PORTERS 66, FIRST SETTLERS 31
Sometimes the shots just about always seem to go in for a basketball team, and sometimes no matter what a team does, the ball refuses to go into the basket. When two opposing teams experience those contrasting fortunes in the same game, the result is predictable: a blowout.
Greenport shot consistently well and flew out to a 36-9 lead in its Suffolk County League VIII game against Southold on Friday night before winning by 35 points.
“I knew if we came in here focused, we could put them into the ground,” Greenport guard Gavin Dibble said after his team’s 66-31 romp at Southold High School.
Greenport (5-3, 3-1) knocked down five of its first seven shots, and the Porters were off and running. The score was 11-0 before Southold (2-7, 1-3) got on the scoreboard, courtesy of a Liam Walker layup 4 minutes 21 seconds into the game. The First Settlers didn’t reach double figures until Walker hit a foul-line jumper 35 seconds into the third quarter.
“We started off the game real sharp,” Gavin Dibble said. “We’re hitting outside shots. We played good defense, and we kept them off the boards. That was a big thing.”
For the game, Greenport connected on 57.8 percent (26 of 45) of its field-goal attempts. Southold shot 37.5 percent (12 of 32) from the field.
“That’s been our thing,” Southold coach Phil Reed said. “We just haven’t been able to put the ball in the basket.”
Gavin Dibble turned in a complete game. In addition to his game-high 17 points, he generated 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. He also nailed down three of his team’s seven 3-point shots. Timmy Stevens supplied 12 points. Matt Dibble, Gavin’s brother, had 11 points in his second game since returning from a knee operation.
The presence of both Dibbles on the court gives opponents a lot to handle.
“He’s getting back into the flow a little bit,” Gavin Dibble said of his brother. “It lets me play off the ball a little bit. It definitely helps having someone else that can bring up the ball, and he brings energy on defense. He makes some acrobatic plays and stuff. It’s good to have him out there.”
Walker scored 10 points for Southold, which suffered its third straight loss.
Unlike the more seasoned Porters, Southold has a young team that is short on experience. The First Settlers’ starting lineup included three sophomores — Shane Johnson, Alex Poliwoda and Walker.
Southold soon found itself outmatched by arguably the best offense in the league. The differences between the teams were striking. Southold’s cold shooting carried over to free throws, with the First Settlers going 3 of 11 from the foul line.
Rebounding was another issue for Southold. The First Settlers managed only 4 offensive rebounds, and were outrebounded altogether by 32-16.
“We don’t box out enough,” Southold’s glum-looking guard, Kenji Fujita, said afterward. “Turnovers, it gets out of hand. We just got to cut down on them.”
Yet, even a game like this brings some value for Greenport. Greenport coach Al Edwards said his team’s focus was on pressure defense, not allowing free looks on 3-pointers, boxing out and grabbing offensive rebounds.
“We still have some things that we need to work on,” he said. “We’re kind of slacking on offensive rebounds and putbacks.”
Meanwhile, defense was another disappointment for Southold. Reed wasn’t happy with his team’s play on that end of the court, either.
“I just think you need to take a little more pride in playing defense because think about this: This was a tough loss, a very, very tough loss,” he said. “They scored 31 points in a whole game. That’s not going to get it done.”
As for its shooting woes, there isn’t much more that Southold can do other than continue to plug away.
“It just seems like teams come in our gym and shoot, and we do the opposite,” Reed said. “That’s the way that the ball bounces. Shooting is contagious. You got to shoot to stay in games. I’m not going to tell David [O’Day] not to shoot. I’m not going to tell Kenji not to shoot. I’m not going to tell any of our players not to shoot because eventually it will start dropping.”