Trip to Coliseum is a ‘dream come true’ for Porters despite loss

It will go down in the books as a loss.

But more important, the game likely will go down in the memories of the Greenport/Southold girls basketball team, a highlight of its season.

The Porters boys and girls teams had the opportunity of performing at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday. Although they walked out of the Uniondale arena with a 50-25 loss to Carle Place, the team soaked in the occasion.

“It was a dream come true,” said junior guard Francesca Santacroce, who led the Porters with 16 points. “This is something I dreamt of doing. It’s so surreal for me. I feel like I’m not here right now. It’s like a dream.”

Santacroce wasn’t alone.

“It was a really good opportunity and experience to play in a place like this, in this environment on like a real court that professionals have played,” senior forward Katie Garms said.

Added head coach Ev Corwin: “I’m still starstruck. I’ve seen a lot of concerts and sporting events here. To be able to work the sidelines is pretty special.”

The game started out optimistically for the Porters as Santacroce sank a trey from the left corner for a 3-0 lead only 37 seconds into the game. The Frogs (6-2) dominated the rest of the period, grabbing a 16-6 lead. Greenport (0-3) did not convert another field goal in the quarter, scoring three other points via foul shots. Santacroce canned another three-pointer 54 seconds into the second quarter to break the skid.

“I think some of it was definitely nerves, playing here against a team we’ve never played against,” Garms said.

There were no team rebounding statistics available, but the first half shot totals demonstrated Carle Place’s superiority on the boards. The Frogs (6-2) attempted 33 field goals, the Porters 16.

“It really comes down to the fact that we gave them a million shots early,” Corwin said. “The first five or six possessions against the press, we panicked. We just gave them so many chances. 

“We have lot of issues not being aggressive enough. We’re just standing watching. … If you turn the ball over and give up offensive rebounds, you’re not going to win.”

No one had to remind his players of that.

“We really got beat with the rebounds,” Garms said. “I’m going to take a note of that to always push harder for those rebounds. I think the whole team agrees that was a big problem, especially in the beginning.”

The Porters were up against a good team and one of the best players in Nassau County. Carle Place senior Caitlyn Leary, who reached the 1,000-point plateau in a 58-44 home victory the day before, led Carle Place with 20 points.

Santacroce made Porters fans hold their breath for a couple of moments after falling to the court while going after the ball with 3:32 left in the game. She grabbed her right ankle in pain, but it turned out to be only a cramp.

“I scared everyone. I feel bad,” she said. “I have to drink more fluids.”

Santacroce was taken out of the game for precautionary measures.

Corwin would like to see more consistency from guard Lilly Corwin and Santacroce. In the 50-28 away loss to Shoreham-Wading River on Dec. 19, Corwin noted that Lilly Corwin scored 18 points and Santacroce had three. Lilly Corwin had none on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get them going at the same time,” he said. “One’s on her game and one’s not. Then it just reverses.”

After the Christmas break, the Porters will start their Suffolk County League VII schedule, visiting Mattituck on Saturday, Jan. 6 at 1 p.m.

“I feel like the competition is going to be a little bit more on our level,” Santacroce said. “We’re going to have more experience from these high-pressure games.”

Corwin included four freshmen from the junior varsity on the game roster – guards Emily Manwaring and Madison Smith, forward Abigail Bednoski and center Addison Watson. All saw some action.

“I wanted to see what they could do,” he said. “They held up pretty good.

“I’ve got to try to bring some excitement to girls basketball. It just seems like lacrosse and everything else is kind of taking center stage. I’m looking for ways to get girls to be excited about this program, too. Winning helps that but also little things like this.”