Smithtown Christian defeats Indians in nail-biter

PETER KROPF PHOTO | Hunter Starzee and Myles Clark fighting for the rebound under the basket in Friday’s road loss against Smithtown Christian.

The Shelter Island varsity boys basketball team made the long trip on Friday, January 25, to play the Smithtown Christian Knights, losing a super-close game, 56-53.

Junior guard Matthew BeltCappellino broke the ice of a scoreless tie with a trifecta that got Shelter Island off to a strong start in the first quarter. Junior swingman Nathan Mundy drilled two from beyond the arc in just 24 seconds near the 6:30 mark, taking a foul on the second long-range shot. He completed the four-point play by sinking the free throw.

Smithtown Christian tightened up their defense for the rest of the quarter until at 1:44 senior center Chandler Olinkiewicz ran the court with authority for a fast-break lay-up. This got the Island players pumped up, and deflated the Knights. Just 41 seconds later, junior point guard Riley Willumsen did a nasty crossover and converted a fancy lay-up. The end of the first quarter wrapped at 16-8 Indians.

To add to his spectacular rebounding, senior forward Hunter Starzee nailed a corner trey at 6:20 in the second quarter to make it 21-13 Shelter Island.  BeltCappellino got a big rebound and put it back up and in to make it 25-15.  Even though it was only a 10-point game, the Knights knew that they would have to fight hard, play tight “D,” and make all their shots just to get close to tying it up.  The Indians’ first-half scoring ended with a powerful Starzee lay-up at 1:28.  The second quarter would end in favor of the Indians, 29-21.

Senior forward Myles Clark also had a good rebounding game.  His work on the boards got the team some second chance points.  Although there were slight glimmers of hope for Shelter Island, the rest of the third quarter went Smithtown Christian’s way as they scored a total of 18 points.  Knights forward Caelan McCabe’s sharpshooting was a big reason they got back in the game.  Going into the fourth, the game was deadlocked at 39-39.

The fourth quarter was close as the Knights scored 17 points and the Indians countered with 14.  The Knights’ sneaky “help” defense caused a lot of loose balls, which the Smithtown Christian players then quickly grabbed and took to the other end. These forced turnovers were deadly, and the lead for the Knights grew rapidly. With 3:54 left in the game, it was 49-43 Knights. Despite a three and clutch free throws from Willumsen, the Knights stalled and continued to hold the ball until time ran out. The final score was 56-53, close, but still a loss for the Indians.

The Indians did show good teamwork, with balanced scoring. Starzee and Mundy had 14 points apiece, BeltCappellino had 9, Willumsen had 8, Clark had 6, and Olinkiewicz had 2.  McCabe of Smithtown Christian had a game-high of 23.