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Southold basketball coach Phil Reed dies at age 59


Longtime Southold boys basketball coach Phil Reed, whose influence impacted students at schools across the North Fork, died Tuesday night, school officials confirmed. He was 59. 

“People here are devastated,” said Superintendent David Gamberg. “Coach Reed made an incredible impact on virtually everyone that he came in contact with — the students that he coached, the staff here in the district, the administration. It’s really incredible.”

Reed coached the First Settlers to a 68-63 victory Monday night over defending Class D state champion Bridgehampton, the biggest win for the team this season. It was a dramatic turnaround from the team’s earlier meeting, when Bridgehampton won 91-49.

Reed was in his fourth season as the boys varsity head coach. He spent seven prior seasons as the junior varsity coach.

His resumé spanned beyond just Southold. He was set to coach the combined Southold/Greenport varsity softball team in the spring. He had been the JV softball coach. Reed had also previously been an assistant coach on the Bishop McGann-Mercy varsity football team and he had coached the JV football team there.

“He was so good at making the kids feel good and keeping everybody together,” said Joe Read, who coached football at Mercy with Reed. “We always used to say you only learn character when you’re not winning. He had a strong character.”

Read also coached Southold’s girls varsity basketball team. Sometimes to ignite a spark in the team, the coaches would switch positions and give halftime talks to the other team, Read said.

“He just had a way of simplifying a game,” he said. “Sometimes you’re killing yourself with X’s and O’s and it’s as simple as get [the ball] to the post. I think his real joy was connecting with the kids and he did that spectacularly.”

Mr. Gamberg said staff members and counselors in both Southold and Greenport met privately this morning with students who were coached by or knew Reed.

Counselors would remain available to students throughout the day.

“Now we’ll just be there for the kids,” Gamberg said.

Reed, whose address is listed as Central Islip, was not an employee in the Southold district in addition to his coaching duties, but his impact was certainly felt throughout.

The First Settlers have three games remaining on their schedule. They’re scheduled to play at Port Jefferson Feb. 2. The final home game of the season is Feb. 5 against Shelter Island, followed by a game at Greenport Feb. 8.

Gamberg said the district is still sorting out what will happen to the team over the remainder of the season.

“It’s a shock to a lot of folks,” Gamberg said.

Reed was only the third varsity head coach of the Southold boys basketball team in more than three decades, following the footsteps of Jeff Ellis and Gene Maiorana.

Suffolk County Police confirmed responding to an emergency medical call on the Long Island Expressway near the 112 overpass in Medford. Police declined to confirm additional details because the case is not criminal in nature.

Photo Caption: Southold boys basketball coach Phil Reed on the sidelines of a game. (Credit: Garret Meade)

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