Team crippled by injury finds redemption through hard work

Bonackers Shake Off Adversity, Welcome Prosperity




In League V, every team brings it, every night.

Just ask Westhampton, a solid squad mired in last place despite having a competitive team with postseason aspirations that more often than not ends up on the short end of the final score. East Hampton found itself in the same boat before the league season even began when Bladimir Rodriguez, the team’s tallest player and best rebounder, went down for the season with a leg injury. “He was the one player we really couldn’t afford to lose. We have no one to replace him,” coach Dan White lamented early in the season. His worst fears turned out to be true: Bonac won 11 games last season but is having trouble finishing off games this time around.

The team dropped its first three, six of its first seven, and sported a 2-12 mark in mid-January.

For the undersized Bonackers, a lack of height made Rodriguez’s loss all the more critical. But, as White preached, “All the other guys have to hit the boards to make up for him.”

Lesson learned.

When Bayport-Blue Point came to East Hampton on January 15, casual fans hoped for the best — the Phantoms had beaten the Bonackers by a single point, 73-72, in their previous meeting. Yes, it was as if someone turned the lights on. Bonac came out popping and running and hitting the boards with resolve. A breathtaking 19-4 second-half run blew Bayport/Blue Point out of the gym, and Bonac, as it turned out, was just warming up.

The final score, 83-38, was one of the more lopsided victories East Hampton has had since the Ed Petrie era, and the 16 three-point bombs buried were reminiscent of Billy McKee’s finest teams. Jeremy Vizcaino, a six-foot junior guard, has taken over the scoring slack left by Rodriguez and then some — he had 28 on this night including six nukes. Malachi Miller, another player scoring in bunches, added 21.

It was no fluke. Three nights later, again playing at home, the locals blew out Shoreham/Wading River 61-33, a team they had beaten by a single point earlier in the season. Turner Foster, who has developed a knack for distributing the ball and finding the open man, scored 15 points to lead East Hampton. Miller added 13 points, and the team drilled nine more treys. Once again, the team came out hot (18-5) and used a smoldering 20-5 third quarter run to take the suspense out of the thing.

Bonac plays at Westhampton Saturday at 11:30. Unless the Hurricanes quickly learn, as Bonac did, from their mistakes (1-9 in league play), Bonac (4-6) could be perched in perfect alignment for a Class A playoff spot, an unthinkable occurrence two weeks ago. Such is the magic — and drama — of high school basketball.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com