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‘No quit’ Shelter Island varsity boys basketball team opens season

The Shelter Island School boys varsity basketball team dropped its season opener on the road at The Ross School on Dec. 9 by a score of 48-38. 

Coach Zach Mundy started two seniors (Bazzy Quigley Dunning and Luca Martinez), one junior (Hayden Davidson), one sophomore (Harrison Weslek) and one 8th grader (Evan Weslek).

The Islanders dressed just seven players, with only one player over 6 feet, senior Sebastian Romero. Junior guard D’Andre Ealy came off the bench, along with Romero.

The team had lost two key players earlier in the pre-season; senior Elijah Davidson suffered a hand injury and junior Jose Frausto injured his back.  Both players might miss the entire winter season.

The Islanders fell behind 9-4 in the Ross game by the end of the 1st quarter, with Ross playing a strong man-to-man defense and Shelter Island defending by utilizing a 2-3 zone. But the Weslek brothers caught fire during the next eight minutes, scoring all 14 points for the Islanders, helping them post an 18-14 halftime lead.

Harrison hit on three field goals, two from behind the arc, as well as a free throw, totaling 9 points. Younger brother Evan also scored his first varsity points, hitting a 2-point and 3-point shot for an additional 5 points. The Islander defense played well, outscoring the Cosmos 14 to 5 in the second quarter.

In the 3rd quarter, the Cosmos made some adjustments offensively, successfully getting the ball inside, as well as taking an advantage on their offensive boards. Most of their scoring were lay-ups off missed shots and an offensive rebound.

The Cosmos enjoyed a significantly taller line-up and their size advantage was the real difference in this game. Harrison Weslek and Sebastian Romero hit some big 3-point shots to help keep the score close, with the Cosmos taking a 6-point lead, 31–25, at the end of the 3rd quarter.

The Cosmos then went on a decisive 18-0 run and built a commanding 45–25 lead during the end of the 3rd quarter and the first five minutes of the 4th. But the Islanders responded with 13 quick points, hitting three 3-point shots, one 2-pointer and two free throws.

Harrison actually scored on a 4-point play, as he was fouled on a successful shot from beyond the arc.

Both the coaching staff and the Shelter Island fans were appreciative of the no-quit attitude from their team.

The Islanders were led by Harrison Weslek who had a game-high 19 points. Hayden Davidson added 7 points, along with Bazzy Quigley Dunning with 4 points, Evan Weslek’s 5 points and Romero’s 3 points. 

The Islanders shot 7 of 14 (50%) from the free throw line, while the Cosmos were a dismal 5 of 23 (22%). But the big men from Ross accounted for 16 of the teams’ 20 two-point field goals from inside the lane. That was the difference in this game.

Joining the coaching staff is the retired and now volunteer Coach Jay Card Jr., who is helping Coach Mundy and Coach Dunning with the varsity and junior varsity teams. Coach Mundy and Coach Card were extremely positive with their players following the game.

The biggest challenges for the coaching staff will be trying to keep the team healthy, which is imperative with only seven players currently on the roster.

This year’s varsity team has definitely made progress since last year. The team has improved their ball handling and passing skills, which should significantly lower the number of turnovers the team suffered last year. In addition, their ability to score, both from the outside and driving the ball to the basket, will help put points on the board.

But defensive rebounding needs to improve because the team’s overall size is lacking. Learning to deny passes into the paint is a must and may limit the team’s ability to apply pressure on the perimeter. But this will help them limit dribble penetration and passing lanes into the paint.

It also will bring all five defenders into a better position to grab defensive rebounds, limiting their opponents to just one shot. 

The good news: It’s early in the season and the team seems focused on working hard to improve both their individual and team skills.