Bees Swarmed by Red Devils

Bridgehampton's Elijah Harding, left, and Elijah White look for the rebound. Craig Macnaughton

Bridgehampton's Killer Bees were swarmed Friday night by Center Moriches's full-court-pressing players, and in turning the ball over about 20 times were themselves overturned in the county B-C-D game by a score of 60-44.

The Red Devils, the B champions, who are to go on now to play the Southampton Mariners for the county's small schools championship Tuesday at Suffolk Community College-Brentwood, wrapped it up in the second quarter, transforming an 8-point first-quarter lead into a 16-point one by the half. Southampton beat Wyandanch 93-80 Friday night. 

With J.P. Harding, Bridgehampton's leading scorer, and a strong inside player, sidelined with a broken wrist (he said before the game began that he thinks he'll be able to play in the state's Class D Southeast regional semifinal in Newburgh on March 6), Carl Johnson, the Bees' coach, did the best he could when it came to moving people around, but the Bees, who were double and triple-teamed repeatedly throughout the game, simply could not withstand the pressure.

For his part, Nick Thomas, the Center Moriches coach, who played the point for Carl Johnson's Bridgehampton team that won a state championship in 1996 — the first state title for the school in a decade — knows that he's got something going with a quick team whose roster includes eight sophomores and only two seniors.

Tipping his hat, as it were, to his former coach, Thomas said he'd grown up expecting to win state — not just county classification — championships, and when the ho-hummer was over, he said his charges, though young, could very well turn the trick this year. If not this year, certainly in the next two.

Tyiquon Nix, a smooth senior point guard with good moves, led the Red Devils with 15 points. Nakia Durham had 15, as well, and Troy Goode, a guard, had 10. Thomas subbed frequently. Depth, he said, is one of the team's strengths.

For Bridgehampton, Elijah Jackson, who's not been 100 percent lately because of an ankle sprain, had 13, Elijah White, recently moved into a starter role, had 12, and Nykell Dean, who had been the sixth man before J.P. Harding was injured in the regular-season finale with Greenport, had 11.

With the win, Thomas made it 3-0 in head-to-head matchups with his former coach, who is retiring this year. Johnson said before the game that he still thinks, however, that the Bees can go all the way in Class D. If they do, it will the storied school's 10th state championship.

Nykell Dean, at right, the Killer Bees’ former sixth man, has played well in the playoffs.