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Girls Basketball: Mac’s farewell comes with tears

When it ended, Mackenzie Hoeg looked down, raised her hands to her face, wiped away some tears and waited on the handshake line. Her laudable high school basketball career had just ended.

It couldn’t have been the ending the Mattituck High School senior envisioned. Port Jefferson’s blanket defense held Mattituck to 20.8% shooting and Hoeg to seven points from 1-for-10 shooting in the Royals’ 42-28 Suffolk County Class B final win Friday night at Centereach High School.

“The hardest part for me when you’re shaking hands, especially after we won, is seeing a girl cry,” Port Jefferson co-coach Keith Buehler said. “That just shows you the heart.

“We frustrated her. I know we did. That’s our job, but she’s an unbelievable athlete and an unbelievable kid.”

Hoeg, an All-County player last season, scored 710 points over the course of her sterling four-year varsity career. The point guard also collected 321 rebounds, 245 steals and 122 assists in that time. She averaged 17 points per game this season.

Hoeg’s coach and teammates spoke glowingly about her.

“Oh God,” coach Steve Van Dood said. “She’s heroic. I mean, she does everything, you know. She takes a lot on herself, but the best thing she does is off the court, how she works with the girls, how she talks to the girls. It’s all good stuff. Mac Hoeg has been a leader from day one for us.”

Another Mattituck senior, guard Sarah Santacroce, said Hoeg has “been a tremendous asset to the team from day one. She’s been on varsity for so long. She has all the skill sets that it takes to be a good varsity athlete. She’s definitely helped a lot of us mold into that varsity basketball team that we became.”

Hoeg, who wasn’t up for a postgame interview, is a player opposing teams need to account for.

“Just as a leader and as an athlete, her presence on the court is something that if you’re watching, just the eye test … she’s the threat,” Port Jefferson’s other co-coach, Jesse Rosen, said. “She’s the girl that you need to be aware of offensively and defensively.”

Mattituck will have a different look next season, with likely expanded roles for younger players like freshman Abby Woods, sophomore Aaliyah Shorter and junior Aniah Thompson.

“She’s just like the heart and soul of our team and she’s the big asset to the team,” Thompson said of Hoeg. “We’ll definitely miss her next year.”