01/17/13 8:39pm
01/17/2013 8:39 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck’s Courtney Murphy finding an opening to shoot while being defended by Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Julianne Cintron-Leonardo.

TUCKERS 52, MONARCHS 11

The losses have been one-sided, mind-numbingly one-sided for the Bishop McGann-Mercy girls basketball team. Just look at some of the results: 53-15 to Mount Sinai, 61-19 to Mattituck, 70-16 to Huntington, 55-10 to Babylon, 51-11 to Southampton. And then there was the biggest loss of the bunch: 72-14 to Hampton Bays.

Make room for another: 52-11 to Mattituck on Thursday night.

For the coach of a young, undersized team that is light on playing experience and depth, Jacki Paton may surprise some people in that she is not about to jump off a bridge. Far from it. Paton said that for all of those losses by her winless team, there have been a thousand good things to appreciate.

“It’s been a very good season,” she said. “They’re working as hard as they can, and we are young. We’re young not only age-wise, but definitely experience-wise, but they’re giving a hundred percent every day, and every day they do get better.”

“Everything is building blocks,” she continued. “So, if we can build and every day get a little bit better, ultimately, that’s success, isn’t it?”

In a game that carried little mystery beyond when McGann-Mercy would score its first point and whether the Monarchs would reach double figures, Mattituck rolled on its home court. The Tuckers (8-5, 5-2 Suffolk County League VII) need only one more win to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years.

“That’s an achievement,” said Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood.

The difference between the teams was seen from the start of the Coaches vs. Cancer game, which raised money for cancer research. For most of the first half, the outstanding question was whether or not Mattituck would pull off the nearly unheard of feat of taking a shutout into halftime. The Tuckers had bolted to a 28-0 lead before McGann-Mercy (0-12, 0-7) finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a jump shot by Mary Reiter with eight seconds left in the second quarter. The Monarchs managed only 2 points in the third quarter from a layup by Delaney Macchirole.

McGann-Mercy, which entered the contest averaging 19.4 points per game, didn’t reach double figures until Meghan Kuehas banked in a shot during the game’s final seconds.

The Monarchs lost one of their eight players when Julianne Cintron-Leonardo, a freshman forward, took a hard fall near one of the baskets, injuring her left ankle with 7:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cintron-Leonardo had her ankle wrapped and exited the gym on crutches. Paton said she did not know how severe the injury is.

“She’s a tough kid, and she went down hard,” Paton said. “Normally after a couple of seconds she bounces right back up. I’m sure it’s a nice sprain. She’ll run through a brick wall for you. She’ll give you her heart and soul, 100 percent, a tough rebounder.”

Allie Wilcenski led 10 Mattituck scorers with 13 points and Courtney Murphy put in 11.

The top scorer for McGann-Mercy, which was eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, was Macchirole with 4 points.

While Mattituck shot 54.5 percent (24 off 44) from the field, McGann-Mercy hit only 14.8 percent (4 of 27) of its shots.

Van Dood said it was a plus that he was able to give all 13 of his players at least one quarter of playing time. Mattituck’s bench produced 22 points.

“I think we got to see a lot of good things from a lot of the girls who don’t usually get a lot of [playing] time,” said Wilcenski.

“Some of the younger girls did a good job,” said Van Dood, who cited Molly Kowalski, Katie Hoeg, Megan Daly and Murphy by name. “It was an opportunity for them to show us something and see what we have for the future. Maybe they can move a peg up … in the pecking order.”

Mattituck’s players put a lot into the organization that surrounded the Coaches vs. Cancer event. Van Dood said players cooked, baked, did art work and tied pink balloons to the chairs the players sat in during the game. Before the game, in keeping with team tradition, Mattituck players announced to the crowd someone they know who has been affected by cancer who they are playing for.

“It’s a shame, but everybody knows somebody who was affected by it,” Van Dood said. “I think that hits home with the kids.” He said that in playing for a good cause and winning, “it’s a win-win for everybody.”

For the Monarchs, though, a win on the court still eludes them.

“I respect them a lot for coming out every game and still trying,” said Wilcenski.

McGann-Mercy junior guard Savannah Schwack said team morale is good, regardless of the win-loss record. “It’s been tough, but we’re working as hard as we can,” she said. “If someone does something wrong, we just give them a high five and tell them to try better.”

Thursday’s game may not have brought the result Paton was hoping for on her birthday, but she sees the big picture.

“They come out positive,” she said of her players. “They come out knowing that they put in a hundred percent, but they care about what they’re doing and they’re getting better, and they’re not only getting better as players, they’re getting better as people.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

12/27/12 3:50pm
12/27/2012 3:50 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River’s Meghan King, battling Mattituck’s Katie Hoeg and Molly Kowalski (No. 22) for possession.

WILDCATS 53, TUCKERS 20

The question had to be asked: What doesn’t Courtney Clasen do on the basketball court?

Clasen, a sophomore guard for the Shoreham-Wading River girls basketball team, has a remarkably balanced game. She can score. She can rebound. She can pass. She can dribble.

On Thursday, Clasen did all of the above and more as the Wildcats rolled over Mattituck, 53-20, in a non-league game at Mattituck High School.

By the time Clasen walked off the court and headed to the bench with 6 minutes 43 seconds left to play in the rout, she had accumulated quite an impressive statistical line: 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 blocked shot.

Not bad for a day’s work.

“That’s pretty typical,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Dennis Haughney said. “She’s a really good athlete. She can do a little bit of everything.”

Not that numbers mean a whole lot to Clasen, a team-oriented player in her second varsity season. She said she had learned “not to worry about the stats, just have fun.”

It surely looked like Clasen and her teammates were having fun as Shoreham-Wading River coasted to its fifth win in eight games. The Wildcats are already halfway to clinching a seventh straight playoff berth with a 3-0 record in Suffolk County League VI.

“It’s what we always aim for at the end of the year — playoffs,” said Clausen.

Shoreham-Wading River, a Class A team that had played in county semifinals the last four years, looked revved up for its final game of the calendar year. Meghan King scored 9 of her team-leading 13 points during a 21-0 run that gave Shoreham-Wading River a crippling 48-14 lead about midway through the fourth quarter. The Wildcats shot 8 for 14 from the field during that spurt.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Courtney Clasen’s all-around play featured 13 rebounds.

“Nothing fell for us,” Mattituck forward Nicole Murphy said. “It didn’t feel real. The game didn’t feel real at all.”

The reality was that Shoreham-Wading River opened the contest with a 10-0 lead. The Wildcats held Mattituck (5-4, 2-1 League VII) to a season-low scoring output and 22.9-percent (8 of 35) shooting from the field. Shoreham-Wading River also enjoyed a 44-30 rebounding advantage. On the offensive boards, the Wildcats held a 21-9 superiority.

Shannon Rosati added 9 points to Shoreham-Wading River’s cause.

“You might want to burn the film on this one,” Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood said. “That’s a good way to look at it, but there were so many glaring errors that it’s kind of hard to overlook.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s defense already looks playoff ready. The Wildcats stole the ball 16 times and forced Mattituck into committing 24 turnovers. In contrast, Shoreham-Wading River turned the ball over nine times.

“I think we played sharp,” Haughney said. “You can tell by the effort defensively that we came to play.”

The final non-league game of the season for Mattituck was one the Tuckers would rather forget.

“Honestly,” Murphy said, “I sat on the bench, like, ‘What is happening?’ I sat there with my mouth open and was in disbelief at half the stuff that happened.”

Only four Tuckers made it into the scoring column, led by Shannon Dwyer with 6 points. It was a stunner for a team that had been averaging 56 points per game, but Mattituck wasn’t driving to the basket, and it certainly wasn’t getting bounces to go its way.

“Shots were not dropping,” Van Dood said. “Everything, missed layups, missed chip shots clanging in and out. That’s the story of the game sometimes, unfortunately. Some nights you get all the bounces and all the rolls, and other nights you just don’t get anything.”

It took Mattituck 4:45 to finally get on the scoreboard thanks to an Alex Berkoski layup. The Tuckers didn’t hit double figures until Berkoski knocked down a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the second quarter.

“It was a combination of us not shooting, us not boxing out, and making some bad passes,” Van Dood said. “That’s going to kill you every time.”

Murphy said the game was a setback and a wakeup call for Mattituck.

“We will be playing better,” she promised. “We’re going to be working harder, a lot harder, so nobody should have to come and see a game like that again.”

bliepa@timesreview.com