For however long it's taken Bridgehampton to get back to this place -- 12 years, to be exact -- there's little doubt the Killer Bees are a quick study.
It's obvious in the progression of freshman Davion Cooper, who got a rare start Monday; the two eighth-graders on the roster; and, in the Class D final at Suffolk CC-Selden, their ability to decipher and then dismantle Greenport's diamond-and-two defense.
"The kids were confused . . . they're not used to it," coach Carl Johnson said of the strategy, which worked well enough to put them behind by six points after one quarter of play.
But this is Bridgehampton. Half the roster is made up of underclassmen. Figuring stuff out has become something of a team identity.
And oh, did they ever.
Bridgehampton regrouped in the second quarter to take a five-point lead at halftime and cruised to a 73-50 win over Greenport behind a career-high 24 points from Cooper.
It was No. 2 Bridgehampton's first trip to the final in four years and its first victory since 2000; top-seeded Greenport (11-7) entered as the winner of eight titles in 11 years.
"Before I got in, I was nervous," said Cooper, whose previous season-high was 12 points. "But once the first shot fell . . . I got in a rhythm."
That first shot -- a long three off an inbounds pass -- drew Bridgehampton to within 17-11 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. The team began the second quarter on a 9-2 run, highlighted by Cooper's wide-open trey from the left wing and sustained by eighth-grader Tylik Furman, whose slaloming slash around a host of defenders pushed the lead to 22-19.
Bridgehampton (9-11) never trailed after that, though they allowed an outsized Greenport to get within 40-38 on Billy Doucett's floater with 4:57 left in the third. Bridgehampton responded with a 9-0 run, sparked by Caanan Campbell's lefty layup with 4:32 to go and his three 26 seconds later.
"Four years ago, we lost in the championship game and we had to remind Caanan and Brandon [Hemby] what it's like on the other side," Johnson said of his two remaining players from the 2008 season. "It's been a long wait."