Tim Stevens learned a lesson the hard way. “Never go half speed,” he said.
That, Stevens figured, was his transgression when he suffered a season-ending injury while playing for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck high school football team this year. Stevens was trying to make a tackle during a game when one of his teammates, Chris Dwyer, missed his attempted tackle, and banged his helmet into Stevens’ right leg.
Stevens later learned that he broke a fibula, putting an end to his senior season.
“That was my last time playing football, and I never thought it would come that way,” he said.
Stevens was on crutches and wore a boot for four weeks. He could only watch games, not play in them. “It was terrible,” he said.
So imagine the joy Stevens experienced when he received medical clearance to resume physical activity two days before the Greenport High School boys basketball team’s first preseason practice.
“I felt great,” Stevens said. “I always want to be on the court, on the field, any sport.”
The sight of a healthy Stevens, with no crutches, is a happy one for the Porters. As the Porters’ longest-serving player (he is entering his fifth varsity season), the 5-foot-11 guard is an important part of the team’s plans.
Greenport’s second-year coach, Ev Corwin, said he had not expected Stevens to make it back for the basketball season. Corwin said Stevens has “looked great” in practice.
“Timmy’s been around this program forever, and he does a lot of things, especially on the offensive end,” the coach said before Monday’s night’s practice. “He got a little microwave in him. When he gets hot, he can throw it up backwards and it goes in.”
Stevens, a 3-point threat who averaged about 8 points per game last season, declared that he is “100 percent good to go.”
That’s good news for a team that lost an all-conference guard, Gavin Dibble, and an all-league forward, Austin Hooks. They both graduated.
The Porters went 9-11 last season, losing to Shelter Island in the Suffolk County Class D final. Corwin said it was a season in which the Porters never really got in sync. “We just had so many ups and downs,” he said. “I just feel like we never got everybody on a roll at the same time. That’s really the way I looked at it. When a couple of main guys were going good, then maybe somebody else wasn’t.”
Stevens is among eight returning players along with Angel Colon, Alex Perez, Darius Strickland, Tyshe Williams, Willie Riggins, Matt Drinkwater and John Drinkwater.
Darius Bolling, a sophomore promoted from the junior varsity team, will start at point guard, said Corwin. “He’s athletic … and I think his basketball instincts are growing now more than anything,” Corwin said. “When that whole package comes together, he’s going to be tough to deal with.”
Corwin is expecting the competition in League VIII to be fierce. Effort is going to be everything for the Porters. Corwin has stressed how vital defense will be. “If we don’t play defense, we’re doomed,” he said.
Colon said: “We’re just trying to get back to where we were last year, and that’s the Class D final. That’s where we want to be.”