Vineyard gets the boot from South Coast Conference
Vineyard school officials have appealed a Jan. 11 vote by principals of the nine member schools of the South Coast Conference to end the Vineyard's two-year associate trial membership in the conference. Island education leaders said the SCC decision is a major setback for Island athletics.
The vote shocked Island school leaders who had expressed confidence that the conference would elect to keep the Vineyard in the league. Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) principal Peg Regan and Vineyard school superintendent James Weiss have appealed the decision in writing.
On Tuesday, Mr. Weiss told The Times, "This [decision] will have a decidedly negative impact upon our student-athletes."
In a letter to SCC officials dated Jan. 12, Ms. Regan described the events leading up to the vote and asked for reconsideration. "Any other vote would constitute unnecessary prejudice against a school whose geography constitutes an obstacle to the rights and well-being of their student-athletes."
The South Coast Conference includes Seekonk High School, Dighton-Rehoboth, Joseph Case (Swansea), Fairhaven, Greater New Bedford Voke, Old Rochester Regional, Apponequet (Lakeville), Wareham, and Bourne.
As an associate member on a trial basis since 2005, the Vineyard has competed in the SCC in several sports - boys and girls soccer, golf, boys hockey, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, and field hockey. The football, cross- country, and track teams are still in the Mayflower League. The lacrosse programs are in the Maritime Conference, and the girls ice hockey in the southern division of the Southeastern Girls Hockey Conference.
If the vote stands, the Island's participation would end at the conclusion of the spring sports season in late May.
The vote was originally scheduled for March, pushed back to December, and then rescheduled to Jan. 11 during a regular conference meeting.
According to Ms. Regan, who attended the meeting, eight principals were present. The Fairhaven principal was absent.
Ms. Regan said that Pat Clark, the Wareham principal, asked for clarification on how many votes were needed. According to Ms. Regan, Linda Enos, Greater New Bedford principal and current SCC chairman, said that a majority membership vote was sufficient.
When it came time to vote, the eight members met in executive session. No vote total was provided, said Ms. Regan.
Following discussions with several athletic directors (ADs) and superintendents, Ms. Regan said that she learned that only Apponequet, Case, and Greater New Bedford voted to end Vineyard membership.
Brian McCann, principal of Joseph Case High School, declined to comment on any SCC matters, saying that any statement would have to come from Ms. Enos, who also declined to comment.
An undated post-meeting press release from the South Coast Conference, sent by Ms. Enos, said that the Vineyard "failed to secure the needed two-thirds majority vote called for in the bylaws to continue this associate status."
The release added that, "This vote is not a reflection on Martha's Vineyard High School, its students, coaches, or personnel." It said the vote "may be a reflection" of the principals' desire to maintain a nine-member format and may have left open the possibility of at-large competition.
Reached by The Times, Ms. Enos bristled when asked to confirm the report of a 5-3 vote count. She said that the information was incorrect, but refused to provide a vote total.
This week, Ms. Regan and athletic director Michael Joyce said they were extremely disappointed and puzzled by the outcome. Ms. Reagan said that she had received unanimous support from conference athletic directors prior to the vote.
Ms. Regan said seven of the principals expressed their support when polled during phone conversations on Jan. 3 and 4.
Superintendent James Weiss, in a Jan.16 letter sent to superintendents of the SCC member schools, said, "Unfortunately, Peg was excluded from the meeting prior to the discussion and was given no explanation for the unexpected action. This hardly represents a cooperative way for public schools in our region to act toward one another."
Mr. Weiss told The Times on Tuesday, "If you take at face value what people have said, it [the vote] does not compute. Either they are not being truthful with us or the vote doesn't add up."
Mr. Joyce, upon learning the news from Ms. Regan, said, "When Peg told me, I had to hear it three times. It didn't even dawn on me... based on the full support of the ADs, I didn't see how that could be one of the possible outcomes. Even if we didn't get full membership, I thought we would stay on as an associate member."
In her letter to conference athletic directors, principals, superintendents, and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, Ms. Regan ticked off eight points.
She began by reiterating that according to Linda Enos at the Jan. 11 meeting, a simple majority vote and not a two-thirds majority was required to retain Vineyard membership. She added that the result of the vote contradicted her poll of the league principals.
In addressing the unanimous support of the athletic directors, Ms. Regan said, "No reason was given by the principals of the SCC as to why they did not follow their AD's written recommendation for membership of our school."
As travel to and from the Island has been a scheduling issue in the past, Ms. Regan explained that the Vineyard has scheduled games so that there would be little or no effect on time away from the classroom. Also, the Vineyard paid for all sea transportation on both the Steamship Authority and the New England Fast Ferry. Costs for food and any accommodations have also been covered.
Finally, Ms. Regan said that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) in a 2003 meeting, made it clear that excluding Vineyard students from league play because of their island status was discriminatory, adding, "MVRHS has proven itself to be an excellent match competitively to the South Coast Conference in both league and non-league contests."
Indeed, the Vineyarders have already claimed the 2006 SCC boys soccer title and are currently contending for the boys hockey crown.
Mr. Joyce said that being part of a conference is important on many levels that go beyond the two automatic playoff berths, "It helps forge an identity for your school. School spirit and attendance increase.... Teams competing against each other twice a season causes familiarity with a common opponent and creates immediate goals. The level of competition increases and the kids get up for the games."
Nica Sylvia takes on a lady Warrior in the tourney opener. Photos by Ralph Stewart
Nan Rheault tourney
The Vineyard varsity girls had a tough weekend at the sixth annual Nan Rheault Memorial tournament at the M.V. Arena.
Things couldn't have started better in the opener Saturday night against Nauset. Alexa Fisher lit the lamp a mere 23 seconds into the contest on a perfect feed from Ana Jurczyk as the two broke in alone on the Warrior netminder Kelly Johnson.
From there, the Vineyard slumped into a 4-1 deficit early in the second period and brought goalie Laura Jernegan in for Jen Ward.
M.V. jump-started their effort and closed the gap to 4-3 on power play goals two minutes apart from Fisher on a deflection from a Christina Wiley slapshot and from Lainey Aristide, assisted by Fisher and Wiley.
Nauset scored to make it 5-3 in the dying seconds of period two.
Alexa Fisher matched her
Nauset counterpart Ashley Farnsworth by notching a hat trick 5:30 into the third, assisted by Jurczyk and Aristide, but the tying goal would not come.
Nauset lost to Newton North 5-3 in the final, Sunday afternoon. The Tigers stunned Hingham, 3-2, on a last-minute goal in Saturday's opener.
Jamie Forend makes a point-blank save on a Hingham sniper during the JV game.
The Vineyarders found little consolation in a 6-0 defeat to Hingham on Sunday.
M.V. again started well, playing an assured, solid first period. Each team had a couple of good chances, but nothing to show on the scoreboard. In the second period, the Vineyarders lost their discipline, spending most of the 15 minutes in the sin bin. Hingham finally took advantage and led 1-0 going into the final frame. Only Laura Jernegan's sparkling netminding kept things so close.
The third period was a nightmare, with Hingham ringing up five goals-four in the first 5:05.
With Needham dropping out of the tourney on Thursday, the JV bracket became a three-for-all - a round-robin style affair in which the teams played each other a period at a time and rotated until all had played three periods. Thus, the scorelines more resembled a tennis match.
Hingham won all six periods on day one, defeating Newton North 1-0, 4-0, 1-0 and the Vineyard 1-0, 3-0, 1-0. M.V. handled Newton North 1-0 in the first period on a goal by Sophie Lew with 1:05 left, assisted by Meaghan Gouldrup. After a 0-0 tie in the second session, Lew scored again at 1:11 from Emily Smith and Holly Robinson, as M.V. took part three, 1-0. Jamie Forend was solid in goal for M.V.
Day two was also played in the same format and the results were almost the same. Hingham won the JV title, going 2-1-4 against 0-0-0 for Newton North and 4-1-0 against 0-0-0 for M.V. The Vineyarders again got by Newton North 0-1-0 to 0-0-0 to claim the runners-up plaque. Marguerite Cogliano potted the Vineyard goal, assisted by Meaghan Jeffers.
Mark Reppert crashes to the hoop for 2 of his 14 points.
Vineyard bedevils Fairhaven for 5th straight win
Bolstered by Bubba Brown's first appearance of the season, the Vineyard boys basketball team gutted out their first-ever victory over South Coast Conference nemesis Fairhaven, 55-54, Monday night.
Terrell Johnson scored the winning bucket on a tap-in of Brown's shot with nine seconds remaining to send the most vocal crowd of the season into a frenzy.
In the Vineyard's version of Willis Reed playing in game seven of the 1970 NBA finals against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden, Brown, who had his femur and elbow broken after being hit by a taxi on the Vineyard this summer, entered the game with four minutes to play to a thunderous standing ovation.
Bubba scored only two points - on his first shot, no less - but his presence and rugged play clearly got the extra mile out of his teammates and the crowd as the Vineyarders erased a 53-47 Blue Devil lead.
Fittingly, Bubba started the comeback by fighting for a rebound and cutting the lead to 53-49.
Nick Jerome takes charge in the freshmen game against Fairhaven.
With 1:08 to play, Jake Vanderhoop made the first of two huge plays by driving the length of the court for the tying lay-up. Then, with 31 seconds left, and Fairhaven up 54-53, Jake stole the ball after the Blue Devils had a sure bucket following a perfect home-run pass.
After Terrell Johnson's winning hoop, the Blue Devils saw their last shot miss the mark.
Nick Viera finished with
15 points and Mark Reppert, who was tenacious all night, had 14. Vanderhoop added 10 more for the Vineyard, who improved to 9-4 overall and 7-4 in the South Coast Conference.
Next up is Old Rochester, tomorrow night at the Sancy.
The jayvees posted their ninth win against two defeats, beating Fairhaven, 58-37. Nick Gross drained a robust 26 points and Jess Swaringin had 8.
The Vineyard freshmen made it three for three. They led 30-12 at the break and sent the Blue Devils home empty-handed.
Nick Viera scored 18 points as M.V. held off host Apponequet, 67-60, on Friday. Matt Lucier and Tim McHugh tossed in a dozen points each. Terrell Johnson scored 10 more.
The JVs downed the Lakers, 64-49. Justin Mercier led the way with 15 points, Nick Gross had 11, and Pat Hart scored 10, all in the first half.
Katie Hines scored 14 points against
Apponequet as the jayvee girls improved to 9-1.
Vineyard loses in double overtime thriller
Nina Butler hit a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer to send M.V. into overtime with Apponequet, Friday at the Sancy, but the Lakers had their own heroine, in Kelsey Craveiro, who put in the tying lay-up to force a second overtime and then scored the winning points in a 66-62 Apponequet win.
Down 21-14 after a first half in which the Lakers grabbed most of the rebounds and loose balls, the Vineyarders came out hungry in the second period and went ahead 22-21 on successive steals and lay-ups by Kelly Silvia and Brittany Stone. The teams battled back and forth from there, trading as many fouls as baskets. Both teams hit their share from the stripe, but Craveiro was the difference. Brittany Stone finished with 16 points and Kelly Silvia with 14 to lead M.V., who fell to 3-7.
The Vineyard jayvees broke out of gates quickly and never looked back in a decisive 46-16 win. Katie Hines dominated the first half, scoring 10 of her game-high 14 points, while Kate Cecilio controlled the second half, finishing with 10 points. Jesse Donahue had six more, Shikha Datta and Martha Scheffer had four each.
The Vineyard freshman girls got their first home win and improved to 3-4 by drubbing the Lakers 44-10 at the M.V. Boys and Girls Club. Lonnie Phillips led the way with 11 points as every Vineyard player scored. Brianna Davies had 10 points, Grace Vanderhoop, eight, and Heather Welch, six.
Against powerful Fairhaven, Monday night, only the jayvees returned home with a victory, 34-22, their ninth win in ten games.
The varsity ladies, despite good efforts from Julie Perry (8 points) and Lauren Gibson (7), simply could not keep up with the Blue Devils, falling 72-23.
The girls play at Old Rochester, tomorrow.