March 16, 1989
Bonackers Net the State ‘B’ Championship
The unranked East Hampton High School Bonackers waded into the rough waters of the Glens Falls Final Four last weekend. As their fans flailed about in 10-foot waves of emotion, the team netted the New York State public high school class B boys basketball championship, upsetting top-ranked Gloversville 58-57 in a semifinal-round game Friday night, and defeating ninth-ranked Rye 57-53 in the final Sunday afternoon.
In Friday’s semifinal, whose outcome was not decided until the last three seconds, when Billy Barbour came down with the biggest rebound of his career, East Hampton upset the top-ranked B team in the state, which was riding the crest of a 17-game winning streak.
With 13 seconds to go, the Bonackers were inbounding the ball under their basket when an official cited Terrell Dozier, the 6-foot-4-inch sophomore forward, for stepping on the line. The turnover put the ball in the Albany-area team’s hands.
Once play resumed after a timeout called by East Hampton’s coach, Ed Petrie, Gloversville got the ball to its star, Chris Ciaccio, who drove into the paint, but David Hicks had him guarded so closely that Ciaccio was forced to dish off to Jim Robare, standing alone in the right corner. Robare, who already had canned two 3-pointers in Gloversville’s frenetic fourth quarter comeback, took aim, but as he did Kenny Wood, East Hampton’s all-everything 6-5 center, came out and leaped high.
Wood’s towering leap made Robare adjust his shot a bit, just enough so that the ball hit the inside of the rim on the near side, then the far side, and popped out toward the right of the basket where Barbour, a Bonac guard, had successfully boxed out Gloversville’s Matt Goodemote, who had led the Dragons’ fourth period surge with 8 points.
Barbour cradled the ball in both hands, and bent in half as Goodemote inevitably went over his back and was called for a foul. Three seconds were left, and the game, which the Bonackers had once led by 12 points as the result of a nigh-perfect third quarter performance by Wood, was East Hampton’s.
Hugh R. King, one of the team’s 200 or so fans, said later in the week that his voice was still hoarse. “I got so scared I couldn’t watch during the last 13 seconds.”
“I can’t think of a more exciting game that I’ve ever seen,” said Mark McKee, who, during those nail-biting moments, was thinking of a time 11 years ago when a backcourt violation with 11 seconds left did East Hampton out of a regional championship.
Before the game, Craig Scott, East Hampton Town Police Chief Tom Scott’s son, who teaches in South Glens Falls, said that Gloversville had not seen “a dominant inside player up here like Kenny Wood.”
Indeed, Wood, the state’s all-time public high school scorer, made believers of the horde of Gloversville fans who packed the Glens Falls Civic Center, and of the tournament’s officials, who apparently were bemoaning the lack of a “marquee player” this year.
The extremely versatile center put on a show in the third quarter that sportswriters said was unparalleled in the tourney’s 10-year history as he went 6-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the foul line, in addition to hauling down rebounds and making assists. He wound up the game with 31 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks.
One of the blocked shots had to make Ciaccio a believer, too, as Wood pinned the ball that the Gloversville star had laid up on the glass midway through the second quarter of Friday’s game. The electrifying block galvanized an East Hampton surge that brought the Bonackers back from 6 points down to 12 points up near the end of the third quarter.
Not only did the East Hampton High School boys basketball team enjoy a charmed life competing in the final rounds of the state Class B tournament at Glens Falls last weekend, but so did about 45 East Hampton fans aboard one of three chartered Hampton Jitney buses that had set off for Sunday’s final at about 5 a.m.
The fans, passengers on the second of the three Jitneys journeying to Glens Falls to see Bonac take on Rye for the state championship, survived a heart-stopping series of looping skids on new-fallen snow that ended at a guard rail bordering a steep median embankment about three miles south of the New Paltz exit on the New York Thruway. The driver, Tom Jenkins, was credited with preventing a possible tragedy.
Among the passengers was Marilyn Wood, mother of East Hampton’s star senior center, Kenny Wood, who had ridden up and back on a bus to Friday’s struggle with top-ranked Gloversville, which the Bonackers won 58-57.
Ken Dodge, an East Hampton paramedic who was in the third bus, said the guard-rail wreck was “a major accident that turned out to be relatively minor.” At that stretch of the thruway the two northbound lanes are higher than the two southbound ones, said Mr. Dodge. A 110-yard median with “a 50 to 60-foot embankment — not vertical, but nevertheless steep” — separated them.
The bus was left straddling the guard rail. Mr. Dodge, who went out to direct traffic away from the collisions (the third bus had struck the rear end of a white compact car in a parking lane not far beyond the bus driven by Mr. Jenkins), said, “It was snowing so hard you could barely see. We’re lucky we didn’t have one of those 40-vehicle pileups that you read about.”
Mr. Jenkins’s bus was disabled, sustaining four flat tires; the third bus, driven by Pat Dorfer, was still drivable. With the police officers’ okay, the passengers on the disabled bus were transferred to Ms. Dorfer’s so the trip could be resumed.
The delayed busload of fans were cheered by the 300 or so Bonackers in the Glens Falls Civic Center on arriving as the buzzer sounded to begin the third quarter, with East Hampton holding a slim 25-23 lead.
“It was a long trip,” said Mrs. Wood, whose son was named the B tournament’s most valuable player, “but it was worth it.”
Friday’s stunning win was followed on Sunday afternoon by a final that was just about equally as tough, the only difference being that by the 13-second mark, East Hampton knew it had won.
. . . At the final buzzer, East Hampton’s bench, including Ed Petrie and his assistants, Tom Bubka and Billy McKee, rushed out onto the floor in a mass of rejoicing. Many fans’ eyes welled with tears. It had been a victory a long time in coming, and seemed eminently just.
Troy Scribner led the team that day with 22 points, on 10-for-16 shooting from the field. He had 11 rebounds, eight of which were made off the offensive boards. Wood, who was held to 15 points, but who had plenty of support from his teammates, set a B tournament single-game record with 20 rebounds. Barbour, the steadfast senior guard, finished with 7 points; Lance McDonald, who came off the bench when Terrell Dozier went down with a knee injury in the second quarter, had 5, and David Hicks and Dozier each had 4.
Wood and Scribner were named to the all-B-tournament team, and Wood was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, a great feeling,” said Petrie. “If you told me at the beginning of the season that this team would be the state champion, I would have said you’re lying. . . . We were very inexperienced. Kenny and Terrell were the only two with experience. . . . It was just one of those things. We kept trying out different combinations, and the kids kept improving, and working hard. They peaked at the right time, and now they’ll have something to remember the rest of their lives.”