Their backs were against the wall, and they delivered.
The East Hampton boys basketball team is playoff bound after winning its final two regular season games to clinch a spot in the Class A postseason. The wins gave the Bonackers a 6-6 record in League VI, 9-9 overall. Teams must finish with an even record in league play in order to make the playoffs.
The Bonackers beat Miller Place, 64-55, on February 4 in the first step to keep their playoff hopes alive, and officially clinched a spot with a 77-67 home win over Bayport/Blue Point on Friday night, avenging a loss to the Phantoms from earlier in the season.
East Hampton was seeded seventh and was scheduled to visit No. 2 Harborfields in Harborfields on Thursday, February 13, at 6 p.m. The winner will move on to face the winner of No. 3 Elwood/John Glenn and No. 6 Sayville in the semifinals at the higher seed’s home court on Tuesday, February 18.
The Bonackers displayed a will to win in both games, facing adversity at times against two worthy opponents. Against Miller Place, East Hampton was down 29-22 at halftime, but went on a 10-0 run to start the second half and get back into the game. Senior guard Danny McKee had the first seven points in that run and then provided the assist on a three-point shot that capped the 10-0 spurt.
“We came out and played very well in the second half, and it carried over into the [Bayport] game,” head coach Bill McKee said.
Kyle McKee led East Hampton with 21 points, hitting five of his team’s 11 three-pointers in the game, and he was one of four players in double figures. Brandon Kennedy-Gay had 15 points, Dan McKee had 13 and Thomas Nelson added 10.
“It’s indicative of the way they’ve been playing recently,” Coach McKee said of the balanced scoring.
That theme continued against Bayport—Nelson led the team with 20 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Kevin Fee had 16 points, Brendan Hughes had 13 points and Dan McKee had 13 points and six assists.
East Hampton was ahead by as many as 17 points in the second half, but the Phantoms made it a little interesting in the end. Overall, Coach McKee was very happy with both the effort and the outcome.
“I thought that was one of the better games we played all year,” he said. “Bayport, I thought, shot really well to start the game, and I thought both teams were playing at a relatively high level.”
McKee said he was particularly pleased with Fee’s performance, pointing out that he scored eight points in the second quarter to help East Hampton take a three-point halftime lead.
“He’s been playing better and better,” McKee said. “He really showed that against Bayport.”
As a team, East Hampton was sharp from the free-throw line, hitting 22 of 29 shots, including the first 18 of the game.
“That’s a lot of foul shots, but it was indicative of the way we played in going to the basket,” McKee said.
McKee added that a nice home crowd helped bolster his team in the crucial game as well.
“The atmosphere of the game was fantastic,” he said. “Our bleacher creatures came out and were really good.”
McKee said he hoped his team could continue the momentum of its playoff-clinching play into the postseason.
“I certainly think we’re playing the best basketball we’ve played all year,” he said. “At this time of year, that’s obviously what you want. Anything is possible; it’s the playoffs.”
The East Hampton girls basketball team finished the season with a 1-11 record in League VI, 2-15 overall. The Lady Bonackers lost, 68-40, at home against Miller Place on February 4 before losing, 40-36, at Bayport on Thursday.