Four teams, one postseason.
That’s how the week started for the Vineyard basketball and hockey squads as the first round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association playoffs kicked off Tuesday.
Then there were two.
The girls’ squads fell in their first games of the tournament, with the hockey team dropping a close 3-2 match to Algonquin-Hudson and the basketball team going 54-27 against Coyle & Cassidy.
But the boys’ teams stay alive. In a resounding 73-53 win, the basketball squad defeated tournament archrival Wareham before a full house of fans in the section quarterfinals on Thursday night. It was the fifth straight meeting of the teams in the postseason. Before Tuesday, the records were split. The scales are now tipped in the Vineyard’s favor.
Junior Alex GordonBeck led the offense with 18 points. GordonBeck and junior co-captain Tim Roberts dominated the glass, outpacing Wareham on rebounds throughout. Seniors Deshawn James and Navardo Anderson scored 14 and 12 points respectively. Senior co-captain Kane Araujo and senior Malik Johnson shut down Wareham’s leading scorer, while Araujo hit four threes to boost the potent offense.
The crowd, head coach Mike Joyce said, was “phenomenal. To get that many people out during school vacation is huge.”
The Vineyard moves on to the semifinals where they face the winner of Thursday’s Cardinal Spellman-Whitman Hanson match.
The boys defeated Norwell 69-51 in the first round on Tuesday, showcasing the strong defense they have relied on for much of the season.
Across the street at the Martha’s Vineyard Arena on the same day, the young guns on the boys’ ice hockey teams learned a bit more about the playoffs as they took on 11th-seeded Sandwich.
They came away with a 2-1 overtime win.
The Vineyard was seeded sixth in the tournament, but seedings mean little in the postseason. They’re based on win-loss record alone and don’t take into account strength of schedule. Going into the contest, the teams were considered well matched.
But the Vineyard controlled faceoffs when it mattered, which proved crucial. Early in the first period a long pass from junior Matt Davies found senior Sam Burke deep in the Sandwich zone. Burke dished to senior co-captain Brian Fraser, who aimed an arcing shot up and over goalie Craig Hatfield’s right shoulder and into the open net.
Sandwich evened the game at 1-1 in the second and had three breakaways in the third — all stopped by sophomore goalie Wyatt Jenkinson. It was a first-round game, but felt more like a final when the clock flipped to extra time.
Last year in the quarterfinals, the Vineyard faced Franklin and fell 4-3 in overtime.
“We learned a lot last year in overtime, as a coaching staff,” head coach Matt Mincone said.
The Vineyard kept the pressure up and the puck largely at the Sandwich end. Just under a minute and a half into play, a shot from the right by Tristan Araujo was nabbed by Hatfield, setting up a faceoff in the end zone.
Senior co-captain Tyson Araujo won that battle, dishing to Alexander Vukota, whose shot and rebound set up a scrum at the net. Araujo nabbed the puck, sweeping low and lifting as if to shoot — except he didn’t, not yet. Sandwich’s defender dropped to block the shot that wasn’t; Araujo fired over Sandwich’s shoulder and past Hatfield. Game over. The crowd roared.
“Not a lot of players have the patience to do that,” Mincone said. Araujo is a four-year varsity veteran and the top scorer in the state. Tuesday’s goal was his 22nd of the season.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Sandwich; they played a great game,” Mincone said. From now on, he said, “every game’s going to get harder.” The Vineyard will play either Medfield or North Quincy in the quarterfinals. Date and time had not been set at press time.
The whims of the bracket were in full force Wednesday afternoon when the girls’ hockey team faced off against Algonquin-Hudson. The Vineyard had the higher seed and home ice advantage, but Algonquin competes in a more challenging league with a veteran goalie who is a four-year starter. And the Vineyard was playing without one of their key seniors: co-captain Emily Hammett, unable to play for medical reasons but still wearing her helmet in solidarity and coaching from the bench.
Algonquin shut down Vineyard leading scorers Callie Jackson and Aubrey Ashmun, but Jackie Hegarty held down the fort in net, with 18 saves.
A burst of offensive pressure midway through the first period gave the Tomahawks their first goal and they extended their lead in the second, but shortly after, Jackson landed her 19th goal of the season on a rebound from senior Alex Clark to make it a 2-1 game.
Penalties reigned in the second (there were six), with both teams struggling to convert the power play. In the final two minutes of the period the Tomahawks had their final goal.
Then with 4:35 left in the game, junior Sydney Davies buried a Kylie Hatt rebound to put the team in striking distance. Two Ashmun shots came inches from the net, and a late move by Jackson was again blocked.
Head coach John Fiorito said Algonquin was one of the best teams the Vineyard has faced all season.
“Everybody stepped up,” he said. “We’d talked about limiting their chances, and we did that. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities, but when we did, they were good. We couldn’t be prouder of the team.
Three years ago, girls’ hockey had never had a winning season. This year they won the southeast division of the Southeastern Massachusetts Girls Hockey League and now await their championship banner. Four starters played in the SEGML all-star game last weekend. “The buzz in this place is huge, and I don’t think that’s ever been the case,” Coach Fiorito said. The Vineyard girls’ basketball team faced a familiar foe in their final game of the season, a 54-27 loss to Coyle & Cassidy. It was the third time the squads had met, and each had one win. But Coyle, playing at home before a large group of fans, came out strong and worked to shut down Vineyard lead scorer Kat deBettencourt. Freshman Erin Hill, who has averaged 10-11 points in her first season, picked up the Vineyard offense, but it was not enough to stave off the loss. “We stuck with them at the beginning, but ran out a little bit at halftime,” head coach Julie Schmidt said. This is Coach Schmidt’s first year with the team. “I think as the season progressed we definitely got better as a team,” she said.