Foster’s 3-Pointers Lift the Bonackers

East Hampton hung tough throughout
Chris Stoecker, East Hampton's tallest player at 6 feet 7 inches, was a force underneath in the Jan. 23 game here with Islip. Jack Graves

East Hampton High School’s boys basketball team fell to 5-6 at Harborfields last Thursday, though the Bonackers’ 50-48 win over Islip in a hotly contested game here on Jan. 23 kept the attendees glued to their seats.

Playing without one of its big men, Bladimir Rodriguez Garces, sidelined because of academic difficulty (as was also the case at Harborfields apparently), East Hampton hung tough throughout. At halftime, the home team was up 29-28, at the end of the third quarter it was down by 5, and so let’s pick up the thread when the fourth began.

Two Bonac baskets, the second by Jack Reese, the omnipresent senior point guard, who stole the ball and laid it in, pulled East Hampton to 36-37. 

Islip, a quick, physical team, came right back with two baskets of its own, after which Turner Foster fed Reese for a 3, and Reese, again following a steal by him, went coast-to-coast to tie it at 41-41.

The gym was in an uproar as Islip’s coach called for a timeout. When play resumed, Max Proctor’s 3-point play put East Hampton up 44-41, a lead that slipped away in the succeeding moments. 

Before Foster drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1 minute and 16 seconds left to play, the visitors had led 48-44. Now, they were up by 1.

About a half-dozen passes had been made when Reese fouled the ball-handler, who went to the line and came up empty. Proctor came down with the rebound and fed the ball to Reese, who found Foster camped out at his spot on the left wing. Foster let it go . . . and, yes! His and Bonac’s fans’ prayers were answered. There were 44.9 seconds left and East Hampton was again in the lead, at 50-48.

Islip dashed up the court, the ball going to Sterling Fitz-Henry, one of its guards, who, in driving for the hoop, was rejected by Chris Stoecker, East Hampton’s tall center. Islip inbounded, and again went to tie it, but Foster came up big again, stripping the ball before the would-be shooter could get off a close-in baseline shot. This time, it was East Hampton’s ball to inbound, with 17.7 seconds on the clock.

With Islip players swarming, Reese corralled Foster’s inbounds pass and was fouled. He missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Islip rebounded and managed to get off one more shot, which rebounded off the rim. Amid the ensuing mad scramble for the ball, the final buzzer sounded.

Four Bonackers wound up in double figures that night — Foster, the hero, with 12, and Malachi Miller, Reese, and Stoecker, each with 10.

For Islip, Fitz-Henry had 14, Gabriel Perez, 16, and Chris Giuliani (a guard who plays very much like Reese, which is to say he seems to be everywhere), 10.

Dan White, East Hampton’s coach, happy to be at .500 again, attributed the win largely to tenacious defensive play. “Offensively, we struggled when it came to scoring in the third [0-for-6 from the field, 3-for-3 from the foul line], but got it together in the fourth.”

When told, yet again, that his team was always “fun to watch,” White said, “Especially when we win. And even more especially when we win at home.”

In another recent away game, the Bonackers lost 68-59 at East Islip, the undefeated league leader. “We played well in the first half,” the coach said. “In fact, it was the best half we’ve played so far. We were up by 7 or 9 at one point. For two and a half quarters we played great. It was good to see we can play with the best team in the league.”