It’s a good thing the Mattituck boys basketball team was wearing its familiar blue away uniforms, otherwise their coach, Paul Ellwood, might not have recognized them.
As it was, Mattituck’s poor play in the third quarter wasn’t recognizable. It was out of character with what the team has done for the great majority of this season, and in contrast to the good, solid first quarter it played in Saturday’s game at Pierson High School.
After leading 20-7 late in the first quarter, things started going south for Mattituck. Aided by an 11-0 spurt, Pierson managed to pull itself back and even held a 32-31 lead at halftime.
From Mattituck’s perspective, though, the worst was yet to come in the form of a nightmarish third quarter.
Struggling mightily against Pierson’s 3-2 zone defense, Mattituck had issues bringing the ball upcourt. Much of the damage was self-inflicted as the Tuckers turned the ball over on possession after possession, often leading to easy Pierson layups (seven in the quarter). Ellwood made use of his timeouts to try to restore order, but nothing was working for the Tuckers, and they fell, 70-56, in the Suffolk County League VII game.
“That was definitely the worst quarter of the season, easily,” said Luke Woods, Mattituck’s newest 1,000-point scorer.
Woods said, “We were throwing down passes all the way around the court, throwing 10 feet over people’s heads, cutting when we weren’t supposed to cut, just not making great decisions out there.”
Ellwood had trouble believing what he was seeing. “Shocking,” he said.
In the second and third quarters combined, Mattituck (12-5, 10-2) shot 5-for-21 from the field. In that same span, Pierson (16-1, 15-1) sank 21 of 30 field-goal attempts. The Tuckers were held to six points in the third quarter, a period in which Pierson mounted runs of 12-0 and 10-0.
Mattituck’s Garrett Grathwohl said: “I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Cecil Munshin was the biggest thorn in Mattituck’s side, accounting for 25 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Pierson, coached by former Southold player Will Fujita, also received 19 points and six assists from Wilson Bennett and nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks from Charlie Culver.
Woods rang up 25 points, raising his career total to 1,026. Grathwohl added 10 and Mike Mowdy nine.
The loss put a serious dent in Mattituck’s chances for a league title.
It had looked as if Woods would hit the 1,000-point mark against Pierson, but the senior guard was apparently in no mood to wait. He reached that milestone with a 39-point performance in his home gym in a 71-49 defeat of Greenport Thursday night.
Although Woods had only four points after the first quarter, he was sitting at 26 through three before making a jump shot with a little under three minutes to go in the game, putting him at 1,001.
“Amazing,” Woods said. “It’s something I looked forward to for so long.”
Woods joins Xavier Allen, Don Wilcenski and Tom Gwydir as Mattituck’s 1,000-point scorers.
“It’s nothing new from Luke,” Grathwohl said. “He does this a lot. We know if we give him the ball on any given night he can put it into the hoop. It’s just the same thing every night. They can do anything to stop him, but most of the time it won’t work.”
Saturday’s game wasn’t nearly as thrilling for the Tuckers. Fatigue may have been a factor. They played their third game in four days.
“It’s been a wacky year,” Ellwood said. “We had a stretch where we played one game in 27 days. Now we’re playing a stretch of five games in eight days. It happens to be the five best teams in the league.”
“I think we’ll be OK,” he continued. “We’ll regroup to get back to our game. You know, I always say in a regular season you play your schedule. If you have 20 games, 16 you’re just your normal team, two games you play out of your mind, two games you usually play a little under what you are. Today was the only one time we’ve really done it all year where we had it and it was really a half, a real clunker. Other than that, we’ve been consistent with the energy and the effort on both ends of the floor. So, you know, hopefully it’s out of the way and we’re done with those for the season.”