December has been a good month for the East Hampton boys and girls basketball teams.
The Lady Bonackers (2-0 in League VI, 5-1 overall) increased their win streak to four games after a 42-23 home win against Mount Sinai on Friday night, and the boys enjoyed a victory over the same school on the road on the same day, improving their record to a perfect 5-0 (1-0 in League VI). It was the only game of the week for the boys, while the girls also enjoyed a 48-41 non-league win at Southold on December 12 and a 43-28 win over Miller Place on the road on December 11.
Head coach Howard Wood said he’s pretty happy with his team’s hot start, particularly a 2-0 record in League VI. Although he said he still wants his team to improve in the rebounding department, he’s been happy with the defensive effort and also with what has become a more balanced scoring attack. Fifth-year senior Kaelyn Ward still leads her team in scoring every game, but other players have stepped up as well. Against Miller Place, Ward had 19 points, but forward Ryan Ward chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds for her first career double-double. Ryan Ward also hit a key jump shot in the fourth quarter that put East Hampton up by four points and helped put the game away. East Hampton got out to a 12-4 lead against the Lady Panthers and held an 11-point halftime lead, which provided a nice cushion in the second half.
Against Southold, the Lady Bonackers got out to a nice start again, owning a 13-3 lead after the first quarter, but the Lady Clippers turned the tables by outscoring East Hampton 20-3 in the second quarter to take a lead into the locker rooms. But East Hampton mounted a comeback in the second half and was able to get the win. Kaelyn Ward had 18 points while guard Jackie Messemer chipped in 10. Forward Carley Seekamp had a nice game with 13 rebounds.
Against Mount Sinai, Kaelyn Ward finished with 19 points, which put her just seven points away from becoming the program’s first ever 1,000-point scorer, a milestone she will likely reach the next time the Lady Bonackers are on the court in a January 3 home game against Shoreham/Wading River. Messemer and Seekamp each had eight points, and Seekamp chipped in 15 rebounds. East Hampton held just a one-point lead after the first quarter before outscoring the Lady Mustangs, 16-3, in the second quarter to take control.
The Lady Bonackers will need six league wins to secure a spot in the postseason, something they fell just short of doing last year. Wood said that getting two league wins, especially early in the season, is a huge step in the right direction, especially considering that his team has many young and inexperienced players and also that many of them do not play basketball in the offseason and thus typically take awhile to adjust to varsity play early in the season.
“We still have a lot of things we need to work on, and we have girls who haven’t played since last season or never played at all, but considering all that, we’re not in a bad place at all,” he said. “If we keep working hard, we’re just going to get better.”
The Bonackers earned a hard-fought road win on Friday, beating Mount Sinai, 65-63, for their first League VI win of the season, and staying undefeated at 5-0. East Hampton got off to a hot start, taking a 27-12 first quarter lead on the strength of hot three-point shooting. Three different Bonac players hit a total of five long-range shots in that first quarter to give the team a nice lead. In keeping with what has emerged as a trend this year, East Hampton got balanced scoring. Thomas King led the way with 24 points and six rebounds, while Danny McKee and Thomas Nelson each had 12 points. Nelson also added eight rebounds. Juan Cuevas had eight points and Rolando Garces had six. Brenden Hughes was key as well, playing strong defense against Mount Sinai’s All-County center Mike Guzzardi. Although Guzzardi finished with 30 points, he had only seven in the first half, and Hughes’s ability to keep him in check in the first part of the game helped East Hampton build a nice lead.
Mount Sinai didn’t go down without a fight, though. The Mustangs had the ball with a chance to tie the game or take the lead with less than 30 seconds left, but they missed a shot and then Garces grabbed a clutch defensive rebound. East Hampton turned the ball over quickly on its next possession, giving Mount Sinai another chance, but the defense came up with another shot and East Hampton held on for the win.
Head coach Bill McKee was pretty pleased that his team got off to a 1-0 start in League VI on the road against a tough team.
“This is a significant win,” he said. “[Mount Sinai] is a team that had only two league losses last year and basically has its whole team back. It’s a good win to beat them in their gym.”