The Mattituck Tuckers don’t approach each defensive possession simply aiming for a stop. They want the ball back. Sooner the better.
That hungry defense, at times in a full court pressure, has the Tuckers in constant hunt for steals. The goal is to use their defense to fuel the offense.
It all came together Wednesday night as the Tuckers forced Riverhead into 33 turnovers while controlling the tempo. Mattituck bounced back from an early hole to lead most of the way en route to a 44-31 win at Mattituck High School.
Mackenzie Hoeg led all scorers with 16 points to help lift the Tuckers to their first win of the season. It was a far different game than their season opener, a 48-18 loss at West Islip Monday.
The Tuckers built a 19-point lead in the fourth with a dominant quarter just as it looked as if Riverhead was ready to make a run.
Riverhead senior Angelina Graziano (7 points) converted a three-point play late in the third quarter to pull the Blue Waves within four points. But 30 seconds later, Rachel Janis connected on a 3-pointer to extend the lead back to six.
The Tuckers carried that momentum into the fourth, starting off with a couple of quick baskets from Hoeg and Jaden Thompson. Both baskets were scored on fastbreak layups after steals, a familiar theme. Thompson, who played a key role in the disruptive Tucker defense, finished with 11 points.
The Blue Waves opened the game shooting well from outside, connecting on three 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Junior Ishanti Gumbs hit a pair. But the offense never got on track after that, largely due to the turnovers and the missed opportunities down low.
The Blue Waves dropped to 1-2 to start the new season.
Top photo caption: Riverhead’s Regan Montefusco attempts to box out Mattituck’s Julie Seifert. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)
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