Leaving East Hampton High School’s gym the night of Jan. 29 following Bonac’s exciting 64-62 win in overtime over Shoreham-Wading River, Keith McMahon said, “Wow, what an exciting game . . . almost too exciting. Shoreham got hot there — they must have had ten 3s.”
Nine actually, most of them in the second half, which went down to the wire. A drive to the hoop by Thomas King in the final seconds of regulation enabled East Hampton to tie the score at 59-59, but Shoreham took the last shot, which, thanks to Thomas Nelson, who had been switched over to guard the Wildcats’ extremely shifty point guard, Kevin Turano, rimmed out.
The Bonackers fell behind 62-59 in the opening minutes of O.T., but Rolando Garces, after drawing a foul, made the first of his two free throws to pull the home team to within two, and in the subsequent scramble for the rebound of a missed shot by Turano, Nelson, who was stretched out on his back, managed to get the ball to Garces, and Garces fed King, whose driving layup tied the count at 62-62.
Shoreham missed on its next trip downcourt, and Nelson, who was to finish with 17 boards, a career-high, came down with the rebound, prompting Bill McKee, East Hampton’s coach, to call a timeout, with 38.3 seconds left.
When play resumed, King was fouled on another drive to the basket and made both of his foul shots for a 64-62 lead. With the “Bleacher Creatures” cheering loudly in the stands, McKee called another timeout, this one with 27.3 seconds to go.
Turano, who wound up leading Shoreham in the scoring column with 18 points, was to get one last chance, though Nelson, whom McKee had assigned to defend the hot-shooting guard at the end of the game, did so well that Turano threw up an air ball from the foul line and King gathered in the all-important rebound. He was to be fouled at the other end, enabling him to go to the line for two. He missed both, but no matter; the game, with a half-second remaining, was over by then.
King, whose calm demeanor and sound decisions in crunch time — preferring drives in the lane to 3-point attempts — won the day for Bonac, finished with a game-high 29 points. Garces, who frequently drove the baseline, and Brandon Neff, Bonac’s version of Steve Novak, who went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and made another basket to boot, had 11.
Noting that Turano had a chance to win it for the visitors in regulation, only to see his shot, taken in the lane, rim off, McKee said, “I’ve been on the other end of that a few times this season — Thomas Nelson did a fantastic job in guarding him.” King, he said, had not only scored 29 points, but also had 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
“We’ve had so many games like this,” the coach continued. “It was a win we needed to have — it was important.”
McKee’s charges were to have played at Elwood-John Glenn last Thursday. A win that night would have assured them of a playoff spot.
“With the exception of Amityville and Bayport, everyone’s scrambling for a playoff spot,” he said during a conversation the day after the Shoreham game. “The only team that’s been eliminated so far has been Miller Place.”