Shelter Island girls beat Hampton Bays, even season at 6-6

When Shelter Island and Hampton Bays meet to play girls basketball, you know it’s going to be a nail-biter finish.

The first time the teams met, Audrey Wood won the game with a last second basket. On Tuesday, it also came down to the wire, with the Islanders again coming from behind in the last minute winning 28-27.

It was the last home game for the team, and Coach Brian Springer honored senior captains Lyng Coyne and Wood for their leadership of the team. Wood’s dedication and commitment to improvement, along with Coyne’s never-say-die attitude were excellent role models for the younger girls.

At the start of the game, a moment of silence was observed for Garth Griffin, a former coach and retired Department of Recreation director whose decades of passion for sports and kids touched many lives on the Island.

The game started with Bella Springer scoring on a put-back from a rebound. After that, both teams had problems getting shots to fall. Defense by both teams was good. Izzy Fonseca got into the mix and grabbed a rebound, getting it out to the point guard to set up another play. Grace Olinkiewicz is always willing to go to the floor to get a loose ball or to wrestle for a jump ball. 

Madison Springer is unafraid to shoot. As she and Dayla Reyes ran back up the court to get on defense following a 3-point attempt, you could see the two exchanging feedback to improve her shot in the future.

Coach Springer kept his team fresh, with players off the bench at regular intervals. I was impressed at the much-improved coordination on the court. Players moved seamlessly to their positions with confidence. As an outside shooting team, they’ve worked to improve passing and movement, and it shows. 

In the second quarter, Valeria Reyes hit a 3-pointer to put the Islanders up by 5, but Hampton Bays’ offense surged, adding 13 points during the quarter. Coyne grabbed a rebound and put it right back up to score at the end of the quarter. The teams headed into the half-time break with the visitors up 16-15.

In the third Mary Gennari exemplified the team’s ability to see situations developing by dropping back quickly to stay between her opponent and the basket, and foiling a fast break attempt. The 4th quarter opened with Hampton Bays holding on to an 18-15 lead.

The officials called a tight game, with both teams getting called on multiple defensive fouls. Wood played big on defense. Valeria Reyes went to the floor hard, causing a moment of concern before she bounced up. She finished with a team high 15 points on the game. She actually scored 17 points, but a scoring table miscommunication caused one basket to be missed. 

Those 2 points loomed large as time ticked away. The Islanders had chipped away at the visitor’s lead. B. Springer grabbed three of her 11 rebounds in this frame and D. Reyes hit a 3 to put the home team up 25-23. But within seconds, the Baywomen tied it back up. V. Reyes hit for 2, then got another point on a free throw with 16 seconds left. A disputed call (at least by the Island fans) let a Hampton Bays’ basket stand, along with the chance for a foul shot to tie the game with less than 5 seconds left. The shot didn’t fall, and once again Shelter Island won a hard fought victory.

It’s often said that sports teach life lessons. On Jan. 22, the girls basketball team passed the sportsmanship test with flying colors.

As Coach Springer gathered the team at the start of the game against the visiting Mattituck Tuckers, there were a lot fewer athletes than usual. It was made abundantly clear as the starting five took the court. Not a single substitute was left on the bench.

The 10th grade was in New York City at the annual opera field trip, so starters V. and D. Reyes and B. Springer weren’t available, and senior Lyng Coyne was also absent. 

Wood, Olinkiewicz, Lydia Shepherd, Madison Springer and Gennari set their sights on playing the entire game. That meant playing smart, pacing themselves, and being sure to avoid injuries or too many fouls.

Mattituck has a very good team, with two excellent players and a nice supporting roster. They began using a full-court press immediately, challenging Olinkiewicz, who was called on to reprise her role as a point guard. Wood, high scorer for the home team, scored the Island’s first points, tying the score early in the game. Shepherd was tough on the rebounds, getting five of her team-high 11 in the first quarter.

Mattituck continued to use the press until deep into the second quarter, going on a 23-0 scoring run. They also kept most of their starters on the court, despite having a bench with five additional players. They were up by 30 at the half.

JV sports are a chance to develop young athletes. It’s expected that all players will have the chance to hone their skills in live games. Fans in the stands expected that Mattituck would use the second half to mix up the line-up and give some of the younger players a chance to earn some court time. 

As the second half started, the Islanders continued to put their best effort forward, despite fatigue due to the lack of subs. 

I was dismayed to see the Tuckers continue to use their most talented players while consistently running fast breaks with no slowing the play to make use of a learning environment.

The game clock ticked on and the Island players pushed on, continuing to extend a helping hand to opponents if they went to the floor. Despite the lopsided score and lack of respite, they kept trying. Shepherd’s 3-point shot dropped through the net with just under 4 minutes left, proving that she and the team weren’t going to give up. The end was a foregone conclusion, with Mattituck winning by a large margin. 

Sports do build character. The Island girls JV basketball team proves it. I was so proud of the girls and coaches who kept their composure. They were the overwhelming winners on that front on Jan. 22. 

Thank you, girls, for modeling restraint and good will — it is truly what playing sports is all about.

The team is now 6-6 on the season, with two road games left. Coach Springer is pleased with the team’s effort, and especially proud of how each athlete has improved her game, while maintaining a sense of fair play and exemplary sportsmanship.