It’s been nearly a year since the Bridgehampton boys basketball team was seconds away from advancing to the New York State Final Four. The Killer Bees had high hopes to at least repeat last year’s success, but those hopes were dashed February 12.
Bridgehampton lost, 55-52, at Greenport in the Suffolk County Class D semifinals, ending the season for the Bees. Greenport, the top seed in the Class D bracket, wound up losing in the county final to Shelter Island, the third seed. It was Shelter Island’s first county championship in school history.
Bridgehampton head coach Carl Johnson said he was a little disappointed that the season ended so early. “It’s been a roller coaster of a year,” he said. “I think if we stay healthy, we’ve got a real good shot at going upstate again. We only lost one game when we had our full complement of players.”
Johnson explained that the team’s starting point guard Tylik Furman missed the first five games of the season and senior starter Jerome Walker also missed a handful of games in the middle of the season. Elijah Jackson, who was third on the team in scoring, suffered a hairline fracture of the growth plate near his ankle and wound up missing the entire second half of the season.
And the injuries didn’t stop last week. With 6:16 remaining in the first half, Josh Lamison, arguably the team’s most productive player, rolled his ankle and had to be helped off the court.
Greenport, which trailed 16-14 before Lamison went down, seized the opportunity right away and went on an 8-0 run to go up 22-16. But Furman scored two consecutive baskets, then Henry Kotz added a three pointer, and Greenport led by just two points, 26-24, by halftime.
Lamison hobbled out of the locker room just before the second half started and decided to give it a go. His effort was commendable, but the Porters held a five to six-point lead for much of the second half.
Johnson gave credit to his bench players for stepping up when Lamison was out or playing hurt. “We were right there in the first half,” he said. “People thought Greenport was going to take control of the game but they didn’t really.
“With no Josh in there, it does change a lot of what we do,” he added. “He was limited defensively but the kid gave it his all and put in a tremendous effort.”
Halfway into the fourth quarter, Furman capped a 7-0 run with a three-pointer to bring the Bees within a point of the Porters with 1:16 remaining in regulation. Both teams went on to trade baskets, and with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Bridgehampton found itself with possession of the ball but down three points.
While drawing up the final play, Johnson said he knew Greenport wasn’t going to cover Lamison, since he isn’t a long-range shooter, and that it was going to double-team Furman and have tight coverage on Walker. That left Anajae Lamb to take the final shot. Lamb tried his best to get a last-second shot off, but it sailed out of bounds and the Porters rejoiced at midcourt.
Furman led Bridgehampton with 20 points, while Lamison had 11 in basically three quarters of play, due to the injury.
Kotz, Lamb and Walker will be the only three players graduating in June and Johnson said he’s going to miss their experience, especially from Lamb and Walker, who were four- and three-year varsity players, respectively. But the team’s top three scorers are returning in Furman, Jackson and Lamison.