TUCKERS 80, MONARCHS 60
The Mattituck Tuckers knew what they were up against this season in League VII. What has shaped up to be one of the toughest basketball leagues in Suffolk County is led by three powerhouses — Babylon, Center Moriches and Southampton — that are almost in a league of their own. That meant the Tuckers had little margin for error against the four other teams in the league if they wanted to reach the playoffs.
So, the Tuckers did what they could, picking up wins in almost all of their games against those “other” teams. On Thursday night they brought their record to 7-1 in such games with an 80-60 defeat of Bishop McGann-Mercy at Mattituck High School. More importantly, the Tuckers became the league’s fourth team to seal a playoff berth — Mattituck’s first since 2011.
A career-high 24 points from Joe Tardif and Gene Allen’s 13th double-double of the season catapulted the Tuckers to their third win in seven games and a coveted place in the postseason.
The Tuckers (10-6, 7-5) bolted to a 24-7 lead, a burst that was punctuated by Allen’s dunk while he was being fouled as part of a 3-point play with 51.0 seconds left in the first quarter.
Tardif had a hot hand and put in 8 points in the first quarter, a period in which the Tuckers hit on 9 of 16 field-goal attempts. For the game, Tardif and Parker Tuthill nailed four 3-point shots each, and Tardif had 6 assists as well. Chris Dwyer had three treys himself as the Tuckers knocked down 14 of 26 attempts from 3-point distance.
Tardif apparently likes playing against McGann-Mercy. Earlier this season the sophomore guard scored 22 points — a career high for him at the time — in a 24-point win over the Monarchs.
Try as they did, the Monarchs (3-13, 2-10) could not come back and avoid their fifth loss in six games on Thursday.
Allen was one reason. The senior forward produced 14 points and 15 rebounds. Dwyer and Tuthill rang up 16 points each.
Nykel Reese helped the Monarchs to a 47-37 advantage in rebounds. He pulled down 16 rebounds to go with his 20 points. A teammate, Kevin Santacroce, drilled six 3-pointers as part of his double-double effort, with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
But the Monarchs made only one-third of their shots while the Tuckers shot 43.5 percent from the field.