Two games into the high school boys basketball season, and Parker Tuthill has yet to score a 2-point basket.
Under normal circumstances, that would be a cause for concern. As it is, though, Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood can flash a grin at that statistical oddity, the reason being Tuthill has drilled 10 of the team’s 20 3-point shots so far.
Ironically, Ellwood said he thinks of Tuthill, a sophomore guard in his first varsity season, as a driver before a shooter. But Tuthill has been doing what good players do: He is taking what the defense gives him.
In Mattituck’s first two games — non-league wins over Bridgehampton on Friday and over Smithtown Christian on Saturday — the Tuckers faced zone defenses. Tuthill, who was the first player off the bench in both games, thrived.
Tuthill downed seven 3-pointers for 21 points in the 79-50 win over Smithtown Christian as the Tuckers tied a school record with 12 treys, equaling the amount of 3-pointers they hit in a 1999 game against Southold.
“I’m surprised I hit all those shots,” Tuthill said before Tuesday’s practice. “I just felt it that game. The basket looks 10 times bigger when you’re making shots.”
Will Gildersleeve added 17 points. Gene Allen provided the Tuckers with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tuckers had eight threes in their 83-60 defeat of Bridgehampton. Gildersleeve struck for a career-high 27 points in that game. Allen, who grabbed 13 rebounds, scored 15 points as did Chris Dwyer.
“We have a lot of zone breakers,” said Ellwood.
Tuthill is obviously one of them. He has invested hours upon hours of time into his outside shot, and it shows. Sometimes he can tell as soon as the ball leaves his hands that it will fall through the netting. “I love that feeling,” he said.
Tuthill looks like he belongs on the varsity scene, and he looks sure of himself.
“He is very level-headed,” Ellwood said. “When you look at Parker when he comes off the floor, you don’t know if he just turned the ball over three times in a row or just hit three threes in a row. He has the same temperament, which is a good thing.”
The Tuckers give opponents a lot to deal with. Aside from Tuthill, the team has legitimate outside threats in Gildersleeve, Joe Tardif, Dwyer and Auggie Knuth. That sort of outside shooting creates openings for penetrating drives to the basket.
“That’s the thing, anyone can score on our team,” Allen said. “We’re deep in scoring. Even the kids coming off the bench can score, so scoring really isn’t a problem for our team.”
For all the points the Tuckers put on the scoreboard, Ellwood sounded most encouraged by the improvement he saw defensively in the team. “Our defense led to easy offense in those games,” he said. “That’s what kind of got us going.”
In at least one instance, the box score lied. Tardif managed only 1 point against Smithtown Christian, but Ellwood said Tardif’s defensive work in the full-court press was a difference-maker. “He changed the whole tempo of the game,” said the coach.
The 6-foot-2 Allen, who plays bigger than his height, had four dunks over the two games. The Tuckers had only two dunks over the past 11 years heading into this season.
“It gets the crowd riled up,” Allen said. “I like it.”
The Tuckers must also like the play of Gildersleeve, who seems to be flourishing among all the offensive weapons surrounding him.
“They have to double him to stop him from getting to the basket because he’ll get to the basket,” Ellwood said. “… He made great decisions both nights. … A lot of times he found open teammates under the basket for easy baskets. Other times he got to the foul line and other times he finished, and obviously he finished a lot.”
By sharing the ball and making sound decisions on the break, the Tuckers hit the season running. Ellwood said Mattituck is playing like a late January team instead of an early December team. Ellwood said his rotation went a “solid eight deep,” but all 13 players played significant minutes in the two games.
It seems as if the Tuckers are well-prepared for their next two games, League VII contests against Port Jefferson and Wyandanch. Perhaps Tuthill’s first 2-pointer will come in one of those games.
“Hopefully next game,” Ellwood said, “although we’re playing Port Jeff, which plays zone, so I don’t know.”