2/10: Senior Night
On Friday, February 10, the Islander Boys Basketball Team celebrated their four seniors: Justin Ayubi, Shane Gillard, Darren Hopkins, and Nolan Reuter with a highly contested match-up against Scripps Ranch High School. The Islanders had previously both won and lost against Scripps, so this game determined which school stood atop the other.
The Islanders were neck and neck with the Falcons throughout the entire first half. Both teams displayed excellent communication and seemed to be evenly matched on both their offensive and defensive sides. Neither side could pull away from the other, ending halftime at 24-23 with the Islanders on top.
During the third period, the Islanders knew they needed to make a significant run in order to secure the win, but the Falcons were right behind them to end the third 38-36. Finally, in the fourth, the Islanders dropped bucket after bucket and managed to hold off any Falcon rally and finished the final quarter with 26 points to coast to a 64-49 victory.
“Senior Night was a great experience for our team,” Coach Anthony Ott shared. “It was evidence that defense wins tough games.”
The Islanders outscored Scripps Ranch by 13 points in the 4th quarter, which was ultimately the game’s point differential.
“We did not settle for anything less than excellence in the second half,” Coach Ott continued. “Our defense led to easy shot attempts. We pride ourselves on being the most in-shape team on the floor each night, and it was no different on Senior Night. Although junior Ben Lee may have not had the best statistical night, his defense against their best player in the fourth quarter was the catalyst for the win.”
Ayubi was the leading scorer of the night with 26 points. Reuter collected 15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Sophomore Loxly Johnson also played incredible defense, contributing 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals. Hopkins added 5 assists and 5 rebounds to round out the Islander score sheet.
2/14: CIF Division 2 Play-Off vs. Mount Carmel
On Valentine’s Day, the Islanders hosted Mount Carmel for the first round of the CIF Division 2 Play-offs.
“The first round playoff game had a bit of a different feel,” Coach Ott noted. “Our team did not come out with the urgency needed to take an early lead. Our team has always thrown the first punch, and we just did not do that on that night.”
The Islanders trailed the Sundevils the entire game, falling behind 16-9 after the first and 28-21 at halftime.
There was certainly more of an urgency in the third and fourth quarters as the boys knew they needed to play a game of catch-up, but unfortunately their efforts were in vain. It was simply a night where buckets didn’t drop. And while they had solid looks at the basket, the shots just weren’t falling that night.
Being down 40-33 after the third certainly put pressure on the Islanders in the fourth, but they mounted a furious rally to tie the game at 48-48 with less than a minute to play. The Sundevils dropped a two-pointer, then a three-pointer, and the Islanders responded with a two-pointer from Ayubi.
Down to the final seconds, senior Ayubi had the ball with a chance to tie the game and was able to launch a shot just outside the three-point line. As the final buzzer sounded, the ball deflected off the front of the rim and the Islanders suffered a heartbreaking loss at 53-50.
“We played too passively and ultimately paid the price for it. Credit to Mount Carmel for fighting for all loose balls, playing stout defense, and playing all four quarters,” Coach Ott commented. “After the loss, I made the team sit and watch as our opponent celebrated in elation on our home floor. I am hopeful that it will be a memory etched in our brains. I certainly have replayed that moment in my head just about every night since that game.”
Always looking forward to the future, Coach Ott shared, “We need to use that as fuel for this off-season. I have had individual meetings with each player after the season and there was a common theme/message relayed to me: the work to win CIF next season starts now. We learned from our mistakes, coaches included, and we will do everything in our power to not allow that to happen again.”
After the season, several Islanders earned All-League awards. Justin Ayubi was named to 1st Team All League. Nolan Reuter was also named to 1st Team All League, and Ben Lee was an Honorable Mention.
The Islanders have a solid core returning and are sure to come back stronger and hungrier than ever as they look to capture the CIF Championship title next season. With a productive off-season, the team can certainly improve upon this year’s outstanding results. Keep a lookout!