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Nov 28, 2017 12:07 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Season Preview: Returning State Semifinalist Mariners Will Need Time To Jell

Micah Snowden, left, and Elijah Wingfield are the only two holdovers from last year's state semifinalist boys basketball team. DREW BUDD
Nov 28, 2017 12:07 PM

In its first season as a Class A school, the Southampton boys basketball team created history last year.

Against tougher, larger competition, the Mariners continued their winning ways by winning their fourth straight Long Island Championship and made a New York State Final Four appearance, losing a three-point game to Our Lady Of Lourdes in the semifinal. But following that loss, seven of the nine players on the roster graduated, many of which were starters, including Timmy Alejo, Aaron Krzyzewski and Chad Pike, and Andre Franklin, who was the team’s sixth man.

Now it’s right back to the drawing board.

Elijah Wingfield is the only senior on the team and one half of the returning starters, with junior Micah Snowden also returning. The duo will be relied upon heavily, especially early on in the season, as the rest of the team acclimates to varsity.

“There’s going to be some growing pains, naturally, when you lose seven kids out of the nine that you had,” Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said. “It’s a nice luxury having Elijah and Micah back, two solid, core players. I got a big and I got a guard, so that’s something good to start with.”

The majority of the team this season is making the full-time jump from junior varsity. Those players include sophomores Lucas Bontempo, Artemi Gavalas, James Malone and junior Kristian Wheeler. Southampton was infused with a trio of transfers over the offseason as well that should help. Nae’Jon Ward, a sophomore, played for Bridgehampton last season and helped lead the Killer Bees to the Class D Regional Semifinals. Twins Marquise and Marcus Trent, juniors and the sons of a former player of Lamison, Franklin Trent, have moved back to the district from Georgia.

While the infusion of new players is nice, Lamison said, they have a lot to catch up on. Class A is a much different environment than Class D and Lamison said it’s something Ward is going to have to acclimate himself to. And while the Trents’ basketball background is extensive, they just joined the team two weeks ago.

“Last year and the year before, we had repetitive kids. We had young teams but at least we knew what we had. They knew the system and how we wanted to play. Right now we’re working with so many new faces, we’re still trying to figure out who plays well in what offensive schemes, it’s a work in progress,” Lamison explained. “There’s also a little bit of a learning curve from JV to varsity—the players are quicker, stronger—and there’s much more pressure on the kids to play. We’re coming off winning the last four straight Long Island Championships—expectations are always to win. I think if the kids continue to work hard it’s possible.”

Southampton will be playing in a highly competitive League VI this season. Amityville is the early favorite to take Southampton’s crown, but Bayport/Blue Point, Elwood/John Glenn, and Wyandanch, which the Mariners defeated to win last year’s county title, are all returning competitive teams. Hampton Bays has improved from last season and Miller Place, Mount Sinai and Shoreham/Wading River always have competitive squads as well.

“There’s no cake walk, every game is going to be tough for us,” Lamison said. “We’ll get through the league and try and make it to the playoffs. Hopefully by the time we get to the playoffs we can start jelling. If we’re injury free, we’ll be playing at our highest level and the kids can put it together and get to that next step.”

While many teams start their non-league schedule this week and next, Southampton is using the time to practice and work together. It won’t play its first game until December 11 when it hosts East Hampton in a non-league game at 6:30 p.m. The Mariners play their first league game at Glenn on December 15 at 4:30 p.m.

Information on the Southampton girls basketball team was not available.

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