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Girls Basketball: Patient Porters claim their first county title in 33 years

If the Greenport/Southold girls basketball team has one thing, it’s patience. In spite of a snail’s-pace start to Saturday’s Suffolk County Class B final in which the two teams combined for a less-than-grand total of nine points, the Porters said they were confident the points would come.

The points did come — along with a county championship Greenport had waited 33 years for.

Top-seeded Greenport never trailed in a defensive slugfest against No. 2 Center Moriches that was hardly an advertisement for offensive basketball. The 40-31 victory at Newfield High School’s John P. Westberg Gymnasium brought Greenport what coach Chris Golden believes to be its first outright county title since 1989.

Greenport’s Hayley Skrezec squeezes her way past Center Moriches’ Megan Magill on her way to the basket. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

“It makes it so much more special,” Greenport senior Adrine Demirciyan told reporters in reference to breaking the title drought. “Now we get a banner with a year on the wall, and I can always come back to the school and say, ‘My team did that.’ I mean, to be the first team in like 30 years at Greenport do that as a team means everything. We made our mark on the school, for sure.”

Both teams slugged through shooting difficulties. Center Moriches shot 28.0% (14-for-50) from the field, Greenport 23.7% (14-for-59).

The teams combined for an ice-cold 2-for-25 in the first quarter, making one field goal each. Four free throws by Brienna McFarland accounted for the game’s first four points before Demirciyan scored off an offensive rebound for a 6-0 lead.

It looked as if the score might remain that way through the first quarter, but with 51 seconds left in the period, Megan Magill finally put Center Moriches on the scoreboard, hitting a three-pointer.

After one quarter: Greenport 6, Center Moriches 3.

“We were struggling to score and so were they,” said McFarland, whose team defeated Center Moriches twice during the regular season.

Demirciyan said, “I knew the points would come, one way or another.”

While Greenport’s offense struggled, its defense never allowed Center Moriches to find its shooting touch, either, and the Red Devils turned the ball over 26 times.

By halftime, Greenport (15-3) held an 18-14 lead and Demirciyan was leading all scorers with six points.

Demirciyan, Greenport’s all-time leading scorer, had shooting issues as well. For the game she shot 5-for-17 from the field, 6-for-7 from the foul line and 0-for-4 from three-point territory for 16 points, bumping up her career total to 1,183 points.

The Greenport/Southold players pose with their championship plaque. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

As prolific a scorer as Demirciyan is, she can do so much more, like spring high into the air, head and shoulders above others, to pull down rebounds or block shots. Demirciyan also garnered 15 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks, one of which was an acrobatic piece of work in which she wowed the crowd by also collecting her own block.

“It’s crazy,” Greenport senior Hayley Skrezec said. “I never knew she could rebound like that until practices this year. I’ve never seen someone get above everybody like that. She gets up there.”

Greenport outscored Center Moriches, 7-4, in a low-scoring third quarter in which the teams shot a combined 5-for-27.

Greenport senior Adrine Demirciyan attacks the lane. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

In the fourth quarter, Center Moriches (16-6) twice pulled within five points, but Greenport responded immediately, first with a short shot by Lilly Corwin (8 points) and the second time with a bucket in the paint by Amelia Woods and a drive through the lane by Demirciyan.

Skrezec banked in a deep two-pointer from the left corner and Demirciyan canned two free throws to expand Greenport’s lead to double digits at 37-27 with 37.2 seconds left to play. Demirciyan made 3 of 4 free throws after that to ice it.

“This might be the most stubborn group of girls I’ve ever coached, but their competitiveness and just willingness to put the time in to get here is something that impressed me this year,” said Golden.

Climele Browne led Center Moriches with 14 points and 11 rebounds. No other Red Devil had more than five points.

“We just got it done tonight,” Demirciyan said. “Even if some shots weren’t falling, we still managed to get things together and win a county championship.”

Greenport extended its postseason by at least two more games. The Porters will play League VII champion Port Jefferson (16-2) in the Suffolk Class B-CD game Feb. 26 at Newfield. They then have a Long Island final against the Nassau County champion March 9 at a Suffolk site to be announced.

“I’m honestly speechless,” Skrezec said. “It’s definitely so crazy. I mean, we’ve been working for this for years. I’ve been on the varsity team since 10th grade and we’ve made it to playoffs, and then obviously last year with COVID, everything was different. So we wanted this for years and we’ve worked so hard. It’s crazy to think that’s all paying off.”

Demirciyan said: “It means everything. We’ve worked for this my entire varsity career, and we’re finally here.”