It’s been a season of ups and downs, marked by inexperience and inconsistency, but the Southampton boys basketball team took care of business on Valentine’s Day, with a 57-53 win at Mount Sinai in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
That upswing, unfortunately, was followed by another down, as the Mariners fell to top seed Amityville, 91-61, two days later in the quarterfinals.
The Mariners finished at 12-9 overall for the season.
Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said the loss to Amityville (20-1) was simply a case of being outplayed by a stronger team.
“They’re just more talented than we are,” he said. “They’re probably one of the best teams out there.”
The Mariners had a better effort early in the second quarter, after being outscored, 18-7, in the first frame, but senior point guard Elijah Wingfield had to sit for the latter portion of the second quarter after picking up his third foul, and without his leadership, the Warriors were able to pull ahead. Junior forward Micah Snowden led Southampton with 24 points in the loss.
Before the season-ending loss to Amityville, the Mariners—seeded ninth in the ‘A’ bracket—beat no. 8 Mount Sinai for the third time this season. The fact that the game was in Mount Sinai was a mystery to Lamison, who expected his team to garner the better seed and home court advantage after both teams finished with 9-7 records in League VI, and Southampton won the pair of regular season matchups between them.
Instead, it ended up being another obstacle his team had to overcome in a season marked by injuries and the growing pains that come with having only two returning starters, and just one senior, on the team.
“This has probably been the roughest season I’ve ever had,” Lamison said, pointing out that he believes he’s the longest tenured varsity boys hoops coach on all of Long Island. “We’ve lost three different starters for a total of 15 games, and have only two guys with any varsity experience. When you put that on the court, it’s difficult to sustain any real chemistry.
“Experience means a lot, especially in the playoffs,” he added.
Last week's game at Mt. Sinai was tight at the end, although Southampton had the edge throughout most of it. With the game tied at 48-48 with 2:30 left, Snowden scored on a putback before a steal by Kristian Wheeler led to a fast break. He flipped the ball behind his back to Wingfield, who scored on the layup and was fouled. After he hit the free throw, Southampton led, 53-48.
Snowden hit four of six free throws in the final minute to help his team hold on for the win. Snowden and Wingfield each had 20 points, with Snowden going 8 for 12 from the free-throw line, and Wingfield hitting five three-pointers.
Southampton was missing usual starter Marcus Trent, who was dealing with a hip injury, and was also without the services of Sincere Faggins, who broke his ankle in practice the day before the game. Faggins had been a spark plug off the bench for the team.
Lamison said other players, including Wheeler, stepped up in their absence in the playoff win.
“He was the difference for us in the second half,” Lamison said. “His energy defensively changed the momentum for us.”
Southampton will lose only Wingfield to graduation, and the four-year varsity player will continue his hoops career at SUNY-Geneseo. Snowden will return and should be one of the best big men in the county, and Lamison said he expects him to lead the team next season. He also hopes the experience of playing in the postseason together will make the team stronger.
“We had a lot of new faces this year, and it was a year for us to get to grow and know each other,” Lamison said. “I think the kids will be committed in the offseason to doing the necessary things to get their bodies in better physical condition to compete at a higher level.”
After competing in Class A for the last two seasons—as the smallest school in the class—the Mariners will move back down to Class B next year, as enrollment numbers have decreased slightly and put the school back into the lower classification. While Class B may represent easier competition more generally, the Mariners will still have to contend with Center Moriches, a talented team expected to make a run at the state title this year with several underclassmen who will be back next season.