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Pandolfi & Co. Survive the Hive

February 12, 2011

There is little visible life on the east end of Long Island during the long winter season. Withered corn stalks, barren vineyards, and snow-laden sod farms dominate the landscape; however, there was plenty of energy inside Bridgehampton’s diminutive gym last night. Though the Killer Bees have seen a dip in their success in recent years, their basketball history is visible everywhere. As you wind into the small town you are greeted with a sign that pays homage to the Bees’ eight State Titles from. As you walk into the infamous confines of the gymnasium you are struck by 36 black and gold banners lining the walls, all of them basketball titles that span the decades.

The mystique of the Bridgehampton name coupled with the peculiarity of their home floor makes them a viable threat at home even though they might lack a sting in any other building. That was never more obvious than tonight as the Bears won a chaotic 58-49 contest after beating them 77-32 on January 15th. To be fair, two of the Bees’ best players did not participate in the last match-up, but it was the pressure exerted by the court and the atmosphere, more than any other factor, that kept the game close.

1st Quarter

In the locker room  before the Bears took the floor, coach Mike Hickey told his players four things:

  1. Be strong with the ball
  2. Be aggressive
  3. Be prepared to be fouled
  4. Be prepared for the intensity of this place

It was good advice as both teams scraped and clawed for every point, rebound, and loose ball from the game’s opening moments. Tim Pandolfi scored the game’s first points after Jerome Washington stole the ball on the Brook’s opening defensive stand. However, for much of the first frame the Bears were outworked, particularly on the boards, enabling the Bridgies to secure a lead after one. | 12-13

2nd Quarter

The second frame was frenetic as the lead changed hands seven times and the score was tied on three occasions. The Bees scored first to push their advantage to 12-15, but Pandolfi and the Blue and White pressure defense would lead them back. Pandolfi scored 16 of the Bears’ 21 points in the period while the defense pilfered the ball six times. The last few minutes of the quarter were huge for the Brook as their aggressive defense led to easy buckets. Pandolfi grabbed a steal and a converted the fast break layup to knot the game at 24-24. Richie Armand did the same on the very next possession to give the Bears a 26-24 lead. Then, after Bridgehampton took the lead back on a 3-pointer, a pivotal sequence occurred with just over one minute remaining that gave the Brook a surge of momentum at intermission.

First Pandolfi scored on a very difficult shot as he drove from the left side, elevated, hung in midair, and scored on a one-handed shot from five feet out. He followed with a steal and a fast break layup on the ensuing possession to give the Bears a 30-27 lead. On the Bees’ next possession, Armand drew a charge on the Bridgie point guard with 7.4 seconds remaining, giving Pandolfi the chance to drill a 3-pointer at the buzzer that energized the boys going into the break. Pandolfi carried the scoring load in the first half, scoring 24 points for nearly 73% of the team’s production. Armand and Marco Masakayan spearheaded the Bears’ defense that enabled them to grab some easy points.  | 33-27

3rd Quarter

During the halftime break assistant coach Steve Harney ’04 emphatically told the boys to rebound better in the second half and to feed on positive energy by encouraging one another. It was advice the Bears needed as they headed into an arduous final 16 minutes. During the third frame the Bees achieved something no other team has been able to do: shut out Pandolfi for an entire quarter. Amazingly, our indomitable guard did not muster a single point during the entire eight minutes, but even more incredibly, we extended our lead despite his dry spell. Washington scored a crucial six points in the period, Farqu Taylor converted a putback, Kai Strachan connected on a difficult floater in the lane, and Armand dropped in a layup while drawing the foul. The defense was also key in the early moments of the frame as they forced turnovers on four of the Bees’ first six possessions. | 46-37

4th Quarter

No lead is safe in the Bee Hive and that was evident as the Bears took a nine-point advantage into the fourth. The Bees began the frame with a 5-0 spurt that cut their deficit to four. The crowd was energized by the run and chants of “DE-FENCE!” bounced off the walls. The Brook responded with a 4-0 run of their own on a Strachan free throw, a big jumper by Taylor, and a free throw from Pandolfi, his first points in 10:45 of game time. Bridgehampton scored to make the score 50-44 after which one of the key plays of the game occurred.

On the ensuing possession, Pandolfi missed a jumper in the lane that led to a fast break for the black and gold; however, Pandolfi stole the ball as the Bridgie point guard sliced up the floor and turned it into two points on the other end for a 52-44 advantage with 3:41 remaining. The Bees followed with two free throws, but Forrest Hull pushed the lead back to eight on a big layup with 2:30 left. Bridgehampton hit one of two free throws to cut the deficit to seven and after an uncharacteristic turnover by Pandolfi, the Bees hit a long two to slice the Bears’ lead to five with under two minutes remaining. After an empty possession, the Bees had the ball with 1:25 on the clock and a chance to make it a one-possession game. The temperature in the gym had been steadily rising during the period and the air was hot. The crowd murmured anxiously, ready to explode if the Bees scored again. With the Bears in need of a stop, Pandolfi obliged with his ninth steal and Hull dropped in a layup on the ensuing possession to seal the game. | 58-49

Impressions

The Bee Hive is always tough. The Hive on a Friday night is tougher. The Hive on Senior Night is tougher still. The fans were loud, the air was hot, and the pressure was palpable, but the boys persevered. A win at Bridgehampton is rarely pretty, but always satisfying and the Bears did what they needed to do tonight. The boys made some uncharacteristic mistakes and during stretches did not play intelligent ball, but that can be chalked up to the conditions. The bottom line is they took care of business. Coach Hickey summed up the performance this way after the game: “We’ll take it.”

Pandolfi was invaluable tonight on both sides of the ball. Instead of being frustrated with his lack of production in the second half like so many prolific scorers might have been, he decided to make an impact on the defensive end and his 10 steals were a testament to how important he was in that regard. The win allowed the Bears to improve to 11-1 in the league and keep pace with Greenport for first place. Their next match-up comes Monday February 14 vs. Southold @ 4:30pm.

Notes

The win was the 235th of coach Hickey’s career as he improved to 14-15 all-time vs. Bridgehampton… Pandolfi is 1st on Long Island in scoring with 27.4 points per game and has upped his career total to 1,168… The Bears have won seven in a row.

 

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