11/21/14 5:00pm
11/21/2014 5:00 PM
Parker Tuthill is one of the guards who make up the strength of the Mattituck team. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Parker Tuthill is one of the guards who make up the strength of the Mattituck team. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The Mattituck High School boys basketball team looks pretty darn good. It has speed. It has shooters. It has ball handlers. And it has guards, plenty of guards — even some forwards who play like guards.

What the Tuckers don’t have any more is the high-flying, above-the-rim dimension that Gene Allen afforded them. (more…)

07/15/14 10:44pm
07/15/2014 10:44 PM
Mattituck's Dan Fedun has a step on Hampton Bays' Shane Courtenay while attempting a layup. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Mattituck’s Dan Fedun has a step on Hampton Bays’ Shane Courtenay while attempting a layup. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The Mattituck High School boys basketball team didn’t lose a lot from last season in terms of numbers, but in terms of a player, the Tuckers lost a lot. A heck of a lot.

Sure, the Tuckers graduated only two players, but one of them was Gene Allen, and what a player he was. Allen was a two-time All-Conference forward who averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds per game last season, leading the team in both categories. For his high school career, he showed remarkable balance, finishing with 660 points and 662 rebounds. (more…)

05/19/14 8:23pm
05/19/2014 8:23 PM
Mattituck players formed a jubilant dog pile after Chris Dwyer's walk-off hit capped a five-run rally in the seventh inning to defeat Center Moriches. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Mattituck players formed a jubilant dog pile after Chris Dwyer’s walk-off hit capped a five-run rally in the seventh inning to defeat Center Moriches. (Credit: Garret Meade)

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B TOURNAMENT | TUCKERS 5, RED DEVILS 4

Through six innings, hardly anything went Mattituck’s way.

Through six innings, Mattituck’s offense was curiously, and uncharacteristically, quiet.

Through six innings, Center Moriches pitcher Patrick Bryant was the story.

Then things changed dramatically. Mattituck stole the story line, and the playoff opener. (more…)

11/26/13 9:35am
11/26/2013 9:35 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck's talented three-headed back court.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Will Gildersleeve, a junior, is the senior member of Mattituck’s talented three-headed back court.

A former guard himself, Paul Ellwood appreciates good guard play. So, when discussing the three talented guards he has on his Mattituck High School boys basketball team, a happy grin creases the coach’s face. He knows what he has and he likes it.

What the Tuckers have are three quality guards who are basically interchangeable. All of them can play point guard and all of them can play shooting guard. And, to top it off, none of them are seniors, which means they will be around for a while. That’s a luxury for a small school.

“It’s like baseball, you can’t have enough pitching,” Ellwood said. “In basketball, you can’t have enough guards, so it’s not a problem.”

The guards in question are junior Will Gildersleeve, sophomore Joe Tardif and sophomore Parker Tuthill. Gildersleeve and Tardif started a lot of games for the Tuckers last year. Gildersleeve was All-League honorable mention, and Tardif was the runner-up for the League VII rookie of the year award. Tuthill, meanwhile, had what Ellwood called “a great year on JV.”

Gildersleeve may be the most physical of the three. Ellwood expects Gildersleeve to force teams into foul trouble. Tardif has blazing speed and can bring the Tuckers fast transition points. As for Tuthill, Ellwood, who has coached Mattituck since 2003, said, “He’s incredibly skilled, maybe the most skilled guard I’ve had since I’ve been here in terms of handling the ball.”

Another guard, Jon Dwyer, is good enough to play for the varsity team but has been assigned to the junior varsity team. “There’s just not enough room,” explained Ellwood.

The last time Ellwood saw this type of talent in his back court was during the 2010-11 season when he had Connor David and twins Steve and Tom Ascher playing for him. That team won a Long Island championship.

“I guess you could say we’re lucky, but definitely a plus for us,” Gildersleeve said before Monday’s night’s practice.

In order to maximize his back-court strength, Ellwood is adjusting his offense accordingly. He said he has done a lot of reading on offenses and installed some offenses he never used before, including a four-guard offense that Jay Wright used at Villanova.

“When you let the kids be creative, it’s fun to watch,” Ellwood said. “It’s fun for the kids and it’s harder for the other team to defend. The key is they have to make good decisions and not force it, and use their teammates.”

Ellwood expects a lot of kickouts for 3-point looks, but he likes the instincts of his guards. “All three of them like to attack the basket, which is good,” he said. “They don’t settle for the three. A lot of times guards these days are happy to just sit outside and shoot a three. So we’ve been stressing attack the basket, the three is always going to be there. We’d rather attack first and shoot second. It gives us a better look.”

The running style seems to suit the guards just fine.

“We play the best when we just don’t run an offense, we just fast break points,” said Tuthill, who is Gildersleeve’s cousin. “That’s the best way to keep a fast-paced game. Let the other team adjust to that.”

Tardif smiles at the mention of fast-paced play, but he also understands the importance of gaining possession of the ball in the first place. “We have to make sure that we rebound,” he said. “Rebounding and defense are the first thing, then scoring will come after that.”

Gildersleeve said: “I think we’re like a guard-built team. I mean, all of us are fast so that’s how hopefully we’ll get most of our wins this year, by outrunning teams. The whole idea this year is we want to run fast break. We don’t really want to have set offenses, just beat the teams down the court and outwork them.”

Babylon and Southampton are seen as League VII’s two powers this coming season, but Ellwood said the league is strong and a case can be made for seven of the league’s eight teams getting into the playoffs. He said, “If you’re not loaded with guards, you’re going to struggle in this league.”

The Tuckers should be covered in that area.

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01/29/13 8:59pm
01/29/2013 8:59 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Eugene Allen of Mattituck, protecting the ball while splitting a pair of Port Jefferson defenders, produced 14 points and 18 rebounds.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Eugene Allen of Mattituck, protecting the ball while splitting a pair of Port Jefferson defenders, produced 14 points and 18 rebounds.

TUCKERS 59, ROYALS 43

The Mattituck boys basketball team still has a pulse — barely.

True, the Tuckers may be essentially on a life-support system as far as their playoff chances are concerned, but they’re still alive. They can thank their third win in four games — a 59-43 defeat of Port Jefferson on Tuesday night — for that.

Mattituck (4-11, 4-7 Suffolk County League VII) needs to win its three remaining regular-season games in order to avoid sitting out the playoffs for the second year in a row. That is a tall order, though, with two of those remaining games coming against League VII’s top two teams, Babylon and Southampton.

“It’s tough,” Mattituck sophomore Will Gildersleeve said. “Anything is possible. We just got to keep playing hard. Playoffs are something we all strive for, obviously, but at the end of the day, I think we’re getting better as a team.”

Tuesday night’s game at Port Jefferson High School was a showdown between two desperate teams fighting for a playoff life. With its fourth loss in five games, Port Jefferson (6-9, 4-7) must sweep its final three regular-season games in order to avoid playoff elimination.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Tyler Connell of Mattituck reaching out to collect the ball during Tuesday night's game in Port Jefferson.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Tyler Connell of Mattituck reaching out to collect the ball during Tuesday night’s game in Port Jefferson.

How has Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood been handling his team’s approach to the playoff picture?

He hasn’t been talking about it.

“The reality of us winning [three] in a row is very slim,” he said, acknowledging the strength of Babylon and Southampton. “Those two have kind of separated themselves from the rest of the league. No one has really been able to touch them, so right now our focus is on getting better.”

And there is tangible evidence that the Tuckers have done just that. Look at Mattituck’s 3-1 record for the second half of the league season.

“I just think we’re getting better every game, and that’s all that matters,” said Gildersleeve.

The way Mattituck hung in there and then seized the momentum from Port Jefferson to win a must-win game was admirable. Except for a 2-0 lead from a Eugene Allen layup in the game’s early moments, Mattituck trailed for the entire first half before rallying in a big way in the second half. Allen scored 7 points during a paralyzing 16-0 run that gave the Tuckers a 56-37 lead in the fourth quarter. Mattituck shot 6 of 7 from the field during that spell.

By the time a spectator was ejected from the gym for apparently criticizing the officiating with 4 minutes 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the game was all but sewn up. Mattituck put in 48.9 percent (22 of 45) of its field-goal attempts and outrebounded Port Jefferson, 34-24.

Port Jefferson’s shooting touch had deserted the Royals. They shot 4 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter and 7 of 28 in the second half.

Gildersleeve led Mattituck with 17 points, falling 3 points shy of the season-high total that he put up in a loss to Port Jefferson on Jan. 4. Allen and Justin Tyler provided 14 points each and Joe Tardif delivered 8 assists. Allen also grabbed 18 rebounds, 15 on the defensive end.

Mattituck clamped down on two of Port Jefferson’s better players, Jasper Rubin-Sigler and Cody Steiner. In the second half, the Tuckers switched from a diamond-and-one defense to a 3-2 zone. Steiner scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half and he also pulled down 11 rebounds. Rubin-Sigler had 7 points and 5 assists.

“It was a sweet win,” Ellwood said. He said his team “really played smart and hard.”

Mattituck has a young team. Ellwood’s starting lineup on Tuesday night included a freshman, Tardif, and two sophomores, Chris Dwyer and Gildersleeve. The team has only three seniors — Tyler Connell, Ryan Finger and Tyler — so the bulk of the squad will be back next season, whether Mattituck reaches the playoffs or not.

Addressing Mattituck’s slim playoff prospects, Allen said: “I’m not going to look at is as like we’re going to lose. I’m going to look at it as we come out good, we come out strong, fighting, playing basketball like we know how to.”

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12/22/12 2:22pm
12/22/2012 2:22 PM

RED DEVILS 51, TUCKERS 41

Just in case Mattituck didn’t know what it was up against, it was given a reminder before the opening tip-off. The Center Moriches coaches and players posed for photos during a pregame ceremony in which they were presented with the Long Island Class B boys basketball championship banner they earned last season.

And if that wasn’t enough, it was only 31 seconds after the tip-off when Akyse Brown of Center Moriches finished off his own steal with a dunk to rouse the home fans at Center Moriches High School.

By then, surely, Mattituck knew it was in for a game.

In many ways, though, the Suffolk County League VII game on Saturday afternoon said a lot about where Mattituck is this season. The Tuckers are young, undersized, and they make mistakes (see their 31 turnovers and 13-rebound deficit against Center Moriches). On the plus side, though, Mattituck has plenty of potential and room for growth (see the way the plucky Tuckers fought back to avoid a rout and make a game of it before eventually falling to Center Moriches, 51-41).

The larger point is that Mattituck has something to look forward to, particularly in its young backcourt. Joe Tardif, a freshman who made his varsity debut as the starting point guard in this season’s opener, and sophomore Will Gildersleeve give the Tuckers a backcourt that could be playing together for three seasons.

“We look pretty good,” Tardif said. “We have to keep using our speed and getting past the defenders and looking to dish out or shoot, a lot of transition basketball.”

Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood relishes the thought of having Tardif running his offense for four seasons. “He’s looking really good,” said Ellwood.

The coach referenced Tardif’s contributions in Mattituck’s 58-37 win over Hampton Bays on Dec. 18. The young point guard produced 14 first-half points, hitting four 3-point shots in addition to accounting for 8 assists. “He turned that game around,” Ellwood said. “He picked the tempo of the game up, got everybody involved, made the team better like a point guard is supposed to do. There is a huge upside on him, but we’re seeing a lot of it already, early.”

Nobody has to tell Gildersleeve what it is like to be a freshman learning the ins and outs of varsity basketball. Gildersleeve was brought onto the varsity team early last season before he quickly won a starting position.

“Joe’s adjusting very quickly,” Gildersleeve said. “He’s doing all the right things.”

Tardif was clearly not his regular self on Saturday, though. He woke up in the morning not feeling well, with a temperature that reached 102 degrees. That didn’t prevent him from starting the game, although he managed only 4 points in the first half before sitting out the rest of the game.

“Joe is sick today,” Ellwood said. “You didn’t get to really see our backcourt.”

But fans did get to see an improved Gildersleeve. He helped Mattituck make things interesting on Saturday with 12 points, all in the second half.

“You can tell he’s matured a lot since last year,” Ellwood said. “He’s very aggressive. Sometimes I have to try to reel him back, but he’s doing a good job. … He’s making a lot of good things happen for us.”

Gildersleeve and Tardif were part of an all-underclassmen starting lineup that included junior forwards Eugene Allen and Tyler Reeve and sophomore forward Chris Dwyer. They had their hands full with Center Moriches (2-3, 2-1).

The Red Devils stormed out to a 24-9 lead and withstood Mattituck’s attempts to chip away at that lead. Tyrell Jackson led Center Moriches with 13 points. Brown, Clarence Trent and Nigel Braithwaite added 8 points each. Braithwaite, a physical force down low, also pulled down 11 rebounds.

Allen brought the Tuckers 9 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists and 1 block.

Mattituck (1-4, 1-2), which shot 1 for 13 from the field in the first quarter, made it a game again in the third quarter when it pulled to within 5 points of Center Moriches on three occasions. However, Mattituck was never able to wrest the lead away from the taller Red Devils, who put their size advantage to good use. They outrebounded the Tuckers by 41-28 (20-9 on the offensive boards).

“We obviously have to work on rebounds,” Tardif said. “We got outworked, definitely, today.”

As for the mistakes of youth, Ellwood understands that they are part of the learning process. He could take pleasure in the way his team picked up its game in the second half, though.

“They adjusted and they got used to the speed of the game, but that’s the way they are,” he said. “They’re very fast. They’ve been picking things up, and we’re getting a little better every day. Again, today’s another example. Every game we’re moving forward in the right direction.”

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