HURRICANES 58, TUCKERS 45
As far as high school girls basketball games go, it surely wasn’t a work of art. Heck, at times it was downright ugly.
There were plenty of turnovers, a lot of fouls (five players fouled out), a handful of lane violations during free throws and perhaps too many missed shots. But it was an early-season game, and that sort of stuff comes with the territory. What had to concern Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood most of all, though, were injuries to three of his players, including starters Lauren Guja and Alexa Orlando.
Following Mattituck’s 58-45 non-league loss at Westhampton Beach on Thursday night, Van Dood wore the look of a concerned coach with a lot on his mind. One of his players, Orlando, had exited the trainer’s room with an ice bag wrapped around her knee, and Van Dood was looking for a trainer to take a look at Guja.
Guja said she jammed the ring and middle fingers on her left hand during the game’s opening three minutes. “The middle [finger] might be broken, I’m not really sure,” the junior forward/center said. “I can’t really bend it that well, so it probably is.”
Orlando, a junior guard, said she twisted a knee the wrong way while jumping for a rebound with about six minutes left in the game. “It hurt really bad, but I didn’t want to come out because I was playing well,” she said.
Neither player allowed their ailments to take them out of the game, but the seriousness of their injuries, not to mention a knee injury to teammate Katie Hoeg, remained to be seen.
“This is a physical sport and I thought the refs let the game go a little bit,” said Van Dood.
As far as the game, there was plenty of sloppiness to go around. The most telling statistics were damning enough — a combined total of 63 turnovers and 48 fouls. Mattituck was responsible for 39 turnovers and 28 fouls.
“It was interesting,” said Van Dood.
Westhampton Beach (2-1) followed the lead of its all-conference senior, Kristen Polan, who poured in 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Polan would have had a higher point total if she had fared better at the free-throw line. She sank 11 of 19 foul shots.
The Hurricanes also received 12 points and 4 assists from Haley Laube before she fouled out with 7 minutes 4 seconds left in the game. Another Westhampton Beach player, Sammi Vickers, picked up her fifth personal foul with 1:34 to go.
The foul-filled contest also saw Mattituck’s Allie Wilcenski, Guja and Alex Berkoski foul out in the fourth quarter. Wilcenski was charged with her third foul when there was still 1:34 left in the first quarter and then was assessed her fourth with 5:31 to go in the first half. Her departure came 21 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Despite her ailing knee, Orlando provided Mattituck (1-1) with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.
The Hurricanes swept in front from the start. They led by as many as 16 points after Laube and Polan converted layups off turnovers, making the score 40-24 with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Partially as a result of Westhampton Beach’s troubles at the foul line (18 of 35), Mattituck twice trimmed that lead down to six points in the fourth quarter, only to see its comeback attempt fizzle at the end.
“We played hard the whole game,” Guja said. “We tried to the end. We just couldn’t get the baskets in.”
Mattituck, which does not have a single senior on its roster, was facing an older team, with eight seniors and a determination to do more than just reach the playoffs.
“I’ve got a bunch of seniors. If we’re going to do some damage, we got to do it this year,” Westhampton coach Mike Polan said. “A couple of years back we just wanted to compete. I don’t want to compete anymore. We want to win.”
Van Dood saw the game against League VI Westhampton as good preparation for Mattituck’s League VII schedule.
“This was good because of the pressure they put on,” he said. “They had a good full-court press. They put a lot of pressure on us, and that’s what we’re going to see in League VII. That’s going to be Center Moriches. That’s going to be Southampton. That’s going to be Wyandanch. That’s their M.O. That’s League VII, pressure in your face. These girls are learning that.”