Basketball Preview: Girls look for title; boys rebuilding; teams prepare for new season

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | Senior Megan Mundy will play a pivotal role on the girls’ varsity team.

Despite the NBA lockout, there will be plenty of basketball action this year.

Both the girls and boys Shelter Island teams have started practices and are enthusiastic about the upcoming season.


Coach Peter Miedema heads the girls’ varsity squad while Coach Brian Doelger heads the JV. This dynamic duo is starting their second season together and it is evident they make an excellent combination.

Last year’s varsity squad won the Suffolk Class C/D title and Coach Miedema is just as optimistic this year. “We expect to be the Class D champions and we want to win the league as well. We plan to approach each game expecting, not just hoping, to win. I think there is no team in the league we can’t beat. We are not intimidated at all.”

With 19 athletes between the two squads, the team is deeper than it has been in years. “Last year we sometimes had only six girls available to play, so that could get difficult as the game progressed and we didn’t have much opportunity to rest the players.”

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | In a familiar scene, Kelsey McGayhey heads to the basket. Kelsey is hoping to join the 1,000-point club this season.

Seniors Kelsey McGayhey and Megan Mundy are the captains. Megan is a consistent player and a good, calm leader on the court. She will be a threat from the outside. Kelsey has been an outstanding player for Shelter Island. The team’s leading scorer, she is shooting for basketball’s holy grail: 1000 points. She needs about 300 this season to hit that milestone.

With Alexis Gibbs and Saverina Chicka, the team also boasts a tall front court. Both are close or over 6 feet tall and should prove essential at getting rebounds. They should be a great presence in the paint.

Breanna Hallman, Corrine Mahoney and Melissa Ames all played some varsity games last year, so stepping into that higher level should be familiar to them.  Bre and Melissa will be sharing the duties of point guard. Melissa in particular stepped up big in the latter part of the 2010 season. As the point guard against Stony Brook in the C/D championship, she rose to the high-pressure challenge admirably.

Morgan McCarthy is moving up from JV and should cause opponents trouble with her speed and tenacious defense. Jill Calabro is a hard-working player who will see some time as she refines her skills. Senior Haley Willumsen is coming back to basketball after sitting out the past couple of seasons. Coach Miedema appreciates the athleticism and court sense she brings. “She’s crafty. She sees opportunities on the court and will take advantage of a weakness on the other team.”

Coach Doelger is looking forward to working with his squad. “JV is developmental. While we want to win, mostly we are improving skills to move up to the varsity level.” In 2010, the team was successful record-wise and by end of season players moved up to help varsity with their playoff run.

Returning players include sophomores Keri Ann Mahoney and Abbie Ross-Gates. Abbie was the most improved player on the team last year. After not playing in junior high, she focused on her skills and just got better and better, becoming one of the best players on JV. Keri Ann’s height will be a great asset to the team.

First year high school players include sophomores Samantha Capello, Erin Colligan, MeMe Lawrence and Taylor Sherman. MeMe and Taylor switched from cheering to basketball, while Sam and Erin are reviving their junior high skills. Freshman Olivia Garrison and 8th grader Serina Kaasik fill out the remainder of the squad. “The girls are all working hard, and I’m very pleased with their progress,” said Coach Doelger.


On the boys side of the gym, varsity coach Mike Mundy, JV coach Jay Card and volunteer assistant Jim Colligan are all very positive about the coming season. “I feel we can be competitive with anyone in the league,” said Coach Mundy. “We should have a deep squad, so we will be able to rotate players and still have a very competent squad on the court. We plan to run an up-tempo game.”

The team lost four seniors and starters from last year. Coach Mundy is seeing this as a growth year but one in which he also expects wins. “There is a love for the game and these guys bring a great work ethic,” he said.

Senior Jim Read, who was the Indians top scorer last year, is expected to lead the squad. Classmate Alex Graffagnino, also returns and will likely run the court as point guard. Juniors Chandler Olinkiewicz at 6 feet, 3 inches, and Aaron Johnson at 6 feet, 2 inches will provide important height and the coaches hope they will dominate in the paint with important rebounds and put-backs as necessary.

Sophomore Matt BeltCappellino is also a returning varsity player. Last year’s “sixth man,” he will be counted on to step up big for the team. Classmate Nathan Mundy will likely make the jump to varsity as well. Both attended an intensive basketball camp over the summer and are eager to bring their enthusiasm and improved understanding of the game to their home court.

While the squads aren’t set yet, Coach Mundy is looking to juniors Myles Clark, Hunter Starzee and Wyatt Brigham to continue developing their skills and contribute as well. Sophomores Riley Willumsen and Drew Garrison, both of whom are good ball handlers, will likely play at both levels as they balance opportunities to gain valuable playing time with getting a taste of the faster varsity game.

JV coach Jay Card brings a dedication to the fundamentals, so necessary as a solid base for higher-level skills. A stickler for proper technique and focus on ball handling skills, he challenges each athlete to constantly improve himself each day. Returning players Matthew Dunning, Carter Brigham and Matthew Murphy can expect to stretch themselves and step up their leadership skills. Exchange student Bac Tran hails from Vietnam and brings a good competitive attitude and a high level of fitness.  Freshmen Johnny Sturges and Sawyer Clark are playing high school ball for the first time but Coach Card is happy to see them working well with the older players.

“We really expect our athletes to be role models and represent the school with pride in all aspects of their lives,” commented Coach Mundy at the parents’ meeting. “I like every one of these kids and I‘m looking forward to a great season with them. If we really play our game, I hope to be headed to playoffs this year.”

With the cool weather approaching, and basketball season heating up it should be a great winter. Come check out the new bleachers in the gym and cheer on your local globetrotters!