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Girls Basketball: Mattituck names change, but style remains same

Of all the names that filled Mattituck’s scorebook Friday night, there were no players named Mayhem, Chaos or Havoc. Coach Steve Van Dood joked that perhaps there should be, given the way his high school girls basketball team plays.

For all the new players Mattituck has — and despite the fact that the Tuckers lost six players to graduation, including all five starters — they still play the same game. Their pressure defense forces turnovers, turning steals into easy layups.

“I think that’s the thing that will always kind of be with Mattituck,” junior guard Mackenzie Hoeg said. “Even the JV plays like we do.”

File it under The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same Department.

That defense-to-offense transition has been working for years and is a big reason why first-place Mattituck is the winner of seven straight games and the holder of a 9-2 record (7-0 in Suffolk County League VI). Not only that, but the Tuckers were ranked 23rd in Class B in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll released this week.

Credit the defense for a lot of that.

“Defense is the best part,” senior guard/forward Jaden Thompson said. “We get to make other people panic.”

If there was some panic on the side of host Hampton Bays Friday night, it was understandable. Mattituck can do that to a team. The winless Baymen had their hands full as Mattituck held them to 30-percent shooting from the field and forced 24 turnovers. All 13 Mattituck players played and 12 of them scored in a 62-28 blowout.

“I love seeing that stuff,” said Van Dood.

Hoeg (14 points), Thompson (12) and Dominique Crews (10) led Mattituck.

After a slow, choppy start, Mattituck shot out to a 16-6 lead through the first quarter. A 16-4 run gave Mattituck a 25-8 bulge with three minutes, 32 seconds left in the second quarter. That run was extended to 25-7. A Hoeg layup and then a Miranda Hedges layup off a Hoeg steal in the final seconds sent the Tuckers into halftime with a commanding 38-14 lead.

“We like to get the steals,” said Hoeg, who had 12 first-half points, as did Thompson. “It just opens up our offense.”

Mattituck, which also received strong play off the bench from Ashley Perkins (three points, eight rebounds), saw Hampton Bays (0-11, 0-8) twice trim the margin to 20 points in the third quarter before Mattituck gained more separation.

Catherine Thompson’s layup at the buzzer ending the third quarter made it 48-24 and prompted an emphatic fist pump by Van Dood.

Mattituck opened the fourth quarter with an Alexa Burns corner jump shot and layup (that swirled around several times before finally falling through) and a Sarah Santacroce shot in the lane for a 54-24 advantage.

The 34-point difference at the end was Mattituck’s largest lead. The Tuckers never trailed.

Pamela Grajales was the top Hampton Bays scorer with 12 points. No other player had more than four points for the Baymen.

Hoeg, who was the first player off the bench last season, has taken on a larger role this season. “Now she’s a starter,” Van Dood said. “That’s a lot … She does a lot on defense. She’s a really smart player.”

Jaden Thompson has been an impact player as well.

“She’s been unbelievable,” Van Dood said. “It seems like there’s two Jaden Thompsons out there, like clones. She does so much. She can score. She can defend.”

Defense comes first in Mattituck, and that’s just fine with players like Hoeg and Jaden Thompson, who say that’s their favorite part of the game.

Certainly, Mattituck, the defending Suffolk Class B champion that went 19-4 last season, has kept up its winning ways with its intense defense, quick hands and quick feet.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected that much because we lost so many people,” Hoeg said, “but it’s nice to prove them wrong.”

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