December 20, 2006

Edwards & Russell Help Bonac Skin Panthers

It's no secret that basketball is a team game.

Outstanding teammates cover for each other on defense and on the boards. They give up their bodies for the team by taking charges and diving on the floor for loose balls. They make a habit of passing the ball to the open man. But the outcome is always decided by who puts the ball in the basket best.

With Marcus Edwards (25) and Mikey Russell (29) combining for 54 of Bonac's 73 points against Babylon last Friday, in the purest sense, they did that best, nearly outscoring Babylon (54) by themselves!

But if the Bonackers' tough team defense (led by Zach Brenneman) did not harass Panthers' high scorer James Pate (20) into rushing his shots from far beyond his range, the outcome might have been different. If they did not rebound and steal the ball to jumpstart their explosive fast break, Russell and Edwards would not have been nearly as productive.

Still, these young men can do more than score. The five-foot-nine inch Russell tallied six assists, five steals and a career-high nine rebounds. Edwards led the team in rebounding with 10, and once again shot a high percentage.

Observers might conclude that Edwards' accuracy from the floor is due to his intelligent shot selection. Ed Petrie, his coach, agrees, but he also takes us inside the ropes for a bird's-eye view of what it takes to be an exceptional shooter.

"Marcus is shooting well because he has a good work ethic. He practices the fundamentals of a pure release year-round. Through his dedication, he is making himself into an outstanding shooter. More importantly, he's a great kid."

Edwards drew first blood with a baseline jumper. Beau Bachety tied the game with a put-back. That would prove to be as close as Babylon would come for the remainder of the evening, as Bonac's high-octane fast break offense sliced through the Panthers' press with little difficulty in the first half, which ended with East Hampton in the lead, 40-25.

Highlights of the first half consisted of Jerome Russell putting a bounce pass in Edwards' breadbasket for a score on the fast break, followed by Mikey Russell netting a pull-up jumper for a 30-15 lead. Edwards drew raves from Bonac's Bleacher Creatures when he assisted to Jerome Russell under the basket while lying on his back at mid-court!

"I felt we played good aggressive defense and pushed the ball on the fast break fairly well," Petrie said in evaluating his team's performance. "We were out of control at times, but that's to be expected this early in the season."

Petrie did not mince words with his team during a third quarter timeout. "You have to learn how to play with a lead," he told them assertively. "I'm not saying don't fast break, but if you don't have a good balanced shot, slow the ball down and use the clock to our advantage. The only way they can get back in the game is if you let them back."

Message received.

East Hampton went on to win 73-54, with Jerome Russell adding 10 points, Alex Stipenov grabbing seven rebounds, and Hayden Ward snaring six.

Bonac Beats Greenport

Earlier in the week East Hampton trimmed Greenport 74-54, holding Porters' scoring ace Ryan Creighton to one field goal in the first half, largely due to Zach Brenneman's tenacious defense on Creighton. When Brenneman got into foul trouble, Mikey Russell took the reins and showed that, when he applies himself, he is as capable on defense as he is on offense.

"We shot well," Petrie said. "We had a well-balanced attack, defended well and didn't make too many careless mistakes. For the first game of the season, I was satisfied with how aggressively we played and how well we played together as a team."

Mikey Russell played a stellar floor game, dishing out eight assists, several of them of the sensational variety. In the first game of his varsity career, Jerome Russell tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Edwards scored 22 points and was the team's chairman of the boards with 10. Brenneman added six rebounds. Creighton finished with 26 points, 19 of them in the second half when the outcome of the game had already been decided.

An interesting sidebar is that the two teams drained 22 consecutive free throws between them. It's not Madison Square Garden, but it should be!

The Bonackers kicked off their league season yesterday against Sayville on the road. Tomorrow Eastport-South Manor invades East Hampton. Although these games are technically more important to the Bonackers in their quest for another league title, most local fans are looking forward to this Saturday's showdown versus Wyandanch at home at 4:40 p.m.

Wyandanch clobbered Bridgehampton by nearly 50 points last week. They have last season's county scoring champion in sharpshooter Chris Barber (30 points vs. Bridgehampton), as well as Barber's younger brother, who scored 25 against the Killer Bees.

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