Given its two losses this past week, to Amityville last Thursday and to Elwood-John Glenn Saturday morning, the East Hampton High School boys basketball team must run the table, which is to say defeat Mount Sinai, Miller Place, and Bayport-Blue Point, to make the playoffs.
The task is certainly possible, given the fact that the younger players on Bill McKee’s team — Brandon Kennedy-Gay, Kyle McKee, and Kevin Fee — have benefited from having been thrown into the fire, as it were. “All they need to do,” one of Saturday’s spectators said following Glenn’s 60-50 win, “is get stronger.”
For just about the entire game, East Hampton played League VI’s second-place team evenly. With six minutes to go the score was tied at 44-44. Then the pendulum, following a 3-pointer by Glenn’s Keanon Augustine and a basket by East Hampton’s Kennedy-Gay, a sophomore, began to swing the visitors’ way.
Glenn came up empty on two tries after Gay’s score, but at the other end East Hampton failed to net three attempts, the first by the freshman guard, Fee, the second by the senior center, Thomas Nelson, and the third by Gay, from 3-point range.
Thereafter, in the final three minutes, the visitors closed it out with a 13-4 run that included 7-for-8 shooting from the foul line.
McKee agreed that, aside from their unlucky shooting at the end, the Bonackers had been hurt that day — as they have been all season — by turnovers, by unforced turnovers primarily, “throwing the ball away, or telegraphing passes. . . . It comes down to inexperience, really.”
The Knights took advantage of 17 Bonac turnovers during the course of Saturday’s game, which was played here, converting most of them.
Still, there was some satisfaction to be taken from the 10-point loss: “They beat us 75-50 the first time we played them,” said the coach.
Gay, who hit three 3-pointers, led East Hampton in scoring with 17 points. Nelson, who seemed hexed when he put up shots underneath in the second half, grabbed 14 rebounds, and Brendan Hughes gathered in 9.
As for Amityville, one of the top teams in Suffolk County, McKee said, concerning the 71-55 loss, “they were bigger, stronger, and quicker — a tough combination.”
The Bonackers trailed by 10 at halftime, but the Warriors put the game away with a 28-11 third quarter. Danny McKee, the senior point guard, finished with 12 points; Nelson and Kyle McKee each had 10, and Kennedy-Gay and Fee each had 9. Hughes had 9 rebounds.
“Two weeks to go,” said the elder McKee. “The time has passed quickly.”
But not so quickly, he added, as to talk about next year. That could wait.
“We’ve got a home game with Mount Sinai Friday [tomorrow] at 6 p.m. Saturday we have a nonleague makeup at Eastport-South Manor, at 11, and next week we’ve got two games — at Miller Place on Tuesday and home with Bayport next Friday [Feb. 7].”
Assuming the 3-6 Bonackers repeat their first-round wins over 1-7 Mount Sinai and 2-6 Miller Place, the playoffs will hinge on the regular-season finale with 5-4 Bayport-Blue Point, which edged East Hampton 52-50 the last time out, on Jan. 14.
East Hampton’s girls team was League VI’s cellar dweller, at 1-8, as of Monday. Asked about the girls’ 54-31 loss Friday at Amityville, Howard Wood, East Hampton’s coach, summed it up by saying, “It was ugly.”
The girls are to play at 2-7 Mount Sinai tomorrow; Miller Place (4-4) is to play here Tuesday, at 6 p.m., and next Thursday, the team’s regular season is to end at 3-6 Bayport-Blue Point. A makeup nonleaguer at Pierson was to have been played Tuesday.