The Bridgehampton boys basketball team is one win away from clinching a berth in the New York State Class D Final Four, after easily handling Roscoe Central, 59-29, in the Regional Semifinal at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh on Monday night.
The Killers Bees advanced to play Marathon (Section IV-Southern Tier) in the Regional Final this Sunday, March 10, at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton. As of Wednesday morning a time for that game had not been set yet.
Marathon defeated Martin Luther King Jr. High School of Yonkers (Section I-Westchester), 70- 60, on Tuesday evening to advance and has been on a strong run since its sectional tournament began. The Olympians defeated No. 2 Morris to reach the sectional final, then topped No. 4 Edmeston to win the title. Edmeston had upset top-seed South Kortright in its semifinal game.
Bridgehampton head coach Ron White said after Monday night’s win that he and his coaching staff were toying with the idea of making yet another three-hour trip to Poughkeepsie on Tuesday night to scout both Marathon and MLK since they have limited knowledge of them. Some of the teams could have losing records, White said, which means absolutely nothing at this point in the season, since smaller, Class D schools typically have losing records due to having to play larger schools during the regular season.
Scouting could be an important tool for the Bees at this juncture. Bridgehampton and Academy Charter went into the Long Island Championship game on Friday knowing very little about each other (see separate story). The Panthers had a 2-7 record, but gave the Bees everything they could handle.
Monday night’s game with Roscoe Central offered the same situation with neither team knowing about each other, but it was clear from the opening tip-off that Bridgehampton was the more athletic team, and that played out throughout the game. The Bees took advantage of the Blue Devils’ poor shooting in the first quarter to take a 14-5 lead into the second, and that trend only continued. Roscoe didn’t reach double digits until just under a minute remaining in the first half.
The Bridgies built up a 47-21 lead after three quarters of play, and with 5:30 remaining in the game, Roscoe head coach Fred Ahart—a local legend at the Rockland-county based school, having been the district’s athletic director and boys basketball head coach for the past 50 years—pulled all of his starters, ceding the game to Bridgehampton. About a minute later, Bridgehampton head coach Ron White followed suit, pulling all of his starters.
Bridgehampton senior J.P. Harding led all scorers with 24 points and also corralled 10 rebounds. Junior Naéjon Ward scored 15 points to go along with eight assists and six steals.
“Point guard Naéjon had a lot of good passes,” Harding said with a smile, with his teammate looming over his shoulder. “I felt really good. I just let the game come to me.”
The Bees also got some good contributions from junior Elijah White (eight points, seven rebounds, five assists), senior Jonny Degroot (four points, six rebounds) and junior Will Walker (four points, seven rebounds), and seniors Nat Depasquale and Jahqur Carr also had solid games. While Harding, White and Ward steal the spotlight most of the time with their performances, Coach White said it’s key that others step up and contribute.
“We can’t survive without the supporting cast,” he said. “They’re honestly, to me, just as important as the ‘big three.’”
Harding said it’s going to be key for the team to stay humble moving forward, knowing what lies ahead may not come as easy as it did on Monday night. To further that point, Coach White said improvements still need to be made.
“We let a lot of scores happen that weren’t supposed to happen, even tough they only had 29,” he said. “Now, I hate to be a very anal guy, and my wife is going to be like, ‘C’mon, Ron, relax yourself,’ but we let some not-so-good possessions happen where they scored. Maybe we were able to get away with it now, but on Sunday we might be in trouble.”