Ask any adult for a memory they will never forget, chances are if they played high school sports, the big game will top the list. Often it isn’t the big win, though. It’s the loss that sticks tightest; every loose ball, turnover, timeout and bead of sweat shed in that final game. We hope the boys’ basketball team is not feeling this way after playing in the semifinal game of the Division 3 state tournament. Vineyard basketball has not travelled this far into the post-season since 1973. Forty years is a long time, a testament to how hard a feat this was and to the accomplishments of this team.
Just a few years ago the players were middle-schoolers and in the blink of time before that they were kindergarteners dabbling with Play-Doh and crayons. And yet now here they were carrying the hopes of the Island on their wide shoulders.
The season started with many new faces from the previous year’s standout team and no real breakout star to rally around. But they found their way as a team, something coach Mike Joyce, along with assistant coaches Jason O’Donnell, Alex McCluskey and Sam Berlow, excels in creating.
They finished the season with a 14-5 record and then kept winning through tournament play. Last Saturday in the south sectional finals they upset first-seeded Wareham in a rematch of last year’s final, the outcome of which went the other way.
On Tuesday, the day of the game against Danvers, the high school let out at 11 a.m. so fans could make their way to Boston. Seven fan buses were immediately filled upon the announcement of the big game. A host of other cars filled with parents, friends, the entire Vineyard community, really, also boarded the ferry and made their way to the TD Garden to see the kids play on the same hallowed floorboards as the Celtics.
This is not something that happens every day — standing tall in the center of it all while parents, teachers, friends and even strangers cheer until they are hoarse. No defeat can ever diminish this memory.
Congratulations to Navardo Anderson, Kane Araujo, Cyrus Breese, Izak Browne, Nick Costello, Jack Fielding, Deshawn James, Malik Johnson, Matt Marchand, Jack Roberts, Tim Roberts, Jahmari Thomas, Brandon Watkins and Liam Weston. May you always remember every step of your incredible journey.