Last season Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said Dakoda Smith is “very important on the floor for us. He does so many things for this team that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but he’s the glue that keeps things together for us out there.”
This season, he’s showing up on the stat sheet in all sorts of ways. In an 80-36 win over Hampton Bays January 24, the senior secured a double-double on 18 points and 17 rebounds, and also had four assists and four steals to lead Southampton to its fourth straight win.
“We moved the ball pretty well today. We worked well as a team. Nobody was selfish,” Smith said. “Everyone got points and did their thing.”
Although things started off slow, the Mariners quickly found their pace after being down 6-2 early. Lebron Napier’s bucket tied the game at 8-all, and he scored off his own rebound seconds later to put Southampton ahead for the first time since his game-opening field goal.
“Working hard on defense was the goal, and we didn’t start off strong with that,” Napier said. “We just need to continue putting on the pressure, communicate on offense, and we’ll be good.”
By halftime the Mariners had turned an 18-13 first-quarter advantage into a 39-24 lead, which only grew from there.
Across the second and third Zyaire Pittman (10 points and 7 assists) hit two three-pointers, and Smith converted two three-point plays. Lucas Bontempo (11 points and 10 rebounds) also made use of his three-point play chance, and Smith followed it up with a big block with 1:16 remaining in the third to protect a 60-30 lead. Sincere Faggins (7 points) was also strong off the boards, grabbing the ball back after several missed free-throw attempts, two of which were passed back to Smith under the basket for easy points.
“I think we need to work on the communication on defense, and pushing the ball up the court,” Smith said, “but now we’re working together and getting wins.”
The head coach said he sees his boys improving every day.
“I’m pretty impressed with where we are right now,” Lamison said. “Collectively, we’re modifying and changing things, and if we see some type of success with it like we did today, it’s working. We’re trying to get better each and every time out.”
Part of the mentality, he said, is viewing every opponent as a worthy one. Smith added unselfishness plays a big part, and Napier said boasting multiple weapons is a piece of that.
“If one can’t get their shots right one night, another is always there to pick up the slack,” said Napier, who also grabbed six rebounds and took an elbow to the eye, which forced him out of the game in the third quarter. “I was on fire, and then Dakoda was right there with the strong rebounding. We were also aggressive. We’re closer than ever right now, and heading in the right direction.”