The 2019–20 Vineyarder boys varsity basketball team is a deep, talented group comprised entirely of upperclassmen. Senior Jared Regan will captain the squad, which includes fellow seniors Jeremy Regan, Aidan Araujo, Solon Oliver, Adam Knight, and currently injured Justin Chin, along with juniors Rammon Dos Santos, Mike Trusty, Aiden Rogers, Leo Neville, Josh Billings, Parker BenDavid, Nico DePaula, and Andrew Marchand.
Kane Araujo is back for a second season coaching the JV team, as is James Jennings with the freshman squad.
With many of the current varsity players logging a bunch of minutes last season, the Vineyarders, in the words of Head Coach Mike Joyce, entering his 16th season, “should be able to get it going pretty quickly.”
They will need to. The Vineyarders schedule is, in a word, brutal. Sixteen of the 20 games are against teams that made the state tournament last year. The Purple will play in the Atlantic Division of the Cape and Islands League alongside Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth, Falmouth, Nantucket, Nauset, and Sandwich. Barnstable is a Division 1 school; D-Y, Falmouth, and Nauset are D2, MV and Sandwich, D3; and Nantucket, D4.
The Vineyarders finished 12-10 last season, reaching the South Sectional quarterfinals before losing to old Eastern Athletic Conference rival Bishop Stang, which is also on this season’s slate. Other nonleague opponents include D3 South top seed Wareham, Old Rochester, and Cape Cod Academy, playoff teams all.
“All the experience these guys got the past two years, the underclassmen at the varsity level, is going to pay off, I think,” Coach Joyce said, “That’s the way you can really find out what your team is made of, and see if you can grow, if you play challenging teams on a challenging schedule. We’ll definitely be doing that this year.
“It will be fun to be back on the Cape, playing teams that I’m familiar with when I was in high school. The Cape and Islands, it’s all local, it’s going to have a little extra motivation. We’ll see. Even though boys basketball had great games and rivalries with some of those EAC teams, I think when we’re right across the pond here, I think it will be a little more intense once it gets going.”
Despite his players having had limited practice time thus far, Joyce is encouraged. “So far, I’ve liked what I’ve seen, and how hard they’ve played ,and the way they play defense in particular,” he said. “It should be entertaining. We’ll be very deep. I think we’re going to be nine, 10 guys deep, so we should be able to bring a lot of energy to the game, playing at a really high tempo.”
Strong leadership from their most experienced players and commitment to team play will be crucial to the Vineyarders’ success.
“There are going to be some new people coming in and, just, people taking up that next role, of being leaders on the court, scoring, just stepping up to that kind of level of basketball when you go from an underclassman to being an upperclassman,” Joyce said, “Now people are looking to you. Last year, they looked to Dylan Dyke to score when we had to score. He’s gone, and now someone else is going to have to find a way to pick up that kind of role.”
Throw in some talent and ability, and the Vineyarders have the ingredients necessary to make waves in the postseason.
“Once you get in the tournament, then it gets interesting. I think the team has the potential to be very good,” Joyce said. ”I think because of the strength of our schedule, our record may not be what it’s been in the past, when we’ve made deep runs in the tournament, but I would expect these guys to be capable of that if they can come together and play as a group, cohesively and unselfishly. They have the potential to make another run in the tournament. We have the talent and athleticism, so if they can put that together and work as a group, I think they have some great potential.”
The season gets underway on Tuesday at home against Falmouth. The JVs tip off at 3 pm, and the varsity game starts at 4:30 pm.