As Mackenzie Hoeg was about to leave the Mattituck High School gymnasium on Friday night, basketball coach Steve Van Dood shouted to his star senior guard from the other side of the court: “Great game!”
No hyperbole there. Hoeg indeed had a great game for the Tuckers in their 42-35 triumph over Greenport/Southold in the Suffolk County League VII encounter.
Hoeg tallied a game-high 25 points, including the Tuckers’ first 14 points of the second half while adding some alert defense.
“Mac Hoeg came through huge, proving how she’s probably the best guard in our league,” Van Dood said. “She did a great job on both sides of the ball.
“She’s a clutch player. She knows it and she would not want to lose this game at all. That girl does not like losing one bit. We’re very, very proud of her. She makes everyone around her better.”
Hoeg made sure Mattituck (11-6, 10-3) moved closer to a home game in next month’s Class B playoffs. The second-place Tuckers trail Port Jefferson (11-4, 11-1).
“The significance of this game is that this team beat Port Jeff at home,” Van Dood said of Greenport’s 43-40 victory on Jan. 10. “Port Jeff is the best team in the league right now and beating that team says we can run with Port Jeff.”
Hoeg showcased her talents at both ends of the court. She sank a trey on the Tuckers’ final shot of the first quarter, with 47.8 seconds remaining. She added another three-pointer with one second left in the second period for a 25-18 halftime advantage.
She saved her best for the last half. After the Porters (8-8, 6-6) moved within 25-22 with 6 minutes and 28 seconds remaining in the third, Hoeg added another three. She then scored from just about everywhere, a 12-footer here, a one-hander shot there, while adding two layups, keeping Greenport at arm’s length.
“She is the biggest person of this team,” said junior guard Aniah Thompson. “She definitely has the heart and soul of this team.”
When the Tuckers needed it the most, Hoeg came through.
“I think towards the end of the game and it’s really tight, we got to score.” she said. “We got to do what we got to do to win. I don’t realize sometimes when I’m scoring or like how many points I’ve scored because I am so involved in the game.”
While it didn’t show up in the box score, Van Dood raved about Hoeg’s defense. She finished with a team-best five steals and made life difficult for sophomore guard Adrine Demirciyan.
“She did a good job of working atop of our diamond and tried to take Adrine out of the game by playing really good defense on her,” he said. “Hoeg was very alert. When Adrine beat somebody, she was there to get right in her face and put Adrine on her heels.”
By the time Thompson had broken Hoeg’s streak with a driving layup with 30 seconds left, Mattituck had a 41-35 lead. Thompson added a foul shot with 18.9 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Thompson was involved in one of the most unusual plays you will ever see when the referees awarded Greenport a basket even though the ball did not go through the hoop. She fouled Skylar Mysliborski (team-high 10 points), her best friend, while the freshman guard was shooting. The game officials called the foul and said Mysliborski would take one foul attempt.
“I was like what are you talking about? What do you mean?” Hoeg said. “It’s kind of weird. Everyone makes mistakes, so …”
Thompson also was confused. “I had the ball next to me,” she said. “So, I was like, ‘How did that even go in?’ ”
Porters coach Skip Gehring said the ball did not go in.
“Even if it happens the other way, I wouldn’t complain because both referees have to see what it is,” he said. “If one referee didn’t see it and the other referee asks for help, the other referee can’t say, ‘Oh, it didn’t go in’ without seeing it. Neither one of them saw it.”
A win would have moved Greenport closer to clinching a playoff berth, but Gehring was confident that will happen.
“There’s no doubt we’ll be in,” he said. “The next two games we have teams that we beat pretty good. Yes, it would have been nice to win. We’ll get the two wins we need, and we’ll get in.”