PORTERS 55, TUCKERS 51
Michigan had its Fab Five. Does Greenport have a Super Seven?
Well, that may be going too far, but it is safe to say that Greenport’s boys basketball team is doing what it can with only seven players on its roster. The Porters managed to get the job done Tuesday when they won their first game of the season, 55-51 over Mattituck.
The Greenport seven doesn’t have an unofficial nickname yet, but that could change if the Porters continue to perform like they did on Tuesday.
Gavin Dibble hit a critical go-ahead three-point shot, came down with a big rebound and then sank two free throws to put Greenport in front and on the way to the hard-fought non-league win at Mattituck High School.
Dibble’s three-pointer from the corner tied the score at 51-51 with about 65 seconds remaining in the game. Later, Tom Sledjeski made a steal that gave Mattituck a chance to go back in front. But the Tuckers missed three attempts at the basket during that sequence and Dibble was fouled after grabbing a rebound, sending him to the foul line with 27.8 seconds to go. He coolly made both of his free throws for a 53-51 lead.
A shot by Mattituck’s K. J. Pertillar bounced off the rim and players from both sides fought for the ball, leading to a held-ball call with 9.6 seconds left. The arrow pointed in Mattituck’s direction.
Following a timeout, Greenport’s Max Eggimann made a steal, passed to Dibble, who then pushed the ball forward for a layup by his brother, Matt Dibble, shortly before time expired. The Porters rejoiced following the game, which had a playoff feel to it.
They certainly could feel good about their effort. No one could say Christmas came early for Greenport (1-3, 0-1 Suffolk County League VIII). It wasn’t a gift. The Porters worked hard for this one.
“Heart and determination,” Greenport junior forward Billy Doucett said, “that’s all that it took.”
Greenport led for a good deal of the game, but the contest was always close. The largest margin was seven points, when one of Sean Charters’ four three-point shots made it 25-18 Greenport late in the second quarter.
Charters also nailed down back-to-back threes in the third quarter to tie the score at 40-40. Greenport shot 7 of 16 from three-point range.
“Our kids just had a lot of heart,” Greenport coach Al Edwards said. “They battled the whole game.”
Before the end of the game, the Greenport seven had become the Greenport six. Doucett fouled out with 4:34 to go.
Gavin Dibble scored 15 points, Charters had 14, Austin Hooks 12 and Matt Dibble 11 for Greenport. Matt Dibble also had 8 assists.
Tom Sledjeski, who sat out Mattituck’s previous game with a sprained ankle, was back in the starting lineup and quite productive. The 6-foot-5 senior totaled 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and 1 assist. Pertillar had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
From a team statistical standpoint, though, nothing really stood out. It was determination, something that can’t be quantified by numbers, that made a difference for the Porters.
“They just outworked us in every phase of the game,” said Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood.
Mattituck (1-3, 0-1 League VII) has not defeated Greenport since the 2004-5 season, Ellwood’s first in charge of the Tuckers.
Doucett said the Porters weren’t focused on the past, though. They were just trying to get their first win.
“This can help us a lot,” he said. “We know what we need to do to win. We can just ride off this.”
Several Porters said limiting their turnovers was a factor. Greenport had 18 turnovers, four less than Mattituck.
“Cut down on turnovers, and the result is we win,” Gavin Dibble said. “Real simple.”
Edwards said he had told his players they needed to learn how to win. This might have been their first major lesson.
“At this stage in the game, any win is a good win for us,” Edwards said. “You know, it’s the first win. You know, it’s always nice to have a win against a North Fork team. We always compete against each other. This was a good one for us, a nice Christmas present.”
Maybe Greenport’s seven will receive a nickname over the holidays.