Shelter Island had a chance last Thursday to hail the first county-championship boys basketball team the tiny school district has ever had.
When told of the possibility after Bridgehampton’s 53-40 win in the county Class D final at Westhampton Beach High School, Carl Johnson, the Killer Bees’ coach, who has played on and coached state-championship teams, said, “I’m glad they didn’t do it against me!”
For a while it looked as if the Indians might. They led 19-16 at the break following two quarters of turnover-plagued play. The margin was 4 points, in Bridgehampton’s favor, when the fourth quarter began, and the rest was history as the Bees, led by two freshmen, their 205-pound inside man, Josh Lamison, and their point guard, Tylik Furman, who became increasingly confident, began to sting and sting and sting.
When it was over, Shelter Island’s coach, Mike Mundy, could take heart in knowing that the program, which once rode an arguably historic 77-game losing streak, is on the rebound. Mundy’s brother, Jerry, had played on the last Harelegger team to beat a Bridgehampton one 44 years ago — a drought that recently ended with a 39-34 Shelter Island regular-season victory.
Recalling those hapless years at an East Hampton Coaches Association golf outing in 2010, Henry Uihlein said a 74-4 Bridgehampton lead at the half of his boys basketball coaching debut had prompted him to tell his charges in the locker room that they were “only 35 baskets behind . . . I thought that was putting a better face on it.”
“We beat them at Bridgehampton and they beat us on Shelter Island,” the elder Mundy, who had brought along his high school yearbook, said before last Thursday’s showdown.
“We had the county scoring champion that year in Bob Miller, who could hit from anywhere. We won the league and we scored 100 or more points in six games. And remember, there were no 3-pointers then; all we did was run. Our only league loss was to Bridgehampton. We beat Pierson both times. . . .”
But a county championship that year was pretty much out of the question for Shelter Island, which lost 81-62 to Central Islip in the first round, inasmuch as the county tournament was an open one — there were no enrollment classification brackets within it as is the case today.
Taking Mundy one step further back, Cliff Clark, the South Ferry owner, recalled that the ’57-58 Shelter Island team had gone 16-0 with an average winning margin of 30-plus points. “Bill McManus, who practiced dentistry in East Hampton, was the star. He averaged 23 points a game. He was on the freshman team at Brown University, but then focused on med school. . . . That team was really good. It had a 6-5 center, Rollie Clark, no relation, a 6-3 forward, Gene Mosca, and my brother Bill was a center-forward. [Bridgehampton’s] Carl Yastzemski was a little ahead of those guys. . . . Then came that huge drought. We’re on the upswing now, though. This was a big year.”
Getting back to the game, things began to go south for Shelter Island when, near the end of the third quarter, Jerome Walker and Furman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bees the lead, at 30-28, and, following a basket by the Indians’ Nathan Mundy, Lamison began to take over in the paint.
The Bees took a 34-30 lead into the fourth, which Furman began with a fastbreak layup. Lamison then put back another Furman miss for 38-30, and so it went.
Bridgehampton’s crushing 17-0 run finally came to an end when Riley Willumsen made two foul shots with two and a half minutes left to play.
Lamison was to finish with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Furman had 15 points. Mundy led Shelter Island with 15 points.
“Defense never was a problem for us today,” Johnson said afterward, “though our offense was. Josh was unbelievable, and, you know, when someone gets going it can be contagious. The key really was Jason [Hopson, Bridgehampton’s high-scoring senior]. If he moves, which he did in the second half, then that opens it up; everyone always keys on him. He was just standing around in the first half, that’s why I yelled at him during halftime. He doesn’t need to score to be effective. Josh is a 6-footer, but he has the reach of a 6-4 guy. He took over with his rebounding and putbacks, and Tylik, who’s less comfortable shooting from the outside, began taking it to the hoop. . . . “
The Bees were to have played Stony Brook — a 57-27 victor over Pierson in last Thursday’s C final — in the county C-D game yesterday.
As for the state tournament, Johnson said, “Rockland and Westchester haven’t even begun their tournaments yet. I think we may wind up playing Livingston Manor, the number-one team in Rockland, in the regional final, but that’s two weeks away.”
The Bees will have to win two games to get to the Class D Final Four at Glens Falls in mid-March. When asked how long it had been since Bridgehampton’s last trip there, Johnson smiled and said, “1998. It’s been too long!”