Before a rarely seen full house, Southold came up empty . . . in the third quarter, that is.
But the First Settlers kept their hold on first place and their undefeated season alive Friday night. Jon Cepelak scored 14 points and Kevin Parma had a strong fourth quarter as Southold beat visiting Greenport, 44-39, before a crowd estimated at more than 900.
"I've never seen the gym like this," said Southold coach Jeff Ellis, who is in his 12th season.
The bleachers were filled, thanks to a loud Greenport contingent, and both SRO sections also were jammed. The combination of an undefeated season, rival Greenport and league supremacy created a hot atmosphere on a cold night in wine country.
The offenses were in a deep freeze all night, though, most notably the home team in the third quarter.
Southold watched a 24-16 halftime lead melt away when it did not score for the first 6:08 of the period. Meanwhile, the Porters scored 11 straight points, including a spectacular steal and dunk by Dantre Langhorne (12 points).
Langhorne contributed a shake-and-bake pull-up jumper and a no-look assist during the spurt as Greenport took a 29-28 lead into the fourth quarter. The lead grew to 32-28 when Myles Waters nailed a three-pointer.
But then the roles were reversed as Greenport went cold and Southold went on a 10-0 run - two tough layups in traffic by Trevor Perry (eight points, seven rebounds), the first two points of the game by Parma, a baseline floater by Gino DeJongh and two free throws by Cepelak. "The third quarter was a little degrading," Cepelak said. "But then our defense got us going."
Parma helped, scoring all seven of his points in the final period. "We were a little frantic in the first three quarters," he said. "Then we settled down. I think everyone was a little out of sync because it was a big rivalry game and the place was packed."
Parma made the play of the night for the First Settlers when he drove the baseline, flipped in a layup, drew the foul and converted a three-point play for a 41-34 advantage with 58 seconds left.
"We didn't come into the season looking to be undefeated, but we gained a lot of experience last year and that made us better," Parma said of playing tougher competition against bigger schools in League VII.
Now people are taking notice. "It's kind of weird to hear everyone in school and in town talking about us," Cepelak said.
And showing up at the gym, too.