Vineyard boys lose to Wareham 75-56 to end playoff season

The Martha’s Vineyard squad could not overcome the sharpshooting Vikings.

Matt Stone drives past Wareham’s Michael Labonte. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The playoff dreams of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School varsity boys basketball team and their fans ended in Wareham Saturday with a 75-56 loss to the Wareham Vikings. The loss in the south quarter finals in MIAA Division 3 South tournament ended the Vineyarders season.

Senior Tim Roberts scored a team high 23 points, Alex GordonBeck scored 9 and Matt Stone scored 8 from the bench.

In front of a packed gymnasium the Vineyarders came out swinging early with a strategy anchored by their imposing 7 foot, 2 inch center Mac Sashin that relied on an aggressive attack on the undersized Vikings frontcourt. Wareham countered the Vineyard size advantage by spreading the floor and capitalizing on the 2-3 zone defense, hitting three open 3-point shots in a row.

The second quarter saw Mac Sashin continue to pull down rebounds, but it was not enough. Wareham continued to use its athleticism to stretch Martha’s Vineyard and it began to break the boys in purple down. Vineyard players were caught watching several Wareham shots and the team began to fall behind.

To add insult to injury, the Wareham team could not miss. The Vikings spread the floor perfectly and continued to knock down open jump shots. Three consecutive Vineyard possessions ended with turnovers as the Vikings outmuscled the Vineyard. By halftime, a three point first quarter lead had evaporated and the Vineyard boys were down 33-20.

Coach Mike Joyce spoke to the team at halftime and the boys emerged with a slightly different 3-2 zone defense, hoping to stop sharp shooting Wareham. But Wareham countered the defensive scheme with aggressive drives to the basket, that Martha’s Vineyard was unable to stop.

The Vineyarders struggled to get the ball to Mac Sashin in the second half. Wareham countered by either double teaming him in the post or jumping any pass intended for the big center.

With three minutes left in the third, the Vineyard began a full court press, which resulted in an instant Wareham turnover. Alex GordonBeck and Tim Roberts took control, and ferociously attacked the glass to grab rebounds. Wareham’s defenders matched their intensity.

As the second half progressed, MV’s poor perimeter shooting began to improve. Matt Stone hit two three-pointers off the bench to give life to the Vineyarders, but it was not enough to slow the Wareham’s offense. With four minutes left and the game out of reach, coach Mike Joyce pulled his starters to raucous applause from the Island fans. The Vineyard cheers were not just for the day’s performance, but for the entire season  and the eight seniors who had pulled on a purple and white uniform for the last time.

“We played pretty well today but they shot lights out,” Vineyard captain Tim Roberts, a senior, commented after the game. “We tried everything we could to stop their three pointers, but there is only so much you can do when [Wareham] is that hot. We still had a great season, and we were able to win the EAC title to keep the streak alive. I thought we had a chance to go a little further this year, but we definitely still had a great season.”

Coach Joyce was proud of his team, whose performances succeeded expectations. “Wareham had the best shooting game of the year, and for us to do well we had to force the ball inside and score,” he said. “They had 13 three pointers and shot 90 percent from the free throw line. That’s tough to beat.”

He praised the boys and their season long effort. “Coming in to the season we only had two players returning, so we knew it was going to be a year of growth,” he said. “After the fifth or sixth game, the seniors in particular bought into playing hard and playing to win. They turned their season around and were excellent.”