Howard Wood, after having lowered himself somewhat painfully into a chair — “back trouble,” he explained — smiled as he checked the scorebook following the East Hampton-Mount Sinai girls basketball game here on Jan. 7.
“Ah, that’s what I like to see,” said the former pro, relishing the balanced scoring: Jackie Messemer and Ali Harned, each with 12 points, Merissa Gilbert with 10, and Sophia DePasquale with 8.
Wood had not been happy with the “back-and-forth” first half, but neither he nor his assistant, Kelly McKee, could help but be encouraged by the second, especially by the fourth quarter, during which the Bonackers — the above-named plus Carley Seekamp — racked up 20 points on their way to a 49-45 win, the team’s first league win of the season.
Several Hail Mary 3-point heaves by the visitors in the final minutes — two of them in the final 30 seconds — kept it respectable, but Messemer’s perfect foul shooting going down the stretch left no doubt as to the outcome.
The score was tied at 29-29 going into the fourth, but Wood’s charges, who had been told by him during the break that the team that wanted it the most would win, poured in baskets in the opening minutes of the final frame, with everyone getting into the act.
A basket by Gilbert, assisted by Jacqui Thorsen, got it going. Harned fed Messemer for the next one. A putback by DePasquale of a Gilbert miss made it 35-29, and a shot in the paint by Gilbert, who’d received the ball from Messemer, upped East Hampton’s lead to 37-29, which prompted Mount Sinai’s coach to call for a timeout.
When play resumed, Messemer came up with a steal, and fed Gilbert for a 10-point lead. Following a Mount Sinai turnover, the run continued as DePasquale banked in a shot — East Hampton’s sixth straight 2-pointer.
The overwhelmed visitors got on the board by way of a made free throw with four minutes and 50 seconds remaining, after which Gilbert capped the 14-1 run, banking in a shot from the foul line.
The visitors gamely fought on, trimming East Hampton’s 13-point lead a bit thereafter, though Messemer’s 4-for-4 shooting from the foul line kept the Bonackers comfortably ahead.
“Still,” said Wood during the post-game talk, “I wish that when we go up by 12 or 14 that we continue on to 20 rather than go back down to 8 or 6 through silly fouls or by forcing up shots when we should be pulling the ball back out.”
It was the first League VI win for East Hampton vis-a-vis three losses — to Shoreham-Wading River, Amityville, and Elwood-John Glenn. Mount Sinai, as a result of the loss, dropped to 0-4.