For the Greenport/Southold girls basketball team, the most abbreviated of seasons could have been about 10 minutes shorter.
The Porters, playing in the Conference IV final at host Port Jefferson, led for the game’s first 22 minutes before appearing to run out of steam.
In the end, the Royals, who played just four games in this Covid-shortened season, did just enough to earn the conference title with a 51-41 comeback win Sunday.
“Quite honestly, I thought we were overachievers [this season],” said coach Skip Gehring. “We went further than I thought we would. With the youth we had, we could have used just a couple more games. I’m proud of the kids, period. They played hard.”
The Porters might have been as much a victim of unconventional scheduling as they were play on the floor Sunday — being forced to play back-to-back in an unusual four-team, one-weekend postseason tournament. It didn’t help they had to play a Shoreham-Wading River team that ran a full-court press defense for four quarters Saturday.
But in the first half Sunday, Greenport/Southold was the more energized team, creating second chances with offensive rebounds, hustling for loose balls and rotating defensively to stop open shots.
The first quarter would end up being the Porters’ most fruitful as the duo of junior Adrine Demirciyan and senior Gianna Santacroce combined for 10 points and the team jumped out to a 13-7 lead.
Demirciyan, who scored 21 points Saturday, would help her team to a four-point halftime lead by scoring nine points and pulling down eight rebounds in the first two quarters. She finished with a team-high 15 points on the afternoon.
The Porters saw their lead disappear with 1:57 left in the third quarter when Port Jefferson’s Abbey Rolfe scored on a post move and converted a free throw to give the Royals a 27-26 lead they never relinquished.
Greenport/Southold missed its first 16 shots from the field in the fourth quarter and the Royals began to pull away.
The Porters’ last ray of light came at the 1:01 mark of the fourth quarter, when sophomore Breanna McFarland knocked down a three-point shot from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 44-39, but Port Jefferson closed out the game by hitting seven of its last 10 free throw attempts. The game was ultimately won at the charity stripe for the Royals, who outscored Greenport/Southold 15 –2 from the line in the second half.
“They are a good, senior-packed team with playoff experience from last year,” Gehring said of Port Jefferson. “They played well.”
For the Porters, the shortened season saw them win five games, sandwiched between a pair of losses to Port Jefferson (4-0). The Royals also dominated on free throws in the Feb. 11 season opener, outscoring the Porters 23-3 from the line, Gehring noted.
Port Jefferson was led in scoring Sunday by Nola Idir, who converted 16 of her game-high 19 points in the second half. Rolfe also finished in double figures with 14 points.
McFarland joined Demirciyan in double figures with 12 points for the Porters. Santacroce, a senior playing in her final game, added nine more points.
Gehring summed up the end of the mini-season as a tough finish for all involved.
“No matter who lost, it would have been disappointing,” he said. “It’s been rough with COVID. But during the course of the season we got better and better.”