It’s quite obvious by now that the Eastport South Manor boys basketball team has anyone’s number in the Coaches v. Cancer Holiday Tournament at Hampton Bays High School. For the third consecutive season, the Sharks won the annual tournament, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, with a 59-26 victory over host Hampton Bays on December 28. ESM had defeated Mount Sinai, 70-63, the previous day to reach the finals.
ESM head coach Chris Carlson agreed that his team enjoys playing in the tournament year in and year out. “It’s something, first of all, that [Hampton Bays head coach] Pete Meehan does a great job with. They raise a lot of money, so it has some meaning to it. And we play in that small gym in the spring and fall leagues and one of our goals each season is to win that tournament.”
The Sharks (1-2 League V, 4-3 overall) led Hampton Bays only 10-6 after the first quarter, but they ramped up their defensive intensity and outscored the Baymen 19-1 in the second quarter to take a 29-7 lead at halftime. Three seniors—Mike Cestare, Dennis Sullivan and Chris Goncalves—all sparked ESM in that second frame, scoring 16 of the team’s 19 points. Sullivan finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Cestare had 12 points and Goncalves had 10 points to go with his 17 rebounds.
ESM never relinquished the lead in its win over Mount Sinai, but there were points in the game where things got close. The Sharks led by 17 points midway through the second quarter, but the Mustangs cut the lead to nine by halftime. Again, ESM built a 17-point lead only to win by seven points.
“We don’t know how to put teams away,” Carlson explained. “I think the kids thought the game was over. [Mount Sinai] got some quick buckets, though, and they were right back in the game. That’s something that we have to work on.”
Goncalves had a career game with 28 points and 17 rebounds. Sullivan filled up the stat sheet with 27 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, and he has really turned things on heading toward the second half of the season.
“He’s averaging points in the low 20s, and that’s not only something I expect from him but something we need from him,” Carlson said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence and intensity and I’m hoping that will carry over to the other guys a little bit.”
ESM had a non-league game with East Hampton postponed, due to the snowstorm, to January 24, with a time to be determined. The Sharks get into the bulk of their League V schedule this week. They hosted Rocky Point on Tuesday and will play at Harborfields on Friday. Carlson is hoping his team can start winning the games it needs to so it can reach the postseason, but it won’t be easy.
“I’ve been coaching 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids now for a while and you never really know what you’re going to get out of them,” he said. “Every night we talk about being ready to play basketball and the ups and downs you go through every season. Hopefully we’re on an up.
“I’ve seen every team in our league though now and everyone is pretty tough,” he continued. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. You have to be ready to play.”
The ESM girls basketball team split its two games in the inaugural Anthony Parlato “Help Someone Today” Memorial Tournament at Center Moriches High School on December 27 and 28. The Lady Sharks lost, 48-37, to Bayport/Blue Point on December 27, but they rebounded with a 36-32 victory over Center Moriches the next day.
ESM junior Samantha Giacolone stepped up her game in the fourth quarter in the victory over Center Moriches. She scored eight of the team’s 10 points in the final quarter and capped the victory with two free throws with 10 seconds remaining in the game. Giacolone was 7 of 8 from the line throughout the game and was 4 for 4 in the fourth quarter. She finished with 11 points, while senior Rebecca Tooker scored all eight of her points in the first half.
ESM (0-3 League V, 3-6 overall) held a tight, two-point lead over Bayport in the first game of the tournament, but the Lady Phantoms went on a 16-5 run in the third to take the lead for good. Giacolone finished with 14 points.
With the second half of the season quickly approaching, it’s appearing more likely that senior Kristen Anderson will not be returning this season after suffering a leg injury before the season began. ESM head coach Steve Giacolone said there was no update to her status as of this week.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Boys—Friday, 1/10, at Harborfields, 6 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/14, vs. Comsewogue, 5:45 p.m. Girls—Friday, 1/10, vs. Harborfields, 5:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/14, at Comsewogue, 5:45 p.m.