One things Nantucket boys basketball head coach Willis Ferreira never has to worry about with his team is their effort game in and game out. He has a group that plays the aggressive style he prefers for a full 32 minutes but entering Saturday afternoon's game against a 10-1 Martha’s Vineyard squad, Ferreira feared that his team’s struggles to score so far this season could come back to bite them in a rivalry matchup.
Unfortunately for the Whalers, that is what happened as they lost 70-54 despite a few second half surges that brought the deficit down to single digits.
“Martha’s Vineyard had everything I thought they had we just didn’t defend it well enough,” Ferreira said. “You got to take care of their big guy in the paint. He killed us again. They can shoot it too. So you cover the three and their big man is open down low and if you cover him they have wide open threes. They are a good team. I thought we played hard as hell. We just couldn’t make the bunnies and they did.”
The Whalers entered the game on a two-game win streak. Junior point guard Carlos Aguilar had a team-high 15 points while junior forward Jayquan Francis had 12 points.
The Whalers have a star big man of their own in Jack Halik, but the junior found himself in foul trouble early after picking up three in a short period of time. It resulted in him being largely unavailable for most of the first half and finding a seat on the bench. His presence lacking on the court allowed the Vineyard to utilize their size down low and forced Francis to exert most of his energy on trying to guard the Vineyard’s bigs.
“Even when Jack came out of the game, I thought we played pretty good,” Ferreira said. “I thought Jay did a good job of bothering him a little bit defensively and so did Aiden Congdon. But it is a tall task. We aren’t used to playing without him much. I thought we played those guys pretty even in the second half. I thought we played a little scared early with the Vineyard making a bunch of shots.”
Nantucket played the Vineyard much more even in the second half with Halik, who finished with nine points that came in the second half. But each time Nantucket trimmed the deficit to nine or 11, the Vineyard would score two or three baskets to get it back up to 15 or 16. It was too much for the Whalers to overcome, who were also missing starting guard and senior captain Treyce Brannigan.
The Whalers are now 5-6 and their schedule isn’t going to get any easier. They will host Cape Cod Academy (6-5) on Tuesday and the Mashpee Falcons (3-9) on Thursday. But on Saturday they will have a rematch with the Vineyard (11-1) here on Nantucket at 12:30 p.m.