Playing basketball isn’t just about playing basketball. The Shelter Island girls junior high team is through the majority of their season, and the athletes have learned that lesson, as well as many other things.
Sportsmanship isn’t just a fuzzy, feel-good thing, it’s an essential part of playing sports.
When the team played the Southold White team in February, the Southold coach assessed the situation. His team had more depth and experience than the Islanders.
He rotated his players, worked hard on perfecting plays and situational decisions. That meant that Shelter Island had the same opportunity without the pressure of scoring points. A classic win-win situation.
Well done, coach.
After the Mattituck Blue game, one of the Tucker athletes came over to personally apologize for her teammates’ behavior. She singled out an Island player who had been on the receiving end of some mean-spirited remarks, and told her what a good game she had played.
Celebrations are both fun and important milestones. At the last home game before the February break, hand-drawn signs decorated the gym, highlighting each player. At the end of the final practice where masks were mandatory, the crew celebrated the new guidelines by tossing their masks graduation-hat style into the air. Hooray!
Winning isn’t important, your team is. Coach Laura Mayo likes winning as much as the next coach, but that’s not how she measures success. After a tough road trip on March 10, she showed up at practice the next day in a sloth onesie.
Having fun while learning new things and getting better?
Basketball-wise, things are also moving along. Scoring is beginning to be spread out. In the Southold Red match up both Rosie Hanley and Lili Kuir scored their first points of the season. In the Mattituck Blue game, it was apparent that more athletes were making good decisions about when to shoot, and becoming confident enough to put up a shot.
Following the February break, Jade Samuelson transferred to the Springs School, reducing the team to 10 players for the remainder of the season. Coach Mayo noted that she misses Jade and wishes her well at her new school.
The March 10 game against the Greenport Purple squad was very evenly matched. The Porters would score and almost invariably the Islanders would answer back.
Sadie Green-Clark is becoming more aggressive on the court and made a nice defensive play to stop a Greenport fast break. Heads up out-of-bounds plays are paying dividends.
Elena Schack often handles the ball in these situations, and she hit a wide-open Rosie Hanley, who promptly sank a basket.
Madison Sobejana hit a great shot on another out of bounds play, and the team mobbed her in celebration.
Keili Osorio showed great intensity on the court and had a really nice game defensively. Lili Kuir is really quick and developing into a nice ball handler.
Kyra Sciacchitano is working really hard on improving her dribbling, and elated Coach Mayo in practice as she effortlessly employed a spin move to get away from defenders. She also had the greatest deny in the Porter game, as she cleanly knocked a ball out of an opponent’s hand to force a turnover.
Mae Brigham is a very positive player and is improving her court sense while maintaining her high rebounding average. Mandy Marcello and Lauren Gibbs are both take-charge players and bring up the intensity on the court, as well as being scoring threats.
The intense and exciting game ended with Greenport outscoring the Islanders 14-11, but a rematch is scheduled for March 14 and the result could easily be flipped.
The athletes are always working far harder than the scoreboard shows. The true test is when they walk off the court with smiles. Invariably after the game ends, younger kids flood out onto the court to shoot baskets. With winter boots and coats on they try to emulate the older players, reflecting the joy of game.
The final home game of the season will be on March 23 at 4 p.m. against the Southold White squad. Come cheer on the team!