Bill Holup and his players on the Hun School girls’ basketball team have gotten a lesson in rolling with the punches this winter.
When senior star and dominant center Johnnah Johnson was sidelined in January, Hun head coach Holup was forced to reshuffle his lineup and his players had to adjust accordingly.
“We are still learning; it is tough without Johnnah who is a going to be a solid D-I player,” said Holup of Johnson, who has committed to play at Robert Morris and is out indefinitely.
“People are playing more minutes than they might have and they are getting thrown into the fire. People are taking different roles and everyone has stepped up.”
After suffering some losses right after Johnson’s injury, the Raiders have been stepping up collectively, having won three straight games over the last week, topping Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) 57-22 on January 18, defeating Pingry 46-20 last Thursday, and then topping North Brunswick 53-35 on Saturday.
Holup pointed to the win over Pingry as an example of the team’s fortitude. “It was a good win; we were pretty sluggish because we didn’t have school or practice for two days,” said Holup, noting that Hun was closed last Tuesday and Wednesday due to the snowstorm that hit the area.
“It was a competitive game in the first half and then we came alive in the second half. We were not shooting well so it was good to see our defense do a really good job.”
The Raiders built on that performance with their win over North Brunswick.
“We lost to North Brunswick last year at their place; it was a very physical game,” said Holup who got 15 points from Erica Brown and 10 points from Clare Moloney in the win which lifted Hun to 7-6.
“It was a very physical game on Saturday. We were expecting to be physical and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. They are a Group IV team and they are tough. We were shooting much better than Thursday. Defensively we did a terrific job. We held them to 11 points in the first half. We hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored 22 points.”
Freshman Moloney has been doing a fine job in replacing Johnson at center. “Moloney has been coming into her own,” said Holup.
“She is getting more minutes and is getting more confident. Her teammates are getting more confident in her. She is only a freshman so we don’t want to put too much pressure on her.”
Senior star Brown, for her part, has been putting pressure on Hun’s foes all over the court.
“Brown has been relentless at both ends of the floor,” asserted Holup. “She is exhausted sometimes when we call timeouts because she is playing so hard. We are putting her on the opposing team’s best player. She can defend guards or forwards. She is playing bigger than she is and she has been doing a good job with that.”
Holup has been trying to get his players to look at the big picture. “I have been emphasizing three things with them,” noted Holup.
“I tell them they have to trust each other, they have to have confidence in themselves and their teammates, and they need to leave their egos outside the court. Once they are on the court, they have to play together.”
The Raiders appear to be responding to that message. “The girls have shown growth,” said Holup, whose team plays at Germantown Friends (Pa.) on January 31 before hosting Padua (Del.) on February 1.
“We still have enough talent to be really good. We are not going to be a pushover for anybody.”