Eight players return from a Vineyard varsity girls team that finished 9-11 last season, one win short of a playoff berth. Playing without leading scorer Molly DeBettencourt for the final quarter of the season proved to be too high a hurdle to overcome.
This year, Molly is back in the lineup, as senior co-captain, along with Kiana Casey and Lily Pigott. Experience will not be an issue for the Vineyarders in 2017-18. Head Coach Sterling Bishop also has seniors Rose Engler, Ashleigh Moreis, Meghan Sawyer, and Leolani Kaeka on the roster, along with junior Alley Estrella. Sophomores include Sasha Lakis, who gives the Vineyarders a strong presence in the paint, Skyla Harthcock, and Taylor Hughes. Freshman Kylie Estrella completes the varsity lineup. Alyssa Lemoi returns for her third season as junior varsity coach. Gillian Sedlier, Mary Korba, and Maggie Riseborough are varsity assistants, while Kendall Robinson will assist Ms. Lemoi with the JV squad.
Coach Bishop is confident that his veteran team has what it takes to reach the state tournament. “These girls have been playing together for so long,” he said. “The ability for them to communicate with each other has grown from last year, and I think we’re going to use that to our advantage. We’re really excited about this season … we have leadership, experience, and knowledge. We’ll bring some of the young players along, and hopefully we’ll have a successful season.”
The Vineyard girls will compete in the Eastern Athletic Conference this season with Bishop Feehan, Bishop Stang, and Coyle and Cassidy before joining the Cape and Islands League next year. Feehan, a Division 1 powerhouse often ranked among the top 20 teams in the state, is the perennial league favorite, but Coach Bishop thinks the Vineyarders will more than hold their own throughout the league schedule. “Feehan’s always tough, but the girls will never quit. We’ll fight to the end,” he said. “We’re looking to be, at a minimum, the No. 2 seed in the EAC, and I think we can do it.”
The new season gets underway on Saturday at the Sancy Pachico Gym in Oak Bluffs, with the Vineyarders hosting the North Quincy Red Raiders. The JV game tips off at 3 pm, with the varsity contest set for 4:30 pm.