Basketball Coaches Are in Good Moods

‘Bonackers blossoming into meaningful team’
Turner Foster and his fellow guard, Jack Reese, ran the offense well in last Thursday’s win here over Shoreham-Wading River. Craig Macnaughton

Carl Johnson, who coaches Bridgehampton High School’s boys basketball team, the Killer Bees, said Monday he was happy with the Bees’ progress so far, save for their 57-40 loss to East Hampton in the Holiday Classic’s consolation game on Dec. 29.

Dan White, East Hampton’s first-year coach (though the former Pierson mentor is in his eighth year of varsity coaching over all), is rather pleased too, given the improvement he has seen in the Bonackers’ past couple of games.

East Hampton easily handled Shoreham-Wading River here last Thursday by a score of 51-39, foiling for the most part the visitors’ inside game and forcing them to shoot — mostly errantly — from the outside. 

It was the first league win (and third overall) for White’s young charges, who led 33-16 at the half. It was 40-22 in the final minutes of the third thanks to the point guard Jack Reese’s dash to the hoop. 

Shoreham closed to within 9 points in the fourth, but could come no closer. East Hampton closed it out with free throws by Reese and his fellow guard, Turner Foster.

“We look better?” White asked a spectator afterward, expecting the affirmative answer he got. “Yes, we played very well as a team tonight. We got a lot of uncontested shots. Jack’s our catalyst — he’s always looking for his teammates. Offensively, we go as he goes, and Yari [Willock, who has been coming off the bench, but who got the start that night] had a great game — he had 10 points in the first half.”

Willock finished with a team-high 16 points, Reese had 14, and Bladimir Rodriguez, who also has been getting more playing time, had 10.

Howard Wood, one of White’s assistants, said the Bonackers had 20 fast-break points, testimony to their energetic 2-3 defense.

White said he used the 2-3 “to take away their drives. We knew they were very physical on the rim. . . . We’re learning how to win. Rather than thinking ‘Let’s not screw it up’ at the end, we’re playing to win. Shoreham beat Westhampton and Westhampton beat us. We’re starting to blossom into a meaningful basketball team.”

East Hampton was to have played at Wyandanch on Tuesday, “a tough assignment.” Today, the team is to play at Bayport-Blue Point, which was 2-2 in league play as of Tuesday morning. East Hampton was 1-3.

Back to the Bees, Johnson agreed that his team’s crossover wins at home over Mattituck and Babylon this past week constituted “good news. . . . J.P. Harding tied a career-high with his 25 points against Babylon, and Elijah Jackson almost had a triple-double — 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists.”

Johnson, who thinks his team can go all the way in the state Class D tournament (which would be the 10th time a Bridgehampton boys basketball team will have done so), said, “We’re 5-1 at the moment with League VII teams — the only one that beat us was Center Moriches. Aside from that loss to East Hampton, we’re just where we want to be. I was hoping for 7-2 or 6-3 at this point, but I’ll take 5-4. I don’t think anybody in our class has played as tough a nonleague schedule as we have. We’ve been pretty much in every game we’ve played. We were controlling the game with Sachem East [an AA school, the Bees are a D] until they went on a 12-2 run in the third, but we still came back to take the lead before they beat us by 3 points at the end.”

Bridgehampton was to have played its only Class D rival, Shelter Island, at home Tuesday. Shelter Island went in at 0-9, the Bees at 5-4, as aforesaid, but Johnson said he wanted his players to treat it as “a first-round playoff game. It’s a very important game for us — we’ve got to come out to play, which is what we didn’t do against East Hampton.”

The Bees are to play at Southold tomorrow. Pierson is to play at Bridgehampton Wednesday.