PORT JEFFERSON — As the Suffolk County high school boys basketball tournament draws closer, Greenport Coach Al Edwards realizes that his team is going to have to win games like this one.
On a night when his star player endured a sub-par scoring performance and his team lost a 13-point advantage, the Porters managed to gut out a 62-55 victory over the Port Jefferson Royals in a League VIII game on Tuesday night.
“At this time of the year it’s one of those things where you’re fighting to the finish,” Edwards said. “Just be happy to walk away on their home court with a win. We’ll take it.
“This is like a playoff atmosphere. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”
Especially after 6-foot-6 forward Dantré Langhorne, who entered the game as the fourth-leading scorer (24.0 points) in the county, had a difficult night.
The senior finished with 13 points, though he made contributions in other areas. He still posted another triple double, grabbing 17 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists.
“It’s just one of those things,” Edwards said. “They key on him. … It’s tight in there. He’s going inside and they’re not giving him anything easy inside. He’s got to be able to step up and knock down a couple of 10- or 15-footers every once in a while. That would help out.”
As Langhorne struggled, several teammates helped out and emerged as heroes for the Porters (14-1, 10-1).
Center Tremayne Hansen enjoyed a strong inside game with 20 points. “Hansen came up big,” Langhorne said. “He found the spaces.”
Tevin Parish broke a 53-53 deadlock, sinking a foul shot with 3 minutes 13 seconds remaining. Then 5-9 point guard Sean Charters, who had sank only one basket up to that point — a three-pointer in the first quarter — took over. He fired home two more three-point shots on consecutive possessions 32 seconds apart as the Porters outscored the Royals (8-6, 7-4) by 9-2 down the stretch.
“They were key,” Edwards said. “Big shots for us. He’s one of those people that they really forget about.”
Greenport rolled to an 11-0 lead in the opening 3:14 as Jalen Shelby scored seven of his 13 points. Port Jefferson Coach Michael Riley called two timeouts to get his troops back on track.
“The first couple of minutes played out the same way as the first game [at Greenport]. We went down 11-zip,” Riley said.
He laughed. “I said: ‘Oh my God. This is a repeat performance.’ It was almost like déjà vu. I knew we had to dig ourselves out of a hole. Any team has a problem of digging themselves out of a deficit of 11 points. That’s rough. It takes a lot out of you.”
Incredible as it may sound, Langhorne did not score during that opening spurt. He finally sank his first basket off a drive with 1:08 remaining in the first quarter.
“My teammates were just getting easy looks and they were finding the spots,” he said. “We were just playing team basketball.
“We came out strong as a team. Everybody was getting on the ball, hustling.”
Riley was surprised when he learned of Langhorne’s scoring totals.
“That’s it?” he asked. “He gets about 30-something. You know what? That was one of the names on our board. Hey, that’s a good job that we did. That’s a good night.”
Slowly but surely, Port Jefferson clawed its way back into the game. The Royals pulled within 38-37 midway through the third quarter, but the Porters took a 51-46 lead by the end of the period. The hosts, however, managed to draw even at 53-all on forward Anthony Lantieri’s rebound basket with 5:12 left. Lantieri scored 15 points.
“I don’t think it should have been close,” Hansen said. “We started playing sloppy, throwing the ball away.”
While Langhorne has received much of the publicity, Riley also was impressed with Greenport‘s other attributes.
“Greenport is very structured,” he said. “Every young team plays like that, but they do the little things, such as boxing out, weak-side rebounding, hard defense. They played hard defense and they don’t get that type of kudos. That’s a defensive team.”