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Dec 29, 2019 12:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Wild Non-League Season Continues For Hampton Bays Boys Basketball, Which Defeats Westhampton Beach In Triple Overtime

Westhampton Beach senior Jesse AlfanoStJohn puts up a shot from the base line. DREW BUDD
Jan 6, 2020 5:15 PM

Longtime Hampton Bays boys basketball head coach Pete Meehan constantly talks about how there is a fine line between winning and losing in basketball. Through their first nine games, the Baymen have been consistently toeing that line, but more often than not coming out the victor, and that continued on December 28.

Hosting crosstown rival Westhampton Beach (1-6 League V, 3-8 overall) in its annual Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday Invitational, Hampton Bays pulled out a triple overtime 77-71 victory, and, paired with a 69-58 victory at home over Greenport this past Saturday, the Baymen finished their non-league season at 9-1. All but three of the Baymen’s games this season have gone down to the wire, including now three games that have gone into overtime, and two determined in the final minute of regulation.

It doesn’t help Meehan’s nerves but he’ll take a win any way he can get it. He was particularly impressed with this victory since one of his top players, Lucas Brown, fouled out in the first overtime. Brown had scored all seven of his points in the second half of the game.

But Jack McNamara came up big throughout the game, scoring a game-high 32 points, including an astounding 20 for 20 from the free throw line, eight of which came in the three overtime periods.

“I think that’s who we are. We’re not the type of team where you can take one guy out,” Meehan said. “We put Aaron Butters in for Lucas and he had a huge basket.

“I really enjoy being around these guys, they’re good kids, they’re into it,” he added after the triple overtime win on December 28. “Things have been bouncing our way. We’ve played nine games, outside of two every game has gone down to the end. We’ve made big plays in big spots.”

Not more than five points separated Hampton Bays and Westhampton Beach, for the most part, as the two teams traded runs throughout regulation. Down five going into the fourth quarter, Jaden AlfanoStJohn sparked Westhampton Beach to a 9-0 run. His well placed assist to Shavar Coffey led to a layup and an ensuing free throw to put the Hurricanes up, 53-49. But Jaden Ottati nailed a three right after that to end the Hurricanes’ run and it became a see-saw matchup from that point forward.

After three straight baskets by Westhampton Beach in the final two minutes, Hampton Bays trailed by three and was scurrying to get a shot off with the shot clock bearing down. Jonathan Salas heaved a three-point shot that went in with about 20 seconds remaining in regulation, forcing the first of three overtimes.

A traditional three-point play by Jaden AlfanoStJohn with 46.3 seconds left in the first overtime tied the game at 64-64 and pushed the game into a second extra frame. With Westhampton Beach down two points with under a minute remaining, Jesse AlfanoStJohn put up a three that missed the basket, but Jeff McBurnie was there to put the ball back up and in. Then Nick Waszkelewicz made a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game at 69-66 with 13.8 seconds remaining, leaving many to think the ’Canes had the victory. But Salas once again came through with another three, this time a buzzer beater to tie the game and force a third overtime.

“Honestly, when I got the ball I knew we had a certain amount of time and we needed something desperately. On the other side, Westhampton knocked down both of their clutch free throws, I had to respond back,” Salas explained about his second clutch shot of the game. “I looked at my team, I looked up in the stands — my mom was there — I knew we had to turn nothing into something and I was fortunate that it went in. It felt amazing, getting hyped up with my teammates, looking up in the stands. It’s a feeling I can’t even explain.”

Salas’s shot appeared to be the final dagger the Baymen needed, as they outscored the ’Canes 8-2 in the third overtime to go on to the victory.

Jaden AlfanoStJohn led Westhampton Beach with 26 points, 21 of which was scored in the second half and overtime periods. Jack Halloran scored 14, Coffey finished with 11 and Jesse AlfanoStJohn had 10. Both Ottati and Salas finished with 17 for Hampton Bays, but the highlight of the score sheet was McNamara’s 32 points and 20 from the line. Other than saying he felt good from the line on Saturday, the first-year varsity player and junior deflected any individual accolades.

“I think it was a really good team game,” he said. “I don’t think it was the best game I ever had but it was definitely a great team win.”

The players were excited about their 8-1 start to the season, and while Meehan says they should be, he also realizes when the schedule flips over to League VII games in January things could be different.

“It’s almost like two separate seasons,” he said. “We’ll reboot in the new year and then Southampton and Mattituck are the next two teams we’ll play and they’re going to be the two best teams we played all year. Our league is a whole different story.”

Hampton Bays typically holds a two-day tournament for both boys and girls as part of its annual Coaches vs. Cancer invitational, but, due to a number of factors, it couldn’t get the appropriate number of teams together in time this season. Instead there was one game played for both boys and girls. Proceeds from the day still went to the American Cancer Society.

As for Westhampton Beach, first-year head coach Tim McDermott said outside of Will Razzano, the entire team is brand new, which has led to his players finding themselves the first half of the season, in which a handful of games have been close, such as the Hampton Bays game during the holiday break. That’s led to McDermott thinking that his team could turn things around rather quickly.

“In most of the games we’ve lost, with the exception of one or two, we’ve been battling the entire game,” he said. “The thing is we have a couple of minutes where our shooting turns cold or we give up some turnovers that turn into a few easy buckets and at this level those things will hurt you. I think once some of the other guys start knocking down shots our fortunes will change for sure.

“Every coach I’ve talked to has said League VI is the toughest league, and in my own experience, so far there’s no easy games,” he added. “You go through it top to bottom and there have been a lot of surprises. Amityville is undefeated, but Miller Place has lost to Sayville, which is 4-2.”

Westhampton Beach played at Miller Place on Tuesday and is scheduled to host Elwood/John Glenn this Monday, January 13, at 4:30 p.m.

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