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Mackenzie Duffy isn’t like most teenage athletes.
As far back as fourth grade, the Maine South senior figured she was a pretty good basketball player, and the sport was one she would continue to play. Even before she graduates high school, she has an idea of what she career she wants to pursue.
And although she’s probably good enough to play Division I basketball somewhere, Duffy is choosing her college mostly based on its academics.
“It takes a unique person to do what she’s done,” Maine South coach Mark Smith said. “But she’s so level-headed that she’s never wavered and has been able to excel in all areas.”
Duffy’s in her fourth and final season with the Hawks. The guard played 16 varsity games as a freshman before starting the last three seasons. During that time, Maine South captured three regional championships and took third place in Class 4A in 2011.
The Hawks, who won 67 games in the three previous seasons, entered this week 8-0 after Friday’s 47-42 victory over New Trier.
“There are high expectations here that pushes us to do more and be better,” Duffy said. “We have another really good team this year, a lot of people stepping up.”
Always known for her outside shooting, Duffy has developed her all-around offensive game. On consecutive baskets in the first quarter, Duffy fed junior Emilie McGuire with a backdoor pass for a layup and later scored her own layup on a full-court drive.
“She’s much more well-rounded,” Smith said.
But Duffy hasn’t lost her touch from the perimeter. She came into this week with 13 3-pointers, making at least one in the first eight games. Duffy entered this season seventh on the program’s all-time list with 94 and should move into the top five by the time she leaves.
“When I started playing, the coaches noticed right away I was a good shooter,” she said. “It was something that happened naturally.
“I definitely wanted to work on taking it more to the basket and develop some new moves. That makes me that much harder to guard.”
Off the court, Duffy definitely doesn’t shy away from a challenge. She’s taking AP Calculus, an accelerated physics class and an accelerated French course. In college, Duffy, who’s looking at Loras and St. Thomas (Minn.), wants to study actuarial science, a discipline that combines math and statistics to assess risk in an industry such as insurance.
“It’s definitely requires balance,” Duffy said of sports and school. “But I am used it now. If it’s something I want, I am willing to work hard for it.”