TUCKERS 45, MARINERS 26
For the Mattituck Tuckers girls basketball team, there is no place like home. Or is there?
If it’s true that there is no place like home, the next best thing would be to have a home away from home. The Tuckers surely have that.
Because of a leak in the roof over Mattituck High School’s gym, the Tuckers were forced to play their home game on Tuesday night at Cutchogue East Elementary School. They didn’t seem to mind much, and the switch didn’t appear to hurt the Tuckers at all. They charged out to a 23-8 lead over an inexperienced Southampton team and its star player, Noel Hodges, before pulling away to a 45-26 win. It was the third straight victory for the Tuckers (8-5, 3-2 Suffolk County League VII), who have a 3-1 all-time record in the familiar Cutchogue East gym, where the team sometimes practices.
The Tuckers, who have won all six of their home games this season, need only two wins from their final five regular-season games to qualify for the playoffs.
Southampton (5-4, 2-3) was the Long Island Class B champion the past two years, but the Mariners have undergone tremendous change. They lost 11 of their 12 players from last season’s team, Hodges being the sole returner. The senior guard, who is headed to Brandeis University (Mass.) where she will play alongside her older sister Paris, is extremely talented, but she didn’t have enough help around her on Tuesday.
Mattituck’s headline performer, Shannon Dwyer, scored 11 of her game-high 15 points during that opening 23-8 surge, which Southampton was unable to recover from. The Tuckers made only 4 of their first 24 field-goal attempts, yet built a commanding lead largely on the strength of their defense. It was a defense that limited Southampton to 4 points in the first quarter. A couple of baskets by Hodges late in the second quarter gave the Mariners 13 points by halftime.
Hodges had 7 points at the half on 3-for-12 shooting from the field. She played well with her typical all-around game, but her shots weren’t dropping as they normally do for her. Hodges finished with 13 points on 6-for-25 shooting (0 for 7 from 3-point distance). But she also brought her side 13 rebounds, 7 steals and 2 assists.
The Tuckers coasted despite not having their best shooting day, hitting on only 29.7 percent of their field-goal attempts. But Southampton shot an even lower percentage than that: 20.4.
Katie Hoeg and Dwyer worked well together, setting each other up for baskets. The two combined for six baskets before Hoeg headed to the bench much earlier than she would have liked. Hoeg was whistled for her fourth foul with 3 minutes 29 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Just 18 seconds later she was called for her fifth foul, ending her day. She had 8 points on 4-for-14 shooting to go with 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block.
Regardless, Mattituck’s lead was safe. The Tuckers led by as many as 23 points when a pair of free throws by Liz Dwyer made it 38-15 with 2:55 to go in the third quarter.
Tiana Baker supplied the Tuckers with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood expected this would be the only game the Tuckers would have to play in Cutchogue this season. He hopes the gym floor at Mattituck High School will be ready in time for the team’s next home game on Jan. 23 against Center Moriches.