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Boys Basketball: Settlers hang tough, advance to league final

This was all about toughness, and the Southold First Settlers proved that they were tough enough. 

Perhaps it started with Noah Mina wrestling for the basketball with a Center Moriches player on the floor in the first half. The play led to a jump ball and wasn’t particularly significant, other than showing that the First Settlers weren’t going to be pushovers against the favored Red Devils.

The First Settlers kept up that toughness, battled through 44 minutes of regulation time and then two more minutes of overtime to pull off an upset in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools semifinal Tuesday night at Eastport/South Manor High School. Dylan Van Gorden and Pat McFarland both sank huge 3-point shots off assists from each other late in the game for an electrifying 40-39 victory. McFarland’s 3-pointer — Southold’s only field-goal attempt in overtime — brought the First Settlers their only lead of the game and was good enough to advance them to the final against Mount Sinai on Thursday night.

Mount Sinai had defeated Greenport, 36-27, in the other semifinal earlier in the evening on the same court.

During the regular season, Center Moriches (7-3) had romped over the First Settlers (6-4) by 21 points on July 23.

This time, though, the First Settlers seemed determined not to go down without a fight. They battled each possession, literally matched the more athletic Center Moriches team rebound for rebound, and despite trailing for almost the entire game, managed to stay within striking distance. The First Settlers never allowed themselves to fall behind by more than 7 points in the first half and 5 points in the second half.

They inched closer and closer to Center Moriches as the second half drew near the end. After Van Gorden canned his trey with a little over a minute left in the second half, Center Moriches played for one last shot. Kevin Smith (11 points), standing just over the half-court line with no one around him, dribbled down the game clock to 10 seconds before the Red Devils called a timeout. A 3-point attempt by Sean Braithwaite ricochetted off the rim and Mina collected the rebound to secure the triumph.

McFarland had an exceptional game, playing every second and collecting 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Mina added 9 points. Gus Klavas, Dominick Panetta and Adam Baldwin were all cited by coach Phil Reed for their work under the boards.

The Red Devils showed a fondness for the 3-pointer, but the 3-pointer wasn’t kind to them. They shot 3 of 18 from beyond the arc and 32.6 percent overall.

MOUNT SINAI 36, GREENPORT 27 Greenport, which aside from the game’s opening minutes never led, twice pulled to within 3 points of Mount Sinai in the second half, but no closer than that in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League small schools semifinal at Eastport/South Manor High School on Tuesday night.

A 3-pointer by Jordan Fonseca and a layup by Darrius Strickland had trimmed Mount Sinai’s leads at 26-23 and 30-27. But Mount Sinai (9-1) finished strong with a double-clutch layup by Nolan Kelly, a pair of free throws by Vinny Margulies and two more free throws by Kelly. Kelly and Margulies both scored 13 points apiece.

In a statistical anomaly, Mount Sinai was outrebounded, 27-10, but the Mustangs shot better from the field (40 percent to 31.3 percent) and were plus-10 in the turnovers comparison.

The Porters (6-4) received 9 points each from Fonseca and Julian Swan, who also grabbed 10 rebounds.

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