East Hampton boys basketball head coach Bill McKee said he couldn’t have been happier with his team’s effort in games with League VI foes Mount Sinai (4-3) and Bayport/Blue Point (5-2) last week.
Unfortunately, the Bonackers did not get the results they were looking for, and a pair of home losses dropped them to 3-4 in league play, 8-5 overall.
East Hampton started the week with a 74-69 overtime loss to Bayport at home on January 15, then fell, 53-49, to the Mustangs on January 17, also at home. McKee said his team’s effort in both games was outstanding, and that he was proud of the way his players performed despite the outcomes.
The Bonackers had to play both games without leading scorer Thomas King, who had taken a shot to the mouth that required stitches in a loss to Amityville on January 11. McKee said he hoped to have King back for the team’s game with Miller Place, scheduled for January 24.
Even without King, the Bonackers held their own and had chances to win in both games. Brendan Hughes, who had a career-high 19 points in the loss, hit two late free throws to tie the game and ultimately send it to overtime, but the Bonackers missed on an offensive putback at the end that would have given them the win in regulation. In overtime, the Phantoms outscored East Hampton, 13-8, taking advantage of a few costly Bonac turnovers.
“It was one of those games where the effort was certainly there,” McKee said. “It was a game either team could have won. It was a tough loss, because our kids worked so hard.”
East Hampton shot 24 for 26 from the free-throw line, which made McKee happy. “That many foul shots is an indication that we were going to the basket,” he said, adding, “We did a real good job on the boards, which was good considering they were bigger than us. The shots just didn’t go in at the end, but the effort was fantastic.”
Rolando Garces also scored 19 for East Hampton, along with Hughes’s career-high of 19, while Thomas Nelson had 14 points, Danny McKee had 11, and Brendan Neff had six.
The loss to Mount Sinai was a tough one, mainly because the Bonackers had a lead for most of the game, until the Mustangs outscored them by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“I think not having Thomas, we were a little shortchanged,” McKee said. “But the effort was fantastic again. In the fourth, I think we maybe got a little worn down. They have a 6-foot-7 center, and he had 10 points in the fourth. In the fourth, they started beating us up on the boards, and I thought we got a little tentative offensively.”
McKee led the team with 16 points, while Garces had 15 and Nelson had 13. Mike Guzzardi, Mount Sinai’s center whom McKee cited, scored a game-high 22 points.
Despite the losses, East Hampton still has a good chance to make the playoffs, but the team needs to win three more games to clinch a spot.
Girls Go 1-1
The Lady Bonackers played two games decided by a total of just seven points, emerging victorious in one and losing in the other.
East Hampton lost, 50-47, at Bayport (4-3) on January 15, before rebounding with a 46-42 win at Mount Sinai (1-6) two days later. The split moved the Lady Bonackers to 4-3 in League VI, 7-4 overall, and put them just two wins away from clinching a playoff berth in Class A.
A big third quarter helped push East Hampton past Mount Sinai. They outscored the Lady Mustangs by 10 in that frame to take a 37-31 lead into the final quarter. Kaelyn Ward finished with 17 points and four assists to lead East Hampton to the win, while Courtney Dess had nine points, and Jackie Messemer and Carley Seekamp had six. Seekamp also had eight rebounds.
Assistant coach Louis O’Neal led the team in the Bayport game because both the varsity and JV played at the same time, on separate courts, and Wood offered to coach the JV. Wood said that O’Neal told him turnovers were a problem in the loss to Bayport. Ward led the team with 19 points, while Seekamp had eight, Dess had seven, and Messemer had six.
Wood said he is hopeful that his team can take care of business and earn a place in the playoffs, but he also said he hopes that his team is hungry for more than that. The Lady Bonackers narrowly missed out on a spot in the postseason last year, after making it the year before. Prior to that, it had been decades since the team appeared in the playoffs.
“We need two more games, and we’ve already beaten Amityville and Miller Place, so that should give us confidence,” he said. “It’s great to make it, but it’s also great to make it and win a round. That’s the real joy of it.”