Halftime can either be a friend or a foe. For Mattituck it was the former, and for Southold the latter on Friday night.
After watching his high school boys basketball team rush things and play at a helter-skelter pace in the first half, Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood took his team into a back gym at Mattituck High School and conducted what amounted to an abbreviated practice session.
The extra work paid dividends as the Tuckers opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run, turning a 5-point halftime deficit into a 38-28 lead.
Although Southold managed to twice pull to within 5 points of Mattituck in the fourth quarter, the First Settlers never recovered. They had to watch as the Tuckers walked away with a 57-50 non-league win.
The Tuckers (2-3, 0-1 Suffolk County League VII) triumphed over their town rivals despite a career-high 27 points for Southold by junior guard Pat McFarland. McFarland knocked down four 3-point shots and made 5 of 6 free throws. By halftime he had 19 points.
One of Southold’s assistant coaches, Lucas Grigonis, said an early-season pattern has emerged in which the First Settlers (1-3, 0-1 League VIII) get off to slow starts in the third quarter.
The First Settlers had started the game well enough, leading by 19-17, thanks to a half-court shot that Noah Mina (13 points) banked in at the buzzer ending the first quarter, and holding a 29-24 edge at the half.
But then came that 14-0 Mattituck burst to start the third quarter. Joe Tardif was responsible for 7 of those points. He finished the game with 20 points, shooting 8 of 13 from the field and nailing three 3-pointers.
Two other players from Mattituck’s all-senior starting lineup, Jon Dwyer and Dan Fedun, supplied 10 points each. Fedun fouled out with 46.8 seconds to go. Ryan Mowdy, who had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in March, turned in his best game of the young season. The 6-foot-1 senior collected 9 points and 12 rebounds.
The First Settlers had trouble getting shots to drop in the basket in the second half. They shot 2 of 11 from the field in the third quarter when they managed only 4 points. Still, they somehow pulled themselves together and mounted a threat late in the game. Successive baskets by McFarland, Doug Fiedler and Fiedler again trimmed Mattituck’s lead to 52-47 with less than two minutes remaining.
After Dwyer sank two foul shots, Greg Gehring got a bounce off the rim for Southold, once again making it a 5-point game. But two free throws by Fedun and another by Dwyer down the stretch helped the Tuckers salt the victory.
After being fouled while making a basket late in the third quarter, Gehring hit the floor hard and his head struck the court. He was temporarily taken out of the game and administered a concussion test by Mattituck’s trainer, Colleen McGowan. After passing the test, Gehring returned to the game.
Photo caption: Southold’s Dominick Panetta (25) and Pat McFarland (24) struggle for possession of the ball along with Mattituck’s Dan Fedun. (Credit: Garret Meade)