Killer Bees on the Way Back

East Rockaway’s thick-chested guards, who handled the ball very well, posed problems. Jack Graves

    The East Rockaway High School boys basketball team, intrigued by the idea of playing in a tiny gym much like the ones in its district’s elementary schools, traveled out to Bridgehampton Saturday for a nonleaguer in the Bee Hive.
    It was said to be the first time in 20 years that an UpIsland school had played a nonleague game at Bridgehampton.
    And the Rocks, as they are known, despite the new surroundings, seemed to feel right at home.
    Following the 73-60 loss, Carl Johnson, Bridgehampton’s longtime coach — and the winner of three state championships when he played there — was upbeat, given the fact that his charges had not theretofore been in any competitive situations.
    “We haven’t had any scrimmages — we had to cancel them,” said Johnson, who added that if the Killer Bees weren’t quite back yet, they were on their way.
    One immediately notices that Bridgehampton, in Caanan Campbell, a senior who’s 6 feet 5 inches tall, and in Jason Hopson, a junior who’s 6-3, has some height.
    Campbell dropped 34 points for the Bees that day, while Hopson had 17. Though how well the Bees do this season will depend on Campbell and Hopson’s supporting cast, which includes two eighth graders, Tylik Furman and Josh Lamison, who started Saturday.
    The visitors, who were led by two thick-chested, sure-handed guards, David McClure and Joey Lores, passed extremely well, outmaneuvering the Bees in close on numerous occasions.
    East Rockaway led 36-28 at the half, having outscored the home team 13-10 in the first quarter and 22-18 in the second. Bridgehampton cut the lead to 2 points early in the all-important third. The Rocks scored first, but then Campbell replied with a basket, a 3-point play, and a 3-point bomb for 38-36. Following another East Rockaway basket, Hopson made it 40-38 with three minutes left in the period, but then the visitors began to pull away again. Going into the fourth quarter they led 56-42.
    Before it was over, Campbell and Hopson gave the hometown fans something to cheer about, however. Down by 16 with 2:22 on the clock, two successive 3s by Campbell and one by Hopson cut East Rockaway’s lead to 7. A minute and a half remained, though the visitors hung tough on the way to the aforementioned 73-60 final.
    “They were a great passing team,” Johnson acknowledged afterward, “though our kids played well considering. . . . We’ll definitely be better than last year, though we’ve got a lot of work to do. We really never got into our offensive sets today.”
    While the young Furman could be the team’s point guard, Johnson said he’s sparing him that pressure given the fact he’s only an eighth grader. Campbell and Hopson bring the ball up.
    Asked if the Killer Bees were “back,” the coach smiled and said, “They may not be back quite yet, but we’re going to be back!”
    Center Moriches, a team coached by Nick Thomas, who led Bridgehampton to state championships in the mid-1990s, was to have played a nonleaguer in the Hive Tuesday. Pierson and Bridgehampton are to open the league season at Bridgehampton tomorrow, and this weekend the Bees are to play in a holiday tournament at Southampton, opening up with the Mariners on Saturday.