Varsity boys battle against rivals back-to-back

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Matthew Dunning driving for two with a soft shot off the glass against Sag Harbor.

The Shelter Island boys varsity team tipped off against two long-standing rivals this week. Fighting hard every minute, the Island boys came up short against Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor.

On Tuesday the varsity team traveled to Bridgehampton to play the Killer Bees. The “bee hive” is a very small gym, with the basketball court barely larger than a volleyball court. Over the years Bridgehampton has used this extreme home court advantage to its full extent.

One of last year’s triumphs for the Island boys was a victory at home over the Bees, breaking a winless drought of 44 years.

Bridgehampton came out with a fast-paced offense, hitting some quick 3-point shots to jump out to a lead in the first quarter. The return of their starting point guard, who had been out much of the season with a knee injury, helped the Bees to play to their potential. The game was rough and tumble with both Nathan Mundy and Riley Willumsen fouling out in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Peter Kropf came off the bench to hit a nice bank in the final minutes for 3 points. Despite the Island’s tenacity, matching the home team nearly point for point in the second half, Bridgehampton came away with a comfortable 60-41 win. Tristan Wissemann led Shelter Island with 15 points and 16 rebounds while Matt BeltCappellino added 11 points.

Postponed because of the snowstorm Friday, January 3, the Shelter Island varsity boys basketball team went up against the Sag Harbor Whalers at home on Monday afternoon.

The Sag Harbor and Shelter Island rivalry has seen some hard-fought games over the years and this game was that and more. The well-coached Whalers came into the game 3-3, and 3-1 in League VIII play, while Shelter Island arrived riding a three-game winning streak. Pierson’s Forrest Loesch came into the game averaging 21 points per game while the Island’s Tristan Wissemann can go toe-to-toe with him as a scorer, averaging 20 points per game. The Whalers are a physical team, and their quick point guard bore evidence of that, playing with a face mask due to a broken nose.

During the first few minutes of the opening quarter, Pierson hit two quick threes but Shelter Island answered with points in the paint and the score was tied 8-8 early in the game. Shelter Island played an aggressive zone defense and at the end of the first quarter held a slim 11-10 lead. Matt Dunning and Nathan Mundy had strong offensive points in the paint, with Dunning scoring 10 points by the half.
Officials called the game very tightly and by half-time both teams had some foul trouble.

At the start of third, Shelter Island was up by 4 points, 26-22, but Sag Harbor came out playing very aggressively. The Island boys were having problems with turnovers, scoring only 6 points in the third. Pierson opened up a lead, and every time Shelter Island got close, Pierson responded. Wissemann hit free throws to tie it 48-48 in the fourth, but Pierson quickly followed with a three. Short on time, Shelter Island had to foul to try to catch up and Pierson made their foul shots for a final score of 57-50 with Pierson on top.

Wissemann had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Mundy had 17 points, and Dunning contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Volunteer Assistant Coach Jim Colligan said, “It was a tough game to lose, but we still have many league games ahead of us.”
He commented that illness had limited the effectiveness of key bench players, but was pleased with the team’s foul shooting, hitting 70 percent from the charity stripe. Plus, Shelter Island’s field goal percentage has improved to over 40 percent.

The next game will be homecoming against Smithtown Christian on Friday, January 10 at 5:45 p.m.