PORTERS 62, COSMOS 52
Typically, Billy Doucett can tell what kind of a shooting night he’s going to have by how the pregame warmups go for him. The pattern, however, isn’t what one might expect. If Doucett’s shots are dropping during warmups, they don’t in the basketball game. And, conversely, if his shooting during warmups is off, it will be on at game time.
Doucett described his warmup shooting Monday night as “alright,” so it might have been harder for him to gauge what his shooting would be like for Greenport’s game at The Ross School in East Hampton. Well, it was certainly a lot better than “alright.”
Doucett drilled five 3-point shots and struck for a career-high 33 points as Greenport prevailed, 62-52, clinching a playoff berth in the process.
“If I’m scoring, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Doucett said, “but I don’t know, if we win, we win.”
The senior forward and team captain scored 25 of Greenport’s first 34 points, stroking one shot after another.
“He was unbelievable,” said Ross coach Kevin O’Halloran.
Greenport guard Gavin Dibble dished out 8 of his 10 assists to Doucett. As Dibble saw it, the Porters were playing smart basketball by feeding the hot shooter.
“You got to hit the hot man, that’s all you got to do,” he said. “I’ve never seen him shoot that well. That’s a lot of points. Bill made my job easy. I just had to give him a nice little pass, and there it was.”
Whatever the records of the two teams may have suggested, Monday night’s game was anything but easy for Greenport (9-5, 7-3 Suffolk County League VIII). At times the Porters made things harder for themselves, and Ross (1-13, 1-9) didn’t play like a one-win team.
“It’s all about matchups,” Dibble said. “They might not be the best matchup for us because they have [senior Roosevelt Odidi]. Any team like that is never just going to lay down. They have something to play for. They play for their pride.”
Greenport took the lead for good about midway through the third quarter when a Doucett basket off a pass from Matt Dibble made the score 40-39.
In the fourth quarter, Doucett knocked down his fifth triple to bring Greenport’s lead to double digits for the first time at 52-42. Later in the quarter, Greenport twice stretched its lead to 11 points.
The Porters must have breathed a sigh of relief when Odidi fouled out with 31.6 seconds left. Odidi joined teammate Aubrey Jowers, who received his fifth personal foul 50 seconds into the fourth quarter, on the bench.
Odidi, who is projected as an NCAA Division III player and regarded by some as possibly the best player in League VIII, is a handful. He led Ross with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
“He always plays hard,” Doucett said. “When he fouled out there were a couple of smiles.”
Greenport coach Al Edwards said: “Odidi, he keeps them in the game. We played tough defense on him, but he just goes up over everybody and knocks down those short, little 10-footers. It’s hard to do anything about that, you know.”
Odidi caused some other damage. With 4:14 left in the fourth quarter, he fell on Gavin Dibble’s right leg, leaving a bruise on the inside of Dibble’s knee. Dibble said he would be fine and would play against Southold on Wednesday night when Greenport will retire the No. 34 jersey that Ryan Creighton used to wear for the Porters.
Greenport hit 7 of 17 attempts from 3-point range while Ross had no treys to its credit. But the Porters, who sank 19 of 20 free throws in a win over Pierson on Friday, shot a shabby 11 of 22 from the foul line on Monday night.
The Porters gained their fourth win in five games with the aid of 8 points and 11 rebounds from Austin Hooks, and 8 points from Timmy Stevens.
Jiahui Guo had 11 points for the Cosmos, who lost their sixth straight game.
The shaky foul shooting and some lax defense at times made things more interesting for Greenport, perhaps, than Edwards would have liked, but in the end the Porters got the result they were looking for and a guaranteed place in the postseason. Edwards said Greenport has reached the playoffs every year since 1990.
“That’s a good feeling,” Edwards said. “Sometimes you have your doubts about whether you’re going to make it or not, but we came through. We had some good spurts. We still have a whole lot of things that we need to improve on as a team.”