TUCKERS 56, CLIPPERS 36
The players on one team came racing onto the court for warmups before the start of the second half. The crowd erupted in support with chants of “South-hold! South-hold!” echoing throughout the gym.
It was an odd sight, for two reasons. The Southold/Greenport Clippers were the away team. And the home team, Mattituck, held a comfortable eight-point lead.
No matter, the Southold and Greenport students who filled the Mattituck bleachers boisterously supported their home schools in Friday night’s Class B playoff opener. The Clippers had the support in the stands, but the Tuckers had the advantage on the court.
When it was over, the Tuckers had themselves a 56-36 win that sends them into the semifinals Monday against top-seeded Hampton Bays.
“We still protected our court and our home,” said Mattituck junior Katie Hoeg.
The Tuckers had the unfortunate of playing at the same time the wrestling team was competing in the Division II county finals, thus limiting some of the support they might have otherwise gotten.
“It did get a little loud in here,” said Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood. “I told the girls just focus on the game, focus on what we do. They have to play to us, we’re not playing to their tempo.”
The Tuckers opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run to open up a 16-point lead. Southold could never get within single digits the rest of the way.
Mattituck (10-9) got off to sloppy start, turning the ball over 12 times in the first quarter. The Clippers (9-8) weren’t much better, coughing it up 10 times.
“It wasn’t really showing their ability, the way the girls normally play,” Van Dood said.
Senior Courtney Murphy carried the Tuckers early. She scored 11 of her 12 points in the first quarter, capped by a conventional three-point play late in the quarter.
“She really stepped up today,” said Hoeg, who scored 15 points with 13 rebounds. “It’s nice to see her last home game in her career, she played awesome.”
The Clippers got a team-high 16 points from sophomore guard Madison Tabor.
“We knew they were going to focus on our scorer, Maddie,” said Southold coach Howie Geismar. “We wanted to try and get some scoring from some other people. That didn’t exactly happen. We turned the ball over too much.”
The Clippers started three sophomores and a freshman along with senior Keyna Sanders. The experience of playing in the playoffs should only help the group returning next year.
Freshman Grace Syron held her own playing down low against a bigger Mattituck frontline.
“She’s going to be a heck of a player for us,” Geismar said.
Syron scored eight points. Sophomore Angelica Klavas added eight as well.
The Tuckers had one other player in double figures — freshman Liz Dwyer, who scored 15.
“I think every game someone new steps up,” Hoeg said.
Hoeg nearly connected on a miracle shot to the end the second quarter. She jumped in front of pass for a steal, and just before the buzzer, heaved up a one-handed shot from beyond halfcourt. The ball hit square on the backboard and bounced off the rim.
“At first it was on line,” Hoeg said. “I was like, maybe it’s going to go in.”
Hoeg did find other ways to score. Early in the third quarter, she grabbed a defensive rebound, then took the ball coast-to-coast for a driving layup.
Now the Tuckers will face the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago in Hampton Bays. The Tuckers will have their hands full against the Baymen. Hampton Bays is 2-0 against Mattituck this season.
Monday’s game tips off at 5 p.m. The winner advances to the county finals.