GLENS FALLS, N.Y. - It's a trapping, pressing defense that Bridgehampton calls 1-3-1 Black. On Friday it turned a deficit into a dividend and got the Killer Bees out of the red and into the black.
Bridgehampton forced 18 second-half turnovers and came back from an 11-point deficit for a 68-50 victory over previously unbeaten Moriah in a state Class D boys basketball semifinal at Glens Falls Civic Center. Bridgehampton outscored the Vikings (23-1) by a remarkable 31-9 in the fourth quarter and 43-14 in the final 14:30.
"That was the most intense defense we played all season," said Charles Manning Jr., who was superb with 29 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals. "We got to the wings and trapped. We were more athletic than they were."
The Killer Bees -- who brought two busloads of fans upstate, including many wearing bright yellow T-shirts that read BEElieve -- fell behind 36-25 early in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter behind 41-37. Then Manning and Josh Lamison (who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and four steals despite playing the entire fourth quarter with four fouls) took over.
Bridgehampton (21-2) harassed Moriah into turnover after turnover during a game-changing 17-2 burst that included five layups in transition and consecutive three-pointers from opposite corners by Matt Hostetter and Manning.
The 31-point fourth quarter propelled Bridgehampton into the state Class D championship game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday against New York Mills, which defeated International Prep, 66-58, in the other semifinal.
The Killer Bees have won eight state titles but haven't reached the championship game since 1998, when they captured their third straight crown.
"The difference was defense," Manning said. "It was a very aggressive trap. We pressured their ballhandlers and made them fumble the ball."
When Moriah's players didn't have trouble dribbling, they telegraphed soft passes that were easy pickings for Bridgehampton, which had 17 steals.
Lamison was in the middle of the Bridgehampton blitz, even though he was whistled for his fourth foul with 1:38 left in the third quarter. Playing one of the wings in 1-3-1 Black, he scored in transition after a steal to put the Killer Bees ahead for good at 42-41 a minute into the fourth.
Later in the quarter, in a snapshot sequence that showed off the Killer Bees' brilliance, Lamison intercepted a cross-court pass from a double-teamed and harried Viking and converted the layup for a 52-43 lead that continued to grow.
"If we play how we're capable of playing, you can't stop us," said Lamison, an undersized 6-foot, 200-pound power forward who is a relentless rebounder. "I had to play smart with four fouls but still be aggressive. I knew if I came out of the game, it would be stressful for the rest of the team."
Instead, it was the Killer Bees who created stress -- and Moriah wilted under the pressure, especially when 6-5 guard Taylor Slattery (21 points) went to the bench with his fourth foul late in the third quarter. By the time he returned, the Vikings had fallen into a Black hole.
"Without number 10 [Slattery] in there, we went to 55 Black, which is our man-to-man trap," Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson said. "There's no doubt about it, that's the best defense we've played all year."