TUCKERS 77, WARRIORS 48
The game didn’t have any meaning for either the Wyandanch or the Mattituck girls basketball teams in terms of the playoffs or the League VII championship. Wyandanch had already been eliminated from playoff contention. Mattituck had already secured its place in the posteason (the Tuckers are locked in as the No. 3 seed in the Suffolk County Class B Tournament, according to coach Steve Van Dood), and the league title was already beyond its reach.
And yet, for four players in white and blue uniforms, there was a good deal of significance to Tuesday night’s game.
Senior Day 2013 at Mattituck High School left some good memories for Mattituck’s four seniors: Alex Berkoski, Nicole Murphy, Alexa Orlando and Allie Wilcenski. They walked away with their teammates as 77-48 winners over Wyandanch.
As if often the case, some emotions were as much a part of the evening as the blue and white balloons and the personalized posters younger teammates made for the seniors, who played in their home gym for the last time.
“It’s really emotional,” said Wilcenski, whose eyes watered while talking about her final home game during a postgame interview. “I’m going to miss this so much, and I’m so sad.”
By contrast, Berkoski had a strikingly unemotional reaction to the proceedings. “I feel like it was just any ordinary game,” she said. “I guess the whole senior thing hasn’t really hit me yet.”
It was a junior, Shannon Dwyer, leading the way with 21 points for the Tuckers (11-6, 8-1), who recorded their fourth win from five games. Wilcenski had a productive evening as well with 20 points, and Berkoski supplied 13 points.
All 12 Tuckers who were in uniform played, and nine of them made it into the scoring column.
But the statistic of the night was in the assists category. Mattituck totaled 30 of them, with 9 coming from Katie Hoeg, and Berkoski and Orlando providing 6 apiece.
“They were moving the ball well,” Van Dood said. “We saw a lot of scoring off of three, four passes. They were running the offense. I think we did a good job of being patient with the ball.”
Wyandanch (4-13, 2-9) received 16 points from Symphony Paschall and 15 from Quiana Sutton, who hit four 3-point shots.
The only threat Wyandanch posed came early in the second quarter when it twice pulled to within 4 points of Mattituck at 22-18 and 24-20 from a straight-on 3-pointer that Sutton banked in and a basket by Paschall.
“Wyandanch actually came back a little bit,” Berkoski said, “but we finally pulled it back together and we finally got in the swing of things and we pulled it off.”
Mattituck proceeded to go on an 11-2 run and kept building on its lead from there.
“When we stick to the game plan, good things happen,” said Van Dood.
Among those good things for Mattituck were high-percentage shots. The Tuckers finished with 56.3-percent shooting from the field. They also forced 41 turnovers by Wyandanch.
Mattituck’s final regular-season game will be Friday night against Southampton. A week later, the Tuckers will play their playoff game. Van Dood expects Mattituck to be paired against Center Moriches in a county semifinal. Center Moriches defeated the Tuckers twice this season, 58-50 and 60-40.
As well as Mattituck played against Wyandanch, Van Dood didn’t overlook a couple of layups that the Tuckers missed along the way.
“You do that against Center Moriches, you do that against Southampton, and you’re not going to get the W,” he said. “We have to come out ready to play. We have to play four quarters.”
Still, it was a happy night for Mattituck’s seniors, who have played together for a handful of years.
“They’re great kids,” Van Dood said. “They’re great leaders. They’re great role models for the younger kids and just a pleasure to coach, an absolute pleasure to coach.”
Asked how much he thought the game meant to them, Van Dood answered: “I think it was a huge night for them, absolutely. They have good memories of their last game on this home court. That’s tremendous for them.”
After most of her teammates had left the gym, Wilcenski was trying to come to terms with the reality that her final days in a Mattituck uniform are nearing an end.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “It still doesn’t feel real to me. I don’t know, it’s so bizarre. It just came so fast.”