It was a victory worthy of the build-up to Spirit Week and the annual pep rally.
On Tuesday night, January 26, the Shelter Island boys varsity basketball team had a huge win over long-time rivals, the Pierson Whalers.
Jack Kimmelmann was the hero of the evening, sinking a foul shot with just seconds remaining to give the Islanders a 42-41 win in front of a loud and proud home crowd.
The last time these teams played, the Whalers won by 4 points in their gym. Combined with a tough loss on Friday, January 22, to first place Stony Brook, the Blue and Gray felt they had something to prove, and played with emotion, toughness and hustle for the big win.
Both teams entered the game with identical records, 7-6. During warm ups, the Whalers in their traditional black and red uniforms showed quickness and sharp shooting.
The game started with the Islanders taking a 4-0 lead. Pierson rotated players early and often, and it looked like the strategy was wearing down the home team. With Luke Gilpin out, the five starting players for the Blue and Gray played the whole game.
Peter Kropf had a big offensive rebound, with a nice put-back for 2 and Kimmelmann had a beautiful defensive block that led to 2 points from a layup by Tristan Wissemann to give the Islanders an 8-7 lead.
Pierson hit a 3 and at the end of the quarter were up 12-10.
Kimmelmann sunk a 2 to open the second quarter, tying the score. The Whalers showed they could make outside shots, hitting two 3s in a row to go up 18-14 at the 5:31 mark. Billy Boeklen answered with a trey of his own to cut the lead to 19-20. The
Whalers and Island cheerleading squads were both very vocal and battled back and forth during time outs. At one point the Blue and Gray’s sharp defense denied the Whalers a shot, forcing a turnover when the 35-second clock expired.
At the half the Islanders had a one point lead, 23-22.
At the start of the third quarter Pierson continued a full court press that they had employed for most of the game. The Blue and
Gray had worked hard to break the press, and with help from Semaj Lawrence’s rebounds, was able to score early and build a 29-22 lead. Pierson is known for their physical play; Boeklen went down hard on one play, hitting his knee. Coach Jay Card Jr. called a time out to give his star senior some recovery time.
The Whalers found their groove and strung several unanswered points together with steals to cut the lead, tie the score and go up 33-29. Kropf made his own steal to cut to the lead to 31-33 as the teams headed into the final quarter. At this point neither team had been to the charity stripe for foul shots. But that changed quickly.
In the first minute of the fourth, Boeklen went to the foul line for two shots, tying the game at 33 -33. The Whalers responded with speed and excellent passing, hitting two 3s to lead at 39-33. Wissemann responded with a 3 to narrow Pierson’s advantage.
Aggressive defense became the focus for both teams as both struggled to score.
Boeklen scored a 2 to break the point drought and move the score to 38-39.
With only a minute to play, Pierson went ahead 41-38. But Wissemann showed the Blue and Gray’s fighting spirit. Not to be denied, he drove down the court to hit a big 3, tying the score at 41 as the crowd erupted.
During the resulting time out the bleachers were rocking as the cheerleaders inspired the fans with favorite cheers.
The revved-up home team played pesky defense, forcing the Whalers to turn the ball over. Kimmelmann was fouled, and with 3.3 seconds left, netted the critical foul shot under pressure for the win.
Their fatigue forgotten, his exuberant teammates crowded around and lifted him in the air.
Wissemann lead team in scoring with 12 points including his clutch 3 pointer. Lawrence had 10 points and Boeklen recorded 9.
Next up for the varsity is at Class D rival Bridgehampton tomorrow, Thursday, January 28 in the Bees’ small and unique gym.
Because of limited seating, fans who want to attend the game should contact the school to arrange for tickets.