HARWICH – The Monomoy Sharks gave it their all Tuesday night in the first round of the MIAA Div. 3 South Sectional tournament, but came up short against Dedham in a tough 52-41 loss.
The starters on the boys varsity basketball team got off to a solid start against the Marauders, trading points with the visitors en route to a 10-9 lead after the first quarter on shots from Isaiah Stafford, Nick Meehan and Eli Nickerson.
Although a 15-10 second quarter left Monomoy trailing by four at the half, the Sharks worked tirelessly to come back in the third, netting 14 points to Dedham’s 17. Unfortunately, a challenging final frame left Monomoy with a deficit that proved difficult to overcome, and their season came to a heartbreaking close.
“Everything today was focused on the game. It was all about tonight,” said Monomoy head coach Keith Arnold. “That first quarter, we were something else and it was a competitive game against a good team. Then we got caught up in some of their defensive pressure against trying to stay organized offensively.”
Arnold said one of his team’s more significant challenges was trying to overcome Dedham’s Juran Ligonde, by far the tallest player on their squad at well over six feet.
“The biggest issue was how to defend [him], at least limiting his points, his rebounds, and everything else, and that job was a lot more difficult than watching him on tape,” said Arnold. “He’s not just tall; he’s strong, and his athletic balance really contributes to his success. He’s not a great basketball player, but athletically he’s a physical specimen and they use him well. And you can’t control him. Not with our size.”
In spite of the difficulties, the Sharks put forth a solid effort that earned kudos from their coach.
“Our kids, as I’ve said all year, they came and they worked to the end of that game, as hard as they could, against a good defensive team,” Arnold said. “Their coach was complimentary on how competitive we were.”
Indeed, Monomoy employed smothering defense throughout each of the game’s four quarters while working to pose an offensive threat as well, with strong shooting from the high-flying Stafford, who finished with 17 points overall, and Meehan, with 13. Near the end of the game Arnold subbed in the game’s remaining seniors, with Nathan Amaker launching a perfect three-pointer, much to the delight of fans in the Shark Tank. Also scoring for Monomoy were Kyle Charlot, Nickerson, and Chris Hall.
“[Dedham’s] yearly schedule, and their background, is coming from the next level,” Arnold said. "So to have [our] kids compete at that next level tonight I think really says something about them.”
Monomoy ended its regular season with a thrilling victory against D-Y last week, defeating the Dolphins in a high-octane 48-41 match on Feb. 22.
Nick Meehan was the game's high scorer, netting 14 points to lead Monomoy to victory, with teammates Isaiah Stafford and Eli Nickerson following close behind with 12 and 10 points respectively.
The Sharks took control early, playing to a four-point lead in the opening quarter before the determined Dolphins rallied back in the second to tie the game at 21-even at the break. Monomoy eked out a one-point lead in the third and pulled away as the fourth quarter neared its end, with the Sharks outscoring the Dolphins 14-8 to earn a big win, Monomoy's 12th of the season. A three-pointer from Nickerson was a key factor in the win and set fans cheering.
Arnold said the team got solid pregame advice from assistant coaches Dan Taylor and Rich Rose.
“Going into it, it was a matter of, as Dan said, valuing each possession and playing smarter,” said Arnold. “Coach Rose made a nice comment about valuing the moment as seniors. Yes, we need a win, so this may not be the last home game, but if it is, leave with good memories.”
Arnold said that heading into the game, the team set its sights on winning in order to ensure a better seed in the tournament, and ideally home court advantage, a plan that worked in their favor, as did keeping D-Y's Logan Grosek in check.
“We did a nice job on that,” said Arnold. “All in all we had good depth coming off the bench, good production from mostly everybody, and I'm not just talking points. I'm talking defense, perimeter defense, and offensively getting more people involved.”
Arnold praised the efforts of his seniors, as well as his future players.
“The shoutout goes to the kids that we've recently brought up,” he said. “Jamie Routhier, Jason Ready, and I want to look at the juniors. Isaiah (Stafford), Chris Hall, Kyle Charlot, and Logan Routhier. They have helped all season long, and tonight with Jamie and Jason moving up has kind of balanced this attack.”
In the team's final game of the season, Arnold gave kudos to the entire squad.
“This one goes to all 15 of those kids that dressed tonight,” Arnold said. “They all packaged this thing as a real, close group of kids. It was enjoyable to coach them.”