PORTERS 56, FIRST SETTLERS 50
The Greenport Porters are short in stature and short in numbers, but they certainly don’t come up short when it comes to effort and intensity.
That was obvious Tuesday night when the Porters — all seven of them — outplayed rival Southold, 56-50, in a Suffolk County League VIII boys basketball game at Greenport High School. Chalk this one up to determination.
“That’s a nice win,” Greenport coach Al Edwards said. “It just shows the kids that we’re able to play with anybody in our league.”
The Porters (6-3, 4-1) seem as if they can run forever, and that’s a good thing since they have only two reserve players on their bench. But they haven’t used their lack of numbers or height (the 6-foot-2 Austin Hooks is the team’s tallest player) as excuses. So far they have done quite well for themselves. “Better than a lot of people expected us to be,” said guard Matt Dibble.
Greenport, which never led in the first half, went in front for good in the third quarter, which it closed with a 10-3 run, taking a 39-35 lead into the fourth quarter. A tricky off-balance shot by Dibble started that spurt and he helped it continue later with a hustling followup of a missed layup.
The well-conditioned Porters used their energy-sapping press to fluster Southold (3-6, 3-2), which looked uncharacteristically out of sync, turning the ball over 25 times.
Southold coach Jeff Ellis said his team’s play was so undisciplined at times that it was virtually unrecognizable. “I just didn’t think it was us tonight,” he said. He added: “I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. I wish I had answers. I need a psychologist.”
The Porters stretched their lead to as many as 13 points when Dibble made a steal and a layup for a 53-40 cushion in the fourth quarter.
Not even Southold’s 17-9 dominance in offensive rebounds seemed to make much of a difference.
Southold summoned up one final comeback attempt late in the game. A three-point shot by Will Fujita, a runner by David O’Day and a conventional three-point play by Liam Walker pulled the First Settlers to within five points at 53-48 with 52.1 seconds to go. But time was running out on Southold. The teams traded two points from a pair of free throws by Gavin Dibble, Matt’s brother, and a basket by Southold’s Alex Sinclair. Then, with 6.2 seconds left, Kyle Clausen of Southold fouled out and Billy Doucett sank a foul shot for the game’s final point.
Greenport fans serenaded their neighbors from eight miles down the road with a chant of “Go home Southold!”
Gavin Dibble and Sean Charters scored 14 points each for Greenport. Matt Dibble had 12.
Southold received 13 points from Clausen and 11 from Winston Wilcenski, who also grabbed 9 rebounds. Matt Stepnoski pulled down 12 rebounds to go with 5 points for the First Settlers.
A 2-for-14 shooting slump from the field, stretching from late in the first quarter to the early third quarter, may have added to Southold’s frustration.
Edwards said he believes opponents have underestimated his team. Clausen, for one, however, said he wasn’t surprised by Greenport’s play.
“We knew what we were getting into,” Clausen said. “We knew that we were playing at Greenport and that the fans would be behind them. Greenport always has a tough team every year. Even though their size might not be there, their heart and character is always there and they always play a hard and physical game.”
How significant was the loss to Southold?
“Everyone has a loss in our league,” Ellis said. “It’s zero significance. It’s a rivalry game that our kids get too hyped up for instead of just going out and playing basketball.”
The win was especially sweet for Matt Dibble, whose mother is a teacher in Southold. Now he has the family bragging rights, at least until the teams meet again in the rematch in Southold on Feb. 13.
“I don’t like Southold, so it was a good win for us,” he said. “They beat us in soccer [and] baseball last year, so they had it coming.”