HARWICH ─ If the Nauset Warriors were looking for an easy run against the Monomoy Sharks on Dec. 15 in Monomoy's home opener, they didn't get it. Though the visiting Warriors ultimately eked past the Sharks in the second half, Monomoy put up one heck of a fight, taking a 20-12 lead into the half before Nauset rallied back for a 48-29 win.
Nauset took an early lead in the outing, netting nine points to Monomoy's five in the first quarter, but the determined Sharks roared through the second quarter, outscoring the Warriors 15-3 largely due to the prowess of Eli Nickerson, who scored nine of his 11 total game points in the quarter, with his shots including a nice three-pointer.
Chris Hall also added two in the frame, with Nick Meehan sinking a pair of perfect free throws.
Unfortunately for Monomoy, Nauset stepped up its intensity in the second half, holding the Sharks to just one point in the third quarter while scoring 19 of their own on shots from Charlie Campbell, Chad Edwards, Spencer Jones, and Elia Giaquinto.
The Sharks worked to regroup in the final frame, but were stymied by Nauset's solid defense, though fouls worked in their favor and allowed them an additional eight points, the majority coming from Meehan.
Meanwhile, Nauset netted another 17 points in the fourth quarter with Edwards and Campbell leading the way to victory.
Overall, Nickerson scored 11 points for Monomoy, followed by Meehan with nine, Jake Wisniewski with four, Isaiah Stafford with three, and Hall with two.
Campbell had a game-high 22 points for Nauset, with Edwards adding 10, Jones six, and Giaquinto, Jeremy Poyant, and Tae Silva with three each and Abdel Talabi with one.
Monomoy head coach Keith Arnold drew on classic literature and in a Dickensian manner dubbed the game “A Tale of Two Halves.”
“In the first half we were scoring because we were causing turnovers and they were missing some shots, and we were getting rebounds,” he said. “In the second half they locked down a little more on defense and we stopped moving the ball. But we played hard all game. There's never been an issue with our intensity.”
Arnold gave a nod to Nauset's skill, but also to his team's capabilities.
“They're good,” he said. “They have talent. We have to do the little things to beat teams like that, and we will. It's a matter of sustaining it. We are already better this year than we were last year, and I think the growth is going to be that much greater by the time we get to the end of the year.”
Last year's team was the first at Monomoy to make a deep run in the tournament, all the way to the South finals. In the wake of that, Arnold saw a significant increase in the number of players coming out for the 2017-2018 team. He attributed the interest not only to the basketball team's success, but also that of other Monomoy teams.
“We go to the South Sectional finals and high school kids being high school kids said, 'That's pretty cool. I'd like to be a part of that,'” Arnold said. “Then I look and the football team wins [as does] the girls soccer team.”
Arnold also issued a reminder that while Nauset is Div. 2, Monomoy, though recently boosted to Div. 3, is more of a Div. 4 team when enrollment is factored in, and that when scores are considered, including Monomoy falling by just 10 points to D-Y in the season opener, the Sharks are holding their own.
“At D-Y we were up five points going into the fourth quarter,” he said. “I think we got tired and were fouling a lot.”
It is Arnold's hope that fans will look beyond the scoreboard.
“The effort they give, we, as their coaches, can't ask for anything more,” Arnold said. “We can't ask for any more than what they give every day in practice, and in a game like this, they were scratching and clawing and doing everything. If you get to that point as a coach and lose that game, there may be some x's and o's to deal with, but it's never about heart. It's never about commitment.”
Arnold gave kudos to the whole team in the first half for “the turmoil they caused, the boxing out, and the steals, and finishing.”
“They're everything a coach could want,” he said. “Now it's just a matter of what we can do to help them get better.”
At press time Tuesday the Sharks were set to travel to Cape Tech for a match, with their next set for Dec. 28 against Southeastern at Pembroke (5 p.m. start). The team's next home game is Jan. 5 against St. John Paul II with a 5:30 p.m. start.