Last week found the Islander Boys Basketball Team (13-9 overall record, 4-0 in the City League), victorious in their two conference outings, which included a 69-59 home win over Mira Mesa, followed by a Friday night road victory over Patrick Henry by the score of 57-48. After their first lap through the five-team City League, the Islanders hold a two-game lead over University City, with Hoover, Patrick Henry and Mira Mesa following in that order.
Islander Head Coach JD Laaperi said of the Marauders vs. Islanders game, “Tuesday afternoon against Mira Mesa we won every quarter. We had some chances in the game to expand our lead from 10 points to 14 or 16, but we weren’t as efficient offensively as we have been. They got hot from three-point range and they closed the game to five points going into the fourth quarter. But two minutes into the final quarter we expanded our lead back to 12 points and we eventually won by 10. It wasn’t one of our better shooting nights, we won this one with defense. We made it tough for them to get quality looks, we generated some turnovers, and they missed some shots. It helped that we scored on three or four possessions in a row late in the game.”
Laaperi added, “They tried to pack the lane a little bit against Wayne McKinney, to limit his drives more than any other team we have faced. Wayne pulled up and hit a number of 15-foot jumpers and they had to come out and guard him. That opened up the lane for Wayne to drive to the basket in the second half. We had three dunks in the second quarter, two of them from Dane Hansen. One of those came on an alley-oop pass from McKinney and Dane went up there with his right hand and threw it down. It’s neat to see a kid who has struggled with injuries like Dane has, to start to earn minutes. We can use Hansen and Kieran Ashley as backups at the center position for Jack Westphal. It was a typical Tuesday afternoon game, with a feeling of lethargic basketball. It was a battle for 26 of the 32 minutes. McKinney wound up with 37 points, six rebounds and four assists. Mike Cunningham scored 15 points.”
Intrigued by an old-fashioned Girls-Boys Doubleheader at Patrick Henry Friday evening, The Better Half and I hit the road for some high school basketball. To complete the deal, Your Natterer had to promise Sharon dinner afterwards, but it all made for a fun evening. As you’ll discover in the next section of this column, the Islander Girls won their game in the lid lifter and the Boys defeated Patrick Henry 57-48 in the second game of the evening.
Patrick Henry is a competitive team with a couple of accomplished players. They are coached by former Islander Head Coach Ken Caesar, who has seen the ball bounce a few times during his career. The first quarter found the teams to be evenly matched, with the Islanders holding an 11-9 lead heading into the second quarter. The second quarter was one of streaks from both squads, as the Islanders had a 16-5 run to open the frame. The Patriots ended the quarter on a 9-2 run with Coronado only scoring one basket, a layup from David Roberts, in the final 3:44 of the half. The score was 29-23 in favor of Coronado at intermission.
The Patrick Henry student section featured a good turnout in their relatively small gym, and they were into the game. They collectively decided to proclaim to all in attendance that the Islander’s McKinney was ‘Over-raaated,’ which was probably bad timing on their part. McKinney had nine points in the first half and wound up with 30 for the game. While the chanting was happening, I turned to Sharon and suggested the students would probably like to re-assess the effectiveness of their vocal selection after the game was completed.
Unfortunately for Laaperi’s mental health, the Islanders combined their scoring effort from the end of the first half with zero points in the first four minutes of the second half. In fact, at the 3:53 mark of the third quarter, the Patriots took their first and only lead in the game with the score 32-31. Then McKinney went to work and scored 11 points in the balance of the quarter, Cunningham had a basket and Jake Hacker added two free throws and at the end of the third quarter the Islanders held a 44-37 lead. It was more of the same as the fourth quarter began. A free throw from Roberts, two free throws from Westphal, a layup and a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play from McKinney, another McKinney layup, and two more free throws from McKinney stretched the Islander lead to 54-40.
However, Patrick Henry didn’t fold their collective tent and mounted a scoring run to close out the game, making the final score 57-48. McKinney had five rebounds and an assist to augment his 30-point effort; Hacker had a nice game with 10 points, a rebound and a blocked shot; Cunningham had eight points, a rebound, an assist and two steals; Westphal contributed four points, nine rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a blocked shot; Roberts had five points, seven rebounds and three assists; Ryan Hoyt had four rebounds; Hansen had four rebounds and a blocked shot; and Luke Chisholm had a rebound.
Laaperi was pleased with both his team’s effort and with the Islanders two-game lead in the City League standings. “I liked that environment and it was good for our kids to experience. Their student section gave us a taste of what it is like playing on the road in a big game. McKinney wasn’t looking for his shot early and Hacker hit a couple of threes. He played a good game for us. Cunningham did a real good job defensively on their point guard. He met him at half court and kept him from scoring. We went into a zone defense in the fourth quarter and we had some good rotations. They had to go deep into the shot clock. We strung together some stops in the fourth quarter that allowed us to get our lead back to double digits.”
The game was poorly officiated and at one point, after Hacker blocked a shot, he was called for taunting an opponent and given a technical foul. The referee confirmed to Laaperi the technical was caused by Hacker glaring at an opponent. No trash talk, just a glare. All of this occurred in the second quarter, while the result of the game was still very much in doubt. There were also a few creative, though incorrect, calls and some plays that were just missed. But the Islanders kept their wits about them and prevailed.
This week the Islanders lone game is Tuesday afternoon at Point Loma, with the game slated to begin at 5:15 p.m. Coronado and Point Loma are in different leagues, and this is a return game for the rivalry game played at Coronado last year. The normal Friday night game slot is a bye in the Islanders City League schedule.