By Gavin Menu
Josh Lamison nearly had his Willis Reed moment.
Bridgehampton’s sophomore forward limped from the locker room on one good leg like Reed did 44 years ago when he led the New York Knicks to a championship in Game 7 of the NBA finals.
Playing at Greenport in a Suffolk County Class D semifinal Wednesday night, Lamison crumpled to the floor early in the second quarter and had to be carried off with what seemed like a game-ending ankle injury.
But with the Killer Bees trailing by two points at halftime, Lamison returned in the third quarter and played the entire second half, limping up and down the floor as he, too, nearly led his team to victory.
But a last-second desperation shot by senior Anaje Lamb, which would have tied the game at the buzzer, sailed over the backboard and instead of jubilation, Bridgehampton’s season came to a disappointing end with a 55-52 defeat.
“He definitely sprained his ankle, he thought he heard it pop,” head coach Carl Johnson said about Lamison after the game. “He was about 45 percent. You could see he was hurt.”
With the win, Greenport advanced to play for the Suffolk Class D title this Saturday at noon at Longwood High School against Shelter Island, which defeated Smithtown Christian in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
The Killer Bees led by as many as six points early in the half and held a 22-16 advantage when Lamison went to the floor with 6:16 remaining in the second quarter. From there, Greenport went on an 8-0 run to take the lead and never trailed again for the remainder of the evening.
“Josh commands so much attention, he opens a lot for everyone else,” Johnson said. “But when he’s not effective, they clamped down on the rest of the guys.”
Tylik Furman, who, like Lamison, is a sophomore and will return to lead next year’s team, finished with 20 points to pace Bridgehampton. Lamison scored nine of his 11 points during his courageous second half and seniors Anaje Lamb and Jerome Walker closed out their careers with nine points apiece. Henry Kotz, the team’s only other senior, finished with three points.
“They had a lot of success, and they also had some failures early in their career but they came back and they showed a lot of leadership and heart,” Johnson said about the senior class, especially Walker and Lamb, who played all four years of their high school careers. “They’re going to be missed.”
The Porters seemed like they would pull away when Gavin Dibble, who led all scorers with 21 points, nailed a three with just over five minutes remaining to put Greenport ahead, 47-41. But Lamb scored a basket, and then Furman had five straight points, which cut the lead to a single point with 2:34 left.
Furman had a chance to tie the game with under 10 seconds to play, but his layup through traffic bounced off the back of the rim. Greenport’s Willie Riggins hit a foul shot to extend the lead to three, and Lamb’s wild last-second shot sailed long.
In the melee that followed, Johnson sang the praises of the Bridgehampton-Greenport rivalry, which seems to grow stronger and more intense with each passing year.
“It’s never going to die,” Johnson said about the rivalry, which was re-ignited this year when Greenport moved back down to Class D after competing for one season as a Class C school. “Greenport and Bridgehampton are always going to bring their best. They get up for us and we get up from them. As coaches, we don’t have to worry about pumping the kids up to play. They’re ready right from the tip-off.”