Martha’s Vineyard girls lose to Fairhaven 55 to 41

2012-03-05 fairhaven martha's vineyard girls basketball/mike_in/MIKE VALERI/The Standard-Times/mvkaymullen.jpg++ Fairhaven's Kay Mullen, right, maneuvers around Martha's Vineyard's Maggie Riseborough during first half rebound action. — Mike Valeri

The Martha’s Vineyard girls’ basketball team staged a valiant comeback Monday against Fairhaven in the semi-finals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Tournament (MIAA) but could not close the deficit. The team lost 55-41 to end a stirring post-season run and memorable season.

The 11th seeded Vineyarders, who qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2003, came out flat. They rushed their offense and took quick shots, and missed a number of easy lay-ups.

In contrast the 2nd seeded Blue Devils came out hot. They hit several three-pointer early to build a double-digit lead, led by stand-out Kara Charette – a six-foot senior who can also shoot from the perimeter. She led all scorers with 26 points.

The Blue Devils went to the line 15 times in the first half and converted 10 of their free throws. The Vineyarders did not go to the line once.

The Vineyard trailed 32-16 at the half. Coach Lisa Stewart said she tried to settle her team down at halftime.

“I just said we are a better team than this, we have to be patient. I said their defense is not so good that we should only have 16 points [in the first half], the only reason we do is that we are taking quick shots,” she told The Times following the end of the game.

The team responded and started to pass the ball with purpose in the second half and find the open player. They managed to whittle the deficit down to ten points at one point, and outscored the Blue Devils 25-24 in the second half.

It was not enough to win, but it showed the team had grit and moxie, the coach said.

“We could have easily given up. Fairhaven is a big physical team; they had a big crowd and cheerleaders and all that, and they were having their way in the first half. But we didn’t give up, these girls didn’t give up. They showed a lot of heart,” she said.

Jennie Lindland finished with 11 points for the Vineyarders; teammate Kendall Robinson had 10, Katie Stewart had 8 and Maggie Riseborough had 7.

Coach Stewart said the Vineyarders second half against the Blue Devils, when they fought back in the face of great adversity, was a microcosm for the entire season.

“We have come a long way this season, and I think we showed how far in that second half,” she said. “To be honest, I don’t think we would have bounced back like we did six or seven games ago.”

The Vineyarders battled down to the wire to make it into the state tournament, qualifying in their final game of the season with a win over Nantucket. In the opening round of the tournament, they went on the road and beat 6th-seeded Ashland by a score of 49-45.

The win earned them a home tournament game against East Bridewater, which they won 54-34 in perhaps their best game of the season.

The coach said the team is still young and has a good chance of returning to the state tournament next year. They are only losing two seniors, Alex Mark and Madison Hughes, and this year’s playoff run could provide experience if the team returns to postseason next year.

“It was a good experience for us, and I think we will be back there. I was telling some parents, you can’t really replicate this type of experience. You have to go play in these big games and learn from it, and I think we did,” she said, adding:

“I feel nothing but pride for this team. I have seen so much growth with this group, and I am proud of them and what they accomplished.”