Baymen fall to league leaders

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In its last two games, the inability to sustain a strong first quarter effort has spelled defeat for the Hampton Bays boys basketball team. The Baymen fell to 1-3 in League VII, 3-6 overall, with losses to Wyandanch and Center Moriches, the top two teams in the league. Hampton Bays was downed 101-58 at home on January 6 by the Red Devils and suffered a 77-48 loss at Wyandanch on Friday. In both games, the Baymen were competitive in the first quarter but fell apart in the second quarter, leading to significant halftime deficits that proved to be too big to overcome.

According to Hampton Bays head coach Pete Meehan, the Baymen also got lured into playing an up-tempo style of basketball against both the Red Devils and Warriors, another factor which led to the losses. Despite being down by just four points after the first quarter against Center Moriches, Meehan said he was concerned about the direction the game was taking.

“To tell the truth it worked against us in a way to have that kind of first quarter,” he said. “You have to try to control the tempo against them and that was one of our focal points. We were scoring, but we were scoring too fast and that worried me right away. Once they’re sped up, it’s hard to find that off switch.”

Meehan’s fears were realized in the second quarter, as the Baymen offense went cold, thanks in large part to turnovers that allowed the Red Devils to take a commanding 49-24 halftime lead.

“They had established the tempo they wanted right away,” Meehan said of the Red Devils. “It wasn’t something we were able to keep up with.”

A season high 27 turnovers in the game also hurt the Baymen, leading to easy buckets for Center Moriches.

Chris Rydberg led Hampton Bays with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while James Pace had a career-high 13 points and eight rebounds. Point guard Cameron Booth chipped in 14 points and six assists.

Against Wyandanch, the Baymen got off to a nice start, leading 20-16 after the first quarter, but once again they could not sustain the effort on offense and fell behind 37-29 at the break. The Baymen got good looks at the basket in the third quarter but couldn’t connect, missing foul shots, layups and three-point shots.

“It wasn’t a case of poor play, it was just us not putting the ball in the basket,” Meehan said.

Wyandanch pulled away in the later stages of the fourth quarter, keeping up its trapping defense that led to 24 turnovers on the night for the Baymen.

“It was more competitive than the final score indicated,” Meehan said. “They pressed us to the end and in the last three or four minutes they were just running away with it.”

Ryberg led the Baymen again, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds while Booth had 15 points and three assists.

Life has been a little different for the Baymen since losing leading scorer and rebounder Bruno Cavallo for the season after he suffered a fractured skull during a game on January 2. Cavallo, a junior, has been released from the hospital but as of Sunday, had not returned to school. He visited the Baymen practice the day before the game against Center Moriches, but Meehan said his team is focused now on trying to improve and move forward for the rest of the year.

“It was good to see him upright,” Meehan said of Cavallo’s visit to practice, adding that although he did not get an official word, he’s not expecting Cavallo to make a return this season. “You don’t replace him or his numbers, but it’s an opportunity for the other kids. Every season starts with its unique challenges and along the way, you get thrown other stuff. This certainly is a big one to lose a player of that magnitude. It changes who we are and how we approach things. But I try to stress to them to go in the gym every day and try to get better, whether Bruno is there or not.”

The Baymen were scheduled to host Southold on Monday and visited Mattituck on Wednesday. They will host Babylon on Friday at 8 p.m.

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