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Girls Basketball: SWR’s shortened season ends in playoff semifinals

When the entire high school sports landscape shut down last spring, Adrine Demirciyan never slowed down. The dynamic Greenport/Southold guard kept training to improve her game and prepare for an eventual return to the court.

“I heard we weren’t going to have a season so I was working extra hard,” she said. “And then next thing you know they said we were going to have a season.”

Nearly a full calendar year had passed by the time Demirciyan and her teammates got the chance to wear their purple and gold uniforms for what would be a sprint of an abbreviated season. And they’ve made the most of the opportunity.

A 3-1 League VIII record earned the Porters a spot in the playoffs where they opened Saturday afternoon against Shoreham-Wading River in the Conference IV bracket. With Demirciyan and teammate Gianna Santacroce leading the way, the Porters raced out to an early lead and never looked back in a 48-35 victory at Albert G Prodell Middle School that sends them into Sunday’s championship game.

And just like that, the season comes to an end.

“I was in good shape all year round and it was all for this moment,” Demirciyan said. “It was super short, but I’m glad we had [a season].”

Greenport’s Adrine Demirciyan drives past SWR’s Carlie Cutinella. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

The Porters (5-1) will play the winner of the Port Jefferson-John Glenn semifinal at noon Sunday.

Demirciyan led all scorers with 21 points Saturday. She single-handedly outscored the Wildcats in the first half (14-10), combining her ability to get into the paint, convert on the fastbreak and knock down outside shots to score in a multitude of ways.

The Wildcats are a team that always tries to use its athleticism to pressure opposing offenses into coughing up the ball to allow them to leak out for easy transition baskets. But against a team with a skilled ballhandler like Demirciyan, the pressure didn’t lead to as many transition opportunities and the Wildcats struggled to knock down shots in the halfcourt.

“She controlled the tempo of the game,” Santacroce said of Demirciyan. “She did a great job at that.”

SWR’s Sophie Costello goes up for a layup. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

She added that it was a team effort to move the ball and to “not stay rattled” by the pressure.

The Porters led by as many as 21 points early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats got some better scoring opportunities in the final quarter, but at the time the deficit was too great for a comeback. The Wildcats scored more points in the fourth than the prior three quarters combined.

It was a short season for every team, but even more condensed for the Wildcats. A positive COVID-19 case on the team forced the Wildcats into quarantine earlier this month and they missed three games.

They returned to action Wednesday and defeated Wyandanch to close out the regular season 3-0. That was enough for the League VII title and spot in the playoffs.

“Today was our 13th and final day of the season,” head coach Adam Lievre said.

The team went out on quarantine on Feb. 15 and was cleared to resume Wednesday.

Four of six teams in the league dealt with missed time due to COVID, Lievre said. John Glenn was the only the team that played its full slate of six games and posted a 4-2 record to finish second.

“I told them all year long, you got to take advantage of every day,” Lievre said.

SWR’s GraceAnn Leonard brings the ball up court. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

The winter season would have typically began in late November.

“We didn’t know if we were ever going to play,” Lievre said. “It was great to be able to just get going. Some kids got their first varsity experience, which was good. A lot of the younger kids were now given more responsibility.”

The Wildcats have a young roster with only one senior. Three sophomores were in the starting lineup against Greenport. Sophie Costello and GraceAnn Leonard, both sophomores, scored 11 points each for the Wildcats. Annie Sheehan, also a sophomore, added 10.

Now getting the chance to play one more game will be extra sweet for Greenport’s Santacroce. The senior, who’s in her first year with the Porters after transferring from St. Anthony’s, missed last season with a broken foot. Then her plans to play AAU basketball were shelved as well due to the pandemic.

Santacroce said basketball is her main sport and she hopes to play next year in college. She’s currently deciding on where to attend.

“It feels amazing,” she said of playing now. “I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts.”