Shelter Island boys varsity basketball team hosted Smithtown Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 25. There was no junior varsity game scheduled.
The Islanders played their best game of the year, eventually losing to the visiting Knights by a score of 54-33. But that does not begin to tell the story of this game.
The Islanders jumped out to an amazing 15-6 lead in the 1st quarter. Junior guard Bazzy Quigley Dunning (10) and freshman guard Harrison Weslek (5) combined for all 15 points. Quigley Dunning ignited the offense, scoring three 3-point shots in the last minute of the period. Weslek also scored the opening points off a baseline inbounds play, cutting to the basket and finishing off a driving lay-up. Weslek had scored on a 3-point shot as well from the left-wing.
The Islanders played an aggressive 2-3 zone in the opening period, securing four steals and forcing four turnovers. This helped to negate the eight turnovers the Islanders committed. The team also did a solid job on the defensive boards, limiting the Knights to one shot.
But the Knight’s head coach, Dan Skaritka, inserted his normal starting line-up into the game at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. The Knights defense tightened and became more aggressive, as the Knights outscored the Islanders 18-0 to post a 24-15 halftime lead.
During the 3rd quarter, Quigley Dunning and Hayden Davidson connected on 3-point shots and Elijah Davidson added a free throw, but the Islanders fell behind 45-22 by the end of the quarter.
In the 4th quarter, Hayden Davidson (2) and Quigley Dunning (1) hit three 3-point shots early in the period, closing the score to 47-32.
But the last impression of this game was when Coach Zack Mundy and Coach Skaritka got together on the sidelines and discussed some “late game” strategy — a highly unusual happening during a game.
Apparently, neither Nick Rubino (Smithtown Christian), nor Nathan Hernandez (Shelter Island), had scored a single point at the varsity level throughout the 2021-22 season. The other players and officials became part of this scheme. When was the last time you witnessed an official coaching a player on the foul line?
The crowd really got into this wonderful display of sportsmanship, cheering on both players as they shot their free throws. With just 3.4 seconds remaining in the game, and after missing his first 5 free throws, Hernandez made his final attempt, and the crowd went wild.
Then it was Rubino’s turn, he made both of his foul shots, as the home crowd acknowledged his success by giving him a standing ovation. The game ended with the Knights winning by a final score of 54-33.
Hats off to Bazzy Quigley Dunning on scoring a career high 16 points, including five big three-point shots. Sophomore guard Hayden Davidson scored a season high 9 points, hitting on three 3-point shots. The team had a total of 11 field goals, with a season high nine 3-pointers, totaling 27 of their 33 points.
Congratulations to both teams, the coaches, the officials and the fans for demonstrating the kind of sportsmanship that elevates the high school athletic experience for everyone. This was by far, the most rewarding and satisfying game of the year.
When Coach Skaritka was congratulated after the game for his outstanding sportsmanship, he stated, “I’ve been there,” as most coaches have over their careers. Nevertheless, some coaches get it and some place winning as the pinnacle of success. Both coaches and the officials put players first and it made for a much better experience for all.
Coach Mundy said that “this was our best game offensively” and that “we need to build on tonight’s game.”
The game on Friday, Jan. 28 at The Ross School has been canceled due to adopted COVID policies at the host school. The next game will be on Tuesday, Feb.1, at Shelter Island against Southold. The JV game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the varsity game is at 4:45 p.m.
Come out and support your team.