For the Hun School girls basketball, its game at the Freire Charter School in Philadelphia last Saturday presented challenges on several levels.
“The whole situation was a little different,” said Hun head coach Bill Holup. “They didn’t have a regulation size court; that was a little surprise for us. They beat us last year so we knew we were going to have our hands full.”
As the game Saturday headed into the second half, it looked like things might get out of hand for the Raiders.
“We were down 11 at half and we chipped away and had it at nine going into the fourth quarter,” said Holup.
But showing character, Hun outscored Freire Charter 22-13 in the fourth quarter to face overtime with the teams locked in a 54-54 tie at the end of regulation.
“We stepped up the pressure in the fourth quarter,” said Holup. “We went with our full court press and we made things hectic for them. We got some steals and made some shots. But then we had a lot of foul trouble, Johnnah [Johnson] fouled out, Carey [Million] fouled out, [Erica] Brown fouled out and [Erica] Dwyer fouled out.”
Although the Raiders ended up falling 65-62 in double overtime, Holup believes his team will benefit from the jaunt to Philadelphia.
“It was a huge team building experience,” said Holup, who got 19 points from Brown in the defeat with Janelle Mullen adding 15 as Hun moved to 10-7.
“It was a difficult game. We stuck together as a team and fought through adversity. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get the win.”
In Holup’s view, a 68-48 loss to Blair on January 16 helped refocus a Raider squad which has posted a 3-1 record since that defeat.
“After the Blair game, they are the cream of the crop in the MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) and undefeated in the league, we started looking at things differently,” asserted Holup.
“We are playing more unselfishly. We are bringing a different mental approach to the game. The girls know they have to be ready to play whether they are playing a talented team or someone they might underestimate because we have had our hands full with those teams.”
Junior forward Johnnah Johnson has been a handful for Hun’s foes as she scored a total of 68 points in the Raiders’ three wins last week, including a career-high 33 points in a 65-51 victory over Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 19.
“She has the potential and ability; if she had made her foul shots and finished better, she would have been getting those point totals earlier,” said Holup.
“She was fading on her shot instead of taking it straight to the basket. We made it one of our objectives to establish her early in the game and establish an inside presence. She has been working on her inside moves.”
The presence of junior star Brown in the lineup is making a difference for the Raiders.
“Erica is pretty much full steam now; she played almost the whole game on Saturday,” said Holup of Brown, who injured her right knee in a loss to Lawrenceville on December 11 and didn’t return to action until a win over the King Low Heywood School (Conn.) on January 5.
“She has been able to get offensive rebounds for us. She can get a defensive rebound and start a fast break. She gives us a dimension we haven’t had in years. She can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket or she can post up. She is a versatile player.”
Junior guard Anajha Burnett has become a more valuable player for the Raiders.
“Anajha has stepped up,” asserted Holup. “She had nine assists in the win over Mercersburg. She is always looking to get the ball inside.”
Hun is looking to sharpen up for the postseason with some challenging non-league contests this week.
“The next three games are going to be a challenge and should help us better prepare for the MAPL tournament,” said Holup, whose team was slated to host Life Center Academy on January 29 before playing at Padua Academy (Del.) on January 31 and at North Brunswick High on February 2. “We need to stay healthy, play hard, and continue to get better.”
Even though Hun lost regular season games to MAPL foes Hill, Blair, and Lawrenceville, Holup believes his team could be hard to beat at tournament time.
“We need to work on playing our game,” said Holup. “I have been preaching since day one that if we are going against a team that has one or two scorers, we can compete if we play unselfish and play smart.”