The third time was the charm for the Vineyarder boys basketball team against Sandwich High School. After losing to the Blue Knights by 15 in Oak Bluffs last month, and again in overtime, Feb. 5, on the road, the Purple got the job done in the Cape and Islands League Atlantic Division tournament semifinals with outstanding team defense and balanced scoring to win 58-48 on Wednesday afternoon in East Sandwich.
“The kids played great, especially defensively,” Vineyard Coach Mike Joyce said. “We came out hot early, got up by 14, Sandwich battled back, but our defense really held strong, got stops down the stretch when our offense kind of sputtered a bit and missed some free throws, but the defense really held it together and got stops when we needed it the most.”
Four Vineyarders reached double figures. Aiden Rogers sank three consecutive treys to start, and finished with a game-high 19 points, Mike Trusty scored 16, Nico Depaula had 11, and Leo Neville added 10.
“[Aiden] was doing a great job finding his shots and shooting in rhythm. That first half, he was on fire,” Coach Joyce said.
Senior center Rammon Dos Santos, repeatedly double-teamed, had one bucket on the scoreboard, but he anchored the Vineyard defense and snuffed out the Sandwich attack with multiple blocks. MV also did a great job holding Sandwich star Chris Cronin to a modest 10 points. Logan Murphy, another offensive standout, was out of the lineup, but Sean Lansing stepped up to lead the Blue Knights with 13 points.
“Rammon, even though he didn’t score, really affected the game,” Coach Joyce said. “When he got the ball, they really collapsed on him. They weren’t going to let him try to go to work, but he made some great passes out of that double-team, and had five or six blocked shots, so he was really impactful on the game. He gave us the opportunities we needed to score.”
The Vineyarders poured it on early, leading by 20-11 after the first quarter, and 36-22 at halftime.
In the second half, the Vineyarders experienced some shooting woes, especially at the free throw line, where they shot 4 of 12 (7 of 15 for the game), and Sandwich began to chip away at the MV lead. The Blue Knights cut the deficit to six points midway through the final period, but the Vineyard defense came up with a big stop and a pair of crucial buckets from Nico Depaula and Leo Neville to stretch the lead back to 10.
On Friday (5:30 pm tip-off), the Vineyarders head across the sound to take on Falmouth for the C&I Atlantic championship. The teams split their regular-season meetings, with each winning at home. MV won, 68-55, on Jan. 22 in Oak Bluffs, while the Clippers prevailed, 43-41, on Feb. 16.
“They play hard, it’s always going to be a challenge,” Coach Joyce said. “Paul [Falmouth Coach Paul Lundberg] gets his guys playing with a lot of intensity, a lot of effort, so we just have to be able to match that.”