09/21/13 9:50pm
09/21/2013 9:50 PM

TUCKERS 2, HURRICANES 0

The Mattituck High School boys soccer team ran into a hot goalkeeper on the last full day of the summer on a sunny and windy Saturday afternoon.

Senior Ryan Blake put on a goalkeeping clinic, keeping Westhampton Beach within striking distance of the defending Suffolk County Class B champions.

But Blake proved to be only human. He could not stop every shot sent his way in what turned into a 2-0 non-league victory for the Tuckers at Carl Hansen Memorial Field in Westhampton Beach.

“Yeah, he’s human,” said junior defender Kevin Williams, who had a superb free kick denied by Blake. “He’s a first-year goalkeeper, which I heard. It’s unbelievable that he’s playing. We were coming at him really quick. Sometimes we need to settle down, relax and bring it to him slowly.”

When the Tuckers did, they scored. Junior forward Kaan Ilgin set up James Hayes’ first-half goal off his corner kick and added an insurance goal in the second half. Mattituck recorded its fourth consecutive win after a season-opening loss. The Hurricanes fell to 0-5-1.

“We’re not playing our best soccer and that could be a scary proposition,” Mattituck coach Mat Litchhult said. “We controlled the match. We knocked the ball around. Their keeper [turned in] one of the best keeper performances I’ve seen in a long time.”

The Tuckers hope they will not meet a goalkeeper in Blake’s class soon again. He made 18 saves, many of high quality.

“Awesome game,” Hurricanes coach Don O’Brien told Blake, who had to run off after the match for another commitment.

The Tuckers probably had wished he could have left slightly earlier.

“The goalie was good,” said Ilgin, who was denied at least six times by Blake. “It was actually frustrating because I could have scored goals.”

Ilgin played playmaker as his corner kick was headed in by Hayes at the near right post with 16 minutes 11 seconds remaining in the opening half.

“I saw him pointing to that spot,” Ilgin said. “O.K., he was going to get it. So I just bent it there and he headed it in. Great goal.”

Mattituck pushed for a goal, but Blake had some other ideas. So did his teammates, who tried for an equalizer, which would have been devastating for the visitors.

“We talked about that,” Litchhult said. “Our back line has done a great job stabilizing us back there, keeping in good shape, limiting any kind of opportunities.”

The attack finally solved Blake from the run of play with 21:18 left in the game. Ilgin, who had been denied in and around the penalty area, decided to launch a 30-yard attempt from the right side that beat Blake.

“I took it long distance because every time I dribbled, they closed space, so I just shot,” he said.

Hungry to add to their lead, the Tuckers were awarded a 20-yard free kick from the left side. Williams, who smacked in a superb 28-yard free kick in a 2-1 win over Southampton four days earlier, tried to make it a double within a week as he fired a hard shot over the defensive wall toward the upper left corner.

“There it is,” said Litchhult, standing with O’Brien at midfield.

And there was Blake, who had been positioned at the far post, but managed to scurry across the net, leap and parry the ball away.

“How many saves? Nine? Ten?” an incredulous Litchhult asked O’Brien. “Some are ridiculous.”

Added Williams: “I didn’t expect that goalie to get anywhere near there. It’s hard for the goalie to see it past the wall. He got there quick. It was down low. It was hard for him to see. It’s hard to hit one of those shots. It’s way harder to save it.”

Williams has liked what he has seen.

“If we play as a family, we’re always going to know where everyone is going,” he said. “We’re going to anticipate what everyone is going to do because we’ve been playing with each other for years.”

08/08/13 11:50pm
08/08/2013 11:50 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

One of the most valuable things to come out of this productive summer for the Mattituck boys basketball team is its proven ability to pull out close games. That’s a wonderful quality, and was best illustrated in the team’s 1-point wins over Miller Place and Greenport during the Town of Brookhaven Summer League regular season.

That knack for winning the close ones doesn’t seem to work against Westhampton Beach, though.

During the regular season, Westhampton Beach handed Mattituck an 8-point loss. Things were even tighter when the teams met again in the small schools final on Thursday evening, with Westhampton Beach prevailing by 4 points, 31-27. The defensive struggle at St. Joseph’s College’s John A. Danzi Athletic Center saw Mattituck’s lowest point output of the summer in the Brookhaven League.

Points were hard to come by. Through the first 15 minutes of running time, the scoreboard read 5-5, a score more fitting for a game played by elementary school-age players than two high school varsity teams. The Tuckers allowed only 13 points in the first half, and still trailed by 3 points because of Mike Frangeskos’ 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.

The teams stayed within 5 points of each other the whole way until Frangeskos sank a pair of free throws, putting the Hurricanes ahead, 29-27, late in the game for the seventh lead change.

Another two foul shots by Luke Dyer gave Westhampton Beach a little more breathing room with 13.9 seconds left.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Gene Allen attacking the basket during the Brookhaven Summer League small schools final against Westhampton Beach.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Auggie Knuth of Mattituck, under the shadow of  Westhampton Beach’s Luke Dyer, examines his options.

Both teams had their offensive struggles, with only about one-third of the shots finding their way through the basket. The shooting from the field was almost identical: Westhampton Beach shot 10 for 29 and Mattituck went 9 for 29.

“It was tough,” Mattituck’s sophomore point guard, Parker Tuthill, said. “We couldn’t get a flow to our offense, but defensively we were doing good. We stopped them a lot. We just couldn’t execute on offense.”

Frangesko led all scorers with 12 points. Dyer contributed 7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block for the Hurricanes, who picked up their 10th win in 12 league games.

Gene Allen was Mattituck’s top scorer with 6 points. He also had 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

“It was a tough game,” Allen said. “It’s always a tough game when we play them.” He added, “Every time we play them, it’s hard to execute.”

What was Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood’s assessment of what he saw?

“It was hard for us to get looks,” he said. “We struggled to get anything going. … I think they had problems with our press, but we just didn’t score enough to get into it.”

It’s wise not to read too much into summer league results, but the fact that Mattituck (9-3) reached the championship game is evidence that it has done some things right.

The Tuckers also competed in a summer league in Southampton, going 7-7 in that league. By playing in both leagues, the Tuckers saw more playing time and had more opportunities to show what they can do.

“You never know what you’re going to get out of it,” Ellwood said of summer-league ball. “Sometimes the team grows. I think a lot of guys down in the pecking order got a lot of [playing] time and improved. I found roles for them on the team and how they can help us.”

Ellwood believes the Tuckers will be in a better situation when they start preseason practice for the school season than they were a year ago. It’s easy to see why. Mattituck returns its top three scorers (Will Gildersleeve, Allen and Chris Dwyer), its leading rebounder (Allen) and its No. 1 assist man (Joe Tardif) from last season.

Although the Tuckers have young players, they have basketball experience. Not a bad combination.

Among the developing young players who have looked good is Tuthill, who was the starting point guard for Mattituck’s 16-1 junior varsity team last season. “He had some games where he was just lights out,” said Ellwood.

The coach continued: “Parker’s going to be a tremendous player. He just needs to get a little meat on the bones. The only time he struggles is when bigger kids get physical with him. Other than that, the skill set is there. He can shoot. He’s going to grow up and get stronger. He’s going to be a handful. … He’s going to be a great player for us for the next three years.”

More encouragement comes from junior Josh Conklin and senior Tyler Reeve, who have provided the team with inside grit.

“Our front line was a weakness last year, so we addressed that with those two guys,” said Ellwood.

Playing in a league final, even if it is a summer league, has benefits, but Tuthill’s competitive fire may have made it difficult for him to sound upbeat after the league final.

“It’s a good experience,” he said, “but it would have been better if we had won.”

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12/28/12 2:36pm
12/28/2012 2:36 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shannon Quinn focused on collecting a rebound while her Southold teammate Nicole Busso kept her eyes on Quinn.

FIRST SETTLERS 57, HURRICANES 42

The Joe Read system is working. All the indications are there.

For one thing, the high-energy game that the new Southold girls basketball coach has introduced seems to be becoming second nature to his players. How can he tell? It’s simple: They’re yelling at him.

“That’s a good sign,” Read said. “When they start yelling back, then that means they’re getting comfortable with it.”

Another sign was seen Friday in the form of a 57-42 non-league victory over Westhampton Beach. Despite sitting out most of the second half because of an ejection, senior guard Sydney Campbell led eight Southold scorers.

More good signs for Southold.

“That is a good sign,” Southold guard Carley Staples said, “and it just shows that we all contribute to the win.”

Defending Long Island Class C champion Southold showed that it may not be a typical League VIII team. It has the depth and talent to do some good things this season.

With a new coach and a new concept, the First Settlers don’t waste time firing the ball up the court after grabbing a defensive rebound. And their hounding defense can be exhausting for opponents to deal with.

“We call it tenacious,” said Read.

Southold (3-3, 2-0) keeps fresh legs on the court with mass five-for-five player substitutions. Twelve First Settlers played on Friday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Carley Staples of Southold wrestling for the ball, with Westhampton Beach’s Kathleen Mensch standing behind her.

Campbell produced 16 points for Southold before picking up her fifth personal foul with 1 minute 22 seconds left in the third quarter.

Visiting Southold, which trailed in the game only once at 6-4, also received 12 points and 6 rebounds from Nicole Busso as well as 9 points from Staples.

“I’m really proud of us,” Staples said. “We came in and we knew what we could do and we proved that we are capable of anything.”

Westhampton Beach senior guard Samantha Vickers led all scorers with 23 points. She fouled out with 1:20 to go in the game.

“She was the one we wanted to stop, and we didn’t do a good job of that,” said Read.

The Hurricanes, a League V team, dropped their overall record to 2-7.

After Westhampton Beach took that 6-4 lead in the early going, Southold reeled off the next 10 points, 7 of them coming from Campbell.

The Hurricanes pulled to within 18-17, but then Southold went on another 10-0 run during which Campbell hit two of her three 3-point field goals.

Southold managed to withstand several threats by Westhampton Beach the rest of the way.

“I think it helped us mentally realize how good we are and how much potential we do have,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of good players, and a lot of people can shoot and contribute. Every single person contributed today, so that was really helpful. It’s not just based on one person or the starting five; it’s really not.”

Southold’s biggest drawback, perhaps, was turnovers — 23 of them, to be exact. Westhampton Beach made 16 steals, including 6 by Katelyn Ogeka.

Other than that, though, it was a feel-good day for Southold. Read was obviously feeling good about what he saw in a game that he said his team “needed” to win.

“We’re going in the right direction,” he said.

How does he know? Why, players are yelling at him, of course.

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07/10/12 10:02pm
07/10/2012 10:02 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Lauren Guja, left, and Abby Graeb pressuring Westhampton Beach goalkeeper Lucy DiBenedetto.

It has been nearly two years since Morgan Zuhoski, a center midfielder for the SUNY/Old Westbury women’s soccer team, last wore a Mattituck uniform. But in the world of high school soccer, a lot changes in two years.

By Zuhoski’s count, there are only six Tuckers on Mattituck’s summer team that were her teammates her senior year: Maryanne Fitzgerald, Amanda Gatz, Anna Goerler, Lauren Guja, Nicole Murphy and Nicole Zurawski.

Except for a few Mattituck games Zuhoski saw last year, she had not seen her former teammates play since the fall of 2010. That was until Tuesday when, filling in as the summer team’s acting coach, she had to like what she saw.

What she saw was Mattituck play without any substitutes against Westhampton Beach, which had the luxury of shuffling fresh legs onto the field in Medford. Mattituck won the Town of Brookhaven Summer League game, 2-1, when Guja scored her second goal of the game and fourth of the summer three and a half minutes into sudden-victory overtime.

“For 11 girls and no subs in this heat, they played very well,” Zuhoski said. “I never have doubts with them. They did good.”

It certainly was a battle for Mattituck (4-0-1), made all the more interesting by its lack of substitutes. As it was, the Tuckers were perhaps fortunate to have 11 players on the field. Three of the Tuckers — Fitzgerald, Jessica Kwasnik and Melissa Siegfried — were riding in the same car that got a flat tire on the way to the field. “They got here in the nick of time,” said Zuhoski.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Maryanne Fitzgerald of Mattituck making a pass against Westhampton Beach.

Guja, the former stopper turned forward, continues to be a handful for opposing defenses. She was a factor again, getting 44 touches on the ball and connecting on 20 of 25 passes. But Guja is also not afraid to let loose with a long-range shot, something she did time and again against Westhampton Beach (1-4).

Ironically, it was Guja’s shortest shot of the game that won it in overtime. Fitzgerald, charging toward the goal from the right wing, released a shot that struck the inside of the left goalpost. The alert Guja beat everyone to the rebound.

It was Guja’s game-high 10th shot of the contest. Two of the three shots that she put on goal went in.

The first one was a penalty kick in the 11th minute. After a hand-ball call, Guja slammed her attempt in off the underside of the crossbar.

That lead lasted for only two minutes before Westhampton Beach drew even from a dead-ball situation. Brooke Alpert lofted a free kick from nearly 40 yards away over the head of the goalkeeper, Siegfried.

Guja came close to adding a second-half goal. She was sent in on a one-on-one, but goalie Lucy DiBenedetto was up to the challenge and stopped her.

As far as goalkeeping goes, the Tuckers liked what they saw from Siegfried, Mattituck’s No. 2 goalie behind Stephanie Reisenberg. Like the defense in front of her, Siegfried hung tough and made seven saves. The best of them was a nifty one-handed swap away of an attempt by Julianna Robbini in the second half.

All in all, it was an impressive effort by the Tuckers, who have outscored their summer league opponents by 20-4.

“We all have heart,” Zurawski said. “I feel like that’s the best thing to start with. We can work on the skills and whatnot, but we have the drive. We pulled it out.”

It might have seemed like a step back in time for Zuhoski, who was a senior when Zurawski joined the varsity team as an eighth-grader.

“We were all kind of: ‘Who’s this girl? She’s so young.’ But she’s impressed me from day one,” Zuhoski said. “We took her under our wing and we had a good time and she grew a lot. She was one of the strongest players we had that year. She really helped us out a lot.”

Zurawski played as a striker the past two years, but has been playing sweeper this summer. She has the speed for sweeper, which she also plays for her club team.

“I’ve gotten stronger physically and mentally because the older you get, the more losses you have, so you learn to get over it and move on to the next game,” she said. “The more losses you have, the more you grow.”

Goerler, the team’s senior captain, has come a long way since the Zuhoski era. She was described as a shy sort when she — somewhat reluctantly — joined the varsity team as a freshman. According to Goerler, Mattituck’s former coach, Ed Barbante, told her she was on the varsity team even though she was hesitant about the move. Now she said she realizes it was for her own good. “I definitely feel like I have gotten more tougher,” she said. “It’s just a physical game at the varsity level.”

Although she played in center midfield on Tuesday because the team was shorthanded, Goerler wants to take over the stopper position vacated by Guja’s move to the front line. “I want to fill that spot because I feel I can,” she said.

Kellie Stepnoski played stopper on Tuesday, with Kyle Freudenberg and Jessica Kwasnik the outside backs.

“Our defense is like a wall,” Goerler said. “Nothing gets past them. They were good today.”

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04/12/12 11:54am
04/12/2012 11:54 AM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Mattituck/Greenport/Southold coach Tim Corcoran has watched his inexperienced team struggle to score goals.

HURRICANES 18, TUCKERS 1

Tim Corcoran, the Mattituck/Greenport/Southold boys lacrosse coach, must sometimes feel as if he’s the lead character in “Groundhog Day.” Another day, another blowout loss.

So, Coach, does this season feel like a bad dream sometimes?

“It does, it does, but you know what, you just have to brush yourself off, you keep yourself going, keep the guys going, keep them positive because you know what, it’s not over,” he said. “It’s about building for the future.”

Given the present, the future may not come soon enough for Mattituck/Greenport/Southold.

For the second straight game, the Tuckers were limited to one single late goal on Thursday when they were blown away by Westhampton Beach, 18-1, at Mattituck High School. It was similar to a 14-1 defeat the Tuckers suffered against Miller Place two days earlier. The only difference was that Westhampton Beach (5-1, 4-1 Suffolk County Division II) was even more impressive than Miller Place had been.

It has been years since the Hurricanes last reached the playoffs, but they hope to be among the division’s top seven teams that will be invited to the postseason this year.

“I’d say we’re pretty good,” senior attackman Kevin Dean said. “We have a pretty good defense, a good midfield. We have a bunch of good athletes. We got to try to not beat ourselves, otherwise we can beat any team.”

That’s not hard to believe, given the passing and shooting exhibition the Hurricanes put on Thursday. Dean was arguably the player of the game, garnering five goals and one assist. Casey Hickey contributed four goals and three assists, with Brandon Moloney gathering six ground balls for the visitors.

Plenty of others got into the act for Westhampton Beach, including Evan Gagne (one goal, four assists, three ground balls), Henry James Moreta (four assists, three ground balls) and T. J. Murphy (two goals, one ground ball).

Hickey netted three of his goals in the first quarter as Westhampton Beach bolted to an 8-0 lead, outshooting the Tuckers by 14-2 in the opening 12 minutes. The Hurricanes led, 17-0, after three quarters.

It didn’t help the Tuckers (0-5, 0-5) that they were missing two players, Tom Filipkowski and Andre Vega.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold broke Westhampton Beach’s shutout hopes when Rich Smith, assisted by Connor Stumpf, bounced in a shot 59 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Casey Grathwohl collected a game-high eight ground balls for the Tuckers.

Westhampton Beach outshot the Tuckers, 33-10, and picked up almost twice as many ground balls, 42-24.

Hurricanes goalies Brian Corrigan and Pat Dean combined for five saves.

“So far we’re off to a pretty good start,” Westhampton Beach coach Drew Peters said. “We have an athletic group of kids, kids that understand the game, kids that come to practice and work every day and work hard and want to truly get better.”

It is that work ethic that Peters said he likes best about his team.

“They can come in day in and day out, and they’re able to put in a full two, two and half hours of practice, and from start to end, they’re able to work hard,” he said. “What we’re trying to go for this year is consistency, trying to play at a high level and sustain that throughout the season, and it’s tough. Every team has its ups and downs, but we’d like to have more ups than downs.”

The Tuckers have had their share of downs. Once again, they had trouble finding the net. They have been outscored by 70-12 this season.

Mattituck/Greenport/Southold center midfielder Connor Malone said his team’s mindset must be focused on hustling. “Just leave it all on the field and give it a hundred percent all the time,” he said. “A lot of guys are getting frustrated, throwing their sticks around, getting penalties, but you just got to keep a positive outlook on it and keep your chin up, no matter what the score is.”

The challenge for the Tuckers is to persevere through the tough times.

“That’s the biggest thing,” Corcoran said. “You take the tough times and you build from it and you remember those times and it maybe makes you work a little harder. Maybe guys start to see that they have to be dedicated like everybody else.”

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12/08/11 9:19pm
12/08/2011 9:19 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kristen Polan of Westhampton Beach tries to keep the ball from Mattituck's Allie Wilcenski and Shannon Dwyer, right.

HURRICANES 58, TUCKERS 45

As far as high school girls basketball games go, it surely wasn’t a work of art. Heck, at times it was downright ugly.

There were plenty of turnovers, a lot of fouls (five players fouled out), a handful of lane violations during free throws and perhaps too many missed shots. But it was an early-season game, and that sort of stuff comes with the territory. What had to concern Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood most of all, though, were injuries to three of his players, including starters Lauren Guja and Alexa Orlando.

Following Mattituck’s 58-45 non-league loss at Westhampton Beach on Thursday night, Van Dood wore the look of a concerned coach with a lot on his mind. One of his players, Orlando, had exited the trainer’s room with an ice bag wrapped around her knee, and Van Dood was looking for a trainer to take a look at Guja.

Guja said she jammed the ring and middle fingers on her left hand during the game’s opening three minutes. “The middle [finger] might be broken, I’m not really sure,” the junior forward/center said. “I can’t really bend it that well, so it probably is.”

Orlando, a junior guard, said she twisted a knee the wrong way while jumping for a rebound with about six minutes left in the game. “It hurt really bad, but I didn’t want to come out because I was playing well,” she said.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Despite jamming two fingers on her left hand, Mattituck's Lauren Guja stayed in the game before fouling out with 5 minutes 40 seconds to go.

Neither player allowed their ailments to take them out of the game, but the seriousness of their injuries, not to mention a knee injury to teammate Katie Hoeg, remained to be seen.

“This is a physical sport and I thought the refs let the game go a little bit,” said Van Dood.

As far as the game, there was plenty of sloppiness to go around. The most telling statistics were damning enough — a combined total of 63 turnovers and 48 fouls. Mattituck was responsible for 39 turnovers and 28 fouls.

“It was interesting,” said Van Dood.

Westhampton Beach (2-1) followed the lead of its all-conference senior, Kristen Polan, who poured in 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, 6 steals, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Polan would have had a higher point total if she had fared better at the free-throw line. She sank 11 of 19 foul shots.

The Hurricanes also received 12 points and 4 assists from Haley Laube before she fouled out with 7 minutes 4 seconds left in the game. Another Westhampton Beach player, Sammi Vickers, picked up her fifth personal foul with 1:34 to go.

The foul-filled contest also saw Mattituck’s Allie Wilcenski, Guja and Alex Berkoski foul out in the fourth quarter. Wilcenski was charged with her third foul when there was still 1:34 left in the first quarter and then was assessed her fourth with 5:31 to go in the first half. Her departure came 21 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Despite her ailing knee, Orlando provided Mattituck (1-1) with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.

The Hurricanes swept in front from the start. They led by as many as 16 points after Laube and Polan converted layups off turnovers, making the score 40-24 with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Partially as a result of Westhampton Beach’s troubles at the foul line (18 of 35), Mattituck twice trimmed that lead down to six points in the fourth quarter, only to see its comeback attempt fizzle at the end.

“We played hard the whole game,” Guja said. “We tried to the end. We just couldn’t get the baskets in.”

Mattituck, which does not have a single senior on its roster, was facing an older team, with eight seniors and a determination to do more than just reach the playoffs.

“I’ve got a bunch of seniors. If we’re going to do some damage, we got to do it this year,” Westhampton coach Mike Polan said. “A couple of years back we just wanted to compete. I don’t want to compete anymore. We want to win.”

Van Dood saw the game against League VI Westhampton as good preparation for Mattituck’s League VII schedule.

“This was good because of the pressure they put on,” he said. “They had a good full-court press. They put a lot of pressure on us, and that’s what we’re going to see in League VII. That’s going to be Center Moriches. That’s going to be Southampton. That’s going to be Wyandanch. That’s their M.O. That’s League VII, pressure in your face. These girls are learning that.”

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10/18/11 6:34pm
10/18/2011 6:34 PM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Aimee Manfredo prevailed in a three-hour three-setter to claim the Division IV singles title.

Patience is not exactly Aimee Manfredo’s forte.

Manfredo has a number of qualities that make her a formidable tennis player. She hits a ball with gusto, giving it everything she has. She can make shots from sharp angles. She is an efficient server.

But patience? That doesn’t appear to be part of her makeup. The Shoreham-Wading River High School sophomore wants to finish points ASAP. The sooner, the better.

“I do dislike testing my patience because I’m not a patient person,” she said. “I like to end the point. I like to be the one hitting the winners.”

Manfredo and her patience were both put to the test on Tuesday. The biggest match of her career was not played the way she would have preferred, but she couldn’t complain about the result.

Manfredo was one game from defeat in the second set, but survived that and prevailed over Mattituck senior Erica Bundrick, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, in the Suffolk County Division IV singles final on an unseasonably warm October afternoon in Shoreham. In a match that lasted about three hours, Manfredo (17-1) had no choice but to be patient.

“Maybe if I was more patient it wouldn’t have gone to a third set,” she said.

The fact that it did, however, is a testament to Manfredo’s fighting spirit. She proved herself capable of performing under pressure.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Mattituck senior Erica Bundrick employed a conservative approach in the division final.

Bundrick (12-3) employed a defensive strategy of safe shots and high lobs in an attempt to counter Manfredo’s all-out, hard-swinging style. It worked to some degree, producing long rallies. Bundrick took the first three games of the match and used that momentum to claim the first set. Manfredo, who made 41 unforced errors to 15 by Bundrick, found herself trailing, 5-3, in the second set, yet composed herself and took the final four games of the set by a combined score of 16-3.

“When [Bundrick] was up 5-3 in the second set, she needed to come out firing,” Mattituck coach Jim Christy said. “Aimee basically won the match because she fired away, and when she was in a hole, she didn’t back off. She just said, ‘I got to up my game,’ and to her credit, she did. Aimee hit the ball the way she’s supposed to hit it at the time she had to hit that way, and she did that at big moments.”

The match swung in Manfredo’s favor. “It was a great weight lifted off my shoulders after I won that second set,” she said.

It showed in her play, too. The unforced errors are partially a product of Manfredo’s aggressive approach, but she also hit some remarkable shots. Bundrick somehow managed to get a racket on some of them to keep the ball in play.

“It surprised me that she got to a lot of balls,” Manfredo said. “There were a couple of times when I had her on the run, and I was like: ‘Yeah, oh! I have to hit another shot.’ ”

Bundrick’s skill at returning the ball tested Manfredo’s patience further.

Serving consistency was in Manfredo’s favor. She committed only three double faults, and her percentage on first and second serves was 80 percent and 93 percent, respectively. Bundrick double faulted 14 times. Her first- and second-serve percentages were 66 and 60.

But Bundrick’s downfall, more than anything else, might have been her reluctance to attack balls near the net when the opportunities presented themselves. For her part, Manfredo showed no reluctance going for winners.

“What is fascinating is she swings about as hard as she can swing,” Christy said. “She never lets up.”

What was Bundrick’s take on the match?

“I think I played pretty good,” she said. “I had a chance in the second set to pull it out, but she just played really good toward the end of that” set.

Manfredo stuck to a game plan that Shoreham-Wading River coach Debbie Lutjen declined to outline in case the two players meet again in the county tournament. Lutjen said Manfredo’s determination and will won the day for her.

“She did not give up,” the coach said. “Aimee was able to be patient enough to wait for her openings.”

Manfredo is 6-1 in her career against Bundrick. The only time Bundrick beat her was in the quarterfinals of last year’s division tournament.

After the final point was scored Tuesday, Manfredo looked happy and relieved.

“I just feel so happy right now after that,” she said. “It’s a great accomplishment.”

MERCY DOUBLES TEAM LOSES IN FINAL Erica Blanco and Shannon Merker of Bishop McGann-Mercy reached the Division IV doubles final before bowing out to the Westhampton Beach duo of Remy Kneski and Sammi Vickers, 6-3, 6-3. Blanco, a senior, and Merker, a sophomore, have a 14-3 record.

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07/26/11 12:03am
07/26/2011 12:03 AM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Alexa Orlando of Mattituck ran into an obstacle in the form of Westhampton Beach's Kristen Polan.

Before she had ever played in a high school varsity girls basketball game, Shannon Dwyer had already experienced the school of hard knocks in the form of — would you believe family pickup games?

Those games in the Dwyer driveway of their Cutchogue home are not for the faint of heart. They get physical.

“No blood, no foul,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer and her three younger siblings, two of whom are brothers, tangle under the basket. Sometimes their mother, Tracey, who played for St. John Fisher College (N.Y.), gets into it, too.

“Last night we were playing at like 1 in the morning,” said Shannon Dwyer.

That sort of a background has helped make Dwyer a more valuable member of the Mattituck Tuckers basketball family. A player of undeniable talent, Dwyer was the rookie of the year in Suffolk County League VII the last school season as a freshman. This coming school season she will undoubtedly be one of the players who will have her hands on the ball for the Tuckers.

“She’s really smart,” junior guard Alexa Orlando said. “She always knows what to do. She’s good at making things happen.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck's Shannon Dwyer looked to shoot over the taller Kristen Polan of Westhampton Beach.

The Tuckers suffered a blow before last season even started when they lost their point guard, Alex Berkoski, to an injury. Coach Steve Van Dood went to a point guard by committee. Sometimes the Tuckers played with a three-guard lineup on the floor. Other times they had four bigs on the court at one time. “It’s all about matchups in that league,” explained Van Dood.

Van Dood saw some good things from his mix of Liz Lasota, Dwyer and Orlando at point guard. Berkoski has returned from her injury, and all of them except Lasota are playing for Mattituck’s summer league team.

Dwyer, who like Lasota and Orlando saw time as a starter last season, is seen as a player the Tuckers can build around. She has already shown that she can handle the pressure of playing against tough teams like the Wyandanch Warriors and the Center Moriches Red Devils.

“She’s a young kid and she’s been put in some tough roles, and she’s been put in some pressure-cooker situations for us last year, and I thought she did a good job,” Van Dood said. “She has a good composure about her.”

In outlining Dwyer’s game, Van Dood said: “She’s got a good basketball IQ. She can go left, she can go right. She’s not one-dimensional. She has a decent shot when she takes it. She’s got to shoot a little bit more.”

Van Dood said Dwyer’s love of the game should serve her well. “The girls who show up to play and play with a smile on their face are going to get better, and she’s going to get better,” he said. “She’s one of those kids.”

This summer has been an adjustment for the Tuckers. Dwyer, Orlando and junior Allie Wilcenski are the only players on the summer league team who have prior varsity experience.

Those three veterans led the way Monday evening when the Tuckers defeated the Westhampton Beach Hurricanes, 28-19, in a Town of Brookhaven Summer League game at Eastport/South Manor High School. The result left both teams with 3-5 records.

Wilcenski put in a full day’s play despite fouling out with 60 seconds to go. She totaled 10 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block. In addition, Wilcenski defended two of Westhampton Beach’s taller players, Kristen Polan (13 points) and Alex Walker.

“I was especially impressed with Allie Wilcenski tonight,” Van Dood said. “I thought she did a very good job. The ball didn’t drop for her in the basket, but she got a lot of rebounds, a lot of second, third and fourth rebounds. She’s a hard worker. Even though she fouled out, she was still a good presence on defense.”

Who will be running the point for the Tuckers when the school season starts?

“I don’t know,” Van Dood said. “It could be both of those girls, [Dwyer and Orlando]. I don’t even want to designate a point at this point. It’s going to be in the hands of a couple of girls.”

What Van Dood does know is that he can rest easy when Dwyer or Orlando have possession of the ball.

“The one thing that impressed me, though, was the number of turnovers that those girls had last year,” he said. “For young girls, they didn’t turn the ball over much, and that’s a stat that I like to check. It doesn’t show up in the papers much, but I know when those girls are in tough situations, you can trust them with the ball. That’s important.”

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07/18/11 11:53pm
07/18/2011 11:53 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mairead Glynn of Bishop McGann-Mercy is a slashing forward with a fondness for driving to the basket.

Rebounding from the loss of its top rebounder, Amy Boden, one area that the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School girls basketball team should not have to worry about, interestingly enough, is the rebounding department.

Thank you, Mairead Glynn. Thank you, Elizabeth Hartmann.

The Monarchs could count on nine rebounds per game last season from Boden, who was a four-year varsity player before graduating this past spring. Coach Jacki Paton doesn’t have to worry about where the rebounds will come from in Boden’s absence, though. Glynn and Hartmann have shown that they can get boards, even if the two senior forwards go about it in different ways.

While the 5-foot-8 Glynn uses her athleticism and jumping ability to grab the ball, the 5-6 Hartmann relies on positioning and power. Both styles have worked.

“For Elizabeth’s size, she’s a phenomenal workhorse,” Paton said. “She reads the ball extremely well and gets herself physically in a good position and works for it. Mairead will outjump people to get rebounds, not necessarily doing the physical boxing out first. One’s more of a physical player, one’s more of a finesse player. They’re completely opposite in the way they play.”

Hartmann, a Mattituck resident with two seasons of varsity experience behind her, was an occasional starter last season. Glynn, who lives in Hampton Bays, was a reserve in her first varsity season as a junior. Both, however, are expected to figure prominently in the team’s plans for 2011-12.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's Karlin McIntyre tried to beat Westhampton Beach's Brooke Alpert on the dribble.

“They’ll definitely be getting a lot of playing time, those two,” Paton said. “Instead of one person, [the rebounds] will be distributed across the board. They’ll all get their own pieces.”

A junior, Danielle Gehring of Cutchogue, should also help out on the glass.

Glynn has played basketball since she was in third grade and is a former point guard with ballhandling skills. She has shown confidence in her play.

“She’s a very talented player,” Paton said. “The more she plays, the more she gets comfortable. She had those moves since her freshman year. It’s getting the confidence.”

The physicality of varsity basketball was a revelation for Glynn last season. “I didn’t realize how tough it would be down low, and Amy Boden helped me a lot with that,” she said.

Like Hartmann, Glynn is a volleyball player as well, but she said she has a passion for basketball and enjoys plucking down rebounds. She is a slashing player, anything but a typical low-post player.

“It’s tough sometimes going up against girls who are bigger than me, but I think I can definitely improve a lot more,” she said. “I think I need to be tougher down low. I think I improved a lot over the season, but there’s definitely a lot more room for improvement.”

Hartmann was presented with the team’s most improved player the past two years. Her demeanor on the court provides a stark contrast to the one shown off it.

“Even though she’s funny and jokes all the time, she’s very intense and focused on the court,” said Paton.

Nobody has to tell Hartmann that rebounds don’t come easily. It’s hard work, and one of the things the Monarchs are ironing out in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League.

“That’s just one thing we’re going to have to work on, and we’re just going to have to box out more because boxing out will help us get rebounds,” Hartmann said. “I think for us, starting without one of our top rebounders [Boden], we’re doing pretty good.”

Glynn and Hartmann were McGann-Mercy’s leading rebounders with seven and six, respectively, in a 28-15 loss to the Westhampton Beach Hurricanes in a summer league game Monday evening at Patchogue-Medford High School. In addition, Glynn scored a team-leading nine points. One of her four offensive rebounds came off a missed free throw that she turned into a putback.

Glynn also showed some nice moves around the basket. On one occasion she attempted a reverse layup that failed to go down, prompting her to scream.

“That happens every game, and I scream after every attempt,” she said.

Glynn hasn’t made a reverse layup in the summer league this season, but she is still working on it.

She said, “I’m going to try to get it by the end of the season.”

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12/14/10 3:50pm
12/14/2010 3:50 PM

Dennis Reilly didn’t want the half to end.

Reilly, the coach of the Southold First Settlers girls basketball team, was pleased by the way his team had built a 22-17 halftime lead on Friday against the host Westhampton Beach Hurricanes. But in the third quarter, sharpshooter Kristen Polan scored eight of her game-high 23 points in a 17-6 Westhampton Beach run. The Hurricanes went on to win the non-league game, 44-34.

“We played well,” Reilly said, “but Westhampton’s size and experience took over.”

After Southold was hammered by the Hauppauge Eagles, 58-21, in its season-opener on Dec. 7, Reilly said his team came out vastly improved against the Hurricanes.

The First Settlers’ Sarah Smith came out red hot in the first quarter as she helped Southold build a 12-6 lead. Southold led by five points at the half.

“Sarah sets the tone for us,” Reilly said. “That’s what I expect from her. She gets us going.”

Reilly implored his team at halftime to keep up the intensity.

“We knew Westhampton was going to make some adjustments,” he said. “They have a great coach and we had to be ready. But we were in such a groove, we wanted to stay on the court and keep playing.”

Westhampton Beach (3-2) opened the third quarter with a full-court press and for several minutes it seemed to rattle Southold. Polan used her height and experience to score eight points and ignite Westhampton Beach’s surge.

Reilly said, “We just couldn’t stop her.”

Smith, who finished with 22 points, including four three-pointers, led a late Southold comeback, trimming Westhampton Beach’s lead to seven. But time ran out on the First Settlers (0-2).

“This was a great learning experience for us,” Reilly said. “I loved the way the girls competed. It was a tight game. The girls got to feel the pressure of a close game. We were able to fight back. It was a good experience for us.”