Nae’jon Ward knew he had it in him.
After Greenport’s Jaxan Swann hit a three-pointer to tie the score at 85 with 17 seconds left, the Bridgehampton junior almost lost the ball with Swann guarding him on the other end, but it was what he did next that really wowed the crowd.
Ward dribbled his way past three defenders, through a double-team, and got the ball down the left sideline before hitting a running jumper with 1.3 seconds left. He then rushed across court into the waiting arms of head coach Ron White in celebration of the Killer Bees’ 87-85 victory for the Suffolk County Class C/D title February 16 at William Floyd High School.
Ward said White has told him time and time again to take the shot when the ball’s in his hands.
“Coach always tells me in situations like that for me to shoot the ball, that it’s my time to shine, so the first thing that came into my head was my team needs me to score this bucket,” Ward said. “And I felt very comfortable and confident.”
The junior point guard finished with 31 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter. Elijah White added 29 points and J.P. Harding had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Greenport’s Ahkee Anderson racked up 40 points to lead all scorers.
Bridgehampton (13-8) fell to Greenport twice during the regular season by a combined 51 points, surrendering 95.5 points per game. But the Killer Bees wanted to avenge those previous losses in a championship atmosphere.
“We finally beat them,” Ward said. “After all the countless hours we spent in the gym working as hard as we could, our hard work is paying off. I was especially excited that I was able to pull through for my team.”
Bridgehampton advanced to play Center Moriches in the Suffolk BCD final February 19 at William Floyd High School, but results were not available by press time. The Killer Bees begin their run toward a Class D state championship with a regional matchup March 1 at Center Moriches High School at 5 PM.