CLASS D REGIONAL FINALS | COLEMAN CATHOLIC 73, SHELTER ISLAND 46
As the reality began to set in, that one of the finest seasons in Shelter Island history had reached its end, the large contingent of Islanders in the SUNY New Paltz gym rose to their feet.
As Coleman Catholic celebrated its Class D regional final win Saturday afternoon and prepared to accept its trophy, the Shelter Island crowd erupted with a “Shelter! Island!” chant, filling the small upstate gym.
“All through the playoffs the crowd was like our sixth man,” said Shelter Island coach Mike Mundy. “We had two buses come up here with fans, so that’s huge.”
Even with the support of a boisterous crowd behind them, the Indians couldn’t overcome the quicker, more athletic Statesmen, who ran away with a 73-46 victory to advance to Glens Falls and the Class D Final Four next weekend.
The Coleman crowd chanted “Final four!” with about 20 seconds left in the game and the Statesmen will now play in their first Final Four since 2011 when they lost in the state finals.
That the Indians advanced this far, a No. 3 seed in the sectional tournament at the start of the playoffs, came as a surprise to most. But not the Indians.
“We did,” Mundy said when asked if anyone thought his team would get this far. “That was my expectation. We started thinking about this last year. We knew this was a big year for us.”
Shelter Island recorded wins over Smithtown Christian, Greenport and Clark Academy to reach the regional final. Saturday’s game marked the final game for seniors Matt Belt Cappellino, Riley Willumsen, Nathan Mundy and Matt Dunning.
But the Indians will return an impressive group of underclassmen next year, highlighted by center Tristan Wissemann, that has the team hopeful for another big season next year.
Against Coleman Catholic, the Indians committed 17 first-half turnovers, which helped the Statesmen run out to a 20-point halftime lead. Even as the Indians limited the turnovers in the second half, the Statesmen hardly slowed down thanks to some electrifying shooting from the outside.
In their previous game Tuesday, the Indians knew they could give up the long ball and that Clark Academy was not a strong shooting team. But the Statesmen were another story. They buried shots from all across the court, including two dagger 3-pointers to beat the buzzer and the end of the second and third quarters.
Coleman Catholic shot 27 of 57 (47 percent) from the field and were lights out on the third quarter (10 for 16). They connected on nine 3-pointers in the game.
“We knew these guys could shoot from anywhere,” Mundy said.
The 27-point margin was the most lopsided of the season for Shelter Island. The deficit reached as high as 30.
“We lost to a super team,” Mundy said.
It took the Statesmen 2 1/2 minutes to get on the scoreboard after a slow start. But after their first basket, they never looked back. A 14-2 run quickly pushed their lead to double digits and the Indians never got within single digits after the second quarter started.
Coleman’s 6-foot-2 center Dino Celadon scored 19 points. The Indians had a balanced scoring sheet, led by Mundy’s 10 points. Wissemann, Willumsen and Billy Boeklen each scored eight.
Boeklen fought through an ankle injury that had been limiting him and provided a spark to the team in the second quarter.
“I’m thinking the sophomores can carry this program to next year,” Mundy said. “We’re definitely capable of competing at the D level.”