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Bears Outlast Bees to Clinch 17th Straight Playoff Berth

February 8, 2017

This evening the boys’ basketball team engineered one of its biggest wins of the season to clinch a postseason berth for the 17th straight season. Only Amityville has a longer current playoff streak than the Bears, going back to 1981. No one else in Suffolk County has a longer run of consecutive playoff appearances than the Brook.

The win came against the Bridgehampton Killer Bees, a perennial Class D power that is currently ranked #16 in New York by the New York State Sportswriters Association. Heading into the game the Bees were the owners of a 9-1 league record with a chance to earn a share of the League VIII title. In their first match-up several weeks ago the Bears fell in the Bee Hive, 71-65.

What made tonight’s win so impressive was the fact that the Bears were down two starters and a third key contributor due to various injuries and illnesses. Their short bench included two junior varsity players who extended the Bears’ available bodies to seven. Prior to the game, Coach Mike Hickey tried to infuse his team with confidence by telling them, “There are enough weapons in this room to win today.” The Bears would reward their coach’s faith by racing out to an early lead that they would never relinquish despite a late run by the Bees.

The Bears jumped out to a 6-0 lead thanks to buckets from Jyles Etienne and John Eshirow and a pair of free throws from James Toney. The Bees cut into the lead with a putback and a free throw, but the Bears still led 6-3 at the under four-minute mark. With 3:51 left in the quarter Etienne was hit with his second foul. Replacing him from the depleted bench was Jerry Li who had only been with the team for a few weeks after being called up from the junior varsity. With their big man out, the Bears improbably extended the lead. Mac Bohuny took over the final minutes of the opening frame, scoring the Bears’ last nine points to give them a 15-10 lead after one. His spurt began with a tough layup in traffic. Then, after he sent a Bridgehampton shot attempt careening off the backboard, the senior captain scored another layup, then finished a layup after an offensive rebound, and capped his run with a 3-pointer that gave the Brook a 15-7 advantage. The Bridgies closed the quarter with a free throw and a bucket, but the Bears served notice in the first eight minutes that they had come to play, despite not being at full strength.

The Brook opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run as Etienne, Bohuny, and Toney each found the cup and pushed the lead to 21-10. The Bees responded with a bucket and a 3-pointer, but Etienne and Bohuny stemmed the tied with a layup and a baseline floater that brought the lead back to 25-15. After a pair of Bridgehampton free throws, Eshirow inexplicably finished a layup while his sport goggles flew off to give the Blue and White a 27-17 halftime lead.

One would have expected the Bees to come out of the halftime break fired up and ready to close the gap, but it was the Bears who ramped up their own play, outscoring the black and gold 16-4 in the frame. After the Bees scored a basket on their opening possession, the Bears reeled off a 13-0 run, punctuated by a Bohuny 3-pointer and a steal and score from Seamus Scanlon. The Bees ended the run with a pair of free throws, but a 3-pointer from Scanlon in the final minute of the quarter gave the Bears a commanding 43-21 lead heading into the final quarter.

In the final frame the Bees extended their defense, upped the physicality, and started throwing opportunistic traps at the Bears. On the offensive side, the Bees also awoke, stroking three straight 3-pointers to carve their deficit to 43-30 in the first two minutes. The absence of starting point guard Brandon Providence and back-up point guard Emil Vaughn was glaring as the Bears desperately tried to withstand the increased pressure. A tough up-and-under layup from Etienne pushed the Bears’ lead back to 15, but the Bees did not relent, reeling off a 7-0 run to cut the Bear lead to 45-37. The Bears misfired on the ensuing possession, but Etienne skied for an incredible offensive rebound and converted the layup to give the Bears a 47-37 cushion. It would be the Bears’ last points of the game. The Bees converted a pair of free throws and then raced up the floor after the Bears failed to score on their possession. Elijah Jackson knifed his way to the basket hoping to cut it to a two-possession game when Etienne swatted the ball away at the last second for his fourth block of the game. The Bears rebounded the carom to all but finish off their east end foes. The Bridgies hit a meaningless 3-pointer in the waning seconds for a final score of 47-42.

Bohuny led all scorers with 18 to go along with 8 rebounds. Etienne (14 points), Scanlon (7), Eshirow (4), and Toney (4) rounded out the scoring.

One final footnote to the win was that it was Bridgehampton head coach Carl Johnson’s final game in Swanson Gymnasium. Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this season, has led the Bees for the last 27 years, leading them to five Class D State titles and numerous Suffolk Championships. Through today’s game, despite the powerhouse teams the Bridgies have fielded over the years, coach Hickey is 22-22 all-time against the Bees.

The Bears will finish the regular season this Friday night at Southold and then will await their playoff seed as they seek to defend their four straight Suffolk County titles and their Long Island Championship.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. diannetoney2016 permalink
    February 10, 2017 9:44 AM

    SBS got this! Get hungry for the Suffolk County titles and the Long Island Championship!

    Like

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