Any time Matt Hudzik finds himself open beyond the three-point line, the Ward Melville junior has a license to drill.
“He’s got the green light,” Patriots coach Alex Piccirillo said.
Hudzik, who has been lighting it up from downtown all season, was particularly effective last night, hitting five three-pointers and scoring a season-high 21 points to lead No. 19 Ward Melville to a 59-41 victory over host No. 14 Centereach in a Suffolk AA outbracket game.
“I try to get up shots whenever I can. I always think they’re going in,” said Hudzik, who leads Suffolk with 65 three-pointers (on 135 attempts), according to Piccirillo. That’s gaudy 48.1 percent shooting.
“The kid is always on the shooting machine at practice,” Piccirillo said.
He is turning into a shooting machine, especially from three-point range. Hudzik didn’t take anything but three-point shots last night, going 5-for-13. He also shot 6-for-6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, when the Patriots sank 9 of 11 free throws in the final 1:24 to spoil the Cougars’ fouling strategy.
Tim Specht scored 11 points and Matt O’Hea had 10 for Ward Melville (9-9), which plays at No. 3 Half Hollow Hills West at noon tomorrow in an AA first-round playoff game. Kevin Callahan scored 13 and Jon Agostino 11 for Centereach (10-9).
Hudzik provided a bit of foreshadowing when he ended the first quarter by stepping into a straightaway three-pointer for a 12-4 advantage. Ward Melville was never seriously threatened thereafter, building a 45-31 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter before Centereach gave its enthusiastic crowd something to cheer about. Jake Marzocca hit a floater, Callahan canned two free throws and Agostino scored in transition to make it 45-37 with 4:03 left.
Then a light went off for Ward Melville — a green one, to be precise — as Hudzik hit a three from the corner on a nice bounce pass from point guard Noah Kepes. “He’s a nice option,” Kepes said with a smile.
“I’m comfortable from all spots on the floor,” Hudzik said.
All spots from beyond the arc, that is.