Boys Basketball: Despite valiant effort, Settlers fall short of playoffs

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kenji Fujita, one of Southold's six seniors, hugs his mother during a pregame Senior Night ceremony.
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kenji Fujita, one of Southold’s six seniors, hugs his mother during a pregame Senior Night ceremony.


It was Mission Improbable.

In order to stick its foot inside the playoff door, the Southold High School boys basketball team, playing its final game of the regular season on Thursday night, needed to upset The Stony Brook School — as in defending Long Island Class C champion Stony Brook. That is all.

Outsized and with the odds stacked heavily against them, the First Settlers turned in a tremendous effort, played possibly their best game of the season and made things interesting, but fell short in the end. Visiting Stony Brook, with 23 points from Asaiah Wilson and a double-double by Andrew Daniel, clinched sole possession of first place in Suffolk County League VIII and extinguished Southold’s playoff hopes with a 58-46 result. The Bears (15-1, 14-1), winners of 11 straight games, have eight league titles to their credit, all engineered by coach Mike Hickey.

Southold (8-10, 7-9) had a better chance of gaining entry into the playoffs for the first time in three years two days earlier, but a 58-43 home loss to Smithtown Christian was a crusher. It meant that if the First Settlers were going to reach the postseason, they had to somehow, some way, find a way to beat Stony Brook, something only Pierson has been able to do this season.

That was asking for a lot, but the First Settlers put up a tremendous fight, nonetheless. Perhaps most shockingly, they even outrebounded Stony Brook by 51-37, and 21-11 on the offensive boards. Ten of those rebounds came from James Penny, and Shayne Johnson came down with 9.

Before the game, Southold’s six seniors were honored in a Senior Night ceremony. Following the tribute to the seniors (Jonathan Bakowski, Kenji Fujita, Ryan Harroun, Kevin McGough, Michael Ryan and Penny), the First Settlers played inspired basketball and the home fans cheered them on loudly. They charged out to a 7-3 lead as Stony Brook had trouble getting its shots to drop.

The Bears did take the lead for good when an Elijah Davis free throw snapped a 7-7 tie, but it was a competitive game until the final couple of minutes. Stony Brook closed the game on a 9-0 spurt. Wilson, a senior transfer from Bishop McGann-Mercy, canned his sixth 3-point shot in the final seconds for the game’s final points, giving Stony Brook its third double-digit lead and largest of the contest.

Try as they did, the First Settlers couldn’t avoid ending their season with a fourth consecutive loss.

Daniel was a force inside, putting up 13 points and 15 rebounds. Davis had 15 points.

Liam Walker shot 6 of 14 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers and led Southold with 20 points.

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