HARWICH – The Monomoy boys varsity basketball team rebounded from two tough losses to Nantucket and combined forces for an exciting non-league victory against Barnstable on Feb. 21, with the Sharks earning a 60-56 win in their last regular season game.
The game marked Monomoy's sixth in nine days in what can only be described as a punishing end-of-season schedule, but it didn't stop the Sharks from fiercely competing against their Div. 1 counterparts.
The Sharks took a brief early lead in the outing, but the Raiders battled back until the score was tied near the end of the first quarter, with a nice layup from Jamie Routhier giving Monomoy a 14-12 edge at the buzzer.
Barnstable battled back in the second, outscoring Monomoy by one point, but the Sharks took a one-point lead into the half on shots from Stafford, Jason Ready and Bradley Alexis, with Ready the quarter's top contributor with all eight of his points in the frame.
The third quarter saw the Sharks dominate the Red Raiders, outscoring them 16-8 this time on shots from Stafford, Joe DeMango, Routhier, and Aidan Melton, with DeMango and Routhier each adding a three-pointer.
With Monomoy leading 46-37 after three, the final quarter was all about maintaining the lead while trying not to get into too much foul trouble. While the Raiders did their best to chip away at the score, Melton rose to the occasion, netting eight points in the frame to keep the Sharks on top until the final buzzer sounded, clinching the win.
Stafford scored 12 points overall, while Routhier had 13, Melton 10, Alexis 8, DeMango 5, and Chris Hall 4.
Head coach Keith Arnold was pleased with the win.
“It was a good intense,” he said. “We just played six games in nine days.”
Arnold said his team has been using its busy schedule as prep for the post-season.
“We've been using that as our existence,” he said. “Last night after the league game was done, we set things up today like a practice almost.”
The Sharks seized the opportunity to use the unofficial game against Barnstable to work on its press and its offense, while giving more control to the team's captains, Stafford, Hall and Routhier.
“We tried to keep them focused, but also be productive and win a game,” Arnold said. “The last couple of games we've been sloppy. So I think we succeeded in that. Plus the fact Monomoy beating Barnstable is quite a good feeling for our kids.”
Arnold employed heavy rotation in the game, bringing multiple players from the bench into the game, including DeMango, Alexis, and David Malone.
“That's worked out well for us,” Arnold said.
The win allowed Monomoy to enjoy a rare day off before returning to practice for the playoffs in which the No. 3 Sharks were set to host No. 14 Bourne on Feb. 27.
“Now we can regroup and reload, and get ready,” Arnold said. “It's tournament time.”
While Monomoy didn't play Bourne during the regular season, they did scrimmage the Canalmen prior to the start of the 2018-2019 season, which has seen Monomoy play to an overall record of 14-8 and a Cape and Islands League record of 12-2. Their league record earned them a share of the championship, along with Nantucket. In spite of Monomoy falling to the Whalers in their final league game, the Sharks were able to hold the visiting Nantucket squad to its lowest scoring effort of the season.
Arnold was especially pleased with Melton for his strength against Barnstable, specifically his domination on the boards toward the end of the game.
“What Aidan Melton did in the fourth quarter, he rebounded his tail off,” Arnold said. “He was getting some big rebounds, not just put-backs, on both ends of the floor, which really helped us sustain that lead. That was something that was missing most of the game.”
Arnold also gave kudos to Stafford, Hall, and Routhier.
“Isaiah was strong to the hoop, Jamie was almost a glue guy, and Chris had a lot of energy,” he said. “I'm happy with how we recovered in the second half. Again, we just played six games in nine days. Who does that? But we handled it.”
One thing the head coach thinks worked in his team's favor in the end was their being bumped up to Div. 3 a few years ago.
“I said to the kids, 'Who cares?'” he said. “We're going to get better, we're here to take the lead, and we play up to the (Div.) twos and the ones, so in the tournament, who are we going to face in Div. 3?”
A defeat of Bourne will likely find the Sharks back home against either Norwell (No. 6) or Norton (No. 11). The No. 1 seed in Div. 3 is Wareham, which faces either Old Rochester (8) or Rockland (9). Stay tuned to The Cape Cod Chronicle for updates.