The MVRHS boys basketball team spent the first half of school vacation week gearing up for their opening-round MIAA state tourney against Archbishop Williams in Braintree on Wednesday. The two 11-and-9 teams flipped a coin to determine who would claim the higher ranking and host the game. The coin fell the Bishops’ way.
Vineyard Coach Mike Joyce isn’t concerned about where the game is played. As bouncing basketballs echoed in an otherwise empty high school gym on Tuesday, he got straight to the point: “We have to focus on what we can control and what we do well as a team. Whether at home or on the road, we have to execute well, play our game.”
As the coach sees it, the two teams match up evenly not just in their records, but also in style of play. “We’re similar in many ways,” he said. “They’re not that tall as a team, but they’re deep and play a physical game. On defense they use a lot of man-to-man and some zone press. We’re the same kind of team.”
One feature of the boys team this season has been the strong play of its seniors in big moments. Among those veterans is senior captain Jared Regan, who has guided the team through numerous hair-raising finishes. “I expect a close game,” said Coach Joyce. “We’ve had quite a few this year. We rely on our seniors in crunch time.”
The practice suggested a team that is loose and ready to go. Drills were accompanied by good-natured banter and resolve. “We brought some alumni in on Monday to scrimmage against us,” said the coach. “It was a higher level of competition for our guys, and helped them regain their competitive edge after five days without a game. We’re just about there.”
Tip-off on Wednesday at Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree is at 4:30 pm.