When the news began to spread early Wednesday throughout the high schools in Southold and Greenport of First Settlers’ boys varsity basketball coach Phil Reed’s passing, the members of the girls basketball team had little time to decompress before a game awaited.
Later that afternoon, the girls boarded a bus for the 75-minute trip to Wyandanch High School where they were to play a League VIII game against the Warriors.
“It was a rough week emotionally,” said Southold/Greenport coach Chris Golden. “We had to play Wednesday. That was hard. It was hard emotionally, but this a very resilient, mature group. They handled their business very well.”
The players collectively agreed to push forward.
“They wanted to play for coach Reed,” Golden said. “That was what they said they wanted to do. And we did it, but it was hard.”
The Clippers played a spirited game throughout, nearly winning on a late 3-pointer by junior guard Madison Tabor. Golden said Tabor’s shot put the Clippers ahead by one with in the game’s final seconds. The Warriors ended up inbounding the ball with three-tenths of a second left. A Southold player managed to tip the inbounds, and the ball ended up in the hands of eighth-grader Robyn Kelly, who caught it, put up a shot and sank it for the game-winner.
“It was like the ’72 Olympics with the Russians,” said Golden, who felt the basket should not have counted. “We thought the game was over and the referees said no, the game’s not over.”
It made for an even longer ride back home to Southold.
On Saturday, the Clippers returned to action in the final home game of the regular season, a game that featured far less dramatics than earlier in the week. Pierson/Bridgehampton (11-5, 7-2) led from start to finish in a 48-36 victory.
A moment of silence was held before the game in Reed’s memory. Reed also coached softball in the district and was to be the varsity coach this spring.
Tabor led the Clippers with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. She nearly hit another 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, but her final basket was ruled to have been just inside the arc for two points.
The Clippers (2-13, 2-11) trailed by as many as 19 early in the fourth quarter but fought back to get within single digits at 45-36 with a under a minute to go. It was as close as they would get in the fourth quarter.
As has been the case throughout the season, the biggest challenge for the Clippers was finishing shots.
“Today we had a lot of good looks,” Golden said. “The next part of that process is making those good looks. Overall it’s a work in process.”
The Clippers hit just 1-13 from the field in the first quarter and 3-15 in the second. It added up to a 24-13 Pierson advantage.
Tabor’s shooting ability comes as no surprise to opposing teams any more. She’s faced heavy pressure throughout the year, including some teams using a box-and-one to keep the ball out of her hands, Golden said.
He said Tabor earned all her points on Saturday.
“She worked hard for those 19 points,” he said. “That was great.”
The Clippers got 6 points from Kathleen Tuthill and 4 from Toni Esposito. Nia Dawson led Pierson with 12 points.
Two games remain on the schedule for Southold: at Southampton Monday and at The Stony Brook School Feb. 4.
Photo Caption: Southold’s Kathleen Tuthill vies for the ball against Katie Kneeland of Pierson. (Credit: Garret Meade)