The boys basketball seasons ended for the East Hampton and Pierson (Sag Harbor) High School teams this past week as each lost by somewhat lopsided margins to Harborfields (in East Hampton’s case) and Stony Brook (in Pierson’s).
The Bonackers, coached by Bill McKee, acquitted themselves well in the first half of a Class A quarterfinal on Feb. 12 at Harborfields. At the break, East Hampton, Class A’s seventh seed, led the second-seeded Tornadoes 34-31.
“But then we got worn down,” McKee said later in the week. “They were no bigger than us — I just think physically they wore us down. They played a very physical man-to-man defense that made it difficult for us to execute our offense.”
“We shot decently in the first half,” he continued. “We didn’t shoot well in the second.”
Harborfields wound up winning 81-61.
Still, said McKee, he was “very proud of the way our kids played this season. You can look it up, but I think we went 8-3 in our last 11 games, after that loss to Westhampton [on Dec. 27], at which point we were about as low as we could be. Our seniors [Danny McKee, Thomas Nelson, Brendan Hughes, Charles Barranco, and David Moss] stepped up then, changed their attitude and turned the season around.”
Nelson, one of the leading rebounders in the county with a 12-plus average, and Danny McKee were named to the all-League VI team, and Hughes, the team’s second-leading rebounder, was all-league honorable mention.
Kyle McKee, who led a balanced scoring attack with an average of 12.2 points per game, was the league’s rookie of the year, edging his fellow sophomore, Brandon Kennedy-Gay by two votes. And while Kevin Fee, the freshman guard, didn’t earn any postseason honors, he showed that he will be a force to reckon with in the coming years.
Dan White’s Pierson team had defeated Stony Brook — its opponent in Saturday’s county Class D championship game at Longwood High School — early in the season, but that proved to be an anomaly: Senior-heavy Stony Brook, tall and quick with a deep bench, showed, in its 62-36 win Saturday, that it clearly was out of Pierson’s league, as it were.
Though, as it is, Stony Brook is in Pierson’s league, League VIII, which it led this season with a 15-1 record. At 13-3, Pierson was the runner-up.
In the title game, Pierson trailed 15-4 after the first quarter and 36-12 after two. It played gamely in the third, outscoring the Brooksters 16-13, thanks largely to 3-pointers by Ian Barrett (two), Forrest Loesch, and Cooper Marienfeld, but the die had long been cast.
“They’re at another level . . . I’ve got to figure out how to beat them,” White said during a conversation Tuesday.
But it would be difficult, he added, given the private school’s ability to attract players from public high schools. “This year, for instance, they got three senior transfers — Mercy’s best player, [Elijah] Davis, [Asaiah] Wilson, and [Bryce] Jackson. And that big kid from Saudi Arabia wasn’t there for that first game with us. . . . They get three to four new kids every year — four of their starters, everyone but [Chase] Audige [a freshman], were seniors.” Seven of the 12 players on Stony Brook’s roster were seniors.
When asked if transfers weren’t supposed to sit out a year before playing, White said, “No, I looked it up — it’s legal if you’re transferring from a public school to a private school. Though you can’t go from a private to a public school without sitting out.”
He had, he said, in answer to another question, raised his concerns with Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk high school sports, “but I’ve been told that’s the way it is. Frankly, I think the Section likes it this way — it likes having teams that win.”
“It’s out of my control,” he continued, “but in Albany, where I’m from, they do it differently. If a private school up there dominates for a couple years in a row, they move them up a level. . . . You know, they call it the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association, and yet every year in the Final Fours you see three private schools and one public school.”
As for his seniors, Loesch and Barrett, each of whom, he said, had had great high school careers, “Forrest is going to go to Western New England College, in Springfield, Mass., and Ian is going to Northeastern to major in international business.”
“And that, in the end, is really what matters.”