Updated, 7 pm, January 7
The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys varsity basketball team dug themselves a deep first-quarter hole from which they could not recover, and lost to a quality Sandwich High School team on Friday night at Pacheco Gym in Oak Bluffs by a score of 72-57.
Aided by Vineyard turnovers on the team’s first four possessions, the Blue Knights rained generally wide-open three-pointers early — 6 of 13 treys in the first half — building leads of 7-0, 10-2, and 15-4 before the Vineyarders settled down. The teams were even the rest of the way, with the Knights picking up extra buckets in garbage time over the final minute.
The Vineyarders fell to 2-3, and the Blue Knights improved to 4-1 on the season, led by guards Joey Downes (30 points, 19 in the first half) and Scotty Reels, whose hands-y defense frustrated the Purple offensively. Vineyarder captain Tim Roberts drew special attention, limiting his opportunities to drive to the bucket. Tim was the leading Vineyarder scorer with 14 points, converting several drives into three-point plays by drawing fouls on his drive.
The 2014-’15 Vineyard team appears to be finding its identity. There is a new look for fans acclimated to the 2013-’14 multiple-scoring threat of Deshawn James, Tim Roberts, and Kane Araujo, with Alex Gordon-Beck and Navardo Anderson making big contributions.
Coach Mike Joyce is faced with replacing the offense of 2014 graduates James, Araujo, and Anderson, and limiting opponents’ inside opportunities on defense.
Seniors Roberts and Gordon-Beck are back doing their thing, and Coach Joyce has integrated Mac Sashin’s low-post talent more on offense. Perhaps notably, freshman guard Cole Houston was on the court in crunch time on Friday night, and contributed via outside shots and a willingness to drive to the basket.
And a benefit of a senior-heavy squad is that this is a talented, tournament-tested group, including captains Matt Stone and Mikey Musell and seniors Ben Poole, Jack Yuen, and David Macias.
“No question that the team we’ll be at the end of the year will be very different from the one we’re starting with. We have to play defense,” Coach Joyce said following the game. “We gave up 45 points in the first half. Can’t have that. We played them strong in the second half. And Sandwich is a good team.
“We’re going to depend on Tim, Alex, and Mac for scoring, and we have a couple of freshmen [Cole Houston and Ricardo Andrade] who are earning minutes and can help the more experienced core of players. So it’s going to be an interesting season,” he said.
Earlier in the afternoon on Friday, the Vineyarder junior varsity squad (2-1) defeated the Sandwich JVs (3-2) by a 54-46 score. The Vineyarders erupted with 21-point fourth quarter that snapped a 33-33 tie after three periods.
The Vineyarders play next at Weston High School (Jan. 6) before traveling to Coyle & Cassidy (Jan. 13) for a key Eastern Athletic Conference matchup.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified senior Ricardo Andrade as Jack Yuen in a photo caption.