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Girls basketball team thrill hometown fans

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO
Audrey Wood leading the fast break against Center Moriches in the Shelter Island School gym last month.

When the athletic director comes out onto the court to high-five a team, you know it was a good game.

And the Friday, December 4 game played by the girls junior varsity basketball team — only their third contest of the season — was a very good game. It was the team’s first victory, and they held a double-digit lead most of the game.

The visiting Center Moriches Red Devils had three quarters where nothing much fell for them, but they came roaring back in the fourth. Undeterred, the local girls held onto their lead and regained momentum in the final minutes to win, 31-22.

With only seven athletes on the roster, and Grace Olinkiewicz resting an injured wrist, all girls had to be on their game. The squad was noticeably more confident and aggressive than the first two games, with Lyng Coyne and Isabelle Topliff’s fast and furious defense a highlight for the team.

Valeria and Dayla Reyes came out strong for the home team, combining for 9 of the team’s 15  first half points. Both are quick on their feet, with a take-no-prisoners attitude, and they love to shoot.

V. Reyes was the high scorer with 11 points, while Topliff matched her defensive fervor on offense, making scoring 9 points look easy as she cut to the basket. Topliff is also an on-court coach, giving Bella Springer encouraging words and tips as she went to the line for free throws. Springer was big on the boards for the Islanders, with a team-high nine rebounds. She also scored 8 points.

Audrey Wood is becoming more aggressive and confident. When she was given an outlet pass with just under 2 minutes left, she gamely dribbled down the court, putting up a shot.

She was fouled by the Devils #52, who had been her squad’s catalyst, as the visitors scored 8 points in 90 seconds. But that foul put her out of the game and pit Audrey on the line.

Focusing, she dropped her free throw through the hoop, giving Wood her first point scored this season. Her radiant smile and teammates’ enthusiastic celebration was heartwarming to see.

The cheerleaders were also present and on point this game. Coordinated and in good voice, the cheers kept the crowd engaged and the players energized.

Coach Linda Haas complimented the team, noting their improvement in both confidence and skills. Now that the holidays are over and the season settles into a regular routine, Coach Haas is looking for her charges to focus a bit more on running coordinated plays.

After a three-game road trip, the team will be back on their home court on January 17 at 4:30 p.m. to face the Southampton Mariners. Come cheer on our hardy band of players!

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