Nantucket traveled to Cape Cod Academy (7-11) to play the Seahawks on Thursday and the game unfolded in a way that exemplifies how the Whaler boys basketball team’s season has gone so far. This year there have been plenty of highs, but also some lows. In the end however, the Whalers have generally found a way to bounce back and right the course.
Nantucket did just that against the Seahawks. After jumping out to a double-digit lead through three quarters, CCA rallied back and nearly came away with the win. But the Whalers held on for the 57-56 win, improving their record to 10-8 and officially clinching a spot in the MIAA state tournament.
“We were up 15 at the end of three and it was just the same old story for us,” head coach Willis Ferreira said. “We just did our usual mistakes where we turned it over in tough situations, missed some shots which led to rebounds (for CCA), and they really got hot from three.”
Nantucket led 22-12 after one quarter with junior point guard Carlos Aguilar leading the Whalers with 12 points in the opening eight minutes. The Whaler’s offense got stagnant but CCA’s wasn’t much better in quarter two. The Seahawks had a slight scoring advantage of 14-13 and the Whalers went into the half up 35-26.
The Whalers extended the lead in the third quarter to as high as 17 with just over three minutes to go, but CCA didn’t back down.
Jayquan Francis, Nantucket’s promising junior forward, got into foul trouble early in the game which caused him to miss the second quarter. He checked into the game in the third quarter midway through and immediately picked up his fourth. He needed to check out of the game again.
Freshman Ethan Jarrett played a key role for Nantucket in Francis’ place. He scored six points in the second half, including four in the third quarter. He provided a needed presence underneath the hoop beside center Jack Halik, which helped the Whalers with their rebounding and completed a bigger lineup that helped the Whaler’s build a 47-32 lead after three quarters on a smaller CCA team built around their speed and shooting.
“(Jarrett) just does what he is supposed to do and he has really good hands,” Ferreira said of the freshman. “He catches things underneath the hoop, and he finishes two feet away from the hoop. He doesn’t make it any harder than it needs to be.”
But in the final quarter the absence of Francis on the court, coupled with CCA getting hot from beyond the arc, nearly doomed Nantucket.
The Whalers were outscored 24-10 in that final quarter and CCA had possession with 3.8 seconds to go in the game. Ferreira said he felt the issue was that his team wasn't taking enough time off the clock on their possessions and he said that situational awareness is something his group needs to continue working on.
On the final play, CCA got the play they wanted and an open man in the corner. But the inbounds pass was bobbled, and the clock expired allowing Nantucket, Div. 4’s #22 seed to escape with a win over the #21 seeded Seahawks, who were swept in the season series by Nantucket.
“They made shots and (Tamarr) Washington made a couple of really deep threes but it is their building and that is where they are comfortable,” Ferreira said. “For the most part I thought our defense was good. You have to give them some credit there. They are young and didn’t quit. As they kept making threes and the score kept dwindling, they started to believe and nearly pulled it off.”
Washington, a sophomore, led CCA with 21 points while freshman Mike Berry was right behind him with 20 points. The young duo for CCA scored 20 of their 41 points in the final quarter.
Aguilar led Nantucket with 14 points. Halik and senior captain Karson Wellington each had 12 points for the Whalers.
“I am just proud of our guys and how we competed. That is the best we have played on the road in a while. We found a way to hang on just like that DY game (on Feb. 7), so we are just trying to build on that.”
Nantucket has two games remaining, both against the 7-13 Mashpee Falcons. The Whalers will travel to Mashpee on Friday, February 17 for a 3:45 p.m. game and close out their regular season on Wednesday, February 22 with a 5 p.m. game.