It was 15 degrees outside last night, but inside the Sandwich High School gymnasium the Blue Knights had things cooking. Hosting Martha’s Vineyard in the season opener for both teams, the Knights took a 35-35 game at halftime and lit up the court outscoring the Vineyarders 41-22 in the second half to give new head coach Dennis Green his first win, sending the visitors back to the island with a 76-57 loss.
A big third quarter, sparked by an opening three-pointer from junior point guard Joey Downes launched the Knights on a 16-7 run. In the fourth quarter Downes sensed the win and with 2:31 left on the clock he hammered the Vineyarders, hitting back-to-back three-pointers and then flat out beating the Vineyard speed on the court to net the next three layups for a 12-point run nailing down the Sandwich win.
Martha’s Vineyard brought size to the floor last night, but it appeared to be nothing that the Knights could not handle. Sandwich did a nice job off the glass at both ends of the floor, with Johnny Stanton, Henry O’Brien and James Dillon going head-to-head for the ball and winning the majority of the rebounds. Both squads struggled with turnovers, mostly in transition, as the fast-paced tempo resulted in several loose balls. First night jitters certainly played a role, but by the time both teams had broken a sweat, it was all business.
The Knights showed their quickness early as Scotty Reels stole the ball and dished it off underneath to Downs as Sandwich edged ahead in the opening quarter. Midway through the first eight minute quarter the Vineyard took their first lead of the night on a shot by Deshawn James. The Knights came right back to tie the game and then edged ahead on a jumper by Hank O’Brien.
Downes sank the first of his four three-pointers for the night with 39 seconds left in the quarter and Stanton topped off the scoring with a layup giving the Knights a 19-14 lead.
Martha’s Vineyard took the lead early in the second quarter, but Stanton answered from underneath.The scored bounced back-and-forth for the rest of the second quarter, with Stanton hitting a couple of shots, one off a perfect feed from Jack Condon.
Looking to slow the Vineyarders down in the second half the Knights made some defensive adjustments and got what they wanted.
“I think going to a 3-2 defense in the second half helped us,” Coach Green explained. “I think the hard work paid off. We worked well as a team, there was no unselfish play, it was a team effort.”
After Downes hit his second three-pointer of the night to open the third quarter, it was clear that coming out of the break there was a little extra spring in the Knight’s step. Stanton got physical under the defensive basket and kept coming up with rebounds and finding Downes racing into the offensive end. O’Brien pulled one down, and when the Vineyard defense took away Downes, he went right to Stanton down low as Sandwich built their lead. Dante Lambros buried a couple from the free throw line and Mike Migliore dished off to Tommy Megan as the Knights just got hotter.
Migliore then capped of the third with a three-pointer from the right side giving the Knights a 51-42 lead with eight minutes to play.
Condon struck from three-point land to open the final quarter as things began to get desperate for the Vineyarders. Sandwich was red hot and when the visitors tried to take Downes away, Stanton or someone else hurt them. Condon hit a jumper off a pass from Reels and then O’Brien again set up Stanton as Sandwich rained down points of the visitors.
Martha’s Vineyard closed the scoring gap to 10 points with four minutes to play, but a minute and a half later Downes took over the game and hit 12 consecutive points.
“We played a very disciplined game,” Coach Green added. “We had a lot of good looks and had some nice passing and screening. We wanted to push and get them on their heels and open up the floor. I thought Johnny Stanton was very aggressive and played the best I’ve seen him play in a long time.”
Downes led all scorers with 32 points. James led the Vineyard with 28 points and Stanton finished with 23.
The Sandwich boys return to action Tuesday when they will host Barnstable at 6:30 PM.
While the Sandwich boys were taking care of business at home, the Lady Knights were fighting an uphill battle on the island as they recovered from a tough second quarter to challenge the Vineyarders in the second half, but came up short 48-38.
The Lady Knights held an 8-6 lead at the end of the opening quarter last night, but struggle in the second quarter as the Vineyarders went on a 14-1 scoring run. Trailing 20-9 entering the second half, Sandwich dug deep and came back to within two-points, but that was as close as they would get.
“It was my fault, I didn’t change the offense quick enough,” Coach Greg Carbone said after the game. “We had the momentum going into the fourth quarter. We had a three-point shot roll off the rim and from that point on we seemed to run out of gas..”
Martha’s Vineyard went on to outscore the Lady Knights 20-12 in the final eight minutes.
“I’m disappointed, but excited about how well we played,” the coach added. “There was no quit in the girls tonight.”
Kasey Noonan led the Sandwich scoring with 15 points and Lea Adams finished with 13. Caroline McKenna show her quickness with seven deflections.
“She played a very good game defensively,” Carbone noted of McKenna.
Carly Whittle also had a good night on defense.
“Carly played great on the one-man press and did a nice job trapping the ball,” Carbone added.
The Lady Knights return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Barnstable for a 6:30 game with the Red Raiders.