HARWICH – The Monomoy girls basketball team was looking for a way to bounce back after a tough loss to Nauset and did so with a commanding Cape and Islands League victory against Sturgis West on Monday night in a game that saw the Sharks' bench shine.
Two Monomoy players earned their first-ever varsity scores in the outing, with freshman Lexi Hyora netting six points overall while eighth grader Lucy Mawn had two in the 44-10 win. Leading all scorers was senior captain Erin Starkey with 13, while freshman Mackenzie Balfore had 11 points total.
“Mackenzie Balfore had a great game,” said Monomoy head coach Pete Richer. “Eleven points and three steals.”
The Sharks got off to a sluggish start in their second game of the new year, scoring only seven points in the first quarter. Richer praised the efforts of his subs in helping his team pick up momentum in the second quarter, in which Monomoy scored 11 points on shots from Hyora, Mawn, Balfore, and Maddie Crossen.
“I think Monday games can be tough for kids, and it showed a little bit tonight,” Richer said. “We kind of slept-walked through the first quarter. I was very proud of my subs in the second quarter. They came out on fire and I think they set the tone for the rest of the game. My subs scored 11 points in the second quarter, and the starters only scored seven in the first. That goes to show how good the subs did, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.”
The subs, like the majority of the team's starters, are largely underclassmen from grades 8, 9, and 10, with the Sharks boasting only three seniors, just two of whom are on the active roster.
After the slow start, the home team gained serious momentum in the third quarter when the starters, including Starkey, Leah Nash, Maggie Dever, Balfore and Crossen, returned to the court and picked up their tempo, with Monomoy netting 18 points in the frame. Behind the shots were Dever, Caroline DiGiovanni, Nash, Hyora, Starkey, Balfore and Melissa Velasquez.
Overall, DiGiovanni had six, Courtney Kelly four and Mawn, Dever, Nash, Velasquez and Crossen each added two to the Sharks' tally.
“From the second quarter on, pretty much everything worked,” said Richer. “Our intensity increased dramatically from the first quarter to the second. It was great to see the subs do such a good job, so definitely the bench was fantastic. In the third quarter when I put the starters back in they had the right mindset. They were awake. Our press worked well. Our set plays in the offense worked well, and our fast break worked well, so I was happy about that.”
The Sharks closed out the final quarter with eight points on successful shots from DiGiovanni and Kelly.
The win was a nice change of pace from the team's Jan. 4 game against Nauset, with the Warriors playing to a 63-13 defeat of the Sharks.
“We have the right mindset when it comes to the Nauset games. We understand that they're an incredibly good team and they're just in a bit of a different class than us right now,” said Richer. “They're much more mature, much more experienced, and play in a tougher league. So when they bring their speed and aggressiveness, as opposed to what we're more accustomed to, it's a little bit difficult. However, I do have to say the second game against Nauset we did play better, though the score might not have reflected that.”
Richer noted that Dever, the team's starting point guard, was sidelined with an illness, which he said also had an impact.
“Had we had Maggie [our strengths] would have showed even more,” he said. “I was proud of them from that game because they gave it their all, they never gave up, stayed positive and kept their heads up.”
The game against Sturgis West gave the Sharks something to celebrate, and Richer the chance to shine the spotlight on his bench.
“A big shoutout to the bench. The bench really set the tone,” Richer said. “We came out lackadaisical and they set the tone and woke us up. And they sustained that in the fourth quarter when they went back in. They don't get enough praise and enough accolades, or enough playing time, but they certainly did a great job tonight with the playing time that they had.”
At press time Jan. 8 the Sharks were set to host Sturgis East in another Cape and Islands League outing, with their next game slated for Jan. 10 at Cape Cod Academy with a 4 p.m. start. Monomoy hosts Barnstable on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m.