PORTERS 74, FIRST SETTLERS 37
Greenport fans were standing, clapping and cheering. It was like the good old days for the Porters. A little Ryan Creighton magic had returned to Greenport High School.
On an historic night for Greenport boys basketball, Creighton returned to his former school as the guest of honor for a pregame ceremony Wednesday evening in which his old uniform number, 34, was retired by Greenport. Creighton, who played for the Porters from 2005 to 2009, becoming Long Island’s all-time leading scorer and New York State’s second-leading scorer with 2,799 career points, is the last Greenport player to wear that number.
In presenting the framed purple and gold No. 34 jersey to him, Greenport’s school superintendent, Michael Comanda, said to Creighton, “Ryan, on behalf of the Greenport public school system and the Greenport community, I’m proud to officially retire your number 34. Congratulations.”
Creighton, snappily dressed in a gray suit, made brief remarks to the crowd, thanking family and friends. He held the framed jersey aloft for fans to see. Later, he said he felt emotions tugging at him during the ceremony. “I almost shed a tear,” he said in an interview.
Asked what the ceremony was like for him, Creighton flashed his trademark smile and replied: “It was great. It was awesome. Words can’t even explain it.”
Creighton’s No. 34 is only the second number that Greenport has retired. It joins the No. 33 that Al Edwards wore for Greenport before going on to coach the Porters for the past 33 years. Edwards is Greenport’s second-leading all-time scorer with the 2,117 points he registered prior to his high school graduation in 1972. Edwards’ No. 33 was retired in 1992, on the same day that Greenport’s gym was named Richard “Dude” Manwaring Gymnasium.
Greenport’s athletic director, Robbie Costantini, said the No. 34 jersey will be hung up next to the No. 33 on a wall in the gym.
“That’s a great honor for him,” said Edwards.
Noting the large turnout for the event, Edwards said fans appreciate what Creighton did for the school. A four-time all-state player, Creighton led the Porters to three straight trips to Glens Falls for the state final four as well as their first state championship game his senior season. He remains a beloved figure in Greenport, not only for his heroics on the basketball court, but also for his humble character.
Ron McEvoy, the former Greenport public-address announcer who acted as the master of ceremonies, said that while in Glens Falls during Creighton’s playing days, “all the coaches, players, basketball fanatics would all talk about Ryan Creighton, and the only thing you heard were good things — competitive, classy. You can break any record you want, but if you do it with class, that’s what’s important to us here at Greenport.”
The presence of Creighton, who now lives in Raleigh, N.C., was apparently inspirational to the Porters. They went on to rout Southold, 74-37, for their fifth win in six games.
Creighton said he told the Porters before the game, “You can’t lose tonight.”
And they didn’t.
Billy Doucett scored 20 points, Austin Hooks netted 18 and Gavin Dibble had 17 for Greenport (9-5, 7-3 Suffolk County League VIII). Doucett fell one rebound shy of a double-double and Dibble came within an assist of a double-double.
Southold (4-11, 3-8), which was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, received 14 points apiece from Alex Poliwoda and Liam Walker.
Greenport took charge early, shooting out to a 14-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and making it 35-10 by halftime. The Porters stretched their lead to as many as 41 points twice in the second half.
The big difference in the game was field-goal shooting. Greenport shot 50.9 percent while Southold struggled at 29.4 percent.
“We didn’t want to disappoint him,” Doucett said of Creighton. “We didn’t want him to come all the way back here for nothing. We wanted him to enjoy the show.”
Hooks said the pregame ceremony was “pretty inspirational. I sure look up to Ryan. He was an icon when he was in high school. It’s just great the numbers that he put up. He worked with his team. He passed the ball. He scored. He rebounded. He did all of it.”
Creighton, who left Franklin Pierce University (N.H.) during his freshman season, said he is considering going back to school to study sports management and possibly go into coaching. Perhaps one day he will get to coach in the same gym that exhibits his old uniform number.
“It was an emotional time at my stage in my coaching career to … witness another number going up on the wall after all these years,” Edwards said. “Now he can come back and see his jersey on the wall. He’ll look at it every time he walks in here.”