SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS D FINAL | INDIANS 73, PORTERS 66
Finally, after all these years, the Shelter Island High School boys basketball team is getting a county championship banner to hang in its gym.
After reaching the past two Suffolk County Class D finals, only to come up short of the prize, the Indians’ third straight appearance in the county title game was a charm. Matt Belt Cappellino scored 24 points and Billy Boeklen came off the bench to supply 21 points as the third-seeded Indians defeated No. 1 seed Greenport, 73-66, at Longwood High School on Saturday. It is Shelter Island’s first county Class D championship, according to coach Mike Mundy.
“Really, it’s incredible,” Shelter Island’s 6-foot-3 sophomore center, Tristan Wissemann, said. “I don’t think anybody expected us to be here, so it feels even sweeter because of that.”
Wissemann, shooting 6 of 12 from the field, provided 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Indians (11-9), who also received 7 assists from Riley Willumsen.
Greenport’s two most prominent seniors, Austin Hooks and Gavin Dibble, scored 25 and 22 points, respectively. They both had 5 assists each. Nineteen of Dibble’s points came in the second half. Hooks also collected 16 rebounds.
After the game, the Section XI boys basketball chairman, Bob Mayo, presented Mundy and his players with the championship plaque that the Indians have been chasing for years. They will next play in the Suffolk Class C-D final against The Stony Brook School (18-1) on Wednesday in Northport. Shelter Island will also play in a regional semifinal on March 4 against an opponent to be determined.
Both teams were supported by a nice turnout of vocal fans from their small communities. One reporter wondered, half-jokingly, if the entire Shelter Island population was in the stands.
“I think it was pretty close,” said Belt Cappellino.
The spectators saw an especially entertaining first half. It was a half that ended in Greenport’s favor, 33-31, following successive 3-point shots by Dibble, Wissemann and Greenport’s Tim Stevens.
The entry into the game of Boeklen, a sophomore who had been brought up from the junior varsity team earlier this season, made a difference for Shelter Island.
“His speed and his style of play matched up great against [Greenport’s] lineup,” Mundy said. “That’s what we were looking for.”
Greenport coach Ev Corwin called Boeklen the “X factor.” He said Boeklen “killed us.”
Belt Cappellino, a senior guard, didn’t do too badly, either. Wissemann said Belt Cappellino has been “unbelievable the entire year. He’s a great player.”
Shelter Island made its move in the third quarter. Wissemann scored 5 points during an 11-0 run that gave the Indians the game’s first double-digit lead at 48-37. It was a lead they never surrendered.
The Porters (9-11) pulled as close as within 5 points when Hooks knocked down a big 3-pointer, making the score 62-57 with a little over three minutes remaining in the game. But the Indians had a reply for every basket or free throw by the Porters.
Belt Cappellino described Shelter Island’s game plan as moving the ball, being patient and taking good shots.
The Indians did well at the free-throw line, where they sank 19 of 26 foul shots. Boeklen made 9 of 13 himself.
“They have a lot of guys who hit some shots, and that’s the thing in games like this, you got to hit shots,” said Corwin.
The Indians had come close before to a Class D crown. In last year’s final they led Bridgehampton through three quarters before losing. That defeat may have fueled the determination that brought them their historic victory on Saturday.
“After last year, and knowing how bad [losing] felt, we didn’t want to feel that feeling again,” said Wissemann.
Perhaps, the Indians had wondered, this would be their year.
“We pretty much said it in hushed tones, but our goal was to be playing basketball in March,” Mundy said. “We knew we had the team.”
Now the rest of the county does, too.