Caanan Campbell, Jason Hopson, and Tylik Furman. Those are the three main players that come to mind when talking about the Bridgehampton boys basketball team. Before Monday afternoon’s Suffolk County Class D Championship game at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, Bridgehampton’s Davion Cooper was an afterthought, at least for top-seeded Greenport.
Cooper, a freshman, came off the bench on Monday to score 26 points, including five three-pointers, to help lead Bridgehampton to its first county title since 2000, defeating the Porters 73-50. It was the first county championship appearance for the Killer Bees since 2008.
“People doubted us from last year when we went 2-16,” Cooper said following his career game. “But we knew once we got all of our teammates together that we were going to show them that the Bridge is back. And we came and we proved it.”
Bridgehampton squared off with Class C county champion and cross-town rival Pierson in the C/D Qualifier on Wednesday, but that game has no bearing on state tournament implications. The Killer Bees will move on to the Regional Finals at SUNY-New Paltz on March 10 against either the Section I (Westchester County) or Section IX (Rockland County) champion. The winner of that game will advance to the New York State Final Four, which starts on March 16 at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
While Cooper might have stolen the show on Monday, it was an all around team effort for Bridgehampton. Hopson scored 18 points, Furman finished with 16 and Campbell had 11.
After a 4-0 run to start the game, Greenport went on a 15-2 run for much of the first quarter, due in large part, Johnson said, to the Porters’ triangle-and-two style of defense, which was designed to stop Campbell and Hopson. After that run, Cooper sunk his first shot of the game, a three-pointer from the corner, and it was a sign of things to come, even though Greenport held a 17-11 lead after one quarter of play.
“I was nervous but as soon as I hit that first shot it felt very good,” Cooper said. “After that, everything started clicking for me.”
Cooper hit another trey to start the second quarter. Then, after a defensive stop by the Killer Bees, Cooper came back and scored on a lay-up and was fouled on the play. He missed his free throw attempt, but, along with his three from the first quarter, he single-handedly brought Bridgehampton back into the game, as it was trailing by a point not even a minute and a half into the second.
Furman continued the Killer Bees’ 11-2 run with a crossover that split a Greenport defender, which allowed him to score an easy lay-up. Both teams traded baskets in the final two minutes of the first half but Bridgehampton came out of it with a 32-27 lead at halftime.
“We already knew what Davion was capable of doing, it was just a matter of confidence,” Johnson said. “I knew once he hit that first shot he was going to have a great game and that’s the way he is, as being a young player who’s up and down.
“I’ve been very tough on him,” he continued. “But you know what? He has ice in his veins. No matter what I say to him he doesn’t get low on himself.”
The second half started a see-saw matchup, with both teams trading baskets. Greenport actually took the lead at one point when Gavin Dibble scored on a lay-up to give the Porters a 36-34 edge. But that’s when Bridgehampton started to take over.
Right after Dibble’s lay-up, Cooper hit another three, followed by another from Hopson, which forced Greenport head coach Al Edwards to call a timeout, but that didn’t really slow down the Killer Bees. Campbell hit another three-pointer right out of the timeout to give Bridgehampton a 45-38 lead and the rest, as they say, was history.
Johnson said following the victory that he kept reminding Campbell and fellow senior Brenden Hemby what it felt like to see another team bask in a title-clinching victory—they were both a part of the last Bridgehampton team that went to the county championship four years ago but lost to Greenport. Campbell said it stuck with him and motivated him even more to win.
“It really fired us up,” he said. Campbell added that it was “awesome” to win the county title and that “everybody always told me to try my hardest to try and bring [a title] back,” to Bridgehampton. “We played hard today and that’s what we did.”