When the end came, it hit the Greenporters hard.
The scene outside the Greenport locker room Friday was a somber one. While fans patiently waited outside to console the Porters with cheers, members of the high school boys basketball team emerged with tears in their eyes, looking inconsolable and anything but cheery.
That’s because Greenport’s season had just ended, two wins shy of a state championship.
It was going to take a team with considerable talent to oust Greenport, and that team was Lake George. Lake George lived up to its unbeaten record, beating Greenport, 73-58, in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C semifinal in the cold Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in snowy Binghamton.
Greenport, appearing in its fourth state final four and first since 2009, was seeking its first state title. With an anxious eastern Long Island village some 300 miles away waiting to hear the result, and a section of purple-clad Greenport fans rooting from behind the team bench, the Porters met their match.
“We thought we could get through this team and they just outshot us, outplayed us,” Greenport forward Tyrus Smiley said. “They are a really tough team.”
Lake George (27-0) came out and played like a team befitting its undefeated record, grabbing rebounds, making steals and making baskets. The Warriors have length and they didn’t give Greenport (23-4) many second chances at the basket.
“I give most of the credit to the Lake George team,” Greenport coach Ev Corwin said. “They were just really the coolest cucumbers out there.”
Among them was Chris Becker, a 6-7 junior center who proved to be a handful, compiling 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
“To be honest with you, he’s a lot better than I saw on tape,” Corwin told reporters afterward. “Do you guys have the stats? I don’t even know if he missed a shot inside. He was really solid. He used his size well.”
As if Becker wasn’t enough, 6-5 forward Mason Flatley provided the Warriors 20 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three assists. Alex Jones added 14 points and Caleb Scrime had 13 points and five assists.
Lake George shot out to a 20-8 lead with nine points from Jones (all on three-pointers) and seven from Flatley.
“It was a shocker to us, but it made us push even harder,” said Greenport guard Jordan Fonseca.
Greenport was out of sorts, missing 19 layups. Of course, Lake George had a lot to do with that.
“We just didn’t play our game tonight,” said Smiley.
One play that epitomized the first half for Greenport was a transition in which Anderson was well ahead of anyone and looking at an easy layup, but the pass to him was off the mark and flew out of bounds. In a rare display of on-court emotion for the sophomore, he punched the padding around the post.
With 13 points from Flatley and 10 from Becker, Lake George held a 38-25 halftime lead on 16-for-34 shooting from the field. The Warriors had 22 points in the paint to 12 for Greenport.
The Porters wore concerned looks when Lake George opened the third quarter on successive layups by Becker, Mike Johnson and Scrime, prompting Corwin to call a timeout.
Greenport followed that up with a mini-revival, netting eight of the next nine points through an Anderson layup, a Myles Murray floater, a Jude Swann layup and an alley-oop Smiley converted off an Anderson pass.
But, like a desert mirage, it was false hope. Greenport pulled to within 10 points twice in the fourth quarter but no closer.
“They just hit shots early in that game,” Corwin said. “It’s that simple. They had a few guys there that were just locked in early. We gave them an inch, and they hit the shot.”
Greenport shot 32.9 percent from the field to Lake George’s 43.4 percent.
Anderson, the sophomore whose 19 points give him 993 over two seasons, said, “I feel we kind of beat ourselves more than anything.”
Jaxan Swann brought Greenport 17 points and six assists. His brother Jude, who received a sportsmanship award after, had eight points and 14 rebounds.
Lake George will face Northstar Christian Academy (25-1) for the state title Saturday night. Northstar had defeated Tully, 58-45, in the first semifinal Friday.
Someone suggested to Corwin that, regardless of the result, it was a good learning experience for his team.
“It is,” he agreed, “but these learning experiences are tough.”
Photo caption: Jordan Fonseca, far right, and Jude Swann cross paths following Greenport’s loss to Lake George in Saturday’s state semifinals. (Credit: Jeff Miller)