It’s been a dominant few years for the Bridgehampton boys basketball program, with the school’s ninth state championship in 2015 and Suffolk County and Long Island Championships earlier this year.
The Killer Bees should remain one of the more competitive teams in League VIII this year, are will be favored to defend their Suffolk County title this season, but there will be plenty of new faces in the starting lineup, as most of the team’s top scorers and producers from last season have graduated.
Bridgehampton said good-bye to starting point guard Tylik Furman and starting forward Josh Lamison, both five-year varsity players who were the face of the program over the last half decade. Lamison led the team in scoring and rebounding and was an unstoppable force down low, while Furman ran the offense smoothly and efficiently, leading the team in assists and also serving as one of the top three scorers on the team.
Bridgehampton also lost sharp-shooting guard Matt Hostetter, who was a consistent threat from beyond the three-point line, and Jamari Grant, who came off the bench.
The Killer Bees return their second-leading scorer, senior Elijah Jackson, and he will be expected to increase his role this year in his third season as a starting. Jackson has been a solid three-point shooter, but longtime head coach Carl Johnson said he expects Jackson to increase his role on the team this year and become a more versatile player on both offense and defense, adding he believes Jackson has the skill to do so.
Johnson will also expect returning players Elijah and J.P. Harding to step up their game. Elijah, a junior, has size and strength and will be expected to help fill the void left by Lamison up front, while J.P. Harding showed promise as a freshman last year coming off the bench and will need to become more of a consistent contributor this year as well.
Filling in for Furman as the team’s primary ballhandler will be freshman Naejon Ward, who is originally from Bridgehampton but lived in Southampton last year before moving back to his hometown at the start of the school year. While he is young, Johnson said he is confident Ward can be a capable point guard for the Killer Bees.
To defend their county title, the Killer Bees will need only to get past Shelter Island, the only other Class D squad in the county. Shelter Island was competitive last year, but lost four starters to graduation, and Bridgehampton will be the favorite to beat them this year.
Johnson said he is hoping his team can finish in the top three in League VIII, although the league schedule will be a bit different this year, featuring crossover games with League VII teams. Because of the move of both Wyandanch and Southampton—former Class B/League VII teams—into Class A/League VI this year, the League VII teams need to play a few league games with League VIII opponents to get enough contests in the regular season. There are now only six teams in League VII, the same as League VIII, which lost Smithtown Christian because it is not fielding a varsity this year. Bridgehampton will play its League VIII foes—Stony Brook, Southold, Pierson, Greenport and Shelter Island—twice each and will play each of the League VII teams once.
Bridgehampton will open the season at Wyandanch on December 3 in a non-league game at 2 p.m. and will visit Mercy on December 9 for a 6:15 p.m.