Island boys drop non-league match to East Rockaway

DANIEL DE MATO  PHOTO | NOTHING BUT NET Shelter Island’s Riley Willumsen scores against East Rockaway late in the second half at home Friday, December 28. East Rockaway defeated Shelter Island in a tough match, 54 to 46.

The boys’ varsity basketball team hosted “The Rocks” from East Rockaway this Friday, December 28, losing a hotly contested game 54-46.

The game was close throughout and was ultimately decided at the foul line, with the visitors converting on 12 of 18 attempts and the Indians shooting a dismal one of 11.

For the past five years, East Rockaway has dominated Shelter Island, often beating them by 20-30 points.  But the Indians have continued to improve and actually battled the Rocks from start to finish. That poor free throw shooting and several untimely turnovers proved to be the difference.

It became apparent that the Rocks were focusing much of their defensive effort on junior Matt BeltCappellino, so the coaches urged other players to step up and assume more offensive responsibility. It was junior Nathan Mundy who took that challenge and executed some very good shot fakes and drives to the basket during the second half. Nathan scored 10 of his game high 14 points during the 3rd and 4th quarters. Matt totaled 13 points and senior Hunter Starzee contributed 11 additional points.

Once again, Hunter was a battler under the backboards and had a team high 10 rebounds. Senior Myles Clarke also grabbed seven rebounds and junior Riley Willumsen had a team high six assists.

But it was East Rockaway’s senior guard David McClure who led all scorers with 25 points. He is the Rock’s leading scorer, shooting from the perimeter, as well as driving to the basket for some easy lay-ups. His three point shot late in the fourth quarter gave the Rock’s a six-point lead. He also converted five of six free throws in the closing 90 seconds to help secure the win for the visitors.

Although the players suffered another non-league loss, they were somewhat satisfied with their overall effort. The goal is always about improving, developing more consistency and, most of all, gaining confidence. If they continue to do those three things, then winning will take care of itself.

As most of you know, the Town of East Rockaway took a huge hit when Hurricane Sandy visited its shores. The storm surge caused major flooding in many parts of the town. East Rockaway’s varsity coach, Joe Lores said that 5 of his 11 varsity players had major damage to their homes and are now living with friends or families in the area. Their Middle/High School also sustained significant damage. Several feet of salt water spread throughout the first floor causing the gymnasium floor to be completely ruined. As a result, the boys JV and varsity teams conducted all of their practices at Malverne from 8:30-10:30 p.m. and the girls teams did the same at Lynbrook High School. The boys have since moved to a very small gymnasium in a private school in order to have practice earlier in the day.

Repairs will take almost one year to complete but the Rocks are a proud community. Once again, we see first hand how resilient New Yorkers can be and just how lucky we were on “Our Rock”, namely Shelter Island, to have escaped major damage from Sandy.