There are inherent pressures that come with being the Bridgehampton boys basketball team, especially come playoff time. Nine state championships will do that to a group of high schoolers.
This year’s batch of Killer Bees began the journey anew on Wednesday with a 61-49 win over Shelter Island to claim the Suffolk County Class D Championship. It was a slow start for both teams at Center Moriches High School, but now that the playoffs are underway, and with a win under their belt, the business of winning championships is underway.
“Just jitters, man,” Bridgehampton head coach Ron White said about his team’s sluggish start on Wednesday. “We were all anxious for this game.”
Shelter Island beat Bridgehampton by three points back on January 10 so nothing was a given on Wednesday. “We let them in the door too many times, and they beat us up pretty good over on Shelter Island,” White said. “We know that at the end of the day we have to stay consistent, and inconsistency is what gets us a little rattled. So they were able to get the nerves out and settled in and just started playing ball.”
As he has done most of the season, senior J.P. Harding led the Bees with 19 points and 13 rebounds. But Shelter Island trailed by just seven, 28-21, at halftime and kept the game close early in the third quarter. Elijah White, who finished with 18 points, including 11 in the second half, hit a big three near the start of the fourth quarter to push the Bees’ lead back to double digits and Shelter Island never came within seven points for the rest of the night.
“It was really important, not just winning, but the way we won,” Elijah White said later. “Our biggest emphasis was defense before the game, during the game, halftime — all we stressed was defense. We knew offense would come at some point.”
Point guard Nae’Jon Ward finished the game with 11 points, and Jonny DeGroot had nine. The Bees advanced in the Class D state tournament and will, for the first time in many years, play a Long Island Championship game against Nassau’s Academy Charter of Hempstead on March 1 at 5 p.m. back at Center Moriches.
The team will also continue along in the overall Suffolk tournament and will play Greenport, the Class C champion that easily knocked off Southold in the nightcap on Wednesday, this Saturday, February 16, at William Floyd High School at noon.
“I keep telling these guys that we have miscues on defense consistently. We have to lock down on defense and get back to the Killer Bee defense of the 80s and the 90s,” coach White said after the game. “Defense is everything.”
And, in Bridgehampton, so is winning championships. Time to add another banner to the gym.