The regular season didn’t pan out exactly as the Southampton boys basketball team had hoped it would, but the Mariners can take solace in the fact that they are playing some of their best basketball heading into the Class B playoffs.
In the pre-season, Southampton had aspirations of winning the League VII title and possibly garnering the top seed in the ‘B’ bracket. Four losses—two each to league champ Babylon and second-place Center Moriches—derailed those hopes, but the Mariners did well enough, with a 10-4 league record, 14-4 overall, to finish third and garner the third seed in the five-team bracket. The Mariners will travel to face second-seed Center Moriches, in Center Moriches, on Thursday, February 13, at 7:45 p.m. in the semifinals. Mattituck and Wyandanch will play in an outbracket game, and the winner will take on Babylon in the other semifinal game. The county title will be decided on Wednesday, February 19, at Northport High School at 3:30 p.m.
Southampton finished the regular season with a trio of convincing wins last week, beating Mattituck 80-57 on the road on Friday, blowing past William Floyd, 76-35, at home a day earlier in a non-league game, and cruising past Wyandanch, 75-44, on February 4.
According to head coach Herm Lamison, strong team defense was the catalyst in all three wins. Against Mattituck, the Mariners extended their slim two-point first quarter lead to 13 at halftime, and then outscored the Tuckers 24-12 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Guards Shaundell Fishburne and Taylor Sanders led Southampton with 18 points each, with Fishburne adding five rebounds and three assists and Sanders chipping in seven rebounds. Forward Naises Fulford had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Isaiah Johnson had 13 points and eight rebounds. Israel Johnson added seven points and 10 assists.
“Mattituck shot the ball well in the first quarter, which wasn’t a fluke, because they have the ability to do that,” Lamison said. “But we were able to change our defensive strategy and cause some turnovers.”
It was a similar story against Wyandanch. The Mariners were leading by just one point after the first quarter, but outscored the Warriors 22-2 in the second quarter to take control.
“I was very happy with the way we played against Wyandanch,” Lamison said. “I thought our defense really was a factor in not allowing them good looks at the basket, and we really just got after it. It was a game we really wanted to play well in. Wyandanch is a team that can creep up on you and surprise you.”
Wyandanch was the only team that beat Babylon (13-1) in league play this season.
Sanders led Southampton with 25 points and Fishburne added 22 points in the win.
Against Floyd, Fishburne had 17, Sanders had 13 and Isaiah Johnson had 10.
Lamison said on Monday that his team was looking forward to the playoffs and hoped the momentum of the final regular season games would carry over into the postseason.
“I think we’re playing some of, if not the best, basketball in the last few games,” he said. “We’re just hoping to build on it. It’s been a competitive and somewhat disappointing season for us. We didn’t mean to drop four games. Our goal was to win the league and move on from there. That didn’t happen, but the good thing is that it’s a brand new season, and everybody starts with a 0-0 record. We’re going to play harder and smarter and we’re hoping to come out on the other end of it this time.”
The Lady Mariners finished the season with a 3-7 record in League VII, 6-9 overall, after losing 58-47 at home to Mattituck on Friday and beating Wyandanch 59-43 on the road on February 4. Senior guard Noelle Hodges, who will join her older sister, Paris, on the Brandeis University women’s basketball team next year, led Southampton in both games. She scored 25 points against Mattituck and 23 points against Wyandanch, along with five assists and six rebounds. Sydney Katz added 13 points and seven rebounds in the win over Wyandanch while Chloe Scheuch had eight points and Caroline Ricca had six.