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Mar 10, 2018 8:37 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Bridgehampton Boys Basketball Falls To Newfield In Class D Regional Final Friday Night

Mar 13, 2018 4:12 PM

With time winding down in Friday night’s Class D Regional Final, and on the season, Bridgehampton boys basketball coach Ron White peered over his young squad during a timeout. No Xs and Os could save the Killer Bees at this point. The result had long been a formality. So instead, with the young Bridgies sitting dejected on the bench, White’s message was simple.

Don’t forget this feeling.

Bridgehampton hadn’t played its best game, but against a polished Newfield club—the Class D state runner-up a year ago—even that might not have been enough. The Trojans built a substantial halftime lead over the Bees and poured it on after intermission, rolling to a 61-44 victory at Center Moriches High School to earn a berth in next weekend’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four in Binghamton.

As for Bridgehampton, its players and coaches expect the loss to reverberate through the spring, summer, and into the fall.

“We’re going to learn from this,” said sophomore Elijah White, the coach’s son. “This is going to be the fire in our stomach that’s pushing us through the offseason, through preseason, and with everything that we do moving forward.”

Bridgehampton started the season 0-6, but began rounding into shape for the League VIII schedule, during which it went 8-4. The Killer Bees disposed of Livingston Manor in the Class D Southeast Regional semifinal on March 5, but were unable to handle visiting Newfield, the Section IV (Southern Tier) champ.

“We’ll certainly learn from this,” said Coach White, echoing his son’s sentiments. “The guys will be eager to continue to build. We’ll be back.”

The Trojans (22-2) proved to be marksmen from the perimeter, knocking down eight three-pointers, and when their shots went awry, their frontcourt pounded the offensive glass, leading to numerous second-chance points.

Defensively, Newfield’s extended 2-3 zone made it difficult for Bridgehampton (9-12) to operate. The Bees were held to just two points in the first quarter, and trailed 25-12 at halftime.

Coach White thought that the Bees began to feel the pressure mount.

“We were getting good shots up, but we just weren’t putting them down, and when you don’t put them down in the beginning of the game, as a young team, I think you start overthinking things,” he said. “Instead of saying ‘that’s OK, it’s going to come.’ I think they started panicking.”

Newfield had clamped down on Bridgehampton’s Nae’Jon Ward early, holding the sophomore scoreless for the opening two quarters. However, when Ward came out in the third and drilled threes on back-to-back possessions, suddenly the Bees were within seven points at 25-18.

The optimism was short-lasted, however, as Newfield ran off 21 of the next 27 points to build a 22-point edge after three. The lead ballooned to as many as 30 before a late Bridgehampton flurry. Newfield sophomore Josh Wood led all scorers with 22 points, while freshman Jacob Humble chipped in 16.

“When we play better defense, we can get easy buckets on the offensive side,” Ward said. “I thought we needed to step up on the defensive end, and if we did, maybe we could have pulled out the win.”

J.P. Harding, who had tied for the team lead with Elijah White with 14 points in Bridgehampton’s victory over Livingston Manor, once again paced the Bees, scoring 15 of his 19 points in the second half on Friday. Ward (14) and Elijah White (12) also hit double digits, although nothing came easy. The trio was the nucleus for a team that will bring everyone back for the 2018-19 campaign.

“We always have faith in ourselves,” said Elijah White. “I thought we’d win this game because we worked hard all season. We fought as hard as we could today, but we missed a couple things and didn’t execute properly. We’ll keep fighting hard, and I think we’ll be back next year.”

As for his father, his first year on the sidelines came with many triumphs but also some lessons as well as a great deal of gratitude.

“I appreciate the district giving me a chance, and for seeing something in me to allow me to be a part of the district and part of the team,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that I could do a lot better. We could run them a lot more, and we could be a little more disciplined. It’s a learning process. You have to study, listen to other coaches, watch the game and become a student of the game.

“This is my hometown,” he continued. “I won three state titles, so I bleed black and yellow. I love this district to death. We’re going to grow, and you’re definitely going to see a difference in the coaching staff and in the team next year.”

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