The way basketball coaches see it, there’s no defense for not playing defense. A player’s shooting touch can come and go, they reason, but defense is about effort.
There was no question the defense — and effort — was there for the Mattituck girls last Thursday night in their 49-36 Suffolk County Class B semifinal win over Greenport/Southold at Mattituck High School. The Tuckers got in the face of Greenport’s standpoint player, Adrine Demirciyan — literally. Demirciyan was held to nine points before fouling out with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Mattituck’s defense limited Greenport’s field-goal shooting to 27.6% (16 of 58). The Tuckers made 19 steals and Greenport turned the ball over 26 times.
“Our defense drove our offense tonight, you know, the steals and scoring,” said Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood.
Mattituck’s Mackenzie Hoeg, responsible for eight of those steals, said that in past games in which the Tuckers lost earlier this season, they were perhaps a “little lazy” and slow on defense. That wasn’t the case in the semifinal.
“I think the difference between the two teams was we played a lot more aggressive and, frankly, just played better defense,” she said, “and I think that ultimately, since we were the better defensive team, that’s why we were able to force so many turnovers and get the win.”
Friends and foes
Players on both the Greenport and Mattituck teams are familiar with each other, even beyond the basketball court. Some of them, like Adrine Demirciyan and Mattituck’s Abby Woods, have been teammates on teams in other sports.
“Many of the girls played soccer together, so they know each other,” Woods said. “They’re friends. I played basketball with Adrine, so we’re friends, but it’s totally different when we’re on the court. It’s rivalry.”
Getting a lot out of Woods
Mackenzie Hoeg was clearly the player of the game with 21 points from 8-for-14 shooting, as well as eight steals, four rebounds and three assists. But Mattituck got a nice lift from Abby Woods, the freshman who had 13 points. She is not related to Greenport sophomore Amelia Woods.
“Abby Woods had a great game tonight,” Steve Van Dood said. “She’s playing less like a freshman, you know. She’s getting more games under her belt, showing a little maturity and I’m very pleased with her performance. We knew she was going to be good.”
As has been the case for most of the season, Mattituck didn’t have the services of sophomore guard Emily Nicholson, an injured starter who has a torn ACL. She played in only several games this season, said Steve Van Dood … Greenport coach Skip Gehring said he wants his players to remember how their season ended as motivation for next season. “Don’t forget,” he said. “… In terms of getting ready for next year, don’t forget how this feels.”