For the first time in 1,830 days, the boys’ basketball team does not wear the Class C crown.
Yesterday, the Bears were denied their sixth consecutive title in a loss to Greenport, the fifth-ranked team in New York State and the top-seeded team in Class C. The Bears fought well, but ultimately lost to an outstanding Porter squad that may end up winning the State Championship in March.
While the Bears are not looking ahead to the state tournament for the first time in five years, there is plenty of which they can be proud. This year’s squad, despite playing up in League VII for the first time since 2003-04, battled through a difficult schedule to earn a spot in their 18th straight postseason, the second-longest active streak in Suffolk County. After defeating Mercy 54-45 in the semifinals, they earned a berth in their seventh final in a row and the 11th in the last 12 years. Only two other teams, since at least as far back as 1986, have made it to seven straight finals in any class.
The Bears’ dynasty ends as the greatest in the history of Class C. No other Class C team in the annals of Suffolk County has won five consecutive titles and only three other teams in a century of Suffolk basketball have equaled that feat.
In 2013, after a devastating, last-second loss to Pierson in the 2012 title, the Bears earned redemption by beating the Whalers 57-27 as they held their powerful offense to just five second half points.
In 2014, the Bears rolled Pierson, 62-36, holding the Whalers to their second-lowest output of the season. Brandon Odom held Pierson’s Forrest Loesch, one of Suffolk’s leading scorers at 21 points per game, to just six points, one of just three times all season he was held to under 10 (Odom also held him to just four points in the last regular season match-up).
In 2015, the Bears equaled Wyandanch’s run from 1981-1983 to tie the record for consecutive C titles in holding Pierson to their lowest output of the season during a 44-39 victory. Luke Meyer limited Ben Kushner, one of Suffolk’s three-point leaders with 50 made on the season, to zero points.
In 2016, the Bears held Pierson nine points below their season average in a 51-44 victory, yielding just seven points to the Whalers in the third quarter as Mac Bohuny and Jyles Etienne combined for five blocks in the frame.
In 2017, the Bears stunned a Greenport squad that had beaten them by 27 points a month earlier, holding them 37 points below their scoring average in a 49-35 win.
The litany of accomplishments from this stretch are impressive and worthy of celebration. However, if winning a championship is the only measure of success than this season could only be viewed as a failure, which it certainly was not. This season we witnessed leaders emerge, individuals grow, and boys become brothers, all undergirded by a belief in each other and a resilience in the face of adversity. These things, more than any victory or title, will help our boys become great men as they continue to grow. Banners come down to make room for others, trophies tarnish and find their way into attics, and newspapers clippings become brittle as time ceaselessly glides ahead. What remains are the people, the moments enjoyed, and the lessons learned along the journey.
What should stay with us is Marco Masakayan’s competitive drive. John Eshirow’s blue collar work ethic. Chester Kayonga’s ability to raise his game in the biggest moments. Mac Bohuny’s peerless leadership. Brandon Providence’s lion heart. Andrew Daniel’s limitless energy. Robbie Colarusso’s courage in playing through a shoulder injury in the 2015 County final. Emil Vaughn’s patience in waiting for his moment and then delivering with the defensive performance of a lifetime in the 2017 title game. James Toney’s effortless athleticism that was a joy to watch. The way the 2017 team handled a heartbreaking loss in the State Final Four and the character and grace they displayed in congratulating Moravia and spending time with their emotional leader who had been in a car accident earlier that season.
These things more than anything is what we should take away from this memorable run. These things, more so than even the on-court successes, are what defines Stony Brook Basketball.
Well done, boys.