The Martha’s Vineyard girls’ varsity basketball team rolled 63-33 over inter-island rival Nantucket on the road Saturday to clinch a spot in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) tournament for the first time since 2003.
It was the Vineyarders second lop-sided win in as many games, following a similarly easy 57-32 win over Chatham last Tuesday. The wins are even more impressive considering that both Chatham and Nantucket are also headed to the state tournament.
On Saturday the Vineyarders led by nine points at halftime before exploding in the second half to win by 30 points. They were led by Jennie Lindland, who scored a career-high 32 points, and Maggie Riseborough who scored 14. Katie Stewart had 7 and Kendall Robinson had 4 points in the win.
The Vineyarders (10-9) held the Whalers (12-8) to only 14 points in the second half. Nantucket standout Jess Halford scored 26 of her teams 33 points.
Coach Lisa Stewart said her team kicked into a higher gear in the second half, knowing a berth in the state tourney was close at hand. “Nantucket went on a run late in the first half and definitely had the momentum going into halftime, and their best player [Jess Halford] was on a roll,” the coach said.
“But we shut her down pretty effectively in the second half, and Jennie [Lindland] kept it going in the second half and that pretty much did it,” the coach added. “We again played good team defense, and that really helped our offense.”
The coach said it was unusual to end the season with two one-sided wins, although it might give her team confidence heading into the tournament. “I don’t like to beat a team by 30, and we weren’t trying to run up the score, but we had our fair share of spankings this year,” she said. “We play in a tough league, and it’s hard to keep your spirits up when you are getting beat badly on a regular basis, so I think these two wins will be good for our morale.”
Coach Stewart attributed her team’s strong play of late to its improved defense. “I told them all season, everything comes from our defense, and now that we are playing defense it is coming together,” she said. “We are starting to rebound and look up and the kids are working together and passing the ball. It’s very satisfying.”
The brackets for the MIAA tournament are expected to be released this weekend.