One by one, the Greenport High School boys basketball team players and coaches climbed up the purple ladder in the school gymnasium at the basket on the south end of the court and cut another piece of the net off.
Freshman guard Ahkee Anderson was the first to take home a souvenir from the Porters’ title-clinching 85-47 victory over Pierson Wednesday night. Coupled with Bridgehampton’s stunning 47-42 defeat to Stony Brook, the result meant Greenport had won the Suffolk County League VIII championship outright.
The Porters thought they would have had to defeat the Killer Bees (12-6, 7-2) on the road in the regular-season finale Friday night to secure sole possession of first place, but received some pleasant news at halftime.
After Anderson was done, he was followed by Tashan Lawrence and then Brandon Clark, Sam Strickland, Jordan Fonseca and eventually the rest of the team.
Finally, head coach Ev Corwin walked up the steps and cut down the remaining net as about 100 fans still in the gym cheered mightily.
“It was a reward for all the hard work,” he said later. “It was reward No. 1. We have three goals. We want to win the league title. We want to win the Class C Suffolk County title. Hopefully we do that. And then we want to win the New York State title. One down and two to go and the first one’s sweet. I think they’re going to get sweeter as we go hopefully.”
Corwin then laughed.
“I’m happy that we clinched tonight at home,” he said. “We still want to finish the job. We don’t want to lose another game this year. I’m pretty much telling the guys, everything is single elimination now. We just want to keep on going forward. Right now we’re playing good basketball.”
Indeed, the Porters are.
Junior center Julian Swann led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Anderson contributed 11 points and 10 assists and Lawrence added nine points.
After a slow start in which Pierson (7-10, 4-5) grabbed a 7-0 advantage on Senior Night, Greenport (13-6, 9-0) quickly found its game and composure. The Porters rolled off 11 consecutive points and never looked back. Swann controlled the boards and the inside game with eight points and Anderson tallied nine points as Greenport took a 21-16 lead after the opening quarter.
Lawrence, a senior, helped with six of his nine points in the second half as the Porters lengthened their advantage to 37-22 at the half.
Pierson was hurt greatly by the loss of guard Sean Sloane, who needed to be helped off the court after suffering a leg injury with 5 minutes and 1 second remaining in the opening quarter. Sloane, a playmaking guard, never returned.
Will Martin, who entered the game averaging 25.4 points (third in the county), collected 17 points. Tom Brooks added 13 points, mostly on the strength of three treys, and Spencer Chase finished with 12 points, all from three-point shots.
“That Pierson can shoot the ball,” Corwin said. “When they come here, they shoot the lights out.”
So did the Porters. They sank at least half their shots in each of the four quarters. For the game, they were a sizzling 59.9 percent from the field.
Still, Corwin felt there was room for improvement.
“I was not thrilled about our half-court defense,” he said. “I just looked at the scoreboard and saw we scored 80-something points. It just happens quick because we score so many points off steals and transitions and things like that.
“The guys did a great job. I’m nitpicking because I’m being a coach. These guys are playing great right now.”
Photo caption: Greenport’s Julian Swann snips off a piece of the net after the Porters clinched the League VIII championship. (Credit: Garret Meade)