Phil Reed was the type of guy who would give someone the shirt off his back.
So, it was quite appropriate that a coaching colleague honored him with a shirt on Saturday.
Before Shelter Island took on Southold in a boys basketball game, Indians head coach Jay Card Jr. had a special shirt created for the late First Settlers coach.
It included a photo of Reed with the words: “In Memory Of A Great Coach”.
The Shelter Island players wore the shirts during warmups at Southold High School and Card placed a shirt on the back of an empty chair in memory of Reed after First Settlers interim coach Jeff Ellis put a red rose there.
“I thought it would be a nice tribute … to demonstrate to our players how you pay respect for a good man and coach,” Card said after his team recorded a 62-48 victory in a Suffolk County League VIII game.
Southold honored Reed, the beloved basketball coach who passed away on Jan. 26, in a poignant and emotional pregame ceremony. He was 59.
Card made enough shirts for every Southold player and for Reed’s mother, Laddie, and brother, Elliot, who attended the game on Senior Day.
“They didn’t call or plan anything with us,” Ellis said. “They just showed up and they had that and it was really, really awesome.”
Prior to the game, a moment of silence was held. Each Southold player walked across the court and gave Reed’s mother and brother a rose and a framed Southold basketball jersey signed by every player and coach.
It certainly wasn’t an easy game for Southold, which had endured an emotional ringer the last two weeks.
“I know obviously they’re hurting. I’m hurting,” Ellis said. “At times you’re really good, then someone says something or you’ve seen someone you haven’t seen for a long time, so the emotions come right back. So it’s been a rollercoaster. I think the kids have been really working through it. They have become men quick.”
The Indians, who will play Bridgehampton for the county Class D crown at Suffolk County Community College in Selden on Feb. 13, were not as generous after the opening tip-off. They rolled to a 16-5 first-quarter advantage behind Billy Boeklen (24 points, six treys, eight assists and four rebounds) and Tristan Wissemann (17 points, six assists and six rebounds).
Greg Gehring led the First Settlers with 12 points and fellow senior Noah Mina added 10 points. Southold whittled the deficit to seven points with 3 minutes 13 seconds remaining before Shelter Island went on a 10-3 spurt to finish off the game.
“They played with a lot of heart today on a heavy day for them and I am very proud of them, the Southold kids,” Card said.
Photo caption: Shelter Island team members presenting commemorative “Phil” tee shirts to Phil Reed’s family (brother and mother), prior to the game. (Credit: Garret Meade)