MVRHS boys ballers wait for tourney seed

Vineyarders drop three straight to end 11-9.

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Today they wait.

Seedings are expected late Friday for South Sectional play in the state high school basketball tournament. The Vineyarder varsity boys basketball team lost its final three tilts in a generally frustrating fashion this week, and prepares for the state tournament next week with an 11-9 regular-season record.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) ballers lost both games in the second annual Mitch Kuliga Classic in Apponequet before dropping the regular-season finale Thursday to Mashpee (82-77), thereby making their tournament road somewhat tougher.

On Wednesday in Apponequet, after the Kuliga tournament and before the Mashpee game, Vineyarder Coach Mike Joyce predicted that “12-8 teams have a good shot at a home game in the tourney. At 11-9, we’d probably be on the road.”

The Mitch Kuliga Classic teams, Bishop Stang, Wareham, Apponequet, and MVRHS were all tourney-qualified coming in, but played as if the Furies were chasing them. At halftime in a tied 35-35 consolation game with Apponequet, Joyce said, “Yeah, this is a state tournament mindset. Everyone is playing for a good seed, getting tournament-ready.”

The game was essentially a one-possession game all afternoon, until the Lakers trooped to the foul line late for seven of their final nine points, and the difference in the end. You will be hard-pressed to see a better schoolboy game. Lanky Vineyarder power forward Rammon Dos Santos banged against widebody sophomore Laker center, 6-foot, 7-inch, Clay Meunier all day before fouling out with 3:27 left.

The Vineyarders pressed on defense all day, and spread their offensive contributions. At halftime in a 35-35 tie, six Vineyarders had scored, led by Dos Santos with 8. Two Lakers, including Meunier, had 32 of their 35 points. In the end, it was too much Meunier. “The kid is unstoppable down low, though Dos Santos did a great job denying him the ball,” Joyce said.

In addition to Dos Santos’ heroics, Sam Wallace was out of his mind on both sides of the ball, particularly in the second half, and Dylan Duke was selected to the all-tournament team. The loss was a familiar outcome this year. “It always seems that something or other comes up. We have been in virtually every game this year. There were only two games I recall we were outmatched,” Joyce said.

You could point to the opening-round Kuliga Classic 80-59 loss to Stang as a blowout, but that game was 35-33 Stang at halftime. Stang, ranked fourth in state Division 4 teams by MaxPreps, won the tournament, defeating 13th-ranked Wareham in the championship game later on Wednesday. Stang got 25 points from sophomore sleeper star Declan Markey to outlast Wareham in overtime for an 82-75 win.

So now we wait to watch this engaging bunch of Island hoopsters move into tourney time.