The Martha’s Vineyard girls’ basketball team beat East Bridgewater 52-34 in the second-round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Thursday, March 1, in front of a large and animated home crowd.
With the win the Vineyarders advanced to the semi-finals of the state tournament.
The girls basketball squad plays Fairhaven on Monday at 5:30 pm at Massasoit/Brockton.
The win by the girls’ basketball team marked the third time in as many days a Vineyard team had won a tournament game at home. The girls’ hockey team defeated Dennis-Yarmouth at the MV Arena last Tuesday and the boys’ basketball team beat Dedham at the regional high school Wednesday.
The boys team plays Westwood on Wednesday at 5:30 pm in Taunton.
But it was all about the girls basketball team Thursday as the Vineyarders used a 12-4 run late in the second period to take a 23-20 lead at the half and then put the game away by outscoring the Vikings 17-2 in the third period.
Jennie Lindland, who was battling illness all week, led the Vineyarders with 16 points. Maggie Riseborough seemed to do everything for her team, pulling down rebounds, blocking shots and scoring 12 points – and oh, and she also sang the national anthem at the start of the game.
Katie Stewart had 10, Kendall Robinson had 10 and senior Madison Hughes, in the last home game of her high school career, scored three points and played exceptional defense.
The Vineyarders took an early 4-0 lead in the game, but the Vikings battled back, and led 16-11 early in the second quarter. Coach Lisa Stewart called a timeout to regroup her team. “I told them just to settle down. I said let’s go out there and play our game and not worry so much about the Xs and Os.”
With the Vineyarders holding a slim three point lead in the half, the game was still very much in doubt. Coach Stewart said her players suggested switching from a full-court press to a three-quarter press in the second half, which she agreed to.
The move paid off and the Vineyarders allowed only two points in the third quarter to take a 40-22 into the fourth quarter. The Vikings scored two consecutive baskets to start the quarter, but the Vineyarders went on an 8-2 run to end any thoughts of a comeback.
In the closing minutes Coach Stewart substituted out starters Hughes, Lindland and Riseborough, and could be seen waving her hands in the air to stoke the home crowd, which they did by rising to their feet for a standing ovation.
It has been an exciting and unexpected run for the Vineyarders the past six games.
They qualified for the state tournament in their last game of the season and made the most of it, going on the road Tuesday and beating the higher-seeded Ashland in the first round of the tourney and then beating East Bridgewater at home Thursday.
Coach Stewart said it has been a wonderful ride.
“We have come so far in these last games, I couldn’t be happier. I’ll be honest, this is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played in front of in since I’ve been coach, and I am so happy these girls got to experience this in front of their home crowd. I am so happy for these kids,” she said.
For the first time in Island history, all four high school winter sports teams qualified for the state tournament.
The girls and boys hockey teams have now been eliminated, while the boys and girls basketball teams play on.