What a difference a couple of days makes. On January 25 Shelter Island hosted Pierson for a junior varsity and varsity doubleheader.
The varsity began its game with a fairly strong first quarter, trailing 25-17 with senior Evan Thilberg (5) and sophomore Eric Thilberg (6) combining for 11 of the team’s 17 points. Unfortunately, there are four quarters in a game and the Indians struggled both offensively and defensively in the second half, losing 79-34. The crowd, as well as the team and coaching staff, didn’t feel that the team played well.
On January 27, the varsity hosted the Killer Bees from Bridgehampton, a team that they had lost to just two weeks earlier, losing 93-47 on their home court.
Coach Jay Card Jr. had an important team meeting at practice the day before the Bridgehampton game. It was time to “clear the air” and “to refocus” the team’s commitment, he said, on team chemistry and work ethics. Coach Card challenged his team to up their energy level at both ends of the court. For those of us who viewed the game, there was little doubt the players and their coach gave all they had on the court.
Once again, junior captain Luke Gilpin, who had just taken eight stitches in his eyebrow two days earlier during the Pierson game, had another big game. Gilpin scored a career high 31 points, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the foul line (9 of 12). He also led his team with 14 rebounds, nine on the offense end, along with three assists.
Sophomore starter Eric Thilberg had his best game since earlier in the season, scoring 13 points, connecting on five of 11 from the floor and two of three from the foul line. In addition, he had seven big rebounds, two steals, and played some tough defense against much bigger players.
Freshman Kal Lewis is gaining valuable experience at the difficult point guard position, limiting his turnovers, playing tough defense, as well as scoring 13 points. Nico Seddio, who comes off the bench to play power forward, continues to improve.
Although he’s not a big scorer (4 points), Coach Card likes his effort on the defensive end, as well as his ability to set some big screens for his teammates. Freshman Walter Richards, who has played for both the JV and varsity teams this season, played a solid game. Coach Card thought Richards seemed more comfortable and confident on the court. Overall, the team shot 48 percent from inside the arc and 70 percent from the foul line, both season highs for the Indians.
Although it’s difficult to lose a game by 20-plus points, there’s no doubt the home crowd and Coach Card felt the team played hard for all four quarters. As the game came to an end, the home crowd rose and cheered loudly for their team.
Most Islanders knew that this was going to be a challenging season for their team, but hard work, effort and overall team improvement, are all good signs that the team is heading in the right direction.