Girls Basketball: An eighth-grader’s 22 points help sink Tuckers in semifinal

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck players watching glumly as the outcome of their county semifinal in Hampton Bays became apparent.


By halftime, Hampton Bays was leading Mattituck by 5 points, 27-22. It was a lead the Baymen couldn’t feel too good about, and a deficit the Tuckers couldn’t feel too bad about.

However, by the time the Suffolk County Class B Tournament semifinal was over, Hampton Bays had a double cause for celebration. Not only had the Baymen advanced to the county final, but one of their top players, Theresa Carey, became the newest member of the school’s 1,000-point club.

Carey’s 1,000th career point and a game-high 22 points from eighth-grader Alexis Fotopoulos highlighted No. 2 Hampton Bays’ 63-44 home win over the third-seeded Tuckers on Saturday. That advances the Baymen (15-4) to Tuesday night’s county final at St. Joseph’s College. They will play the winner of Saturday night’s semifinal between No. 1 Southampton (15-3) and No. 4 Center Moriches (8-5).

Carey, a senior point guard in her fifth year on the team, needed 8 points to reach the 1,000-point mark. That point arrived on a free throw 50 seconds into the fourth quarter. The game was momentarily stopped while Hampton Bays coach Pat McGunnigle presented a bouquet of flowers to Carey, and her achievement was announced to the crowd.

Carey became the sixth Hampton Bays girl to score 1,000 points. She has earned the right to have her name added to a banner hanging in the gym that lists the first five: Andrea Dwyer, Genna Kovar, Aimee Kuhn, Colleen Price and Kim Tuffy.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Sydney Sanders is one of eight Mattituck juniors expected to return next season.

That list doesn’t include Kelly Cavallo, who scored 1,952 points playing for Westhampton Beach and Hampton Bays.

“The whole school was behind me, so it was a lot of pressure,” said Carey, who was a teammate of Kovar’s when Kovar scored her 1,000th point. “I tried to block it out most of the game, but … it was really a lot of relief that I got it. I’ve been on the varsity team for five years, so it’s nice to leave some type of mark.”

McGunnigle attributed Carey’s milestone to her off-season training. “She worked hard for this whole thing,” he said. “She worked all off-season the last three years with me, and she didn’t miss a day. One hundred and 20 straight days she worked out. And she’s become quite a player over the course of those three years.”

McGunnigle said he sensed that Carey was pressing in the game before she scored No. 1,000. She finished with 16 points, which was 1 point below her season average.

Carey showed she can do more than just shoot, too. She had a rare triple-double with 11 assists and 10 steals against Mattituck (9-10).

Perhaps Hampton Bays has a future 1,000-point scorer in Fotopoulos. The young guard nailed five 3-point shots.

“Alexis had a fantastic night tonight,” McGunnigle said, “not just the shooting, but she played great defense, too.”

Hampton Bays, which defeated Mattituck by 32 and 11 points during their two regular-season meetings, wasn’t its usual self in the first half. That’s because its post player, Andrea Tufano, picked up three first-half fouls and spent a good deal of time sitting on the bench.

“Andrea didn’t play much in the first half, so that really hurt us,” McGunnigle said. “It always hurts us when she doesn’t play. Without her, the other team controls backboards, we don’t. When she’s in the game, we control the backboards.”

Tufano ended up with 10 points. All 6 of her rebounds came in the second half.

Altogether, 40 fouls were whistled, and four players fouled out in the fourth quarter: Allie Wilcenski and Lauren Guja of Mattituck, and Haley Wood and Tufano of Hampton Bays.

“We had too many girls get in foul trouble, and once those girls are on the bench, it really hurt us,” Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood said. “It really put us in a bad spot. And we turned the ball over a lot [26 times], a lot of silly errors. But what can you do? We’re a young team.”

A putback by Wilcenski had tied the score at 27-27 early in the third quarter, but Hampton Bays soon took the lead again and never lost it. The Baymen hit 9 of their final 10 field-goal attempts to wrap things up.

“I thought we were going to win it,” Guja said. “I thought we were going to get them in the end. I think a couple of us got in foul trouble and we started playing more timidly. They started hitting threes, and that was breaking down our momentum.”

Guja led Mattituck with 10 points while Shannon Dwyer and Alex Berkoski chipped in 9 apiece. Nicole Murphy had 7 points and 5 assists.

Mattituck, which improved on its 5-13 record from last season, doesn’t have a single senior on its roster. That lack of senior experience may have had something to do with why the Tuckers went 3-8 on the road this season.

But Mattituck does have eight juniors, including two all-county players, Guja and Wilcenski, and the League VII rookie of the year, Berkoski. Next season looks promising for the Tuckers.

“I can’t complain,” Van Dood said. “We made the playoffs in a tough league, and we had some young girls doing some good stuff for us, and the future is very bright.”

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