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Dec 31, 2019 6:38 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Boys Basketball Wins Eastern Long Island Officials Holiday Classic Tournament

Southampton senior Dakoda Smith drives on a Riverhead player. DREW BUDD
Jan 7, 2020 9:12 AM

After a two-year layoff, the Southampton boys basketball team won the Eastern Long Island Basketball Officials Holiday Classic Tournament, defeating Riverhead in the championship game, 61-58, on December 29.

The Mariners had won the annual tournament that has been in existence since 1978 in 2013, 2014 and 2016 before Center Moriches and Greenport won it the past two years, respectively. They defeated Longwood, 66-54, on December 28 before holding off Riverhead for the title the next day.

Dakoda Smith, who missed the first few weeks of the season due to an injury, was named Tournament MVP, joining previous Mariners Andre Franklin (2016), Isaiah Johnson (2014) and Taylor Sanders (2013), who all achieved the feat recently. He had 13 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists in the championship game, as well as 23 points, 12 points, four assists and four blocks in the win over Longwood. LeBron Napier and Sincere Faggins were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said Smith was hands down the MVP.

“He stuffs every stat category there is for us, and he’s still banged up, too,” he said. “He’s not 100 percent, but he gives you 100 percent, and that’s the most important thing for us. Zy Pittman was big for us. He could have easily gotten All-Tournament as well.

“Anytime you can win a championship — no matter if it’s a tournament, a league, whatever it is — it’s a positive thing,” Lamison added. “We’ve gotten off to a pretty rugged start with injuries and catastrophes, so with everything that has happened to us so far, what we’re trying to do is take one practice, one game at a time and get better. Hopefully, this weekend is a good start in the right direction for us.”

Both Southampton and Riverhead got off to sluggish and somewhat sloppy starts to the game, committing a number of turnovers, missing a number of layups or open looks at the basket, and having a hard time corralling rebounds. Riverhead went on its run in the third quarter in which it outscored Southampton, 17-4, and held, at one point, a seven-point lead. But Southampton stormed right back in the final minute of the quarter and only trailed the Blue Waves by a point, 39-38, heading into the fourth, where the Mariners kept that momentum going.

Napier hit a big three to open the final frame after stealing the ball at midcourt, then a few minutes later, Faggins made a basket as he was fouled that brought the standing-room only crowd to its feet. After making his free throw, the Mariners led, 46-39, but Riverhead didn’t go down quietly. Albert Daniels lofted a floater that tied the game at 54-54, and then Te-Andre Pope tied the game back up on a three with 1:35 remaining in the game. But a basket by Napier put Southampton ahead for good, and two free throws by Smith iced the game.

“We never gave up,” Smith said after the game. “We kept playing as a team. We were a little selfish in the beginning, but we got to it, started working as a team. We knew the game was going to be close, we had to play as a team, pass the ball around, put up some good shots.”

Lamison said he liked the fight he saw from his players on Sunday.

“That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. These guys are resilient,” he said. “We may get down, but these kids are fighters. They’re never going to stop fighting, and that’s just in their DNA. That’s the one intangible where sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s bad thing. Tonight it was a good thing for us, and they had no quit in them no matter what the circumstances were, they just kept going.”

After going 1-2 to start the season, Southampton has now won their last five contests, including a 67-54 non-league victory over Central Islip on December 30. The winning streak comes at a good time with the League VII schedule looming in the new year, which started at Hampton Bays on Tuesday and then Center Moriches at home this Friday, January 10, at 6:15 p.m. League foes Center Moriches, Hampton Bays and Mattituck all played well in their non-league schedules, but Lamison is only looking close to home.

“Everybody is playing good basketball. I’m really not concerned with other teams,” he said. “My concern is with my team. We just need to maintain some semblance of health and a commitment to getting better every day.”

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