It was going to take a good high school girls basketball team to end Mattituck’s season. Perhaps a team like Mattituck, only better.
That team was Irvington.
The Section I champion from Westchester County gave Mattituck a taste of its own medicine Thursday night. Using its superior speed and excellent passing, Irvington made life miserable for the Tuckers and their star player, Liz Dwyer.
For a second straight year, Mattituck was halted in a Southeast Region Class B final, this time at the hands of Irvington, which cruised, 62-37, at SUNY/Old Westbury’s Clark Athletic Center. The Bulldogs did it by giving Mattituck a taste of its own medicine.
“It was kind of like us playing ourselves, or just a little better,” said Dwyer.
Mattituck’s only senior, Corinne Reda, said: “They took our game and kind of spun it on us. They threw it right back at us and we didn’t like how it felt.”
Irvington (22-3), which earned a place in the state final four that will be played March 17-19 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, looked comfortable by making Mattituck (20-4) uncomfortable, particularly Dwyer. Irvington did a nice job of collapsing on the junior forward whenever she had the ball. Dwyer had to work for her touches and when she did get the ball in her hands, at least two Bulldogs immediately closed in on her.
“I had no room to work,” Dwyer said. “They did a great job on defense on me.”
Dwyer, who entered the game averaging 22 points per game, had eight points, one assist and one block to her name at halftime. She finished with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.
“You could see Liz was frustrated today,” Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood told reporters. “They knew to stop Liz. They knew who she was.”
Jane DiGregorio had eight of Mattituck’s 10 other points at the break, which saw Irvington holding a comfortable 34-19 lead.
“They were us, but a little faster and better shooters,” DiGregorio said. “I think overall they were a faster team and we really didn’t know how to cope with that.”
Irvington expanded a two-point lead in the second quarter by shooting 9-for-18 from the field, with eight points coming from Olivia Valdes and Lindsay Halpin canning a pair of three-pointers.
The matter was essentially settled.
“Pressure defense, they moved the ball very well,” Van Dood said. “I mean, they made extra passes, almost to the point of too many extra passes. They were very good. I mean, I’ve never seen such ball movement on a girls basketball team.”
Kelly Degnan, shooting a sizzling 9-for-12 from the field, led Irvington with 20 points. Also among Irvington’s nine scorers were Valdes (14 points) and Halpin (11). Halpin also had seven assists.
“When we thought they were going to take the shot, they made the extra pass and their passes were on and they were just playing at a speed that we didn’t really witness this whole entire season,” said DiGregorio, who had 10 points for Mattituck.
Irvington forced Mattituck into committing 24 turnovers. In addition, Irvington shot 37.3 percent from the field to Mattituck’s 29.4 percent.
“Their shooting was good,” Dwyer said. “They were quicker than us. We’re usually the quick team and they just shut us down.”
Mattituck played its fifth straight game without its No. 1 point guard, Mackenzie Daly, who was out with a knee injury.
Asked for her perspective on the season, Reda said Mattituck did “as good as we could with what we had, better than anyone expected us to.”
With a tear streaming down her cheek, she said: “I didn’t want to feel like this. I’m so proud of how much we did, but I just wish we could have accomplished more.”
Photo caption: Mattituck’s bench watches glumly during the later stages of the Tuckers’ loss to Irvington in the Southeast Region Class B final. (Credit: Garret Meade)