The game was used as a fund-raiser for the Wounded Warriors Project, but the real project for both high school boys basketball teams in the first quarter was finding a way to put the ball in the basket.
For most of the quarter, the only points on the scoreboard were from a short bank shot by Southold’s Aidan Walker. Port Jefferson didn’t pick up its first points until John McLaughlin made a shot, tying the score at 2-2 with 18 seconds left in the period. The score would have remained that way at the conclusion of the opening quarter if not for a 3-point shot that Southold’s Noah Mina landed at the buzzer.
So there it was, both teams combining for a measly 7 points through eight minutes of basketball. Fortunately for those who like scoring, the offenses picked up from that point on.
Southold managed to keep Port Jefferson at bay much of the way to pick up a precious league win, 45-40, on its home court on Friday night.
Perhaps some camouflage helped the First Settlers (4-5, 1-3 Suffolk County League VIII). Both teams wore camouflage shirts during the pregame warmups, and both coaches, Keith Buehler of Port Jefferson and Phil Reed of Southold, sported camouflage, too. In keeping with their school colors, Port Jefferson’s shirts were tinged with purple and Southold’s with red. While the Royals wore their regular purple road jerseys for the game, though, the First Settlers stayed with their camouflage tops, which the officials allowed even though they did not have uniform numbers on the front, only on the back.
Pat McFarland shot 5 for 7 from the field, including 3 for 3 from 3-point distance, to pace the First Settlers with 19 points. Walker chipped in 11 points.
The top scorers for Port Jefferson (2-7, 1-3) were McLaughlin and Kris Cheslock with 9 points each. McLaughlin also grabbed 11 rebounds.
If the Royals looked a little heavy-legged, it was because they had played a game the day before against Stony Brook. Fatigue may have factored in their field-goal shooting, a cold 26.5 percent.
In the first quarter, both teams had their field-goal struggles, with Port Jefferson shooting 1 of 13 and Southold going 2 of 10.
Port Jefferson held three brief leads in the second quarter before a 3-pointer by McFarland put Southold ahead for good at 13-12.
The First Settlers gained more separation when they used an 11-2 run, with 6 points provided by Walker, for a 33-21 lead.
Port Jefferson pulled to within 4 points when a pair of Michael Spyrou free throws cut Southold’s lead to 36-32 with 2:16 remaining in the game.
The First Settlers sank 7 of 8 free throws in the final 55.6 seconds to secure the win before a loud home crowd.
The fund-raising event, which Reed said was a success, was organized by one of his assistant coaches, Skip Gehring, and his wife, Brenda Gehring.
Photo caption: Pat McFarland goes up for a layup and 2 of his 19 points for Southold as Port Jefferson’s Kris Cheslock watches. (Credit: Garret Meade)