Josh Lamison is not your typical high school freshman.
While he may be in only his first year of high school at Bridgehampton, on the basketball court he looks and plays like a seasoned veteran. In the Suffolk County Class D Championship game at Westhampton Beach High School on Thursday night, his trademark ferocity on the boards and in the paint was the catalyst in a 53-40 win over the Shelter Island for Killer Bees, who successfully defended the title they won last year.
While the final score may indicate otherwise, the outcome was in question for the first three quarters of the game. Bridgehampton held a slim 34-30 lead going into the final frame, and was down, 19-16, at halftime. The low scoring pace was just what Shelter Island wanted, while the Bees were itching to up the tempo, but had a tough time getting shots to fall. That’s where Lamison came in. Known for his aggressiveness on the offensive boards in particular, Lamison’s hustle and hard-nosed play in the interior led to second chances for his teammates, and his tenacity became contagious. Bridgehampton went on a 16-0 run that began when the teams were tied at 30-30 late in the third quarter and didn’t end until Shelter Island hit a pair of free throws with 2:50 left in the game to make it 47-32.
Lamison led the Killer Bees with 16 points, and while the Bridgehampton coaching staff admitted they did not keep rebounding statistics, head coach Carl Johnson estimated that Lamison had at least 15 rebounds. Freshman point guard Tylik Furman added 15 points, while senior and leading scorer Jason Hopson had eight. Anajae Lamb added nine points.
Johnson called Lamison’s effort the “key” to the win, and sang the praises of the young but talented frontcourt player, whom he referred to as a “man child.”
“He was unbelievable on the boards,” Johnson said. “And once one guy starts playing like that, it gets contagious.”
Another key to the win, Johnson said, was the improved play of Hopson over the course of the game. Hopson has lit up opponents for more than 30 points on more than one occasion this year, and while he had a low scoring output in this game by his standards, Johnson said Hopson did a better job of getting his teammates involved as the game progressed.
“He puts a lot of pressure on himself, and he was just playing a little stagnant,” Johnson said. “But once he started to move, everybody moved. Even when he doesn’t score a lot, he’s always going to be effective. And Josh was able to control the boards because other teams always focus on Jason.”
The Killer Bees won’t be back on the court to face a Class D opponent until March 5, when they play the winner of Section IX (Rockland County) in a regional semifinal. Johnson said he won’t know which team that will be for awhile, but he suspects it could be Livingston Manor, the team that knocked Bridgehampton out of the playoffs last year. The game will be played somewhere in Suffolk County, but a specific site and time have yet to be determined. The winner of that game will play the winner of Section I (Westchester County) in the regional final at a site somewhere in Westchester County on March 10. The winner of that game earns a trip to states.
Before those games, the Killer Bees will compete in the county playoffs, taking on Class C champion Stony Brook at Patchogue/Medford High School on February 20 at a time to be announced. The winner will take on the Class B champion at Longwood High School at noon on February 23.