01/07/14 10:10pm
01/07/2014 10:10 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck junior Will Gildersleeve scoring 2 of his career-high 30 points against Bishop McGann-Mercy on Tuesday night.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Mattituck junior Will Gildersleeve scoring 2 of his career-high 30 points against Bishop McGann-Mercy on Tuesday night.

TUCKERS 85, MONARCHS 61

The Mattituck Tuckers have the formula for winning. Now, it may not be a groundbreaking concept, and it isn’t easy to achieve, but it is mighty effective. Put four players in double figures and scratch another check mark in the win column.

It’s not common for a high school boys basketball team to have four double-figure scorers in one game, so it’s hardly surprising that when it happens, a team’s chance of winning increases considerably. It hasn’t failed the Tuckers yet. In four of their nine games this season they have had four players in double figures, and in each of them the Tuckers have won.

Imagine that.

The most recent occurrence was Tuesday night. With career-high point totals from junior Will Gildersleeve and sophomore Joe Tardif, the Tuckers proved to be too much for host Bishop McGann-Mercy, as the 85-61 final score attested. Gildersleeve rang up 30 points and Tardif dropped in 22. Both players knocked down four 3-pointers apiece on a night when not many shots didn’t fall for the Tuckers (7-2, 4-1 Suffolk County League VII).

Also reaching double figures for Mattituck were Gene Allen with 14 points and Chris Dwyer with 13. Allen also hauled in 15 rebounds to go with 8 assists and 3 steals.

The Monarchs (1-7, 0-5), who took their fifth straight loss, were led by Joe Jeskie with 19 points, Kurt Ryder with 14 and Nykel Reese with 11.

Mattituck’s offensive balance makes it a handful to defend and makes it hard for opponents to focus on any single player without paying a price for it. Plus, the Tuckers are even tougher when they shoot like they did on Tuesday. They connected on 51.6 percent (33 of 64) of their shots from the field. Not only that, but from beyond the 3-point arc, they were 11 of 22.

Mattituck opened the game with a 7-0 lead and never trailed.

The Monarchs turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the third quarter — a product of Mattituck’s press. Allen followed up a teammate’s missed shot with a two-handed dunk for a 50-28 lead 2 minutes 44 seconds into the quarter. The Tuckers were relatively safe the rest of the way, although from the point of Allen’s dunk on, Mattituck coach Paul Ellwood was unhappy with his team’s defense.

bliepa@timesreview.com

01/07/14 8:24pm

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Michael Sheehan drives to the basket against Miller Place Tuesday.

PANTHERS 53, WILDCATS 45

In a league that features one of the top teams in the county in Amityville, as well as tough teams like Bayport-Blue Point and John Glenn, squeezing out enough wins to reach .500 and qualify for the postseason is no easy task.

“I always tell people, just because it’s League VI, people don’t realize how good this league is,” said Shoreham coach Kevin Culhane.

That’s what made Tuesday’s matchup at Miller Place a critical game, even though the season is still young. The Wildcats and Panthers are both teams in the middle of the pack of League VI. When the season ends, the teams could very well be neck-and-neck for a final spot in the playoffs.

The Wildcats entered with the upper hand, with two league wins already in hand. But the Panthers snapped a three-game winning streak for Shoreham, taking down the Wildcats 53-45 at Miller Place High School.

In their first game of the new year, the Wildcats’ hot shooting that had propelled them in their previous wins dissipated early against Miller Place. The Panthers raced out to a 12-3 first-quarter lead as the Wildcats dug themselves a double-digit deficit before some shots started to finally fall.

“We’ve been shooting the ball very well lately,” Culhane said. “Today we didn’t. Give Miller Place credit. There were a lot of things we didn’t do, executing wise.”

Early foul trouble forced Culhane to go to his bench early in the first quarter. And the Wildcats shot a ghastly 1-for-13 in the opening quarter.

“I was afraid of keeping the starters in and getting the third foul,” Culhane said. “That really hurt us early on.”

Miller Place center Alex Frusco created havoc for Shoreham in the paint and on the boards. Frusco finished with a game-high 18 points.

Culhane said he knew Frusco was capable of a big night.

“I thought a few times when we had to go small, he had a couple rebounds and put-backs,” he said. “I think that’s what kind of hurt us.”

The Wildcats (5-4, 2-3 League VI) trailed by as many as 14 late in the second quarter. Twice the Wildcats got their deficit down to six, but each time the Panthers (3-4, 2-2 League VI) responded with a run of their own. A basket by Daniel Hughes (10 points) and two free throws from Sean Condron trimmed Miller Place’s lead to 39-33 early in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats were starting to find the range after connecting on three treys in the previous quarter.

But the Panthers withstood the surge and ran off eight straight points to extend their lead back to double digits.

“I thought we fought back really hard and competed down to the end,” Culhane said.

Miller Place got 17 points from Liam Walsh off the bench. Senior Zach Makoske led Shoreham in scoring with 11 points. Michael Sheehan added six and Condron had five.

joew@timesreview.com

01/06/14 10:30pm
01/06/2014 10:30 PM

BULLS 74, BLUE WAVES 54

Senior forward Ryan Ingarozza scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter to lift Smithtown East to a 74-54 win over host Riverhead in a Suffolk County League III boys basketball game on Monday night.

Ingarozza, who finished with 7 rebounds, helped the visitors outscore the Blue Waves, 30-10, in that period to turn a 30-19 halftime lead into a 60-29 advantage. Smithtown East improved to 6-3 over all and 4-0 in the league. The Blue Waves (1-7, 0-4) dropped their seventh consecutive game after defeating Bayport-Blue Point, 72-66, in their season opener on Dec. 9.

Senior guard Dylan Marquez connected on three treys in the third quarter and finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

Sophomore Charles Manning led Riverhead with 17 points.

12/30/13 7:51pm
12/30/2013 7:51 PM

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead senior Deon Shorter scored 17 points in the Blue Waves’ loss to Sachem East Monday.

FLAMING ARROWS 62, BLUE WAVES 57

With each successive stop on defense, the crowd grew louder and louder, waiting for the inevitable big basket from Riverhead that would turn the game in the home team’s favor.

For more than five minutes into the fourth quarter of a non-league game against Sachem East Monday night, the Blue Waves held the Flaming Arrows to two points in the quarter. Riverhead trimmed what had been a 10-point deficit earlier in the half down to four. But with each stop on defense came a missed opportunity on the other end of the court.

And despite hitting just three field goals in the final quarter, Sachem East cruised from the free-throw line during the final two minutes to escape Riverhead with a 62-57 victory.

“We had a sense on the bench that the big shot was coming,” said Riverhead coach John Rossetti. “It was like the ball was slipping out. The ball wasn’t going our way tonight.”

The Blue Waves dropped their sixth straight game after a season-opening win over Bellport. As the league season gets into full swing beginning at the end of this week, the Blue Waves will have little time left to right the ship before postseason aspirations begin to fade.

Riverhead is 0-3 in League III going into Friday’s game against Smithtown East.

“We’re a young team with very few kids that have playing time varsity experience,” Rossetti said. “The scoreboard isn’t showing it, but these kids are getting significantly better. We’re right there. We’re going to be OK.”

Senior point guard Deon Shorter led Riverhead with 17 points, matching his season high set twice before. Sachem East had four players in double figures, led by Ryan Cole’s 17.

The Blue Waves trailed throughout the game, briefly taking a one-point lead at 23-22 in the second quarter. The Flaming Arrows opened the second half on a 11-3 run to open up their biggest lead of the game at 40-30. The Blue Waves got caught twice giving up open looks on 3-pointers and the Arrows — who didn’t shoot particularly well from deep — burnt them on both possessions. They were 2-12 from 3-point range until the back-to-back long balls. Sachem finished the game 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Riverhead switched between a zone and man defense during the game. In both sets at times, the Blue Waves lost track of defenders and gave up easy hoops.

“We have some lapses out there and when we go into lapses we get into this rut,” Rossetti said. “Our weak side defense in man-to-man needs help and our on-ball pressure, we need to do a better job of pushing guys to a side. We’re letting them dictate where to go.”

It hasn’t helped in recent games that senior Brandon Tolliver has been slowed by a deep bone bruise on his knee that he suffered in a collision earlier this month. Tolliver had offseason surgery following a torn ACL.

The latest bone bruise has limited his explosiveness.

“He’s hobbling out there and he’s giving it his all,” Rossetti said. “But he’s not the Brandon we’re used to seeing. I give the kid credit. He’s trying to be a trooper.”

Tolliver finished with seven points. Sophomores Tyrese Kerr and Charles Manning both scored nine.

Finding the right rotations has been the challenge early on in the season for Rossetti. He’s already used multiple starting lineups. Center Ethan Greenidge started in Monday’s game, but didn’t see much action in the second half as the Blue Waves tried to better match up against the smaller Arrows.

“They were bringing him out way up high, so it kind of took his size and negated it,” Rossetti said. “So we had to go with a smaller lineup.”

Jeremiah Cheatom came off the bench to kick in 10 points, mostly on second chance buckets, which has been his speciality going back to last season.

Cheatom missed an easy one under the basket about halfway through the fourth quarter that would have cut Sachem’s lead to two. It was just one example of missed opportunities for Riverhead.

Where the Blue Waves really hurt themselves was at the free-throw line. They finished 7 of 16 for 44 percent. Sachem was 12 of 20 for 60 percent.

joew@timesreview.com

12/28/13 7:00am
12/28/2013 7:00 AM
GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Markim Austin rises for one-handed dunk Tuesday that put the Blue Waves ahead by seven in the fourth quarter against Smithtown West.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Markim Austin rises for one-handed dunk that put the Blue Waves ahead by seven in the fourth quarter against Smithtown West.

The Riverhead boys basketball team entered the 2012-13 season with lofty expectations as an experienced core of players returned. And the Blue Waves didn’t disappoint, posting a 12-2 record in League III and clinching the program’s first league title since 1997.

It was a thrilling season throughout, highlighted by a 72-71 victory over Smithtown West early in February that guaranteed the Blue Waves at least a share of the league title.

Riverhead got 20 points from Markim Austin in the win in front of a near-capacity crowd at Riverhead High School. The Blue Waves’ season ended on a bitter note with a loss to Longwood in the first round of the playoffs, but the season nevertheless was one to remember.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 sports stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

12/27/13 8:08pm
12/27/2013 8:08 PM

FLAMING ARROWS 69, BLUE WAVES 63

Riverhead battled back from an early 14-point deficit to grab a 4-point advantage in the fourth quarter, but could not hold on en route to a 69-63 home loss to Sachem North in a non-league boys basketball game on Friday night.

Senior Deon Shorter came off the bench to lead the Blue Waves (1-4) with 17 points, followed by sophomore Charles Manning’s 14 points. Manning scored 13 of his points in the third quarter.

The Blue Waves grabbed a 53-49 lead 1 minute 50 seconds into the final period, but Sachem North (2-4) went on a 20-17 spurt to pull away.

Sachem North had four players in double figures. Senior guard James Bassford, who sank all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half, canned four foul shots over the final 43.3 seconds to keep the hosts at arm’s length. Bassford led the visitors with 22 points. Nakhari Nelson and Blake Thompson contributed 14 points apiece and Anthony Service added 11.

Riverhead next hosts Sachem East in a non-league game on Monday.

12/12/13 2:08am
12/12/2013 2:08 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Kurt Ryder, who scored 17 points for Bishop McGann-Mercy against Smithtown Christian, takes off for a layup.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Kurt Ryder, who scored 17 points for Bishop McGann-Mercy against Smithtown Christian, takes off for a layup.

MONARCHS 51, KNIGHTS 47 (OT)

An advertisement for good basketball, it was not. Sloppy play. Breakdowns on defense. Fouls galore. One missed shot after another. Horrendous foul shooting (in the case of one of the teams).

It all added up to one of the worst-played — and oddest — high school boys basketball games at the varsity level that the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School gym had seen.

This was a non-league game that neither Smithtown Christian or McGann-Mercy could feel good about. The only saving grace for the Monarchs was that they won, 51-47, in overtime on Wednesday night.

At times it seemed as if neither team wanted to win, giving the other side another chance to take the game. In the 4-minute overtime, though, it was the Monarchs who prevailed for their first win from three games this season. Kurt Ryder’s layup at the start of overtime put the Monarchs ahead to stay, although the finish couldn’t have been easy on the nerves of McGann-Mercy’s exasperated coach, Mike Clauberg.

A runner by Kevin Santacroce and a free throw by Nykel Reese gave the League VII Monarchs a 49-45 lead with 1:02 to go in overtime.

Corey Collins followed up a missed 3-point attempt for Smithtown Christian, making it a 2-point game.

Later, a steal by Collins set up a missed 3-point shot by Kyle Straker. The Monarchs rebounded and were fouled. Greg Gehring and Santacroce each sank a free throw in the final 6.8 seconds to help seal the ugly win and hand Smithtown Christian, a League VIII team, its second loss in three games.

Smithtown Christian coach Dan Skaritka bemoaned before the game that he couldn’t wait for the day to end. When he called it the worst day in his life, he might have been doing so tongue in cheek. What didn’t make the day any better for him was the fact that he was missing three regular starters. The Knights could have used them.

It was a strange game, considering the Monarchs won despite shooting a poor 23.8 percent (15 of 63) from the field and 1 of 13 from beyond the 3-point line.

But Smithtown Christian had its issues, too. The Knights shot miserably at the foul line: 6 for 20.

Perhaps even more than that, though, they were hurt tremendously by foul trouble. Twenty-nine of the game’s 51 fouls were whistled against Smithtown Christian. The Knights were losing a battle of attrition. Four of their players — Zack DiBlanda, Cody Collins, Ron Linsalato and Connor McCabe — fouled out.

And how’s this for a strange fact? The Monarchs made only 1 of 15 field-goal attempts in the second quarter, yet still took a 15-14 lead into halftime.

For all of the uninspired play, the game was close,

It looked as if Smithtown Christian would leave Riverhead with a win when it took its biggest lead of the night at 42-35 on a free throw by Linsalato with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter.

Somehow, some way, McGann-Mercy whittled away at that lead as the Knights left the door open just enough for the Monarchs to squeeze back in. Two free throws by Reese and two baskets by Ryder, including a layup off his own steal with 26.2 seconds to go in the quarter, pulled the Monarchs to within a basket of the visitors. Both teams then missed a pair of free throws before Santacroce grabbed an offensive rebound and banked in a right-handed hook shot, tying the score at 43-43 with 8.2 seconds to go in regulation time.

The Monarchs survived the final hectic seconds of the fourth quarter as they watched Smithtown Christian miss a close-range shot. Ryder collected the rebound and chucked a mid-court shot that fell short before the buzzer sounded.

Ryder ended up with 17 points. Reese collected 19 rebounds (8 offensive) to go with 11 points, 3 blocks, 2 assists and 1 steal. Santacroce had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Cody Collins led Smithtown Christian with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Straker added 11 points and Linsalato had 9.

For a while there, considering the way the Monarchs were playing, a win seemed highly unlikely for them. Then again, ’tis the season of miracles.

bliepa@timesreview.com

11/27/13 8:00pm
11/27/2013 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead senior Brandon Tolliver is fully recovered after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason.

The start of basketball season can always be a little tricky in Riverhead. This year is no different.

As the football team marches into the Long Island championship Friday to face Nassau champion Carey, the basketball team stands by waiting for the cavalry to return.

Practices started last week in Riverhead and the Blue Waves, during an extended try-out period, have been practicing with seven varsity players.

“We’re a little thin,” said Riverhead coach John Rossetti.

The Blue Waves went through this last year as well and it hardly slowed them down. Riverhead won the League III championship, its first since 1997, in a thrilling season that ended with a playoff loss to Longwood.

“We still have some good pieces on the team, so we’re going to be OK,” Rossetti said. “It’s just a matter of taking those pieces and merging them with the other kids from football once they come back and making it a cohesive unit.”

Rossetti admitted the team is probably about five days behind most teams. And that might lead to a slow start to the season.

“The good thing about these kids, they play with each other all the time,” Rossetti said. “They’re familiar with each other that way. It’s a matter of them getting on the same page in terms of defensive schemes and offensive schemes.”

The Blue Waves lost two of their “big three” from last year to graduation. But they do return senior Brandon Tolliver, who had a superb season last year and was a key part of the league championship team.

Tolliver is coming off the most challenging offseason of his young career. In March, while practicing with his AAU team, Tolliver tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

After the practice, Tolliver approached Rossetti and told him his leg hurt. Rossetti told him to ice it, but Tolliver’s instincts told him it was worse.

He underwent an MRI, which revealed he needed surgery.

The silver lining was the injury happened just after basketball season ended, giving Tolliver eight months to rehab for the start of this season.

“I give his parents a lot of credit,” Rossetti said. “They did their research. They got a good doctor. They gave him his workout plan, they brought him to his physical therapist. And he’s going to be a success story.”

The way Tolliver has been playing during the preseason, no one would ever know he underwent surgery, Rossetti said.

“He looks just like his old self,” he said. “He came back in better shape than he’s ever been. He added some muscle mass to his frame. His jump shot is dramatically improved.”

Rossetti said Tolliver will transition this year from a post player to more of a wing. His improved jumper will make him more of a threat from the perimeter.

The Blue Waves get right into their scrimmages Saturday with a game at Mattituck. They’ll also scrimmage East Islip before opening the non-league season on the road at Bellport Dec. 9.

joew@timesreview.com