Katie Hoeg — captain of the basketball team, valedictorian of the school — had some words of wisdom for her teammates.
“I told them, ‘Do not let this be the last basketball game I ever play!’ ” Hoeg said with a laugh.
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Oh, and one other thing.
“I also said we have to give everything we have at this moment, because this is our chance to make school history.”
The wise senior spoke, her motivated teammates listened, and the Tuckers entered the history books. Top-seeded Mattituck defeated No. 3 Center Moriches, 59-42, Tuesday night in the Suffolk Class B championship at Riverhead High School to capture the first county title in the history of the girls basketball program.
“We wanted to make history since the first day of practice,” said Hoeg, who was competing in the title game for the third time in five years. “It’s really nice to see it all come true.”
Liz Dwyer, a sophomore, helped make it come true before the departure of the seniors — Hoeg, Courtney Penny, Briana Perino, and Phurlamu Sherpa.
Trailing by five entering the third, the Tuckers began to aggressively attack the rim. Dwyer repeatedly got to the line and hit six free throws during a 10-0 run that opened a 37-33 lead with 3:09 left in the third. On the strength of their turnover-inducing full-court press, the Tuckers opened the fourth on a 15-3 run — the highlight of which came when Dwyer drained a three for a 49-38 lead and then drew a charge on the other end.
“We said we’d rather break a leg than lose this game,” said Dwyer, who had 21 points. “We had come so far. If we lost, I wouldn’t have slept for a week.”
Hoeg had 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals. Mackenzie Daly added 10 points and Corinne Reda had six points and five steals for the Tuckers, who forced 19 turnovers.
Kristina Baldanza had 17 points for Center Moriches (11-8), including six straight during a 12-0 run in the second that opened a 21-17 advantage. Caroline Casey added 11 points.
Mattituck (18-1) advances to the Long Island championship game on March 1 at St. Joseph’s College. Hoeg, who will play lacrosse at the University of North Carolina, was asked what advice she’ll give to her teammates this time.
“I’ll keep saying the same exact thing,” she said. “Do not let this be the last basketball game I ever play!”
And a little something about making more school history.