Cape Cod Summer Hoops — July 30, 2019

Mashpee’s Devon Hughes (center) draws contact while getting to the hoop during the Falcons’ summer league game against Sandwich at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center on Tuesday.

As the popular Nike slogan goes, basketball never stops. Those three words hold true even on the Cape amid the humid, muggy summer months.

Seven schools and eight teams gather every Tuesday and Thursday at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center for the facility’s annual high school summer league. It’s there where teams hope to gain continuity and experience while staying in game shape instead of sitting on the couch or lying on the beach.

Dennis-Yarmouth, Cape Cod Academy, Monomoy, Mashpee, Nauset, Sandwich and two Barnstable teams battle it out in a seven-game schedule before a four-team playoff begins on August 7. The season culminates on August 9 for an 8 PM championship game. Each game is played on a shortened court with two 20-minute halves.

Below is a recap of game between Mashpee and Sandwich on Tuesday, July 30:

Sandwich 65, Mashpee 42

It didn’t take long for rising junior Chris Cronin to take over the game for the Blue Knights. The wiry guard showed everyone in attendance just how dominant he can be on both ends of the floor as the Blue Knights routed the Falcons by 23 points.

Showing off an array of moves—combination dribbles, up fakes, knocking down shots from all over the court and taking on contact while getting to the hoop—Cronin stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the floor.

As the likely go-to scorer for Sandwich this upcoming season, Cronin’s single-best play may have been late in the second half with the game mostly in hand. Trapped in the corner by two Mashpee defenders, Cronin dribbled out of it almost effortlessly, drove to the hoop and drew a foul to dazzle the crowd. He made both free throws.

While Cronin was nothing short of spectacular he was far from the only player who flashed for Sandwich. When the Blue Knights jumped out to an 18-8 lead with 11:22 left in the first half, Mashpee was forced to call timeout after incoming freshman Logan Murphy sunk his second 3-pointer of the night. That came as part of a Sandwich’s five consecutive threes run and pushed their lead to 29-16.

Murphy was part of a very strong and very deep second unit for Sandwich, which had nine players to Mashpee’s seven. Will McNally sunk a couple from deep and the Mandy brothers, Jack and Matt, provided some length down low. But by and large, Sandwich played mostly in a five-out set, settling around the 3-point arc. The offense worked due to the high percentage of shots made, but on nights shots aren’t falling, it’ll take the extra effort to follow shots and grab rebounds for second-chance opportunities.

The lack of depth on the bench appeared to wear down Mashpee, which features a lot of lengthy wing players who can play in the paint—specifically Kaiden Silva and Cam Dennis, the latter of whom showed off a high motor and a knack for coming up with offensive rebounds. Devon Hughes ran the point for most of the game, sometimes deferring to Ryan Hendricks. Hughes played with confidence and clearly wasn’t afraid of driving to the hoop and taking some lumps along the way in an effort to get to the free throw line.

But with only one referee calling the game, the two teams were able to get away with much more than in a normal game.

Sandwich led by 16 at halftime, 36-20, and took a 58-39 lead with 6:35 left in the game. While the offense was knocking down shot after shot, the Blue Knights’ defense also came to play. With the Falcons’ size down low and their inability to hit shots consistently from outside, Sandwich could collapse the paint and jump the lower passing lanes to generate turnovers.

Matt Bowen, who is a big-bodied center for the Falcons, took on the responsibility of guarding Cronin late in the game and did an admirable job, despite giving up speed. He solely focused on chasing Cronin, who tried to lose Bowen by running him through screens and across the floor, but Bowen stuck to face-guarding the speedy Sandwich guard with his back to the ball.

Sandwich improved to 3-3 on the season while Mashpee fell to 1-5. The two teams will begin the four-team playoff on Tuesday, August 7. The first game begins at 7 PM and the second game starts at 8 PM.

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