By Gavin Menu
Elijah Jackson is the last remaining starter from Bridgehampton’s state championship team in 2015, and he once again is helping rally the Killer Bees to greater competitive heights.
Jackson scored 21 points in a 71-65 victory over Stony Brook on Friday in the Bee Hive, where Bridgehampton has been almost unbeatable of late. The Bees faced Greenport on the road Wednesday after press time, and first place was on the line as each team jumped out to a 4-0 start in League VIII action.
“They are looking really good,” Bridgehampton head coach Carl Johnson said about Greenport, which is now a Class C school after battling the Bees in Class D for so many years. “I think it will be a big test. Let’s see what we can do on the road. We have to be ready to execute and not turn the ball over.”
Bridgehampton sophomore J.P. Harding continued his impressive season with 19 points against Stony Brook, which followed a 25-point and 12-rebound performance on January 18 in an 87-66 blowout of Pierson, which entered that game with one of the hottest players in Suffolk County.
Pierson junior Will Martin faced Bridgehampton fresh off a 36-point performance in a win over Stony Brook. Martin scored 29 against Bridgehampton but it was not enough against the red-hot Killer Bees, who going into Wednesday had won six games in a row including victories over Class B schools Mattituck and Babylon, as well as league foes Shelter Island, Southold, Pierson and Stony Brook to vault to the top the league standings.
“I think people psych themselves out a lot more than they should,” Johnson said with a laugh when talking about playing on the compressed court in the Hive. “But we definitely have that advantage. Our kids feel really great about that court. Ever since the loss to East Hampton earlier this season we’ve been playing good basketball.”
Six players joined Harding in double figures against Pierson, with Jackson and fellow seniors Elijah Harding and Nykell Dean scoring 13 points apiece. Freshman point guard Naejon Ward also scored 13 and chipped in with nine assists in one of his best all-around performances of the season.
Johnson missed the Pierson game because of a one-game suspension that followed his being ejected from a 74-58 victory over Southold on January 13. Johnson’s absence gave assistant coach Ron White the opportunity to coach a big game between local rivals. And while White, who doubles as the Bridgehampton School Board president, was proud of the team’s performance against Pierson, he also warned of a long season ahead.
“We did what we needed to do, and ultimately got the win, but we had too many slip-ups,” White said afterward. “We have to be prepared for the bigger courts, being able to space things and anticipate movements.”
Johnson was back on the sideline this week — along with his 27 years of experience and six state championships as a Killer Bee — but said he appreciated what Wednesday’s win over Pierson meant to White, an alumnus of the program himself.
“I’ve always tried to encourage the guys and make them understand that no matter where it is, every team is going to give us their best punch,” White said as a sold-out crowd poured out of the gym. “No matter what — if it’s an A school or a C school, or even just a different class, they’re always going to be looking to come after us. We’ve got to come with that chip on our shoulders, that they’re coming to take care of us. We have a bench, we have skill; we just have to put it all together now.”
Whalers Fall to Greenport
Greenport knocked off Pierson, 78-56, in Sag Harbor on Friday as the Whalers dropped to 2-2 in League VIII, and 4-7 overall. Martin scored 20 points to lead Pierson, and Sean Sloane added 18. Next up is a 7 p.m. home game against Southold on Friday, January 27, to cap off the annual Spirit Night celebration.