Two youth basketball teams based at the Southampton Recreation Center for which a number of East Hamptoners play reached the finals of a high-powered Amateur Athletic Union tournament at Montauk’s Playhouse Community Center this past weekend.
The under-16s won the Silver bracket trophy, defeating the Montauk Kings 71-55, while the under-18s, in a hotly contested Gold bracket championship game, lost 73-69 to a New York City team coached by the tournament’s director, Charles Melone.
Nick Thomas, a state-champion point guard with Bridgehampton High School before he went on to play at N.Y.U., and Kevin Fee, whose son Kevin played well as a freshman guard last year for East Hampton High School’s Bonackers, coached both S.Y.S. entries. Lorenzo Rodriguez coached the Montauk Kings.
That Jack Reese, who’ll be a freshman at the high school this fall, led the under-16s with 23 points, knocking down a half-dozen 3s, augurs well for Bonac’s varsity coach, Bill McKee, who has his son Kyle, Fee, and Brandon Kennedy-Gay returning.
“East Hampton will be loaded with guards,” said Jack’s father, Don, who heads East Hampton’s youth football and basketball programs. “They just need a center.”
Carl Johnson, Bridgehampton’s coach, can also take heart given the fact that Charles Manning, a 6-foot-3-inch junior forward transfer from Riverhead who played with the S.Y.S. under-18s, is to play this winter with the Killer Bees.
Manning’s father, Maurice, who was later to become a junior college all-American at Suffolk Community College-Selden and a Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame inductee, led Bridgehampton to three state championships in the ’90s. Manning, Josh Lamison (a tough low post player who also played with the under-18s this past weekend), and Tylik Furman ought to provide the Bees with plenty of firepower.
Thomas and Fee’s teams played under the Kendall Madison Foundation banner, though Thomas and Don Reese said the foundation no longer was the sponsor.
“I think I’ve got Adidas lined up to sponsor our four planned Long Island Elite travel teams,” said Reese, who also has youth basketball backing from Nike. “Just wait till you see the junior varsity and varsity’s uniforms that Nike’s supplied this year. They’re smokin’ hot. If we play as well as we look, we’ll be pretty darn good.”
“Nick will be the head of basketball operations and recruiting, and he’ll probably coach our 9th-grade team and do the high school team if we have one,” said Reese. “I’ll coach the younger group. Our plan is to have a 5th-and-6th-grade team, an 8th-grade team, a 9th-grade team, and a 10th-and-11th-grade team.”
“The program will be much better run from now on I guarantee. It will be run with precision. We’ll be practicing at S.Y.S., Westhampton Beach High School, probably at Bellport, and perhaps at East Hampton, where we hope to kick off the season next April with an invitational tournament for eight teams in each age group.”
The K.M.P. under-18s stayed with their city counterparts throughout Sunday’s final, which was divided into 16-minute halves. Though early in the second, C.M.P.’s Kris Carroll came off the bench to knock down four successive 3-pointers from the perimeter that gave C.M.P. breathing room.
The locals, with Thomas’s son, Tyrell, a Center Moriches senior, leading the way, came back, but couldn’t get the 3 they needed at the end.
(The younger Thomas, a quarterback in football, is being recruited by Stony Brook University, Old Dominion, and Towson State, Division 1-AA schools, his father said.)
Asked for his analysis afterward, the elder Thomas said, “They were better on the offensive boards and the 50-50 balls, they were hard-nosed city kids. But I liked it that we fought back. We had our chances, but our defensive lapses killed us.”