The first 32 minutes of the county Class D boys basketball championship game between Bridgehampton and Smithtown Christian on Feb. 15 were utterly thrilling, with the lead changing hands repeatedly as the Killer Bees and the Knights duked it out.
Bridgehampton, which is aiming to play in its first state Final Four tournament at Glens Falls since 2015, had defeated Smithtown Christian three times in the regular season, but the challengers were ready to play when they took the floor at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
A minute into the second quarter, the Bees, thanks to a fastbreak layup by Jai Feaster, one of the team’s three freshman starters, led by 6, at 18-12, the largest lead either team enjoyed in regulation, during the course of which the score was knotted 15 times.
Alex Davis, a freshman guard who finished with 29 points, including four 3-pointers, was the Bees’ savior that night.
As the result of making the back end of a one-and-one, Lorenzo Crilly, a Knights co-captain, treated Smithtown Christian to a 61-58 lead with 13 seconds left. The Bees came down and Sae’vion Ward, another freshman starter, launched a 3-point attempt that missed. Mikhail Feaster came down with the rebound and shot a pass out to Davis, who, from the left wing, and with the final seconds ticking off, found nothing but net just before the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime.
Asked following the Bees’ 78-64 win if he had known that the ball would go in, Davis said with a smile, “Of course I did.”
That 3, “a big-time shot,” in the words of Will Fujita, the coach of the Pierson Whalers, sent the game into a four-minute OT during which the Bees’ swarming defenders and relentless transition play ran the Knights out of the gym.
A 3-pointer by Smithtown Christian’s Nehemiah Yuen got the overtime period going, but that was the sole basket the Knights made in the final four minutes.
After Crilly missed a shot with the score tied at 64-64, Ward sped down the court and was hammered as he tried to lay the ball in. He missed the first foul shot but made the second to wrest back the lead, after which he and his teammates wreaked havoc defensively and offensively, finishing the Knights off by way of a 13-0 run that Feaster and Davis began with successive fastbreak layups. A 3 by Kris Vinski, his third of the night, and a putback by him put Bridgehampton ahead 74-64, and steals and baskets by Ward and Jai Feaster capped the rout.
“We should have fouled on that last play,” Daniel Skaritka, Smithtown Christian’s coach, said afterward, “but it didn’t happen. . . . It was a great effort by our team.”
“Their coach lost it for them — he had fouls to give,” one of the many spectators, Bob Burden, was to say during the intermission between the Class D and C games.
Ron White, the coach, was greeted by jubilant yells when he entered the gleeful Killer Bees’ locker room after the trophy had been presented.
“I feel perfect,” Davis said when asked how he felt. “And I want to thank Mikhail Feaster, who passed the ball to me after Sae’vion missed.”
In addition to Davis’s 29, Jai Feaster finished with 19 points, Ward with 12, Kris Vinski with 11, and Scott Vinski with 3.
Kris Vinski, one of four seniors on the team, recalled that in his first two years of varsity play “we didn’t win a game. . . . It feels like a lifetime ago.”
Therefore, winning back-to-back county Class D championships “means a lot,” he said, adding that “we’ll continue playing together and playing hard.”
To win four times in a row was tough, White said. “It was a tough game. We got a little stagnant there, but made the needed adjustments. Hats off to their coach — he had them ready. Both teams left it all out on the court. . . . That shot of Alex’s was amazing; Mikhail’s rebound was huge.”
“We were 0-and-25 in Kris’s freshman and sophomore years,” the coach said when Kris Vinski’s comments came up. As for Davis and Jai Feaster, “they’ve been playing on the varsity since seventh grade — they’re battle-tested, as is Sae’vion.”
Next up for the Bees was the county C-D game with Pierson — which was also to win a county title at St. Joe’s that night — at Southampton High School on Tuesday, a game the Whalers won 76-53.
The Bees are to play in a state Class D regional semifinal at the S.S. Seward Institute in Florida, N.Y., on March 7 at 7 p.m. A Class D regional final is tentatively scheduled for March 11.