PORTERS 69, KNIGHTS 61
On a high school boys basketball team that has dead-eye outside shooters like Gavin Dibble, Matt Dibble and Timmy Stevens, it’s easy for someone like Billy Doucett, who does the vital grunt work, to be overshadowed, but he shouldn’t be overlooked.
The hard-working Doucett’s value to the vertically challenged Greenport team is unquestioned. Along with Austin Hooks, he is counted on to hit the boards and bring energy on defense. Doucett did all of that and more on Friday night, and it made a difference.
Greenport, which trailed for most of the game, used a 23-1 run in the second half to turn the tables on Smithtown Christian and post a 69-61 win in Smithtown. The Porters saved their best for the end, striking for 34 points in the fourth quarter. Greenport knocked down five 3-point shots, including three by Stevens, in the fourth quarter.
For a few uneasy moments while Doucett was being attended to by a nurse on the court in the first quarter, one wondered if the senior would be able to play the remainder of the game. While pursuing a rebound from a missed free throw, Doucett took an elbow to the bridge of his nose. He went to the bench with a bloodied nose with 3 minutes 39 seconds left in the first quarter. Fortunately for the Porters, Doucett returned to the game the following quarter and went on to produce 13 points, 9 steals, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
“I think he had an amazing game, amazing,” Stevens said. “He did everything. He rebounded, played defense, tough defense, and scored. That’s all you can do in a game. … If we lost him, we probably wouldn’t have come back. He actually set the tone in the third quarter.”
And what a second-half revival it was for Greenport (6-4, 4-2 Suffolk County League VIII), which had played a lackluster first half and trailed by as many as 13 points at 24-11.
Smithtown Christian (1-7, 0-6) held a 31-21 lead at halftime, but its coach, Dan Skaritka, knew it wasn’t enough. The Knights’ team motto is “never enough,” as in never enough points, never enough of a lead.
Skaritka said: “I always tell my guys: ‘It’s not enough. We got to keep the pressure, keep it going.’ ”
He proved to be right.
After a rough first half during which it shot 7 of 27 from the field, Greenport hit 15 of 26 field-goal attempts in the second half. The Knights, who led by 12 points after Charles Bellini sank a pair of free throws with 2:45 to go in the third quarter, saw Greenport whittle away at their lead.
“We just started moving the ball, and when we move the ball we find open players, and when we find open players we get good shots,” Stevens said. “Most of the time when we move the ball, good things happen.”
Gavin Dibble stuck a 3-point shot to put Greenport ahead, 45-44, with 5:29 remaining in the fourth quarter. It was the first of four straight treys by the Porters, the others coming from Stevens, Stevens again, and Gavin Dibble again.
The Porters were in front to stay.
“They had us on the ropes, man,” said Greenport’s relieved coach, Al Edwards, who cannot recall the last time Smithtown Christian had beaten Greenport. “The tide changes, you know.”
Speaking of his players, Skaritka said, “I guess they just lost it mentally.” He added, “This was probably one of the bigger comebacks I’ve seen in a while, which is disappointing.”
Gavin Dibble led the scoring for Greenport with 19 points. Hooks added 15 points and Stevens had 13. Matt Dibble collected 11 assists.
Greenport was able to withstand a 26-point performance by Smithtown Christian’s Caelan McCabe. Bellini put in 12 points before fouling out with 25 seconds left in the game.
Greenport’s fourth-quarter output represented 6 more points than it mustered in a 38-28 loss to The Stony Brook School three days earlier. That’s life for a team that lives and dies by the 3-pointer. For a team like that, it’s handy to have a player like Doucett around.
Asked for his job description, the 6-foot-2 Doucett said: “I would say rebounding and passing the ball are the two things I do best. When the team needs me to score, I’ll score. I’m pretty much whatever the team needs me to be.”