Change is part of the game in high school girls basketball. Players come and go. Roles are altered. Adjustments are made.
And so it is for Katie Hoeg.
Mattituck’s senior point guard has different players surrounding her this season, and it has been quite a change for her.
“She had a little more support last year, I would say,” coach Steve Van Dood said. “So, we’ve got some young kids who she has to be more like a nurturer [for] and talk girls through things and say, ‘You know, I’ve been there before. We’ll get there and things will work out.’ ”
Van Dood said Hoeg has been making the most of things. “I think she’s doing a great job,” he said. “Her leadership, her scoring, she’s definitely gotten a lot better. Her shooting’s better. She’s handling the ball very well, making good decisions with the ball, and she’s keeping everybody’s spirits [up].”
As she often does, Hoeg came through for the Tuckers in their 50-41 double-overtime victory at Babylon Tuesday night. She equaled her season average with 15 points, aided by 9-for-12 free-throw shooting. In addition, she put up seven rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot.
“Hoeg was heroic in this game, once again,” said Van Dood.
Mattituck sophomore guard Emily Nicholson said Hoeg is “the best. She helps everybody out. If anybody has a question, she’s the first one to help them, and she just keeps everyone together and working together like a family. She’s amazing.”
Asked about developing a new chemistry with the team’s newcomers, Hoeg said, “I think every year, you know, with the new people coming in, people graduating, there’s always a different set, and those different people always bring in different aspects to basketball, so I think it’s just finding what five girls work for each game.”
Does Hoeg feel comfortable playing with this group?
“Yeah, I mean, I think I feel comfortable with them,” she said. “We still have a lot of improving to do, but I don’t think it’s any different than any other five group of girls that I’ve played with.”
Hoeg, an All-County player last season who has played for four county champion teams, said she doesn’t feel any additional weight on her shoulders in this, her fifth varsity season.
As for a self-assessment of her young season, she said: “I feel good. I think there’s always room for improvement and I think it will come along with the season. You know, the more practices we have, I think that there’s only room to get better.”
Van Dood appreciates his team captain for something that’s not so visible to fans — her off-the-court leadership and the example she sets for younger teammates.
“She comes to every practice,” he said. “She hasn’t missed a practice yet. Wants to work, wants to get better. Always does a good job.”
• FTs are critical
One hears it often: Games are won and lost at the free-throw line. Tuesday’s Mattituck-Babylon game surely was won at the charity stripe. Mattituck canned 21 of 32 foul shots while Babylon shot 5-for-16 from the line.
Photo caption: Mackenzie Hoeg (20) with teammates Halle Foster (13) and Charlotte Keil (5) chat before Tuesday night’s game in Babylon. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)