The Bridgehampton team that took the court Monday night looked suspiciously like the team that began the season losing six straight games.
With a new coach and a fresh set of players–only two remaining starters–the whispers were mounting that this was the end of an era, that the winningest basketball program in New York State history finally faced the final curtain.
And then pride and legacy and history entered the game. After falling behind 17-6 to Livingston Manor, a perennial Class D powerhouse, the Killer Bees clawed up and out of the grave. Riding the hot hand of senior J.P. Harding, an honorable mention Class D state all-star, the Bees found themselves tied late in the fourth stanza and then scratching ahead by two points courtesy of a Jonathan Degroot put back.
Then, with 16 seconds left, Harding (14 points) stole a pass, went coast to coast, and scored. The dream, and the dynasty, was still alive: Bridgehampton 50, Livingston Manor 48.
Next up is the New York State Regional Final, against the winner of the Newfield vs. Martin Luther King Jr. game.
It was an ideal time for the new coach, Ronnie White, to address his critics, but there was a more important thing on his mind: a trip to the Final Four and a chance to win a record 10th state title. White, incidentally, won three titles when he played for The Bees.
Elijah White, the coach’s son, added 14 points for the Bees, now 9-11 on the season.
Greenport played East Rockaway for the Long Island Class C title last night. If successful, the Clippers will play Saturday against an opponent yet to be determined. That game will also take place in Center Moriches.