Southampton’s boys basketball team may not have come away with the Class B championship title it was hoping for, but the Mariners made Center Moriches sweat for it.
Southampton tied the game twice in the fourth quarter, and was down by just two points at halftime during the 72-65 loss at Centereach High School February 19.
The No. 1 Red Devils (20-1), which won their 17th county crown, were led by senior guard Ahkee Anderson, a former Greenport standout, who scored 14 of his 34 points in the final six minutes to get Center Moriches back into the state tournament. The senior hit 2,000 career points on the nose before entering the title game. The team also boasts former Bridgehampton point guard Nae’Jon Ward.
Center Moriches faces the Nassau Class B champion on March 10 in the Southeast Region semifinal, and Suffolk County Class C title-winner Southold on Saturday at Walt Whitman as the team seeks to defend its overall county championship title.
Anderson (five rebounds, four assists) answered sophomore small forward Lebron Napier’s layup with a putback off his own layup miss to regain the lead for Southampton, 54-52. Napier had scored on a feed from senior point guard Dakoda Smith with 6:28 to play to tie the game for the second time in the final eight minutes. Senior shooting guard Artemi Gavalas’ three-pointer from the corner brought the score to 50-all.
Southampton (15-5) missed a pair for free throws after Anderson’s make, and, after fouling the senior, he secured two free-throw points. Anderson made all his six free throws down the stretch, and scored 14 of Center Moriches’ last 20 points of the game. The Mariners never as close the rest of the way. Anderson also connected with junior forward Jaden Kealey (12 points, 15 rebounds) for an alley-oop dunk with 3:10 left to stretch the lead.
Southampton, which trailed 30-28 at halftime, was hit hard with the early loss of senior Sincere Faggins. The shooting guard picked up his fourth and fifth fouls less than three minutes into the third quarter. Eight of his 10 points came from the free-throw line.
Napier racked up13 points for the Mariners, and Gavalas, senior point guard Dakota Smith and senior small forward James Malone picked up 12 points apiece.