With the Mattituck High School girls basketball team, it’s a case of good news-bad news.
The good news is that the Tuckers have nine returning players, all of whom started at least one game. That shows they have game experience. The bad news is that it also shows that players didn’t retain starting positions last season.
The good news this season is that the Tuckers have a good mix of athletes, depth to work with, and are faster and more aggressive than they were last season, according to their coach, Steve Van Dood. The bad news?
“Not one girl played organized basketball in the offseason,” said Van Dood.
With players playing other sports, the Tuckers didn’t have a summer league team for the first time since Van Dood took over as the coach. He is entering his 10th season with a 99-91 record.
Last season the Tuckers (10-10) reached the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years. For the second year in a row, they were eliminated by Hampton Bays, this time in a Suffolk County Class B semifinal.
Mattituck’s two all-conference players, Katie Hoeg and Liz Dwyer, are back. Hoeg, a senior, averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds per game last season. Dwyer, a sophomore, was good for 15.1 points per game. Both can play either forward or guard.
In addition to Hoeg, the Tuckers have three other seniors — guards Briana Perino and Phurlamu Sherpa and forward Courtney Penny.
Varsity experience is also offered by point guard Mackenzie Daly, forward/guard Chelsea Marlborough, forward Alex Beebe and guard Alya Ayoub.
The team’s newcomers are forward Corinne Reda, guard Emily Mowdy and guard Jane DiGregorio.
“We have all athletes,” Van Dood said. He continued: “I think we should be running for the [league] championship. We beat every team in the league last year that we’re playing.”
For all the scoring ability of Dwyer and Hoeg, Van Dood said it is critical that the Tuckers get points from other players, too.
Photo Caption: Mattituck sophomore Liz Dwyer returns for the Tuckers this season. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)
Welcome back, Chris Golden.
Golden had coached the combined Southold/Greenport team for one season in the late 1990s, and then he coached a separate Greenport team for another five years or so.
Now Golden is back with the Clippers, replacing the retired Howie Geismar.
“I love it. I’m real excited,” Golden said. “The rules have changed. The big thing is there is a lot of rule changes, which is fine. It’s more in line with the NCAA.”
As far as coaching the sport, he said, “Basketball is still basketball.”
Geismar left Golden with players to work with. The Clippers (9-8), a playoff team last season, have Madison Tabor, an all-conference junior guard, and three other returning starters in junior guard Toni Esposito, junior small forward Angelica Klavas and sophomore forward Grace Syron. Klavas was the League VIII rookie of the year last season.
The other returners are the team’s only senior, guard Raeann Berry, and junior center Jamie Molnar.
“The first impression is a good impression,” Golden said. “I’m happy with what I see.”
Golden said it will be important for his players to make the right decisions on the court.
“I’m really hoping that they develop their basketball IQ,” he said. “The thing about basketball is you can only script it so much. I don’t want to have to script out A through G. As a matter of fact, I can’t. I can do A through C. They have to rely on their instincts.”
Golden said he was also excited to have Skip Gehring, a respected coach, as an assistant coach.
“The program is in a very good spot because Skip, he has a wealth of knowledge that he will pass on,” Golden said. “That was like icing on the cake to have a real knowledgeable guy who can easily be a head coach.”