HARWICH – Sometimes all it takes is a good start to set the tone for an entire game.
On Friday, the Monomoy Regional High School boys basketball team’s quick start was all the team needed.
The Sharks never looked back after scoring the first 13 points of the game, as they cruised to a lopsided 66-23 victory over visiting Falmouth Academy behind a season-best 28 points from senior Aidan Melton, who also grabbed seven rebounds in the win.
“Getting off to a good start is really big for us,” said Melton, a Harwich resident. “We’ve struggled to really get off to the best starts this season so far, so it felt really good to get off to that quick start and build an early lead. Once we established that lead, everyone on the team got some valuable minutes and got better, which is good for the team.”
In addition to Melton’s big night, Monomoy (6-2) also received strong performances by juniors Chandler Cheron (eight points) and Alec Brown (six points). Senior Bradley Alexis, junior Joe Malone and freshman Harrison Aristhomene each chipped in five points for the Sharks.
Falmouth Academy (0-8) was led by Cody Feldott’s 13 points. He was the only Mariner to reach double figures.
As pleased as Monomoy’s first-year coach Dan Taylor was to see his team earn a win, the coach appeared to be happiest that all of his players had some playing time. In all, 10 Monomoy players tallied points in the win.
“It was nice to get those guys who bust their butts in practice a little extra (playing) time,” Taylor said. “I was happy to see some kids who have been working really hard get to play significant minutes.”
Taylor pointed out that the Sharks were also able to work on specific details, such as boxing out while rebounding, organizing the offense and spacing the floor during the game.
“We’re trying to get better every day and those were some details we sought to work on,” the coach said. “I thought we did a good job doing those things and getting a little better.”
The Sharks’ offense was impressive, but it was the team’s defense that really broke the spirit of the visitors. Monomoy gave up just 4 points in the first quarter before taking a 42-13 lead into halftime. A big reason for the team’s success was its daunting full-court press defense.
This year’s Monomoy squad oozes athleticism and it’s really evident when the team gets its press rolling. At its best, the team is like a well-oiled machine, creating turnovers at one end of the court and then finishing easy baskets at the other.
Alexis said that fast-paced style of play was really ramped up by Taylor, who’s encouraged the team to be relentless during his debut season.
“This year with the new team and a bunch of young guys, we’ve seen that a lot of us can play aggressively,” said Alexis, a Harwich resident. “So, we’re trying to use that to our advantage on defense and press teams as much as we can to try to get them out of their rhythm. It plays into our hands when we can get easy buckets.”
Playing that way has resulted in a very fun season for the Sharks. So fun, in fact, the players wish the season wouldn’t end.
“I wish this season was longer honestly,” Alexis said, “but we’re just appreciating what we have.”
Monomoy is tentatively scheduled to close out its season at Sturgis East at 5:15 p.m. today before taking part in the Cape and Islands League postseason tournament next week. Although the Sharks players wish there was a state tournament to compete in, they’re just happy to experience a postseason this year.
“Of course, a state tournament would be preferred but due to the obvious circumstances with COVID, it’s impossible,” said Melton, another Harwich resident. “So, having this Cape tournament means a lot to me and the team as a whole. Our goal is to make a run in the tournament and win.”
For a third consecutive year, Monomoy Regional High School was presented with the Sportsmanship Award by Max McCarthy, a Harwich resident who serves as the Sportsmanship Chairman on Board 152 of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials.
McCarthy presented Alexis with the award before the boys basketball team suffered a 58-49 loss to Cape Cod Academy on Jan. 27 at Monomoy. The award was for the 2019-20 season and would’ve been presented to Monomoy at the officials’ banquet in March 2020 had the event not been canceled due to COVID-19.
“We have 70 basketball officials on the Cape that are a part of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials,” McCarthy said. “Our members vote for schools they think showed outstanding sportsmanship for the year, and the winners last year were Monomoy for the boys and Falmouth for the girls.”
The Monomoy boys also received the award for the 2018-19 season, while the girls received the honor for the 2017-18 campaign.
“Monomoy’s had great leadership between the administration and the coaches,” McCarthy said. “When we vote for the award, we vote for all the teams—freshman, junior varsity and varsity—based on how we’re treated, even by the fans and cheerleaders. It’s a comprehensive award.”
Because the award is all-encompassing, McCarthy said it’s important to view it as a school accomplishment, not necessarily just an award for the boys basketball team. Still, Alexis said the award was meaningful for he and the other basketball players.
“It’s a good sign for us,” he said. “It shows everybody that we really like to do things the right way. We just like to play and be fair. There’s nothing bad coming from us, we’re just happy to be playing and having fun.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org