MASHPEE — When you face a rock solid basketball team with a 7-foot center, you better have a game plan.
But whatever game plan Barnstable High boys basketball head coach Chuck Kipnes had going into Monday night’s Stripes Tournament match-up with Martha’s Vineyard went out the
window in the game’s first three minutes. Going toe-to-toe with 7-footer Mac Sashin beneath the basket from the outset, Barnstable’s star junior center Eric Holzman caught a flying elbow, broke his nose and had to leave the game.
Enter sophomore back-up center Will O’Day and senior guard Keyshawn Eddy. O’Day stepped into Holzman’s role flawlessly, almost fully disrupting Sashin beneath the rim and finished with 17 points off the bench as well as 10 rebounds for his first career double-double.
“Unreal,” Kipnes said. “Dominant. Four offensive boards (for O’Day). And Keyshawn Eddy was a piston. He finally found himself, He’s an offensive player with some defensive skills and he ripped nine boards down for the game. That’s a big team player.”
The Vineyard’s star offensive player, 6’5″ power foward Tim Roberts, poured in 22 points for the night but he was the sole Vineyarder to finish in double digits. Kipnes’ back-up plan, as impromptu as it may have been, worked flawlessly.
“They tried to run the transition game on us. They ran a full court press, they tried to throw the kitchen sink at us. They ran a 2-2-1, a 1-2-2, full-court man-to-man but we broke their press consistently the entire game. We set our own pace. We slowed the game down and they ran a 1-2-2 or a 2-3 or a 1-3-1 against us and we just found the open player, the open points on the court,” Kipnes said.
With the help of O’Day and Eddy, combined with a 26-point night for senior Elijah Baptiste, Barnstable (3-2) established leads at every juncture of the game, including a 19-11 spread in the first quarter, a 35-29 lead at halftime and a 53-44 lead after the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, junior captain and point guard Nathan Balthazard picked the right moment in time to let the dogs out, scoring 11 of his 13 points on the night and finishing with 9 assists as well as four rebounds. Where his teammates may have felt the wear and tear of trying to beat such a high-pressure, fast-paced defensive set-up, Balthazard picked up the slack.
“We beat them in the game underneath,” Kipnes said. “In the fourth quarter, we didn’t take one three-pointer. Everything was done inside.”
The Vineyard’s Cole Houston added 11 points to the island team’s effort, but it was not enough to bridge the increasing gap as the game wore on. Martha’s Vineyard falls to 2-2 on the still young season. Barnstable went up a notch to 3-2 as they await a much-anticipated Saturday night rivalry game with the host Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins (2-2). Six of Barnstable’s first seven games have been and will be on the road.
“That’s part of the plan,” Kipnes said. “To challenge ourselves.”
— Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm