Bishop Stang edges Vineyard boys basketball in state tournament

‏Visiting Spartans outlast MV in overtime thriller.

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Updated Monday March 6

In a much-anticipated rematch between the 2016-2017 Eastern Athletic Conference co-champions, Bishop Stang outlasted the Martha’s Vineyard boys basketball team, 93-87 in overtime, in the first round of the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional, Friday at the Sancy Pachico gym in Oak Bluffs.

The contest was an old-time barn-burner. The Spartans squandered a six-point lead late in regulation before tying the game with 16 seconds to go, then broke open the overtime period with clutch shooting from three-point range and the foul line to earn the victory.

All told, Stang sank 10 treys and made 23 of 24 free throws in the game.

The huge hometown turnout suggests that more than a few Vineyard families curtailed their school vacation plans in order to witness this match-up. The teams entered the game with identical 14-6 records, both 6-2 in the league. They had split their two regular season games, each winning on the other’s court. In the 16-team division 3 tourney, the Vineyarders were seeded 8th, while the Spartans, the defending D3 state champs, were seeded 9th. The scene was set for a showdown and the teams did not disappoint.

The game was fast and furious from the outset. Both teams played an aggressive man-to-man defense, pressuring the ball and looking for steals. With no true big man on the court, rebounds were up for grabs. It was good, clean, intense basketball up and down the court.

The difference was in the offense. The Vineyarders operated from a set pattern, setting screens and working the ball around to create good scoring chances. The Spartans were more freelance, with each player looking to beat his man on a drive or pull up for a deep three-pointer. The quick, darting guards carried the offense, isolating one-on-one or setting quick picks for each other.

Both styles were clicking in the first half, resulting in balanced scoring for each team. The hosts led by five points after one quarter and by two, 36-34, at the break. Senior co-captains Nick Bond and Dylan Araujo led the Vineyard scoring with 12 and nine points respectively. Senior Mike Power and junior Ricardo Andrade had seven each.

The visitors’ scoring was evenly distributed among four guards. Junior  Malik Morris led the way with nine points.

In the second half, three starting sophomores combined to swing the balance in the visitors’ favor. Thanks to the hot shooting and scrappy defense of Damien Perry, Justin Lopes and Dijaun Chummack, Stang scored the first seven points of the third quarter and led 57-50 heading into the fourth. Midway through the final period, the Spartans led 68-58.

Ricardo Andrade then stepped up for the Vineyarders, After sinking a free throw to complete a three-point play, he hit a three-pointer, cutting the Stang lead to four points. The visitors got two of those points back and led 70-64 with two minutes to play. Then, things got crazy.

Amid the raucous cheers of the partisan crowd, the Vineyarders hit Stang  with a full-court man-to-man press, resulting in two steals and four more points. Down 70-68 with 50 seconds to go, Dylan Araujo stood at the free throw line with two shots to tie the game. He made both.

On the next possession, the Spartans committed their third consecutive turnover by throwing an errant pass, giving the ball back to the hosts and stopping the clock. Once again the Vineyarders capitalized, as senior guard Jordan Tate laid the ball in off a nifty pass from Ricardo Andrade. The Vineyard led for the first time in the half, 72-70.

With time running down and Stang breaking up court, the Vineyarders fouled Dijaun Chummack. The sophomore went to the line with 16 seconds on the clock and calmly swished both free throws to send the game to overtime.

The brief respite before the four-minute extra session allowed the visitors to regroup. Up by a point with two minutes to play, Stang went on an offensive run, hitting two three-pointers and converting on eight free throws to take a six-point lead with under a minute to go. This time they held on, walking off the court with a very well-earned victory.

Spartan sophomore Dijuan Chummack led all scorers with 26 points, nine coming in overtime. He also made all 14 of his free throws in the game. Damien Perry (20), Justin Lopes (19) and Malik Morris (17) also had big games. Senior Nick Bond had 24 for Martha’s Vineyard. Ricardo Andrade and Dylan Araujo scored 22 and 18 points respectively.

The game brought out the best in both teams, as everyone in attendance would attest. Vineyard coach Mike Joyce was still shaking his head over an intentional foul call against his team late in overtime, but had nothing but good things to say about the play of both teams. “Losing Jordan Tate (who fouled out) in overtime hurt us,” he aded. “His energy and ability are key to our success.”

Bishop Stang coach Colby Santos lauded both teams for their effort, comparing the give-and-take contest to a boxing match. When asked about the clutch play of Dijaun Chummack, he said, “Well, he’s from California, so he’s pretty laid back and can handle pressure. I guess being here on Martha’s Vineyard brought out the California in him.”

Martha’s Vineyard ended its season with an impressive 14-7 record and the knowledge that they pushed their rival to the limit. As Mike Power put it, “We left it all out on the court. There are no regrets.”