The 2017-18 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys varsity basketball season tips off on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm at the Francis “Sancy” Pachico Gymnasium in Oak Bluffs when the Vineyarders clash with C.A.S.H. (Community Academy of Science and Health) of Dorchester.
The Vineyard boys lost eight seniors to graduation from a team that finished 10-10, and suffered a tough opening-round defeat to Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC) rivals Bishop Stang in the state tournament last March. The Vineyarders also lost the services of standout player Ricardo Andrade, who moved away.
“We have two returning players, so we’re young,” Vineyard varsity Coach Mike Joyce said during practice on Monday. “I have two freshmen on varsity and four sophomores, so there’s going to be a learning curve, without a doubt. The attitude and the energy have been great, so I’m confident as the year goes on we’re going to get better and better. The starting lineup is going to change probably pretty frequently as things go along. Even for me, it’s going to be a learning process, learning their games, learning who plays well together, who fits better, what groups work better together and complement each other.”
John Morris, the lone senior on the squad, will be the team captain. Juniors include Sam Wallace, Owen Porterfield, Kaio Reis, Matt Morris, Mike Habekost, and Dylan Dyke. Twins Jared and Jeremy Regan, Solon Oliver, and Aidan Araujo are sophomores, while Mike Trusty and Rammon Dos Santos are promising freshmen. Jason O’Donnell is the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant, Kane Araujo will coach the freshman squad, and Alex McCluskey will assist the varsity team during games.
Early on in practice, the Vineyarders have worked well together. “John Morris is one of the hardest-working kids, on the field, on the court, or in the classroom,” Coach Joyce said of his captain. “He’ll do a great job of showing what a good leader looks like to the younger kids. I think the young kids are comfortable with each other, and the upperclassmen have been really receptive to them. So far, the energy and the chemistry have been really good.”
Coach Joyce got his first look at the new Vineyarders in action during a scrimmage last weekend against Pentucket Regional High School of West Newbury, and liked a lot of what he saw. “The scrimmage was good; it was good for them to see what the competition is going to be like, not having played a varsity game before,” Mr. Joyce said. “There’s a lot to learn … there’s going to be a lot of teaching this year. I like the kids, it’s a great group of kids. The freshman and sophomore classes, especially, have a lot of talent and a lot of interest in basketball. While this year might be a little slow progress, it bodes well for the next two or three years.”
Heading into their final year of play in the EAC before moving to the Cape and Islands League for the 2018-19 season, the Vineyarders will have their work cut out for them against what figures to be an awfully tough trio of league foes in Bishop Stang, Coyle and Cassidy and Bishop Feehan. “I’ve got to believe Stang will be favored to win the South [sectional],” Coach Joyce said. “They’ll have everyone back but one senior, I think, and all their major scorers will be back. Coyle had a young team last year that was strong, so, assuming all those kids are back, they’re going to be good, and Feehan is Feehan.”