MARINERS 80, TUCKERS 57
It may have been a night for the two seniors on the Mattituck High School boys basketball team, but it surely wasn’t the Tuckers’ night.
Against a potent team like Southampton, which has athleticism, length and skill, opponents need to be sharp and near the top of their game just to be competitive.
The Tuckers weren’t, and the result showed it.
Mattituck closed out its regular season Friday night with a 23-point defeat at the hands of Southampton. One of Mattituck’s seniors, Tyler Reeve, called the 80-57 loss one of the team’s worst performances of the season. Coach Paul Ellwood agreed.
If the Tuckers did save their worst for last, they sounded confident afterward about better things to come in the playoffs. Ellwood said he expects the Tuckers to be paired with Wyandanch for a Suffolk County Class B outbracket game on Tuesday. The playoff brackets are expected to be released Monday. Mattituck and Wyandanch beat each other once during the regular season.
With the only possible implication of Friday’s game being whether the Tuckers would get a home playoff game or not, there really wasn’t a whole lot at stake for either Southampton or Mattituck, the third- and fourth-place teams in League VII. Perhaps the greatest meaning of the game was sensed by Mattituck’s seniors, Gene Allen and Reeve, who may have played their last game in the Mattituck High School gym.
Before the game, Mattituck’s senior cheerleaders and players were escorted onto the court by their parents to be applauded and recognized. Ellwood, with a microphone in his hand, told the assemblage, “This is always a bittersweet night for us coaches.”
It turned out to be more bitter than sweet for Ellwood as he then watched his team struggle against Southampton (14-4, 10-4), which won its fourth straight game. The Mariners shot 51 percent from the field (31 for 61), throwing plenty of offensive weapons at the Tuckers (10-8, 7-7). Shaundell Fishburne struck for 19 points; he shot 7 of 9 from the field. Taylor Sanders added 18 points with the aid of four 3-point shots. Isaiah Johnson chipped in 15 points. Nasies Fulford provided 12 points and 10 rebounds. Seven of Southampton’s 24 assists came from Israel Johnson.
Fishburne helped start things off for the Mariners with a pair of treys and a layup that, along with a putback by Fulford, spotted them a 10-2 lead.
It didn’t get any better for the Tuckers after that. Following a 3-for-13 shooting spell in the second quarter, they headed to the locker room at halftime trailing by 42-29. And then Southampton opened the third quarter with another 10-2 run.
Like Southampton, the Tuckers also had four players score in double figures. Will Gildersleeve, who hit five 3-pointers, netted 19 points. Allen, who threw down a two-handed dunk for his first points late in the first quarter, finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Chris Dwyer and Joe Tardif had 10 points each.
Mattituck made 9 shots from 3-point territory, but needed 33 attempts to get them.