12/16/11 12:45pm

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | Junior varsity boys basketball team members Carter Brigham, Matthew Dunning, Matthew Murphy and Sawyer Clark get last second instructions from Coach Jay Card on how to finish the game with a win.

The boys junior varsity basketball team kicked off the season on Sunday, December 11 at home with a thrilling and solid win over a strong East Rockaway team, 35-31.

The game started out with good intensity from both teams. Drew Garrison hit two 3-pointers and the score was tied at the end of the first quarter.

The boys played a nice aggressive defense that they switched up almost every trip down the floor. That helped them take a 4-point lead into the locker room at the half.

They came out a little flat for the third quarter and allowed their opponents to cut the lead to 1 at the start of the fourth quarter. At 1:57 remaining in the game, the lead was gone and the Indians were down by 2.

The Rockers had foul trouble and Sawyer Clark and co-captains Matthew Dunning and Drew Garrison hit big foul shots going down the stretch.

Drew led all scorers with 14 points, including two foul shots with 15 seconds left to break a tie score.

The Indians then came out with good defense and forced a turnover with seven seconds left. The next inbounds play resulted in a easy breakaway basket by Drew to seal the game as a last-second shot from half court by East Rockaway fell short.

The Indian bench play was strong. Starter Matthew Dunning got into early foul trouble but exchange student Bac Tran and Matthew Murphy played some very aggressive defense.

Johnny Sturges came off the bench and played solid under the boards. It was nice to watch our bench players contribute. They didn’t score but figured prominently into the game.

The team’s defensive intensity was high. They communicated well on both offense and defense. Riley Willumsen handled the point well and did a nice job getting open shots for the team.

Carter Brigham also made some nice buckets and ended with 5 points. Sawyer Clark had 8 points with three of them important foul shots. The next game is away at Southold on Friday.

11/25/11 12:00pm

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | Senior Megan Mundy will play a pivotal role on the girls’ varsity team.

Despite the NBA lockout, there will be plenty of basketball action this year.

Both the girls and boys Shelter Island teams have started practices and are enthusiastic about the upcoming season.

GIRLS

Coach Peter Miedema heads the girls’ varsity squad while Coach Brian Doelger heads the JV. This dynamic duo is starting their second season together and it is evident they make an excellent combination.

Last year’s varsity squad won the Suffolk Class C/D title and Coach Miedema is just as optimistic this year. “We expect to be the Class D champions and we want to win the league as well. We plan to approach each game expecting, not just hoping, to win. I think there is no team in the league we can’t beat. We are not intimidated at all.”

With 19 athletes between the two squads, the team is deeper than it has been in years. “Last year we sometimes had only six girls available to play, so that could get difficult as the game progressed and we didn’t have much opportunity to rest the players.”

PETER NEEDHAM PHOTO | In a familiar scene, Kelsey McGayhey heads to the basket. Kelsey is hoping to join the 1,000-point club this season.

Seniors Kelsey McGayhey and Megan Mundy are the captains. Megan is a consistent player and a good, calm leader on the court. She will be a threat from the outside. Kelsey has been an outstanding player for Shelter Island. The team’s leading scorer, she is shooting for basketball’s holy grail: 1000 points. She needs about 300 this season to hit that milestone.

With Alexis Gibbs and Saverina Chicka, the team also boasts a tall front court. Both are close or over 6 feet tall and should prove essential at getting rebounds. They should be a great presence in the paint.

Breanna Hallman, Corrine Mahoney and Melissa Ames all played some varsity games last year, so stepping into that higher level should be familiar to them.  Bre and Melissa will be sharing the duties of point guard. Melissa in particular stepped up big in the latter part of the 2010 season. As the point guard against Stony Brook in the C/D championship, she rose to the high-pressure challenge admirably.

Morgan McCarthy is moving up from JV and should cause opponents trouble with her speed and tenacious defense. Jill Calabro is a hard-working player who will see some time as she refines her skills. Senior Haley Willumsen is coming back to basketball after sitting out the past couple of seasons. Coach Miedema appreciates the athleticism and court sense she brings. “She’s crafty. She sees opportunities on the court and will take advantage of a weakness on the other team.”

Coach Doelger is looking forward to working with his squad. “JV is developmental. While we want to win, mostly we are improving skills to move up to the varsity level.” In 2010, the team was successful record-wise and by end of season players moved up to help varsity with their playoff run.

Returning players include sophomores Keri Ann Mahoney and Abbie Ross-Gates. Abbie was the most improved player on the team last year. After not playing in junior high, she focused on her skills and just got better and better, becoming one of the best players on JV. Keri Ann’s height will be a great asset to the team.

First year high school players include sophomores Samantha Capello, Erin Colligan, MeMe Lawrence and Taylor Sherman. MeMe and Taylor switched from cheering to basketball, while Sam and Erin are reviving their junior high skills. Freshman Olivia Garrison and 8th grader Serina Kaasik fill out the remainder of the squad. “The girls are all working hard, and I’m very pleased with their progress,” said Coach Doelger.

BOYS

On the boys side of the gym, varsity coach Mike Mundy, JV coach Jay Card and volunteer assistant Jim Colligan are all very positive about the coming season. “I feel we can be competitive with anyone in the league,” said Coach Mundy. “We should have a deep squad, so we will be able to rotate players and still have a very competent squad on the court. We plan to run an up-tempo game.”

The team lost four seniors and starters from last year. Coach Mundy is seeing this as a growth year but one in which he also expects wins. “There is a love for the game and these guys bring a great work ethic,” he said.

Senior Jim Read, who was the Indians top scorer last year, is expected to lead the squad. Classmate Alex Graffagnino, also returns and will likely run the court as point guard. Juniors Chandler Olinkiewicz at 6 feet, 3 inches, and Aaron Johnson at 6 feet, 2 inches will provide important height and the coaches hope they will dominate in the paint with important rebounds and put-backs as necessary.

Sophomore Matt BeltCappellino is also a returning varsity player. Last year’s “sixth man,” he will be counted on to step up big for the team. Classmate Nathan Mundy will likely make the jump to varsity as well. Both attended an intensive basketball camp over the summer and are eager to bring their enthusiasm and improved understanding of the game to their home court.

While the squads aren’t set yet, Coach Mundy is looking to juniors Myles Clark, Hunter Starzee and Wyatt Brigham to continue developing their skills and contribute as well. Sophomores Riley Willumsen and Drew Garrison, both of whom are good ball handlers, will likely play at both levels as they balance opportunities to gain valuable playing time with getting a taste of the faster varsity game.

JV coach Jay Card brings a dedication to the fundamentals, so necessary as a solid base for higher-level skills. A stickler for proper technique and focus on ball handling skills, he challenges each athlete to constantly improve himself each day. Returning players Matthew Dunning, Carter Brigham and Matthew Murphy can expect to stretch themselves and step up their leadership skills. Exchange student Bac Tran hails from Vietnam and brings a good competitive attitude and a high level of fitness.  Freshmen Johnny Sturges and Sawyer Clark are playing high school ball for the first time but Coach Card is happy to see them working well with the older players.

“We really expect our athletes to be role models and represent the school with pride in all aspects of their lives,” commented Coach Mundy at the parents’ meeting. “I like every one of these kids and I‘m looking forward to a great season with them. If we really play our game, I hope to be headed to playoffs this year.”

With the cool weather approaching, and basketball season heating up it should be a great winter. Come check out the new bleachers in the gym and cheer on your local globetrotters!

01/06/11 12:19am

TED HILLS PHOTO | Varsity starter Jimmy Read takes a turn on the ‘Shoot-A-Way,’ which forces a player to shoot the ball with the proper arc and then passes the ball back.

The Indians have a new tool to improve their basketball skills: a machine that forces a player to shoot the ball with the proper arc. It’s called a “Shoot-A-Way” and the odd-looking device is already a familiar sight at both the Indians boys’ and girls’ practices.


The device, which arrived at the school over the holiday break, hoists three sides of netting around the basketball rim nearly to the height of the top of the backboard. In order to sink a shot, players have to shoot with a high arc, otherwise the ball will bounce off the side of that netting.

Poor shooting percentages have plagued the Indians basketball program. Focusing on the angle of the shots may address the problem, said boys JV Coach Jay Card, who was a driving force behind the acquisition of the machine with help from FIT Center Director Garth Griffin. “Typically the Shelter Island kids have always shot flat,” said Coach Card. Shooting flat, or without an arc, means there’s less chance of squeezing the ball through the rim. “The higher an angle you come down with, the bigger the hole is,” said Coach Card. It also means the ball is more likely to bounce straight up and then fall through, rather than bouncing off the rim at a sharp angle.

The machine will help the players train their muscle memory through lots of repetition of the correct form. “The first day we used it in practice we took 3,000 shots,” Coach Card explained. The raised netting collects missed and sunk shots and funnels them into the bottom of the machine, which then shoots a ball back out at players, so they don’t have to run around collecting balls.

It also counts how many shots are made and missed to calculate a shooting percentage, which is displayed on a digital scoreboard on the base of the machine. The device can be set to shoot the ball to as many as 17 locations on a semicircle, and at different distances, so it can be used for a variety of drills. It even prints a readout that coaches may use to reward players who work on their shots outside of practice and during the off-season.

The machine cost approximately $6,000, including the price of shipping it to the school. Most of the cost was paid through the FIT Center equipment fund, though the Shelter Island School and the Shelter Island Youth Soccer Association also contributed money. The machine is available to the public, said Mr. Griffin. He’s working out a schedule for when the public can use the machine, likely an hour or two in the evenings once indoor sport season is over and the gym is less busy. Even if you’re not a basketball player, he said, “The thing’s a great workout.”

It will take some time for the machine’s benefit to show up in the Indians’ win/loss column, according to Coach Card. “They still need to translate what they do here in practice out on to the basketball court … You could be a good practice shooter on this thing but when you get a little bit of pressure, a little bit of defense, a little bit of nerves, then everything changes.”

Though many older players may already be set in their ways, Coach Card hopes to see this device help change the game for future generations of varsity players.

Current Indians players are still eager for it to help improve their game. Junior varsity player Myles Clark, who demonstrated the machine for the Reporter, said “Hopefully we can do better with it this year and in years to come.”

11/24/10 2:59am


TED HILLS PHOTO | Varsity basketball coach Mike Mundy explains the finer points of free-throw shooting.

The beginning of a sports season is always exciting, and the boys and girls basketball teams’ first practices last week were no exception. “Just getting back in the gym, it really gets your blood going,” explained JV girls Coach Brian Doelger, a new coach this year, after the girls’ November 18 practice. “For me, it was definitely the best day of the year so far.”


The athletes will be practicing hard over the next few weeks to prepare for their first games in December, and they, along with Coach Doelger and the other coaches, are hoping their enthusiasm along with plenty of hard work will translate into victories for the Indians players.

YOUNG ROSTER FOR BOYS

The boys squad is a much younger team this year, with a huge influx of new players. JV Coach Jay Card, who in 2008 coached junior high basketball, is looking forward to working with the athletes: “This is a bunch of kids that have started with me in junior high, and so I’ve been working with these kids on fundamentals from way back. I expect to pick up where we left off and continue forward.”

“We have a huge set of enthusiastic young players” varsity Coach Mundy said of the 10 freshmen and 5 sophomores on the court during the team’s November 18 practice.

After nine varsity boys graduated this past spring, there are few upperclassmen on the roster: just three juniors and four seniors. Coach Mundy and Coach Card haven’t figured out yet which of the 22 players will play varsity and which will fill out the JV roster.

Whether rookie or veteran, all players will have plenty to work on this season. Coach Mundy is hoping to keep the team in tip-top physical shape: “We’re not going to win games on our height, so we want to be fast.”

He’s stressing defense this season, he said, and is running drills that help the boys improve their shot percentage, a weak point of past Indians teams.

The varsity boys may have a tough season ahead of them: Smithtown Christian, a team the Indians consistently beat in past seasons, isn’t fielding a varsity basketball team this year, and the Southampton squad kept their skills sharp in a summer basketball league.

But in addition to coaches Mundy and Card, the team will benefit from volunteer coach Jim Colligan, who coached basketball in the Carle Place district for over 30 years. This is his second year with the Indians. “He’s a tremendous asset to us,” said Coach Mundy.

The varsity boys open their season at noon on December 11 at McGann-Mercy. JV boys play their first game on December 16 on the Island at 4 p.m. against Ross.

GIRLS HIT THE COURT

Just eight girls took to the court for their  first basketball practice last week – the other nine were gearing up for the state volleyball championships this past weekend and couldn’t risk an injury. But even with just half the team, varsity Coach Peter Miedema was excited about what he saw: “In the few drills that we worked on, from the start until the end, they picked it up and they were able to apply it … It’s always a good feeling when you see the girls’ energy and positivity.”

Coach Miedema is already seeing small improvements, he said at the end of practice. “We started an hour- and-a-half ago, and now we’re better athletes and better basketball players, and that’s all that we can ask for.”

The JV girls will be led by new coach, Brian Doelger, who just last June was voted Suffolk County Coach of the Year. He’ll serve as a “new voice to inspire the kids,” Coach Miedema said.

Last year, he coached basketball at Half Hollow Hills High School. Before that he coached King’s Park High School for one year and at Saint Anthony’s for five. He said he’s excited to be coaching here on the Island.

Coach Miedema didn’t have a projection for how the girls on the whole will perform: “I’m not going to say, ‘We’re going to win this many games.’ The girls are going to go out and be better than they were last year, and that’s all I can ask for.”

The coaches will decide soon who will play on varsity and who will play on JV.

The first girls JV game is at Southampton at 3 p.m. on December 3 and the first varsity game is on Shelter Island at 6:15 p.m. the same day against East Hampton.