December 20, 2006
Sometimes, a loss is nearly as good as a win. Especially when that loss shows a coach the type of talent and desire that his team possesses as the start of the league season draws closer with each passing day.
Such was the case last Friday evening when Westhampton Beach varsity boys' basketball skipper Ron Gholson witnessed firsthand his team's transformation from a struggling 1-18 team the previous season to a competitive, steadily improving squad that has already matched last season's win total.
The Hurricanes (1-3 in non-league play) fell to Rocky Point in the finals of the Southold Holiday Tournament 54-45, but more importantly, Westhampton made it into the finals of a tournament; something that they failed to do last season.
The Southold Holiday Tournament championship was actually closer than the final score indicated, with Westhampton trailing Rocky Point by only six points with three minutes remaining before three straight turnovers led to easy points for the Eagles.
"You learn from it," said Gholson. "The kids wanted to win this championship and they played really hard. They didn't quit. They kept fighting and kept pushing."
Junior center Tyler O'Rourke had a season-high 22 points in the loss and added four blocked shots and nine rebounds. He also shot 5-for-7 from the free throw line and did not commit a single turnover. "He was great across the board tonight," remarked Gholson. Senior point guard Joe Siciliano added 11.
Westhampton reached the finals by defeating defending Class C champion Southold 52-36 in front of the First Settlers home fans on Wednesday night in a game that saw junior forward Jerry Hart (9 rebounds on Friday night) and freshman forward Bruno Cavallo each contribute with key baskets. Hart led all players with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Cavallo scored nine points. Two days earlier, Cavallo showcased his skills against a tough Center Moriches team, scoring a team-high 18 points in the Hurricanes 71-69 overtime loss to the Red Devils.
"Bruno's finding the open spots well and he drives to the basket," Gholson said. "We're going to need our wing guys like Bruno and Jerry to contribute because we're not going to win without production from everyone. They're both very important to our offense."
Gholson continues to stress how important it is for Westhampton to continue to play team basketball and to not let up defensively, regardless of the score of the game. He's been happy with the desire and hustle that his team has showed at times although he's still looking for the Hurricanes to improve in both areas.
"I think when they play team basketball and play together, everything's fine. We played well as a team in the first half against Rocky Point, but we just got away from playing team basketball [in the third quarter]. We took a back seat in some ways and we can't do that. When our opponents turn up the pressure and intensity, we have to also. I know that we can put points on the board. What we need to do is get better defensively and not allow teams to get so many easy points. I'm very happy with our progress so far. If we play with the type of passion that we showed against Center [Moriches] and Southold, I think we're going to surprise some teams."
Westhampton opens its league schedule at home against Mt. Sinai tomorrow at 5:45 p.m.