By Rick Murphy
Never say never. The East Hampton Bonackers, left for dead two weeks ago, launched a four game winning streak culminating with a breathtaking win at home Friday. The streak earned the locals a berth in the Suffolk County Class A Tournament.
When John Glenn walked out of Bonac gym on January 25 with a 60-50 victory, it seemed all but over for Bonac. The team needed to win its final three League VI match-ups, all of them against competitive teams.
On Friday, with the season on the line in front of the loyal Bleacher Creatures, Coach Billy McKee's charges completed the hat trick, knocking off Bayport/Blue Point 77-67.
Bonac previously beat Miller Place on February 4, 64-55, and Mt. Sinai on January 31, 63-44 and earned a non-league win versus Eastport as well during the frantic last days of the regular season.
Friday Bonac went on a mid-game tear to turn back the Phantoms. Tom Nelson, who has been a reliable performer off the boards all season, has stepped up his offensive game in the second half of the season. He led the winners with 20 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds. Kevin Fee added 16, Brandon Hughes had 13, and Dan McKee had 13 and six assists. East Hampton reversed a five-point deficit with a 38-21 run.
East Hampton was by no means the only team to get hot at the right time. Consider Smithtown Christian, a Class D team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2001. Saturday the Knights pulled a shocking upset, traveling to Greenport and coming out with an impressive 68-47 victory. It was the culmination of one of the closest Class D races in history — at one point five of the six schools in the county had a shot at the playoffs.
The Phantoms (8-8) stayed alive Thursday by knocking off Shelter Island at home, 64-56. Tristen Wissemann scored 34 points in the two losses for the Indians; Matt BeltCappellino added 29.
Don't feel sorry for Greenport. The Porters stunned Bridgehampton in the Beehive Thursday to earn a playoff bid. Credit high scorer Gavin Dibble, who brought his "A" game to the Hive. He ended with 25 points, and Angel Colon added 16 plus some critical steals down the stretch. The loss seemingly eliminated Bridgehampton, which finished 7-9 in league play. Tylike Furman led the losers with 25. Josh Lamison added 19.
Greenport finished with eight wins in League VIII. Shelter Island, with eight, is also in the playoffs, despite losing to Stony Brook Saturday at home, 66-46. Stony Brook, a Class C team, finished first in the league.
Southampton is cruising into the Class B playoffs. The Mariners knocked off Mattituck 80-57 to finish with a 10-4 League VII record, good for second place behind Babylon. Shaundell Fishburne and Taylor Sanders each scored 18 points for the winners. Nasies Fulford scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Will Gildersleeve scored 19 for the Tuckers. Eugene Allen (10), Chris Dwyer (10) and Joe Tardif (10) all hit double figures. Mattituck (7-7) also earned a berth in the playoffs.
The Mariners destroyed Floyd on Thursday, 76-35. Fishburne led a balanced attack with 17; Sanders had 13 and Isaiah Johnson 10. Thomas Beckman record 11 rebounds, as did Fulford.
Westhampton, 7-5 in League V, surged into the playoffs with a strong second-half performance. The Hurricanes won five of their last six including a 59-42 drubbing of Islip at home Friday. Devonte Dixon put on the performance of a lifetime, going off for 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Mike Frangeskos added 16 for the winners.