March 5, 1987
Eric Kaufman became on Saturday night the first East Hampton High School student ever to win a Suffolk County wrestling title.
A runner-up in last year’s tourney and a fourth-place finisher in 1985, Kaufman mastered Brentwood’s Greg Hubschmitt in the 115-pound final, building up a virtually insurmountable 9-0 lead in the first two periods before pinning the UpIslander with a cradle hold at 5:38.
In the first period, the Cornell-bound senior quickly executed a high-crotch takedown for 2 points, and was awarded two more for having exposed Hubschmitt’s shoulders to the mat. As the first period ended, it seemed as if Kaufman would be awarded 2 more back points, but it was ruled the move came after the buzzer.
The second period was all Kaufman’s again as the East Hampton wrestler, who earlier in the tournament had registered his 100th career win, another East Hampton record, took Hubschmitt down, and again maneuvered his opponent’s shoulders toward the mat for a commanding 9-0 lead.
In the third period, which, like the second, started from a standing position, Kaufman took Hubschmitt down, and, with one arm around his head and the other behind a knee, the East Hamptoner squeezed Hubschmitt into an ever-tighter ball until his shoulders were pinned.
As his hand was raised by the referee, Kaufman “felt more excited” than he had ever felt before. Catching sight of his father, he called out, “We did it, we did it.”
“It’s significant that Eric said, ‘We did it,’ East Hampton’s coach, Jim Stewart, said later. “He would never say, ‘I did it.’ He looked on the championship as the result of a collaboration — with his family, his teammates, his coaches. . . .”
Stewart, in KID wrestling and in high school, has coached Kaufman since he was 9 years old.
Kaufman said he was looking forward to the state tournament Saturday at Syracuse’s War Memorial. His season record now stands at 30-1-1, and his high school record is 103-11-1. Counting KID wrestling, he said, “I’ve probably wrestled about 400 matches all told.”
Before a tumultuous standing-room-only crowd at Shoreham-Wading River High School Tuesday night, the Center Moriches High School boys basketball team, the third-place finisher in League VII, upset the league champion and top-ranked small school team in the state, Bridgehampton, 66-65, in the Suffolk County tournament’s C-D final.
It was the second loss of the season for the Killer Bees (20-2), who led 64-58 with two minutes to go, but an inability to make good in one-and-one situations at the foul line, on the one hand, and Troy Cousins’s heroics, on the other, served to eviscerate the Bees.
A driving layup by Cousins with 16 seconds left was to be the last basket. With nine seconds on the clock and the ball in Bridgehampton’s hands to inbound, John Niles, the Bees’ coach, called timeout to set up a final play.
“I said the first guy with a decent shot should shoot,” Niles said later. “Ronnie [Gholson] got the ball at the top of the key, which is his shot. It was a good shot that just happened to miss.”
. . . When the final buzzer sounded, the jubilant Center Moriches squad and its entourage of fans went bananas, and Troy Bowe, the Bees’ point guard, slumped backward onto the floor near the Center Moriches basket, and then sat up, stunned, taking in the frenzied scene.
The scene became even more frenzied 10 or so minutes later as a short-lived chair-throwing melee broke out in which fans and some of the players were involved.
“It was a big mess, there were so many people,” said Niles. “We got the kids into the locker room; the awards never came off.” Bob Bubka, announcer for radio station WLNG, signed off quickly when he saw the riotous squall head his way. Ten Suffolk County police cars were dispatched to help those police who had been assigned to the game, but tempers had cooled by the time they arrived.
Back to the game, Niles said of it, “We played hard. I’ve got no complaints. It’s the same old story — if you’re the top dog, everybody’s out to beat you. You’ve got all the pressure — you’re expected to win — and the other guys have nothing to lose.”
In the regular season, Bridgehampton beat the Red Devils twice, 76-67 and 91-74, but as was amply demonstrated this past week, it’s hard to win three in a row.
“What can I say?” Niles continued. “Center Moriches played a helluva game. No matter what happens now, their season is made. They kicked our tails. It’s an all-time high. I can understand it.”