Vol. LXI, No. 52
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
NO COUCH POTATO: Hun School junior forward Cyndra Couch races up the court in Hun’s 57-33 triumph over Padua Academy (Del.) last Wednesday. Couch has sparked Hun with her intensity and athleticism at both ends of the court as the Raiders have gotten off to a 7-1 start. Over the holidays, Hun will play in the North Hunterdon Tournament on December 27 and 28.
They wear team T-shirts proclaiming their focus on defense.
Last Wednesday, the Hun School girls’ basketball team gave visiting Padua Academy (Del.) a first-hand dose of their defensive prowess.
With its tall, agile, and experienced lineup, Hun started the game pressing and trapping Padua all over the floor. The Raiders jumped out to an early 13-0 lead and led 16-2 at the end of the first quarter.
After Padua cut the margin to 20-10, Hun went on a 14-4 run to end the half and build an insurmountable 34-14 lead. The Raiders cruised to a 57-33 win as they improved to 6-1 on the year.
In reflecting on the win, Hun junior forward Cyndra Couch said she and her teammates enjoyed putting on the defensive clinic.
“We are really aggressive; as soon as the ball comes out we attack,” said Couch, who used her athleticism to come up with several steals and rebounds. “We press, we help. We are just really, really aggressive to the ball.”
The whole Hun squad has bought into the emphasis on defense. “At practice, we push each other,” said Couch.
“We know how to play defense; we work hard on it. We have it on our t-shirts, defense is our thing.”
While she relishes the Hun defensive approach, Couch has worked hard to diversify her game to be a more valuable contributor for the Raiders.
“The first couple of years, I just got defensive rebounds,” said Couch. “I am starting to pick up more points, rebounds, and steals. I’ve gotten more aggressive over the years; I’ve also worked on my jump shot.”
In the wake of their only loss, a 55-50 defeat to Living Faith on December 15, Couch and her teammates have focused even harder on their work.
“That was a tough game,” said Couch. “I don’t think that we were mentally ready for that game. We could have beat them but they outhustled us. We didn’t know how strong they were. We’re working harder.”
Hun head coach Bill Holup liked his team’s defensive effort in the win over Padua.
“We have pretty good size and Padua was more of a guard-oriented team,” said Holup, whose team put on another defensive clinic as it topped Scotch Plains 51-36 last Thursday in moving to 7-1 on the season.
“We knew that much of their offense would come from the outside but with our height and our defense we made it difficult for them at times. We are very good at communicating on defense; we try to anticipate and take chances.”
In Holup’s view, Couch is making the most out of her chance to contribute to the Raiders.
“Cyndra is really coming along; she is so quick and athletic,” said Holup. “In the past, she relied more on her natural ability and didn’t work as hard as she could have. Now, she is really stepping up. I think part of that is a maturity thing. She gives us a big spark. She anticipates well on defense and she is tough to defend against on offense.”
A constant spark for Hun has been senior star Emily Gratch, who scored a game-high 20 points in the win over Padua.
“She’s there offensively and defensively,” added Holup of the Lehigh-bound forward. “Even if her shot isn’t on, Emily commands a double team and then she finds the open player. She’s such an unselfish player.”
In Holup’s view, Hun’s setback to Living Faith highlighted the need for everyone on the team to be there when needed.
“I think it’s more of a refocusing; we had a few games that we won pretty easily,” said Holup.
“In our loss, we fell behind early; we had not been in that situation before. Morgan [Cawley] was out that game and Alex [Liaskos] got hurt that game. What it shows is that other girls have to step up and pick up the slack. A team is what it is; it’s who you have on the team and who is capable of playing.”
Hun is showing better teamwork on offense this year, according to Holup.
“I think our ball movement is better,” maintained Holup, whose team will play in the North Hunterdon Tournament on December 27 and 28.
“We aren’t relying on just one or two people to dribble the ball all over the place. Now we have to work better on getting open and passing the ball. They look for each other so it will come.”
Couch, for her part, sees things coming together for the Raiders. “I think we’re headed in a good direction,” said Couch.
“I think we are looking good this year for teams like Peddie and Germantown; we’re looking to really put up a fight.”
And if Hun can blend better offensive execution with its fight on defense, its players could be sporting championship T-shirts come February.
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