For 16 minutes on Tuesday it seemed like the good, old days of knock-down, drag-out, East End Class D basketball.
Bridgehampton and Greenport, longtime playoff rivals, faced off in Tuesday’s non-elimination Suffolk County C-D Championship game at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, where the Killer Bees came in as huge underdogs against a Porters team that plowed through the league season with an undefeated record — winning by an average margin of 50 points per game — before winning the Suffolk County Class C title with relative ease.
Bridgehampton, the automatic Class D county champion, gave the Porters all they could handle in the first half on Tuesday. Sparked by the play of sophomore point guard Nae’Jon Ward, the Bees led late in the first half before going into the break trailing by just three points.
“We had a nice little plan going,” first-year head coach Ron White said. “They were believing a little bit.”
That was until Greenport flexed its might in the third quarter and went on a 20-2 run to put the game away in what seemed like an instant. The Porters’ 67-41 victory means they will face the Class B champion, Center Moriches, on Saturday at Sachem North High School at 1 p.m.
The winner will play the Class A champion on Monday with a berth in the overall county final on the line.
Bridgehampton, meanwhile, will have two weeks off before its New York State Class D Regional Semifinal on March 5 at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, where it will take on the winner from Class IX (Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties) at 7 p.m.
The winner of that game will play a regional final on either March 9 or 11, and if the Bees advance, the game will be right here in their backyard at Center Moriches High School, where a berth in the state final four at the Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton over the weekend of March 16 and 17 would be on the line.
“This is now where it counts,” said White, who won three state titles as a player at Bridgehampton. “We have to be undefeated for the rest of the season.”
Greenport on Tuesday was sparked in the second half by a deep lineup that had four players score in double figures, including Jordan Fonseca, who led the team with 21 points, Ahkee Anderson, who had 14, and Julian Swann and Tyrus Smiley, who scored 12 points each.
Ward had 12 points in the first half for Bridgehampton, but failed to score in the second half. Elijah White led the Bees with 13 points, while J.P. Harding, the team’s leading scorer, was held to just eight.
“Our third quarter haunted us,” Ron White said. “I think we started thinking about the win and not remembering to execute. But we played our hearts out, and that’s all you can ask for.”