By Steve Zaitz
Led by senior guard Benjamin Haug’s 24 points, the Smithtown East boys basketball team beat their rivals to the south, the Hauppauge Eagles, 65-49 on Feb. 24 in the first round of the Suffolk County, Class AA playoffs.
The Bulls, the fourth seed, improve to 16-5 and got the opportunity to face an even fiercer rival – the number one seed Smithtown West Bulls.
In their win over the Eagles, Smithtown East rode a 19-3 second period to establish a commanding lead after a close first quarter. They took a 37-18 lead into halftime as Haug boasted 11 points and senior big man James Burton had 9 at the break.
Hauppauge junior guard Cole Wood hit three three-pointers in the second half and the fifth-seeded Eagles cut the lead to 11 late in the third quarter, but they never got any closer. Wood finished with 17 points.
Smithtown West handily defeated Smithtown East in the semi-finals on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 74-47 and will face Half Hollow Hills East for the Class AA championship on March 2.