SPORTS DESK/Bob Liepa: Going ‘one game at a time,’ Porters remain unbeaten

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Vincent Smith is one of the role players who have helped make Greenport the top-ranked Class C team in New York State.

In the world of Suffolk County League VIII boys basketball, the undefeated Greenport Porters have yet to meet their match. They may also stand above the rest when it comes to clichés.

On Tuesday night the Porters were in fine form on the court and delivering clichés off it.

Although The Ross School Ravens demonstrated clear improvement from a year ago, they were still a level below the Porters. Behind a superb showing by Dantré Langhorne, the Porters pulled away to a 76-51 win on their home floor and brought their perfect record to 9-0, 6-0 in the league.

Now, 9-0 is a fine record, and one wondered if the Porters were starting to toy with the idea of an undefeated regular season, something the Southold First Settlers accomplished last season when they won the League VIII championship.

“I don’t think about the record,” Langhorne replied when asked about the prospect. “I just take it one game at a time.”

One game at a time. It was a phrase he repeated three times during a 4-minute 20-second interview.

For a team that may not always produce the most exciting copy in postgame interviews, Greenport sure brings plenty of excitement to games, whether it be through the dunks and aerial artistry of Tremayne Hansen and Langhorne or the accurate outside shooting of Jalen Shelby.

In a sense, though — and this may sound like a strange way to talk about a team that advanced beyond the Southeast Region Class D semifinals three times in the past four years — Greenport has been something of a surprise this season. A question mark hung over this team like Damocles’ sword before the season. Even after preseason practice started, Coach Al Edwards was at least publicly uncertain over who would be playing on the team along with Sean Charters, Hansen, Langhorne and Shelby. Depth — as in the lack of it — was a very real issue, not to mention chemistry.

Lo and behold, the Porters are rolling along. Their closest game was an impressive four-point victory over St. John the Baptist in a non-league game last month. The Porters are ranked No. 1 among the state’s Class C teams by the New York State Sportswriters Association poll. That’s saying something, although Edwards is wise not to put too much stock in what is essentially a target placed on his team’s back. Everyone wants to knock off the top dog.

“That doesn’t mean a whole lot as far as the rankings are concerned,” Edwards said. “You got to go out there and play. The teams that are out there are tough.”

Then again, so are the Porters. Give a lot of credit to Edwards, who deserves praise for the way the team has pulled together so quickly. A good deal of praise should also go to Langhorne, who not only is one of the best players in the county and the state, but possibly the country. The 6-foot-6 senior forward was recently nominated to be a McDonald’s all-American. That’s no joke, although Langhorne said he originally thought it was.

Langhorne showed his quality in the game against St. John the Baptist, when he virtually beat the Cougars single-handedly (at least that is what St. John Coach Jim Plate said).

Statistically speaking, at least, Langhorne topped that with what he did on Tuesday night. After all, 34 points (a career high), 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks are serious numbers. “I felt good,” he said.

Ross Coach Kelly McKee called Langhorne “a very good player. He does it all. He can dribble, he can shoot, rebounds and he gets down the floor. I’m very impressed with him, very impressed.”

And, really, what’s not to be impressed with? Langhorne has the athleticism, the moves, the basketball smarts and the unselfishness that made him the worthy successor to Ryan Creighton as Greenport’s star.

“I try to do the little things, [get] rebounds,” Langhorne said. “I don’t really look at scoring, though.”

Role players like Vincent Smith, Matt Dibble and Tevin Parish have also helped.

Looking ahead, we eagerly await Saturday’s showdown when the Porters will host another strong Class C team, the Mattituck Tuckers, in an eagerly awaited non-league contest. Mattituck is ranked 12th in the state poll. While the Porters may have the three best players on the court that day, the Tuckers have greater depth. It’s an intriguing matchup.

But that’s looking ahead.

“Our record still stands now as being undefeated, but our main goal is to win our league and if we win our league by being undefeated, that would be great,” Edwards said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time.”

Sounds like we heard that before.

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