Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket met in a Cape and Islands League girls basketball showdown Saturday at the Sancy Pachico Gym in Oak Bluffs. The Whalers came into the contest at 5-2, while the Vineyarders looked to build on a win at Cape Tech on Jan. 8 and even their record at 4-4.
With points at a premium in a hard-fought game between the island rivals, the Vineyarders turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the season and downed the Whalers, 31-22.
MV led 25-22 after three quarters, and shut out Nantucket in the final period to seal the win. Junior Sasha Lakis had a monster game, blocking 12 Whaler shots and hauling down 15 rebounds to go with six points. “Sasha is a force defensively,” Vineyard Coach Sterling Bishop said. “She was huge for us. She’s been a centerpiece for this team, and I think she’s just going to grow throughout the rest of the season.” Junior co-captain Catherine O’Brien also gave the Whalers fits with 10 boards and six steals.
Nantucket scored the first basket of the game, but Taylor Hughes answered with two points and Kylie Estrella added a trey for a 5-2 Vineyard lead. Though the Whalers would tie the score on a couple of occasions, they would not lead again. Estrella added two more baskets on a jumper and a bank shot, and Riley Yuhas banked in another off the glass to put MV up 11-9 after the first period.
The Vineyarders outscored Nantucket 6-2 in the second period with a Mataya Trusty rebound and two Lakis buckets in the paint on slick feeds from Kya Maloney to lead 17-11 at halftime.
As well as the Vineyarders were defending, they were too often careless with the ball, and rushed their passes on offense. Still, more often than not, the hosts managed to control the tempo and stymie the Whaler attack. “Offensively, we tried to slow down a little bit,” Coach Bishop said. “We tend to rush and we tend to turn the ball over, so we wanted to make them play at our pace. So, we slowed the game down and kept it low-scoring, which is what we’re kind of used to. We’re averaging about 30 points a game. We kept in control and made them play our game today. That was the plan.”
In the third period, Nantucket came out more aggressive on defense and passed the ball well to find open looks, but the Vineyarders were too tough underneath the basket, and the Whalers simply couldn’t get the ball to drop from the outside. Taylor Hughes made a free throw, Riley Yuhas popped in a trey from the top of the key, Summer Cardoza scored on a put-back, and Kylie Estrella drove to the basket for two more points to keep MV ahead.
As the Vineyard defense pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter, Sasha Lakis had five blocks and muscled in a shot from the low post before Estrella and Yuhas each went 2 of 2 from the stripe to put the game away.
“All in all, it’s more like a rivalry game,” Coach Bishop said. “Any time you play Nantucket, I don’t want to say bad blood, but we try extra-hard. Defensively, we wanted to put pressure on the ball today. We started off the game in a full-court press. We got a few turnovers and created some opportunities for ourselves, and I’m really, really proud of how the girls played.”
Kylie Estrella led MV with 11 points, Riley Yuhas had seven, Taylor Hughes added three, and Summer Cardoza and Mataya Trusty chipped in two points apiece.
Earlier in the day, the Vineyard JV girls beat the Whalers in a 29-25 thriller. Down the stretch, Josie Chivers and Michaela Benefit sank crucial baskets from the field, while Isabelle Murphy and Ella Oskan added free throws. Oskan matched her jersey number with 14 points for the game, Benefit finished with eight points, and Chivers had six.
The Vineyarders (4-4 overall, 4-2 C & I) play at Falmouth Academy on Jan. 17, and host Sturgis East Charter School on Jan. 18, with the JV game tipping off at 3 pm and the varsity game at 4:30.