HARWICH ─ The Sharks started strong but couldn't sustain their momentum against Martha's Vineyard on Monday, falling 77-47, just days after earning a much-needed victory against Sturgis West on the road.
It took both teams the better part of the first quarter to find the scoreboard in Monday's match at Monomoy, but it was the Sharks that struck first, putting up two points from a well-timed shot by Sam Reed. For a few brief moments, Monomoy extended that lead to 7-0 before the visiting Vineyarders found their momentum, tying the game at 8-8 as the end of the first quarter neared.
The Sharks continued to battle through the second, netting 14 points to trail Martha's Vineyard 26-24 at the break, but the game's second half proved their undoing.
“The second half was pretty much shot selection, and [Martha's Vineyard] were making a lot of theirs, transition and perimeter stuff,” said Monomoy head coach Keith Arnold. “Our defense needs work, and actually executing our offensive plays needs work.”
The fourth quarter was especially troublesome for the Sharks, who scored only 10 points to the Vineyarder's 28.
“It was a carryover from the third,” said Arnold. “We didn't have any rhythm.”
Rhythm is something Arnold has been working with the team on finding, with regard to helping his players learn to control the tempo of a game.
“In the last game, when we beat Sturgis West, we talked about us setting the tempo, not getting caught up with them,” Arnold said. “That didn't happen tonight because [the Vineyarders] are who they are, and they break well. They're good. They're talented kids. We would get caught up in just coming down and missing transition baskets. That was the frustrating part.”
To try and thwart the intensity of their foes, Arnold had his team change up their defense, something he said helped, but just a bit.
“Changing defenses worked a little. We started with some zone, went to man, and went back to zone,” he said. “They're working at it, but to be honest with you I think it's more the learning of the concepts. We're teaching concepts. We're teaching defense; we're teaching offense; and now, even though it's Jan. 9, it's still putting those segments together, from ball side to help side to rotating to switching. There's a depth there that we haven't reached yet, and the same thing on the offensive side.”
Further working against the team was Nick Meehan's lack of energy due to illness. Initially set to start, Arnold had to juggle his position in the lineup because he was ailing at the start of the game and needed to regroup.
“Basketball-wise I really give credit to Nick because he wasn't feeling well,” Arnold said. “But he came out of that and did OK.”
Arnold also felt that Kyle Charlot played well against the decidedly formidable island team, and praised Jake Wisniewski's tireless enthusiasm.
“I thought Kyle played well,” said Arnold. “Kyle gives energy. [Also] energy-wise, Jake Wisniewski just gives you everything he has. I'd like to give kudos to that.”
While the MV game is one Arnold will use as a learning experience, his team will certainly remember their away game against West from Jan. 5, a 54-36 come-from-behind victory that Arnold said came down to Monomoy setting the tempo.
At first, though, that tempo was definitely off and found the Sharks trailing by 10 as West took a 12-2 lead. Then Monomoy found its footing.
“One of the keys was us maintaining game tempo,” said Arnold. “We were able to keep our energy, but also come down and run some stuff, plus play good defense at the other end.”
After the initial deficit, the Sharks roared back to outscore their opponents 23-6 for a halftime lead of 25-18, a margin that Monomoy continued to extend in the second half when they netted 29 points to West's 18.
Leading the way in scoring was Chris Mazulis with 12 points, Isaiah Stafford with 11, and Nick Meehan and Sam Reed with 10 points apiece. In the Martha's Vineyard match Eli Nickerson led the scoring with 11 points overall, followed by Kyle Charlot with seven, Meehan with six, Stafford, Wisniewski, and Reed with five each, Mazulis with four, and Claude Butter and Alyn Pierre with two each.
Next up for the Sharks is a travel game at St. John Paul II on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center. Arnold is hoping to put some lessons learned into action.
“If we can make teams play defense on us and not rush us, and we can play good defense at the other end, whether it's man or zone, then we're going to be a better basketball team,” he said.