The East Hampton High School boys basketball team lost its first game of the season Friday as the Dalton School, sporting a formidable point guard and a 6-foot-5-inch center, prevailed over the Bonackers 64-54 in the first round of the Southampton Recreation Center’s Holiday Classic tournament.
Bill McKee’s team, which had gone into the tourney with a 6-0 record, played hard, but Dalton’s energetic man-for-man defense made the Bonackers work hard for their shots.
At the other end of the court, Dalton’s big man, Adisa Majors, despite fronting and backing by defenders, frequently muscled the ball up underneath while the aforementioned point guard, Connor Jacobson, who ran the offense well, proved to be pretty deadly from the 3-point arc.
It looked as if it would be a blowout in the beginning. By the end of the first quarter, the New York City private school led 14-3 and East Hampton had made only one of its eight shots, a perimeter jumper by Thomas King.
Things were to get better, however. But not until the third quarter, when the Bonackers, who trailed by 15 at one point, fought back to 46-41.
Down 45-30 in the final minutes of the period, Mckee’s crew, mixing 3’s in with steals and fast-break layups, went on an 11-1 tear that put them back in the game.
Alas, they couldn’t keep the hot hand in the fourth after Rolando Garces’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 4 in the opening moments. They then proceeded to come up empty on seven occasions from beyond the arc; Danny McKee missing three times, Brandon Neff missing twice, and Garces and Thomas Nelson once each.
Later, the elder McKee said, “We struggled on offense, but you have to credit Dalton’s defense for that. We cut it to 4 points at one time, but we came up empty on our next four possessions. While we were missing our 3s, they were making theirs. Their point guard hurt us and so did their big guy. Between them [Jacobson finished with 27 points, Majors with 22] they scored most of their points.”
But, McKee added, “It was a good nonleague game for us. Obviously we wanted to win, but it was what we needed — it can only help because we’ll be facing teams like that in league play.”
Because of its first-round loss, East Hampton played Bridgehampton (which lost 71-44 to Southampton Friday) in Saturday’s consolation game.
The Bees, who are young and whose chief scoring threat is Jason Hopson, a 6-foot-3-inch senior guard-forward, fell behind 15-4 in the first quarter, though the overconfident Bonackers pretty much frittered that advantage away in the second period. Going into the halftime break, following a 7-2 spurt by the energized Bees, East Hampton clung to a slim 22-18 lead.
Obviously what McKee said to his charges during the intermission registered, for they came out on fire in the third quarter.
Later, following the 61-42 win, McKee said no adjustments had been made. “It was simply that we put in a better effort in the second half.” As for what he had said to his players during halftime, “You wouldn’t want to print what I said to them in your paper.”
In the first five minutes of the third, the Bonackers outscored their younger neighbors 19-2, an animated full-court pressure run during which Thomas Nelson had three steals, the lightning-quick Garces scored 9 points, and Brendan Hughes, a solid inside player, scored 5.
McKee and Garces, each of whom hit four 3-pointers, finished with 14 points each, King had 10, and Hughes, 9. Hopson, who had scored 16 against Southampton, had 12 for the Bees, as did Josh Lamison, a freshman.