HARWICH – The Monomoy Regional High School boys basketball team isn’t interested in backing down from any challenges.
That’s why the team’s coach, Dan Taylor, was ecstatic to learn the Cape and Islands League’s schedule was going to include more matchups between its Atlantic and Lighthouse Divisions. Monomoy competes in the Lighthouse alongside schools with smaller enrollments, while many of the Cape schools with large enrollments, such as Barnstable and Falmouth, compete in the Atlantic.
This year, Monomoy and the other Lighthouse teams will have the opportunity to play more games against teams from the Atlantic — a challenge the Sharks are embracing.
“The schedule is definitely much tougher than it’s been in years past,” Taylor said. “As a program and as a school, we really wanted that challenge. I think it’s a better move for the league, but specifically for us. These kids are really excited to play these bigger and better schools on the Cape.”
Taylor said playing a tougher schedule is going to demand the best from basketball players throughout the region.
“It creates a better experience for the kids going into a game knowing ‘If we play good, we can win, and if we don’t, we’re going to lose,’” he said. “That’s one of the greatest things about sports that you miss out on if you have lopsided wins.”
Monomoy opened its season with a 52-43 road victory at Cape Tech on Friday night. Although the team nearly won by double digits, Taylor said the score was a little skewed by his team’s fast start. He credited the way the Crusaders rebounded after the Sharks built a 23-9 lead in the first quarter.
“We got out to a really good start. The kids were really fired up and they shared the ball well,” Taylor said. “We were pretty sloppy in the other three quarters — and a lot of that is to Tech’s credit. They played really hard. Overall, I was happy with the energy and obviously with the win.”
Senior co-captains Dan Gould and Michael Rocco played a big part in the team’s success. Gould led all scorers with 19 points, while Rocco added nine points in addition to recording seven rebounds, seven steals and five assists.
Freshman Jackson Morneau added 10 points while his classmate Finn Hyora chipped in eight points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
“Mike and Dan are two fifth-year guys in the program, so they were on the team when we were in the state tournament two years ago,” Taylor said. “That’s been really good having those two guys. Our other seniors, Joe Malone, Chandler Cheron and Alec Brown, have been great and lead by example. Then we have a few freshmen who are really talented and fit in nice.”
Gould and Rocco said it was good to see Friday’s result after an offseason filled with training.
“It’s nice seeing all of the work pay off,” said Gould, a Harwich resident. “We’ve all been here together for a really long time, there’s been a lot of offseason AAU, a lot of being on different teams together.”
Having a veteran core return this season has been key for Monomoy in more way than one. The Sharks lost last year’s leading scorer, Aidan Melton, to graduation, creating a void at the offensive end of the floor.
“It’s hard to match what he did, just from his height and his scoring ability,” said Rocco, a Harwich resident. “We’re spreading the ball around and trying to match what he did.”
After passing its first test against Cape Tech in a non-league matchup, Monomoy shifted its attention toward Wednesday’s game at Dennis-Yarmouth, the Sharks’ first Atlantic Division opponent.
Taylor said that as much as his players are looking forward to the league schedule, they have long-term goals of playing in the state tournament, which did not take place last winter due to COVID-19.
“That’s something they’ve definitely vocalized they want to be a part of,” Taylor said.
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal