The Shoreham Wading-River Wildcats finally had something to cheer about Tuesday.
With seven seconds remaining in the game, Kevin Culhane and the bench stood up and applauded the team. The Wildcats were putting the finishing touches to their first win of the high school boys basketball season, a 47-36 home victory over Hampton Bays.
Shoreham (1-5, 1-3) had dropped its first five games of the season before besting the Baymen (3-2, 1-1) in the Suffolk County League VI encounter.
“It was a massive win,” said senior forward Trey Ekert, who came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points. “Starting off 0-5, we needed to turn one around. We needed energy today back on our home court.
“We’ve been down on ourselves, playing some tough games, playing some tough teams. A lot of shots weren’t dropping. Today it just clicked.”
No one had to remind Culhane about that.
“As I told the kids, a big win, with a B-I-G with an exclamation point,” he said. “It was a great win. The kids could have packed it in but they didn’t. I’m proud of them that way. They’ve been giving good effort in practice. I think that showed. We have been picking up the intensity.”
Especially Ekert, who tallied 14 points in the second half.
With the Wildcats trailing 28-24 late in the third quarter, Ekert connected on three consecutive baskets within 1 minute, 27 seconds to give Shoreham a 30-28 advantage it would never relinquish.
“I was just confident today,” Ekert said. “I play basketball. It is the most fun sport for me. I look to have fun. I look to create. I just want to play basketball. Today I was just feeling good and my shot was on.”
Culhane felt it was a good time to play Ekert.
“Trey was getting better every day in practice so I felt today would be a good day to get him out,” he said. “He obviously made me a smart coach today.”
In the final period, Ekert continued his hot shooting with eight points, although he was helped by senior guard Matt Moran (seven points), who helped extend the lead with a layup and a three-point basket.
“One of the biggest things we showed today was poise,” Culhane said. “We didn’t get down when we were losing. Once we had the lead, we moved the ball beautifully. And we got good shots and today we made them.”