SUFFOLK CLASS D FINAL | KILLER BEES 73, PORTERS 50
The Bridgehampton boys basketball team had waited long enough. It had been 12 years — 12 long years — since the team’s last Suffolk County championship, so when the Killer Bees claimed their first county crown since 2000 on Monday, it must have tasted as sweet as honey.
And the fact that the triumph came at the expense of Greenport — a rival that had stood in Bridgehampton’s way for so many years — had to make it just that much sweeter.
While teammates such as Tylik Furman, Caanan Campbell and Jason Hopson had received much of the media attention during the regular season, it was a freshman, Davion Cooper, who came off the bench and stole the limelight. Cooper, a 6-foot-3 forward, struck for 26 points and five 3-point shots, both career highs, in No. 2 seed Bridgehampton’s 73-50 defeat of top-seeded Greenport in the Suffolk Class D final at Suffolk County Community College’s Brookhaven Gymnasium in Selden.
Afterward, the Porters had to watch as Bridgehampton raised the county plaque and was saluted by fans.
“I was nervous,” said Cooper, who was 3 years old the last time Bridgehampton lifted a county trophy. “I didn’t know if I was going to score, but as soon as I made that first shot it felt real great. After that, everything started clicking for me.”
Cooper’s deft shooting touch helped turn things around for Bridgehampton (9-11), which found itself in a 17-6 hole after a reverse layup by Greenport’s Sean Charters late in the first quarter. But Cooper hit his first four shots, and Bridgehampton was off and running.
“I wasn’t expecting 26 points, but I’ll take it,” Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson told reporters. “I had him on the bench waiting, and he couldn’t wait to get in.”
Johnson said the coaching staff knew what Cooper — a player he described as having “ice in his veins” — was capable of doing. “I knew if he hit that first shot, then he was going to have a good game,” the coach said. “That’s the way he is. Being a young player, he’s up and down. Once he got the confidence, I knew he was going to have a great game at that point.”
Bridgehampton shot well throughout the game, downing a sizzling 70.5 percent of its field-goal attempts, nearly twice the rate of Greenport’s 38.8 percent.
In addition, Bridgehampton’s height and length made a difference. The Killer Bees limited Greenport’s offensive opportunities by holding the Porters to only 5 offensive rebounds.
“What can I say?” Greenport coach Al Edwards said. “Bridgehampton played well. We didn’t lose to a bad team, that’s for sure.”
The Killer Bees are young (they start two eighth-graders, Furman and Josh Lamison), but talented. At this stage of the season, Johnson said, they’re veterans.
Hopson delivered 18 points and Furman had 16. Campbell was too much for the Porters to handle in the paint. The 6-5 senior put in a full day with 11 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Greenport sophomore Gavin Dibble, coming off a career-high 39-point performance with a school-record 10 3-pointers, led the Porters (12-7) with 18 points. Charters had 10 points. Austin Hooks grabbed 12 rebounds to go with 9 points.
Bridgehampton and Greenport split their two regular-season games, with the Killers Bees winning the most recent one by 30 points on Feb. 3. They proved that wasn’t a fluke.
An 18-2 run provided Bridgehampton with a 24-19 lead in the second quarter on Monday. The Killer Bees sank 10 of 12 shots from the field in the second quarter, outscoring Greenport by 21-10 in the period.
Greenport started the third quarter with two baskets by Charters (one a 3-pointer), and layups by Matt Dibble and Gavin Dibble giving the Porters their final lead of the game at 36-34.
Then Bridgehampton pulled away, continually stretching its lead to as many as 24 points.
“They just came out with a lot of intensity in the second quarter and kept it going in the second half, and ended up coming up with a big win,” Hooks said. “We just weren’t knocking down our shots. We weren’t capitalizing on our free throws, missing open layups, and they capitalized as much as they could.”
The game marked the end of the road for Greenport, which turned in a memorable season despite playing most of it with only seven players on its roster.
It was also the end of the high school careers of two Porters, Charters and reserve Mike Reed. Charters, who began his 10-year association with the program as a ball boy before becoming a varsity starter, had tears in his eyes when he was pulled out of the game with 1 minute 53 seconds remaining.
“I’m still holding my head up high,” Edwards said. “I’m proud of the kids. We had a good season. I don’t think anybody really thought that we would go this far, but, hey, the kids worked hard, they played hard all year.”
Johnson said he had reminded two of his seniors, Campbell and Brendan Hemby, what it felt like to lose to Greenport the last time Bridgehampton reached the county final four years ago. The Killer Bees made certain that didn’t happen again. They will play either No. 1 Stony Brook or No. 2 Pierson in a Class C-D game on Wednesday at Farmingdale State College.
“Last year when we went 2 and 16, people doubted us,” Cooper said, “but we knew once we got all our teammates together, we were going to come back next year and show them that the Bridge is back.”