The similarity was sickening to Steve Van Dood.
Once again, the Mattituck High School girls basketball team played Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island. Once again, Pierson prevailed, 38-32, Thursday night. And, once again, dismal shooting by Mattituck enabled the Whalers to sink the Tuckers.
“We couldn’t score,” Van Dood said after the final regular-season game for both teams. “We missed how many layups? I don’t even want to look at it.”
Another figure the Mattituck coach might not want to look at was Mattituck’s field-goal percentage: 27.1.
That was even lower than the 29 percent the Tuckers shot when they fell to Pierson, 47-38, on Jan. 14.
With this most recent triumph in Sag Harbor, Pierson captured the Suffolk County League VI championship outright, going a perfect 16-0 in league play and 17-3 overall. The Whalers have won six league titles since 1980.
“We don’t want to share this,” said Kevin Barron, who will step down as Pierson’s coach after the season to spend more time with his young children.
Mattituck (16-4, 14-2) was hoping for a win, which would have made both teams co-champions, keeping alive the Tuckers’ string of three straight league crowns. But it wasn’t to be. Inaccurate shooting had a lot to do with it.
Asked what caused her team’s downfall, Mattituck forward Julie Seifert answered: “I think our shots, but at the same time, I think we were kind of looking for the perfect shot and we were passing it too much on the outside. We needed to get to the middle and drive to the middle.”
Ironically, it was Pierson that started off with terrible shooting woes, opening the game in a 1-for-12 funk. “It was us shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Barron.
Mackenzie Hoeg and Julie Seifert had six first-half points each as Mattituck forged a 21-13 lead at the half.
Pierson turned things around big time in the second half. An 18-0 monster run by the Whalers turned a nine-point deficit into a 35-26 lead a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter. Katie Kneeland notched eight of her game-high 15 points during that spell.
“I think it definitely helped them starting getting Kneeland involved and getting it to her in the middle, and I think that Pierson definitely picked up their game,” Hoeg said. “I don’t think they had the best first half and they definitely came out in the second half ready to play.”
Van Dood lamented: “The balls didn’t fall for us. I don’t even know what we shot in the second half [5-for-16], but I don’t think it was good.
“We tried to get back in it. They did a good job. We couldn’t make our outside shots and we couldn’t get to the rim.”
Pierson’s quality showed, particularly with the play of Kneeland, Celia Barranco (12 points) and Giles.
“When they started to come back, we didn’t have that much of an answer for it,” Hoeg said. “We definitely knew that they could cause a little bit of a problem.”
Seifert, who led Mattituck with 11 points, was struck by Pierson’s versatility. “They have some great outside shooters,” she said. “They have some great girls that drive and do reverse layups and stuff, things we have never seen against other teams that we have played, and I think that playing them develops our game.”
Photo caption: Mattituck’s Dominique Crews, Mackenzie Hoeg, Rachel Janis and Catherine Thompson, from left, line up for postgame handshakes following their loss to Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter Island. (Credit: Bob Liepa)