HARWICH – The stage was set and the players – two unbeaten teams in the Cape and Islands League – were ready, but only one would claim the win. After four quarters of high-intensity competition the Monomoy boys basketball team prevailed 75-59 over Cape Cod Academy in a well-played team victory.
The Sharks burst onto the court ready for battle, with Isaiah Stafford, Jamie Routhier, Chris Hall and Elijah Beasley combining forces in scoring 17 points for Monomoy to CCA's 15 in the first quarter. But if the home team thought it would be an easy run, it was time to think again.
At one point near the end of the first quarter, the score was briefly knotted at 12-all, emphasizing the close contest playing out on Monomoy's home court. Soon after, the Sharks pulled ahead, only to have the Seahawks again tie things up at 15-15 with less than a minute left in the opening frame.
After breaking the tie, Monomoy took a 19-15 edge into the second quarter, a lead they would fight for throughout the quarter, with Stafford netting nine of his team-high 21 points in the frame. With the clock reading less than five minutes until halftime, the Sharks pulled ahead 27-19, ultimately taking a 38-33 lead into the break.
“We wanted to play fast offensively, and we wanted to slow them down because they're a fast team,” said Monomoy assistant coach Dan Taylor, taking over for head coach Keith Arnold who had a family obligation. “They're very quick at every position. The key was to control the tempo and the kids did a great job of doing that.”
Taylor said Monomoy's press was a big part of their success on the court and something he was thrilled to see his players do well.
“We slowed them down a bit with our press, and we sped the game up offensively with our quick break, and got easy baskets,” he said. “I laid it out for them and they executed perfectly, doing what we wanted them to do and playing the way we wanted them to play.”
With the score close as the game got back underway following halftime, fans were eager to see their Sharks return to the court with renewed energy, and that they did, outscoring the Seahawks 19 to 9 in the third quarter on shots from Aidan Melton, Routhier, Stafford and Beasley, who added a nice three-pointer to his tally.
Monomoy held a 57-42 lead heading into the final frame, during which the Sharks held the Seahawks at bay while bringing in more of its bench as it became clear there was no chance of a comeback from CCA.
In the end, Stafford finished with 21 points, followed closely by Routhier with 17, and Hall and Beasley with 11 each. Melton had nine points, and Bradley Alexis and Jason Ready each had three.
“I'm super proud of the kids,” Taylor said. “They knew how big this week was, with three league games in four days. That's a tough schedule. They worked hard in the few days of practice we had to prepare, and they were ready to play. They're always ready to play.”
Indeed, the night before the CCA outing, the Sharks traveled to Hyannis to face Sturgis East, coming away with a 62-31 Cape and Islands League victory that saw Routhier score 10 points, Melton nine, Ready 7 and Stafford, Alexis and Riley Varner six apiece.
But the buzz was rightly about the game that put Monomoy firmly atop the Cape and Islands League.
“It's pretty awesome to coach a team where every kid from one to 15 is into the game and focused on each play,” said Taylor. “It's not something you get used to as a coach, but every single kid on the bench was dialed in. I was telling them to sit down because they kept stepping on the court.”
While Taylor praised the collective efforts of the whole team, he did have a few shoutouts.
“Isaiah and Jamie are our rocks. They take on all the pressure, all the responsibility, and they helped us get a lot of easy baskets,” he said. “But I have to say that the MVP of this game was really the depth, the bench. Aidan Melton and Bradley Alexis, two sophomores off the bench, Riley Varner and David Malone, they really just gave us some depth and allowed us to rest so we could continue at the speed we wanted to play. And Elijah Beasley, that was by far his best game of the season. It was good to see him get out there and make some shots.”
The Sharks host Cape Cod Tech at home tonight beginning at 7, with their next home game set for Jan. 21 against Plymouth South, also at 7 p.m.
“They're a good group,” said Taylor. “They know how to focus. They don't care who scores, as long as we score. They don't care who they guard as long as we get stops. It's just a great group and they pretty much deserve all the credit.”