Combination Of Length And Athleticism Lifts Monomoy Over Cape Tech

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: School Sports , Monomoy Regional High School , Basketball

Monomoy sophomore Tatiana Malone, left, dribbles past Cape Tech junior Madison Saben-Hambleton during Friday's game. BRAD JOYAL PHOTO

HARWICH – All throughout the preseason, Monomoy’s first-year girls basketball coach Brian Tomasini has been preaching the importance of defense to the Sharks.

His players took his message to heart during Friday’s season opener against Cape Cod Tech.

At times, the visiting Crusaders struggled to advance the ball past mid court against the Sharks’ stifling press defense. The combination of Monomoy’s length, depth and athleticism was more than enough for the team to pull away for a 50-10 victory against a Cape Tech program playing in its first game since 2019.

“I love how we came out on defense,” said Tomasini, a physical education and health teacher at Sandwich High who served under Bill O’Connell as an assistant last year’s MRHS girls hoops team. “We’ve been working hard on offense and preaching how we’ve got to set the tone on defense. It was really just great to see in that first quarter everybody working together and everybody really hustling at the defensive end.”

Monomoy never looked back after building a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes. The Sharks led 18-4 at the end of the first quarter and brought a 32-4 advantage into halftime. Throughout the first 16 minutes, the team repeatedly forced steals that led to easy layups — many of which were uncontested — at the opposite end of the floor.

“We kind of live by the defense starts it off,” said junior Lucy Mawn, a Harwich resident who serves as one of the team’s captains alongside classmate Melissa Velasquez and senior Caroline DiGiovanni. “You can’t really do anything on offense if you can’t get the ball on defense, so it was great for everyone to be pressuring. The energy was great, which made us work even harder.”

Freshman JoJo Ready led the Sharks’ offensive efforts with 10 points, while Mawn chipped in eight points and Velasquez added seven. The Crusaders were anchored by juniors Lashae Miranda and Jada Miranda, who each finished with five points in defeat.

“It’s tough to start with Monomoy,” Cape Tech coach Chris Leonard said. “They are definitely a little more polished than us right now. A year off did not do us well.”

The Crusaders didn’t play basketball last year due to COVID-19 — a decision that was made by the entire Mayflower League, of which Cape Tech is a member. Leonard said the team is still a little rusty after missing a season.

“You could see we’re just not as crisp as we should be,” he said. “But there’s definitely some good things that happened tonight. We got a lot of people playing time and it’ll be easier going forward.”

Monomoy improved to 2-0 on Monday night with a 35-21 victory at St. John Paul II in Hyannis. Sophomore AJ Gates led the team with 10 points, while junior Helen DiGiovanni, Velasquez and Ready each had six. Caroline DiGiovanni finished with eight blocks, seven rebounds and five steals, and Mawn chipped in four rebounds, five steals and two blocks.

After the season-opening win, Velasquez said the team experienced a smooth transition during the preseason despite the coaching change. It helped that Tomasini continued to employ many of the same lessons the players learned a year ago.

“It feels the same as last year,” Velasquez said. “Obviously we miss coach O’Connell, but [Tomasini] was a big part of the team last year and it really feels like we’re picking up where we left off last season."

Even if this season feels like an extension of last year, it still marks a new era of Monomoy girls basketball under new leadership. With a few new players joining the team in addition to Tomasini, Caroline DiGiovanni said the team will benefit from starting its season on a positive note.

“It’s good to start off with a game like this,” she said. “We can only get better, so I feel like this was a good start for us.”

Tomasini said Friday’s opener was a sign of things to come, and that he’s going to continue to count on the team’s athleticism each step of the season.

“One of the things I absolutely love about here is a lot of these girls are three-sport athletes, so the athleticism is there,” the coach said. “We’re preaching defense every night, so knowing that we have athletes coming off the bench that can extend the floor is huge. Each one of them can kind of guard each position, which is huge.”

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal