Though the East Hampton High School boys basketball team was missing two key players — Juan Cuevas, who starts, and Rolando Garces, the valuable sixth man — Bill McKee, the Bonackers’ coach, said during a conversation the day following a disappointing 56-55 loss at Shoreham-Wading River that “we just didn’t, for whatever reason, play well — we didn’t lose because Juan and Rolando weren’t there.”
Both players were expected to be back for Tuesday’s game here with Elwood-John Glenn, a game that McKee said would be a big one. “We’ll have to beat them if we want to make the playoffs.”
“We were down 22-5 early in the second quarter at Shoreham,” continued the coach as he oversaw a full John M. Marshall Elementary School gym of Biddy basketballers Saturday morning. “But we battled back — our kids never quit.”
Brandon Neff, a slim sophomore with a deft touch from beyond the arc, started in place of Cuevas, and finished with four 3s in eight attempts. East Hampton wound up with nine 3-pointers in all (Shoreham had 10).
In the final minutes, after erasing the aforementioned 17-point deficit, “we were up 49-46. They tied it with a 3, then Danny [McKee’s son, one of the team’s guards] hit a 3 to put us up 52-49. They came down and missed, but they came up with the rebound and fed the ball back out [to Kevin Turano] for a 3 that tied it again. We then had a good 2-point look, but missed, and [Turano] got another 3 before they added a foul shot [by Tim Rotanz] in the final 10 seconds for 56-52. Thomas King hit a 3 for us at the buzzer, so the score looked closer than it really was.”
Shoreham outscored the Bonackers 16-5 in the first quarter, and went into the half up 33-19. Entering the fourth frame it was 43-31, but the visitors outscored the Wildcats 24-13 in the fourth.
“The bottom line is that we didn’t play well — defensively or offensively,” said McKee.
On the upside, Neeko Bachelor did well, said the coach, in coming off the bench midway through the third quarter, “especially on defense. He gave us a lift. Nevertheless, we were down by 16 in the fourth quarter. It was disappointing to lose the way we did at the end.”
“In this league everyone’s capable of beating anyone on any given night. Any team that isn’t ready to play will have trouble.”
As of the beginning of this week, games with Glenn, Amityville (away tomorrow), and Bayport-Blue Point (here Tuesday) remained until the season’s midway point is reached.
As for the Biddy program, McKee said, “We’ve got 20 third and fourth graders, 50 fifth and sixth graders, and 50 seventh and eighth graders. That’s a lot. We’re busy here every Saturday morning!”