Martha’s Vineyard, Wareham to meet in boys hoops South final

Liam Weston battles in the paint with Medway's Wes Jursek (left) and Alex Nadtocchi — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys basketball team booked a second consecutive trip to the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional final with a 70-60 win over Medway on Monday afternoon at Taunton High School.

The seventh seeded Vineyarders (17-5) will play a familiar foe, top seeded Wareham (21-1), in the sectional final on Saturday at noon at UMass Boston. The Vikings won a tight semifinal over fourth seeded Rockland, 61-56. They knocked the Vineyarders out of the 2012 tourney with a 70-65 win in last year’s South final.

Against 11th seeded Medway, the Vineyarders, save for a jittery first four minutes, were in command throughout until the Mustangs mounted a spirited comeback and cut a 58-47 lead down to 58-55 with 4:30 to play in regulation.

Vineyard coach Mike Joyce called timeout to settle down his lineup. The Purple responded with renewed vigor and quelled the Mustang’s revival with suffocating defense and timely shooting.

Liam Weston scored from inside for a 60-55 Vineyard lead. Medway answered with a quick basket. Izak Browne then took over. He grabbed two huge rebounds and added three scores, the last on a dazzling court length run for a layup to make it 66-60.

“It was a game where we couldn’t quite pull away,” Coach Joyce said after the win. “We got unraveled for awhile. With three minutes left, we got it back together and really just settled down. Izak Browne, the last couple of possessions, even though he missed a couple of free throws, made a couple of big hoops and a couple of big rebounds for us.”

The Vineyarders had struggled at the outset as Medway built a 10-5 lead. The Purple responded with four consecutive three-pointers and stormed to a 17-10 lead. They would not trail again. M.V. opened the second quarter with a 14-4 run to lead 31-14 and ended the half in front 35-25. The Vineyarders were sizzling from outside and put seven treys on the scoresheet. Jack Roberts drained four treys on the day, three in the first half, and led the Vineyard offense with 18 points.

In the second half, the Vineyarders punished the Mustangs inside by dominating the glass and scoring numerous second chance buckets. Izak Browne had 15 points to go with nine rebounds. Liam Weston scored nine points and grabbed five boards in the second half. Navardo Anderson scored nine points, while Deshawn James posted seven boards, with five points.

The Vineyarders had reached the sectional semifinal with a thrilling 65-63 win Friday in Attleboro, over Eastern Athletic Conference archrival Bishop Feehan.

Brandon Watkins was the hero, as the Vineyarders completed a 3-0 season sweep over the second seeded Shamrocks (17-4).

With the game tied 63-63 and seven seconds left in regulation, the speedy Vineyard senior swatted down a Feehan jumper, scooped up the loose ball, and put the winning basket in the cylinder with two seconds remaining in the game.

Jack Roberts led M.V. with 22 points, followed by Navardo Anderson with 12, Watkins with nine, and Liam Weston with eight.

The Vineyarders began the 2013 MIAA tourney with a dominating 77-44 win over Bourne on February 27 in Oak Bluffs.

Fan bus to Boston

The M.V. Hoops Club is sponsoring a free fan bus donated by Araujo Brothers, Our Market, and Dairy Queen for the MIAA Boys Basketball Division 3 South Regional final taking place Saturday at noon at UMass Boston between Martha’s Vineyard and Wareham.

Sign up is in the MVRHS cafeteria on Thursday and Friday during lunch period. The bus will meet the 8:15 am ferry out of Vineyard Haven. Pending the length of the game, the return is scheduled for the 3:45 pm boat in Woods Hole.