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Shelter Island varsity basketball team showing strength: Take on big schools and are competitive

The Shelter Island School varsity basketball team hosted the Killer Bees from Bridgehampton on Friday, Jan. 26. Although the Islanders lost the game 65-44, the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

This might have been the best overall team performance this season, maybe even better than the huge win on the road earlier this month against Ross. 

The home crowd last Friday appreciated the effort and execution, giving the team a standing ovation at the end of the game.

Although the Islanders fell behind early, they did a superb job breaking the press in the backcourt with excellent spacing and good passing. Most of the team’s turnovers occurred in the front court and led to steals and easy transition layups. The Killer Bees are known for their defense with quick hands and jumping into passing lanes.

Nevertheless, the Islanders demonstrated growth and determination and cut the lead to 31-21 just before halftime.

In the 2nd half, the Islanders played much better defense by denying their opponents easy access into the lane. They also cut down on their turnovers and did a better job getting back on defense, taking away those transition baskets. 

On the offensive end, the Islanders were more patient, continued to get the ball inside, which resulted in higher percentage shots, and more importantly, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. The Islanders made a very respectable 18 of 26 free throw attempts (70%).

The coaches emphasized this in the locker room at the end of the game with their players. The team did not shoot well from behind the 3-point line, connecting on just 2 of 17 attempts. The lesson learned was that “good things happen” when players can drive the lane or get the ball inside from the pass.

The team was led by Harrison Weslek with 15 points with an impressive 7 of 8 from the free throw line and Evan Weslek with 13 points, including 6 of 8 from the free throw line.

The difference in this game was the result of getting scoring from five additional Islanders, including Jose Frausto (5 points), Hayden Davidson (4), Harry Clark (4), Daniel Hernandez Rivera (2) and Leo Dougherty (1); they combined for an additional 16 points overall.

Shelter Island hosted the Settlers from Southold on Wednesday, Jan. 24, but came up short in the win column. 

The Islander’s varsity fell to the Settlers by a score of 62-39. Jack Sepenoski (14 points), Tristan Zugmeyer (12) and Jacob Steinfeld (10) combined for 36 of the Settler’s 62 points. Nine of the ten players from Southold scored in this game.

The Islanders were led by Harrison Weslek (17 points), Evan Weslek (12) and Hayden Davidson (6) for a total of 35 of the team’s 39 points.

The Settlers immediately went to a full court zone press to begin the game. The Islanders, who have struggled throughout the year against full-court pressure, demonstrated some skill and patience, especially early in the game. Their spacing was much better and they relied much more on passing the ball, as opposed to trying to dribble the ball into a trapping full-court defense.

But the Islanders didn’t initially defend the 3-point shot well and the Settlers took advantage of some high percentage shots from behind the arc, as Sepenoski, scored a quick 9 points. That helped the Settlers build a comfortable 25-9 lead by the end of the 1st quarter.

But in the 2nd half of play, the Islanders came alive, switching to a much more effective man-to-man defense, and opening up better scoring opportunities late in the game. The Islanders actually outscored the Settlers 26-23 in the 2nd half of play. That was satisfying to the coaching staff and the players. The coaches addressed these points with the team in the locker room and have always reinforce a positive attitude about working toward improving their individual and team performance.

This is a much more balanced attack and should serve as a clear indication of what needs to be done, if the team is going to improve its chances in this league. Although, the team should never be satisfied with losing, it is important to recognize that there has been growth and improvement and to commit to building on this moving forward.