Girls Basketball: Porters off to county finals after defeating Tuckers
GREENPORT/SOUTHOLD 47 | MATTITUCK 41
With Mattituck breathing down her team’s neck, junior guard Lily Corwin knew that there was one player who Greenport/Southold could rely on in crunch time: Brienna McFarland.
“She always comes through at the end,” Corwin said. “She’s always there when we need her. That’s the best thing about having her on our team. You can always count on her.”
McFarland indeed put her team on her back, scoring 12 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Porters to a 47-41 victory over host Mattituck in the Suffolk County Class B girls basketball semifinals Tuesday evening.
“I knew it was time for me to take over,” McFarland said. “I had playoff experience and some of the girls on my team didn’t. I was like, let me just take over the game and get us this one.”
That effort gave the defending county champions a chance to make it two in a row. The third-seeded Porters (9-8) will meet top-seeded Center Moriches in the final at Centereach High School Feb. 21 at noon.
“I’m happy we survived and came out on top,” Greenport head coach Ev Corwin said. “They’re a very difficult team to play. They’re relentless.”
You could have said the same thing about the Porters, based on the way they shot from long range early on. During an amazing 2:50 span to start the second quarter, Greenport sank five consecutive treys to turn a 10-8 edge into a comfortable 25-8 lead. McFarland hit the first shot and Corwin (11 points) and Francesca Santacroce (9 points) converted two apiece.
“The second we hit the floor, there was a good energy,” Lily Corwin said. “Everyone was very confident. Everything we practiced just came out onto the court today.”
But that early 17-point margin proved to be the Porters’ largest lead.
Greenport went ice cold from three-point range, missing their next nine attempts. The Tuckers (12-7), buoyed by Sofia Knudsen (10 points), Abby Woods (9 points) and freshman Claire MacKenzie (8 points), whittled the lead to 38-35 with 5:07 remaining in the game.
“When they started coming back, I said, ‘Well, girls, now it’s time to really dig in because here they are,’ ” Coach Corwin said. “We dug in just enough.”
That message was heard loud and clear by McFarland. She took center stage, burying a trey with 4:43 left, giving the visitors some breathing room at 41-35. The 5-foot-6 senior guard also scored off a drive, then again from 12 feet, and sank 5 of 6 free throws.
McFarland knew she scored key points in the final period, but didn’t realize it was a dozen.
“Oh, wow,” she said when told of her feat. “It means everything. We hit a low point, but we brought ourselves back. I’m just very happy for everyone.”
Coach Corwin acknowledged that he keyed his game plan around McFarland.
“It’s nice when we get the other girls to score and to take some pressure off of her, but when it is crunch time, I’m setting the screens, picks to get her a look,” he said. “She came through again.”
The Porters will enter the final with confidence, but also respectful of their foes. Greenport and Center Moriches (15-5), the League V champs, split their games during the regular season. The Porters dropped the first encounter, 43-40, on Dec. 22, but bounced back with a 51-45 win on Feb. 3.
“Center is a very, very good team,” Lily Corwin said. “So it should be interesting, but I feel good.”
So does McFarland.
“I’m pretty confident,” she said. “We’re at a high right now. We’re shooting great. We’re doing everything right.”
Coach Corwin expected a close game.
“They’ve got a lot of talented players, a lot of talented seniors,” he said. “So we have our work cut out for us. We’ll try to put something together and see what happens. But I’m happy to be able to be in the game.”
Thanks to McFarland’s quarter to remember.