It’s been a hectic week for the Southampton boys basketball team, the type of week any playoff-bound team would rather not have right before the postseason begins.
Section XI, the governing body of Suffolk County high school athletics, came down hard on the Mariners last week when it suspended nine players following an altercation that occurred on February 5, when Southampton hosted Mercy in a League VII game.
Late in that contest, a Southampton player was fouled hard by a Mercy player when trying to finish a fast break. The Southampton player and Mercy player almost immediately got face to face and exchanged words before both benches spilled onto the court. The altercation never became physical, according to Southampton head coach Herm Lamison, but players from both teams left their respective benches and jumped onto the court—an action that calls for an automatic one-game suspension, per Section XI rules.
Southampton went on to defeat Mercy, 104-64, thanks in large part to a 38-12 third quarter. Scott Ricca scored a team-high 26 points for the Mariners and added eight rebounds and four assists. Shaundell Fishburne scored 19 points and had eight rebounds, while Devon Trent scored 14 points. Alex Halaka, getting the start on Senior Night, finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Nine Mariners wound up being suspended for their regular-season finale at Mattituck on Thursday, February 7, which the Mariners lost, 66-53. Southampton played with just four varsity players against the Tuckers. The rest of the team was made up of junior varsity players who were called up for the game. John Kraus scored a career-high 27 points in the loss.
Lamison didn’t like the fact that he was missing more than half of his team, but he did like that his reserves got valuable playing time. “The kids stepped up and played as best they could,” he said. “Four of the kids never really play, so I was happy the kids got some time. Anytime you can get them on the court to play some meaningful minutes, it’s a good thing.”
As for the suspensions, Lamison understood why his players were suspended but said he was skeptical about why only two Mercy players were disciplined. “That’s the rule—if you leave the bench and come onto the playing surface, you’re suspended a game,” Lamison explained. “We had nine players suspended, Mercy had two. I guess we were the poster child for Section XI.”
All suspended players will return to the team for the Suffolk County Class B playoffs, which begin today, February 14. As of Monday, it wasn’t officially known which team Southampton would host in the semifinals, nor was a game time posted, but Lamison was confident that he and his team would be hosting Wyandanch, since the Warriors finished with the third-best record in Class B. The Mariners finished second in Class B with an 11-3 League VII record (14-4 overall). Babylon, which won its first league title since 1978, hosted Center Moriches in the other semifinal game.
The winner of today’s game will advance to the finals, which is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20, at 5 p.m. at a site to be determined. There will be a $6 admission fee to that game.