The East Hampton High School girls basketball team scored a season-high 64 points in Friday’s game here with Miller Place, a feisty opponent whose post players impressed Bonac’s coach, Howard Wood, with their grit.
“Those girls play hard,” the former professional power forward said of the Panthers’ big girls following the 64-51 decision. “They were posting our girls up hard — that’s what you should do.”
Meanwhile, Wood said of Bonac’s defenders, “We don’t move our feet, and then we reach in. That’s what you shouldn’t do.”
Nevertheless, it was, all in all, a good night for Wood’s charges, who as a result needed to win only one of their remaining four games to make the playoffs.
East Hampton finished with three players — Kaelyn Ward, Carley Seekamp, and Emma Newburger — in double figures, Ward with 18, and Seekamp and Newburger each with 12, and with one — Courtney Dess, who had 9 — just shy of double digits.
By halftime, the home team led 33-20, though one of its post players, Ryann Ward, had three fouls, and Seekamp, another “big,” who was to foul out midway through the fourth quarter, had two.
East Hampton tallied 21 points in the second quarter and also in the all-important third.
A follow by Ryann Ward of a Kaelyn Ward miss made it 35-20 as the third period began. The visitors fought back to 37-26, but they were to come no closer. A nice move to the hoop by Seekamp made it 39-26, but a moment later, with 5:30 left in the period, her fourth foul forced her temporarily to the sidelines.
Miller Place pressed full-court the entire second half, but, despite some turnovers, the Bonackers, with Kaelyn Ward inbounding the ball and sometimes passing over the defense to either Jackie Messemer or Newburger for easy layups, managed to overcome it.
Ryann Ward’s fourth foul in the final minutes of the third returned her to the bench as Ashley Rojas subbed in. Soon after, Rojas converted both ends of a 1-and-1, for a 51-35 lead, and, following a Miller Place basket, Kaelyn Ward sank a 3-pointer off the dribble for 54-37, though a basket by the visitors with four seconds left on the clock didn’t improve Wood’s mood.
“No silly fouls. Move your feet. Don’t reach!” he was heard to say during the huddle that preceded the fourth frame, which began with Seekamp, Ryann Ward, Kaelyn Ward, Messemer, and Rojas on the floor.
A Seekamp putback of a Kaelyn Ward miss got the final quarter going, though, following a Panther basket and Kaelyn Ward’s overthrown pass, which had been intended for Seekamp, Wood was prompted to call another timeout.
Somewhat later in the period, after Miller Place, down at the time by 12, had called for a timeout, Wood reminded his players that “the game is not over — we’ve got five to six minutes to go.”
Subsequently, Kaelyn Ward made good on both ends of a 1-and-1 for 58-44, and she parlayed a midcourt steal a moment later into another trip to the foul line, where she made good on her second attempt for 59-44.
Seekamp fouled out soon after, which returned Newburger to the floor, and though East Hampton went 2-for-7 from the field and 1-for-5 from the foul line down the stretch, it finished up winning by the same 13-point margin it had enjoyed at halftime.
A 3-point play by Messemer in the final minute brightened an otherwise pedestrian endgame.
“I can’t even count how many free throws we missed,” Wood said afterward as he scanned the scorebook in the adjacent coaches’ office. (In the second half, the team went 4-for-13 from the foul line.)
When told by this writer that he didn’t remember the last time a girls basketball team here had scored 64 points, Wood smiled and said, “We should have had 80!”
As for the near future, he said, in parting, “We need to win one with four left to make the playoffs, but I want us to win four of four. That would give us good momentum.”