Bees Find the Seams, Bonac Off the Beam

Killer Bees defeat Port Jefferson 70-51 at the Beehive
Elijah Jackson, with the ball above, J.P. Harding, and Elijah Harding are the core of a Class D team that the Killer Bees’ coach, Carl Johnson, thinks could go all the way. Craig Macnaughton

Bridgehampton High School’s Killer Bees improved their record to 3-2 by defeating Port Jefferson 70-51 at the Beehive on Dec. 21, and the following night East Hampton dropped to 1-5 as the result of a 59-52 loss here to Hampton Bays.

Port Jeff stayed with the Bees in the early going — it was 12-12 after the first quarter and 30-26 at the half. But Bridgehampton, beginning to find the seams in the visitors’ 1-3-1 zone, extended its lead to 10 by the end of the third period, and romped in the fourth, which, for the Bees, began with a nifty behind-the-back pass from their 5-foot-2-inch freshman point guard, Nae’Jon Ward, to J.P. Harding under the hoop.

Soon after, Ward’s two foul shots upped the margin to 14, after which Elijah Jackson put back an offensive rebound and J.P. Harding canned two more free throws for 60-42 after having been flattened momentarily against the padded wall at the tiny court’s north end. And so it went.

J.P. Harding finished with 23 points, Jackson had 18, and Elijah Harding, a wide body whose turnaround jump shots in the lane often go in, had 17.

“We’re now 3-1 against League VII teams,” Carl Johnson, the Bees’ coach, said afterward. Two more of them, Mattituck and Babylon, are to play at the Hive next week, the Tuckers on Wednesday, at 6 p.m, and the Panthers on Friday, Jan. 6, at 6:15.

Meanwhile, Bridgehampton was to have played Sachem East, an AA school — the Bees are a D — in a first round game of the Eastern Long Island basketball officials’ Holiday Classic yesterday at Suffolk Community College-Selden. East Hampton and Southampton were to have followed. The consolation game is today at 5:45, with the final to follow at 7:30.

“We’re going to surprise some teams, barring injury,” said the Bees’ mentor, who is in his final year of coaching. “I like our chances.”

Back to East Hampton, the Bonackers arguably would have wound up on top in their game with the Baymen had they had the services of Jack Reese, their all-star junior point guard.

Reese was sorely missed in the first quarter, during which the visitors outscored East Hampton 10-2. 

“That’s on me,” White was to say later. “I hadn’t adequately prepared them to play without Jack. Everyone was playing in new spots. . . . I’ve got to do better.”

Early in the third quarter East Hampton trailed by as many as 16 points, but, using “a high 2-3” to advantage, began to come back. 

A 3-pointer by Turner Foster, a fastbreak layup by him, a free throw by Phil Zablotsky, and a basket by Yari Willock, who was particularly energetic and productive in the second half, enabled the Bonackers to pull to within 7 points of the visitors midway through the fourth. Bladimir Rodriguez, who had been trading places with the 6-foot-8 Chris Stoecker, came up big then, converting his own miss before stealing the ball and laying it in for 47-42. Ward followed suit with a steal and layup at the 2:12 mark for 47-44, after which there was another steal, but Nate Wright, who led the break, hesitated in the lane and the moment was lost.

Hampton Bays, whose foul-shooters were almost flawless, was up by 7 points with a little over a minute to go, but again East Hampton came back. A 3 by Foster and two free throws by Rodriguez brought the Bonackers to within 2, at 51-49, but the visitors went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final ticks.

White noted afterward that East Hampton’s 19 offensive rebounds would have indicated a better result.

“We’ll get ’em the next time,” he said.

Foster finished with 18 points, Rodriguez with 12, Willock with 8, and Malachi Miller with 7.

Tony Scotto, guarded by the Bonackers’ Malachi Miller above, shot 6-for-6 at the foul line in the final seconds of last Thursday’s game here with Hampton Bays. Jack Graves