On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Martha’s Vineyard middle schools wrapped up their playoff circuit for the 2022–23 basketball season. Played at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Pachico Gym, both the boys’ and girls’ championship games featured the West Tisbury Hawks, who had a golden opportunity to show the Island which town was boss.
Tuesday night kicked off with the boys’ championship game, between the No. 1 seed Hawks and No. 3 seed Edgartown Eagles. The undefeated Hawks were looking to capture a highly coveted “three-peat,” and were led by a skilled and experienced corps of eighth graders. Starting right away in their refined full-court press, West Tisbury’s defense stifled the Eagles’ offense, and allowed the Hawks to dominate possession throughout the game. Eighth grader Dreyden Thomas (23 points) paced the Hawks’ offense in transition, while eighth grader Landon Lepine (19 points) was a consistent force down low. “The team was a nice, cohesive unit all year,” Coach Matt Gebo stated. The Eagles were led by Griffin Buehler, who finished with 12 points, but the Hawks’ first-half lead proved to be insurmountable, and they settled in for a solid 60-20 win.
Looking back on their third straight championship season, Coach Gebo had plenty of praise for his squad, not only in terms of their talent, but also calling them a “fun bunch of kids” to coach. He explained that the Hawks’ synergy has been integral to their success, and that several of his players also play together on the Island’s travel team. When asked if they could make it four in a row, Gebo laughed and said he couldn’t “put the cart before the horse.”
Next up were the girls, the No. 3 seed, who were up against the No. 1 seed Charter School Chargers. The Chargers had beaten the Hawks twice in the regular season, but not by much, so the Hawks were confident that the third time could be the charm. Before the game, Coach Chris Roberts said that he “told the girls they were the headliners” for the West Tisbury faithful, considering they were the underdogs, and had the chance to finish what the boys started. To neutralize the Chargers’ elite passing game and capacity to score down low, the Hawks utilized a full-court press, which they noticed worked well in their previous two encounters. In the first quarter, the Hawks were able to hold the Chargers to only two points, going into the second leading 10-2. In the second, however, the Chargers began to battle back, and brought the deficit to only one, 15-14.
In the halftime huddle, Coach Roberts weighed his options with his team. They could abandon the press and try something new, or keep plugging away and try to hold onto their lead. Ultimately, the Hawks decided to keep their foot on the gas and stick to the plan, constantly refueling with their deep bench, to try to wear out the Chargers’ highly synergistic squad of only six girls. Led by eighth graders Nathalya DaSilva and Madisyn Maciel on defense, and Carlotta Roberts (15 points) on offense, the Hawks’ gut feeling proved to be right, and they ended up winning 29-22 in what Coach Roberts called a “tough, competitive game.” He explained that when it mattered most, “We played the best defense … game, we had all year.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, he commented on how exciting it was to see all the teams (especially his own, of course) get better and better going into the playoffs. In the Charger camp, Coach Mandy Tomkins pointed out that both teams hung out together pregame, while the boys played. “It’s great to see them come together as athletes,” she said. Both Roberts and Tomkins have high hopes for the future of girls’ youth basketball across the Island. For now, though, West Tisbury reigns supreme.