HARWICH – The game quickly went sideways for the Monomoy girls basketball team. It seemed as though the squad was destined for a lopsided loss when it hosted unbeaten Dennis-Yarmouth last Thursday night.
But the Sharks didn’t waver when the Dolphins exploded for nearly a double-digit lead in the opening minutes. They regrouped and began making stops at the defensive end of the floor, where they forced turnovers and grabbed rebounds on multiple D-Y possessions until, little by little, they crawled back into the game.
Although D-Y ultimately eked out a 42-39 victory to improve to 8-0 on the season, Monomoy coach Brian Tomasini still was plenty proud of the way his team played in defeat.
“The way they battled when down big against an undefeated team, it just makes us better and we can build off of it,” Tomasini said. “The girls played with a ton of heart and it started on the defensive end. It’s been that way for us all year. The best was seeing the girls battle the whole game.”
The Sharks’ no-quit attitude was on display even in the first half when the Dolphins established control. The visitors jumped out to an 11-2 lead to open the game before Monomoy fought back to make it 14-8 at the end of the first quarter.
By halftime, the Sharks cut their deficit to 22-13. They were at their best in the third quarter, outscoring the Dolphins 13-3 in the frame. Sophomore Tatiana Malone, a Dennis resident, made a reverse layup that gave Monomoy its first lead — a 26-25 advantage — in the final seconds of the third quarter.
“It definitely felt really good,” Malone said about the layup. “It was a nice layup against a really good team — they’ve been playing really good all year.”
As pleased as Tomasini was to see Malone convert at the offensive end, the coach was even more impressed with her defense, a trend he said began a few games earlier.
“She’s been doing it now for the last three or four games,” Tomasini said. “She’s somebody that we see in practice that works very hard. She works hard on the defensive end — which we love — and she’s creating some offense. Every time she steps on the court, we usually
put her on their best player or best guard and she shuts them down.”
Malone wasn’t the only Shark to come up big at the defensive end, however. A pair of Harwich residents, senior Caroline DiGiovanni and junior Lucy Mawn, continued to utilize their length and athleticism to anchor the team’s efforts.
DiGiovanni finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five blocks, while Mawn grabbed nearly a half dozen rebounds in addition to collecting multiple blocks and steals of her own.
“For [DiGiovanni] to be able to hedge and get back and block shots, rebound and push it on the break…I mean, she’s a special player and she’s doing it all offensively and defensively,” Tomasini said. “She sets the tone for us. Her and Lucy Mawn have been unbelievable at the defensive end.”
DiGiovanni said certain blocks are even more enjoyable than scoring baskets.
“It’s a good adrenaline rush — especially to hear everybody on the bench cheer,” she said, adding that the key to blocking shots is anticipation. “With a lot of these players, you know when they’re going to shoot. As the game goes on, I feel like you can time it better depending on the player.”
Despite the team’s quiet start on offense, juniors Melissa Velasquez (12 points) and Helen DiGiovanni (11 points, 7 rebounds) did provide a scoring spark that aided the comeback effort.
They continued to lead the scoring efforts one night later, when Monomoy bounced back with a 49-30 victory over Cape Cod Academy; Helen DiGiovanni scored 15 points in the win, Velasquez added 12 points and Caroline DiGiovanni chipped in 13 points.
Even as the team’s identity continues to center around its defensive effort and tenacity, Tomasini said one key to the team’s success will be whether the Sharks can consistently score throughout the remainder of the season.
“Once our shots start falling for 32 minutes, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Tomasini said. “And I know that’s coming soon.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal