On this day four years ago, the boys’ basketball team earned one of coach Mike Hickey’s 10 favorite victories in one of the most electrifying games in Stony Brook basketball history. The Bears stood at 9-1 in the league, their only loss coming by three points against an undefeated Greenport squad on January 9th. The boys would have to win the rematch in order to clinch a share of the League VIII Championship, but would have to do it without starters Lou Pizzichillo and Efe Mokedi, both sidelined with injuries. Before the team got off the bus coach Hickey addressed his team and told them that champions overcome adversity and that they could persevere despite the seemingly insurmountable hindrances before them.
The Bears scored the game’s first three points, but fell behind 9-15 by the end of the quarter as the Porters’ Ryan Creighton, New York’s second all-time leading scorer, got off to a quick start with 7 points in the frame. Greenport’s lead grew to as much as ten, but they went into the break up by seven. Balanced scoring from the Blue and White enabled them to take the third frame, 15-12, as Mitch Singer (4 points), Christian Wentling (4 points), Eli Knowles (3 points), Peter Carmel (2 points), and Jerry Panzu (2 points) shared the load.
The Bears entered the decisive quarter down just four points. Over the course of the eight minutes the lead changed hands five times as the two league heavyweights attempted to fell the other. The Brook grabbed their first lead since 5:16 remained in the opening quarter when Singer buried his second 3-pointer of the quarter to grab a 48-46 edge. After consecutive scores gave Greenport the lead back with 1:32 left, Singer buried another trifecta for a 51-50 edge with 36.5 seconds remaining. Creighton scored to give the home team a 52-51 advantage with 26.8 seconds showing on the clock.
Coach Hickey called timeout and set up a Princeton backdoor played that “worked to absolute perfection,” as he remembered, until Panzu’s layup was stymied by an incredible block by Greenport’s big man. Creighton grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled by Singer with 7 seconds left. The All-Long Island forward had a chance to extend the lead but missed the front end of the 1-and-1 and Singer snared the rebound. He raced down the court as the seconds waned, slithered through a double-team, and found Knowles, a freshman, on opposite side of the court who buried an 18-footer at the buzzer to clinch a share of the League VIII Championship, 53-52.
In the aftermath the Bears stormed the floor in celebration while the Greenport fans sat in stunned silence. Singer finished with 21 points including 12 of the team’s 16 in the final quarter. Carmel added 11 and Knowles, the hero, chipped in with 9. The Championship was the fifth of coach Hickey’s career to go along with banners from 1993, 1994, 2003, and 2005.