Boys Basketball: Tuckers let the 3-pointers fly

Mattituck's Chris Sledjeski goes airborne while Greenport's Nick Droskoski tries to stop him. (Credit: Garret Meade)
Mattituck’s Chris Sledjeski goes airborne while Greenport’s Nick Droskoski tries to stop him. (Credit: Garret Meade)

With the exception of the summer league attire, this could have been mistaken for a basketball game one might see on the playground. It was run-and-gun ball played at a furious pace, a helter-skelter version employed by both teams. And the 3-point shots were flying, particularly on the Mattituck side.

Wait a minute. Where were the half-court sets? Where were the diagramed play calls from the bench?

“No. That’s not my system,” said Mattituck’s assistant coach, Tom Ascher, who has been running the team for coach Paul Ellwood this summer. “You get a couple of defensive changes, that’s about it.”

And a whole lot of action as Greenport and Mattituck players dashed up and down the court in a frenzy.

“I like that pace a lot,” Mattituck’s junior small forward, Dan Fedun, said. “It’s fun to play when everyone’s jelling together, the chemistry’s going and everything. You know, we just can’t be stopped when the chemistry’s there.”

Or the 3-point shot.

When all the commotion stopped, the scoreboards at Eastport/South Manor High School showed Mattituck to be a 52-35 winner in the final game of the Town of Brookhaven Summer League for both teams on Tuesday night. More than anything, the game served as a reminder of the impact of the 3-point shot.

Ascher knows 3-pointers can turn a game around. They made an impact in this one.

Most of Mattituck’s field-goal attempts were from beyond the arc. The Tuckers shot 8 for 26 from that long range. They took the lead for good on four straight 3-pointers by Will Gildersleeve, Fedun, Parker Tuthill and Tuthill again to turn a 1-point deficit into a 17-6 lead just like that.

Later in the half, the third of Tuthill’s four treys stretched that lead to 24-9. The Tuckers were off and running.

And then, as if to remove any doubt about the final outcome, Gildersleeve and Tuthill canned 3-pointers to open up the second half, making it 32-14.

“When we can shoot the 3-ball, we’re the best team in the league, I think,” said Fedun.

Yes, 3-pointers can be an effective weapon when a team has outside shooters like Gildersleeve, Tuthill and Auggie Knuth.

“We’ve really improved on 3-point shots,” said senior center Josh Conklin, who fouled out with a little under 3:00 left and his side up, 49-31. “It’s a game-changer.”

The Tuckers were particularly hot in the first half when they hit 10 of their 20 shots from the field (and 6 of 14 attempts from 3-point land). They cooled off a bit in the second half, shooting 10 of 30, but by then the damage had been done.

Gildersleeve (18 points), Tuthill (16) and Fedun (12) scored all but 6 of Mattituck’s points.

Greenport coach Ev Corwin said sophomore Darrius Bolling has played well this summer. Bolling may have been the Porters’ top player on Tuesday, putting up 9 points and 10 rebounds. Sam Strickland came down with 11 rebounds to go with his 7 points.

The Porters were better on the boards, outrebounding the Tuckers by 39-24. But the Porters had trouble getting their shots to fall, shooting 28.6 percent from the field and going 2 for 8 on 3-point attempts.

The win caps a 4-6 summer season for the Tuckers that looks better when one considers they won four of their last six games. The Porters ended up 2-8.

Conklin said the Tuckers found chemistry and learned how to play together.

“We’ve known each other since like seventh grade, just all playing basketball together since Day One,” he said. “It’s been a journey for all of us.”

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