Shelter Island might have the smallest junior high girls basketball team in the area, but they are the loudest.
You’d think that with only five athletes on the court the entire game they’d run out of breath, but they are loud and proud throughout every contest. “Shelter Island on three! —1-2-3 Shelter Island!” always outshines the other team’s huddle cheer.
The junior high girls squad is rolling through their season and the past two games showed that the team is moving in the right direction. On Friday, March 6, the Island girls faced the Bridgehampton School squad. Bridgehampton is even smaller than Shelter Island, but they had eight players to Shelter Island’s six.
However, Lauren Gurney has been out for the season because of an injury that occurred during a practice scrimmage, so only five Island players were available. Undaunted, the team hustled up and down the court, never looking discouraged in the 33-15 loss.
Both coaches were vocal and encouraging. The Bridgehampton coach seemed to be having fun with the players — how often do you hear a coach say “Run, SpongeBob”?
“Overall, I am very pleased with the way the girls are playing,” Coach Brian Becker said. “We are getting the concepts down and have just started to pick up the key to setting screens and passing to the open person when you see double-teaming on the ball, which are key components to success at the next levels.”
Indeed, Ella Mysliborski assisted in some key plays by successfully screening the Killer Bees and allowing teammates to score. Amelia Reiter took advantage and scored 4 points and snagged two rebounds. Emma Gallagher showcased her fleet feet, chasing down balls headed out of bounds and making several steals.
On Tuesday, March 10, the Island girls showed they had learned from the Killer Bees game, nearly doubling their offensive output and holding East Moriches to fewer points than Bridgehampton losing 29-28, in an oh-so-close game.
Lily Garrison was high scorer of the game with 15 points, with Holly Ross just behind with 11. Abby Kotula, who had missed the game on Friday, was the fifth player, since Mysliborski was sidelined with an injury and kept Gurney company on the supportive bench. Kotula’s work on defense was appreciated, and it is clear she is beginning to understand the team concepts of the game.
The teams played evenly during the first half, with the Island slightly ahead 10-9 at the half. But the Eagles jumped out to a 23-15 lead in the fourth before Shelter Island made some adjustments and continued their strong effort to score 11 unanswered points and pull ahead.
Ross is really learning to jump to get rebounds and hauled down a team-high 13 to prevent the Eagles from many second chances. The Blue and Gray were behind by one with 23 seconds left.
Mysliborski’s “This is so intense!” was overheard during a time out and perfectly echoed the feeling in the stands. As Gallagher tossed up a shot with just seconds left that barely missed, an audible “Aww” escaped from the crowd.
The Eagles walked away with a 1-point win, but the fans gave the home team appreciative applause for their excellent effort.
“I try to emphasize to the girls that at this level it is not about what’s [happening] on the scoreboard,” Coach Becker said. “I want the girls to focus on playing, learning and enjoying the game.”
The young team will finish out their season with their last home game today, Thursday, March 12 at 4:30 p.m. against McGann-Mercy, and an away match against Montauk on March 16.