Undoubtedly, this was not the way the X-Man wanted things to end.
Possibly the greatest career in Mattituck High School boys basketball history wrapped up Monday night in Southampton’s loud, packed gym. Southampton’s smothering defense clamped down on Xavier Allen, who was held to a season-low 13 points in a 70-46 Suffolk County Class B outbracket loss to the Mariners.
That was the final act to a tremendous four-year varsity career by Mattituck’s all-time leading scorer with 1,564 points, per coach Paul Ellwood.
Ellwood said his wife had asked him before Monday’s game if he was nervous. He told her: “I’m not nervous about the game, I’m just scared I’m not going to be able to coach ‘X’ tomorrow if we lose. That’s going to be the worst thing for me.”
So, the end came for Allen in a Tuckers’ uniform, but not before he accomplished a heck of a lot. The 6-1 senior guard is one of only three Mattituck players to have ever scored 1,000 points, joining Don Wilcenski and Tom Gwydir, according to former Mattituck coach and athletic director Mike Huey. This past regular season, Allen was Long Island’s No. 1 scorer, averaging 31 points per game. He has already been smothered with honors for his play this season: Suffolk Small Schools Player of the Year, All-County and League VII MVP. He has drawn interest from colleges along the way.
“He’s had an incredible year,” said Ellwood.
When it was suggested that some may not fully realize how much Allen meant to the team until he has moved on, Ellwood said before the game: “I don’t take him for granted. He makes it look so easy. To do that every night, it’s very difficult, especially as the season goes on and everybody knows [him] and is trying to stop him. We’re seeing box-and-one and defenses like that, and [he’s] still doing it.”
How is Allen to deal with as a person?
“He’s the easiest,” Ellwood said. “He’s a leader. He’s very coachable, very intelligent IQ on the basketball court. He absorbs everything you give him. From sophomore to junior year, from junior year to senior year, he’s just grown exponentially each year.”
Ellwood offered an example of Allen’s work ethic. Following a team dinner Sunday night, Allen and his older brother Gene, a Mattituck assistant coach, went back to the gym and shot foul shots. “He just never stops,” said Ellwood.
Allen has earned the admiration and respect of opposing coaches and players along the way.
“I like him a lot,” Southampton coach Herm Lamison said. “I’ve watched the kid from a freshman to a senior, and he’s a kid that’s improved every year and he’s so deserving of … his achievements that he’s achieved this year because he’s an example of what you can do if you put the time in the gym. He’s going to be an asset to a college program.”
Ellwood said: “All the opposing coaches love him, the opposing players respect him. They don’t love him when he’s on the court, but after games they do. He just has an infectious personality [that] it’s hard not to root for Xavier.”
Seifert steps up
Like fellow seniors Xavier Allen, Isaiah Johnson and Bryan Flores, Monday’s game was a farewell for Chris Nicholson. The only difference is Nicholson didn’t play for a third straight game. The forward hasn’t played since suffering a concussion a couple of minutes into a loss to Center Moriches on Jan. 31.
Matt Seifert has been Nicholson’s replacement. In that Center Moriches game, Seifert came off the bench “and just played great,” Paul Ellwood said. “He’s been playing huge minutes for us ever since.”