On the coldest night of the year, senior guard Ryan McCaffrey could not have picked a better time to have the hottest shooting night of his high school boys basketball season.
With temperatures hovering around 22 degrees, the 5-foot-8 McCaffrey sank five treys — four in the opening half — and scored 17 points to spark Mattituck to a 53-47 victory over Southold in a non-league encounter between these two longtime rivals in Mattituck Friday.
After struggling starts to the season, both teams needed a win to lift their confidence and spirit.
The First Settlers entered the game with a 0-3 non-league record, averaging 47.6 points a game.
The Tuckers were not that much better with a 1-3 non-league mark, averaging 40.5 points, having just secured their first victory of the season, a 49-46 result over Hampton Bays on Wednesday.
McCaffrey, averaging six points a game, enjoyed a career-best night with his field goals and points.
He left his mark on the game early by connecting for Mattituck’s first two shots of the game — both three-pointers, adding another one in the first quarter as the hosts secured a 22-17 advantage. McCaffrey had help in that period as 6-4 senior forward Ryan Shuford scored seven of his 12 points.
After Pat McFarland (team-high 22 points) connected on a pair of treys to ignite an 8-0 run to boost the First Settlers into a 25-22 lead with six minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the second period, the Tuckers pulled away. They outscored Southold, 13-2, the rest of the quarter as Carter Montgomery scored six of his seven points and McCaffrey sank another three-pointer en route to a 35-27 halftime advantage.
The Tuckers did not make many mistakes in the first half, committing only three turnovers to Southold’s eight.
Slowly, but surely, Mattituck extended its lead to as many as 15 points at 52-37 with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter before the First Settlers rallied with a 10-1 tear to close the gap to six points before the final buzzer.
Both teams had one thing in common — they struggled from the foul line. Southold made only 40 percent of its shots (6 of 15), while Mattituck canned only 32 percent of its attempts (6 of 19).
The Tuckers next host Shelter Island on Monday, Pierson on Friday and Mount Sinai on Dec. 28.
The First Settlers visit Babylon on Thursday before playing at Westhampton Beach in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament Dec. 27-28.