Showing Dedication, Ability to Deal with Adversity, Hun Girls’ Hoops Rides Late Surge to 5-3 Record
WILLPOWER: Hun School girls’ basketball player Kennedy Wilburn, left, drives to the basket in a game this winter. Post-graduate forward Wilburn provided an inside presence that helped the Raiders win their last four games on the way to a 5-3 final record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Battling to the final moments of the 2021 campaign, the Hun School girls’ basketball team rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a 47-44 win over rival Peddie in its season finale.
Trailing the Falcons 38-36 entering the final eight minutes of the March 2 contest, the Raiders tightened up their defense and rode the perimeter shooting of senior Kennedy Jardine and some clutch free throws from senior Izzy Lalo to earn the victory.
Hun head coach Bill Holup was not surprised to see his squad display resilience to the final buzzer.
“I give the girls all of the credit in the world for following through this year,” said Holup, whose players dealt with strict COVID restrictions, practicing and playing with masks.
“What I said to the girls after the game is that everything they went through this year should definitely prepare them for any adversity that they face in the future going forth. What they were able to accomplish and get through to stay committed, work hard, and stay dedicated is really tremendous.”
The Raiders saved their best for last in edging Peddie. “The girls played a great game,” said Holup, whose team overcame an injury to junior star Kiera Hahn early in the game that sidelined her for the rest of the contest. “It was good to win a game against a MAPL (Mid-Atlantic Prep League) team as well.”
Hun played very well down the stretch, ending the winter on a four-game winning streak to finish with a 5-3 record.
“It was nice to win those last four games,” said Holup. “We were very happy about that and the fact that the school really was committed to having some sort of a season. I look at the other MAPL schools — Lawrenceville didn’t play at all, Blair played one game, and Peddie played four games.”
As the winter unfolded, the squad played better and better. “It really was the fact that they were committed to getting through, playing, and having fun and having some sort of normalcy,” said Holup, reflecting on the late surge.
“Certainly as the season progressed, they definitely improved. We had a lot of young girls on the team and I could see their development as well. They got more confidence and their skills developed more. They were fortunate to be able to see the seniors that we did have.”
Hun’s trio of seniors — Jardine, Lalo, and post-graduate Kennedy Wilburn — displayed a maturity that galvanized the Raiders.
“I am certainly going to miss them; I am glad that we were able to have some sort of a season for them,” said Holup.
“They marched through and showed the younger girls what it takes to get through a basketball season and how to play together as a team. They showed their veteran leadership and that certainly helped out those younger girls on the team. They showed what it takes to be successful.”
In Holup’s view, the program has the foundation in place to be successful in the future, starting with Hahn and sophomore standout Sasha Moise.
“I am going to meet with each one of the players individually and tell them what they need to continue to work on,” said Holup, noting that he had five freshmen on the roster this season.
“We rely on Kiera defensively and for rebounding and doing a lot of the dirty work out there. Sasha gives us a lot of that toughness on the inside and gives us a little bit more size as well. The younger girls certainly look at those two, not just the seniors, to see what it takes. The important thing is that they stay with it, stay positive, and continue to work on their skills. I am looking forward to having that group of freshmen come back.”
Looking back on the unusual season limited by COVID concerns, Holup is proud to have had the chance to work with this group.
“It certainly had its ups and downs but the fact that these kids were out there every day, even starting out practice outside, was great,” said Holup.
“They certainly needed people to be with them. I was glad to be there with them and see their development. I am happy for the girls.”