At the beginning of the boys Port basketball season, there were many high expectations, and why not? Port had two returning starters, Ira James and Fred Dumpson, along with the return of guard Brian Moran from an injury that plagued him most of last season. However, all these high expectations and hype went right out the window once the season started. Losing four out of their first five league games really came as a shock to many of the players on the team. They knew that they could play a better brand of basketball. With their tough win against Long Beach two weeks ago, Port looked for another win against Lawrence last week. They once again played masterfully against Lawrence (0-7), and came up with their second victory in a row to improve to 3-4 in league play.
The game started off against Lawrence with a huge Port scoring run. Led by Center Ira James, Port found it easy to break down the Lawrence defense by penetrating the paint and snatching up missed shots on tough offensive rebounds. Port also forced Lawrence to make terrible passing decisions and with a full court defense running, the boys were able to cause many turnovers in Lawrence's end of the court, making for easy baskets. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 17-6 in favor of Port, and they never really looked back. Fred Dumpson became a key figure in the second quarter, as the strong willed guard penetrated the Lawrence defense off the transition. Dumpson is the best Port scorer on the fast break, so Port used him as their key weapon. Brian Moran made some great passes, finding the open man on almost every occasion he brought up the ball. He once again was the mainstay in ball control and his return to the lineup has clearly proved to be a great asset to the team's success. The turnovers for the team over the past few games have been much lower, which illustrates how Moran's return and the rest of the players response to their coach have proved very valuable. The Port crowd was once again in full force as their raucous chants helped with the team's momentum as they headed into the locker rooms with a 40-22 lead.
The second half went on much as the first half did, with Port leading the way. Ira James continued to fight for the rebounds on both the defensive and offensives sides of the glass. Fred Dumpson had some emphatic blocks, one in which went nearly 10 rows into the stands, much to the delight of the Port fans. An alley hoop lay-up from Moran to Dumpson was one of the many highlight reel plays that took place in the second half. However, some sloppy defense around the perimeter allowed Lawrence to stay relatively close throughout the entire second half. After a battle of free throws for the last few minutes, Port came up with the nine point victory by the score of 75-66. James led the way with 17 points and 13 rebounds, Dumpson had 20 points and 6 assists, and Brian Moran had 10 points and was a mainstay in the back court. Rich Miglietta came off the bench to play solid minutes defensively and Jamal Reid and Mike Ryder quietly had a good night scoring mid range jumpers and playing good defense inside the paint and out near the perimeter.
The Vikings needed to win this game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, and with their win, they are now tied for the final playoff spot with Long Beach. During this week, they will have already played against a tough Hempstead team on Tuesday. With only a handful of games remaining, each one will be that much more important. The team is coming together at the right time, and although they might be overlooked because of the mediocre record, there is no way they should be taken lightly. The boys seem much more focused on what they have to do, rather than early on when they were just expecting to win ball games. After Tuesday's game with Hempstead, Port plays another tough road game at Baldwin, before their final home game of the season against Mepham on Feb. 9. With the team firing on all cylinders, Port is just a few victories away from making the playoffs. Then it's a whole new ball game.