Vineyard girls varsity powers past Coyle and Cassidy, 39-33

Senior guard Emily deBettencourt drives towards the hoop. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) girls varsity basketball team used their inside power game, led by Erin Hill with 16 points, to defeat a scrappy Coyle and Cassidy High School team by a 39-33 count on Friday afternoon at Sancy Pachico Gym in Oak Bluffs.

Molly DeBettencourt added 10 points, as the Vineyarders improved their record to 11-3 under first-year coach Maureen Hill. Coyle and Cassidy fell to 6-7 with the loss. Earlier in the day, the Coyle and Cassidy junior varsity defeated the MVRHS jayvees by a 24-20 score.

The Vineyarders contained talented Coyle and Cassidy guards Laura Johnson and Nicole Bostick to build a 19-12 halftime lead, with five Vineyarders in the first-half scoring column.

The MVRHS girls extended their lead to 37-23 with 2½ minutes remaining in the second half, before Coyle and Cassidy went on a 10-2 run to nearly close the gap as time expired.

The story of this game was a responsive Vineyarder defense that overplayed Lady Warriors guards, forcing them to drive the middle against Vineyarder bigs. After some early Coyle and Cassidy success in driving the lane, the Vineyarder strategy forced the Lady Warriors into trouble down low, and also allowed the Vineyarders to control the defensive boards.

At the other end, the Vineyarders used a half-court game to set up Erin Hill, Sam Hargy, and Diamond Araujo inside, or to kick it out to Molly and Emily DeBettencourt for medium-range jumpers. The girls played with patience and a willingness to set up the best shot.

“I’ve had a lot of these kids for years, going back eight or nine years to travel-team days,” Ms. Hill, formerly the MVRHS girls junior varsity coach, said after the game. “They know each other, and they are working within a set system that allows them freedom within it. After some early-season reluctance, they are starting to believe in it, and they are getting better at it every game. It’s a good system also because the variations it offers make it difficult to scout and prepare against it. We stress team defense,” she said.

With five games remaining before tournament time, the Vineyarders are in second place in the Eastern Athletic Conference (EAC), a game behind undefeated Bishop Feehan, the second-ranked Division 1 team in the state. The Vineyarders, ranked fifth in Division 3 South, have qualified for the state tournament, and have an opportunity for a high seed in the Division 3 tourney.

The Vineyarders travel to Sandwich High School on Thursday, Feb. 5, for a rematch in an EAC tilt. The Vineyarders won the first meeting by a 61-25 score. Bishop Feehan, winner by a 76-44 score over MVRHS earlier in the season, visits Pachico Gym for a key rematch on Feb. 7.