FIRST SETTLERS 63, CRUSADERS 44
The ball movement was a pleasure to watch. The unselfishness was admirable. It’s the sort of offense that not only scores points, but also wins points with Southold coach Jeff Ellis.
Ellis could appreciate the way his high school boys basketball team shared the ball Friday night in a 63-44 win over Smithtown Christian. “That’s what I want,” he said after the game in Smithtown. “It’s nice to score and it’s nice to have your name in headlines, but I’d rather have Southold in the headlines.”
The First Settlers will undoubtedly make more headlines if they keep passing like they did on Friday. Perhaps the most telling facts of the game were these: Winston Wilcenski, Southold’s big-name scorer, had only 2 points in the first quarter and 4 in the first half. Despite that, the First Settlers still won handily.
Those figures aren’t a bad reflection on Wilcenski, either. The senior has moved to point guard and his game is evolving. He has shown he can pass as well as he can shoot, and that is saying something. Wilcenski had 8 assists and made a couple of dazzling passes.
Meanwhile, teammate Matt Stepnoski came through with a double-double. The sophomore, playing like a man possessed, put up a career-high 19 points as well as 12 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 assists before heading to the bench with 1 minute 57 seconds left in the game.
“He played great,” Ellis said. “He’s intense. He always plays with intensity, and that’s what we need from him every single night.”
Southold guard David O’Day said of Stepnoski: “It seems like he’s improving every game. His work ethic is definitely there.”
If nothing else, Southold (3-5, 3-1 Suffolk County League VIII) has shown that it has multiple scoring threats. Alex Sinclair added 14 points and fell one rebound shy of a double-double himself. Double-figure scoring was also provided by Wilcenski and Liam Walker, who had 12 points each.
“Everyone on the team plays an important role,” said Sinclair.
Caelan McCabe, a sophomore forward, played a big role for Smithtown Christian (0-6, 0-5), leading all scorers with 28 points.
But even that wasn’t enough to overcome Southold, which shot out to an 18-6 lead and never trailed. After that, Smithtown Christian twice pulled to within 8 points, but no closer than that.
As much as Ellis liked what he saw on the offensive end, he expressed concern with the defense. He noted that Southold scored 79 and 75 points in games earlier this season and lost both of them.
“We got to play better defensively, I think,” Ellis said. “I think we give up too many easy baskets, but it’s coming.”
O’Day agreed, saying: “Our defense wasn’t all that it should have been. … We need to get it up to the standard that it needs to be at to be the team that we have the potential to be.”