Boys Basketball: Wildcats clinch playoff spot with win against Hurricanes

It’s become no secret whose hands the ball will end up in when the game is on the line. As the leading scorer for Shoreham-Wading River, senior Kevin Davis has emerged as the go-to player.

By this point in the season, it’s no secret to the opponent, too.

With the Wildcats trailing by one late in the fourth quarter against Westhampton Wednesday afternoon, Davis dribbled the ball outside the three-point line, when the Hurricanes swarmed him with a double team. As the pressure converged, Davis calmly lofted a pass over the top to 6-foot-4 junior John Kovach, who layed the ball in for an easy two. The Wildcats regained the lead and never relinquished it over the final 1:18 to win 62-56 at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

“Usually on that play I’m getting doubled off it so I knew he was going to be wide open under,” Davis said. “He just put his hand up and I threw it down to him.”

“He’s smart enough and sees [the double team],” said Shoreham coach Kevin Culhane. “We have counters to plays and he was very smart today.”

Davis led the Wildcats with 19 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter after a scoreless opening period.

The win locked up a playoff spot for the Wildcats as they improved to 6-2 in League VI. After missing the postseason last year in a season where everything seemed to go wrong, the Wildcats (9-5 overall) are now in position to vie for a top seed in Class A and potential first-round home game. With four games left, the Wildcats have two games remaining against the teams currently ahead of them in the standings, Bayport-Blue Point and Amityville.

Westhampton came into Wednesday’s game with the same number of league wins as Shoreham, making it a pivotal game for both teams.

“We already beat them once so we knew they were going to come out wanting to beat us on our home court,” Davis said. “We stuck it out in the end and won it.”

The Wildcats led nearly the entire game, but could never pull away from the Hurricanes (5-4, 6-8). The Wildcats never led by more than seven and the two teams were never separated by more than four in the second half until the final 11 seconds.

“Westhampton is very tough,” Culhane said. “They really made us earn our points.”

The Hurricanes connected on six 3-pointers, including two big ones early in the fourth quarter. Both long balls came after the Wildcats had gone up by four. Brian Corrigan’s 3-pointer cut the Wildcats’ lead to 50-49 with 4:46 left, but Davis came right back for Shoreham. He attacked the basket from the left baseline to answer and put Shoreham back ahead by three.

Mike Corrigan (18 points) gave the Hurricanes a 55-54 lead when he sank a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:18 left, the first lead for Westhampton since midway through the third. But the Hurricanes didn’t connect on another field goal the rest of the game.

With the Wildcats up by one, they forced a turnover in the final minute, leading to a fastbreak layin from senior Ryan McAlary with 40 seconds left. Mike Corrigan misfired on a long three for Westhampton on its next possession. Kovach added the final two of his 10 points with a layup as the Wildcats beat the press to go ahead 60-55.

It was the Wildcats’ third straight win and their first game since Jan. 20, a stretch of nearly two weeks. The time off led to some sloppiness early as the Wildcats turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter. But they were able to get to the foul line, where they were 8-of-10 in the first quarter.

“Sometimes you got to win games ugly,” Culhane said. “Guys were a little off in the first half, but second half I thought we really rallied and made key plays.”

McAlary scored 14 for Shoreham and Kevin Galligan chipped in nine off the bench.

“One thing good is I think our bench has really helped us,” Culhane said. “[Chris] Mahoney, Galligan [and Brandon] Warner, they’ve been superb for us this year.”

The Wildcats return to action Friday at home against Bayport.