The Eastport South Manor boys basketball team kept its playoff hopes alive with two dominating victories last week, though the Sharks must still win their two remaining games to actually qualify for the Suffolk County Class A postseason.
The Sharks won, 61-35, on the road in Westhampton Beach on January 29 before defeating Sayville, 63-45, at home last Thursday, January 31.
ESM (4-6 League V, 8-8 overall) was scheduled to visit Islip (6-4 League V, 8-8) on Tuesday before finishing up the regular season at Kings Park (8-2 League V, 11-5) on Friday. Even though his team lost to both schools earlier this season, Sharks’ head coach Chris Carlson said his squad has been playing much better as of late.
“Against Kings Park, it was a two-point game with six minutes to go and then they ran away with it,” he said. “So, we’ll make some adjustments, see what we can do.
“I really think we’re starting to gel as a team at both ends of the court,” he added. “I really think we can go out there and beat anybody, but it’s not going to be an easy task.”
If ESM does, in fact, make the playoffs, it will have a tough task advancing to the county finals. Depending on how Shoreham/Wading River (5-6 League VI, 9-8 overall) finishes this week, there could be an outbracket game between the Wildcats and Sharks. If Shoreham fails to make the playoffs, ESM would still be the lowest seed in the Class A bracket.
Either way, the Sharks will face the top-ranked team in Class A at some point, which would be either Amityville (10-0 League VI, 14-2 overall) or Harborfields (10-0 League V, 11-3 overall).
ESM quickly built a 35-13 lead over Sayville in last week’s game. ESM junior Dennis Sullivan nearly finished with a triple-double, scoring 12 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Senior Devon Cummings scored 11 points and had 14 rebounds.
“We played great defense and with that we were able to play freer offensively,” Carlson said. “The guys did a nice job.”
The Sharks jumped out to a 19-8 lead at Westhampton Beach last week though they weren’t able to extend their advantage until the third quarter. Sullivan had another good game for ESM, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and junior Matt Lafferty scored a career-high 12 points.
The Hurricanes (0-10 League V, 1-14 overall), meanwhile, lost their 10th league game of the season to ESM and will make a hard push to avoid a winless league season in their final two games this week. They played at Sayville (1-10 League V, 1-16 overall) on Tuesday and will finish up at home on Friday against Islip (6-4 League V, 8-8 overall).
ON THE SCHEDULE: ESM—Tuesday, 2/5, at Islip, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, vs. Kings Park, 5:45 p.m.; Westhampton Beach—Tuesday, 2/5, at Sayville, 5:45 p.m.; Friday, 2/8, vs. Islip, 5:45 p.m.