Victory in varsity opener

Junior Kyle Johnson rises above the throng of Pierson players at the December 15 league opener at home.

Even Coach Mike Mundy, who is often seen shouting up and downthe Indians sidelines and is no stranger to a littleheart-pounding, described the Indians’ December 15 home game as “alittle too exciting for me. Shelter Island and Pierson were tradingpoints in a close match until the very last couple of minutes, whenthe Indians were able to pull away.

The Shelter Island bleachers were a sea of smiles after thefinal buzzer, as it marked not just the team’s first win of theseason, but as Coach Mundy said, the first time in years ShelterIsland has won their season league opener.

It was truly a team effort: “Everybody contributed, he said,including some strong performances from the team’s reserves. “Wedon’t have anybody scoring 30, so every basket counts.

Doug Binder got things started for the Indians with a basket twominutes into the first quarter. Connor Needham’s 2:28 steal turnedinto a 3-pointer for Mike Mundy, prompting Pierson to call atimeout.

It remained a 2-point game for most of the first half as theteams traded points. James Cogan got the crowd on their feet in thefinal seconds of the second quarter when he grabbed Mike Mundy’srebound and, without touching the floor, sent the ball sailing overdefenders and into the basket.

The Indians began to gain momentum towards the end of the thirdquarter, when point guard Mundy stole the ball and charged in for alayup, tying the score at 21-21. About a minute later, a beautifulbounce pass from Tyler Pendergrass set up Needham for an easylayup, bringing it to 23-21.

Just 20 seconds later, Mundy grabbed the rebound from a missedPierson shot and fired it down to Kyle Johnson. His shot bouncedoff the rim, but when Needham grabbed the rebound, he was fouled,hit a free throw and the quarter ended with an Indian lead,24-21.

They continued their charge at the start of the fourth quarter,when Needham put another 2 points on the board just 15 seconds in.About two minutes later, Pendergrass drew a foul and hit a freethrow, giving the Indians a 6-point lead.

Pierson answered with 6 straight points of their own. It wasn’tuntil Doug Binder hit a hook shot from inside the paint at 3:33that the Indians really began to cement a lead.

Even the subsequent Pierson free throw and another two pointsfrom a Pierson jump shot couldn’t slow them down, and the Indiansracked up 13 points in that final 3:33 – more points than theIndians had scored in any previous quarter of the game. AndrewBeltCappellino’s free throw with 9.2 seconds left was ShelterIsland’s last point in the drive to their 41-30 victory.

After the buzzer, the players on the court charged their benchand began to celebrate, jumping on one another as they enjoyed thecrowd’s thunderous applause.

The Indians held Pierson to the lowest score of any team they’veplayed so far this season: 31 points. Coach Mundy called theirdefensive efforts exceptional: “definitely our best defensivegame.

The team had been trying to play a zone trap in previous gamesbut that hadn’t been effective, and so they switched to full-courtman coverage for this game. “I think we flustered them a bit, andit helped us, he said. Plus a number of great steals from NickKestler, Johnson and Mundy gave the Indians more chances to score.”It was a great effort, we’re extremely happy, added CoachMundy.

Despite the late-game pressure, the Indians remained cool andfocused. This concentration, Coach Mundy suggested, might have hadto do with the presence of volunteer Coach Jim Colligan: “He bringscomposure and experience to the bench, and that transfers down tothe players.

The boys’ next game is on January 6 at 6:15 p.m. against StonyBrook on the Indians home court. “We can run with them but we haveto bring our ‹”A-game,’ said Mundy.