On a bitterly cold night in which most people might have burned a barn to keep warm, they most appropriately played one memorable barn burner at Babylon High School.
Mattituck won the most important game of its high school boys basketball season, overcoming a 7-point fourth-quarter deficit to record a 61-58 victory over Babylon in an intense Suffolk County League VII encounter Tuesday night.
The Tuckers, who avenged a 15-point defeat to the first-place Panthers last month, needed the win for a number reasons. It kept them very much in the running for a playoff berth. It also restored their spirit after losing the lead and eventually the game to league rival Bishop McGann-Mercy on Friday.
Mattituck (8-5, 4-3), which trailed by as many as 8 points late in the second quarter, had many heroes against Babylon (9-4, 5-2).
Senior guard Jon Dwyer tallied 10 of his 16 points in the first half to keep the visitors in the game before canning two foul shots with nine seconds remaining to secure the final score. Nick Antolini (30 points), whose five treys and driving layups made life miserable for the Tuckers, attempted a long 3-pointer that fell short before the final buzzer.
Dwyer put an exclamation point on a remarkable foul-shooting performance by the Tuckers in the fourth quarter, as they sank 11 of 12 under pressure.
Senior forward Ryan Mowdy, who led Mattituck with 18 points and 11 rebounds, scored 8 points in the final quarter and played a key role, helping the visitors escape from a 47-40 hole with 6:26 remaining. He had some help as senior guard Joe Tardif tallied 6 of his 12 points to aid the Tuckers’ rally.
Then Mowdy took over. His two free throws tied the score at 54-54 with 1:28 left before he sank a short shot for a 56-54 advantage with 50 seconds remaining.
Antolini thought he sank a trey with 41 seconds remaining, but it did not count because Babylon had called a timeout.
In fact, the final 41 seconds turned into a battle of wits between the coaches and a foul-shooting contest. Six timeouts were called during that span, three by each side.
Moreover, the Tuckers had ice water in their veins as Parker Tuthill put in two foul shots and Dan Fedun added one in the final minute.