After Center Moriches put up triple-digit points against Mattituck Wednesday night, Tuckers coach Paul Ellwood essentially told his players to forget about it like it never happened. Sometimes that’s the best way to approach a 58-point defeat.
Center Moriches, a New York State Class B final four team last season, may very well be headed back to the state semifinals if it keeps playing the way it has. After the Red Devils ran over the Tuckers, 102-44, at Mattituck High School, Ellwood wasn’t too hard on his players in the postgame locker room. He knew full well what they were up against.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I’m not down on my guys. I told them to hit the delete button.”
Center Moriches (13-2, 5-0 Suffolk County League VII) went on run after run and ran away with its ninth straight win. Before the Tuckers (11-4, 3-2), winners of six of their previous seven games, knew what hit them, they were down, 23-5, following an 18-0 Center Moriches run. Then there was a 14-2 Center Moriches run and a then an 11-2 Center Moriches run.
And so it went.
“We weren’t really ready for the intenseness of their game,” Mattituck guard Isaiah Johnson said. “We just lacked on defense and they were making their shots.”
Center Moriches shot a sizzling 55.6 percent from the floor and its defense held Mattituck to 26.3 percent.
Five players scored in double figures for Center Moriches: Sean Braithwaite (21 points), Tyiquon Nix (20), Troy Goode (17), Dylan Bryant (16) and David Falco (12). Braithwaite and Goode had seven assists each while Nix had six.
Center Moriches knocked down 14 three-point shots, including four apiece by Nix and Bryant.
Nick Perino was Mattituck’s top scorer, coming off the bench for 14 points. He hit four treys in the fourth quarter when he scored all of his points.
Ellwood said Center Moriches is the toughest team Mattituck has played this season.
“It was a question of how we were going to handle their pressure, and we didn’t,” he said. “I told the guys at halftime, our record got their attention and they brought their ‘A’ game and they brought their ‘A’ shooting. They all knock down shots. They’re playing together. Tonight there was no lack of intensity or focus on their side.”
Johnson rolled his right ankle in the third quarter and did not play in the fourth. The sophomore guard had his ankle wrapped in ice, resting on a chair.
“It’s not that bad,” Johnson said. “I just keep on rolling it.”
Center Moriches broke 100 on a basket by Brad Sakellarides with 18 seconds left for the game’s final points.
As Ellwood sees it, some good can come out of this game for the Tuckers. He said, “This game tonight is going to motivate them for the whole rest of the year.”
Photo caption: Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood addressing his team during a timeout. (Credit: Bob Liepa)