By Gavin Menu
Bridgehampton dodged a major obstacle at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Tuesday when Jyles Etienne, Stony Brook’s 6-6 senior forward, missed the Suffolk County C-D boys basketball game for personal reasons.
The next roadblock, however, is unavoidable and standing in the way of the Killer Bees this time around is one of their own.
Bridgehampton (14-6) senior Nykell Dean had a breakout game with 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Killer Bees advanced in the overall Suffolk County tournament with a 47-42 win over the Bears. Elijah Harding had 11 points for Bridgehampton, while Elijah Jackson finished with nine, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
Sag Harbor native Seamus Scanlon led the Bears with 14 points, including four three-pointers, though he missed a three with 30 seconds remaining that would have given Stony Brook the lead.
While the Killer Bees wait for their New York State Class D Southeast Regional Semifinal on March 6 at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Newburgh, they will remain busy with a game against Class B champion Center Moriches — and its head coach and former Killer Bee Nick Thomas — on Friday at Suffolk Community in Selden at 5 p.m.
The winner will advance to face the Class A champion — either Wyandanch or Southampton — in the Small Schools title game back at Brentwood on Tuesday, February 28.
“I can’t wait to see Nick Thomas on the sidelines,” Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson joked, knowing, of course, that Center Moriches cruised to a League VII title this year and improved to 18-3 as a result of its win over Babylon in the Class B final on Tuesday. “We had talked about it earlier this year that hopefully we would see each other in the B-CD game.”
Without the presence of Etienne, who had five blocks in Stony Brook’s win over Greenport in the Class C final, Bridgehampton was able to crack through late against Stony Brook’s box-and-one defense, which kept Jackson, the Killer Bees’ senior sharpshooter, in check for most of the game. Jackson remained patient, however, and scored the game’s final four points, including a pair of free throws that iced the game.
“He doesn’t feel pressure. I don’t think he knows what pressure is,” Johnson said about Jackson, the last remaining starter from the Bees’ 2015 state championship team. “In the second half he relaxed and he let the game come to him.”
Bridgehampton also played without one of its starters with leading scorer J.P. Harding still recovering from a fractured wrist he suffered against Greenport in the regular-season finale. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks and, according to Johnson, there is a “strong possibility” that Harding will miss the state regional semifinal on March 6 in Newburgh.
“He has a fractured bone from the wrist to the thumb,” Johnson said about Harding. “He has a high tolerance for pain and he wants to get back out there, but we have to get clearance.”