The Eastport South Manor boys basketball team won both of its non-league games this week, first defeating Westhampton Beach (League VI) at home on December 9 by a score of 57-49 before traveling to Southold (League VII) on Friday, December 12, for a 61-53 win.
Against Westhampton Beach, ESM head coach Chris Carlson didn’t think his team played particularly well and said that once his team had a lead it became content and never took the Hurricanes out of the game.
“Westhampton is a team where you have to come ready to play and I don’t think we did,” he said.
Carlson said a reason the game was closer than it should have been was the team’s poor free throw shooting. The Sharks were just nine of 16 from the line in the fourth quarter and 13 of 27 for the entire game.
“We’re a team that definitely has to take advantage of getting points from the free throw line and we didn’t do that against Westhampton,” Carlson said.
Shark Mike Annunziata led all scorers with 25 points, while Curtis Smith was the next high-scorer for ESM with eight points. Tyus Gholson led the Hurricanes with 16 points while Tyler Jones scored 15.
In the game against Southold, ESM started with a 7-0 run, but by halftime the Sharks found themselves down 30-19 after scoring six points in the second quarter. ESM had another hard time at the free throw stripe going two for 10 in the first half and 19 of 31 for the game. Carlson also said his team missed a number of wide open shots but was still able to come back and outscore Southold 42-23 in the second half.
“We increased our defensive intensity,” Carlson said, “hit our free throws. Overall, I’m happy with the W. I guess the positive thing out of the last two games is that we haven’t put together 32 minutes of how we need to play a game.”
Annunziata led all ESM scorers for the second consecutive game with 23 points, while John Kennedy scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half. Pat Fabian scored nine points and had six rebounds and five assists. Southold’s Joe Cepelak scored a game-high 25 points.
Carlson doesn’t know if Annunziata will be the go-to man every night, but he has so far shown that he can handle the load.
“He’s doing a great job,” Carlson said. “He’s a senior that makes the game very simple for himself by playing very well and making wide open three’s. It was really nice to see Kennedy step up against Southold. I think he’s the key for us being successful.”
With ESM heading into a new class (Class AA) and new league (League IV) Carlson doesn’t believe the games will be getting easier for his team. They may actually get tougher.
“We’re learning how to win games,” he said. “We were 12 for 14 from the free throw line in the third quarter against Southold. We also handled the ball really well and that’s how you win close games.”
ESM will be at Miller Place on Monday at 6 p.m.
After the loss to ESM, the Hurricanes came back with a strong 47-44 win at home against Mt. Sinai on Friday, December 12. Westhampton Beach then lost 79-48 at Amityville on Monday.
Mark Podlas led the Hurricanes in the win against Mt. Sinai with 13 points and six rebounds, while Tyler Jones chipped in with 11 points and three steals. Podlas and Jones had a combined 10 points in a 16-9 third quarter which was key in the victory. Troy Vetter scored a career-high 12 points.
In the loss to Amityville, Jones led the Hurricanes with 12 points while the Warriors were led by Darien Croft’s 28 points, which included five three-pointers. Steve Meddard added 14 points and nine rebounds for Amityville.
Westhampton Beach will be home Thursday night to play East Hampton in a League VI matchup which will start at 6:15 p.m.