The Vineyarders opened the Cape and Islands League boys basketball tournament Monday afternoon on their home floor against their archrivals, the Nantucket Whalers. MV won both regular-season meetings, and hoped to complete the three-game sweep to book a date in the semifinals against top-seeded Sandwich on Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Trusty scored 15 points, Rammon Dos Santos and Leo Neville had 13 apiece, and Nico DePaula added 10 more to lead a balanced Vineyard offense in a 65-42 win.
Pretty, the game wasn’t. It was a scrappy, physical game full of board-crashing rebounds and diving bodies. The Vineyarders emerged from the bruising first quarter with an 18-12 lead, and took control of the game through a 17-6 advantage in the second period against a Whaler team that had a tough day at the office shooting the basketball.
Up 35-18 at the half, MV ran the lead to 28 on a Mike Trusty three-pointer (one of his four in the game) midway through the third quarter. Nantucket clawed back, and shaved off nine points to trail 52-33, but they would get no closer.
As they had in the regular-season finale against Dennis-Yarmouth on Sunday, the Vineyarders gave an intense, 32-minute effort, played tenacious defense, took good shots, and made most of them count.
“Back-to-back good efforts. We beat D-Y; Nantucket’s a good team. They have no quit in them, and for us to play as well as we did and win by 20 or whatever is impressive for our kids,” Coach Mike Joyce said. “We definitely had a size advantage. We didn’t take advantage of it nearly enough, I don’t think, but the kids really played hard defensively. I thought that was the hardest we’ve played in a while. We really got after their shooters, didn’t give them a lot of lanes. They got a lot of their early points with breakdowns in the middle, drives down the middle, but they corrected that. Mike [Trusty] and Ty [Mathew] and Leo [Neville] up front really made a difference. Offensively, we had good spurts where we had our little runs of points in a row that really helped. It was a good game. I thought our kids played really well. One of our better all-around efforts. Hopefully, we’ll build on that.”
Sunday afternoon against Dennis-Yarmouth, the Vineyarders honored seniors Josh Billings, Nico DePaula, Rammon Dos Santos, Leo Neville, Nate Porterfield, Aiden Rogers, and captain Mike Trusty prior to the opening tip, then went out and defeated the Dolphins, 80-56.
Trusty scored 22 points to lead MV. Aiden Rogers (16), Nico DePaula (15), and Ty Mathew (12) also reached double figures. In the JV game, Ryan Koster scored 20 points to lift the Purple to a 58-48 win.
“We played good. We started off a little cold, then we got it together and played a really good first, second, and third quarter,” Coach Joyce said. “Defensively, we were a little more locked in, and offensively we finally started making some shots, which has been our bugaboo the last couple of games. We got good looks, we just couldn’t put them in. But today we finally started making them. The confidence goes up. Offensively, you could see guys get really excited. You get into the flow much easier when you make a few. When you miss three or four in a row, then all of a sudden you start talking to yourself, and it gets ugly.”
Next up is Sandwich on Wednesday (4:30 pm tip). The Blue Knights defeated MV, 66-51, on Jan. 21 in Oak Bluffs, and needed overtime to win, 60-56, at home on Feb. 5. Coach Joyce is hoping that the third time’s the charm for the Vineyarders. “We have a couple of things to work on,” he said. “Sandwich has good shooters. We have to be ready for that little different kind of attack they’re going to bring.”