FIRST SETTLERS 53, PORTERS 38
That’s what his players called him. It was at once a sign of respect for the iconic Al Edwards and recognition of his personable nature.
Edwards achieved a lot in his 34 years as the Greenport High School boys basketball coach. During his time in charge of the Porters, they won 383 games, 12 league championships and 10 Suffolk County titles. They reached the New York State final four three times, playing in the state Class D final in 2009.
Before he entered the coaching profession, Edwards made quite a name for himself as a player, a natural scorer who collected 2,117 points when he played for the Porters. As a New York Daily News All-American, he went on to play for East Carolina.
Edwards, whose retired No. 33 jersey hangs in Greenport’s Richard “Dude” Manwaring Gymnasium, was among those in the first class inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame. He became the face of Greenport boys basketball.
Tuesday night Greenport said thank you to Edwards, who retired in 2013. It was Al Edwards Night, and the popular figure was once again on the court, this time to receive accolades and a plaque in a pregame ceremony. Edwards, wearing a yellow shirt with a purple tie and black pants, was joined at midcourt by the current Porters coach, Ev Corwin, and assistant coach Rodney Shelby. They presented Edwards with a plaque in recognition of his service to the program. And then fans rose to their feet and gave Edwards a standing ovation.
The plaque read: “Al Edwards; Player; Coach; Mentor & Friend; Thank you for a lifetime of service to the Greenport Community.”
Edwards then took a seat in the bleachers and watched as the Porters were beaten by Southold, 53-38.
The First Settlers (7-2, 5-0 League VIII) spoiled Greenport’s purple-out by winning their third straight game and for the seventh time in eight games.
Southold never trailed as back-to-back 3-pointers by Greg Gehring spotted the First Settlers a 14-4 lead. That lead later stretched to 26-8 with a 12-0 run.
Greenport (2-8, 1-4) managed to trim its deficit to 9 points by halftime, but Southold pulled away from there, and the Porters suffered their seventh loss in a row.
Liam Walker, who became only the second Southold boy to score 1,000 career points the day before, raised that tally to 1,012 points with a 12-point effort. The active senior guard was a flurry of activity, and even lost his right sneaker while dribbling during one memorable sequence in the fourth quarter.
Gehring also had 12 points and Shayne Johnson scored 10. Pat McFarland was impressive as well, grabbing a team-leading 9 rebounds to go with his 8 points.
Tyshe Williams had a double-double for Greenport with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Darius Bolling added 8 points.
As one might expect of a contest between rival schools located only four miles from each other, the game had intensity, and technical fouls — four of them.
Greenport’s John Drinkwater and Southold’s Matt McCarthy both picked up their fourth personal fouls with technicals in the second quarter. Drinkwater was later assessed his fifth and fouled out with 4 minutes 50 seconds left to play.
Rare double technicals were whistled at 4:41 of the third quarter; Southold’s Alex Poliwoda and Greenport’s Alex Perez were the culprits.