Coming off a drubbing of the Ross School Cosmos, the Shelter Island boys varsity basketball team came into Greenport’s huge gym pumped Tuesday with some swagger in their step. Adding more positive vibes were the cheerleaders who made the short trip across the water to cheer the team on.
The Indians entered Tuesday’s contest sporting a 4-2 record in league play, and 4-5 overall. The Porters are always tough, so it gave the Indians extra incentive to win.
Senior forward Hunter Starzee started off the scoring for the Island by nailing two free throws. The Porters scored two of their own and the tie seemed like it would last forever as both teams played excellent defense and were unable to score until 4:32 of the first quarter.
Greenport went with their strong suit, their athleticism, trying to beat the Indians down the court with lay-ups. But they soon found out that wasn’t going to work with the Indians getting back on defense quickly and picking off some steals.
Junior guard Matthew BeltCappellino was a big factor on both sides of the court early on. He drilled a 3-pointer at 3:48 in the first to make it 5-4 Shelter Island. Then back on “D” he did a great job of containing star guard Gavin Dibble of the Porters.
Later on in the quarter, at 1:24, Starzee nailed a deuce to make it 11-6 Indians, the largest lead for both teams during the game. Soon after that, with 41 seconds left to go in the quarter, senior center Chandler Olinkiewicz completed a 3-point play, which brought Island fans and players to their feet. The first quarter was solid for the Indians, taking a 14-11 lead.
To show that the first quarter was no fluke, junior guard/forward Nathan Mundy started off the second with a bang. At 7:27 he performed an amazing spin-move lay-up, making the score 16-11 and also making fans say, “Did he just do that?”
But Dibble and his Porter teammates weren’t ready to give up. Dibble connected on a trey at 5:14 to make it 18-16 Porters, and suddenly it was Shelter Island that had to dig out of a hole. Near the end of the half, at 1:01, senior forward Myles Clark completed an “and 1” to make it 26-24 Indians. At the end of the half, Shelter Island kept the lead 28-27.
BeltCappellino continued to impress in the third quarter. Early on he came up with a big block resulting in a fast-break lay-up.
At the end of the third, the score was tied at 37. Greenport stuck with its scrappy style, grabbing rebounds, but Shelter Island got into foul trouble.
One of the most exciting plays of the game came at just over five minutes to play in the fourth. Junior point guard Riley Willumsen hit a three to give the Indians a 1-point advantage at 41-40. To add to the excitement, BeltCappellino also drilled a triple after that to make it 44-40, which seemed like a large lead the way the game had been see-sawing.
But the turning point of the game was when a Porter trifecta made it 47-46 Greenport. Two more Porter free throws made it 49-46. A Dibble free throw and another basket got them to 52 points. Even though at the end the game victory was unreachable, BeltCappellino shot a 50-footer and sank it at the buzzer, for a final of 52-49 Porters.
In the stat department: BeltCappellino scored a team-high 13 points, Mundy and Clark both had 10, Starzee notched 7, Olinkiewicz contributed 6, and Willumsen had 3. Dibble of the Porters had a game-high 15 points.
After the loss, Shelter Island’s head coach, Michael Mundy, said, “It was an excellent game and everyone hustled. We had good bench play and defense and only 11 turnovers.” He thought that the Indian defenders “took some of Greenport’s top scorers out of the game,” but in the end, Shelter Island couldn’t overcome foul toruble.
Coach Mundy wants his team to make better decisions, he said. Next up the Indians travel to Southold for a 6:15 tip off tomorrow, Friday, January 18.