Island varsity basketball squad rolling to victories

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Assistant Coach Jim Colligan and Coach Michael Mundy during a time out at a home game recently.

If you have never been to the Ross School gym for a Shelter Island high school boys or girls basketball game, you are missing out on a great experience.

First of all, the gym is located in a beautiful building called the Center for Well Being. It has a unique high arched wooden ceiling and one wall of large glass windows. As one Shelter Island fan said, “The Ross School is like a small college campus.”

Just like Shelter Island fans, the Ross School fans are passionate about their team. During games both schools’ cheerleaders encourage the fans with loud and spirited cheers with each side trying to out-cheer the other.

That was the scene setter on December 18 when the Island boys basketball team — not intimidated by the surroundings — traveled with some very vocal fans adding more energy to an already rocking building. And when the final buzzer sounded to end the game, the boys varsity had a great win, putting up a final score of 62 to 56.

The game was a close contest to the end. Ross possesses a fine player named Leo Cheng, a quick, athletic point guard who weaved to the basket with twisting layups, challenging the Islanders defense every time he touched the ball.

Early in the first quarter,  sophomore Tristan Wissemann picked up three quick fouls trying to keep Ross out of the paint with their drives to the basket and had to sit on the bench. Sawyer Clark, a junior who did not play last year, came in to fill the void. Sawyer is a very quick player who plays great defense, disrupting opponents with his tenacity. He may give up 4 to 5 inches in height to his opponent but his quick feet and hands are able to keep the opposition off balance. Shelter Island’s senior point guard Riley Willumsen also sparkled, passing the ball and driving to the basket to break down the Ross defense. Shelter Island fought hard the first half and was only down by one point at half time.

In the second half Sawyer also provided offense, hitting a huge 3-point shot at a critical time at the end of the game to give the Blue and Gray the lead. Tristan was dominant with his bank shot off the glass and led the team with scoring with 21 points. Senior Matt BeltCappellino worked the outside shot and contributed four 3-pointers and senior Matthew Dunning continued to be big on the boards, pulling down some huge defensive rebounds. In the second half he injured his ankle and had to sit out but the team picked up the slack by hitting the boards for key rebounds. Sophomore Peter Kropf, who has been moved up to varsity, came off the bench with some scrappy play, showing good energy and toughness by controlling an important rebound inside the paint. Senior Nathan Mundy battled all night under the glass for rebounds and at one point took an elbow to the face for his efforts. He sat out briefly, but was able to return to the game.

At the end of the night Wissemann had 21 points to lead the team in scoring, along with grabbing eight rebounds. BeltCappellino had 18 points, Willumsen contributed 10 points, while Clark chipped in with 9 points.

On Saturday, December 21, the boys traveled to Carle Place on an unusually warm day with temperatures in the 60’s. As the team walked into the gym, on the scoreboard was their volunteer assistant coach’s name. Jim Colligan was the athletic director for the Frogs and coached basketball there for over 30 years. The non-league contest was a very up-tempo game. Shelter Island played a great zone defense that shut Carle Place down. BeltCappellino had the hot outside shooting hand, hitting 8 of 11 trifectas and ending with 28 points.

Coach Colligan said after the game that, “Matt had the game of his life.” Tristan Wissemann had 17 points in the impressive 58-39 win. It was a long but happy 2-hour bus ride home to the Rock. The team now stands at 3-2 on the season.

The team continued their string of excellent play in a scrimmage against the Mercy Monarchs on December 27. Although totals weren’t kept, the home team out competed Mercy and worked on various defense and offense strategies for the upcoming games.

This year looks as though it will be very competitive with lots of parity within League VIII and many close games anticipated for Shelter Island. So check out the schedule, support the boys and the girls teams this year at home and even hit the road with a ferry ride for  one of their away games.