Basketball: Island boys punch ticket to the playoffs

The Shelter Island varsity boys basketball team hosted its rivals from Smithtown Christian on Monday night in an absolute thriller from start to finish. 

The Indians jumped out to a fast start building a 21-15 advantage in the first quarter, as a result of three straight 3-point shots from Dan Martin, Lucas Quigley-Dunning and Walter Richards.

But the Knights went on an unbelievable run at the end of the quarter, until 2-minutes remaining in the first half, outscoring the Indians 24-2. The Indians had been up by 10 points, but suddenly found themselves trailing by 12 points, in just an 8-minute stretch. They then closed the half with a nice run and trailed 35-28 at halftime.

The Indians then outscored the Knights 19-10 in the third quarter and 19-13 in the fourth quarter on the way to a 66-58 win. Complete coverage of this game will be in next week’s edition of the Reporter It was a game for the ages and a great win for the home team, much to the delight of the hometown fans on Senior Night (see story this page).

The two teams will soon meet again. The Suffolk County Class “D” Championship game will be held at East Hampton High School on Friday, Feb. 14 at 4:30 p.m. Each team has walked off with a win in two meetings this season and Valentine’s Day promises to be a great game.

It’s been a good solid run recently for the Indians. The Ross School came to the Island on Jan. 23, and were soundly defeated, 58-29.

Playing without Quigley-Dunning, their leading scorer, who suffered a sprained ankle in a loss to Pierson, the team jumped out to a 36-5 halftime lead. The Indians had led 18-4 after the first quarter and held the Ravens to just one foul shot and no field goals for the entire second quarter.

The Islanders’ success in the first half was the result of numerous Raven turnovers and fast break opportunities for the Indians. Coach Jay Card Jr. played his whole team throughout the game. 

The defensive pressure was excellent in the first half. Martin scored 11 of his game-high 13 points in the first half. Richards dominated the back boards throughout the game and Junior Gil displayed some superb defensive pressure, leading to easy break-away layups in the first half. Holding an opponent to just two field goals total in the first half proved to be the difference.

The defensive intensity was not quite the same in the final two periods of play. The Ravens actually outscored the Indians 24 to 22 in the third and fourth quarters of the game. The Ravens connected on six 3-point shots in the second half.

But there were some bright spots as well, with senior Keith Taplin scoring 10 points, including two big 3-point shots. Bradley Batten, who was brought up from the JV team for this game, scored 8 points, including back-to-back 3-point shots in the third quarter. Teammates Nick Mamisashvili (6), Luke Lowell-Liszanckie (4), and Wyatt Congdon (2) combined for 12 more points for the Indians. 

Coach Card did an excellent job getting all his players minutes on the court and overall, the team responded well without their leading scorer in the line-up. 

The team recorded a satisfying win on Jan. 31, an away game victory against Southold. Shelter Island has struggled to beat Southold on their home court for the past several years, but that ended with the Indians holding on for a hard-fought win 64-61.

The game couldn’t have started any better. Quigley-Dunning was on fire throughout the first half, hitting on five big 3-point shots and scoring 22 of his game-high 32 points in the opening two periods. When Keith Taplin hit the first of his two 3-point shots, it put the Indians up by a commanding 14 points. But the Settlers weren’t going away quietly, scoring the last 6 points and cutting the lead to 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, senior powerhouse Richards gathered an offensive rebound, which resulted in a jump ball. Then Quigley-Dunning hit another 3-point shot, putting the Indians up by 14 points again, 26-12. But that did not last long. The Settlers fought back for a second time, getting the ball inside and netting some easy lay-ups, cutting the Indian lead to just 1-point, 34-33 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Settlers outscored the Indians 19-15 and enjoyed a 3-point advantage going into the final quarter 52-49.

But the Indians were determined to fight back. In the final 8 minutes they outscored their opponents 15-9. Gil stole the ball, dribbled the length of the court, and scored a lay-up. He wasn’t done, hitting a key 3-point shot to tie the score at 54 all, with 6:20 remaining in the game. The next big play came when Martin played quarterback, throwing a long pass to Quigley-Dunning, who made the reception and finished with a layup, putting the Indians up 58-56. Richards came up with two big rebounds and a steal late in the game.

After the Settlers scored to tie the score, Martin hit the biggest shot of his senior year, a 3-pointer, giving his team a 61-58 lead. Both teams had opportunities to score but it was the Settlers who finally scored, cutting the lead to just 1-point, 61-60. Once again, it was Gil who was fouled with less than 40 seconds to play. He hit both shots, putting his team back up by 3, 63-60. It was then Richards’ turn. He went to the line and connected on the first of two shots, providing the Indians with a 64-60 advantage. Although the Settlers had a couple of opportunities from the free throw line and the floor, they managed just 1 point, losing the game 64-61. 

There was great satisfaction in the Indian locker room over the exciting and well-played game. Coach told his team: “I’m very proud of your performance tonight, guys. You deserved this win”. 

It was a short but wonderful ride back to the Island.