It took about 10 minutes for East Hampton High School’s boys basketball team to warm up in a league game played here on Dec. 19 with Miller Place.
A steal by Rolando Garces early in the second quarter that Thomas Nelson followed with a fast-break layup, and a subsequent coast-to-coast drive by Garces, following a steal by Nelson, got the blood flowing, and from that point on the Bonackers, who improved to 6-0 as a result of the 60-39 win, were in the driver’s seat.
Bill McKee’s charges took a 29-22 lead into the halftime break, and they outscored the visitors 17-9 in the third, during which Brendan Hughes, Garces, Thomas King, and Nelson all made baskets.
A floater in the lane by Garces, another fastbreak-capping layup by Nelson, and a 3-pointer by a recent call-up from the junior varsity, Brandon Neff, treated the home team to a 53-33 lead in the opening moments of the fourth, and so it went. McKee, with a victory well assured, emptied his bench in the final two minutes.
Neff, East Hampton’s version of Steve Novak, had made his debut at Mount Sinai, McKee said, when asked afterward who number 33 was. “He’s been shooting the lights out for the jayvee, and, so far, he’s been doing the same for us,” he said of the thin 6-foot-2-inch sophomore. “He gives us another weapon.”
While the team’s offensive total wasn’t all that high, McKee’s assistant, Bob Vacca, noted that the shooting percentages were creditable.
“Thomas King went 7-for-9 from the floor, and he had eight rebounds and five assists,” Vacca said. “Brendan Hughes was 5-for-5, Brendan Neff was 3-for-5 from 3-point range, Thomas Nelson was 4-for-5, and Rolando was 3-for-4 on 2s and 1-for-2 on 3s. Thomas Nelson also had four steals, which was significant.”
The only fault Vacca could find was that King, the team’s senior point guard, who, according to McKee, “had another great all-around game,” had been left pretty much on his own when it came to rebounding. “Usually, we have several kids with seven or so boards — we didn’t have that tonight,” said Vacca.
“I thought we played well in the second half,” said McKee. “Defensively, we mixed it up. Basically, we clogged the middle, which gave them problems,” causing plenty of turnovers.
“They were keying on Thomas [King], but he broke their press and did a great job distributing the ball — he didn’t force anything. Another great all-around game for him.”
McKee said that the impressive start owed much to the fact that “a lot of these guys — Thomas, my son Danny, Rolando, and Thomas Nelson — have experience. They showed that at Mount Sinai where we started out with an 18-point lead, saw it vanish, and then came back to win. We went down by 1 or 2 points a number of times in the third period, but the kids kept plugging away. They’ve been finding ways to win.”
King finished with 15 points, Hughes with 11, Neff and Garces with 9 each, and Nelson and Danny McKee with 8 each.