The Eastport South Manor boys basketball team is no stranger to having to play an outbracket game to get into the first round of the Class AA playoffs. In 2011, the Sharks defeated Smithtown East, only to lose to Half Hollow Hills West in the first round. Then, the following season, ESM defeated Connetquot in an outbracket game before losing to William Floyd in the next round. In both instances, Hills West and Floyd went on to win county championships.
This season is no different. ESM was seeded 18th in the Class AA bracket and played at 14th-seeded Smithtown East on Wednesday evening. The result of the game occurred too late to appear in this week’s edition, but can be found online at 27east.com and in next week’s edition of The Press. The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to play at second-seeded Deer Park at 5 p.m.
The Sharks split its final two games of the regular season last week. After losing, 70-58, at home to Harborfields on February 4, ESM rebounded with a 60-56 victory at Comsewogue three days later.
ESM only trailed Harborfields—the second seed in the Class A playoffs—by two points heading into the fourth quarter last week. The Tornadoes stepped up their defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, though, and wound up outscoring the Sharks, 24-14, to hold on to the victory.
ESM senior Dennis Sullivan scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists, while senior Chris Goncalves scored 15 points and corralled 11 rebounds.
“I thought we were playing really well up until [the fourth quarter],” ESM head coach Chris Carlson said. “We were playing with confidence and had them on the fence a little bit. But we can’t say we didn’t know they were going to step up their intensity in the fourth quarter because, before it started, I had told the guys they were going to come out hard.”
ESM held a one point lead over Comsewogue at halftime on Friday evening, then led by four points heading into the fourth quarter. The Sharks built up a seven-point lead before winning by four. Senior Mike Cestare scored a career-high 24 points while senior Thomas Biasetti scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
Carlson said Cestare and Biasetti both did a nice job providing scoring for his team, being that Comsewogue was playing a triangle-and-two on Sullivan and Goncalves. A triangle-and-two is when three defenders play a zone, while the other two defenders play man-to-man defense, usually on the opposition’s two best scorers.
“Michael and Tommy really responded well for us,” Carlson said.
It was a good effort, but all for naught for the ESM girls basketball team. The Lady Sharks needed to win their final four games of the regular season to clinch a berth into the Class AA postseason but fell a game short.
ESM (5-7 League V, 8-10 overall) lost, 63-35, at Harborfields on February 4, ending all hopes of reaching the postseason. ESM did win its regular-season finale, 46-37, at home over Comsewogue on Thursday, February 6. ESM went 4-2 over its final six games.
Harborfields jumped out to a 16-7 first-quarter lead last week and never looked back. The win clinched the League V title for the Lady Tornadoes.
ESM was able to avenge a loss earlier this season to Comsewogue. ESM senior Kristen Anderson led the way with 15 points and 23 rebounds, while junior Nijay Brown scored 13 points.