In spite of an impressive fourth quarter comeback, the Hampton Bays boys basketball team couldn’t manage to pull out a victory in the semifinals of the Suffolk County Class B playoffs on Monday night in Babylon.
The third seed Baymen suffered a heartbreaking 44-41 loss to the second seed Panthers. Babylon was scheduled to face fourth seed Center Moriches on Wednesday, February 22, for the Suffolk County Championship.
Hampton Bays and Babylon split a pair of games during the regular season and both finished League VII play with 9-5 records.
After finding themselves down by 13 points heading into the final eight minutes of the playoff match-up, the Baymen staged a dramatic comeback and briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Baymen climbed back into the game, and with just more than two minutes to go, the visitors took their first lead since the break. Junior Justin Carbone stole the ball under Babylon’s hoop, went coast-to-coast to put up a game-tying layup, and got fouled on the way to the basket. The free throw put the Baymen ahead, 41-40.
However, that was the last bucket they’d score.
Babylon’s Nahari Jenkins made both shots on a one-and-one trip to the foul line with just 14 seconds to go, which in turn forced the Baymen into an only-three-will-do situation on their final possession. The attempt by Luke Mercurio was no good and Babylon moved on to the finals.
“I think how we played in the fourth quarter is a testament to what this team is all about,” Hampton Bays head coach Pete Meehan said. “We’re down by 13 going into the final quarter and I knew we wouldn’t quit and that we’d come back. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”
During the first half, Hampton Bays seemed to control the pace and found themselves with the momentum going into the locker room.
With 20 seconds to go in the first half, Babylon’s Jacob Carlock sank a three-pointer to put the Panthers up 16-15, for their first lead of the game, but Mercurio snatched that momentum right back with his own bucket from beyond the arc at the buzzer to put the Baymen up 18-16 at half.
But that momentum was short-lived and coming out of the locker room it was all Babylon, which went on a 22-7 run to build a 38-25 advantage.
“We had too many turnovers and didn’t take care of the ball,” Meehan said.
Then the Baymen ran off their late comeback but it wasn’t enough for a win.
Danny Martel finished with a team high 13 points followed by Luke Mercurio with 11 and Justin Carbone with 10.
Nine members of the Hampton Bays squad will graduate this year—Perry Friscia, Mercurio, Steve Peralta, Will Calamita, Alex Boyer, Estarley Aguero, Dylan George, Martel and Kevin Hendrickson.
“They were an easy team to coach,” Meehan said of his squad. “This was a special season. We won some games that people didn’t expect us to. I had nine seniors and I’m going to miss them.”