What was supposed to be a nice matinee match-up between two high school basketball teams turned into an all-out war on Saturday, as the Vineyard and Wayland waged battle for four periods and three overtimes in arguably one of the best games ever played at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

After nearly three hours of play, countless lead changes and more twists than a Russian novel, the Warriors finally prevailed over the Vineyarders by a final of 66-63 to send the packed crowd home disappointed but undoubtedly entertained.

By the time the final horn sounded, the Vineyarders had lost four starters: Nick Viera left in the second overtime with an injury, while Jwann Johnson, Bubba Brown and Pat Hart all fouled out.

Jwann Johnson struggles to get shot off. — M.C. Wallo

Coach Mike Joyce said his team showed a lot of character and moxie in the marathon loss.

“They never gave up,” the coach said. “They were down in the fourth quarter and all three [of the overtimes] and every time they came back to tie or take the lead. Of course, we would have liked to win, but when you lose four starters that’s not easy.”

Despite the dramatics, neither team had a particularly good day shooting the ball, especially from the foul line. The Vineyarders shot 17-79 from the field and were 22-40 at the charity stripe, and the Warriors didn’t fare much better. Through the entire game, neither team was able to build more than a four-point lead. Wayland led 21-20 at the half, and the game was tied at the end of regulation at 41.

The Warriors sank a free throw with three seconds left in the first overtime to tie the game, while Viera hit a circus-like reverse lay up between two defenders to send the game into a third overtime.

Viera, who led all scorers with 24 points, also hit four consecutive free throws in the second overtime and sank the first shot in the third overtime before hurting his ankle and leaving the game.

Vineyard center Pat Hart, number 23, surrounded by Wayland Warriors. — M.C. Wallo

The player was the Vineyarders’ sparkplug all game, and when he left their engine stalled out. “It was a gutsy performance by [Viera], he wasn’t going to let us lose,” coach Joyce said.

The loss to Wayland was the first of the season for the Vineyarders, although they dropped another heartbreaker at home to Pembroke on Wednesday by a final of 64-63. After falling behind by a large deficit early in that game, they scored 29 points in the final quarter but fell just short in their comeback bid.

Nico Cuba scored a career-high 20 points, including six three-pointers; Brown finished with 12 points and Viera had 11 points. Mark Reppert drained a three-pointer on the Vineyarders’s final possession but the Titans ran out the clock to seal the win.

Earlier in the week, the Vineyarders won both games at the Cape Cod Classic at Harwich, including a 63-53 over Nantucket on Thursday. In that game, Reppert had 15 points, Brown had 13 and Viera scored 10. The Vineyarders then rolled over Harwich in the championship game on Friday, paced by Viera’s 27 points with key contributions from Cuba (10 points) and Brown (9 points and 8 rebounds).

After the up-and-down week, the Vineyarders’ record now stands at 4-2. They next play at home tomorrow against Tahanto Regional High School at 7 p.m.

Girls’ Basketball

The girls’ basketball team easily handled Bristol Plymouth in the opening round of the Norton Invitational last Friday, winning by a final of 69-13. Kia Minor finished with 19 points, Loren Gibson had 10 and Hayley Pierce scored 11.

The Vineyarders faced a tougher foe in the second round, losing to host Norton by a final of 45-37.

On Saturday, they lost to Wayland by a final of 42-35 to drop their record to 3-4.

In that game, Minor again led the Vineyarders with 19 points while Julie Perry had 14 and Loren Gibson had 10.