Overtime became the Jerome Russell and Hayden Ward Show when the East Hampton boys basketball team took on Elwood/John Glenn in Huntington on Friday in the League VI opener.
The Bonacker seniors accounted for all 12 of their team’s points in the extra session, leading to a crucial 70-65 victory for East Hampton.
Russell had a monster game, finishing with a career-high 38 points, six of which came in overtime. Ward finished with 23 points, 18 of which came in the second half, and he led the team with 15 rebounds.
The senior duo also led their team back from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter. East Hampton closed the gap to two points at halftime and for the rest of the second half, neither team led by more than five points. Glenn hit a three-point shot at the end of regulation to force overtime and then hit another three to start the extra period, but after that, the Bonackers went on a 7-0 run to put the game away. Ward hit consecutive shots in the beginning of the overtime to give East Hampton a one-point lead while Russell was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line in OT.
East Hampton head coach Ed Petrie said that getting a road win against Glenn—expected to be one of the top teams in the league—was a big boost for his team and added that he expects Ward and Russell to continue to lead the squad this season.
“At the end of the game, they’re the two players we’re going to go to,” Petrie said. “They have the most experience and they’ve been starting for three years now, so they’re the best conditioned for that situation.”
East Hampton got off to a slow start against the Knights, but began to get hot at the end of the second quarter, when Russell scored 17 of his team’s 20 points.
“He wasn’t doing anything he normally wouldn’t do,” Petrie said of Russell’s performance. “He just took some good shots and heated up.”
While Russell and Ward accounted for the lion’s share of East Hampton’s points, Petrie pointed out that several other players had good games as well. Senior Jarred Bowe finished with 10 rebounds, and Petrie said he was happy with the efforts of Tyler Brenneman and Sam Hyman as well.
Before opening the league slate against Glenn, East Hampton improved to 2-0 in non-league games against defending county champions by beating Port Jefferson 64-47 at home on December 9. Against last season’s Class C champs, the Bonackers got off to a slow start, but pulled away easily in the second half, thanks to a 21-9 advantage in the third quarter. Both Ward and Russell finished with 18 points, while Ward also tallied 12 rebounds. Alex Toussaint provided some hot shooting for the Bonackers off the bench, finishing with nine points after hitting three shots from beyond the arc. Brenneman chipped in with six points for East Hampton.
In that game, Petrie said he was pleased with the overall patience and efficiency of his team.
“Guys like Jarred and Tyler and Sam, they’re not scoring a whole lot, but they’re contributing on the boards and defensively,” he said. “They’re playing a role other than a scoring role. Our kids have been patient with the ball and haven’t rushed things when they’ve fallen behind. They’ve hung in and stayed patient and if you do that, eventually things will start to level out.”
Petrie said he’s pleased with his team’s 3-0 start against quality opponents, although he stressed that there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially heading into what should be a competitive season in League VI.
“I’m happy with their patience and they’re playing well together as a team,” he said. “We’ve got to improve in many ways and we’re far from where we’d like to be. But I’m happy with the way we’ve started, particularly getting a league win at Glenn.”
East Hampton was scheduled to host Shoreham/Wading River on Tuesday and will visit Westhampton Beach on Thursday for a 6:15 p.m. game. The Bonackers will host defending Suffolk County Class AA champion Half Hollow Hills West at noon on Saturday and will take on defending county Class B champion Center Moriches at home on December 27 at 6:15 p.m.
The Lady Bonackers suffered a 66-32 home loss to Elwood/John Glenn in their League VI opener on December 11. East Hampton fell behind 31-16 at halftime and could not recover. Nicole Fierro led East Hampton with 11 points while Kelsi Thorsen chipped in six points. Glenn was led by standout forward Jaclyn McKenna, who finished with 27 points.
East Hampton was scheduled to visit Shoreham/Wading River on Tuesday and will host Westhampton Beach on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.