Both the East Hampton boys and girls basketball teams started their seasons on a winning note, with the boys cruising to a 53-33 non-league home win over Eastport South Manor on Friday, and the girls beating rival Westhampton Beach, 31-29, in a non-league home game the following day.
The Bonackers got off to a slow start but eventually pulled away to an easy win over an ESM team that is in a rebuilding year. The Sharks lost all five starters from last year’s team and struggled to find offense. East Hampton struggled early on in that department as well, leading only 22-18 at the half after facing a 12-6 deficit to start the game. But the Bonackers pulled away by outscoring the Sharks 20-4 in the third quarter. That outburst was a total team effort, with Rolando Garces scoring seven points, Juan Cuevas adding six, and Danny McKee chipping in five.
As well as his team did in the scoring department, it was the effort on defense that head coach Bill McKee said he was most proud of. “I expected it to be a tough game, but I think defensively we really played well,” he said. “We caused a bunch of turnovers and we held them to just 21 points from the second through fourth quarters.”
Thomas King led East Hampton with 15 points and hit nine of 10 free throws. Cuevas had 13 points, Garces had 11, and McKee had nine. Thomas Nelson, Cuevas and King all had seven rebounds, while Garces had eight.
That type of balanced attack on offense and on the boards is what McKee hopes to see from his team all year.
“We’ve talked about how we don’t want to rely on just one person to do everything, and this was a total team effort,” he said. “We’re going to need to keep doing that going forward.”
The Lady Bonackers were victorious as well, although their game went down to the wire. With five seconds left, Ashley Rojas hit a pair of free throws to break a tie and give East Hampton the win. Rojas had come up with a loose ball at the other end of the floor and was fouled with just five seconds left, sending her to the line. Her first free throw attempt hit the backboard and bounced straight up before falling into the net. Her second shot, however, found nothing but net.
The Lady Canes had a chance to get a final shot off, but the Lady Bonackers came up with a steal to end the threat.
East Hampton trailed for a good part of the game, but was able to go ahead when it mattered most.
“It was a good first win for us,” head coach Howard Wood said. “We got the first-game jitters out. We were down practically the whole game—we would cut it to one or two points, and then they’d go on another mini run again.”
Senior Kaelyn Ward led the team with 16 points, and while no other player scored more than four for East Hampton, Wood said he was happy to see a number of players put points on the board. He added that senior Courtney Dess came through with several clutch rebounds in the second half as well.ON THE SCHEDULE: Boys—Wednesday, 12/4, vs. Westhampton, 6 p.m.; Friday, 12/7, at Pierson, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, 12/10, at Greenport, 6:15 p.m.; Friday, 12/14, at Mount Sinai, 4 p.m. Girls—Friday, 12/7, at tournament at Hampton Bays, 5:15 p.m.; Tuesday, 12/11, at Miller Place, 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 12/12, at Southold/Greenport, 6:15 p.m.; Friday, 12/14, vs. Mount Sinai, 6:15 p.m.