Three might be Ahkee Anderson’s lucky number.
Or maybe it’s two? With his Greenport team down 39-36 at halftime, the junior point guard scored 22 second-half points, 12 coming off three-pointers, en route to the Porters’ 81-76 nonleague win over visiting Central Islip December 8. Anderson, who wears the number 23, finished with five threes and a game-high 33 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
“Once you get that rhythm, it feels like every one of them is going in,” Anderson said. “Offensively, I’m going to help in any way I can. And I was able to help out tonight.”
He remained unassuming early though, despite teams knowing what the 1000-point scorer is capable of. Anderson opened the game with a layup, but it was senior Jude Swann that stole the show early. The six-foot-four center dominated the boards, picking up a total 14 rebounds to go along with 20 points and five assists.
“We have one of the best big men on the island,” Anderson said of Swann. “He does everything for us. He’s such a beast down there. That’s one of our biggest assets. Once he grabs a rebound, we go.”
Anderson and Swann’s younger brother Jaxan finished the first half with 11 points each — Jude Swann added 10 — to lead a balanced attack despite letting up what was a 19-12 lead at the end of the first.
Jaxan Swann (18 points) dished out 10 assists, many to his brother early in the first half.
“It’s that brother chemistry,” he said. “We never look for each other. It’s whoever’s open is open — and he just ends up being open.”
“We’ve been playing for a long time, so we’ve gotten better at passing to each other, knowing where each other is going to be out on the floor,” Jude Swann said.
He said he knew the importance of a win for the Porters’ momentum. It ended up being a much-needed bounce-back from a 74-45 loss to a tough St. Anthony’s team.
“I knew we had to come out stronger than they did to get this win, and we got it done,” Swann said. “We’ve had some holes to fill this year, but you can’t replace anyone unless you work harder than they do, so we’re going to keep working hard.”
What brought meaning to the game was the Porters were fighting for their fourth returning starter, Tyrus Smiley, who suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach the day prior.
“It was an emotional game. I know he’s in a hospital bed cheering us on. This was for him,” Jaxan Swann said. “I told the boys in the locker room at halftime, ‘We have to know what we’re playing for. This isn’t a regular game, we’re playing for our friend.’”
The energy in the second half was different, and everyone in the gym could feel it.
That’s because they were feeding off Anderson, who was letting his three-point shots fly, and with each one made grinning a little wider. The shot seemed contagious, as Swann scored a buzzer-beater that put Greenport out front 64-53 after three, and freshman Ev Corwin nailed two.
Anderson continued to make his presence known, not just in shooting, but with his intellect. He knew the right times to tell his team to slow the pace, and grabbed his team’s final offensive rebound off a free-throw attempt with 1:21 left in the game to eat crucial seconds off the clock with the Porters ahead 78-70.
“It’s amazing having a teammate like him, he’s a leader on this team,” Swann said of Anderson. “He’s unselfish, but when the spotlight is on him, he shines.”