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Basketball coach: Goal is back to playoffs

Head Coach Jay Card Jr. speaks to his team at Monday’s practice.

The Shelter Island High School boys varsity basketball team began preparing for the 2018-19 season last week.

Head Coach Jay Card Jr. is hoping to guide the varsity squad to their first winning campaign since 2016, when the Indians finished the regular season with a record of 11-8 before falling to the Bridgehampton Bees in the Class D Championship game.

“Our goal this year is to make it back to the playoffs,” Coach Card said. At the same time, he added, “We want to build character on and off the court. Good scholars, good citizenship, good teamwork, good sportsmanship.”

During the first week of practices, the team focused on fundamentals and conditioning. “I want our players to be prepared to play with maximum effort and energy for the full 32 minutes,” Coach Card said. “Win or lose, this team is going to play as hard as possible from the first whistle to the last.”

The Indians are welcoming back several key contributors from last year’s squad, which finished the year with a record of 3-17.

Eric Thilberg, Nico Seddio and Nicholas Young return as seniors, alongside juniors Walter Richards, Dan Martin and Lucas Quigley-Dunning, who was Shelter Island’s second-leading scorer last season, with an average of 11.5 points per game.

The team will feature a balanced offensive attack. “We have players who can shoot the 3 and we have players who will go to the basket strong,” Coach Card said. “If we limit our turnovers and play our game, we’re going to compete with most of the teams in our division.”

On the defensive end of the court, Coach Card stresses intensity, hustle and rebounding. “Rebounding and defense are all about will,” he noted. “You have to want to get the ball.”

Practicing the basics of blocking out on the boards. From left, Keith Taplin, Mason Marcello and Walter Richards.

Since the end of the last season, the players have continued to develop and refine their skills by participating in spring and summer league games. “We’ve been competitive in those games,” Mr. Card said, “and I don’t expect anything to change. We’re going to be a fun team to watch because we’re going to play hard.”

The season opens with a road game against Babylon on November 29. The home opener tips off at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 1 at Shelter Island School.

The second home game, a non-league contest against East Rockaway, starts at 1:30 p.m. on December 8.