The Southampton boys basketball team has had a rough start to its season.
The Mariners fell to 0-6 on the year with four losses over the holiday break. After suffering a 72-48 loss to League VI powerhouse East Hampton in a non-league road game on December 23, Southampton went 0-2 at the 31st annual Eastern Officials Holiday Classic Tournament at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue on December 27 and 28. The Mariners lost 53-50 to Riverhead in the opening round before being edged 57-55 by Bayport/Blue Point in the consolation game the following day.
On December 30, the Mariners were downed 80-61 by Bellport in a non-league game at home.
Against Riverhead, the Mariners held a four-point lead at halftime, but the Blue Waves went on a 10-2 run in the third quarter that Southampton could not recover from. With 47.4 seconds left in the game, the Mariners made it a one-point game at 51-50, but Blue Wave senior guard Rasheen Moore hit two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to give Riverhead its final margin.
Moore led Riverhead with 15 points and also had five rebounds and five assists.
Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said he thought it was a combination of different elements that led to the team’s fourth straight loss to open the season.
“The turnovers hurt us,” he said, “and possessions where you don’t get an opportunity to score are not going to help you. We’ve been shooting the ball pretty well from the free throw line, but we did miss some crucial free throws tonight. I thought we did a better job rebounding the basketball than we have in the past. It was turnovers and free throws and failed execution in some parts.”
Southampton did have a chance to tie the game with time winding down, but junior forward D’Angelo Smith opted to drive to the hoop instead of going for the three-pointer.
“Maybe he was thinking he was going to get fouled going to the basket, I don’t know,” Lamison said of Smith. “I think our inexperience shows and that’s how you get experience in games like this. So hopefully we’re going to pick it up and get better from it.”
The Mariners did well in the first half, outscoring the Blue Waves 26-22. Junior guard Sean Johnson was strong beyond the arc, hitting three three-pointers, but he only scored five of his game-high 18 points in the second half. Junior guard Lester Pettaway and Smith had eight points each, while senior guard Kyren Miller chipped in with seven.
Lamison, though not happy with the loss, said he saw progress being made.
“We’re in a position to get it done; we just don’t get it done down the stretch,” he said. “But you know it’s a work in progress. I still think that we’ll be where we need to be as we progress through the season.”
Against Bayport/Blue Point, the Mariners blew a seven-point lead in the final two minutes of the game to suffer another close loss.
“It was another game we let slip through our hands,” Lamison said. “We didn’t execute and we made a couple of turnovers and when you do those kind of things down the stretch, it’s going to come back to haunt you.”
The Mariners were in their game against Bellport in the early stages, down by just three points after the first quarter, but Bellport pulled away for a 49-33 halftime lead and Southampton could not recover. Smith was Southampton’s only double-digit scorer in that game, finishing with 19 points.
Despite the rough start, Lamison said he’s not giving up hope, pointing out that his team has been close in most of its losses.
“The little things have been beating us up all season long,” he said. “Turnovers, not grabbing a loose ball here or there or not getting a rebound when we should.
“Out of the six games we’ve lost, we could’ve won four of them,” Lamison continued. “I keep stressing the little things; that’s my buzz word with the kids. We just have to make a better effort to pay more attention to those things.”
Southampton was scheduled to visit Port Jefferson on January 6 and will host defending Suffolk County Class B champion Center Moriches on Friday, January 9 at 7 p.m.