Last year, though it didn’t win much, the East Hampton High School boys basketball team made things interesting, and Bill McKee, Bonac’s coach, now in his second year at the helm since Ed Petrie’s retirement, hopes the 2011-12 team will make things interesting again this winter.
Though McKee, who again will be assisted by Bobby Vacca, could do without the tragic third acts, which haunted the Bonackers in 2010-11.
He’s got guards, that’s for sure, in Thomas King and Cameron Yusko, both returning starters, and in McKee’s son, Danny, a relentless competitor who’s up from the junior varsity. Besides King, a junior, and Yusko, a senior, the other returnees are Patrick McGuirk, a senior who is the tallest player on the squad at 6 feet 2 inches, Alex Munoz, a senior who saw some playing time last year coming off the bench, and Juan Cuevas, a junior who was sidelined for the greater part of the 2010-11 season with a broken collarbone.
Besides McKee, who’s a sophomore, others up from the jayvee are Thomas Nelson, a sophomore, Michael Taveras, a senior, and four juniors — Rolando Garces, Donya Davis, Andre Cherrington, and Joey Sandoval. “They’re all of about the same ability,” said the elder McKee, who, because of the team’s depth, hopes to run players in and out this season and to score in transition, rather than out of a half-court offense.
“Hopefully we’ll handle the ball well and thus get good shots — we’ll play an up-tempo game,” said the coach, who added, “We’re still in League V, the same schools as last year. I’d say Amityville and Bayport are the favorites. They’ve both got a lot of returnees, and I know Amityville had a very good jayvee.”
As for East Hampton, “the kids have been working hard and they’re improving.”
The Bonackers are to scrimmage Southold here at 5:30 p.m. today. The team’s to scrimmage at Center Moriches Saturday morning, and Ross is to scrimmage here on Monday at 5:30. “Our first home game will be on Dec. 9 with Pierson, at 6:15,” McKee said.
During Friday morning’s practice session, McKee’s taller charges were put through some drills by Hayden Ward, a 6-foot-6-inch former Bonac star who is playing now for the State University at Oswego.
“We were 24-4 last year,” Ward, a junior, said during a brief conversation, “and we went to the N.C.A.A. [Division III] tournament for the first time in our history. We’ve got most everyone back and hope to do even better this time. We lost to Wells College in the second round of the N.C.A.A.s last year.”
Oswego, which was 3-1 going into Thanksgiving vacation, was ranked 18th in the nation at the moment, he said.
The amiable Montauker, who’s majoring in business administration and minoring in coaching, averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game last season, and is averaging 12 and 10 thus far in this campaign. It’s the second year that he’s been a starter.
Asked about the transition he had to make from high school to college ball, the quiet-spoken redhead smiled and said, “College basketball is definitely more intense — it’s a much quicker game. You don’t realize how much quicker it is until you’re there. It’s quicker, more physical. Everybody’s bigger. I played down low in high school, but our centers are between 6-9 and 7-0, so I’m more of a perimeter player now.”
When this writer said he hoped there were some businesses to administrate when he graduated from college, Ward said, “Let’s hope so . . . I’d like to be a basketball coach, too.”