Bridgehampton's Killer Bees, who had hoped to make a beeline to another state Final Four Class D boys basketball tournament, were grounded in a southeast regional semifinal Monday in Newburgh by S.S. Seward, of Orange County, 61-60.
"It was a heartbreaker," said Bridgehampton's athletic director, Mike Miller.
Carl Johnson, who is retiring after a highly successful quarter-century career as the Bees' coach, during which he won four state titles, took what had to be a painful loss philosophically. Had the team's freshman point guard, Nae Jon Ward, made for the basket with 6.4 seconds left rather than pass off to Elijah Jackson, whose shot did not beat the buzzer, things might have been different. But that's the way high-pressure basketball goes.
It should not be forgotten that it was Ward's two free throws with 19 seconds remaining that brought the Bees to within 61-60.
Thereafter, Seward missed the front end of two one-and-ones, which left the ball in the Bees' hands with a chance to win it.
Seward was up 54-46 going into the fourth, but the Bees opened the final frame with a 6-0 run, after which the teams battled down to the wire.
Jackson, as aforesaid, finished with 21 points, Nykell Dean, the former sixth man, who has had a good playoff run, with 17, Elijah Harding, with 8, and J.P. Harding, who inevitably showed a bit of rust following a long layoff caused by a broken wrist, with 7.
The good news is that most of Johnson's players will be back next year, and that Johnson in retirement plans to keep his hand in, by helping hone young players' games at the Bridgehampton Child Care Center.