Girls travel basketball heads to Cape league playoffs

‘Toughness’ and ‘intensity’ lead team to 10-4 record, playoff bye.

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Front row left to right. Beatrice Welch, Piper Blau, Paige Malowski, Clare Mone, Avery Mulvey, Charlotte Scott, Ella Moran. Back row left to right. Clementine Zeender, Elena Giordano, Ali Dyke, Talia Estrella, Delilah Oliver, Coach Kevin Oliver. — Courtesy Kevin Oliver

A lot can change in a year, and no one knows that better than the Martha’s Vineyard girls travel basketball team.

The team, made up of a determined group of seventh and eighth graders, finished in the bottom rung of the standings last year, going 3-11 in the Cape Cod Youth Basketball League. But hard work pays off.

The team finished 10-4 this year with roughly the same team (they took on three new players), snagged second place in the regular season (securing the spot after winning the final game of the season), and earned a bye in the league’s upcoming playoff tournament.

Coach Kevin Oliver, whose daughter Delilah plays on the team, attributed the team’s success to the girls’ effort and energy. Oliver added that the team’s defense played a big role in their second-place finish. The team allowed only 337 points — the lowest of all teams.

“This team, they’re just the scrappiest group of kids I’ve ever coached; they just have a toughness that carries them as far as they’ve gotten. Their intensity, their hustle, their effort, their defense. They’re the nicest group of girls you’ll ever meet — until you get on the basketball court,” he said while laughing. “They’re not rude or anything, they’re just intense.”

Heading into the season, most teams were pulling for second place behind Falmouth 1, who went undefeated last season, and only lost one game this season.

Oliver added that his team is the most coachable group of girls in the world. “They listen and communicate well. Everybody brings something to the court,” Oliver said. “It’s one of those teams when you sub someone in, you don’t see a drop-off in production. It’s a really balanced team.”

The girls play Saturday, Feb. 1, at 3:30 pm at the Mattacheese Middle School in West Yarmouth. If they win that game, the team will move on to the championship game the following weekend.

“They’re on cloud nine, they’re so happy,” Oliver said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”