Coming up with a game plan to beat the East Hampton boys basketball team can’t be an easy task.
Conventional wisdom would say that the key to beating the Bonackers is shutting down the backcourt tandem of Brandon Kennedy-Gay and Kyle McKee, lights-out shooters who can also drive to the hoop. But the Bonac frontcourt is serving notice that ignoring them could be a recipe for disaster.
That point was driven home in the League VI opener at Miller Place on Thursday, where senior forward Regis O’Neil scored a career-high 22 points—16 in the first half—to go along with 10 rebounds in East Hampton’s 77-50 win. O’Neil shot 10 for 12 from the field, and his teammates benefited from the attention he drew up front, as Kennedy-Gay led all scorers with 28 points and had five steals. McKee had his usual steady game, chipping in 10 points, while forward Brandon Johnson had six points but made his mark down low as well, hauling in 12 rebounds.
Teams have long been aware of what Kennedy-Gay and McKee can do, but the continued emergence of players like O’Neil and Johnson have made the Bonackers a very complete team.
“That’s really been the big difference in our team from last year to this year,” head coach Bill McKee said. “It becomes very difficult to defend against us.”
McKee added that Johnson and O’Neil made vast improvements in their game during the offseason.
“Regis played in open gym a lot this summer,” McKee said. “So it’s not something that was really unexpected. He’s certainly capable of scoring in double figures every night. So is Brandon Johnson. Brandon hasn’t had that breakout 20-point game yet, but only because he hasn’t shot the ball that much.”
East Hampton followed up the league win with a 63-50 triumph at Center Moriches in a non-league game on Saturday, improving to 4-0 on the year. Kennedy-Gay led the way with 24 points and six assists, while McKee had 15 points and freshman guard Jack Reese had 11. O’Neil added eight points and Johnson had five points and 10 rebounds.
“That was a good win,” McKee said. “I thought they were a very good team and we had to play well to beat them. I thought as a team that was the best we’ve played.”
East Hampton was scheduled to host St. John the Baptist for a non-league game on December 15 and will visit Shoreham for a league game on December 17 at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Bonackers will host defending league and county champion Bayport/Blue Point at 12:30 p.m. The teams have developed a nice rivalry over recent years, and could see each other down the road in the postseason.