The Hampton Bays boys basketball season changed dramatically over the holiday when leading scorer junior Bruno Cavallo suffered a hairline fracture of his skull just four seconds into an eventual 72-57 loss at Patchogue/Medford on Friday. The Baymen were struggling even before Cavallo went down with the season-ending injury, having lost at Smithtown East 43-38 on December 23 and at Port Jefferson 61-41 on December 22.
But Hampton Bays head coach Pete Meehan will now have to try and replace Cavallo in the lineup. The coach said there was no way he would be able to replace a player who averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds per game. While Meehan said Cavallo’s court time would be divided among the bench, junior guard James Pace will now start in his place.
“Pace was starting to become more of a factor as the season progressed,” Meehan said. “The thing with him in the lineup now is we lose an inside presence. So we need someone whose going to get boards.”
As far as the loss to Patchogue/Medford, Meehan thought his team would have been better off without Cavallo starting the game that way they would have been more prepared for the Raiders without him instead of being caught off guard as they were. Down 38-15 at halftime, Meehan said he had a good talk with his team in the locker room.
“It was a combination of everything,” Meehan said of his team’s poor first half performance. “It was poor shooting, turnovers, allowing secondary shots. The game got away from us in a hurry.”
The Baymen (1-1 League VII, 3-4 overall) came out in the second half with a nothing-to-lose-attitude and scored 42 second half points, including a season-high 10 three-pointers, but Patchogue/Medford’s solid first half proved to be too much. Hampton Bays sophomore guard Cameroon Booth hit a career-high six three-pointers to end the game with 20 points and four assists. Senior forward Chris Rydberg scored a career-high 19 points and also had 12 boards.
In the loss to Smithtown East, Meehan said his team was sluggish from start to finish. While both teams were shooting poorly, Hampton Bays didn’t take the opportunity to take control of the game after the third quarter when they had a 30-23 lead. The Baymen’s 19 turnovers, and 13 of 54 from the field, proved to be too costly as they lost to a team that Meehan expected to beat.
“It was our poorest outing of the year,” he said. “It was a game I expected to win and even more so after the game I thought we were the better team. We just didn’t play as we were capable of playing. It was disappointing.”
As far as the rest of the season, Meehan said that the team will continue to work just as hard, despite Cavallo’s absence.
“When you start the whole thing it’s a challenge,” he said of the season. “Along the way you’re thrown some adversity and things change. We try and get better everyday and from that stand point nothing at all has changed. We always said this is a tough league so it was going to be tough with Bruno.”
Hampton Bays played Center Moriches on Tuesday and will be at Wyandanch on Friday for a game that will start at 4:30 p.m.