The Shelter Island girls junior high basketball team got out to a fast start, winning its first two games of the season. Then came the winter break and, unfortunately, some rust set in.
In the first game back, Harper Congdon wasn’t available to play, so the squad was down to the bare minimum of five players.
The upside? Lots of playing time. The downside? When the opposing team has 10 players there are fresh legs on the court at regular intervals, and it can literally be hard to keep up.
On Thursday, Feb. 25, Mattituck Blue showed that it had both depth and skill on its side. They were focused, and able to get out to a fast start, which proved difficult to overcome. The Tuckers went on to win, 30-14.
The Shelter Island team showed that it’s continuously learning. The three 7th graders are demonstrating steady improvement. Janet Carbajal is already markedly more confident. She had a very nice take-away, deftly tipping the ball away from a Tucker on the dribble.
Jennie Fabian Santos’s ready smile belies her competitive side. She’s continuing to ramp up her effectiveness, fighting hard for loose balls. Danae Carter is also warming to the game. While still a bit timid on offense, she’s definitely starting to learn the plays. Learning to read the defense and better body positioning is becoming second nature.
Katie Gulluscio, an 8th grader, isn’t a tall player, but she is fierce. She uses her body well, both boxing out under the basket for rebounds and dribbling the ball in traffic. She also has a never-say-die attitude, running down the fast-breaking Tuckers, even late in the final quarter.
Sophie Clark is the team’s main ball handler. As the point guard, she directs the offense. At the end of the third quarter Coach Laura Mayo encouraged her to, “Tell them what you want to run.” Acting as the on-court coach, Clark quickly called a play and the team dropped into position.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Carbajal’s ankle started giving her problems, and suddenly the Island team only had four available players. The Mattituck coach, understanding the concept of junior high sports as a learning environment, withdrew one of his players as well. The teams played four on four, until Carbajal was able to return to play.
Despite their fatigue, the Island girls seemed to find a new gear and went on an unanswered 8-0 scoring run in the middle of the fourth quarter. Clark put up a team-high 12 points overall. She also pulled down seven rebounds, while Gulluscio’s two steals led the team.
At the end of the game, Coach Mayo reflected that she is looking forward to getting back into a rhythm with regular practices, and having the girls become comfortable with new plays. The athletes agreed, looking forward to pushing on through the heart of the season.
The season continues through the middle of March