Updated Jan. 29
The Middle School basketball championships were decided last Friday night in a double-header that drew a spirited crowd of all ages to the high school gym. In the opener, the West Tisbury Hawks boys subdued a plucky Tisbury Tiger squad by a 56-42 score. The nightcap was a more one-sided affair, with the Oak Bluffs Blazers girls building an 18-point third-period lead against West Tisbury on their way to a 33-21 victory.
The Hawks started fast in game one, and opened up a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter. The main contributor was point guard Nate Story, who ran the offense against the Tigers’ 2-3 zone, and whose speed and ball-handling mastery resulted in scoring opportunities for him and his teammates.
Meanwhile, Tisbury’s main scoring threat, Josh Lake, was struggling to find open shots. The problem was West Tisbury’s stifling 2-3 zone defense, which limited the Tiger offense to long-range shots. At the same time, the Hawk forwards, particularly the versatile Parker Bradlee, were dominating the boards on both ends. After Nate Story nailed his fourth three-pointer late in the half, the Hawks had a 30-16 lead at the break, and seemed in control.
But a halftime adjustment gave the Tigers a spark. They rattled the Hawks with a full-court, man-to-man press, and converted a string of Hawk turnovers into baskets. When Josh Pereira took a stolen pass the length of the court for a lay-up, the score was 34-31, and the Tiger fans were stomping their feet.
That momentum was thwarted, however, when the Hawk forwards scored on three consecutive put-backs, and Story hit the ubiquitous Patrick Bradllee with a long pass for another lay-up. With the lead restored at 11, Nate took control in the fourth period, sinking five free throws down the stretch and killing time with his ball-handling. For the Hawks, it was a well-earned 56-42 win.
Hawks Coach Matt Gebo extolled his team’s resilience and coachability. “When Tisbury played man-to-man on Nate and Patrick, Porter Moehnke chipped in with two three-pointers,” he said. “We asked Cole Lambert to pressure Josh Lake, and he did as well as anyone could. It was a team win.” And a win that gave the Hawks a 9-1 record for the season.
In the nightcap, the Oak Bluffs girls led 10-6 after one period, and built on that lead throughout the game. The Blazers used a tight man-to-man press to bottle up the West Tisbury offense and force turnovers. On the offensive end, Oak Bluffs moved the ball swiftly against the Hawks’ 2-1-2 zone to find the open shooter.
The scrappy Blazers kept the pressure on in period two, with Paige Malowski, Ali Dyke, and Piper Blau leading the way. The threesome were pests on defense, and created scoring opportunities with quick drives to the hoop or pinpoint passes underneath. They finished the half with 14 points among them, and numerous assists.
Meanwhile, Clare Mone was carrying the offensive load for West Tisbury, trying to find open shots against the relentless Blazer defense. She had six first-quarter points, but could not find her touch in period two. The 18-8 Blazer lead at the half reflected their first-half dominance.
The Hawks’ cold shooting continued in the third period. At the same time, the Blazers turned things up a notch. Lay-ups by Paige and Ali, followed by Piper’s three-pointer, gave Oak Bluffs a 25-8 lead midway through the period. Delilah Oliver’s lay-up and free throw broke the Hawks’ scoring drought, but it was too little, too late, and the Blazers had the game in hand. Clare Mone’s eight-point burst in the final period resulted in a 33-21 score and a Blazer title.
“I’m very proud of these girls,” said Blazer Coach Becca Goreham after the game. “Our press was a big factor, something we worked on all year. The girls are quick, and see the ball very well. We have each other’s backs on defense.” The Blazer win gave them an unblemished 10-0 record for the year.
Updated with more game details. — Ed.