Tim McHugh clears the paint, while Tim Scott looks for his shot.
MV hands Seekonk first hoops loss, Tops 2nd place Wareham for tourney berth
Call it "The Comeback Kids Part II." Friday night at a packed Sancy Pachico Gymnasium, the MVRHS boys varsity basketball team came from behind to knock off a league powerhouse for the second straight game.
Last week, they roared back from 15 points down to beat the Greater New Bedford Bears, proving they could play with the big boys.
Friday night, they overturned a nine-point deficit to take down the top team in the South Coast Conference, the 16-0 Seekonk Warriors, ranked 20th in the state and 12 points better than any team put in front of them. Until now.
The Vineyard's 67-61 win was the defining moment in the rebirth of a program that has struggled to find itself after the heady days of the 70's and 80's. Numerous coaching changes have occurred in the past decade. Now, under the guidance and leadership of Head Coach Mike Joyce and superb assistants, JV coach Jason O' Donnell, Freshman coach Adam Rebello, former varsity coach Chris Joyce, and Oak Bluffs junior high coach Alex McCluskey, the program is headed in a most positive direction. In fact, all three Vineyard teams (varsity, jv, and freshman) dropped their mighty Seekonk counterparts.
If Friday's roaring capacity crowd is any indication, the Sancy is a fun place to be again.
The fans had plenty to cheer about as the Vineyarders improved to 10-6 overall and 8-6 in the South Coast Conference.
"It was an all-out effort from everyone who stepped out on the court," Coach Mike Joyce said. "Tim McHugh had his best ten minutes of the season and Matt Rivers was a monster out there."
The Vineyard bench knows victory is at hand.
Huge games from Rivers, McHugh, John Swan, and Terrell Johnson allowed the home side to compete on an even court with Seekonk. What tipped the advantage to the Purple were superb physical conditioning, tenacious team defense, and a crucial shift in defensive strategy during the second half when Seekonk's all-time leading scorer Andrew Pereira got into foul trouble.
The Vineyarders had been playing a two-three zone in the first half and suffered through a 15-2 Seekonk run that turned a 20-16 MV lead into a 31-22 halftime deficit.
When Pereira got his fourth foul, Coach Joyce had his team go straight man-to-man, using their team speed to frustrate the Warriors into making a passel of uncharacteristic turnovers. John Swan and his ability to slash through any defense, coupled with Matt Rivers' presence on and under the boards, proved decisive.
MV erased the Seekonk lead within four minutes when Swan and Tim Scott forced consecutive steals and converted both lay-ups for a 41-39 Vineyard lead.
The teams battled back and forth for several minutes until MV put together an 11-2 run to lead 58-51 with three minutes left. Matt Rivers and John Swan hit five of six free throws down the stretch to preserve the victory.
Rivers finished a perfect 5 of 5 from the line, scored 21 points, and hauled down 10 rebounds. Swan also had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds - plus seven assists and four steals. Terrell Johnson had 14 points and 7 rebounds.
In the JV game, MV and Seekonk were inseparable in a 27-27 first half deadlock, but the Vineyarders found a more consistent scoring touch and clamped down defensively to gut out a 71-64 win. MV leapfrogged the Warriors in the standings, improving to 12-2.
Nick Cuba had 13 points, leading a Vineyard cast who were uniformly excellent at both ends of the court. Mike O'Donaghue finished with 12 points and seven steals. Zach Coutinho had 10 points. Albion Alley and Brant Silvia were great on defense, gobbling up 15 rebounds between them.
The Vineyard freshman improved to 10-3 as they completed the sweep of Seekonk with a thorough 69-50 win.
Next stop, Wareham
The train just keeps on rollin'. MV followed up its biggest win in two decades by qualifying for the state tournament with a convincing 85-66 win at Wareham, Tuesday night.
MV seized their playoff spot by beating the SCC's top three teams in consecutive games.
The Vineyarders shot a sizzling 60 percent from the field in a nearly flawless performance. MV buried the Vikings in an 11-point hole early and led by as many as 30.
Matt Rivers (20 points, 12 rebounds) and John Swan (17 points, 11 rebounds) led the way, but Tim McHugh was perfect-5 for 5 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line.
The Jayvees also beat the Vikings, 58-52, to take over sole possesion of first place at 13-2.
Nick Cuba (18 points), Mike O' Donaghue (10), and Zach Coutinho (10) shot in double figures. Jeff Osborn ruled the boards with 10 rebounds.
Wareham gained a measure of revenge with a 67-52 win over the Vineyard freshmen, who remain strong at 10-4 for the season.
MV hosts Dighton-Rehoboth, Friday. The varsity game is at 6:30. The Jayvees play at 5, and the freshmen play at the MV Boys and Girls Club, also at 5. The MVRHS cross country teams will be honored during halftime of the varsity game.
RCBL readies for playoffs
The RCBL wrapped up the regular season Monday night with the Lakers facing the Legends in the opener. The real legendary performance came from the Lakers, however, who won going away 100-89 while playing the whole game shorthanded, 4 against 5.
The Legends, minus the prolific James Jennings, led in each of the first three periods, only to see the Lakers come roaring back to tie the score, 25-25 after one, 47-47 at the half, and 70 apiece after three. The Legends threatened to put the game out of reach after a Wayne Elliott jumper put them up 66-54 halfway through the third quarter. The Lakers answered with a 16-2 run to take the lead 70-68.
The final period was all Lakers as the Legends' shooting deserted them.
Jeff Labell chalked up 50 points for the winners. Karl Kallinich had 20 points and 16 rebounds. Cruz [sic] scored 19 points and Chris Wiggin had 18 rebounds.
Dale Rogers (34 points), Nakia Timmods (20), and Wayne Elliott (11) were the leading Legends.
In the second game, the Sharky's Timberwolves succumbed to the Heat 100-86. The T-Wolves were missing four regulars, but had offensive threat Travis Baptiste back in the line-up.
Sharky's started just fine, building a 27-16 lead after one quarter, with Baptiste totaling 13 of his team high 39 points.
Their shooting tailed off considerably in quarter two, allowing the Heat to climb back quickly and lead at the half 44-39, through 10 points from Damon Mello.
The second half was a painful, cold journey through the deep woods for the T-Wolves. They couldn't find the net or their legs as the Heat, clicking on all cylinders, vaporized them.
Balance was the key for the Heat, who had five players in double figures. Damon Mello had 20 points, followed by Clint Merrill (19), Nate Scott (18), Eric Fein (18), and Sandy Fisher (16).
Jason O' Donnell (16 points), courageously battling his ailing back, the Heat defense, and the unforgiving court surface, followed Travis Baptiste on the scorecard for Sharky's. Adam Rebello scored 14, and Alex McCluskey played tenacious defense with 3 steals.
The first round of the playoffs begin Monday at the MV Boys and Girls Club with a pair of opening games in best-of-three series. The Legends tip off against the Heat at 6:15 and the Lakers get it on with Sharky's T-Wolves at 8.
RCBL Final Regular Season Standings
Heat 10 1
Sharky's T-Wolves 7 4
Lakers 4 7
Legends 1 10
Joel Rebello can't squeeze his shot past Hanover's Joe Gallo. Zach Sylvia looks to lend assistance.
MV hockey ties Durfee, falls to Hanover
Joel Rebello scored on a breakaway to lift the boys varsity hockey team to a 4-4 tie with Durfee, Friday night at the MV Arena.
The big and bruising Hilltoppers from Fall River entered the game at a formidable 9-3-2, but the Vineyarders were undaunted at the start, looking speedier and more skillful.
Two minutes into the contest, Nick Billingham scored a spectacular goal, getting off a solid sweeping shot, while sliding on his posterior, legs outstretched and torso upright.
MV looked the more dangerous of the teams for much of the first two periods, but found themselves down 3-1 after two bad shifts, one at the tail end of the first period, the other early in the second, when Durfee scored twice in 50 seconds.
Scott Cleary got the Islanders back in it by finishing off a perfect two-on-one feed from Joel Rebello four minutes later and Scott Maciel tied the score at three six minutes into the final session.
Perhaps the struggle with Durfee the night before took its toll on them, maybe not. But, something was amiss with the purple and white Saturday afternoon against Hanover.
The Indians popped in two goals 42 seconds apart early in the first period to silence the crowd and won going away, 5-1.
The Vineyarders had more possession but could not contain the Indians' breakout speed down the wings. Too often, players were caught reaching flat-footed with a light poke-check, rather than sustaining consistent fore-checking.
The first Hanover goal was a carbon copy of three Durfee strikes from Friday night in which the initial shot was stopped, but the trailing player was left unmarked at the left post to slam in the rebound.
The Indians added two goals in the second period to lead 4-0 before Scott Maciel fired off a lazer beam top shelf right to finally give his team and the fans something to cheer about. The Vineyarders closed out the second period with some fine sustained pressure and hard hitting, but the score remained 4-1.
MV continued to play with more gusto in the third, but just couldn't click on offense. Bill Ainslie capped off a hat trick with a breakaway goal to finish the scoring. Hanover improved to 9-5-1, while MV dropped to 7-6-1 overall and 5-1 in the South Coast Conference.