High-Caliber Help

Gordon M. Grant
Southampton, NY – 1/5/19 – Southampton boys basketball v. Port Jefferson in Southampton, NY January 5, 2019. (Photo by Gordon M. Grant)

Sincere Faggins and his Southampton teammates put distance between them and Port Jeff in more ways than one.

“We run, run, run,” the junior said, smiling. “They couldn’t keep up with us, so we took advantage and ran with it.”

The Mariners started a 90-61 win with an 11-0 tear, the first nine points coming off three-pointers, two of those from senior Marquise Trent (11 points). Kristian Wheeler (10 points) scored three times in one minute and Faggins sank two shots in the final 30 seconds of the opening quarter for a 33-16 lead. Through graduating a starting contributor and losing its top returning scorer to Center Moriches, 4-1 Southampton hasn’t seemed to miss a beat.

“We did a travel team together to find our chemistry,” Faggins said. “We moved the ball really well, and if we keep playing like this, we’re going to go far.”

That connection showed as the Mariners started off the second half on a 9-0 run. Wheeler and Trent’s twin brother, Marcus (14 points), set each other up for several fast-break points. They continued to push for a turnover or grab a rebound on one end, and race for a transition bucket on the other.

“We’ve been spreading the court more to get the ball up in transition, using the sidelines,” head coach Herm Lamison said. “But there were missed layups and missed 1-and-1s, and those are opportunities we can’t get back; points we can’t afford to lose when the opportunity presents itself against some tough competition.”

Keeping the ball rolling in the second half was Dakoda Smith. The junior point guard racked up eight in the third in 1:30 and five in the fourth on his way to 16 points and eight rebounds. What was special was how he ignited the offense. He converted three three-point play chances, and the bench leapt up in excitement with each added point.

“He’s very important on the floor for us,” Lamison said. “He does so many things for this team that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but he’s the glue that keeps things together for us out there.”

Smith credited conditioning through fast-break drills during practice, and the recent work on spreading it to create driving lanes. He said even while his team was up 55-24 at halftime, the Mariners didn’t remain complacent, or let the lead get to their heads.

“We kept the ball moving. Nobody was selfish and we did what we had to do,” Smith said. “I went strong through the hole and things just worked for me.”

What remains a benefit is having nearly every guy on the court or on the bench able to be a spark in some way, and turn opportunities into offensive threats. Artemi Gavalas (10 points) was the sixth player to score in double digits, including two three-pointers. Southampton finished scoring nine threes across six players.

“Any kid can score on any given night, but if I was satisfied with where we are, then we can’t get better,” Lamison said. “Today was a good step in the right direction.”

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