The Ecstasy and the Agony
By Jim Casey
It is difficult to believe that it has been 10 years since William Floyd won the Suffolk County AA Championship. And so much harder to fathom that two weeks after that momentous day, our revered coach, Bob Hodgson, died of a heart attack.
The journey to William Floyd’s 2012 County Championship began when Anthony White first suited up for the varsity as a freshman. He was not yet ready for stardom, but contributed to a difficult 5-13 season. Anthony blossomed as an All-League soph leading us to a 13-7 playoff appearance. Then his junior year was a big jump. We were seeded 5th, but defeated 4th seed Copiague in the quarters. In a portent of his senior year, Anthony had a stat line of 23 points(19 in the second half), 18 rebounds, 10 assists and 7 blocks. Our season ended in the semis to top seeded Hills West. Anthony had given us a small lead in the third quarter until he picked up his fourth foul. Hills went ahead and won by 7. The 2011-12 season was one for the ages. Floyd clinched its first league title in some years with a win over Brentwood, secured by Anthony’s hoop at the end, 2 of his career high 34. Seeded 2nd to Hills West, we first beat Eastport-South Manor by 20 with Anthony’s 29 in only three quarters. Next up was a third battle with league rival Longwood. Floyd was up 2 when we ran a sideline back door alley oop from Derek Haase to Anthony for the clincher. Anthony had 22 points, 11 rebounds. The semifinal saw a very tough Deer Park five Floyd another tough game. In this one Lashon Washington and Devin Burney made key hoops at the end to help Floyd secure the 9 point win. Anthony had 26 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists. Top seed Hills West had been upset. The final saw Floyd face Central Islip. After a back and forth three quarters, Floyd scored the last 8 points of the game to win Coach Bob Hodgson’s first County Championship in 15 years. The final score was 53-45. Again Anthony White led the effort with 15 points, a career high 23 rebounds, 7 blocks and 7 assists. He was named the MVP of this AA Tournament.. Lashon Washington added 17 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. He garnered a spot on the All Tournament team. Next up was Nassau Champ, perennial power Baldwin as a New York State quarterfinal and the unofficial Long Island Championship.. Coming into the contest, Bob Hodgson was clearly not himself, sitting the entire game with very little energy. It was another close affair for three quarters, but on this day it was the Baldwin Bruins who put together a 10-0 run at the start of the 4th quarter which was the difference in a 68-57 victory. Once again Anthony White led the Colonials with 20 points (4-6 from three), 14 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Floyd finished its season at 20-4, the best in 15 years. It was Floyd’s and Bob Hodgson’s third AA County Championship..
Bob Hodgson was not himself for that Baldwin contest because he had a heart attack the night before. Typical of his personality, he told no one until after the game, desperately wanting to finish what he started in November. He entered Stony Brook Hospital on the Sunday after the Saturday game. I visited him on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, believing to have seen gradual improvement each time. Bob Hodgson died on Saturday, March 17, 2012, St. Patrick’s Day. His wake and funeral were evidence of the powerful effect he had on so many in the basketball and education worlds. The countless stories of his thoughtfulness and selflessness recounted by the many, many visitors included ones that not even his beloved wife, Lynn, children, assistant coach Rob Jr., Rex, Rose and Ryan had ever heard. At the burial his team clung to the RV that had transported so many of them and others to gyms all over the East Coast, hoping that would bring them closer to him. Six weeks later, Lynn Hodgson died after a years long battle with cancer. She shared Bob’s passion, spending hours and days in the Floyd gym, cooking hot dogs for games, bringing Pizza to teams visiting for scrimmages and hosting generations of players in their Mastic home, where all were warmly welcomed. Two lives, very well lived.