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Westhampton vs H.H.H.East 1/16/98
Westhampton 77 Half Hollow Hills East 57

For nearly two quarters, the Half Hollow Hills East boys basketball team showed Westhampton just how far it had come in only one season. After all, how many teams begin 6-5 after going 1-17 the previous year? How many teams would watch the best team in Suffolk score the game's first 14 points, then come back with an 8-0 run of its own?
"We thought we were going to blow them out," Westhampton's Jason Ritchie said.
Well, Westhampton did beat the host Thunderbirds, 77-57, Friday in a League IV game, but remember this: The Hurricanes' average margin of victory in their first four league games was 43 points! As Hills East coach Dave Shouler said while watching Westhampton in pregame warmups: "That's the best team I've seen on Long Island in a long time."
And so the Hurricanes (11-0, 5-0), the only unbeaten team in Suffolk, went out in the second half and showed Hills East (6-6, 4-2) just how far they have come and how far they want to go - all the way to a state championship. But first things first.
"We want to be the first team in the league to get to seven wins," Westhampton co-captain Dale Menendez said. That would qualify Westhampton for the playoffs.
Jermain Hollman, a 6-5 senior and fifth-year varsity player, made this journey to greatness all the more sweet by reaching a milestone as part of a huge game. Hollman had 30 points, 16 rebounds and 3 blocks, and early in the third quarter scored on a drive to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. He has 1,012.
"It feels good," Hollman said. "It's something I've worked for over the last five years."
Said teammate Mike Ford, Hollman's cousin: "I'm happy for him. It's a lot of fun playing with him. He takes a lot of pressure off me to play defense. He rebounds, blocks shots . . . "
Hollman was the catalyst in Westhampton finally putting away the feisty T-Birds. After Leroy Davis (17 points, 14 rebounds) scored off a steal to open the third quarter, Hollman scored six straight points and had a huge block, and Jeremy Liggon's fast-break layup off a perfect pass from Menendez made it 52-34 with 4:26 left in the quarter. Game over.
But Hills East never quit. "They were good," Hills East's Calib Bynum said, "but we knew we had to come out and give them a run. They've had a lot of blowouts, so we wanted to keep it close. We did that in the first half, but then we let it slip away."
"That coach has them playing really well," Westhampton coach Rich Wrase said of Shouler. "His kids hustled. They did some job."
After Hollman's putback off a missed free throw gave the Hurricanes a 14-0 lead, William Smiley (11 points) scored consecutive baskets and Davis followed with a steal at midcourt and subsequent dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and laid the foundation for a furious tempo and playoff-like atmosphere. Hills East then stole the inbounds pass and Troy Etkins' layup made it 14-8. Westhampton responded with an 8-0 spurt, capped by a three-point play by Menendez (11 points, nine assists). Hills East answered with a 12-2 tear sparked by Bynum's three-pointer to pull within 24-20. Bronson Martin (17 points) then buried a trey at the first-quarter buzzer as Westhampton took a 27-20 lead.
Hills East's Eric Dennett nailed a three to begin the second and make it 27-24, but that's as close as it got.
"I feel we've shown [our improvement] to the whole league," Bynum said. "We're playing harder and with more spirit."

Box Score
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
Westhampton: Menedez 4-3-11, Hollman 13-4-30, Ford 1-1-3, Martin 6-3-17, Sanders 3-4-10, Ritchie 1-0-2, Liggon 2-0-4. Totals: 30-15-77.
HHHE: Davis 8-1-17, Smiley 5-0-11, Edwards 5-1-11, Stallworth 2-0-5, Bynum 4-0-10, Dennett 1-0-3. Totals: 25-2-57.
Three-point goals: Westhampton 2 (Martin 2); HHHE 5 (Bynum 2, Smiley, Stallworth, Dennett).

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