There will be no lack of support for the Vineyard boys’ basketball team as they take on defending state champion Danvers in Tuesday’s Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association state semifinals. In fact, the whole school has been given a half day off to watch the home team play at the TD Garden in Boston.
Regional high school principal Stephen Nixon and superintendent James Weiss said that the high school will be dismissed at 11 a.m. Tuesday so students can make the noon boat and travel to the game. Athletic director Mark McCarthy said buses will be available after school to take kids to the ferry docks.
“Dr. Nixon and I spoke over the weekend and made the decision this morning,” Dr. Weiss said on Monday afternoon. “The number of students, staff, and community members who wanted to go . . . it made sense.”
The last time the Vineyard basketball team played in the Garden was in the 1970s.
“This is big time,” said Dr. Weiss, who will be attending the game.
Seven fan buses, donated by Our Market and Your Market, will carry about 350 spectators to the TD Garden free of charge. Sign-ups for the buses took place Monday afternoon, and six buses were soon filled to capacity, leading Hoop Club president Peggy Stone to scramble to secure a seventh bus to accommodate the demand. That bus sold out as well.
“That’s all the Hoop Club,” athletic director Mark McCarthy said on Monday. “They’re taking on the Herculean task of getting the students to the game and the tickets taken care of.” Other local business have chipped in to help with travel costs; on Sunday, Sharky’s Cantina hosted a dine-to-donate event, with a portion of the proceeds going toward the expenses. Student tickets for the Steamship Authority have also been paid for with donations.
Tip-off for the game against Danvers is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. The Vineyard will be wearing purple jerseys. Fans are encouraged to do the same.
The Gazette will be live-tweeting the state semifinal match on Tuesday. Follow the play-by-play at twitter.com/vineyardgazette.