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Westhampton vs North Babylon 3/7/98

Westhampton 63 North Babylon 49

Having left the game moments earlier with the outcome decided, Westhampton seniors Dale Menendez and Jermain Hollman charged onto the SUNY-Stony Brook Sports Complex floor as the final buzzer sounded.
They each played instrumental roles in helping the Hurricanes, the Suffolk Class B boys basketball champions, win yesterday's overall county title against League IV rival North Babylon, 63-49, before a crowd of 3,500.
Certainly the loss won't break North Babylon, the Suffolk Class A winner. The Bulldogs are still alive and well in the state playoffs.
But winning sure validates the hard work of Menendez and Hollman, key figures for Westhampton over the past two seasons. They no longer have to dwell on falling two points shy of the county Class B championship last season when Amityville took the wind out of the Hurricanes, who were 20-0 going into that semifinal game.
So the 6-5 Hollman, who scored 12 points and had nine rebounds, along with Menendez enjoyed the moment as the packed sea of green that made up the sizable Westhampton contingent howled approvingly.
The win makes Westhampton (22-0) the first East End school in 29 years to win the county championship (Southampton won back-to-back titles from 1967-69).
"With all those good Bridgehampton teams, all the great coaches and even Kenny Wood, those teams did not win an overall county championship," said Westhampton coach Rich Wrase, who has won three Suffolk Class B and one Class D title, but never an overall championship. "I think it's great we can bring it back to the East End. It's been 29 years. We take our basketball very seriously on the East End. The kids love basketball and we have great fan support."
The game began with a twist. North Babylon jumped ahead 5-0 on a three-point shot by Aldrick Hodgson and a long jumper by Jonelle Jones (13 points).
Then the Hurricanes literally ran away with the game. They took command with a 21-1 run, fueled by Menendez. He scored six of his team-high 15 points in a crucial 7:13 span in the opening half and gave the Hurricanes their first lead on a 5-footer to make it 7-6. Westhampton, which beat the Bulldogs (12-11) for the third time this season, would not trail again.
"The fans pump us up. They're great," said Menendez, who had seven assists, four steals and three rebounds. "They cheer the whole game and keep us psyched. They make us play better."
Junior dynamo Barry Baker, the Bulldogs' unquestioned leader, did not have his jumper yesterday, shooting 35 percent (6-for-17) from the field. Still, Baker's intensity (15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) kept his team within striking distance. His putback with under a minute left made it 57-49. But Westhampton replied with four foul shots by Bronson Martin (11 points) and a Keith Maeski layup to end the game.
"We gave them a game this time," Baker said. "We fought a good fight but came up short."
It would have been a major coup for the Bulldogs to win. After all, Westhampton did dominate them (two wins by an average of 29 points) and the rest of League IV throughout the year. But yesterday's game was merely for bragging rights and did not decide anyone's season.
Westhampton will face Nassau Class B champ South Side in the Southeast Regional final / Long Island Championship at noon Saturday at Hofstra, and North Babylon will play Nassau Class A champ Hempstead in the second game at 2:30 p.m. The winner of each game advances to the state public schools Final Four in Glens Falls the following week.
"We told the kids, `Hey, you have to play eight games,' " North Babylon coach Jack Loth said. " 'If there's one to lose, this is the one.' Hopefully we can go on and take care of Hempstead and then go upstate. Thank God we don't have to see Westhampton again this year."

Box Score
TeamFirst QTSecond QTThird QTFouth QTTotal
N. Babylon613141649
Westhampton: Menendez 7-1-15, Hollman 5-2-12, Ritchie 4-2-10, Sanders 1-0-2, Martin 3-5-11, Liggon 2-0-5, Ford 3-0-6, Maeski 1-0-2. Totals 26-10-63.
North Babylon: Baker 6-2-15, Simmons 0-1-1, Jones 5-1-13, Washington 2-0-4, Hodgson 2-2-7, Toney 4-1-9. Totals: 19-7-49.
Three-point goals - Westhampton 1
(Liggon); North Babylon 4 (Jones 2, Hodgson, Baker).

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