An 82-67 win over Mattituck in the consolation game of Center Moriches’s invitational boys basketball tournament last weekend was viewed as “a breakthrough” by East Hampton’s coach, Bill McKee, and his assistant, Bob Vacca.
“We got cremated by Westhampton,” Vacca said of the Bonackers’ 53-36 loss in that tournament’s first round.
“But against Mattituck,” said McKee, “we scored 53 points in the first half. About half of those points came from the 3-point line where we went 8-for-11. That showed what we’re capable of. . . . We had 22 assists in that game on 31 baskets, which is also good news. That meant we were moving the ball.”
Thomas Nelson, who was named to the all-tournament teams in both holiday tourneys, led the Bonackers against Mattituck with 23 points and 21 rebounds, a monster game for him, as was his 22-point, 23-rebound performance against Southampton here on Dec. 22 in the consolation game of the Southampton Recreation Center’s Holiday Classic. Brendan Hughes put up big numbers versus Mattituck, scoring 19 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Danny McKee, the point guard, had eight assists.
“The Southampton game was tied at the half,” said Vacca, “and Kyle [McKee] really helped us stay in it in the third quarter, but he got into foul trouble, and they outscored us 16-0 in the fourth.”
“It was a 4-point game going into the fourth quarter,” said the elder McKee, “but having to sit Kyle hurt. I think we ran out of gas in the end. . . . It was the kids’ fourth game that week. But give Southampton credit. I don’t want them to think I’m trying to make excuses — they beat us.”
East Hampton had lost in the Classic’s first round to Dalton, a private school in New York City by a score of 67-61.
“We shot 2-for-17 from the 3-point line in that game,” said McKee, by way of explanation.
Center Moriches, which was to defeat Dalton in the final, bested Southampton in the first round.
“Frankly, up until the Mattituck game we hadn’t been playing well,” said McKee. “We’ve been turning the ball over too much, and we let Westhampton dictate the tempo from the tip in the game we played with them [in the first round of the Center Moriches tournament]. That game was one of the most disappointing ones, from start to finish, we’ve played in a long time. We came out flat and never recovered. We had 15 turnovers in that game, and only scored 36 points.”
“But to their credit, the kids came back the next day to beat Mattituck, which had given Center Moriches a tussle,” McKee added. “We’re hoping that this is the way we’ll continue to play from here on.”
As of this week, the Bonackers are 0-3 in league play and 2-6 over all.
“We’ve got Mount Sinai [on Tuesday] and Miller Place [next Thursday] coming up, and we want to show that this latest win of ours was no fluke,” said Vacca.
As for East Hampton High’s girls team, Kelly McKee, who is Howard Wood’s assistant, said after a recent practice session that “the girls are working hard, they’re learning how to work with each other,” and that “since we no longer have Kaelyn Ward to go to, they’ve got to step up and make plays.”
The girls are to play a nonleaguer at Pierson tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. The Whalers got the better of the Bonackers in a recent scrimmage, but three East Hampton starters were missing that day.