By Rick Murphy
You have to be in it to win it.
The goal of every sports team is to compete for a championship, and to do that you must first qualify for the playoffs. Courageously, a lot of our local teams refuse to die.
Take East Hampton. The Bonackers seemed dead in the water only a week ago, but Billy McKee's team is turning it on with the season on the line.
Friday Bonac looked every bit a playoff team, dismantling Mount Sinai 63-44 before the Bleacher Creatures. The McKee brothers, Dan (12) and Kyle combined for 23 points, Kevin Fee added 11, and rebounding machine Tom Nelson snared 17 boards to go with his 11 points. Saturday Bonac proved its mettle by winning again, 59-57 at Eastport, though the game was a non-league matchup and doesn't count in League VI standings.
Dan McKee notched 21 in that one and Kyle added 18. Dan's short jumper won it in overtime for the locals. The Bonackers were to play at Miller Place yesterday in a must-win game; tomorrow the team plays at home against Bayport at 6 PM -- two wins punch the clock into the Suffolk Class A playoffs.
Westhampton Beach looked like its team was on the outside looking in as well. But a lot changes in the topsy turvey world of Suffolk County boy's basketball. Westhampton beat Harborfields on January 28, 54-37. It was the fourth win in a row for the locals, who improved to 6-4 in league play. Guess what? Pencil Westhampton into The Show.
Ditto Southampton, 7-6 in League VII. The Mariners took out Port Jefferson on the losers' court Friday. Shaundell Fishburne scored 23 and record a triple-double. Nasies Fulford and Taylor Sanders had 10 points each.
It's down to the wire in League VIII. Pierson, 10-2, is in, bracing for a Class C tournament and a possible title game against Stony Brook (11-1). Shelter Island (7-6), Bridgehampton (6-6), Southold (7-6), and Greenport (6-6) are Class D teams, and one will go to the New York State Tournament.
Here's how it shakes out: The Bees were to have played Shelter Island on the Island yesterday, get Greenport in the Hive tomorrow and play Knox Friday. Two wins and Bridgehampton is in. Shelter Island goes to Smithtown Christian tomorrow – the Islanders need to either beat Bridgehampton or win Thursday's encounter.
Southold likely needed to beat Smithtown Christian yesterday to remain alive. Greenport probably needs to beat Bridgehampton in the Beehive tomorrow and best Smithtown Christian at home Friday.
The class of the East End girls' teams is Hampton Bays. The Lady Baymen are 8-1 and cruising to the League VII title. Mattituck, currently 5-3, should secure a berth as well.
Ditto Pierson/Bridgehampton, 8-1 in League VIII and awaiting the Suffolk County Class C tournament. Mercy (5-3) has a leg up on a bid and Southold/Greenport is still alive with a 4-4 league record.