Boys Hoops Unable To Close Out Martha's Vineyard In Heartbreaking Defeat
David Creed •
Whenever Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard square off in any sporting event, the traveling team might as well toss the records off the Steamship while on their boat ride to meet up with their familiar island foe. On Saturday, an 11-1 Martha’s Vineyard boys basketball team traveled over to Nantucket to play a 6-6 Whaler team, and the matchup lived up to that mantra.
Nantucket went into the game wanting to make amends for a 70-54 defeat they suffered over on the Vineyard last weekend. They nearly pulled it off on Saturday and led for most of the game, but the Vineyarders ultimately won the game 47-45 following a game-winning basket with 11 seconds to go in regulation.
“We hurt ourselves,” head coach Willis Ferreira said. “We had a couple of bad possessions there to end it.”
Both teams had plenty of energy and it translated to some excellent defensive basketball. Jayquan Francis anchored Nantucket’s offensive attack. The junior forward finished with 16 points on the day, a team-high, but what was even more noticeable was his playmaking and defensive effort. He also had nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one massive block.
“Jay has been good for us all year,” Ferreira said. “Everything we do is based around him and Jack (Halik). When one of them comes out, it becomes really difficult.”
Francis could have had several more assists but some of his passes were wasted by the recipients missing shots. Junior center Jack Halik only had nine points, but he also had 15 rebounds and played excellent defense all game long.
Neither team was able to score double digits in the first quarter with Nantucket leading 9-7. The second quarter was another slugfest and Nantucket managed to hang onto a slim 21-20 lead going into halftime.
For most of the game Nantucket managed to hold onto small leads, and it felt as if the Vineyard didn’t have enough juice in the offensive tank to score that extra basket that would put them over the top on a day where points were scarce.
Nantucket led 33-31 after three quarters and took an eight-point lead two minutes into the final quarter. The Whalers took possession with that eight-point lead after junior point guard Carlos Aguilar’s tenacious defense forced a Vineyard guard into a turnover. It sent the gym into a frenzy and gave off the feel that this was their game.
But the Vineyard had different plans.
Halik fouled out with about 3:20 left in regulation and while the Vineyard also lost their star center Matheus Rodrigues for the same reason, Nantucket did not respond as well as the Vineyard did to losing their star big man.
The Whalers began to let up easy points in the paint that weren’t there in the first three quarters. Their offense became even more stagnant, and the Vineyard was able to clamp down on Francis with Halik no longer a threat.
The Whalers needed a scorer to step up but no one, on this day, was able to answer the call. The Vineyard outscored Nantucket 16-6 in the final six minutes of the game. Then, with 11 seconds left, the Vineyard took their first lead since the beginning of the first quarter that would stand at the final buzzer to send Nantucket home knowing they let one slip away.
“I’m really proud of their effort,” Ferreira said of his team. “They have given me everything they have this year. We just have to find a way to win, and maybe that is on me.”
Ferreira said that he opted not to call a timeout after the Vineyard scored the eventual game-winning bucket because he felt his team would have the best chance at scoring on the fastbreak, which is how his team has generated their scoring all season long.
The Whalers will travel to Monomoy (5-8) on Tuesday, January 31 for a 3:30 p.m. game.