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Boys Basketball: Tuckers are on playoff pace

Paul Ellwood dropped his clipboard to the floor in disgust. And if that didn’t get the attention of his players, the Mattituck High School boys basketball coach yelled to make his point to them. He didn’t like what he was seeing.

“We had guys trying to set up the offense who don’t usually do it,” he said. “We were a little chaotic at times. We got away from our normal team play and it got ugly.”

Never mind that Mattituck had a strong first quarter and led virtually from start to finish, Ellwood didn’t enjoy his team’s 61-42 Suffolk County League VI win at Babylon High School on Monday night. He saw too many things that bothered him, including some sloppiness at times. The bottom line, of course, is the Tuckers (8-6, 3-3) got the result they were looking for and closed out the first half of their league season on a playoff pace with their third straight win.

That’s something to feel good about.

“I think we’re a better team than we were last year,” Mattituck senior Jayden Ford said. “We have better chemistry.”

Before the game, Ellwood said the Tuckers had been playing good basketball. “I just think we’re confident,” he said. “Everyone knows their role and is doing their job.”

That was the case for much of the first half. The Tuckers shot out to leads of 25-5 (with the aid of an 18-0 run) and 29-8. Babylon (2-10, 1-5), which lost its sixth straight, didn’t hit double figures until a James Tourin free throw made it 31-10 with four minutes, 54 seconds left in the second quarter.

“I guess we were ready for what they were going to throw at us and we were in a rhythm,” said Trevor Poole, who had 11 points, 12 rebounds and three assists for Mattituck before fouling out with 3:31 left in the game.

It was 40-17 at the half. Mattituck twice led by as many as 29 points in the second half.

“It was a sloppy second half,” said Ellwood.

Xavier Allen, who entered the game ranked eighth in Suffolk in scoring average at 22.4, according to Newsday, scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Rashad Lawson, a call-up from the junior varsity team, produced 11 points and Chris Nicholson had 10.

Babylon received 12 points apiece from Peter Szuchy (10 rebounds) and Kieran O’Halloran. All of O’Halloran’s points came from four three-pointers.

This may be a down season for the Panthers, but any team that walks into Babylon’s gym, which has a large, orange pawprint at center court, can expect a battle. Ellwood said as much before the game. “Babylon is going to compete,” he said. “They hang their hat on defense. They’re not going to give us anything tonight.”

Poole, asked for his assessment afterward, said: “I would say we had a good game. I think we still have some things to work on.”

Ellwood might agree with that. The coach said, “It was a little frustrating, but a win’s a win.”

Seifert can shoot. Ryan Seifert had only two points against Babylon, but the 6-3 senior came up big Friday in an 82-54 home win over Port Jefferson. While the Royals used a box-and-one defense to try to shut down Xavier Allen, Seifert buried four three-pointers and totaled 19 points. “He’s been a big weapon,” Ellwood said of Seifert. “He’s a long-stretch forward who can shoot the three.”

Ellwood added, “A box-and-one isn’t really going to be too effective against us because we have a lot of guys who can score.”

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Photo caption: Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood making a point to his players before Monday night’s game in Babylon. (Credit: Bob Liepa)