Just about every game this season for the boys’ high school basketball team has gone right down to the wire, which has provided last-minute thrills for some fans but conversely has caused something like an ulcer for coach Mike Joyce.
“All these games seemingly are decided by a single shot in the final seconds,” Mr. Joyce said following the Vineyarders’ 86-85 loss to Wareham on Tuesday. “It may be great for the fans, but it’s not easy on the coach. I think they’re trying to give me a heart attack.”
The team’s recent decline in the standings is also cause for agitation. After surging to a 5-2 record early, the team has lost four in a row to drop to 5-6 on the season. And after it seemed like the team was a lock for the state tournament, the team now must win five out its remaining nine games to qualify for the postseason.
“We hit a bad stretch — shots weren’t falling, the [defensive] traps weren’t forcing turnovers, we were turning the ball over a lot. Maybe the pressure of all those close games was starting to get to us,” he said.
The team hit the low point of the season on Monday when it shot a dreadful 19 for 71 from the field in a 62-51 loss to Arlington Catholic High School.
Although Nick Viera had 16 points and both Mark Reppert and Jwann Johnson scored 12 points, the team missed 15 open layups, and was never able to mount a rally after falling behind early.
“It was an ugly game. We just couldn’t get anything to fall,” coach Joyce said.
But the team rebounded the very next night against Wareham in a game the coach described as his team’s best effort in more than a week. Although they lost by single bucket when Wareham hit a shot in the closing seconds, they shot a much-improved 33 for 60 from the field and led by 9 points with less than two minutes to play. Jessie Swaringen hit two free throws to put the Vineyarders ahead late, but the Vikings hit a heart-breaking three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the win.
Viera had 20 points and Reppert had 21 points in the loss. Johnson had his best scoring game of the season, going 8 for 9 from the floor for 21 points.
Coach Joyce said his team played with a sense of urgency that had been lacking recently.
“I still think this is a team that can make the [state tournament]; they have the talent,” he said. “But for whatever reason we keep letting [opponents] stick around and win the games late. If we played a little smarter we wouldn’t be in a position in some of these games where we didn’t need to hit a big shot with five seconds left for the win; we certainly wouldn’t have a record of 5-6,” he said, adding:
“But we played better this week; maybe we’ve turned a corner.”
Girls’ hockey coach Sam Sherman has said all season his team has talent, and was certainly better then their record of 0-7-2 at the halfway mark of the season. And although his team has played well during stretches and battled hard, they had little to show for it.
That all changed over the past 10 days, however, as the Vineyarders finally broke through with two wins and a tie against quality opponents to improve their record to 2-8-3 on the season.
After winning their first game of the season last week against Latin Academy, the team was playing its best hockey of the season heading into the 8th Annual Nan Rhealult Invitational Tournament held at the Martha’s Vineyard Arena.
In the opening round Saturday against Marshfield — a team the Vineyarders tied back in December — both teams played tenacious defense and the game remained scoreless through the first period. In the second stanza, Rams captain Shannon Driscoll scored on a controversial goal when she wrapped the puck around Vineyard goalie Jamie Forend, even though it appeared she was in the crease.
The Rams would add two more goals in the second period and a third in the final period en route to a 4-0 win.
“It was frustrating because it was a game we could have won, we matched up well against [Marshfield] and had momentum going in. But we lost our edge . . . we made the types of mistakes we made earlier in the season,” the coach said.
The Vineyarders faced Cambridge in the consolation game on Sunday and came back with their best game of the season, skating to 6-2 win on the strength of a hat trick by Cristina Wiley. Alexa Fisher had two goals and Nica Sylvia scored her first goal of the season on a wicked slap-shot from the blue line. Breanne Russell, Prudence Fischer and Gillian O’Callaghan each had assists in the win.
“I think this team now believes it can win these games,” Mr. Sherman said. “They’ve shown heart and toughness all season, but now that they get those first few wins out of the way they can go into these games thinking they can win, and it makes a big difference.”
They next play at home against Sandwich at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
After winning four games in a row to build its record to 8-1-2, the boys’ hockey team was playing some of its best hockey of the season. But the team hit a bump Tuesday against Dennis-Yarmouth on Monday and needed a miracle goal from Joel Rebello with 35 seconds left on the clock to escape the Tony Kent Arena in Dennis with a tie.
The unexpectedly tight game against the 5-7-1 Dolphins came just days after the Vineyarders notched an impressive 5-3 win against Hanover, which put them within one win of qualifying for the Division II South Sectional tournament.
Sophomore Henry Smith and senior Joel Rebello each had goals in that win, as did senior Mitch Pacheco, who was recently promoted to co-captain. The Vineyarders were out-shot 29-20 by Hanover, but were led by goaltender Alex Minnehan, who had a good game between the pipes.
For coach Matt Mincone, the game was the latest battle in what has quickly become a heated rivalry with Hanover.
“They play us tooth-and-nail every year. They seem to reach down for something extra when they play us every year, and thankfully we responded. This was a good test for us, and a great win,” he said.
But the coach was far less complimentary of his team following Monday’s tie against Dennis-Yarmouth.
“It was easily our worse game of the year,” he said bluntly of his team’s effort. “We were just standing around waiting for things to happen and we didn’t play well as a group. It was a big step backwards.”
Coach Mincone said he was more disappointed with his team’s effort then he was by the game’s outcome.
“We now have this reputation as a good team with a good record, and every team we play from here on out is going to be gunning for us. We have to bring our A-game every time out; we’re not going to be able to win anymore with our B-game or our B-plus-game.”
He added: “We are going to need to play better if we want to go deep in the state [tournament.]”
The Vineyarders next face their biggest challenge of the season when they play at Bourne this Saturday at 5 p.m. They play their next four games on the road and will not play at home again until Feb. 9 against Bridgewater-Raynham Regional.
The girls’ basketball team bounced back from a series of tough losses on Tuesday to beat Wareham by a final score of 46-41. Molly Fischer led the Vineyarders with 11 points, while Kia Minor scored 9 points and pulled in 21 boards. Katie Hines finished with 8 points and Lauren Williston had 4 points.
With the win, the Vineyarders climbed to a record of 3-8 on the season.