It isn't that Charles Manning Jr. is a one-man team. It's just that he plays every position.
"I do think of him that way," Bridgehampton coach Carl Johnson said Monday after Manning scored 28 points and displayed his myriad skills all over the court in a 77-34 victory over Smithtown Christian in the Suffolk Class D title game at William Floyd High School.
"At 6-3 1/2, he can defend the big guy, he can rebound, he can block shots, he can run the point, he can be a shooting guard," Johnson said, which is why the veteran coach and former Killer Bees player listed his star junior's position on the official team roster this way: "G, F, C."
Manning, who averages about 23.5 points, had 15 points in the first half, as well as a handful of assists, rebounds and a pair of blocks as the Killer Bees built a 38-16 lead that widened in a dominant performance. Tylik Furman added 15 points, Elijah Jackson scored 13 and Josh Lamison had 12.
Bridgehampton (18-1 overall) is one victory away from a trip to Glens Falls. The Bees advanced to the state regional final against the Section I/IX winner on March 13 at Suffolk CC-Selden. They also advanced in the Suffolk Small School bracket as the "D" qualifier and will face Class C winner Stony Brook on Saturday at noon at Floyd. Smithtown Christian finished 7-10.
"At this level, I can play anywhere. At the next level, I'll be a guard," said Manning, who hopes to be a Division I recruit next season. "Passing to my teammates is my favorite thing. Nine out of 10 times, they make me look good."
Manning was reluctant to take over the team when he arrived in the fall as a transfer from Riverhead.
"We tried to get him to stop being so unselfish," Johnson said. "He trusts his teammates but at times we want him to take over. He's a matchup problem for anyone because of his athletic ability. He can play all five positions at this level. And he has the speed and explosiveness to play guard at the next level."
Manning isn't looking that far ahead. "We're really focused on getting to Glens Falls," he said of the upstate site of the state tournament semifinals and finals. "It's the postseason, a different season. Nothing we did in the regular season matters now. It's strictly business."
No matter where Manning sets up shop.