A 52-31victory at Rocky Point on Thursday, January 30, sealed up a spot in the upcoming Suffolk County Class AA playoffs for the Eastport South Manor boys basketball team, ending what had been a two-year absence from the postseason.
The Sharks (6-4 League V, 10-6 overall) also defeated Sayville, 59-50, at home on Senior Night on January 28. ESM head coach Chris Carlson said it’ll be nice to see his team back in the playoffs after the season didn’t get off to the greatest start. Mat Annunziata, who was expected to start, suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season began. Then, another key player decided to compete in a different sport rather than play basketball.
The Class AA playoffs are expected to start Wednesday, February 12.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Carlson said of making the playoffs. “Losing Annunziata like we did earlier in the season, we knew it was going to be a difficult road to get there, so I’m proud of the guys of reaching their goal.”
Carlson wasn’t sure what seed his team would get in the bracket, but being one of only two teams from Class AA in League V, he’s expecting to be in an outbracket game, possibly against one of the top teams in the county. The last two times the Sharks made the playoffs, they won their outbracket games but then lost in the first round to the eventual county champions (Half Hollow Hills West and William Floyd).
ESM led Rocky Point last week 23-16 at halftime, then outscored the Eagles 19-7 in the third quarter to increase its lead. Senior Shark Chris Goncalves scored 18 of his 29 points in the second half and grabbed 15 rebounds. Dennis Sullivan, another senior, put forth a good effort with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
ESM and Sayville were tied at 44-44 last week, but then Goncalves came through for the Sharks once again, scoring eight of his 22 points in the final quarter, including 4 for 5 from the foul line.
“We lost to [Sayville] 75-68 on the road earlier this season so it was nice to beat them this time around,” Carlson said. “It was our Senior Night that night and the guys played with a nice energy. There was a nice crowd and it was an enjoyable night.”
ESM did lose its second consecutive non-league game, 59-57, at home to East Hampton on Saturday afternoon. The Sharks lost their last non-league game to Miller Place two weeks ago.
ESM, which was ahead by just a point, was called for a loose-ball foul with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation, much to the dismay of Carlson. East Hampton was awarded two free throws and it hit one of them to send the game to overtime, where the Bonackers eventually pulled away with the come-from-behind victory. The Sharks were up by as many as 10 points in the second quarter.
“I thought it was a horrible call,” Carlson said, on the play at the end of regulation. “It was 30 feet away from the basket, the kid wasn’t in the act of shooting. I just don’t think an official should have made that type of call at the end of the game like that.”
The ESM girls basketball team won both of its games last week to stay alive in the postseason hunt. The Lady Sharks have to win both of their games this week to make the playoffs.
ESM defeated Sayville, 39-33, at home on January 28, then returned home two days later and defeated Rocky Point, 40-18. The Lady Sharks were given a shot in the arm last week when Kristen Anderson played in her first game of the season after an injury kept her sidelined for more than half the season.
ESM, which lost by 24 points to Sayville earlier this season, was able to move its offense more with Anderson on the floor. Sam Giacolone scored 13 points while Anderson scored nine.
“When Kristen is out on the floor it creates mismatches because of her height,” ESM head coach Steve Giacolone said. “It opens up the floor for other people to get better looks and it’s not as tough for us to create shots.
“Sayville took themselves out of the 1-3-1 zone they like to play into a man-to-man and they struggled,” he added. “The first time we scored 18 points against them, this time we scored 39.”
ESM (4-6 League V, 7-9 overall) never relinquished its lead in the win over Rocky Point. Sam Giacolone finished with nine points while Corie Hack scored eight and Rebecca Tooker finished with seven.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Boys—Tuesday, 2/4, vs. Harborfields; Friday, 2/7, at Comsewogue, 5:45 p.m. Girls—Tuesday, 2/4, at Harborfields; Thursday, 2/6, vs. Comsewogue, 5:45 p.m.