SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B OUTBRACKET GAME | WARRIORS 77, TUCKERS 68
They call them the Warriors for a reason.
Not only is that the nickname of the Wyandanch Memorial High School boys basketball team, but the term exemplifies its fighting spirit.
It was a spirit that came in handy Tuesday evening as Wyandanch blew leads of 17-0 and 24-5 before rallying in the fourth quarter for a hard-fought 77-68 defeat of a stubborn Mattituck team in a Suffolk County Class B outbracket game. Fourth-seeded Wyandanch (8-11) advances to a county semifinal today at No. 1 Babylon (15-2).
“It’s disappointing,” Mattituck forward Chris Dwyer said. “We went into this game thinking we were going to take this one from them, but it just didn’t go that way.”
Justice Broughton (6 of 9 shooting) led four Wyandanch players in double figures with 17 points despite fouling out in the fourth quarter along with teammate Taquan Brooks.
Qyamar Miller (12 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Kamar Harris (15 points) scored 4 points each during an 11-0 run that snapped a 57-57 tie and put Wyandanch ahead by 68-57. After that No. 5 Mattituck (10-9) twice pulled to within 6 points, but never closer than that.
“We started out 17-0 and we made a mad scramble to get back into it, and then the second half was just chaos,” Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood said. “That’s all you could say about it.”
Wyandanch, playing in its customary home white uniforms trimmed with the school’s green and yellow colors, finished the game by sinking 10 of its last 16 field-goal attempts.
“Our heart is there,” Wyandanch coach Barry Baker Jr. said. “We bled green tonight. We definitely did. We came out and we performed in front of a great crowd and against a good team.”
Wyandanch delighted its home fans by opening the game on 7-for-12 shooting and storming out to a 17-0 lead as Broughton and the left-handed Kamel Cabbagestalk scored 6 points each. Cabbagestalk, a 6-foot-6 junior center with a nice shooting touch, was particularly troublesome inside the paint for the Tuckers, plucking 9 rebounds off the boards to go with his 14 points. He was one reason why Wyandanch dominated in rebounding, 47-26. Another reason was Tyler Agard, who hauled in 11 rebounds and had 9 points.
With 21 offensive rebounds, the Warriors gave themselves multiple chances at the basket.
“They did play tough,” said Dwyer, who delivered 8 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. “I was more disappointed with the way we came out. They definitely had a lot of energy. They’re home. It was nice for them, but a 17-0 run is pretty unacceptable.”
But the Tuckers had plenty of fight in them as well. Despite falling into such a large hole, they tightened up their defense, cut Wyandanch’s lead to 5 points by halftime and pulled themselves back into the game.
“I knew we weren’t going to bow down to them,” Mattituck forward Gene Allen said. “We weren’t going to bow down to anyone. We could be playing the best team in the state, we’re not going to bow down. We’re going to give it a fight.”
About midway through the third quarter, Will Gildersleeve connected on one of his five 3-point shots to give the Tuckers their first lead at 42-40. Their only other lead came when a double-pump layup by Allen made it 50-49 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.
“Mattituck has always been like that,” Baker said. “They’re feisty. They don’t give up and they got shooters. They got a lot of good shooters.”
One of them is Gildersleeve, who led the Tuckers with 22 points. Allen, who along with Tyler Reeve are Mattituck’s only seniors, made 5 of his 10 shots from the field and finished with 20 points. Parker Tuthill added 10 points.
“It was wild, man,” Baker said. “That was a great game.”
The Tuckers took a less enthusiastic view of it. Allen looked glum afterward and spoke softly during an interview. Asked to assess the season, he said, “We didn’t really do anything besides playoffs, and when you go in the playoffs, you want to accomplish something.”
Endings are tough, whether it be a season or a career, like Allen’s varsity career, which began when he was a freshman. And they can be tough for coaches, too.
“I told the kids coaches live year to year, and this is gut-wrenching for me,” Ellwood said after he emerged from a postgame meeting with his players. “I feel terrible right now. It’s going to be a rough night.”