For Erica Brown and her teammates on the Hun School girls’ basketball team, their lopsided loss to Lawrenceville last Wednesday prompted some soul-searching as they prepared to host Mastery Charter (Pa.) a day later.
“We had a tough loss last night,” said senior forward Brown reflecting on the 54-29 defeat to the Big Red.
“Even in school, off the court, we were in ourselves. We just wanted to go out there and play hard and play the best that we can. Our main goal was to go out there and play hard and be ourselves. We weren’t hitting many shots yesterday. We really wanted to put the ball in the basket today.”
With Brown setting the tone with her aggressive play, Hun put up a lot of baskets against Mastery, jumping out to a 31-17 halftime lead on the way to a 56-39 victory.
“We were moving the ball well today,” said Brown, who scored 12 points to lead Hun along with freshman center Clare Maloney.
“Yesterday we weren’t hitting shots so we couldn’t rely on one person. Today we all went out there and we all had to play hard and do it for the team. We couldn’t play for ourselves.”
Hun has been forced to come together even more as a team in the wake of a knee injury to star center Johnnah Johnson, who is sidelined indefinitely.
“Once Johnnah got hurt, we really had to buckle down and our inside game had to be strong,” said Brown.
“Clare really had to be strong and she is doing well, filling some big shoes. She has to play hard and be strong inside.”
Brown, for her part, is looking to buckle down at both ends of the floor. “I really have to help get the rebounds on defense and make sure that we can push the ball,” said Brown.
“We have to play hard on the defensive end. Offensively we have to see the court. I like pushing the ball; the fast break is one of my strong suits, I like getting the ball up the court but I can settle down and run a play if we need to. Usually I just tell the girls to run and I will get the ball out to you. I grab the rebound and I will push it; that is our transition game.”
In Brown’s view, closing the deal against Mastery bodes well for the Raiders.
“We had some really close losses and our main thing was we have been up a lot at halftime and we want to make sure that we didn’t lose that lead,” said Brown.
“Sometimes we get a little lackadaisical when we are up by a lot and today at halftime, it was we are up and we need to stay up. There is nothing guaranteeing our win.”
Hun head coach Bill Holup sees the win over Mastery as a step forward for his squad.
“It is definitely important and with Johnnah out we don’t have overall depth so the other girls have to step up,” said Holup.
“Like today, for example, Maura Kelly did a terrific job, she grabbed some rebounds and was active defensively. Everybody is going to be called upon at some point and they have to always be ready and focused.”
Holup liked the focus that Brown displayed in the win over Mastery Charter.
“Erica has ability,” said Holup. “She is a physical player, she can rebound, and she can also handle the ball. Yesterday, in our halftime talk she may have taken that to heart. She really stepped up her game from halftime yesterday throughout this entire game.”
Junior guard Erica Dwyer also stepped up, chipping in five points and calmly running the Hun offense.
“I think Erica Dwyer did the same thing; yesterday she didn’t play all that well and she knew it,” said Holup.
“Today she played much better and was more patient and let the game come to her instead of forcing it. Ultimately as a team, that was what we did today.”
The Raiders also got good games from junior Janelle Mullen and senior Anajha Burnett.
“Mullen has been a little bit off with her shot in the last couple of games,” said Holup, whose team topped Hill 57-30 on Saturday before falling 61-38 to Marianapolis Prep (Conn.) in the New Year’s Resolution Showcase at Peterson to move to 4-5.
“I think that has been bothering her a little bit, it can be psychological at times, you are thinking too much. She came alive today late in the game but we will need her right from the start. Anajha had a nice game, she asserted herself instead of just settling for outside shots.
Even without Johnson, Holup believes his club can produce a nice season.
“There is enough talent on this team that we should be able to compete with most of the teams on our schedule,” said Holup, whose team hosts Blair Academy on January 15 before playing at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 18 and at Life Center Academy on January 21. “We just have to be ready to play every time.”
Brown, for her part, is ready to go out with a bang. “We need to make sure that we are a family on and off the court so that is our main thing,” said Brown, who is planning to play at the college level.
“In senior year, you want to leave it on the court. I am trying to enjoy the rest of the season and see where it takes me.”