Winning a Suffolk County boys basketball championship doesn’t come around very often.

Neither does reaching the state tournament.

Southold recorded a 57-41 win over Greenport in the Class C final at Southampton High on Thursday night, and head coach Lucas Grigonis told his team to savor the moment.

The Settlers last won the county crown in 2020. This was their fifth ever.

“It’s a big deal,” Grigonis said. “I told them before the game just live in the moment. This doesn’t happen as often as we’d like it to, although I think we’ve turned a corner. Enjoy this. This is what it’s all about.”

It also was about a trip to the Southeast Regional finals, bypassing the Long Island championship because Nassau County doesn’t have any Class C teams. Southold will play the winner from either Section I or IX on Saturday, March 9 in a bid to qualify for the New York state final four in Glens Falls on March 15-16.

“It’s a blessing to be able to get up to states, especially during March Madness,” junior guard Jake Steinfeld said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Second-seeded Southold (12-9) also had some fun against the top-seeded Porters (11-10).

Sophomore forward Travis Sepenoski, who scored a game-high 21 points, hoped that the county title could be the start of something big.

“It means a lot,” he said. “Any sport, the last couple of years we’ve been in a drought. This is really good for not just us, [but] the whole school. Everyone wants to be winners now. Hopefully through the next seasons, we can accomplish that.”

During the League VII season, these two rivals met three times, with Southold winning twice.

The third triumph was the charm for the Settlers.

“Well earned,” Grigonis said. “Just hard work, perseverance, execution. Defense. When the boys can put everything together, we’re damn good basketball team.”

Travis enjoyed one of the best nights of his young career, adding five rebounds, six steals and three assists.

“Whenever Travis wants to do well and puts his mind to it, he’ll do it,” Grigonis said. “It’s outworking [opponents] and just that grittiness. That’s a Sepenoski trait. When Travis is willing to put everything together, good things happen.”

Travis’ older brother Jack Sepenoski, a senior guard who brought similar grit to the team three years ago, heaped some praise on his teammate.

“Always going to the rack,” he said. “Gets me my assists.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Jack Sepenoski recorded two big assists among his six, just as the Porters tried to claw their way back.

The brothers then teamed on identical in-bounds plays within 79 seconds. Jack saw his open brother on the right flank as Travis raced in for an easy layup. The second basket gave the Settlers a 49-39 cushion with 5:47 remaining.

“I just look at him,” Travis said. “He looks at me and he gives me like a look. I check who’s on me. If I know I can get by him, I do a little move and just get by him.”

“It was big. Those are points that we don’t have to work for,” Grigonis said. “We would have liked to take more time off the clock. But I’m not going to complain about those plays.”

After a slow start, the Settlers pulled away in the second quarter. Steinfeld scored seven of his 13 points behind two treys as Southold surged to a 25-13 halftime advantage. Jack Sepenoski added five of his eight points.

Travis Sepenoski scored 10 points in the third quarter, twice converting offensive rebounds into baskets, as Southold held a 43-33 lead.

“I love Travis. man,” Steinfeld said. “He’s always hustling. He never stops moving. That’s why he gets so many buckets on the far end of the court on transition. He out-hustles every other guy on the floor.”

Senior forward Skyler Valderrama, who finished with a team-best eight rebounds, contributed six of his eight points in the second half.

The Settlers held two of the Porters’ big three scorers below their season averages. Junior guard Nelson Shedrick (16.6 ppg) scored 20 points (including four treys). Junior guard Kal-El Marine (12.5 ppg) finished with 10 points and junior forward Taiquan Brumsey (14.1 ppg) added four.

“We didn’t knock down our shots,” Greenport head coach Justin Moore said. “We had a lot of turnovers. When you don’t knock down your shots and turn the ball over, it’s hard to win games. I tip my cap to Southold. They came out and worked harder than us. They deserve it.”

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