Bridgehampton High School’s Killer Bees have always impressed me with the oneness of their play. And with their relentlessness, too.
I once said to them at a championship dinner that I saw no reason why, having excelled so well in this one endeavor, they could not go on to succeed in anything they did.
They’ve out-Hoosiered the Hoosiers.
The little school of barely more than 100 students fields a basketball team that’s won nine state championships since 1978 (surpassed only by Mount Vernon).
And, almost invariably, the team — whose players have rarely exceeded 6 feet in height — have toppled taller opponents from bigger schools on their way to winning so many league, county, Long Island, and state trophies.
I was asked recently, as part of an interview for Orson and Ben Cummings’s upcoming documentary, Killer Bees (whose associate producer is the NBA great Shaquille O’Neal), if I’d ever witnessed any ugliness on the Bees’ part in any of the games I’d seen since I began sports writing in 1979. I did not.
Why did I think that was? They’re confident, I said; they play with confi- dence and thus they play with an inner calm. There’s no need for posturing.
They play the game with zest, as one, as I said, their egos are subsumed — even those of the truly outstanding players, who you might expect would strut and preen, a list including but not limited to Carl Johnson, Wayne Hopson, Troy Bowe, Julian Johnson, Bobby Hopson, Duane White, and Maurice Manning.
And, by the way, their gym is something out of Hoosiers, the movie, too: a gem of its kind, vastly undersized (illegal, in fact, when it comes to playoff games), with a curtained stage at one end and the 3-point arcs overlapping the sidelines in the corners.
There is not much breathing room in there, and if the Bees are swarming, you will be suffocated if you’re an opposing player. And if you’re a spectator, your breath will be taken away.