A case could be made that the Port Jefferson High School boys basketball team has been underestimated. The same could go for Terell Rose, who is possibly the team’s best player.
Rose may not have drawn the attention he deserves from college scouts, but at least one person can appreciate what the senior does for the team.
“Without him, I don’t know if we would have been going this far because he’s like the glue,” Port Jefferson Coach Michael Riley said. “You know that funny little phrase, the glue keeping it all together? If we didn’t have the glue and we just used tape, the tape would have kind of peeled off. He’s glue; he’s not tape.”
With that glue, Port Jefferson’s defense stuck to the Greenport Porters. The Royals recorded their second straight upset in the playoffs and won their second Suffolk County Class C championship in three years on Tuesday.
Greenport has a great history in county finals in this millennium. With the exception of 2003, they had won county crowns every year since 2001, and were anticipating continuing that fine run on Tuesday.
Rose and the Royals had other ideas, however.
Backed by a splendid performance from Rose, the third-seeded Royals hounded No. 1 Greenport and its star player, Dantré Langhorne, handing the Porters a 56-53 defeat at Longwood High School.
“This is the best feeling in my life,” said Port Jefferson forward Anthony Lanieri.
Port Jefferson will next face The Ross School Ravens in a Suffolk Class C-D final on Friday at Farmingdale State College. They will then play the Friends Academy Quakers in the Long Island final on March 9 at SUNY/Old Westbury.
Greenport, which trailed by as many as 13 points, clawed its way back to make things interesting down the stretch with a 9-0 run. After a basket by Langhorne, a layup by Tremayne Hansen and a jump shot from the corner by Hansen, Langhorne drilled a three-pointer after Sean Charters collected an offensive rebound, cutting Port Jefferson’s lead to 54-53 with 26 seconds left.
The Porters had chances to pull ahead after that with offensive rebounds by Langhorne and Hansen, but failed to convert them into points.
Lanieri sank a pair of free throws to make it a three-point game at 56-53 with 12 seconds remaining.
Langhorne launched one final attempt at a game-tying shot, but the ball smacked hard off the backboard. It wasn’t even close.
The happy Royals (11-5) jumped into each other’s arms and celebrated while the Porters (18-2) experienced the pain of a season ending.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” said Greenport Coach Al Edwards, who completed his 29th season with a 366-223 career record. “They deserved it. They got it done. It was one of those things where it just wasn’t our day.”
Rose, who can play guard or forward, had a superb game, leading all scorers with 23 points. He was also responsible for 10 rebounds, four assists and one block.
“I just tried to get as many hustle points as I could, anywhere I could pick up loose balls, rebounds, assists, steals, whatever I could get,” said Rose, who aside from Greg Nielsen is Port Jefferson’s only remaining player from its last county champion team.
“Rose is the most underrated player on Long Island,” Lanieri said. “He is, I think, just as good as Dantré, maybe even better. Dantré is a great player, but Terell Rose does it all.”
Nielsen supplied 18 points and Philip Lanieri added 11 for the Royals.
The game marked the end of Greenport’s Dantré era. Langhorne, a senior forward who has scored over 1,400 career points, was held to only two points in the first half and 16 for the final game of his high school career. He also had nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Langhorne turned down an interview request after the game.
Langhorne didn’t score his first points until he grabbed an offensive rebound and finished a layup with 1:57 left in the first half.
Jalen Shelby also notched 16 points and seven assists for Greenport, which also received 10 points and nine rebounds from Hansen.
Both Hansen and Langhorne played with four personal fouls in the fourth quarter. Hansen picked up his fourth personal foul with 5:36 remaining. He spent some time on the bench before returning to the floor with a little over three minutes left.
Port Jefferson had upset both The Stony Brook School Bears and Greenport in the playoffs. Both of those teams had beaten Port Jefferson twice during the regular season. But what’s past is past.
“It’s playoff time,” Rose said. “Regular-season records don’t mean anything any more. It’s how you perform now.”
The Porters have won 13 Suffolk Class D titles in their history, but never a Class C crown.
“We just couldn’t make it work,” Edwards said. “We just have to pick up the pieces and start all over again.”