In Long Island high school basketball, Class C is considered a pretty small pond. However that doesn’t mean you won’t find big fish there. Take tiny Greenport for example. There, playing point guard, is junior Ahkee Anderson and he is a handful for any team that will find itself matched up against the Porters this coming regular season.
“Of course I want to have a great season, but we feel we have some unfinished business to attend to as far as going upstate,” Anderson said Thursday. The Newsday All-Long Island second-teamer last season helped Greenport (23-3) capture the Long Island championship before falling in a state semifinal to Lake George in Binghamton.
Lake George won the state public school title with a 28-0 record.
“I think there's a passion to do here what we weren’t able to do — bring home a championship,” he said. “We have a bunch of experience that walked the road last season but came up short. That starting five? I’d take them against any starting five that might be in the way to our goals.”
Unfortunate circumstances changed the shape of that starting five on Friday morning. It was supposed to be a backcourt of Anderson and 5-10 Jaxan Swann, who averaged 19 and 14 points respectively, according to coach Everett Corwin. The front court was to be 6-4 Julian Swann (15 points and 14 rebounds) along with 6-3 Tyrus Smiley and 6-3 Reece Costello.
But Smiley suffered a gunshot wound on a Greenport street early Friday; he will recover but miss the season. “He is lucky that the bullet didn’t do more harm,” Corwin said, “but it doesn’t make this any less a sad situation."
Junior Joshua Santacroce and freshman Ev Corwin — guards who were coming off the bench — will have enhanced roles, Corwin said.
Anderson is the slashing point guard who can also make a three-pointer and is focused on keeping all his teammates involved. More important, Corwin said, is that he tends to elevate his game to face the best competition.
“I’ve seen him play his best against the better competition — and it’s not just scoring,” Corwin said. “He plays the game the right way and is always looking to see if he can get a teammate a shot in a better spot.
“The other thing that you can’t miss with him is the will to win — his is huge,” Corwin said.
“Akhee came into this world with a lot of gifts,” his mother, Chrystal Anderson, said. “Yes, he has talent on a basketball court and he does embrace the chance to perform on the stage. But he has no taste for failure. It crushes him. I think the way he felt after last season has been driving him since.”
Chrystal Anderson is his biggest supporter and her passion to see him succeed is ever-present at Porter games. “She and I are very close,” he said. “She pushes me to be the best I can be in all the things I do...I consider her an inspiration."
Anderson’s recruiting picture is still taking shape. Because he is a top performer in the classroom, Corwin said that Ivy League schools have begun to make inquiries. Anderson is flattered by that but seems to have his sights set on playing in a bigger spotlight.
“I don’t think I am any different from any other basketball player in that I like the idea of being able to play at a high level where my family and friends can watch me on television,” he said.
All of that, however, is on hold for the moment. There are goals that the Porters have set and they don’t want to take their eyes off of them.
Corwin forces his team to play up several levels in their non-conference games and it got a startling wake-up call last week when CHSAA AA power St. Anthony’s beat Greenport by 29. It clearly had an impact. Saturday against Central Islip — another Class AA school — Anderson had 33 points, Julian Swann 20 and Jaxan Swan 18 in an 81-76 victory.