Playoffs Continued to Beckon the Bonackers This Week

The East Hampton High School boys basketball team remained on track to make the county playoffs
Thomas Nelson, driving to the hoop above in Friday’s game here with Mount Sinai, has been East Hampton’s leading rebounder this season. Jack Graves

    Thanks to a come-from-behind win over Mount Sinai on Friday, the East Hampton High School boys basketball team remained on track — provided it won at Miller Place Tuesday — to make the county playoffs.

    Danny McKee, East Hampton’s senior point guard, was a key factor in not only winning Friday’s matchup, by a score of 64-44, but also winning a nonleaguer at Eastport-South Manor (also a Class A school) the next day, by a score of 59-57, thanks to his pull-up jumper in the lane with two seconds to go in overtime.

    “We were down 39-34 going into the fourth quarter of the Mount Sinai game,” Bill McKee, East Hampton’s coach (and Danny and Kyle McKee’s father), said during a conversation Monday. “But then Danny took over and we went on a 21-0 run.”

    The point guard scored all of his 12 points in that fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer, three 2s, and shooting 3-for-3 from the foul line.

    “He did the same thing the next day,” said the elder McKee.

    While the McKees, Kevin Fee, the freshman guard, who’s “getting better and better with every game,” and Brandon Kennedy-Gay were knocking down shots, Thomas Nelson and Brendan Hughes were controlling the boards. “I don’t think Mount Sinai had any offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter,” said the coach. “It took us a while to get going [the Bonackers nursed a slim 25-21 lead at the half],” said McKee. “I don’t know why it was — we got off to a slow start at Eastport too, though maybe that was because we’d played the night before.”

    Four of his players wound up in double figures on Friday. Danny McKee had, as aforesaid, 12 points; Fee had 12, and Kyle McKee and Thomas Nelson each had 11. Kennedy-Gay had 9, and Hughes, 7.

    In addition, Nelson and Hughes each had 11 rebounds.

    On Saturday, at Eastport, a League V team that has clinched a playoff spot, East Hampton trailed 31-17 at one point in the second quarter, but, thanks to Danny McKee and Fee’s shooting, narrowed the margin to 5 by halftime.

    “The second half was back-and-forth,” said Coach McKee. “Kyle was fouled with two seconds to go, and went to the line to shoot a 1-and-1. He’d made 24 straight, so, after he made the first, we [he and his assistant, Bob Vacca] thought we had the game won.”

    “I guess he wanted Danny to win it,” the elder McKee said with a laugh. “Kyle’s second shot rimmed out, and that brought about overtime. Kyle hit a 3 to begin it. . . . With the clock running down we held the ball for the last shot, and, with two seconds left, Danny made a nice move, pulled up in the lane, and hit the jumper that won it for us, about six feet from the basket.”

    “Thomas Nelson had 2 points, but, much more importantly for us, had 17 rebounds. Brendan didn’t score, but he had 10 rebounds. Danny, carrying over what he’d done in the fourth quarter the night before, had a season-high 21 points, Kyle had 18, Brandon had 10, and Fee had 8.”

    East Hampton, as aforesaid, was to have played at Miller Place Tuesday, weather permitting. The Bonackers defeated the Panthers 42-19 in East Hampton’s gym, “but it will be a tough game in theirs,” said the coach, who added that “they’ve got three or four league wins . . . just about all of their games have been close.”

    Assuming East Hampton — which was 4-6 in league play as of Tuesday morning — emerged as the winner at Miller Place, tomorrow’s game here at 6 p.m. with Bayport-Blue Point (a 52-50 winner over the Bonackers in their previous meeting) will be for a playoff berth.

    Whatever happens, the team, its younger players in particular — namely Kyle McKee, Kennedy-Gay, and Fee — has been fun to watch.

    A spectator said after a recent game that all they needed to do was “get stronger,” but the elder McKee, who arranged for his younger son and Kennedy-Gay to work out with the school’s new strength and conditioning coach, Erik Fredrickson, when he arrived in the fall, said, “It’s more than just getting stronger. Because of their work with Erik, they’re not only stronger, but more agile and quicker. He [Fredrickson] is one of the best people Joe Vas [East Hampton’s athletic director] has ever hired. He’s a huge asset for all of the teams. I’m going to have a long list of kids go see him after the season ends.”