Trust the process. Trust Mackenzie Hoeg.
That’s what Mattituck coach Steve Van Dood tells his basketball players when referring to Hoeg, the team’s All-County senior point guard.
Asked if he noticed any changes in Hoeg’s game during preseason practices, Van Dood said: “There’s a lot more oohs and aahs with her passing. I tell the girls all the time, if you move off the ball well, Hoeg will find you.”
If that happens often enough, Mattituck (17-6 last season) could find itself back in the Long Island Class B final for a fifth consecutive year.
Hoeg, in her fifth season on the team, has played for four county champion teams. Last season she averaged 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals per game.
“She does a little bit of everything,” said Van Dood, whose career record is 175-108 going into his 14th season in charge of the Tuckers.
Senior guard Sarah Santacroce is the team’s other returning starter. She will be looked to for steals off the press. “She does some good things in the half-court, too,” Van Dood said. “We can’t forget about that. She’s good at getting to the rim.”
Also back are senior guard Miranda Hedges, sophomore guard Emily Nicholson and senior center Catherine Thompson.
The Tuckers also have what Van Dood called “some pleasant surprises.”
One of them is the addition of senior guard Viki Harkin, who played junior varsity basketball for two seasons before not playing last season so she could commit time to volleyball.
“I could see her contributing,” Van Dood said. “… She can jump. She’s got very good hang time. She’s a rebounder.”
And then there are more promising additions like senior forwards Charlotte Keil, Halle Foster and Anna Burns, junior guards Aniah Thompson, Julie Kosmynka and Rylie Rittberg, and junior guard/forward Emma Reidy.
“There’s a lot of good talent there,” said Van Dood.
“I think we’re a smaller team than last year,” he continued. “Last year we had more size. We’re definitely faster, and I think a little more athletic, and they’re aggressive, too.”
The better you get, the harder it gets.
That’s the way it is in basketball sometimes. And that’s what Greenport/Southold’s Adrine Demirciyan may have discovered last season when more often than not she was double-teamed by opposing teams.
Even so, the guard put up 16.8 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game — as a freshman! She received All-Conference recognition after being an All-League player as an eighth-grader.
“Adrine plays all aspects of the game,” coach Skip Gehring said. “There’s no question about her scoring ability, but she rebounds. She plays hard defense and has a real desire to want to win.”
Demirciyan’s life should be made easier by the presence of others around her like freshman guard Skylar Mysliborski (6.7 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and senior center/forward Isabelle Higgins (5.1 points, 11 rebounds), the League VI Rookie of the Year last season after playing the first couple of games with the JV team.
“Isabelle was very, very much a surprise,” Gehring said. “Her rebounding, because we were a team of guards, was absolutely key for us getting very close to the playoffs.”
More veteran know-how comes from senior guard Cailin Duffy, senior forward Molly Tuthill, junior shooting guard Jenna McFarland, junior forward Julia Jaklevic and sophomore center Amelia Woods.
Kaitlin Tobin, a senior guard who played varsity as a sophomore but didn’t play last season, is a nice addition. “She’s going to add a lot of athleticism,” said Gehring.
The Porters (6-12) also have senior forwards Sophia Wachtel and Paige Wachtel (her cousin), senior guard Adrianne Portillo and freshman shooting guard Brienna McFarland (Jenna’s sister).
“Everybody is going to be contributing. It’s a much more well-rounded team,” Gehring said. “The well-roundedness of what we have as an overall team and the new additions, these teams aren’t going to be focusing on Adrine. They have to play everybody.”
Greenport has seen significant growth in the program. The Porters have 31 players on their varsity and JV teams, as compared to 18 last season. That should translate into better practices and more competition for positions.
Said Gehring, “There’s a lot of expectations for us this year to do well.”
Top photo caption: Mattituck’s All-County senior point guard, Mackenzie Hoeg, has played for four county champion teams. (Credit: Bill Landon, file)