Tuckers, Whalers Doing It Again

Fight under the backboard during a basketball match

It’s that time of the year when, if you are on a contending high school hoop team, to get the calendar out.

For teams like the Mattituck Tuckers and the Pierson/Shelter Island Whalers, there are scheduling decisions that need to be made.

Aunt Mara’s birthday party coming up in Connecticut in three weeks? Better give her a call. There may be a playoff game that day. Oh, and that skiing trip during winter break? Come on, girl, you know better than that!

Playoff season is coming, and the Class B playoffs go through Mattituck just as the Class C playoffs go through Sag Harbor. The players are booked for the foreseeable future.

The Whalers are for real. Two wins this week, including a 51-pasting of Greenport/Southold on January 11, gave the locals seven straight league wins.

Katie Kneeland posted a game high 17 points and partner in crime Chastin Giles added 10 points. Kneeland is averaging 18 points per game, ninth best in Suffolk. Her backcourt mate, Giles, sees the court and keeps the rock flowing. Sag Harbor is in Hampton Bays on January 16 and travels to Center Moriches the following day and is already on the verge of nailing down the top seed in the Class C tournament.

Mattituck isn’t exactly resting on its laurels. The two teams are on a collision course with perfect 7-0 records. By the time you read this, one will have prevailed their first of two matchups, scheduled for January 14.

But the Mattituck Tuckers, a Class B school, and Pierson, a Class C powerhouse, will only be squaring off for bragging rights. When the state playoffs begin, they’ll be playing against in-class rivals only.

Mattituck traveled to Hampton Bays Friday evening — always a tough place to play — and gave a glimpse of what to expect from here on out. The trademark multi-faceted offense is designed to feed open shots to good shooters; unselfish play is the order of the day. Meanwhile, a suffocating, ball-hawking defense makes it difficult to maneuver. The result on this night: a 62-28 throttling.

What makes it all the more amazing is this is almost a totally new cast of characters — the guts of last year’s 20-3 Long Island championship team has graduated.

But Mackenzie Hoeg, a junior, seems to be in the middle of everything. Her 14 points led the winners on this night, but it could have been Jaden Thompson or one of the other starters on top of the list. Thompson augmented her scoring, an unselfish 12 points, with seven steals, five rebounds, and five assists. Those are the stats that matter. Steve Van Dood’s charges are the Class B faves until someone says otherwise.

Next up is Port Jefferson at home Friday, January 18, for a 5:45 PM tipoff. The Royals, 6-5, are another good team in League VI vying for momentum and a playoff run.

Elwood-John Glenn came into Westhampton on Thursday, January 10, for the biggest game of the young season, and the Knights walked out with bragging rights and an undefeated League V record in tact.

Madison Mullman made a three-pointer off an inbounds play at the buzzer to lead Glenn to a 59-56 win over Westhampton — the Hurricanes were 9-0 going into the fray. Samantha Groark had 19 points and nine rebounds for the winners, and Belle Smith scored 23 points for Westhampton (9-1). The locals will try to rebound at Shoreham-Wading River on Friday, January 18. Smith, by the way, is the fourth leading scorer in the county, averaging 21.2 points per game.

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