The boys' varsity basketball team didn't start out the season quite as they had hoped. struggling in the non-league games to start off the season, the Vikings found their first victory in a league games against Lawrence. However, the team failed to pick up victories in their two other league games to kick off the season. With some injuries and player returns, the season is far from over, even with the rough start.
The regular league season started with an away game against Long Beach. While missing star forward Ira James due to off the court reasons, Port was left undersized in the middle, affecting their rebounding core specifically. However, Port led for most of the game against Long Beach before playing loose defense in the second half which let the Long Beach team back into the game. Long Beach used a 29-6 run in the fourth quarter, mostly on short put backs to pull ahead of Port and win by a score of 63-52. The next league game was against a talented Lawrence team. The game was once again played away from Schreiber High School, making it even more difficult for the boys to gain their first victory of the season. However, shooting guard Brian Moran came up big, suffering through a tough ankle injury to score 18 points and lead Port in a blowout victory, 75-55. Jamal Reid and Rich Miglietta added 17 points and 15 points respectively. It was an important win in getting the monkey off their backs and looking ahead to the rest of the season in a new light.
Going into the third regular season game, the Vikings were a respectable 1-1. However, they had yet to see such a powerful team as was their opponent last Thursday evening. Hempstead was the admirable adversary, and they were loaded with talent on all parts of the court. Led by forward Rahoo Walker, Hempstead came into Port's home opener with an array of experience. The crowd came out in masses as nearly the entire gym was filled by the second quarter to support their Vikings. Both teams got off to a slow start. With full court pressure put onto Port especially, there were many turnovers in the first quarter. The first quarter ended with the score at 12-11 in favor of Hempstead, as both offenses failed to gain any sort of rhythm shooting the ball. The second quarter was a whole other story as Port failed to play transition defense off their missed shots and gave Hempstead too many easy baskets. Port's big men Scott Peckelis, Mike Ryder and Mike Bellino just couldn't get any rebounding pressure in the paint. The Port guards were pressured heavily every time they brought the ball up the court. Guards Fred Dumpson, Jamal Reid and Brian Moran struggled with keeping the ball under control, which led to dozens of turnovers that not only plagued Port in the second quarter but also in third quarter. To start the fourth quarter, Port fell behind by 25 points and looked like they had nothing left to come back with. With about 4 minutes left, Port emptied its bench and put in some of the underclassmen who could be starting as soon as next year. Dave Bluver played very well in the limited time. Playing point guard, he was the only one who seemed to be able to take the ball up the court while maintaining control of the ball. Ball control is definitely something that Port will have to go over this week during practice along with rebounding, in order to strengthen their team and make sure that Port is able to have consistency throughout the rest of the season. Port finished off the game losing by a score of 77-50, and the lead scorers were Fred Dumpson with 17 points and 10 points from Mike Ryder. A game that was lost should not be forgotten. Many things can be learned from their mistakes.
While Port did record their first victory, they got a real wakeup call against a talented Hempstead team. The Vikings will need to right their miscues on the offensive and defensive boards, and find a way to control the ball better. Playing stiff competition such as Baldwin, Calhoun and Mepham, Port will need to step it up if they have any thoughts of making the post season. However, based on the amount of talent and potential that is on the team, and the possible return of Ira James later on, the season still has much promise.