By Benito Vila
The first game is always a long time coming for players and coaches alike. Then, after so many practices and much scrimmaging, the outcome either puts a team in first place or last.
For the Ross varsity basketball team, Tuesday’s league opener at Smithtown Christian meant leaving school early for a long ride west. Hours later, the Ravens were looking forward to hopping back on the bus to head east having out-dueled the Crusaders, 50-44.
Meanwhile, the way back from Southold was no joy for the Bridgehampton varsity, the Killer Bees seeing the Settlers cut off their comeback in a 41-34 loss.
As the League VIII results came in Tuesday, Ross found itself at the top of the league with Shelter Island and Southold while Bridgehampton was sharing the cellar with Pierson and Smithtown Christian with nowhere to go but up.
Today, Ross hosts Shelter Island at 6:15 p.m., one of those two schools falling towards the middle of the pack. And the Bridgehampton boys are back in their gym, popularly known as “The Hive,” preparing for Tuesday’s match-up with Class D rival Greenport.
Just One of Those Games
The loss to Southold was something Killer Bees coach Carl Johnson called, “just one of those games. We had problems with turnovers that gave Southold too many chances.”
Looking at what he liked from his team, Coach Johnson noted, “I knew we were up against a good team. They have eight seniors that have been together for a while and have a good chemistry. Still we rebounded well and stayed within striking distance when nothing else was working.”
Coach Johnson also had an appreciation for how the game was played. “From the start every possession was meaningful. There was a playoff atmosphere and the refs let the boys play. That was good for everybody.”
Falling behind 10, 24-14, at the half, the Killer Bees made it a six-point game, 27-21, at the end of the third. Staying within five with just over a minute remaining, the Bridgehampton boys saw an offensive breakdown turn into an easy basket at the other end to stall their charge.
“We couldn’t sustain it. Our pressure kept us in it but we worked so hard to do that, that when it came down to it, we had nothing,” said Coach Johnson.
Also working against the Killer Bees was the inability of standout guard Ainsley Wyche to get into an offensive flow. Wyche, who for two years running has led Bridgehampton in scoring, was blanked for three quarters, coming home with just six points. Cesar Banados, banging bodies down low, picked up points in the paint and topped the Killer Bees with 13.
Ravens Take Control
Ross ripped out to a quick start Tuesday, taking a 17-8 lead after the first period and building a 34-19 advantage at the half. Those 15 points came in handy later when the Crusaders cut off the Ravens’ attack and launched one of their own to close to within three.
Ravens coach Kelly McKee liked what he saw as his team posted its first win of the season, but admitted “we kind of just hung on in the second half.”
Ross center Charles McIntosh, the only senior on the team, proved to be the spark for much of the early offense creating turnovers on defense and delivering the ball to sophomore point guard Liam Chaskey. Chaskey scored 19 to lead his team, while junior forward Brendan Pettaway added 10.
Looking ahead to Shelter Island, Coach McKie said, “I expect they’ll be tough. This could be their year. They have a lot of senior starters that are playing hard for one another.”