Friday, Jan. 10 was the culmination of Spirit Week at Shelter Island High School. There was a pep rally and a basketball triple header at the gym; the JV boys played Greenport at 3:45; the girls JV team faced Babylon at 5:30 p.m.; and the varsity boys took on the Bridgehampton Killer Bees at 7 p.m.
The cheer squad was all in, organizing the pep rally and cheering for three straight games. In the words of their own cheers, they “Got tough,” “Rocked steady” and were “Fantastic.” Kudos to Coach Michelle Corbett and the girls for their outstanding commitment to school spirit.
The girls JV game started with announcements and the introduction of the starting five on each team. After the pageantry, the action was non-stop. The Panthers looked athletic and moved well, but Shelter Island’s relentless pace and defense would not be denied.
The first quarter set the tone for the game. Five steals kept Babylon ball handlers off-balance. Audrey Wood was the top rebounder in the first half, with six of her seven coming before the break. Mary Gennari had a rebound and a blocked/tipped ball to frustrate the Panthers offense. Dayla and Valeria Reyes combined for 7 points, while the visitors managed 4.
During the second quarter, Babylon buckled down. They upped the intensity going on a 10-2 scoring run. Grace Olinkiewicz responded in kind. A tall rebounder, she can also run with the ball, getting down court quickly. Getting to her spot in the paint, she demands the ball, taking pressure off her teammates.
At the end of the second, the Panthers were up 14-9.
After the second quarter lull, the Islanders showed they were tough and tenacious. Coming out of the half the Panthers went out to a 7-point lead at 20-13. The home team was looking a little tired, and things got sloppy. Coach Brian Springer called a strategic timeout to give his athletes a short rest, and they responded by stringing together 5 unanswered points to pull within 1 at the end of the third, 22-21.
Lyng Coyne’s defense shone. Her fast feet chased down the Panthers more than once, getting in the lane to prevent lay-ups, while she also got four steals. Freshman Madison Springer is beginning to see the game better and adjust to the defense. Her running background keeps her strong throughout the game.
In the final quarter both teams upped the ante. A fan in the stands remarked, “This is the best game of the night — sorry varsity boys. This is getting aggressive!”
Bella Springer had a fabulous fourth quarter, getting all 5 of her points, including a bucket at the seven-minute mark to pull her team ahead 23-22 for good. She also hauled down nine of her team-high 17 rebounds in the final quarter. M. Springer’s assist to D. Reyes helped set her up to drain a 3-pointer from the top of the key. A minute and a half later, V. Reyes hit the same shot to put the game out of reach at 30-24. Smart defense amid some physical playing led to a final score of 32-28, with the Islanders earning the win.
Dayla Reyes was the top scorer with 15, with Valeria Reyes earning a double-double with 10 points to go with her 11 rebounds.
Coach Springer said this was the team’s “best match up of the season.” The game against the Panthers got chippy and heated at times, with both team playing hard and not backing down. Both coaches had moments when a non-call by the officials had them exasperated, but, modeling good sportsmanship, they channeled that energy into encouraging the athletes to refocus their efforts. Coach Springer was proud his players were passionate, but didn’t let it interfere with their judgement. He also thanked the supportive crowd for providing a great environment. “The team really feeds on that energy,” he said.
The team now holds a hard fought 5-3 record, with six games to play. The next home games are against Southampton on Jan. 14 and Mattituck on Jan. 22, both at 4 p.m. Come see this fierce, feisty team in action.
Photo cap: Lyng Coyne looking to pass to an open Dayla Reyes in the JV girls basketball home win Friday against Babylon. (Credit: Lauren Gurney)