Most inbound plays don’t make the highlight reel. But the one the Mattituck High School girls basketball team pulled off late in their game against Greenport/Southold on Saturday afternoon went a long way to helping them secure a win over their archrivals.

Clinging to a four-point lead with about a half a minute remaining in the Suffolk County League VII match-up, Sofia Knudsen, Claire Mackenzie and Rhianna Lutz combined on a play that gave Mattituck some much needed breathing room.

Lutz’s layup stunted the Porters’ momentum and allowed the Tuckers to walk out of their gymnasium with a 41-33 victory.

“That was the biggest bucket of the game,” Mattituck girls basketball head coach Steve Van Dood said. “Who knows what that momentum would have been. That basket was bigger than just two points.”

Let’s set the scene:

The Porters (1-5, 0-1) were in the midst of a 16-6 run, trying to overcome a 14-point deficit.

Sophomore guard Francesca Santacroce canned two free throws with 32.1 seconds left, pulling Greenport within four at 35-31. “I know we were all feeling a little nervous, but I feel like that amped it up for us,” Lutz said.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, Knudsen connected with Mackenzie, who found a streaking Lutz. She put in the layup for a six-point advantage with 26.9 seconds remaining.

“We’ve been working on that inbound play in practice, but we never put it in a game before,” said Mackenzie, who finished with 14 points, four steals and three assists. “It actually worked. That was really exciting. When I saw Rhianna open, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for the play. When I passed it to her, I knew that she was going make it.”

Which she did to perfection.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” said Lutz, who scored 10 points. “I was just running down the court for the fast break. But it was very key that I made that basket.” 

Porters senior guard Lilly Corwin, who scored 11 of her game-high 19 points in the final period, including a perfect going 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, put away two foul shots with 18.3 seconds left.

Mattituck (3-5, 2-0) demonstrated its resolve as Mackenzie sank two free throws with 14.8 seconds left. Junior guard Riley Corrigan put in two more with 0.5 seconds remaining.

“We had some girls coming off the bench who did a good job,” Van Dood said. “The girls did a great job defensively. We moved on the pass instead of on the catch. We got into the passing lanes and forced everything east-west.”

Van Dood also was encouraged by Lutz’s all-around girls basketball performance.

“It’s huge that she’s getting better and better,” he said. “She’s working harder. I don’t think she realized how good she is. She’s fast. She’s quick. She’s reacting. She anticipates well. She did a lot of good little things today that you don’t really see — tips, taps, pushes, pushing the ball up and then just making girls uncomfortable on [the opposing] offense. I was happy with her defensive game. I told her: ‘Just let the game come to you.’ ”

After losing three of their opening five games to larger, Class A schools, the Tuckers have found a rhythm, winning three consecutive contests.

“It feels great,” Mackenzie said. “We’re definitely starting the league on a good [note]. It’s really going to set us up nicely for the rest of the year.”

Both teams were cold from the field. Mattituck converted just 24% of its shots (15 of 63). The Tuckers were 8 for 18 from the line, putting away 7 of 10 tries in the fourth quarter.

The Porters shot 13%  from the field (7 of 54) but were sizzling from the foul line (17 of 22). They sank 13 of 14 free throws in the final quarter.

“It shouldn’t have gotten to that,” Greenport head coach Ev Corwin said. “I don’t know what it is when the lights come on. Some of us are just freezing a little bit. I’ve got to figure out something to kick them into gear a little more.”

Ev Corwin is aiming to get his best players to perform together consistently. In Greenport’s 52-32 win over Port Jefferson on Jan. 4, Corwin and Santacroce contributed 18 points apiece. On Saturday, Corwin scored 19, Santacroce had eight.

“We’ve got to try to figure out a way to get them going at the same time,” the coach said.

The teams will meet one more time in the regular season, at Greenport on Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m.

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