Boys Basketball: Anderson drops 50; Porters champs

The odds were stacked high against Southold. Real high.

Given what the First Settlers were up against, it was hard to imagine a scenario in which Southold would upset Greenport in Wednesday night’s Suffolk County Class C boys basketball final. Just look at what Southold was up against:

League VII champion Greenport, ranked second in the state in Class C by the New York State Sportswriters Association, had won 18 straight games. The Porters, defending Southeast Region champions, have won 22 consecutive league games dating back to last season and are 36-1 in league play over the last three seasons.

Oh, and Southold was up against something else: Ahkee Anderson’s considerable talent.

The 5-10 junior guard put up a career-high 50 points for Greenport and almost single-handedly outscored Southold as the Porters rolled, 82-52, at Center Moriches High School.

“I only do that in [NBA] 2K,” Anderson, who entered the game averaging 21.5 points, joked with reporters afterward. “In a game, that seems crazy.”

And it was. Anderson had 20 points through the first quarter, 12 in the second, eight in the third and 10 in the fourth before exiting with 3 minutes, 43 seconds remaining. His 49th and 50th points came on a layup after he made a steal.

“He was unconscious today,” Greenport coach Ev Corwin said. “I don’t even think he hit the rim in the first half. He was locked in.”

Greenport guard Jaxan Swann (12 points, nine assists) said Anderson “does the same thing every game … He works hard every game.”

Greenport (20-1) trailed 10-6 before turning the game on a 19-0 run. Anderson was responsible for 14 straight points himself during that burst. He had 24 of Greenport’s first 31 points and five of his team’s eight three-pointers.

“Once I hit a few, I knew what I was doing,” Anderson said. He said when he shoots like that “the net just feels big. You feel everything is going to go in.”

Anderson, who also managed nine rebounds and three assists, made a layup while an intentional foul was assessed to Southold’s Max Kruszeski. Anderson then hit the resulting free throws for a rare four-point play. Then he closed the first quarter with a fall-away jumper and also beat the buzzer ending the second quarter with a finger-roll layup.

Jude Swann brought Greenport 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Southold (11-8) was led by Nick Grathwohl’s 24 points. Steven Russell added nine.

It’s Greenport’s second county championship since 2010 and 12th overall. Greenport beat its Southold neighbor twice in league play, by 33 points on Dec. 21 and by 34 on Jan. 24.

How big would a Southold win have been?

“I would say it would be historic,” Southold coach Lucas Grigonis said before the game. “We know how good Greenport is and we respect the caliber of their program. That said, we’re in a county final for the first time since [2010] and we have to seize the moment.”

The Porters are good, though. What makes them so good?

“Their balance,” Grigonis said. “They play as a team. They have depth and they have a system, which if run right, can give anyone grief.”

From the Greenport point of view, what’s not to like?

“Mentally, I love where we’re at,” Corwin said before the game. “Everybody’s on the same page.”

The countdown to the state final four has begun for Greenport. The Porters, state semifinalists last year, are three wins away from what they hope will be their first state championship. The final four will be played March 15-17 at Floyd L. Maines Arena in Binghamton.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Corwin said of the team’s state-title-or-bust approach. “That’s it. There are no moral victories. Getting there is not enough now.”

Wednesday’s game was for much more than just the North Fork championship. Much was at stake in the elimination game, and that trumped a local rivalry and everything else.

“I try to stress to these kids, there’s no name on the uniform,” Corwin said. “We have to beat them. We’re on a mission and we have to beat them next. This is the game. You got to win this one.”

Greenport will play Bridgehampton in the Suffolk Class CD game Saturday at William Floyd High School. More importantly, the Porters earned a place in a regional final March 9 at Centereach High School.

Regardless of what the future holds for Anderson and the Porters, this was a game he will cherish.

“Yeah, this one is special,” Anderson said. “That’s good. I can always mess with Julian [Jude Swann] and [assistant coach] Ryan” Creighton.

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Photo caption: Ahkee Anderson, who scored a career-high 50 points for Greenport, making a finger-roll layup before the buzzer ending the first half. Southold’s Eric Connelly (21) and Steven Russell defended on the play. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)