The Killer Bees never stop buzzing.
Even though Bridgehampton has only a seven-player roster and its starting five rarely rests, the team plays at a breakneck pace. Their slogan might as well be 32 Minutes of Swarm.
Jason Hopson scored 10 of his 24 points in a dominant fourth quarter as Bridgehampton pulled away from Coleman Catholic of Section IX (near Kingston), 71-55, Wednesday to win its state Class D Southeast semifinal before an energized crowd from both schools at Center Moriches.
"What's our secret?" said Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson with a mischievous grin. "We have this drill we do 30 to 45 minutes before practice. Games to a hundred, three-on-three. It's for conditioning, and they don't always like it. But it's more fun than just running. They're playing basketball."
The Killer Bees, cheered on by some fans who sported specially made sleeve attachments in bumblebee style black-and-yellow stripes, and Center Moriches coach Nick Thomas, who played on a state championship team for coach Johnson at Bridgehampton, outscored Coleman Catholic 20-9 in the fourth quarter.
So much for wearing down because of a short bench. "I'm fine with it. I'm used to it," said Hopson of the pre-practice regimen. He's a versatile senior who, at 6-31/2, plays point guard, hits from long range (five three-pointers) and crashes the boards. "Coach is always telling us that whenever we get a defensive rebound, to push it. I try to do as much as I can to help us win."
Hopson did a lot, especially after Bridgehampton (12-8) watched a 15-point lead in the third quarter get sliced to 51-46 entering the fourth. He drained a three to start the period and followed that with two free throws to build the lead back up to 10. Coleman (15-6) cut its deficit to 58-52 with 4:25 left, but it was the Killer Bees who had more in the tank down the stretch.
Bridgehampton went on a 13-1 run to break the game open, with Hopson sinking two free throws and a turnaround trey, and freshman center Josh Lamison (16 points) scoring twice inside with power low-post maneuvers.
Amazingly, Lamison is only 6-foot, but he's a wide-body who specializes in offensive rebounding and like all his teammates, is a relentless worker Bee. "When I was younger, I was always the biggest guy so I learned to play in the low post," Lamison said. "Now, I'm a small guy so I have to work that much harder."
Lamison and another freshman, Tylik Furman, are regular double-digit scorers who complement Hopson, who averages nearly 20 points per game. Furman had 14 Wednesday, but the Killer Bees got an extra dose of honey when junior swingman Anajae Lamb scored 16 points. "We needed another guy to step up and he made some big shots," Johnson said.
Bridgehampton will need another ironman performance from its starting five tomorrow night when it faces Martin Luther King of Westchester County at 4:30 p.m. at New Rochelle High School. The winner goes to Glens Falls for the state semifinals on March 15. "We want to send Jason out on a good note," Lamison said.
Get busy, Bees.