The boys’ basketball team was on a steady march to the state finals for the past three years: in 2011, a loss in the section finals; a year later, a section championship; and last year, a 50-47 loss to Danvers in the state semifinals.

This year?

“Hopefully we can take one more step,” head coach Mike Joyce said during a recent practice. Six players return from last year’s squad, including captains Kane Araujo and Timmy Roberts. Seniors Navardo Anderson, DeShawn James, Malik Johnson and Matt Marchand also return to the lineup.

Eight new players suit up for varsity, which has a strong showing of juniors: Alex Gordon-Beck, Mikey Mussell, Ben Poole, Mac Sashin, Matt Stone and Jack Yuen all move up from junior varsity. Silas Berlin is the lone sophomore.

“We’ve got to figure out how to play together and get that chemistry going, [but that] was something we struggled with at the beginning of last season, too,” Coach Joyce said. “These guys have been working hard, they like each other.”

On the court, the team is not quite as tall as last year’s squad, but features several quick-breaking players. Coach Joyce said the depth of the bench was another promising feature.

Still, he added, “You’ve got to have some things go your way besides just having a good team.” The Vineyarders have a particularly challenging schedule this year. In addition to a tough Eastern Athletic Conference lineup, the regular season includes contests with perennial postseason contender Whitinsville Christian School.

The Vineyard will also rematch with Danvers twice in the regular season.

The team plays its first home game Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. against Dennis-Yarmouth.

Just two seniors return to the girls’ varsity basketball team this year, with a core group of juniors moving up the ranks and four underclassmen looking to make an impact as well.

The team held off a tenacious Sandwich offense to win their first game of the season Thursday evening, 48-38. Senior captain Kat deBettencourt scored 19 points for the Vineyard, while freshman Erin Hill, making her varsity debut, notched 11. Junior Lucy Hackney scored 9 points.

Though Sandwich jumped on the board first, the Vineyard defense held the Blue Knights to nine points in the first half. Sandwich stepped up the defensive effort in the second half, pulling with a point of the Vineyard with just five minutes remaining. Undeterred, the team pressed forward, with deBettencourt proving clutch at the free throw line in the final minutes to secure the Vineyard victory.

The win was also the first for new head coach Julie Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt, a special education teacher at the regional high school, played in college for Boston University. She was later an assistant coach at BU, as well as at Simmons College.

“It’s fun to get back involved,” she said. Ms. Schmidt is joined by assistant coach Carolyn Stoeber and junior varsity coach Melissa Braillard. The team is “very focused,” she said, and threw themselves into preseason and early practices. Their regular season schedule remains competitive, particularly in league play. As with last year, the Vineyarders will take part in the Stripes Tournament on Cape Cod later this month.

The team is captained by its two seniors, Kat deBettencourt and Miranda Tokarz. Returning varsity players include juniors Emily deBettencourt and Lucy Hackney, and sophomores Sam Hargy and Mya Houston. Transfer junior Taija Browne debuts on varsity, while junior varsity players Diamond Araujo, Mariah Duarte, Josie Iadicicco and Emily Turney move up in the ranks.

The swim team kicks off its season over the weekend at the Cape Cod Classic on Nantucket, which features all of the teams of the Bay Colony League.

First-year coach Jonathan Chatinover said that although the team is in just its second year as a varsity sport, the group will be helped by athletes moving up from the YMCA’s youth swim league.

“We have kids who are starting to come through that program who have chances to qualify in the sectionals, and even for the state meet, so that will be exciting,” Coach Chatinover said. Coach Chatinover has worked with youth swim teams in the past, in addition to swimming in both high school and college. Assistant coaches Ann Bollinger, Leslie Crave and Anthony Devine round out the staff.

“We’re a pretty new team, so we’re looking for getting all of the kids to improve their times,” Coach Chatinover said.

Mariah and Jessica Campbell will again lead the girls’ squad, and are joined by fellow senior Ina Thigith. Liam Cosgrove captains the boys’ team for a second year. A total of 25 athletes compete on the team.

The team hosts its first meet Monday against Bridgewater-Raynham at the YMCA at 3:15 p.m.