Ocracoke boys play tonight (Friday, Feb. 1) against at home Mattamuskeet: Junior varsity at 4:30 p.m.; varsity 6 p.m.
By Richard Taylor
The year has gone well for Ocracoke School basketball teams.
The varsity boys once again dominate the Atlantic 5 (1A) with a 7-1 conference record, losing only to Hatteras in Buxton on Jan. 18 since Christmas.
Girls and boys on both middle school junior varsity teams have represented the school well.
Thanks to tenacious defense, good three-point shooting and the return of senior Colby Austin, the varsity boys won four straight conference games by convincing margins through mid-January.
The defending conference champions started 2019 with a lopsided 70-22 home win Jan. 4 over their across-sound rivals, the Hatteras Hurricanes. There, senior Colby Austin led the Dolphins with 18 points, including five crowd-pleasing three-pointers. Perry Austin had 16, while Reese Gaskins and Sam Evans had eight each.
Austin’s return to the court following a December shoulder injury was a welcome relief for Coach David Allewalt.
“Colby’s our team leader,” said Coach David Allewalt. “We missed him in December, but we’re certainly playing much better now that he’s back.”
On Jan. 8, The Dolphins won 50-40 over a tough Bear Grass team in Martin County. Allewalt had been concerned about playing the second-best team in the conference, but the Dolphins defense held the Bears well below their 48 points-per-game average.
Perry Austin led the Dolphins with 16 points, while his cousin Colby had 15, including four 3-pointers in eight attempts. Junior Reese Gaskins netted nine.
The Dolphins then traveled to Columbia Jan. 11, defeating the Wildcats 67-51 as Colby Austin again led the Dolphins with 20 points. Austin was 6-7 from the floor and a perfect 4-4 from behind the 3-point arc. The Dolphins’ dominance certainly showed from three-point land. The team shot 10-15 for a 67 percent average.
The Dolphins returned home Jan. 15 to beat the Mattamuskeet Lakers, 73-49. Colby again led Ocracoke with 17, including three-3-pointers. Reese Gaskins had 15. Cole Gilbert had his best game of the season with 12 points and Mason Fuller had 11.
As expected, the Dolphins lost a non-conference game in Plymouth to powerful Washington County, 71-41 on Jan. 19 in Plymouth, as the Panthers outscored the Dolphins in all four quarters.
Washington County is the new name for the now combined Plymouth and Creswell high school teams, created after the Washington Board of Education transferred Creswell High school students to Plymouth last summer. Creswell Elementary remains open.
Hatteras was eager to avenge their earlier loss to the Dolphins, and edged the favored Dolphins, 47-42 in Buxton Jan. 22. Ocracoke led 28-23 at the half, but the Hurricanes held Ocracoke well below their season average and easily outscored the Dolphins in the fourth quarter.
The Dolphins normally shoot well from beyond the arc, but Hatteras held the Dolphins to under 20 percent from 3-point land. Allewalt considered that contest a fluke. “I’d just rather forget about that game,” he said later back in Ocracoke.
The Dolphins rebounded with two convincing home wins, beating the Bear Grass Bears 62-54 on Jan. 25 and the Columbia Wildcats 79-41 on Jan. 29 as Allewalt rotated all players into the games.
The Dolphins are now 10-7 overall and bring their conference-leading 7-1 record to play the Mattamuskeet Lakers in tonight’s homecoming game in the Tank (the Ocracoke School gym).
“We should probably win that game,” Allewalt said. “They’re (Mattamuskeet) an improved team. They’re not going to throw anything against us we haven’t seen. As long as we play the way we’ve been playing the last couple of games, we should be good.”
Bear Grass Charter returns to the island Feb. 6 for the Dolphins Senior night. Ocracoke plays a rubber match against Hatteras in Buxton Feb. 8 and concludes regular season play against Mattamuskeet in Swan Quarter on Valentine’s Day.
Allewalt expects to win all his remaining games as well as repeating as conference champs at the league tournament in Columbia, later in February.
Coach Jason Wells’ middle school boys easily beat the Mattamuskeet Lakers 52-18, for the Tideland Athletic Conference championship Wednesday in the Tank. Later that afternoon, Coach Samantha Hodson’s middle school girls lost their championship game to the Hatteras Hurricanes, 25-19 after leading 7-0 after the first period.
Despite losing an early lead and eventually the game, Hodson still praised her team’s performance.
“They got a little frustrated and didn’t move the ball well on offense and we had a lot of turnovers,” she said. “But they still played a good game and played hard. We’ll be back next year.”
This was the first time Ocracoke’s middle schoolers have ever played for their tournament championship.
Director Adam Burleson praised both middle school coaches for their roles in helping the feeder program prepare players for high school play.
“Samantha has been a pleasant surprise and Jason Wells has been here forever,” noted Adam Burleson, athletic director. “They’re both into coaching. It’s very good to have stability in the middle school coaching ranks this year.”
The Ocracoke’s “feeder program” coaches girls and boys from the playground, then to the Saturday Youth League and through middle school and junior varsity teams until some finally play high school ball.
“From (Saturday) youth ball all the way up to varsity, our feeder program is good,” Allewalt said.