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Boys Basketball: Porters find offense in their defense

Purple reigned.

Well, either way, purple was going to be the color of the night. The question was: Would it be Greenport purple or Port Jefferson purple?

It was Greenport purple, no small thanks to the energetic backcourt duo of Jahmeek Freeman and Ev Corwin. The senior guards combined for 30 points and 13 steals as the Porters prevailed, 44-38, in a Suffolk County League VII boys basketball game in Port Jefferson Monday night.

“It’s a big win, man,” Corwin said: “They’re one of the best teams in our league right now, so it’s always good to come out with a dub.”

Freeman played the entire 32 minutes and Corwin played all but about a minute. “He got his bell rung a little bit and he yelled at me because I took him out,” said his father, the Greenport coach also named Ev Corwin. “He was shooting me the stink eye.”

The truth is, Greenport (3-3, 3-1) needs both of those players on the court.

“They’re two seniors that have played all the way through and we’re putting a lot on those two — defense, offense,” the elder Corwin said. “As you can see, they don’t come out of the game.”

On a poor shooting night for both teams, Greenport shot 28.8% from the field and Port Jefferson (1-2, 1-2) wasn’t much better at 29.3%. The Porters used their pressure defense to squeeze 22 turnovers out of Port Jefferson, seven more than Greenport.

Greenport’s Ev Corwin slips before losing the ball while Port Jefferson’s Conor Daily defends. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

“That’s something we really work on at practice,” the younger Corwin said. “We’re always working on defense and creating points off turnovers. That’s one of the biggest things in the game is getting points off turnovers, on either side. Usually the team with the least turnovers and the most turnover points are going to come out on top.”

And that team was Greenport.

Freeman went a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line and finished with a game-high 20 points. Corwin and Donovan Lawrence added 10 points apiece. The only other Greenport scorer was the 6-foot-5 Jordan Hubbard, who had four points.

That defense brought offense, starting in the second quarter, which saw Greenport cap the first half on a 14-1 run for a 25-12 halftime lead. Freeman registered eight points during the spurt.

“I could see on our faces, they looked sluggish before the game even started and I told them that,” Coach Corwin said. “So I thought maybe we could kind of put a little pressure on them early to maybe stimulate the offense and get them going.”

He further noted that Port Jefferson doesn’t “give up a lot of easy baskets, but on defense sometimes you do get those easy ones. Those are gold, you know?”

Port Jefferson’s last lead was at 7-6 in the first quarter. The Royals, though, cut the margin to three points at 28-25 late in the third quarter after successive three-pointers by Conor Daily, Peter Murphy and Daily.

In the fourth quarter, Port Jefferson pulled within four following a free throw by Luke Dickhuth, two free throws by Mike Scannell and another free throw by John Sheils that made it 36-32 with 3 minutes, 32 seconds remaining.

But a Lawrence layup, a Hubbard basket off a spin move and four free throws by Freeman down the stretch salted away the Greenport victory.

Greenport was aided on the boards by Justus Hubbard’s 11 rebounds, and it outrebounded Port Jefferson, 34-23.

Corwin shot 4-for-11 from the field and didn’t have the sort of big offensive game he is capable of, but the point guard did make a nifty layup off one of his six steals in addition to providing hounding defense. “We get a steal, we like to put a little pizzazz on the layup,” he explained.

Asked about Corwin’s value to the team, Freeman said: “He’s an important part. That’s my backcourt brother. We go way back, man. Without him, I don’t know what I would do. That’s my guy.”

Dickhuth scored nine of Port Jefferson’s first 11 points and finished with 14 to go with seven rebounds, five steals, three blocks and two assists. Daily netted 12 points, all from three-pointers.

“I knew it was gonna be a test for us and we succeeded,” Freeman said, “but we still gotta keep working.”