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Island girls win a thriller at home

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Amira Lawrence driving the baseline during the January 5 home victory over Greenport/Southold.
Amira Lawrence driving the baseline during the January 5 home victory over Greenport/Southold.

The Shelter Island School girls junior varsity basketball team played a closely contested game against the Greenport/Southold Clippers on January 5, winning 25-24, advancing to a 4-4 record at the half-way point of the season.

Coach Mike Z. Mundy was happy with the effort. “Last year we only had 2 wins all season,” the coach said, “so this team is really doing well.”

The Blue and Gray’s defense has been good all season, with quick-handed Melissa Frasco and Bianca Evangelista both grabbing steals in the first minute of the game. Domily Gil scored the first points of the game, snagging a rebound and putting it back up for a bucket.

Madison Hallman is a non-stop playmaker who handles much of the point guard duties. Small but feisty, she’s often hustling after a ball going out of bounds, or wrestling for a loose ball. Genesis Urbaez gave Hallman a break from her ball handling duties at the end of the first quarter, with Shelter Island up 7-5.

At the start of second quarter, the Clippers quickly tied the score. Lily Garrison exhibited her high energy playing style as she hauled down a rebound and raced end-to-end to put the home team back up 9-7. Both teams’ aggressive defense resulted in multiple fouls on shooters, although the Islanders struggled with their free throws, shooting only 36 percent from the charity stripe. A nice jump shot at the last minute by the visiting team sent the teams to the locker rooms with the Clippers holding a slim lead, 14-12.

During the start of the second half, the Clippers held the Islanders scoreless for nearly four minutes, getting out to a 6 point lead, 19-13. Sophomore Nichole Hand had a heads-up play, grabbing a ball blocked by Gil and passing it out of the cluster under the Clippers basketball to a teammate. Amira Lawrence helped the team close the scoring gap, hitting three of four free throws within 30 seconds to the delight of her little sister watching in the stands. At the end of the third, the Clippers still held a 19-18 advantage.

A quick basket by the visitors at the start of the fourth had the fans in the stands nervous, but a 3-point shot by Lawrence with 4:10 left put the home team up 23-21. But it wasn’t over. A basket and a free throw put the Clippers on top 24-23. The Blue and Gray displayed an efficient press break, but the ball just wouldn’t drop for points until Gil stole a ball and put it in with two minutes left to put the team back up 25-24.

The tension was palpable in the gym as Islanders in the stands began to chant “Shelter Island” and excited fans called out encouragement. Several timeouts were called in the last 1:30 of play, with both coaches drawing up plays and defensive schemes to try and gain an advantage. The Clippers had the last possession, but as the time ran out and the fans let out their collective breaths, the happy Island players shook hands with their opponents and headed to the locker room.

“The team has really worked on improving its hustle,” Coach Mundy said. “Their shooting confidence is improving too. I like to see the higher number of 3-point shots they are attempting.”

Coach Mundy singled out 9th graders Maria Carbajal, Lyng Coyne, and Isabelle Topliff for their hard work in improving overall skills as they adjust to the speed of the high school game.

Lawrence was high scorer for the team with 13 points and 12 rebounds to achieve a double-double. Gil (6), Frasco (2), Garrison (2) and Hallman (2) also scored for the Islanders.

The next home game is January 19 at 4:30 p.m. against the Stony Brook Bears.