MVRHS winter sports preview

MVRHS winter sports preview

Tyson Araujo skates in for a shot against Hamden, Connecticut. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School winter sports teams have enjoyed great success recently. Last year, the boys basketball team advanced all the way to the TD Garden before losing 50-47 in the MIAA state Division 3 semifinals to the two-time state champs from Danvers. Both the girls basketball and boys hockey teams reached the south sectional quarterfinals, while the girls hockey team made their second consecutive tournament appearance.

The Vineyard teams should all be competitive again in 2013-14.

The newbies on the winter docket, the Vineyard swimming team, showed promise in their first varsity season and should continue to improve in the sophomore campaign under new head coach Jonathan Chatinover, who takes over for Robin Tuck.

The girls basketball team also begins a new era with former Boston University star Julie Schmidt taking the reins from longtime coach Lisa Stewart.

On the ice, the Vineyard boys should be an exciting team to reckon with, led by seniors Tyson Araujo, Brian Fraser, and Sam Burke, while the girls will try for a third straight state tourney appearance, with Aubrey Ashmun and Callie Jackson propelling the offense.

This week, The Times takes a closer look at the winter teams.

Boys basketball

Coach Mike Joyce will have a bunch of new faces on the varsity roster. Five players are back from the team that played in the Garden last March. Senior Kane Araujo and junior Tim Roberts are the co-captains. Returning seniors are Navardo Anderson, Deshawn James, Malik Johnson, and Matt Marchand. Coach Joyce has a hard-working junior class in Matt Stone, Ben Poole, Alex GordonBeck, Jack Yuen, Mike Mussell, and Mac Sashin. Silas Berlin is the lone sophomore.

“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of people to get up to speed,” Mr. Joyce said, “But their attitude, energy, and effort has been great so far. We’ll get there. It might take us a little while this year. They have to learn to play with each other and anticipate where each other are going to be.”

The Vineyarders saw their first action over the weekend in a set of scrimmages, played in the greater Hartford, Connecticut, area, where the team also took in a game at the University of Hartford.

For the most part, Coach Joyce was pleased by what he saw on the court. “When we looked to run, we ran very well,” he said. “Players were unselfish, looking to pass the ball up and get some quick scores. Defensively, we played with a lot of energy, looking to steal and tip the ball.”

The positives in the scrimmages aside, the Vineyarders have plenty to work on heading into the season opener Thursday, December 12, at Sandwich and Sunday in Danvers against the two-time defending MIAA state Division 3 champs.

“We need to work on our defensive positioning; playing at the right speed level” coach Joyce said. “We’re used to playing summer league and pick-up games which is very different from actual game time. We have to ramp up the energy in terms of how fast we cut and how fast we get back on defense. Our transition game needs to be better and we need to pass the ball better.”

The Vineyard home opener is Tuesday versus Dennis-Yarmouth. The jayvee game begins at 3 pm, followed by the varsity contest at 4:30. The freshman boys host D-Y Tuesday at 3 pm at the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club in Edgartown.

Girls basketball

Julie Schmidt takes over as head coach, replacing Lisa Stewart, who coached the Vineyarders for the previous seven seasons and guided them to a stellar 17-5 mark last season.

Ms. Schmidt, a special education teacher at MVRHS, is a 1995 graduate of Boston University. She had a distinguished career with the Terriers women’s basketball team from 1991-5, finishing her career as the school’s sixth leading all-time scorer with 1,346 points in 107 games, second in career steals (321), fifth in minutes played (3,524), eighth in assists (303), and 10th in blocks (83). Ms. Schmidt coached previously with the Terriers and at Simmons College.

Coach Schmidt will have just two seniors back from 2012, co-captains Kat deBettencourt and Miranda Tokarz. The young Vineyarders have a solid core of athletes, including juniors Lucy Hackney, Mariah Duarte, Emily deBettencourt, Josie Iadicicco, and Diamond Araujo, along with sophomores Mya Houston, Emily Turney, and Sam Hargy. New to the lineup are promising players, freshman Erin Hill and junior Taija Browne. The varsity has 12 players at present which should provide some depth.

After one week of practice, the new coach sees encouraging signs on the court. “It’s a team that is willing to work hard and put in the effort,” coach Schmidt said. “They are very supportive of each other.” She also likes her team’s quickness and size. Both Lucy Hackney and Erin Hill stand six feet tall, while Sam Hargy is 5′ 11.”

Joining Ms. Schmidt is new jayvee coach, MVRHS mathematics teacher Melissa Braillard, who replaces longtime coach Maureen Hill. “She also knows the kids [from teaching at MVRHS],” coach Schmidt said. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm as far as trying out and participating on the team and that’s obviously the future to come on the varsity.”

The girls open the season Thursday, December 12, at home against Sandwich. The jayvees tip-off at 3 pm and the varsity at 4:30.

Boys hockey

The Vineyard icemen graduated eight seniors and lost two other players from a 2012-2013 team that won 16 games and advanced to the second round of sectional playoffs, but coach Matt Mincone is buoyed by what’s he’s seen in preseason scrimmages.

“We have a senior first line anchored by co-captains Tyson Araujo and Brian Fraser, along with Sam Burke, that you’re going to hear about in hockey circles this year. Tyson Araujo enters the season with 106 career points. You don’t see numbers like that a lot. We had 12 new players at tryouts, the largest turnout for hockey that I’ve seen in 16 years here, and five of them will play varsity this year,” Mr. Mincone said this week.

The success of the Island high school hockey program derives from a system of play based on leadership and hard-working players who emulate what they’ve seen from the players before them, Mr. Mincone said, adding that the graduated seniors left a strong system in place for younger players to follow.

Coach Mincone is heartened by the results of three scrimmages played to date. The varsity regular season begins at home on Saturday, at 6 pm, against Lowell Catholic. The boys jayvee team plays its home opener on Friday at 6 pm against Sandwich.

“I don’t know what we have yet, but our (system) play improved dramatically between the first scrimmage and the third one against North Quincy last weekend,” Mr. Mincone said. “I can tell you that this will be an exciting team to watch.”

The team now has experienced goaltending with sophomore Wyatt Jenkinson in the lineup, joined by junior netminder Noah Kleinhenz. The team features four sets of brothers (Tyson and Tristan Araujo, Alex and Nick Vukota, Matt and Joe Davies and freshman twins Aksel and Nainoa Cooperrider).

While Coach Mincone has a young team, with only four seniors, he notes that many of the underclassmen have a sense of the system. “We play defense first, creating layers in front of attackers and controlling the puck and we began to see that pay off in the last scrimmages,” he said. The senior line of co-captains Tyson Araujo, Brian Fraser and Sam Burke was particularly strong in scrimmages against Hamden, Connecticut, and North Quincy, he noted.

Girls hockey

Coach John Fiorito said that the goal in 2013-14 is for the Vineyard girls to make a third consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Vineyarders will be strong down the middle with junior Aubrey Ashmun and senior co-captain Callie Jackson. Senior Emily Hammett is also a co-captain and a consistently strong performer. Skillful juniors Olivia Ogden and Erin Hegarty will anchor the defense. Alex Clark and Haven Huck are returning seniors. Sophomore Belle Dinning and junior Sydney Davies will also play key roles.

The Vineyarders have two new goaltenders, sophomore Jackie Hegarty and freshman Julia Bettencourt. Both saw their first competitive action Saturday in Bourne and came out on top, 4-2, in the opening scrimmage.

“They [Jackie and Julia] have picked up the game, they’ve been working at it and Andre [assistant coach Andre Bonnell] has been working with them,” coach Fiorito said. “They’ve never played competitive goal, but they’ve gone to clinics. They weren’t youth hockey goalies. They’re just good athletes.”

Both goaltenders have put in many extra hours at off-Island clinics and in the Vineyard Ospreys program for girls aged nine through 14. “Honestly, coming into this, we were replacing two seniors [Texe Craig and Katie Smith] and I think we’re going to be okay,” coach Fiorito said.

In addition to Julia Bettencourt, the Vineyarders will have three more freshmen to keep an eye on: Kylie Hatt, Ellie Hanjian, and Julia Levesque.

An encouraging sign for continued growth in Vineyard girls hockey is increased enrollment at the junior varsity and youth level. “Kids want to play on the Island, so we started a girls program,” coach Fiorito said. “There are 14 girls, nine through 14 playing on the Ospreys now and we had 30 kids come out for jayvee hockey, so we have almost 50 kids in the entire program.”

The girls varsity begins the regular season at Bourne on December 18 and will not play in front of the home crowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Arena until January 4 at 1 pm against Dennis-Yarmouth. The team will close out 2013 with games at King Philip in Wrentham, December 21; Mansfield, December 27; and Brookline, December 30 at B.U.’s Walter Brown Arena. The jayvee girls play their first home game on January 18 at 1:45 pm against Needham.

Swimming

The Vineyard swimmers have a new coach at the helm to begin the team’s second year as a varsity program. Jon Chatinover is taking over from Robin Tuck, who coached the team for the first three seasons. The team competed at the club level for the first two years, before making the leap to varsity in 2012. “Robin liked coaching, but she wanted to spend more time with her family,” Mr. Chatinover said. “She still helps with the team’s yoga exercises, which the swimmers really enjoy.” Coach Chatinover will also be assisted by coaches Leslie Craven, Anthony Devine, and Anne Bollinger, who coaches the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA Makos team.

The swim team is co-ed, with 12 girls and 12 boys this year. As with track and cross-country, however, the girls and boys compete simultaneously in separately scored meets. Most of the 2012 team is back, along with a couple of promising freshmen. “Patrick Best and Reneé Goodale are impressive,” coach Chatinover said. Junior Galya Walt and sophomore Kate Hansen are also strong, versatile swimmers.

Mr. Chatinover majored in economics at Wesleyan (class of 1983), where he coached a swim team. Since then, he has coached various recreational sports, including baseball, soccer, and softball. Now an accountant, the coach also swims for the YMCA Masters team. “My family and I just moved here and plan to stay, so I hope to do this for a number of years,” he said.

Thus far, the swimmers have responded well to the new coach. “He’s a great coach.” said junior captain Liam Cosgrove, who has been swimming competitively since 7th grade, “He’s all about yardage. Robin was more into making it fun, and it still is, but he’s more serious about it.”

Junior Alistair Rizza said, “This is my second year, and we’re focusing a lot more on our technique and stroke now. For a new team we’re doing really well. We’re like a big family.”

Sophomore Jessica Sonia agreed, saying, “We’re definitely getting better, fast.”

The other captains are seniors Ina Thigith, and twins Mariah and Jessica Campbell. Although the team had no wins during its first season, that was expected, and the swimmers are optimistic.

“We’re more experienced,” Liam Cosgrove said. “We have a couple of boys and girls who could make it to sectionals, and our relay team could make states.”

His brother, sophomore Tucker Cosgrove, added, “Each of the four boys on the relay team would have to swim 50 yards in under 28 seconds, and we’ve all clocked 26 seconds. Liam has hit 25.”

The coach and the team have the same expectations. “As a team, you can be measured by wins and losses, but as a program, we’re not there yet,” Mr. Chatinover said. “It’s only the team’s second year, my first, and it’s tough to get a good read, but I’m looking for improvement from everyone. I’m optimistic.”

As for the future, Mr. Chatinover said, “The team’s future will depend on the Y’s youth program. When you’re a swimmer, you work extremely hard. It’s difficult to pick it up in 9th grade; good swimmers start earlier. I don’t think people who don’t swim fully understand the work that’s required.”

The swim team competes in the Bay Colony Conference, which meets for the first time at Nantucket Saturday in the Cape Cod Classic. The Vineyarders face Bridgewater-Raynham Monday at 3:15 in the home opener at the Y and host Barnstable Wednesday at 3:15. The team will have seven meets during the next eight weeks.

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