gallagher got an offensive rebound and floated in a runner to put the Black Knights up by 11 in the second and then went on to hit a three at the buzzer of the third quarter.

Up Next: Stoughton will now play Hopkinton High in the D2 South Finals on Saturday at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center. The Hillers are coming off a thrilling 64-62 win over Wellesley tonight in the other D2 South semifinal, at Taunton High.

And in case we need another reminder that Hopkinton is the defending D2 South champ, they knocked out No. 2 seed and would-be state title contender King Philip in the quarterfinals.
Franklin head coach Dean O'Connor passes along this year's boys basketball All-Stars for the Hockomock League.

Any all-star lists can be sent to either Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com) or Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com)



MVP - Jake Layman, Sr., King Philip
J.J. Jolaoso, Sr., Attleboro
Joe McCabe, Sr., Canton
Sam Bohmiller, Jr., Franklin
Joe Palazini, Sr., Franklin
John Mullane, Sr., King Philip
Brian Hershman, Sr., Mansfield
Michael Hershman, Soph., Mansfield
Nick Bruha, Sr., Oliver Ames
Andrew Reardon, Jr., Oliver Ames
Brian Mukasa, Soph., Sharon
Aaron Calixte, Jr., Stoughton
Marcus Middleton, Jr., Stoughton


Bright future looms ahead for Sharon's Mukasa

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
6:00
AM ET



SHARON, Mass. -- Last February, as most schools do, Stoughton High honored its seniors in a game against Hockomock rival Sharon High. But when the final buzzer sounded, it was a visiting freshman in his first start that had people buzzing.

Brian Mukasa, now a sophomore, limited Stoughton’s 1,000-point scorer Kris Joyce to just seven points in that contest, and the face of Sharon basketball for the near future was born.

The 5-foot-10 point guard is off to a great start in his first full season on the varsity squad, averaging 17.1 points a game, good for fourth overall in the Hockomock, behind the league's most prolific players: Stoughton's Aaron Calixte, Oliver Ames' Nick Bruha, and King Philip's Maryland-bound forward Jake Layman.

“The ball is in his hands constantly in the offense,” Sharon head coach Bruce Jackman said. “He’s basically fearless, which you really don’t find sometimes in a sophomore. He was under fire last year as a freshman. It’s not like he’s not used to being in that situation.”

The 3-6 Eagles have relied heavily on Mukasa on both sides of the ball this year. He scored a career-high 32 points earlier this season to rally Sharon past Falmouth.

“When I try to score, I really try to pick my spots carefully,” said Mukasa. “I try to see where the weakness in the defense is, see where I can attack [and] expose the defense for myself but also for my teammates as well.”

Mukasa said he trusts his mid-range game and his quickness allows him get to the basket. On top of that, Mukasa is shooting an impressive 40 percent from three-point range, which Mukasa said helps stretch the defense out.

But he isn’t just a scorer. Jackman said Mukasa was originally brought up last year because the varsity squad needed help defensively.

“He’s really taken it upon himself this season to be a defensive stopper, and he’s really tried to shut down all of the other teams’ best players,” senior captain Caleb Piltch-Loeb said. “He doesn’t just focus on offense, he works extremely hard on defense.”

In the offseason, the left-handed floor general plays for the New England Playaz AAU Club, which Calixte also plays for. After scrimmaging together in addition to playing each other twice a year as Hockomock rivals, Calixte has seen Mukasa mature in the past 18 months.

“He has a great understanding of the game,” Calixte said. “He creates opportunities for himself and is a great competitor.”

The Hockomock is full of top players at the guard position, including Calixte, Bruha, Stoughton’s Marcus Middleton, Attleboro’s J.J. Jolaoso, and Franklin’s Sam Bohmiller. Mukasa is hoping his all-around game will help him stand apart.

“There are guards who can score or get their teammates involved or defend at an exceptionally high level,” said the 15-year-old guard. “I’ve really focused on having a well rounded game so there’s no one weakness teams can take advantage of.”

Sharon has had an up-and-down season so far and is in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season. However, Mukasa’s maturity shows, as his confidence remains high and he tries to learn from each game.

“We try to be even-keeled around here,” said Mukasa. “We’ve lost a couple tough games, but we know we have to be ready for the next game.”

The good news for the Eagles is that they are a young team. Mukasa has played well with fellow guards and sophomores James Fritzon and Ade Bright this season. Beyond them, there are five other juniors who still have another year to prove themselves.

“We’re a very young team,” Jackman added. “I think with Brian’s leadership, along with a couple other sophomores who are plying right now, I think it bodes well for us. We’re just going to get better and better and Brian is going to be the leader of that group.”

With time, Mukasa’s skills will only continue to evolve and aid Sharon’s mission to get back to the top of the Hockomock.

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