A few Shelter Island girls junior high basketball players looked a little tanner then they normally do in February, but that was the only indication that the team had just returned from a week’s vacation.
Bishop McGann-Mercy visited the Island on February 26, and the Blue and Gray put together a well-executed four quarters, never trailing, and won 32-13. Scorekeeper Sincere Smith was kept busy as eight Islander players scored.
Goals are set for each game and Coach Laura Mayo said she loves the team spirit the players are showing. Some of the goals set are for the players themselves and some are for other teammates to score. That inclusion and team thinking is great — spreading the ball around makes it harder for the opposing defense and brings up the level of play all around.
During the first quarter, the home team surged out to an 8-0 lead. A nice pass from Kathy Ramos allowed Andrea Napoles to tap the ball off the glass to start the scoring. Alex Burns and Franny Regan showed their growth on defense, as they deftly switched players on defense, keeping the pressure on. Valeria Reyes’ high-energy play, including a nice turn-around shot, allowed her to score 6 of her 9 points during the first period.
The Monarchs returned to the court in the second quarter determined to score and went on a 6-0 run. Reminders from the sidelines such as, “See the ball, see your girl,” and “Don’t let your girl get the ball,” and “Get low, bend your knees,” got the Blue and Gray back into the swing. Allie Brush made a nice move in the post, and got 2 points to start the home town scoring once again.
Angelina Corbett-Rice is a whirlwind on the court. Her team high eight rebounds often led to a fast breaks, taking advantage of Mary Gennari’s nice work on setting screens for her teammate. Cassie Espinoza Heimann has made good progress on learning the offensive plays which helped to confuse the Monarchs as Dayla Reyes got free to score 4 points in the second frame.
The end of the half ended on an exciting note. Madigan Teodoru grabbed a rebound and passed the ball to Corbett-Rice who launched a shot from half court at the buzzer. An appreciative “Aww” and cheers from the crowd supported the team as they closed out the period with a 15-6 lead.
The remainder of the game continued with good defensive effort complementing some heads-up offensive plays. The team is working on several plays and was able to work on multiple variations of “Chief,” allowing players to score. At the end of the third quarter, Valeria Reyes made a quick hand off to Regan who dropped the ball in to score with just five seconds left on the clock.
The final quarter saw Islanders score 10 points to the Monarchs 4. The players actively cheered for one another and worked the ball around so all could take a shot. Nearly every player scored in the game, including 7th grader Mary Gennari who is in her first year of playing. Her shot at the end of the game capped the 32-13 victory.
As the second half of the season is quickly approaching, the team’s main goal is to continue to get better. Overall understanding of the game is improving each day. Coach Mayo is looking to heighten defensive skills. Certainly, the players are sticking with their girl better, and learning to switch on defense as needed.
Coach Mayo said players are being trained for specific positions as she sees their strengths emerge. Players are working on specialized moves to get open and take a shot. It’s a joy to see smiles on their faces as a newly earned skill is successful.
The girls’ next (and last) home game will be March 12 at 4 p.m. against a very strong East Moriches team.