Change is the name of the game in the continually evolving world of high school boys basketball, where players come and go every year. This summer marks a considerable change for the Greenport Porters. For the first time in eight years, there is no Ryan and no Dantré for the Porters to turn to.
That would be Ryan Creighton and Dantré Langhorne. For the past seven years, the Porters had one or both of them to rely upon. But with Creighton’s graduation two years ago and Langhorne’s last week, Greenport is left without a so-called star player.
Having said that, the Porters do have Jalen Shelby and some other good players to help in the transition process.
Asked about playing for the first time without either Creighton or Langhorne alongside him, Shelby acknowledged: “It does feel strange. We have a new offense now, a lot more ball movement. We play better defense. We should be alright.”
Certainly, the Porters have been doing a little better than alright, at least through their first two games in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League. The Porters, the league’s defending small school champions, defeated the Comsewogue Warriors, 49-35, on Tuesday, and followed that up with a 53-39 win over the Rocky Point Eagles on Thursday night.
“It’s a big change, and sometimes it takes boys a long time to get used to playing without their star player, but because these guys played on a travelling team [together], it kind of made the transition a little easier,” said Rodney Shelby, the Porters’ summer league coach who is also Jalen’s father. “We know we don’t have a Dantré, so now everyone has got to chip in. We need five guys on the court doing the little things to help us win.”
Those things have been in evidence so far.
The Porters, who also lost the graduated Tremayne Hansen from last season’s school team, have some returning varsity players to count on, such as Sean Charters, Matt Dibble and Myles Waters. But the logical new on-court leader for the Porters would seem to be Jalen Shelby, an all-league player last season. Shelby, who can play guard or forward, has a good all-around game and can be a deadeye shooter from long range.
The 6-foot-1 Shelby noted that his role is changing.
“I have to handle the ball, move the ball,” the senior said. “I have to play defense, rebound the ball. I have a lot to do this year.”
Shelby celebrated his 18th birthday in style on Thursday night with a well-played performance in the Porters’ win over Rocky Point at Rocky Point High School. Gavin Dibble hit two three-point shots and scored 12 points to lead all scorers, but Shelby did his part, turning in nine points. Hayden Aldredge, a player from The Ross School who is playing with the Porters this summer, and Waters both chipped in eight points apiece.
The 6-1 Aldredge, making his debut with the Porters, did a commendable job in the paint. He guarded and battled under the boards against Rocky Point’s 6-6 center, Andreas Vouliakis. Aldredge grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds. Vouliakis led his side in points (nine), rebounds (eight) and blocked shots (four).
“It’s all about being physical and tough,” Aldredge said. “He’s a big guy. I just tried to really work hard down low and box him out as much as possible. He got a few rebounds over me, but I think I did a pretty good job just being physical with him.”
The Porters showed good ball movement and committed only eight turnovers, 10 less than the Eagles, who suffered their second loss in as many games.
Because their summer uniforms haven’t come in yet, the Porters wore the black and gold uniform of the Boulevard Boyz, the Amateur Athletic Union team that most of them play for. It seemed to suit them fine. They scored the game’s first nine points and never lost the lead.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Joe Kingston cut Greenport’s lead to 33-24, but that was as close as Rocky Point got to the Porters in the second half.
“Today they showed we’re a complete team,” Rodney Shelby said. “Everybody moved. Everybody touched the ball.”
Robert Maloney and Kingston supplied the Eagles with eight points each. But it wasn’t enough against the Porters. No Creighton. No Langhorne. It didn’t matter.
“They still look good,” said Aldredge.
Rodney Shelby knows what the biggest question facing the Porters is.
“How are we going to play without Dantré?” he said. “Who’s going to be the person to keep the team together and be the leader without Dantré? That’s going to be the biggest test.”