Girls Basketball: Mattituck comes up short against first-place Center Moriches, 49-45

Mattituck gave it their all against first-place Center Moriches Tuesday night, but it just wasn’t enough. 

Center Moriches (5-0 League V, 9-2 overall) was tough to stop and looked every bit of a team that belongs at the top of the division. Timely shooting, aggressive post play and sound defense earned them the victory over the Tuckers at Mattituck High School, 49-45. 

Though the final score finished within four points, that’s the closest Mattituck was able to get after shooting themselves in the foot by falling behind early. The Tuckers managed to score only two points in the first quarter. Center Moriches led from start to finish but Mattituck was able to cut their lead down to four points three separate times.

“The girls played very well,” said Tuckers head coach Steve Van Dood. “I felt like we gave them the game and not so much that they beat us. We had plenty of chances to take the lead.”

A lot of those chances fell short at the free-throw line.

“I don’t know what the exact numbers were but I’m sure we were under 30 percent shooting from the line,” Van Dood said. “That’s not going to win games. A lot of that is rust from the time off we just had and the other part is just keeping focus.”

Every time Mattituck looked to be going on a run, Center Moriches had an answer. Most of the production came from Vanessa Stewart and Climele Brown, who together scored 38 of Center Moriches’ 49 total points. 

Brown was dominant underneath the basket, as she had put-back after put-back, and Stewart was flinging it from outside the arc, connecting on six three-point baskets.

“We tried everything,” Van Dood said in disbelief. “We tried ,man, we tried 3-2, we tried 1-3-1 defense. We did a lot and she kept making these line-drive threes. They were like missiles.”

Mattituck (3-2 League V, 4-5 overall) implemented a full-court press late in the game which resulted in a handful of turnovers. Abby Woods came up with a few steals that ended with points at the other end to energize the Tuckers. She finished with a team-high 12 points.

“That’s what got us back in the game,” Van Dood said. “We actually held them scoreless for a few minutes there.”

Scoring was scattered all along the Mattituck lineup, with seven different players finding the point column. Jenna Sledjecki scored 9 points and Sage Foster added 8 points. Foster also led the team in rebounds with 12.

“Hey, they’re beatable,” Van Dood said of Center Moriches. “We found some chinks in their armor. We’ll be ready to go next time we play them. The free throws will come; the heart they played with today, that you can’t teach.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Tuckers head coach. The girls coach is Steve Van Dood, not Paul Ellwood.