It was an intriguing matchup, to be sure: Mattituck speed versus Islip height.
When someone ventured an opinion that he would take speed over height, Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood said, “I would too, but when it’s extremely, extremely a big difference, that’s when we have issues.”
The height difference in the Suffolk County girls basketball small schools final was considerable, particularly with Islip’s 6-foot-2 Meghan Oberg and 6-1 Sanne Van Poelgeest. The two transfers from Upper Room Christian School made a big difference, combining for 38 points and 23 rebounds in a 64-46 defeat of Mattituck on Wednesday night at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. It was the 13th straight win for Class A champion Islip (19-2), which recently won its first county championship ever in addition to its first league title in 31 years, according to coach Dave Goodman.
Islip will play Commack or Sachem East for the overall county title on Friday at Stony Brook University.
The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for Suffolk Class B champion Mattituck (19-2), which also raised its first county crown this year.
With quick hands and quick legs from the likes of Jane DiGregorio and Mackenzie Daly, the Tuckers routinely force teams into mistakes with their pressure defense. It worked early on.
Mattituck scored the game’s first eight points and never trailed in the first half. The Tuckers led by as many as nine points in the opening 16 minutes when Brianna Perino hit a jumper for a 20-11 lead.
“The speed, it worked for us in the first half,” said Van Dood.
Islip then went to work, pulling to within one twice before Katie Hoeg closed out the half with two free throws and a layup for a 29-24 Mattituck lead. Hoeg had nine of her 14 points by halftime.
Things changed in a big way in the second half. Islip found its way, netting the first 11 points of the third quarter, nine of them coming from the irrepressible Van Poelgeest.
The Buccaneers took their first double-digit lead of the game later in the the quarter before closing the game on a 19-7 run.
Van Poelgeest (20 points, 12 rebounds), a junior, and Oberg (18 points, 11 rebounds), a senior, both recorded double-doubles and helped Islip control the boards with a 46-20 rebounding advantage.
“They were so tall,” said Perino, who added: “I think it was hard for us because of the height. We’re really not used to that.”
Van Dood called Islip “the tallest team we played, I think, in my career.”
Islip’s Taryn Ohlmiller had already put up 15 points before fouling out with 2:04 to go in the game.
Shots weren’t going Mattituck’s way, either. The Tuckers made only 29.5 percent of their field-goal attempts to Islip’s 40.7 percent.
“We were faster,” said Liz Dwyer, who led Mattituck with 15 points. “I think the reason why we lost is we beat ourselves. I think we could have had this game.”
So, Katie Hoeg, what is your preference, height or speed?
“I think that anything you can get is good, but I think we’re really lucky that we have speed, and it just didn’t work for us tonight, but I don’t know,” she answered. “I’d take both of them if I could.”
Photo caption: Islip’s Julia Hande and Mattituck’s Corinne Reda competing for the ball during the Suffolk County small schools final at Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Garret Meade)