It’s now or never for the Eastport South Manor boys basketball team. According to head coach Chris Carlson, this week’s games will determine whether or not the Sharks make the playoffs.
ESM already played Comsewogue on Tuesday, but have a rematch at home with cross-town rival Westhampton Beach on Friday at 5:45 p.m. The Hurricanes defeated the Sharks, 51-42, back on December 11, but ESM has been playing well of late, winning three of their last four games, dating back to December 27.
“We’re playing very good basketball right now and I like our chances in both games,” Carlson said.
Last week, ESM (2-3 League V, 5-4 overall) split its two games. After defeating Rocky Point, 68-56, at home on January 7, the Sharks lost, 66-57, at undefeated Harborfields.
ESM had its way, for the most part, with Rocky Point. It was up by as many as 25 points with three minutes remaining in the game. The Eagles put in a last-ditch effort against ESM’s second string but to no avail. ESM senior Dennis Sullivan scored 20 points to go with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Senior Chris Goncalves scored 13 points and brought down 10 rebounds. Mike Cestare, another senior, really sparked the Sharks in the first half, scoring 10 of his 15 points through the first two quarters. He also dished out six assists.
“If we can get those numbers out of those guys on a consistent basis we’ll be in great shape,” Carlson said. “We really needed [Cestare]to get going like that. He’s really the catalyst of our offense. He may not score a lot of points but he brings the ball down the court for us and distributes the ball real well.”
ESM played a well-fought game at Harborfields last week. The Sharks were down by as many as 19 points at one point, but they were able to turn things around and faced just a five-point deficit with a minute to go in the game. A costly turnover, though, and then a foul allowed the Tornadoes to stay ahead for good. Sullivan finished with 20 points for the Sharks, while Goncalves finished up with 16.
Carlson thinks it’ll be interesting when Harborfields visits ESM later this season. The Tornadoes have dominated League V the past two years, but Carlson thinks they’re beatable this season. “I was very, very happy with how hard we played,” Carlson said. “Next time we play them, as long as we don’t make as many turnovers, I have a good feeling about it. They’re not the team they had been in years past. I think they’re very vulnerable right now.”
The ESM girls basketball team won its first League V game of the season on December 7, a 43-37 victory at Rocky Point. The Lady Sharks then lost, 58-28, at home to Harborfields on Friday night.
ESM was trailing by six points with about four minutes remaining against Rocky Point. Rebecca Tooker, a senior, and sophomore Samantha Giacolone sparked the Lady Sharks’ comeback. Tooker finished with 12 points while Giacolone had 10.
“We haven’t proved anything so any win is good for us,” ESM head coach Steve Giacolone said. “We’re struggling offensively. We played pretty well defensively, but we still have to find ways to score.”
ESM kept up with Harborfields on Friday night, trailing by just seven points at halftime, and then 11 by the end of the third. But the Lady Tornadoes wound up being too much for the Lady Sharks, using a 21-2 fourth quarter to make it a 30-point game.
“Harborfields is so deep they don’t miss a beat,” Giacolone said. “We were trapping and pressing pretty much the whole game and then we just ran out of gas.
“I thought we disrupted their rhythm offensively, which helped us stay in the game,” he continued. “But by the fourth quarter, we ran out of gas and they started beating us off rebounds. They wound up extending their 11-point lead to 22 in about two minutes.”
ON THE SCHEDULE: Boys—Tuesday, 1/14, vs. Comsewogue; Friday, 1/17, vs. Westhampton Beach, 5:45 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/21, at Islip, 5:45 p.m. Girls—Tuesday, 1/14, at Comsewogue; Thursday, 1/16, at Westhampton Beach, 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1/21, vs. Islip, 5:45 p.m.