Elijah Jackson knew he would have an expanded role this season after the star of last season’s Bridgehampton state championship team, Charles Manning, transferred to Long Island Lutheran.
“All I had to do last year was spot up and shoot,” Jackson said. “With Charles gone, I knew I had to really get my game ready. I really worked hard on my ball-handling and my weakside rebounding.”
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But Jackson can still spot up and shoot. He scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the first quarter Saturday to lead Bridgehampton to an 80-53 victory over Shelter Island in the Suffolk Class D championship game played at Suffolk CCC-Selden.
“The shot has always been there for Elijah,” Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson said. “He’s our sharpshooter. When he’s on, he’s on.”
Jackson was on Saturday. He hit five three-pointers as the Killer Bees improved to 16-3 and advanced in the county tournament where they will play the Stony Brook-Pierson winner in Tuesday’s CD game at Suffolk CCC-Brentwood at 5 p.m. Bridgehampton also advances in the state Class D tournament to a regional semifinal against the Section IX winner on March 1 at Suffolk CCC-Selden.
Josh Lamison contributed 19 points and numerous offensive rebounds while point guard Tylik Furman added 16 points. Tristan Wisseman, one of Suffolk’s leading scorers, closed out his Shelter Island career with 19 points and drew a standing ovation when he was removed from the game late in the fourth quarter from a strong turnout of Shelter Island supporters.
“Josh is Josh. He controlled the offensive boards,” Johnson said. “I loved the way we played defense, and the way we moved the ball in the first half was unbelievable.”
Bridgehampton built a 47-23 halftime lead with its ball-sharing and ball-snaring, and coasted in the second half. “Elijah was a starter on the state championship team but he got a little overshadowed,” Johnson said. “He stepped up with Charles gone. If you forget about him, he can be a real weapon.”
Jackson acknowledged that has happened on occasion this season. “Against some teams, yeah I’ll pick my spots,” he said. “Teams will lay off; they don’t realize I can hit my threes. Against those teams, I just have to go off.”
Shelter Island turned out to be just such a team. Jackson made his first shot from beyond the arc with 3:45 left in the first quarter, and followed that with a step-back jumper and fast break layup that put the Killer Bees on top 18-4. They never looked back.
“When I launched my first three, and it went in, I just knew the game was going to go in our favor,” Jackson said.