Free Throws Help Mattituck Thwart Southampton

Southampton, NY - 2/14/19 - Southampton boys basketball v Mattituck at Southampton High School in Southampton, NY February 14, 2019. (Photo by Gordon M. Grant)

This meeting between Southampton and Mattituck wasn’t like the last. In fact, it was much more like the first time the two teams met back on December 14. But this time, the shoe was on the other foot. That’s because the Tuckers’ Xavier Allen surprised Southampton by scoring 30 points, and he and freshman Luke Woods combined to go 12-for-13 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to help Mattituck edge Southampton 70-66 in the Class B semifinal February 14.

“We’ve always had a lot of grit, but when you’re not making free throws and not making layups it means a lot in a playoff game,” Southampton head coach Herm Lamison said of his team that shot only 13-for-22 from the foul line. “A lot of stoppage in play also halted our momentum a couple of times, but Mattituck played well — they did everything they needed to do.”

Allen had 10 points and Woods had two in the Mariners’ 72-43 home win back on January 18. At the end of the first half back on Southampton’s court Thursday, Allen was already up to 14, and the score was just 29-25 in the Mariners’ favor. The lead didn’t last for long, as three straight Tuckers buckets brought the score to 31-all. But a Sincere Faggins jumper, two Dakoda Smith free throws, and back-to-back Marquise Trent three-pointers helped lead a charge for Southampton, which reestablished its lead at 49-44 heading into the final stanza.

Allen, who had five rebounds, four assists and shot 15-for-16 from the foul line, scored nine points in the fourth quarter. Then Woods stepped in to help Mattituck seize the day.

“I was nervous,” Woods said. “But it’s been my goal since I started playing basketball to make the varsity team as a ninth-grader.”

The 5-6 first-year wonder drove the baseline and leapt to the backboard for a layup, bounced in an offensive rebound, and went 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, tying the game at 55, 57, and again at 59. Going up against Southampton’s bigs and a bold defense, Woods seemed immune to the pressure.

“I know what I’m capable of when I play with confidence,” Woods said. “Nobody believed in us. The last time Mattituck won a county title was like 10 years ago. But this team, we have so much heart. I love these boys.”

And on Valentine’s Day the feeling was mutual.

Back in the Mattituck-Southampton matchup January 18, the Tuckers shot 4-for-22 from the foul line. But in Thursday’s win, they reversed that and went 22-for-26. Woods said after that first meeting he switched his shooting position, moving a few inches to the right. On Thursday, he made it look easy.

Mattituck took the lead for good on a Ryan Seifert putback and two Allen free throws for a 63-59 edge with 1:15 left. Marcus Trent (19 points) flipped in a layup before Allen countered and followed with a free throw seconds later to make it 65-61. Southampton’s Artemi Gavalas drilled a three-pointer from near the right sideline to pull the Mariners (14-6) within 66-64, but that was as close as the team would come. Woods’ putback with 11.2 seconds left and a pair of Allen free throws sandwiched a Dakoda Smith layup to close out the game. Smith scored 12 points and had eight rebounds, and four assists, and Faggins finished with 13 before he fouled out with 1:15 remaining. Marcus Trent’s twin Marquise marked the fourth Mariner to reach double digits (11). He also had a big block to start the fourth that ignited the crowd.

“My heart bleeds for the seniors that weren’t able to make it to where we wanted to be this season,” Lamison said of the Trent brothers and Kristian Wheeler. “These guys have given me their heart and soul.”

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