Boys varsity basketball team knocked out in first playoff round: After clinching postseason berth at senior game, Port falls in heartbreaker to MacArthur

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Josh White

Head Coach Mr. Sean Dooley motivates his team during senior night against the East Meadow Jets on Feb. 10. The Vikings ended up winning the game 54-33.

Matt Kramer and Dillon Nissan, Staff Writers

After losing back to back games to Oceanside and Plainview-JFK, the Vikings came home to play the East Meadow Jets on Feb. 10 for senior night and a chance to clinch a playoff berth.

“The fact that this game was a must win game for us to get into the playoffs adds a lot of pressure, but once the game started it was just basketball.  It felt like a regular game after that,” said senior captain Noah Linder.

To many team members, the game felt like a playoff game because of the urgency with which they played.  The game also brought playoff intensity, as a win would help the Vikings clinch a playoff spot.  The team fought hard, particularly senior Kyle Cohen, who was involved in a bench-clearing brawl.

“We had a lot of energy because it was senior night and we wanted to get a win because it was our last home game.  The crowd was also a big factor in the game,” said Linder.

Many fans, along with players, brought a lot of energy to the game as Port rolled to a 54-33 win. The team knows it still has to work on things for next year in order to improve and once again try to earn a playoff berth.

“I’d say mental toughness was our point of focus.  When we were playing well, we were positive.  But when we weren’t playing well, we really got down on ourselves.  We were an up and down team,” said junior Kevin Hazan.

Four days later, boys varsity basketball team’s season ended with a two point loss to MacArthur on Feb 14.  In the game, the team had strong performances from junior Zach Jimenez and Linder, who scored 20 and 22 points, respectively.  Jimenez got the job done from the free throw line, hitting eight free throws over the course of the game, including two to send the game into overtime with seventeen seconds left.  Because of this heartbreaker, the team’s playoff hopes have ended.

In the playoff game against MacArthur, the team came out dull, missing the energy brought in the home win against East Meadow and letting their playoff nerves get the best of them.  However, the game ended up being close the entire way and came to an upsetting and rather unexpected finish.

“I thought we played solid transition offense and spaced the floor well, but rushed our shots on offense.  We also poorly executed our defensive rotations,” said Jimenez

This game will give this young team some needed playoff experience, and the rough loss will leave the Vikings with a chip on their shoulder and hungry for a playoff win next season.

As the season came to an end, there were some very mixed emotions about how this year lived up to expectations.  Many thought that the team had a shot at making a run deep into the playoffs this year.

“Personally, I thought we could’ve done better,” said Hazan.  “We faced adversity throughout the season, dealing with sickness and injury.  At the beginning of the season when we had a full roster, we were one of the top teams in the conference.  Towards the middle of the season, we lost a couple games we had the opportunity to win, a couple players got sick and hurt, and a couple players stepped up but we overall had a successful season.”

This season exceeded expectations of many team members, but the playoff loss to MacArthur was a disappointing end for the team to an otherwise successful season.  The team brought in some new youth, adding sophomores Jake Block, Crew Weingard and Xavier Merriweather, and eighth grader Brian Kenyon to their roster.  Jimenez and Merriweather were named all-conference, and Linder was given all-county honors.  With one eighth grader, four sophomores, and four juniors, the Vikings are bringing back a youth core for next season that could help lead this team back and deeper into the playoffs next year.