The Vineyarder boys and girls basketball teams tipped off the new season on Tuesday against the Falmouth Clippers, with both teams giving impressive defensive efforts. The boys rallied for a 46-40 win in Falmouth, while the girls, locked in a seesaw battle through three quarters, lost 29-17 at the Sancy Pachico Gym in Oak Bluffs after the Clippers pulled away midway through the final period.
At Falmouth High School, the Vineyarder boys overcame poor shooting, an early eight-point deficit, and a 13-point first half to sink the Clippers. Nate Story led MV with 13 points, Matheus Rodrigues had 10 points to go with six rebounds, Josh Lake added eight points, and Geo Meikle had five points and five boards.
“We played really good defense, which is really what saved us,” Coach Mike Joyce said. “We were down most of the first half. We were down 13-5 and 18-13. Our defense really kept us in it the whole first half, and then the second half we got a little run going and got the ball inside to Matheus and Geo, and those guys really took over the game for a while, got us easy buckets. They played great defense, rebounded well, so those two guys were really the difference in the game.”
The boys JV and freshman teams also topped Falmouth, to complete a Vineyard sweep.
The Vineyarders graduated all five varsity starters from last season, and seven seniors overall. In 2021–22, Coach Joyce has a predominantly young team in terms of overall experience, with good overall speed and depth. “We’re deep, pretty fast, and athletic. It’s just a matter of getting everything down and being able to execute at a high level, and that comes with repetition. So we’ve been trying to get that together,” Joyce said after practice on Monday.
“I think it’s going to be one of those seasons where we get better as the year goes on, and everyone gets more familiar playing with each other. We’ve got some skill players that play hard. They’re fast, so it’s just a matter of getting it going in the right direction, getting everyone on the same page, offensively and defensively.”
Team captain Nico Arroyo is joined by fellow seniors Ty Mathew, Nick Cowan, Matt Moore, and Jayden Coyle. Ryan Koster, Cam Napior, Matheus Rodrigues, and Toby Roberts are juniors, and the sophomores — Nate Story, Geo Meikle, and Josh Lake — all had strong debuts against Falmouth.
MV plays next at Old Rochester on Saturday, and has to wait until Dec. 30 to play at home, when they entertain Dover-Sherborn at 12:30 pm.
The Vineyarder girls took to the home court on Tuesday afternoon, led by new head coach Melissa Braillard, who succeeded Sterling Bishop, coach for the previous five seasons. Braillard coached the JV team (which includes many of this season’s varsity sophomores) last season, and in 2013–14. Mary Korba is the new JV coach, and former standout player Molly DeBettencourt is the varsity assistant.
Although nine players are returning from last season, none of the varsity players on the current squad are seniors, so you could say that the current Vineyarders have youthful experience.
Four juniors are on the roster — captains Maria Andrade and Josie Welch, along with C.J. Walsh and Wadeline Florime-Hall. Sophomores include Ali Dyke, Elena Giordano, Georgia Magden, Paige Malowski, and Brooke Ward, with freshmen Piper Blau and Delilah Oliveira rounding out a roster that makes up in speed what it lacks in height.
“We’re small, very small, but very quick,” Braillard said. “Defensively, that will help us, and I hope we can use that to our advantage, and hopefully offensively get fast breaks. Even our big players this year are pretty quick. Even though we don’t have a lot of height, we have a lot of quickness. So, hopefully that will work out in the end for us.”
With her team playing Falmouth straight up for three quarters in the opening game, Coach Braillard was encouraged by the start, especially on defense: “Overall, I think it was a great start, a great first game against a challenging and aggressive opponent. They’re a good team. We played great team defense. People were stepping up to help.”
Maria Andrade scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She also held Falmouth’s Tish Blackwood to 11 points, and got the Clipper star in foul trouble. Paige Malowski scored a basket and held Clippers point guard Rachelle Andrade to four points. Georgia Magden and Delilah Oliveira had a bucket apiece, while Wadeline Florime-Hall chipped in a free throw and three steals. Each Vineyard player on the roster had minutes on the court.
Next up is a game at Sandwich on Friday.