Depending on your vantage point, it was either the best of playground basketball or perhaps the worst it can offer.
Greenport’s game against Hampton Bays on Monday night had a little bit of everything, including a team that rallied from an 11-point deficit to take the lead, some nifty moves, over-the-top physical play, three technical fouls, a double ejection for fighting and a team forced to finish with only four players.
“It’s old school. That’s how we used to play in the park. Man that’s good,” Greenport coach Ev Corwin said with a laugh.
“It looked like a July 22 game,” Hampton Bays coach Pete Meehan said.
Despite playing with four players down the stretch, Hampton Bays pulled off a 44-42 victory in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League game at Eastport/South Manor High School.
“The perils of basketball in July,” Meehan said. “We’ve got an eight-man roster. We had two away today. You get an ejection and a foul out and there you are playing a two-two zone. You don’t have a lot in the playbook for a four-man offense.”
But the Baymen (3-4) had enough. Antonio Kull sank a layup with 1 minute 21 seconds remaining for a 41-39 lead. Matt Rinaldi canned three foul shots to hold off the Porters (1-6).
Those last-minute heroics were set up when referees ejected Hampton Bays’ Jeff Paz and Greenport’s Alex Perez with 10:44 left. The Baymen were left with no subs. Things went from bad to worse when Shane Courtenay fouled out with 1:51 remaining and the score at 39-39.
“We have to be more poised,” Meehan said. “We have to handle adversity better. We had three technical fouls and an ejection. Whether it’s July or January, that can’t happen. We put ourselves in a bad spot with our lack of discipline. We were fortunate to win.”
Corwin liked what he had seen.
“I’m proud of the way that we stepped up and didn’t back down from any of that nonsense,” he said of the physical play. “We stuck up for each other. Lord knows they had the size advantage. We were there until the end. We showed a lot of a lot fight today.”
Added Meehan: “Greenport played real, real hard. Their intensity frustrated us a little bit. We made it tough on ourselves.”
After hitting the opening basket, the Porters missed eight shots as Hampton Bays scored the next 11 points. The Baymen took a 15-4 advantage before Greenport rallied behind Darius Strickland (10 first-half points) for a 21-21 halftime tie.
“We come walking in here a minute before the game,” Corwin said. “You know what? Summer league. A lot of guys are getting a lot of minutes for the first time at this level and that’s the best part of this.”
Players such as Byron Rivas, who made two spectacular baskets down the stretch. His drive gave Greenport a 37-33 lead with 7:41 left and his one-hander a 39-39 tie with 2:16 remaining.
“Darius Strickland and Alex Perez, those are the two guys who played varsity last year,” Corwin said. “They both had experience and it showed. A couple of the guys stepped up. Byron Rivas stepped up really well.”
Corwin also praised Brendan Walker and Ryan Costello.
“A few underclassmen have showed me a lot of guts,” he said. “One of my main things this year is to try to bring us together. That’s so important. We’re starting to see it. All these guys who aren’t seniors, who aren’t returning starters, they’re here every game. They’re starting to get some confidence and they’re playing hard. I hate the record, of course, because I hate to lose but some guys are getting some real valuable experience in this league.”