For nearly the entirety of Tuesday's boys basketball game between the Nantucket Whalers and Nauset Warriors in Nauset, the Whalers had a lead and thought they'd be sailing home with an opening night victory. But with 38 seconds left the Warriors took a one-point lead and 10 seconds after that Nantucket missed two free throw attempts. Suddenly, the Whalers were on the wrong end of the scoreboard losing the game 51-50.
It is a loss that is surely leaving a sour taste in Nantucket head coach Willis Ferreira and his player's mouths, but also an opportunity to learn from the mistakes with a week of rest before their next game.
"Same old story," Ferreira said. "We just can't score. Too many turnovers. We couldn't even get a shot off. We were turning it over before we could get a shot off. But you know, we got to learn from it. It was a bummer. We had the lead all night except for those final 38 seconds. We had chances."
Junior forward Jayquan Francis led Nantucket with 21 points. Francis will need to take on a major role with this team following the departures of last year's senior stars Justin Bloise and Makai Bodden. He did a nice job of that on Tuesday. Ferreira said he thought Francis played a very good game overall but would like to see him get more touches.
Nantucket led 25-17 at halftime. Their defense was strong and the offense was doing just enough. Senior captain Karson Wellington and junior point guard Carlos Aguilar each had 10 points, but Ferreira said the team will need to find more scoring from players on the team who are transitioning from bench roles last season to starting roles this season.
Junior center Jack Halik is expected to challenge Francis for the leading scorer title, but after missing a couple of practices due to illness, he wasn't his typical, dominant self against the Warriors, managing just five points.
"The ball needs to go to Jack and Jay down low more," Ferreira said. "I would say Jack only had about six shots. He needs more. We just didn't get enough shots overall. We were running into traps and turning it over too much. We must have had 25 turnovers in the game."
After three quarters Nantucket still held a narrow 39-35 lead, but Ferreira said he felt his team should have been up 15 or 16 points at halftime rather than eight. He said when you let teams like Nauset hang around, they can make you pay.
A positive development was the free throw shooting. Nantucket has had problems in recent years with their foul shots, but on Tuesday they went 16-for-21 from the line.
The Whalers next game isn't until Tuesday, December 20 when they host the Sandwich Blue Knights at 5 p.m. Then on Thursday, December 22, the Whalers will have their chance for revenge when they welcome Nauset to the island for a rematch at 5 p.m.
"We are going to get in the gym and we are going to fix it," Ferreira said. "Hopefully we can bounce back next game."