After its two victories last week, the Westhampton Beach boys basketball team is off to its best start since the 2010-2011 season with a 3-0 overall record.
The Hurricanes won their first two League V games of the season, the first being a 51-42 victory over Eastport South Manor at home on December 11. That marked the program’s first league victory since January 25, 2011, when the Canes defeated Elwood/John Glenn, 72-55.
Westhampton Beach (2-0 in League V play, 3-0 overall) also won, 66-56, at Sayville on Thursday, December 12, to go to 2-0 in League V. The pair of league wins were also the first under second-year head coach John Baumiller.
“I’m trying to bring a mentality of ‘not too high, not too low,’” he said. “We won a [non-league] game last year, and we acted like we won the championship. You can’t get too high over it, but you also can’t get too low about your losses. As long as we can go out there and compete, that’s all I’m asking from the guys right now.
“Our goal is to win as many games as we possibly can so we can finish with a winning record and make the playoffs,” Baumiller added. “The guys are doing the same thing they’ve done all year. They won games in the spring and summer too, so we’ll try and keep it going.”
There was a boisterous student section on hand for the Canes first home game of the season against crosstown rival ESM last week, but Westhampton Beach came out of the gates cold. The Sharks held an 8-0 lead after the first quarter, and Baumiller thought his team came out a little tight in front of the home crowd.
“You’re going to have bad periods,” Baumiller said. “The season is a marathon, not a sprint. Thing is, you still have to play defense and rebound even when your offense isn’t there, and I thought the kids did that.”
Westhampton Beach junior Devonte Dixon awoke in the second quarter and scored 15 of his game-high 25 points. The Canes outscored the Sharks 20-16 in the quarter to go into halftime trailing by just four points. Westhampton Beach then held ESM to just six points in the third quarter to take the lead. Westhampton Beach senior John Frangeskos hit a key three-pointer with about three minutes remaining in the game to seal the deal for the Canes.
John Frangeskos finished with five points, as did fellow senior Luke Dyer. Mike Frangeskos dropped in 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Canes overcame a strong third quarter by Sayville last week, in which the Golden Flashes outscored Westhampton Beach, 24-11. Sayville got big three-point plays from players that Baumiller said he didn’t even scout. But the Canes changed their defensive game plan in the fourth and responded with a 24-8 quarter of their own to pull away.
Dixon finished with 26 points, while Dyer had 18, and Mike Frangeskos had 12. While Dixon was the leading scorer, it was Dyer and Frangeskos who rallied the team, combing for 12 points in the final frame.
Trailing 20-10 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Westhampton Beach girls basketball team rallied for a 29-27 victory at ESM on December 11. It was the third victory in a row for the Lady Hurricanes, though they dropped their following two games. After losing, 51-29, at home to Sayville on Friday, Westhampton Beach lost, 49-36, at home to Mattituck in a non-league game on Saturday.
Failing to get anything going offensively the first three quarters at ESM last week, the Lady Canes were able to turn things around with a 15-6 fourth quarter. Sophomore Shea Casey scored off a low-post feed from senior captain Lauren Smith with 40 seconds remaining in regulation and it gave Westhampton Beach the lead and eventual victory. ESM was able to get off a last-second three-point shot, but it rimmed out.
The Lady Canes (1-1 in League V play, 3-2 overall) wound up having a balanced scoring attack, led by junior Kathleen Mensch’s eight points. Smith had seven points, senior captain Brooke Alpert had six, and senior Ivonne Grunseich added four points.
Westhampton Beach head coach Mike Polan said the difference in the second half was his team’s defense, particularly from Alpert and junior Kennedy Skala, who had key steals that led to points. Another key was keeping ESM junior Samantha Giacolone to just five points. Junior Nijay Brown scored 18 of ESM’s 27 points.
“ESM is always a hard place to play for us,” he said. “It’s a big gym with a lot of space behind the backboards. We just kept trapping and pressing to get some easy opportunities offensively.
“Our biggest problem is turnovers, though,” Polan added. “We have to slow down offensively and not rush. We have to know when to go and when not to, and I think that’s going to come with time.”
Westhampton Beach committed 28 turnovers in the loss to Sayville; still, the Lady Canes trailed by just seven points by halftime. Sayville went on to outscore the Lady Canes, 30-15, in the second half. Casey led the team with nine points.
Westhampton Beach played better in the loss to Mattituck, as the team trailed, 36-29, going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Tuckers pulled away with a 16-7 final quarter. Smith had 10 points in the loss.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Boys—Thursday, 12/19, at Harborfields, 6 p.m.; Monday, 12/23, at Port Jefferson, 12 p.m. Girls—Thursday, 12/19, vs. Harborfields, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 1/3, at Miller Place, 11:45 a.m.