By Bill Landon
Although the small school matchup may not hold much postseason weight, you couldn’t tell, as Port Jefferson and Mattituck’s girls’ basketball teams duked it out for the third time this year.
Each had grabbed a win over the other in the regular season, but this time, the larger school prevailed as the Suffolk County Class B champion bounced back in the game’s final minutes to edge out its Class C rival, 58-54, Feb. 24 at Riverhead High School.
Scoring stalwart Courtney Lewis did what she’s done all season, as the 2,000-plus-career point scorer led her team with 29 points — the only Royal in double figures.
The senior sank two from the foul line to retie the game at 25-25 with 2:12 left in the first half, and classmate Jillian Colucci hit a field goal to retie the game at 29-29, but Mattituck 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Tuckers a 32-29 lead.
“We knew who their good players were and we knew how they pressed and the plays that they run,” Lewis said. “I think that we prepared as well as we could have.”
She went back to work driving the lane and muscling her way to the basket drawing foul after foul, scoring 11 points from the charity stripe on the afternoon. Colucci hit a 3-pointer, followed by freshman Samantha Ayotte, for a five-point lead at the 3:15 mark of the third.
During the final eight minutes, senior Corinne Scannell scored back-to-back field goals and Colucci sank her second trey of the game for the Royals to remain in control, 49-42. Both teams trade points at the free-throw line, but momentum shifted Mattituck’s way. Junior Liz Dwyer scored seven of the team’s nine straight points to take a 53-51 edge.
Again, both teams were back at the charity stripe with seconds on the clock, but Mattituck made more of its opportunities to give the game its final score.
Despite the loss, Port Jefferson will take on East Rockaway in the Class C Long Island championship semifinals March 6 at SUNY Old Westbury at 5 p.m.
“I think that with the group of girls that we have here — with the athleticism that’s on the court — we always have a shot in a close game like that,” Port Jeff head coach Jessie Rosen said. “But to have the type of scorer that Courtney is — and she can take over a game at any point — having that as a coach you always appreciate that. We had faith that we could grind it out, but Mattituck wound up on top tonight.”