The colors are striking: Bridgehampton’s black and yellow against Greenport’s purple and gold. The Killer Bees and the Porters.
For years the boys basketball teams of the two high schools have been linked in an historic rivalry. Sometimes Bridgehampton has the stronger team; sometimes Greenport has the advantage.
In comparing the two teams, there is one glaring difference.
“We want what they have a lot of,” Greenport coach Ev Corwin said.
That would be state championships. Bridgehampton has nine of them, the last coming in 2015.
“There’s a lot of mutual respect,” Corwin said. “Again, their history of success is unparalleled over the years.”
Greenport has never won a state title, but the Porters hope to change that this year with their strong team.
“We’re coming from a long lineage of strong teams for both Greenport and Bridgehampton,” said Bridgehampton coach Ron White.
White knows about those Bridgehampton state championships. He played for three state champion Bridgehampton teams from 1996-98 before a two-point loss to Greenport ended his senior season.
The similarity the teams share is they both come from small schools on the eastern end of Long Island — Greenport in the North Fork and Bridgehampton in the South Fork.
“We’re always known as the Davids going against the Goliaths,” White said. “We’ve had to go through each other to get to the states … You don’t get a lot of respect coming out of the East End these days.”
This season the evidence suggests Greenport has the stronger team. The League VII champion Porters beat Bridgehampton twice during the regular season, 81-60 and 110-80.
On Saturday afternoon it was Bridgehampton and Greenport in the Suffolk County Class CD game. Surprise, surprise.
“It’s inevitable,” said Corwin.
What was surprising, however, was the final score. Bridgehampton upset Greenport, 87-85, in a thriller that came down to the wire at William Floyd High School’s John Pidgeon Gymnasium.
Greenport’s Jaxan Swann knocked down a three-point shot to tie the score at 85-85 with 17.4 seconds left. But Bridgehampton’s Nae’jon Ward had an answer for that, dropping in a game-winning runner with 1.3 seconds to go.
After a Greenport timeout, Swann inbounded the ball from his own endline to Ahkee Anderson, who heaved a last-ditch attempt from just inside the mid-court line wide right.
Bridgehampton (13-8) snapped Greenport’s 19-game win streak and will play Center Moriches or Mattituck in the Suffolk Class BCD game Tuesday at William Floyd. The Porters (20-2) have a regional final March 9 at Centereach High School to look forward to.
After scoring 50 points against Southold in the Suffolk Class C final, what does Anderson do for an encore?
Answer: He puts up 40 points against Bridgehampton.
“I just go out there and play,” Anderson told reporters. “Whatever happens happens.”
Jaxan Swann added 13 points and nine rebounds while his brother, Jude Swann, collected 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks before fouling out with 23.3 seconds left.
But the Killer Bees were boosted by 31 points from Ward and 28 from Elijah White. J.P. Harding added 16 rebounds and 13 rebounds.
“They came out and played harder than us,” Anderson said. “That’s what it came down to.”
Bridgehampton had Greenport chasing for much of the game. An Elijah White three-pointer in the second quarter put Bridgehampton ahead, 26-24. That was part of a 10-0 Bridgehampton spurt. The Killer Bees remained in front, stretching their lead to as many as 14 points when a White three made it 68-54 early in the fourth.
But Greenport fought its way back, thanks to 16 fourth-quarter points by Anderson.
“He’s percolating right now,” Corwin said. “He tried to put us on his back.”
Now Greenport will win three games and claim its first state title or its next loss will be its last for 2018-19.
Anderson said, “It’s win or go home now.”
Notes. Greenport came out for pregame warmups wearing green “TEAM DYLAN #5” T-shirts in support of Dylan Newman, a Southold cancer patient who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment this week, said Corwin.