BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Even when Greenport fell behind early, a small but vocal contingent of at least 100 fans who drove more than six hours to be here steadily chanted “Por-ters! Por-ters!”
“We get unbelievable support. We have the best fans,” Greenport coach Ev Corwin said. “If this game was played in Alaska, they’d be there.”
Unfortunately for the Porters, their shooting was as frigid as the temperatures in the Land of the Midnight Sun, especially in the first half, and Greenport’s season ended with a 73-58 loss to unbeaten Lake George on Friday in a state Class C boys basketball semifinal at Maines Arena.
It appeared as if Greenport (23-4) had a case of the jitters early, missing several easy, uncontested shots. But precocious sophomore Ahkee Anderson (19 points, six assists, five steals) wasn’t buying that or looking for an excuse. “Our shots just weren’t falling,” he said. “Everyone had an off night.”
But despite shooting only 32 percent from the field, falling behind 20-8 late in the first quarter and having to play catch-up ball the rest of the game, Greenport gave its fans something to cheer about. There was no quit, only grit.
“All of us have heart,” Anderson said.
Greenport trailed 44-25 early in the third quarter but gave the Warriors the first of several scares with a 6-0 flurry that cut the deficit to 13. The Porters had two chances to trim it further but missed, and Lake George took a 53-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Greenport’s Jaxan Swann (17 points, three steals) then sparked a 7-0 run with a steal and layup and left-corner three-pointer sandwiched around Anderson’s brilliant hesitation-dribble, blow-by layup. It was 53-43 with 5:44 left.
When Greenport’s Tyrus Smiley scored twice in the paint to make it 58-47 with 4:39 left, the Porter supporters were standing and cheering.
“Our town has shown its love for us all season,” Anderson said. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”
In the end, however, height and hot shooting overcame heart, hustle and home. Greenport was forced to foul and Lake George scored 15 of its final 17 points from the line to offset three-pointers by Jaxan Swann, his brother Jude and Anderson in the final two minutes.
Chris Becker, at 6-7 four inches taller than Greenport’s tallest player (Jude Swann), was a force inside with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Mason Flatley, who is 6-5, had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Alex Jones nailed three from downtown and netted 14 points.
“We watched him on film, and to tell you the truth, he played a lot better than he looked on film,” Corwin said of Becker. “He used his size well and it seemed like he didn’t miss a shot.”
In fact, Becker shot 9-for-11 from the field.
Of his own players, many of whom were tearful in the postgame locker room, Corwin said, “They love basketball and they make it easy to coach them. I hurt for them, not for me. These learning experiences are tough, but we’ll be back here next year.”