The Pierson Whalers junior varsity and varsity basketball teams came to Shelter Island Dec. 16 for games against the Islanders. In the first game, the Island JV lost to the visitors from Sag Harbor by a score of 77-26.
Although the score was lopsided, the Shelter Island JV co-coaches, Matt Dunning and Erin Mulrain, saw progress, especially at the offensive end. “We did some good things and accomplished some of our goals,” Coach Dunning said, This included challenging individual players to work on specific skills on the court, and team goals, which focused on scoring additional points.
The Whalers jumped out to a quick 28-2 lead in the 1st quarter. Hayden Davidson led the JV team with 13 points, including three 3-point shots. Madison Springer, Noah Green, Sophie Clark and Jose Frausto combined for the team’s remaining 13 points.
Coach Dunning pointed out that it’s difficult to work on specific team strategies, since the JV practices with varsity team, emphasizing specific skills development.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the varsity hosted a strong Pierson team. The Whalers look like the best team in the league due to their seasoned varsity experience, talent and size. However, it was obvious that Pierson Coach Will Fujita talked to his team prior to the game about sportsmanship. The coach didn’t employ any kind of pressing defenses, played a very disciplined game with lots of passing prior to field goal attempts, and kept the tempo of the game at a reasonable level, with no attempts to run up the score.
All 11 players for the Whalers got plenty of playing time and all ended up scoring. Even the officials did an outstanding job keeping the game under control and not calling meaningless fouls.
The Whalers jumped out to a 26-2 lead in the 1st quarter, and all 13 field goals were off layups. Only one of these layups came off a fast break, four others resulted from offensive rebounds and put-backs, and the remaining eight came from backdoor cuts to the basket.
There is no doubt that the interior passing was a major part of the Whalers offensive strategy, and that their overall team size helped them dominate the backboards.
On a very positive note, the Islanders committed far less turnovers in this game, a total of 20 for the entire game. But scoring still remains a problem for the team.
“We take it day by day, trying to emphasize one skill at a time,” Coach Zack Mundy said,
Once again, freshman Harrison Weslek (7) and Elijah Davidson (4) combined for all 11 team points.
It’s imperative, if the team wants to continue to improve, that patience, emphasis on skills development and acknowledging that frustration can be self-defeating, are all realities when trying to rebuild the program. I believe that the coaching staff understands this and is trying its best to maintain a positive approach with their players.
As parents and fans, we too need to be supportive and encourage these young athletes to strive to do their best.