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Pierson/Bridgehampton

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Jillian Colucci makes her way to the basket untouched after forcing a tunrover. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The No. 1-seeded Port Jefferson girls’ basketball team stayed toe-to-toe with its No. 2 Pierson/Bridgehampton challenger through two quarters on Tuesday, but as time wound down, the hole the Royals found themselves in grew too deep to pull out of. The team fell 69-50 in the Suffolk County Class C finals at Riverhead High School.

“We had a fantastic season,” Port Jefferson head coach Ed Duddy said. “We started out slow, and they all came together to go on a 10-game streak. We won the league, which I didn’t expect at all, and it all came down to this game … and [Pierson/Bridgehampton] won the war.”

The girls also came together in the first 16 minutes of the game.

Port Jefferson junior forward Courtney Lewis scored the first points of a matchup that was just seven seconds old, but a minute later, Pierson countered to even the score. Lewis did it again, and after the Whalers tacked on another field goal, she added a free-throw point. She followed it up with her third field goal to put the Royals out front, 7-4. The junior banked two more points off a layup in the quarter but her team let up on defense, and the Royals were down 16-11 heading into the second quarter.

This time, it was Pierson that scored first, with a 3-pointer, followed by the two teams trading field goals before junior guard Jillian Colucci’s free-throw point made it 21-14.

After another Whalers field goal, Colucci’s own field goal and three free-throw points and junior guard Annabelle Soucy’s 3-pointer helped draw the Royals within one, 23-22. But that was as close as Port Jefferson would come the rest of the way.

“We didn’t tighten up the defense like I thought we were gonna, but also our shots didn’t fall,” Duddy said. “We got into foul trouble a little bit, but that’s the way it goes.”

Despite back-to-back treys by Soucy and Colucci, and a Lewis trifecta with 1:06 left in the third, the Royals deficit remained as a result of the lack of pressure under the boards.

Up 52-44, Pierson went on a 10-point streak before Port Jefferson junior forward Gillian Kenah scored the Royals’ first points of the quarter off an offense rebound from a missed Soucy attempt, with 2:56 left to play.

Duddy said he thought his girls got frustrated after the Whalers knocked down some threes and long field goals. He added that the Royals switched between man-to-man and zone defense and passed the ball to try to minimize the damage, but to no avail.

Lewis finished with a team-high 21 points, Colucci added 11 and Soucy finished with eight.

Despite the season being cut short, Duddy said his Royals can walk away from this season with their heads held high, as it has consistently been able to improve with each season.

“We’ve done a lot of things,” he said. “We just have to take it to that next level come the playoffs. We’re all coming back next year, and [Pierson’s team will] all be back, too. But I’m proud of my girls. I told them in the locker room that I couldn’t ask any more of them.”

With every player returning to the roster next season, the Royals will be looking to make another postseason run, and Duddy is hoping to send them off on a high note.

“I’ve been with them since they were freshmen, and I want to see them out as seniors,” he said.

When asked if he thinks his team can continue to reach new heights, Duddy said, “Hell yeah. I told them, ‘If you’re in, I’m in.’”

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Port Jefferson's Courtney Lewis, who scored a double-double off a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, goes up for a layup in the Royals' 55-31 win over Southold/Greenport on Jan. 25 to extend their winning streak to six games. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Behind Courtney Lewis’ double-double Monday night, the Port Jefferson girls’ basketball team kept the ball rolling with a 55-31 victory over Southold/Greenport to extend the Royals’ winning streak to six games.

Port Jefferson's Courtney Lewis reaches up to the board. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Courtney Lewis reaches up to the board. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Lewis recorded 32 points, 10 rebounds and six assits.

“They’re starting to come together,” Port Jefferson head coach Ed Duddy said. “We started off slow in the beginning … [but] now I think everyone knows their role.”

Port Jefferson had trouble getting shots to fall until Lewis’ field goal at the 5:17 mark, which started the junior forward and guard’s 10-point tear in the first quarter.

“She’s a great captain,” junior point guard Jillian Colucci said of Lewis. “She boosts us all up and she’s so talented. Her scoring gets us all going and gets us working hard.”

Southold remained in the game by scoring seven points to Lewis’ 10, but Port Jefferson sophomore guard Annabelle Soucy nailed a three-pointer with 30.6 seconds left to extend the Royals’ lead.

Lewis tacked on a three-point play to start the second stanza and then added four more points while Colucci tacked on a three-pointer to put Port Jefferson up 23-20 at halftime.

But the Royals were just getting warmed up.

Port Jefferson's Annabelle Soucy drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Annabelle Soucy drives to the basket. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“Our coach’s halftime speech motivated us to come out stronger in the second half,” Lewis said. “I think our teamwork and team chemistry was great. We had a lot of assists and connected our passes a lot, and our fast breaks were great today.”

Those fast breaks and assists helped the Royals jump out to a 43-25 lead by the end of the third, with Lewis scoring 11 of the team’s 20 points and Colucci adding six.

In the final quarter, the Royals limited Southold to just two points by the 2:22 mark, while scoring eight more of their own. Southold added a field goal and two free throws in the final minutes, but Lewis added two free throws of her own to finish 9-for-10 from the charity stripe on the evening, and Soucy completed the scoring with a layup.

Colucci finished with 11 points and eight rebounds to help Port Jefferson to a 7-1 record in League VII.

“It’s Courtney, it’s Jillian, it’s a little bit of everybody,” Duddy said. “Jillian had a terrific game today. She did everything a point guard has to do with great passes and great defense and assists, but Annabelle and Jackie Brown have been playing very well, too. They’re all part of the team, but I think they all feed off of Courtney, and when she gets double- or triple-teamed she can kick it out to her teammates and they get easy layups.”

Port Jefferson's Jillian Colucci crosses the ball into Southold/Greenport's zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Jillian Colucci crosses the ball into Southold/Greenport’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

As the team moves forward with only one loss in its conference, Colucci said the Royals have their sights on the top spot in the league, where Mattituck currently sits at 10-1.

But the point guard said she’s confident in her team’s ability after the Royals edged out Mattituck, 53-52, back on Jan. 11.

“That was a really good booster for us,” Colucci said. “But since we’re a core group of juniors that have been playing together for so long, the teamwork that we’ve developed helps us most.”

Lewis said the team had a rough first half the season, starting it off with losses to Comsewogue, Mount Sinai and Pierson/Bridgehampton, but has come together to propel the Royals to their winning streak.

“This is my favorite sport and my favorite team,” Lewis said. “They’re all so great and we all help each other do better. We had a rough first half of the season but we picked it up and we took off. We don’t want to lose another game. We want to finish the season on a streak.”