What’s all the buzz about?
The Killer Bees were in town. That would be the Bridgehampton Killer Bees, Greenport’s ancient high school boys basketball rivals.
“It’s a fun game,” Greenport senior guard Jaxan Swann said. “You know everybody on the team, so it’s like [good] competition all around.”
The game naturally draws a good deal of local interest. Fans from both sides packed Greenport High School’s Richard “Dude” Manwaring Gymnasium Friday night when the teams faced each other in wildly fast-paced affair. No shot clocks were necessary as the Porters raced to an 81-60 Suffolk County League VII victory, extending their winning streak to eight games.
“We’re starting to look good,” Greenport’s All-State junior guard, Ahkee Anderson, said. “We’re on a streak right now. We want to keep it going.”
Asked about the hectic pace in which the game was played, Anderson said: “That’s our game. That’s how we like to play, up and down the court.”
Who can argue with success?
Incredibly, Anderson and Swann both fell one assist short of triple-doubles. Anderson, a point machine who can seemingly score at will, poured in 28 points to go with 10 rebounds and nine assists. Meanwhile, Swann had a tremendous game as well, contributing 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His brother, 6-4 center Jude Swann, was a terror on the boards, compiling 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Bridgehampton had some big performers in its own right. J.P. Harding put up 22 points and 12 rebounds. Naejon Ward had 18 points and Elijah White came within one rebound of a triple-double, providing 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Greenport (9-1, 4-0) led since the first quarter, but had to battle for much of the first half. The Porters closed out the half on an 11-3 burst — seven of those points coming from Anderson — for a 33-25 separation by halftime.
Bridgehampton (5-5, 2-1) managed to even terms at 37-37 as a bucket by Jonathan DeGroot was followed by long two-pointers by Ward and DeGroot.
But the threat ended there. Anderson supplied eight points during a 10-2 run with a pair of putbacks, a jump shot and a pull-up jumper in the lane, making it 47-39.
Not long after that, Greenport struck for 11 consecutive points, seven of those coming from Jaxan Swann, who benefitted from a friendly bounce on the rim for a basket at the buzzer ending the third quarter.
Greenport shot 12-for-17 from the field in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
The Porters’ sole loss was to St. Anthony’s in its second game. But they have been impressive, beating tough opponents like Central Islip, Westbury and Riverhead. The win over Riverhead came in the final of the Eastern Long Island Approved Basketball Officials Tournament during the recent holiday break. Jaxan Swann was named the tournament MVP.
And the Porters have been without one of their talented first-string players, senior forward Tyrus Smiley, who has been attending games as a spectator since he was shot last month in an incident that led to the arrests of two men.
“A lot of guys stepped up,” Anderson said. “He was a big part of our team.”
That would include players like Joshua Santacroce and Zach Riggins, who were also in the starting lineup Friday.
The Porters seem to like the juice that comes with a game against Bridgehampton. They will get a chance to experience that at least one more time this season when they head to the Bee Hive to play the Killer Bees on Jan. 28.
“They’re great competition,” Anderson said. “I love playing against them.”
Photo caption: Greenport coach Ev Corwin and his Porters are on an eight-game win streak. (Credit: Bob Liepa)