Wonderful to tell, the East Hampton High School boys basketball team cruised to a 77-39 nonleague win over McGann-Mercy Saturday evening, the first win of his career here for Dan White, a new hire who has coached in Sag Harbor for the past seven years and whose new charges had been 0-3 going in.
“Mercy’s not a great team, but our offense began to click tonight, we shot well, and, defensively, we got a bunch of steals, primarily by Jack [Reese] and Turner [Foster]. . . . We’ve been getting better.”
The win improved the Bonackers to 1-3 on the season, which began with nonleague losses to Kings Park, Westhampton Beach, and Huntington. Kings Park and Huntington are AA schools, and Westhampton is an A, like East Hampton. Mercy is a B school (barely).
Saturday marked the first appearance here (though he had played four minutes at Huntington on Dec. 14) of the 6-foot-8-inch Chris Stoecker, who can be expected to contribute significantly under the boards at both ends of the court.
White played him for the first six minutes of the third quarter and for the first couple of minutes of the fourth — during which he had five rebounds, a steal, blocked a shot, and scored 4 points.
All 10 of the players who saw action that night scored — a group that comprised Jack Reese, with 24 points, Turner Foster, with 15, Malachi Miller, with 8, Jackson Murphy and Vladimir Rodriguez, with 6 each, Phil Zablotsky, Stoecker, and Nate Wright, with 4 each, and Jari Ward and August Gladstone, with 3 each.
The young Bonackers shot out to an 18-8 lead in the first quarter and, abetted by an effective press, upped it to 50-19 by the break. In the second quarter, Foster and Murphy each hit two 3-pointers, and Reese hit one. East Hampton outscored the visitors 32-11 in that second frame.
Meanwhile, Allan Zilnicki, a junior forward, was the only one who was hitting with any consistency for the Riverhead school. He finished with a game-high 25 points.
“Chris Stoecker [who had been ill lately] looked good — it’s good to have a 6-8 guy in the lineup,” White said. “I’m hoping he’ll get stronger as we go on.”
Concerning the Huntington game, White said, “It was 30-19 at the half, but they had a 10-0 run in the third that put it away. . . . Kings Park and Huntington are good teams. Playing teams like that helps us.”
Monday’s game at Mount Sinai, the league-opener for East Hampton, would be “huge,” White said. “I saw them play. They’re methodical and well coached, but if we play defense I think we can hang with them.”
The Bees’ Report
In another game last week, on Dec. 14, Bridgehampton’s Killer Bees improved to 2-2 over all with a 68-50 win at the Ross School.
Bridgehampton is a Class D school. Ross, which has a good senior point guard in Jonas Linnman-Feurring, made a game of it in the early going, but Bridgehampton opened up a lead in the second quarter, and, with Elijah Jackson, who had largely been content to pass off in the first half, beginning to hit shots, upped the margin in the third.
Jackson scored 11 of the Bees’ 29 points in the third, after which Carl Johnson, Bridgehampton’s coach, sat him, and the rest of his starters as well.
Elijah Harding, a stocky senior forward, who was frequently fed in the lane by Jackson, finished with 23 points; Jackson had 14.
“I wasn’t happy with how we played in the first half,” said Johnson, “but they showed me a lot in the third quarter. They played good man-for-man defense and got a lot of steals.”
Wyandanch, a Class A school, which beat Bridgehampton 95-72 in the season-opener on Dec. 3, was “tough . . . they’ll make the A playoffs.”
Center Moriches, which defeated the Bees 70-60 on Dec. 12, “will win the Bs.”
The only other D school Bridgehampton must contend with is Shelter Island, “and Ross beat them by 20,” said the Bees’ coach, who added that Stony Brook is a Class C school now, and that Smithtown Christian, another former Class D school, “only has a jayvee team.”
The other schools in League VIII, Bridgehampton’s league, are Greenport, Pierson, Stony Brook, Southold, and Shelter Island.
“Oh yes, we’ll have competition,” said Johnson, adding that “League VIII is as strong as League VII in my estimation. Greenport beat Mattituck handily. . . . Class C will be tough.”
Signing off, Johnson, who insisted that this year would be his final one as the varsity’s coach, said he thought his team, whose starting lineup includes J.P. Harding, a 6-1 sophomore forward, Nae-Jon Ward, a 5-2 freshman guard, and Elijah White, a 6-2 freshman guard — had “a great shot at going upstate.”