BROOKHAVEN SUMMER LEAGUE | TUCKERS 38, PANTHERS 37
Sure, it was only summer league.
But as Eugene Allen headed to the free-throw line with 8.2 seconds left and the Mattituck Tuckers down by a point, he could still feel the pressure.
“I was really nervous,” Allen said. “I looked over at coach and I was like, oh God.”
The nerves hardly bothered him. Allen calmly stepped to the line and sank both free throws to lift the Tuckers to a 38-37 win over Miller Place at Eastport-South Manor High School Thursday night. The Tuckers improved to 2-0 in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.
Fittingly, it was Allen who had the ball in his hands at the end.
Allen torched Miller Place for 17 first-half points, nearly outscoring the Panthers by himself. A varsity player since the end of his freshman season, Allen (21 points) is part of a core of returning players for Mattituck who have their sights set on taking a big stride forward in the upcoming varsity season.
To continue that improvement, the Tuckers are playing in two separate summer leagues together, where they’ll play about 25 games.
The Tuckers were shorthanded against Miller Place with only two bench players.
So Allen stepped up to carry the team early, showing why he’ll be an impact player for the Tuckers come November.
Now standing 6-foot-1, Allen has grown about two inches since last year. And he’s packed on about 25 pounds to fill out his muscular frame.
He showed off his athleticism in the first half with two fast-break, one-handed dunks.
While he’s yet to get a dunk in a varsity game, Allen said it won’t take much longer.
“That’s going to come the first game, no doubt,” he said. “I’m going to be feeling it that game.”
The summer league is the start of a busy schedule for Allen over the next few months. He’s playing on both Mattituck summer league teams, an AAU team and working out with the football team to prepare for the upcoming fall season.
“It’s a busy, busy summer,” Allen said.
Allen is hoping to play either basketball or football in college. The summer, particularly in AAU, is a chance for him to showcase his basketball skills to some college coaches.
One of his biggest goals for the summer is improving his shooting skills.
“Just shooting the ball a lot,” he said. “My handle, free throws, everything.”
Allen showed off his jump shot against Miller Place early on. He sank two long jumpers to start the game.
“That gets me going if I see my shot falling,” Allen said.
Allen scored 11 straight points at one point in the first half, capped by a one-handed fastbreak dunk to put Mattituck ahead 19-13.
The Tuckers took a 27-18 lead into halftime and grabbed their biggest lead early in the second half when Parker Tuthill sank a free throw to make it 34-20.
But the Tuckers did not hit a field goal over the final 18 minutes of the game and Miller Place came storming back with a 15-0 run to regain the lead with 43 seconds left.
Mattituck regained the lead when Tuthill sank a pair of clutch free throws. The Panthers answered back with two points with 16 seconds left and the Tuckers called a timeout.
Mattituck got the ball into Allen out of the timeout and he was fouled in the corner as Miller Place attempted to double team him.
With most of Mattituck’s roster back from last season, Allen said the future is bright for the Tuckers.
“We’re going to have a successful season,” he said. “I think we’ll have a real special season.”