The mind had trouble believing what the eye was seeing. A halftime look at the scoreboard at Suffolk County Community College’s Brookhaven Gym in Selden showed Greenport High School’s boys basketball team with a mere 12 points. That required a second glance, and then a third and a fourth.
“It really is astonishing,” said Stony Brook coach Mike Hickey.
Top-seeded Greenport’s final point total in its 49-35 defeat to No. 2 Stony Brook in the Suffolk County Class C final was easily its lowest output of the season. Who could have seen this from a team that had scored 80 or more points nine times and averaged 72.5 points per game previously?
But it was the Porters who watched with watery eyes and pained expressions, the picture of dejection, as Section XI boys basketball chairman Bob Mayo presented the championship plaque to Hickey.
Stony Brook (13-9) has won seven county championships, including the past five years.
Greenport (14-8) last picked up a county title in 2010 when it won its sixth straight county championship and the team’s 10th.
This time, however, the Porters were foiled by the shot-blocking figure of the 6-foot-6 Jyles Etienne and superb all-around play from the 6-4 Mac Bohuny and Brandon Providence.
Greenport never truly found its rhythm, and coach Ev Corwin blamed himself.
“I take full responsibility for this,” he said. “I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t prepared enough.”
League VIII champion Greenport won both of its league games against Stony Brook, 70-43 on Jan. 11 and 55-50 on Jan. 27. But this time Stony Brook, appearing in its 10th county final in 11 years, was ready for the Porters.
“They were really pumped for this,” said Greenport small forward Darrius Strickland.
Greenport wasn’t prepared for Bohuny, who put up 19 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 7 of 14 from the field and nailing a pair of three-pointers. Or for the athletic Etienne, who blocked five shots to go with his eight points and 13 rebounds. “Even when he doesn’t block a shot, he alters it,” said Hickey. Stony Brook was leading, 45-34, when Etienne fouled out with 1 minute, 25 seconds to play. Providence, a 5-5 senior guard, scored 15 points.
Emil Vaughn is not usually a starter, but he got the start and was handed a mission: shut down Greenport freshman guard Ahkee Anderson. Vaughn was in Anderson’s face while the rest of the Bears played in a zone. “I knew how important it was to limit Ahkee’s touches and sometimes get in his head,” said Hickey.
Anderson was held to nine points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field, and he was Greenport’s top scorer.
Greenport never led. Even though the Porters had only 12 points to show for themselves at halftime, they were still down by only eight points.
Stony Brook stretched that lead to 33-19 by the end of the third quarter.
“They really played exceptional defense and they were out on every shot,” Corwin said. “They were on a mission defensively.”
A spectator from the Greenport section was escorted from the gym after getting into a verbal altercation with a clock operator with 6:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Shortly after that, Greenport edged to within 34-27 on an Anderson basket, but then Stony Brook restored its double-digit lead in dramatic fashion. Etienne made a two-handed dunk while being fouled by Julian Swann. He then sank the free throw for the three-point play. Greenport got no closer than nine points after that.
Greenport shot 29.2 percent from the field and was outrebounded, 34-20.
When it was over, the Bears hugged each other. The Porters were left to think about what might have been.
“We had every missing piece,” Sam Strickland said. “We had the guards. We had the shooting guards. We had the bigs.”
But Stony Brook was the one left holding the championship plaque.
Photo caption: Greenport’s Ahkee Anderson taking aim while Stony Brook’s Mac Bohuny defends. (Credit: Garret Meade)