Girls Basketball: Thompson drives Tuckers to county title

Reckless abandon.

Those were the words Mattituck High School girls basketball coach Steve Van Dood chose to describe Jaden Thompson’s playing style.

“She throws herself on the floor,” he said. “She’s got that toughness.”

What Thompson did on Friday night was nothing less than “heroic,” said Van Dood. The senior guard/forward brought energy, made steals, dove for balls, fought for rebounds, drove to the hoop. She did whatever she had to do in order for Mattituck to claim its fourth successive Suffolk County Class B championship with a 51-42 victory over Port Jefferson at Centereach High School.

Thompson ended up with a career-high 22 points as well as six steals, five rebounds and four assists despite leaving the game briefly with leg cramps late in the fourth quarter.

“No one ever fights harder than Jaden,” said Mattituck senior forward Ashley Perkins, who had a big game herself, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. “She’s great.”

Thompson and Perkins, who are better known as softball players, were arguably the best basketball players on the floor Friday night, with their determination, toughness and hustle.

Mattituck (17-4) persevered despite losing its starting point guard, Mackenzie Hoeg, early in the fourth quarter when she rolled an ankle. Alexis Burns filled in for her and knocked down a three-point shot that capped a 10-2 Mattituck run for a 47-38 lead.

With a layup by Jacqueline Lambe and a pair of free throws by Abigail Rolfe, Port Jefferson (12-9) pulled within 48-42.

Then Thompson went down with 1 minute, 39 seconds left and limped off the court. Not a good sight for the Tuckers.

But only 22 seconds elapsed off the game clock before Thompson made her return. Her contributions were not over. After coming down with an offensive rebound, the 5-5 Thompson banked in a shot off the glass while falling backward for a 50-42 advantage with 33.7 seconds left. Thompson also sank a foul shot with 18.9 seconds to go for the final score.

“She’s making tips, deflections,” Van Dood said. “It seems like she’s all over the court.”

Van Dood said he told Thompson, “You got to get to the rim tonight.”

Of Perkins, who seemed to collect every rebound that came her way, Van Dood said: “She’s getting better and better. I thought she did a very good job tonight.”

It was Mattituck’s third win over Port Jefferson this season, with the Tuckers posting 53-42 and 58-47 wins over the Royals in League VI play.

Mattituck earned a place in the Suffolk Class BCD game against Pierson/Bridgehampton/Shelter (18-3) Wednesday in Centereach. The Tuckers also advance to a sub-regional championship game against the Nassau County champion March 6 at Farmingdale State College.

Port Jefferson was striving for its fifth county crown. The Royals were county champions in 1924, 1926, 1927 and 2017.

Mattituck received 13 points from Julie Seifert.

Port Jefferson was led by Lola Idir (13 points) and Hailey Hearney (nine).

“This was big for us,” Thompson said, adding: “I think we played amazing. We learned from our mistakes.”

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Photo caption: Ashley Perkins, Julie Seifert and Jaden Thompson, from left, rejoice after Mattituck’s defeat of Port Jefferson for its fourth straight county championship. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

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