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Totally turning it around: Boys varsity basketball team wins three games in six days

The Shelter Island High School boys varsity basketball team have officially turned their shortened season around, earning three hard-fought wins in a row — including a thrilling come-from-behind victory — bringing their League VIII record to 3-3.  

Coach Peter Miedema said Pierson, just weeks ago, decided to withdraw from all winter sports due to COVID-19 concerns. That game will be recorded as a forfeiture, thus putting the Islander record at 4-3 going into the final games of the season.

Success began with a big 56-43 win over Bridgehampton on February 15 on the Islanders’ home court, led by senior Junior Gill, who scored a season high 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, as well as dishing out four assists. Gill is one of the top players in League VIII and has continued to impress every opponent the Islanders have faced. 

Seniors Bradley Batten and Nick Mamisashvili each scored 9 points, with Jalil Carter and Brandon Velasquez combining for 9 additional points. The team enjoyed a 27-18 halftime lead and never looked back. 

The Killer Bees were led by Chris Vinski who scored 13 points.

On February 17, the Islanders hosted Southold and put forth a tremendous team effort, earning a 50-33 win. Once again, Gill (28 points) and Batten (21 points) combined for 49 of the teams 50 points. The team also shot an amazing 9 of 13 from behind the arc (3-point line) with Batten hitting a season high six 3-pointers. Gill also led his team in rebounding with 16 from both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

Finally, the Islanders traveled to Bridgehampton on Sunday, February 21 for their first game at the Killer Bees new home court. 

The Islanders fell behind 31-23 at halftime and still trailed by 8 points after the 3rd quarter of play (41-33). But during the final quarter, the Islanders outscored the Killer Bees by a 16-6 margin, earning a 49-47 come-from-behind win on the road. 

Coach Miedema stated that this was a “total team win” with six different players scoring. Junior Gill (17), Jalil Carter (11) and Nick Mamisashvili (9) combined for 37 of the team’s 49 team points. 

Coach Miedema said, “With all of the issues that this team has faced, I could not be more proud of my players”.  

During the final minutes of the game, Coach Miedema told his team, “Let’s just go out there and win this game,” and they did in an exciting way.

With less than 15 seconds remaining, Gill stole the ball and went coast-to-coast, scoring a lay-up that gave the Islanders the 2-point lead. Matthew Straus, who is recovering from a slight ankle sprain, returned to the line-up and scored 4 points. He went to the line with a 2-point lead, but missed the front end of a 1 and 1, as the Killer Bees called a timeout with just .9 seconds remaining in the game. 

Bridgehampton inbounded the ball deep in the backcourt and after one dribble, launched a desperation shot which was off the mark.

The Islanders recorded their third straight win in the last six days. That marked the fourth straight win over Bridgehampton in the last two years.

The team will be facing the defending Class “D” Champion, Smithtown Christian on Monday, February 22 at home. The game will be covered in next week’s edition.

The Islanders are trying to qualify for the League VIII Championship game. There will be no county, regional or state championships held this year due to COVID. The playoff picture will be determined with the top two teams in League VIII, qualifying for a one-game, “League Championship.”

Congratulations to the boys varsity basketball team and continued good luck moving forward.