07/03/14 10:34pm
07/03/2014 10:34 PM
Shoreham-Wading River senior Jonah Caldwell blocks the shot of Mattituck's Josh Conklin Thursday. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Shoreham-Wading River senior Jonah Caldwell blocks the shot of Mattituck’s Josh Conklin Thursday. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

Over the sound of a bouncing basketball, squeaking sneakers and the occasional claps from the dozen or so fans in attendance, one voice echoed throughout the gym at Shoreham-Wading River High School late Thursday night.  (more…)

12/10/13 8:17pm
12/10/2013 8:17 PM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck has numerous scoring options, including Will Gildersleeve, who scored a career-high 27 points against Bridgehampton.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck has numerous scoring options, including Will Gildersleeve, who scored a career-high 27 points against Bridgehampton.

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.”

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11/26/13 9:35am
11/26/2013 9:35 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck's talented three-headed back court.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck’s talented three-headed back court.

A former guard himself, Paul Ellwood appreciates good guard play. So, when discussing the three talented guards he has on his Mattituck High School boys basketball team, a happy grin creases the coach’s face. He knows what he has and he likes it.

What the Tuckers have are three quality guards who are basically interchangeable. All of them can play point guard and all of them can play shooting guard. And, to top it off, none of them are seniors, which means they will be around for a while. That’s a luxury for a small school.

“It’s like baseball, you can’t have enough pitching,” Ellwood said. “In basketball, you can’t have enough guards, so it’s not a problem.”

The guards in question are junior Will Gildersleeve, sophomore Joe Tardif and sophomore Parker Tuthill. Gildersleeve and Tardif started a lot of games for the Tuckers last year. Gildersleeve was All-League honorable mention, and Tardif was the runner-up for the League VII rookie of the year award. Tuthill, meanwhile, had what Ellwood called “a great year on JV.”

Gildersleeve may be the most physical of the three. Ellwood expects Gildersleeve to force teams into foul trouble. Tardif has blazing speed and can bring the Tuckers fast transition points. As for Tuthill, Ellwood, who has coached Mattituck since 2003, said, “He’s incredibly skilled, maybe the most skilled guard I’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of handling the ball.”

Another guard, Jon Dwyer, is good enough to play for the varsity team but has been assigned to the junior varsity team. “There’s just not enough room,” explained Ellwood.

The last time Ellwood saw this type of talent in his back court was during the 2010-11 season when he had Connor David and twins Steve and Tom Ascher playing for him. That team won a Long Island championship.

“I guess you could say we’re lucky, but definitely a plus for us,” Gildersleeve said before Monday’s night’s practice.

In order to maximize his back-court strength, Ellwood is adjusting his offense accordingly. He said he has done a lot of reading on offenses and installed some offenses he never used before, including a four-guard offense that Jay Wright used at Villanova.

“When you let the kids be creative, it’s fun to watch,” Ellwood said. “It’s fun for the kids and it’s harder for the other team to defend. The key is they have to make good decisions and not force it, and use their teammates.”

Ellwood expects a lot of kickouts for 3-point looks, but he likes the instincts of his guards. “All three of them like to attack the basket, which is good,” he said. “They don’t settle for the three. A lot of times guards these days are happy to just sit outside and shoot a three. So we’ve been stressing attack the basket, the three is always going to be there. We’d rather attack first and shoot second. It gives us a better look.”

The running style seems to suit the guards just fine.

“We play the best when we just don’t run an offense, we just fast break points,” said Tuthill, who is Gildersleeve’s cousin. “That’s the best way to keep a fast-paced game. Let the other team adjust to that.”

Tardif smiles at the mention of fast-paced play, but he also understands the importance of gaining possession of the ball in the first place. “We have to make sure that we rebound,” he said. “Rebounding and defense are the first thing, then scoring will come after that.”

Gildersleeve said: “I think we’re like a guard-built team. I mean, all of us are fast so that’s how hopefully we’ll get most of our wins this year, by outrunning teams. The whole idea this year is we want to run fast break. We don’t really want to have set offenses, just beat the teams down the court and outwork them.”

Babylon and Southampton are seen as League VII’s two powers this coming season, but Ellwood said the league is strong and a case can be made for seven of the league’s eight teams getting into the playoffs. He said, “If you’re not loaded with guards, you’re going to struggle in this league.”

The Tuckers should be covered in that area.

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08/08/13 11:50pm
08/08/2013 11:50 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

One of the most valuable things to come out of this productive summer for the Mattituck boys basketball team is its proven ability to pull out close games. That’s a wonderful quality, and was best illustrated in the team’s 1-point wins over Miller Place and Greenport during the Town of Brookhaven Summer League regular season.

That knack for winning the close ones doesn’t seem to work against Westhampton Beach, though.

During the regular season, Westhampton Beach handed Mattituck an 8-point loss. Things were even tighter when the teams met again in the small schools final on Thursday evening, with Westhampton Beach prevailing by 4 points, 31-27. The defensive struggle at St. Joseph’s College’s John A. Danzi Athletic Center saw Mattituck’s lowest point output of the summer in the Brookhaven League.

Points were hard to come by. Through the first 15 minutes of running time, the scoreboard read 5-5, a score more fitting for a game played by elementary school-age players than two high school varsity teams. The Tuckers allowed only 13 points in the first half, and still trailed by 3 points because of Mike Frangeskos’ 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.

The teams stayed within 5 points of each other the whole way until Frangeskos sank a pair of free throws, putting the Hurricanes ahead, 29-27, late in the game for the seventh lead change.

Another two foul shots by Luke Dyer gave Westhampton Beach a little more breathing room with 13.9 seconds left.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Auggie Knuth of Mattituck, under the shadow of  Westhampton Beach’s Luke Dyer, examines his options.

Both teams had their offensive struggles, with only about one-third of the shots finding their way through the basket. The shooting from the field was almost identical: Westhampton Beach shot 10 for 29 and Mattituck went 9 for 29.

“It was tough,” Mattituck’s sophomore point guard, Parker Tuthill, said. “We couldn’t get a flow to our offense, but defensively we were doing good. We stopped them a lot. We just couldn’t execute on offense.”

Frangesko led all scorers with 12 points. Dyer contributed 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block for the Hurricanes, who picked up their 10th win in 12 league games.

Gene Allen was Mattituck’s top scorer with 6 points. He also had 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

“It was a tough game,” Allen said. “It’s always a tough game when we play them.” He added, “Every time we play them, it’s hard to execute.”

What was Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood’s assessment of what he saw?

“It was hard for us to get looks,” he said. “We struggled to get anything going. … I think they had problems with our press, but we just didn’t score enough to get into it.”

It’s wise not to read too much into summer league results, but the fact that Mattituck (9-3) reached the championship game is evidence that it has done some things right.

The Tuckers also competed in a summer league in Southampton, going 7-7 in that league. By playing in both leagues, the Tuckers saw more playing time and had more opportunities to show what they can do.

“You never know what you’re going to get out of it,” Ellwood said of summer-league ball. “Sometimes the team grows. I think a lot of guys down in the pecking order got a lot of [playing] time and improved. I found roles for them on the team and how they can help us.”

Ellwood believes the Tuckers will be in a better situation when they start preseason practice for the school season than they were a year ago. It’s easy to see why. Mattituck returns its top three scorers (Will Gildersleeve, Allen and Chris Dwyer), its leading rebounder (Allen) and its No. 1 assist man (Joe Tardif) from last season.

Although the Tuckers have young players, they have basketball experience. Not a bad combination.

Among the developing young players who have looked good is Tuthill, who was the starting point guard for Mattituck’s 16-1 junior varsity team last season. “He had some games where he was just lights out,” said Ellwood.

The coach continued: “Parker’s going to be a tremendous player. He just needs to get a little meat on the bones. The only time he struggles is when bigger kids get physical with him. Other than that, the skill set is there. He can shoot. He’s going to grow up and get stronger. He’s going to be a handful. … He’s going to be a great player for us for the next three years.”

More encouragement comes from junior Josh Conklin and senior Tyler Reeve, who have provided the team with inside grit.

“Our front line was a weakness last year, so we addressed that with those two guys,” said Ellwood.

Playing in a league final, even if it is a summer league, has benefits, but Tuthill’s competitive fire may have made it difficult for him to sound upbeat after the league final.

“It’s a good experience,” he said, “but it would have been better if we had won.”

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05/15/13 6:02pm
05/15/2013 6:02 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck first doubles player Kevin Schwartz returning a shot during the Tuckers' first-round playoff loss to Bayport-Blue Point.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck first doubles player Kevin Schwartz returning a shot during the Tuckers’ first-round playoff loss to Bayport-Blue Point.

SUFFOLK COUNTY TEAM TOURNAMENT, FIRST ROUND | PHANTOMS 4, TUCKERS 3

Perhaps Garrett Malave was biding his time, just waiting for the right moment to take charge of the tennis match. Perhaps he was simply adjusting to the sporadic wind, which sometimes played tricks with the ball.

Through the first four games of the first singles match, the Mattituck freshman traded points with Bayport-Blue Point senior Jeremy Morgenbesser. A double fault on game point by Morgenbesser allowed Malave to tie the score at two games apiece.

And then Malave made his move.

Malave finished the next game with a pair of blistering service aces and then won six of the next seven games after that. He raised the level of his play demonstrably and turned the tables in dramatic fashion. He seemed to exude confidence and enjoy playing as he put away thunderous winners with a flourish.

“Garrett has a tendency to do that,” Mattituck coach Mike Huey said. “He doesn’t start off really fast, and he goes for a lot of shots and usually makes a lot of mistakes. Once he gets into his rhythm … then he gets rolling.”

Malave outscored his opponent, 12-3, in the first three games of the second set before Morgenbesser recovered to take the next three games. Malave’s play levelled off a bit, but he still had enough to take the last three games for a 6-3, 6-3 win in 62 minutes. It was an impressive showing, no doubt, but Malave was unable to prevent No. 24 seed Mattituck from losing, 4-3, to ninth-seeded Bayport-Blue Point in the first round of the Suffolk County Team Tournament on Wednesday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior Charles Hickox serving during his first doubles match against Bayport-Blue Point.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck junior Charles Hickox serving during his first doubles match against Bayport-Blue Point.

If there was a sense of déjà vu, it was understandable. It is the second time in three years that the Phantoms have handed Mattituck a first-round loss on their home courts.

Bayport-Blue Point (13-4), the League V runner-up, lived up to its reputation of having strong doubles teams. The Phantoms swept the three doubles contests, but it was also a key point from fourth singles that advances them into a quarterfinal tomorrow against No. 8 Islip (12-3), the League III champion.

Junior Matt Beyer’s 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Mattituck freshman Thomas Chatin at fourth singles was vital for Bayport-Blue Point, which has talent scattered throughout its lineup.

“That’s been the case with us all season,” Bayport-Blue Point coach Keith Scharfschwerdt said. “Our depth has been our strength, and everyone on the team plays at almost an equal level, so it carries us a little bit.”

The three doubles matches were all one-sided, two-set affairs. Perhaps that’s no surprise, considering that Bayport-Blue Point’s first and second doubles teams finished second and fourth, respectively, in the Conference III Tournament.

The first doubles duo of Tyler Grossé and Max Hoffman took care of Charles Hickox and Kevin Schwartz, 6-2, 6-1. Second doubles went to Lucas Jenks and Xavier Stickney, 6-1, 6-1 over James Rabkevich and Dan Salice. Grant Ferrante and Sean Gray posted a 6-2, 6-1 win over Nick Rabkevich and Tyler Rozhen.

With the doubles matches falling in Bayport-Blue Point’s favor, Mattituck (12-2) needed to sweep the four singles contests in order to prevail. The Tuckers came close as Malave, Parker Tuthill (6-2, 6-4 over Cory Zirkel) and Andrew Young (6-3, 6-1 over Jonny Keyes) triumphed.

“We almost did it,” Huey said. “Our top three singles played extremely well, and Thomas, he tried to grind it out, but [Beyer] was a little more steady.”

Playoff matches involve more pressure, with the finality of a season-ending loss, but that didn’t faze Tuthill.

“It’s a little more pressure, but I like playing with pressure,” he said. “It makes me feel better, pumped up.”

Playoffs or not, the hard-hitting Malave was typically aggressive — and successful — in his match. He produced 17 service aces and 10 winners.

“I just enjoyed myself out there. I had fun,” Malave said. “Once I broke through, I felt like I could keep on continuing to push, and it worked out.”

Bayport-Blue Point reached the playoffs for the fifth successive year, a testament to the team’s drive.

“They’re a fun, competitive bunch, and that’s what drives it, the intrasquad competition,” Scharfschwerdt said. “Everyone wants to beat somebody else in practice, and that’s what motivates them.”

Mattituck’s six-match win streak, which began following a loss to William Floyd, was snapped. Regardless, the Tuckers can reflect on a memorable year in which they won a third straight league championship.

“It was a good season,” Tuthill said. “I can’t wait for next year.”

Next year Mattituck will move up from League VIII to League VII, where the competition is stiffer and its young singles players will be tested.

“We’re going into a tougher league,” Malave said, “and that’s going to really challenge us.”

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