After one of its most successful seasons in recent memory, the Bridgehampton boys basketball team and head coach Carl Johnson are hungry for more this year.
The Killer Bees fell agonizingly short of a trip to the New York State Final Four last March, losing to Martin Luther King Jr. High School in the regional final on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. It would have been the first trip to the Final Four in 16 years for a program that has eight state championship banners hanging in its gym.
The Bees have good reason to believe they can make another run at breaking that streak again, having lost just one starter to graduation. The loss is a big one, however: Jason Hopson was an All-County player and led the team in scoring. But with solid returnees up front and in the backcourt, Bridgehampton should be a formidable squad once again.
The team returns its leading rebounder in sophomore Josh Lamison, who proved himself a monster force in the paint last year. His classmate Tylik Furman, a guard, will anchor the backcourt as its point guard. Furman and Lamison were the team’s second- and third-leading scorers last year, and Johnson said he expects even more scoring production from the duo this season to offset Hopson’s loss.
Also returning to the startling lineup are seniors Anajae Lamb, a forward, and guard Jerome Walker. Johnson called Lamb “the glue” of the team, saying he can provide rebounding and also even handle the ball at times. Walker is a good shooter and Johnson expects him to up his scoring production on a more consistent basis this year.
“I’m expecting a lot of leadership from Jerome and Anajae,” Johnson said. “And I’m expecting more leadership from Tylik, too. Even though he’s only a sophomore, this is his third year on varsity. And from the point guard position, he has to take control of the situation.”
A pair of newcomers to the varsity, freshman Elijah Jackson and sophomore Matt Hochstedler, will be called upon to contribute as well. Johnson expects Jackson to join with Walker and Furman to create a nice three-guard tandem, and he said that Hochstedler is a good shooter who can help on offense as well.
Johnson acknowledged that his team’s expectations will remain high this year, but he pointed out that Greenport, a perennially strong team that played in Class C last year, has moved back down to Class D, which will make it more difficult for the Bees to defend their county title. Johnson added that fellow Class D team Smithtown Christian is also improved, having returned its entire team from last year, and he said that Shelter Island, who his team beat for the county title last year, still has several key players back.
“This year, we expect to try to get back to the same place we did last year, but we’re hoping to get over the hump this time,” Johnson said. “I think we have a chance to do it. Our kids have to come out and be ready to work hard.”
Bridgehampton will compete in League VIII in the regular season with its fellow Class D squads, as well as several strong Class C teams, including Pierson and Stony Brook.
Johnson is focused right now on trying to get his team ready and healthy for league competition. Currently, both Lamison and Furman are battling knee injuries, and Johnson said he wasn’t sure yet when they’d be cleared to play.
Bridgehampton will open the season at Mattituck on December 6 for a non-league game at 6 p.m. and will open the League VIII season at home against Pierson on December 10 at 6 p.m.