Lauren Johnson is looking to show her versatility as she takes over as the point guard for the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team.
“I don’t want to be that point guard who just scores; I want to be able to do a little bit of everything,” said senior guard Johnson, who has been mainly a shooting guard for PDS over the last three seasons.
“Last year, I had one or two games that were good games like that. This season I want to have a good game every night so I am really going to try to work on my weaknesses.”
Last Wednesday as PDS hosted Stuart Country Day in its season opener, Johnson displayed her all-around game, scoring 11 points and chipping in five assists and eight steals as the Panthers rolled to a 40-12 victory.
In reflecting on the win, Johnson liked the way the Panthers got into an offensive rhythm.
“I was happy with the way we played,” said Johnson. “At times, we let an opponent dictate how fast we go and I think we were able to figure out our own pace and what worked for us.”
PDS showed some good inside-out work as Johnson got freshman forwards Olivia Okorodudu and Morgan Van Liew involved in the offense.
“It is great knowing that I have more than one person who is 5’10,” said Johnson. “It is reassuring that we don’t have to rely on the outside shot as much.”
The team’s height also helped defensively. “I was very impressed with the way we played defense,” said Johnson.
“The post players knew where to go. In practice, we try to make sure that everyone knows how to play certain positions and I think this game showed that all the new players and the returning players are really good at picking up new things.”
PDS head coach Mika Ryan liked the way her team defended in the opener.
“What I was really happy about is that you saw the fruits of our preseason labor because we were resolute in not glossing over defensive fundamentals,” said Ryan.
“We messed up a few times but for the most part I thought we were really solid. The best part is that we stayed out of foul trouble. I thought our positioning was good. I thought we could have fouled at times but we took that extra half step.”
Ryan liked the extra effort she got from Johnson. “Defensively and rebounding, she is tops,” asserted Ryan. “I would not play against her, she is just really a bother.”
Senior guard Levy also showed some top form. “Hannah had a very nice game; we are trying to get her to become more of an offensive threat,” added Ryan of Levy, who chipped in eight points in the victory over Stuart.
“I was happy to see her step up and shoot a little more. She has never been asked to do that much scoring for us but she needs to this year. She is just such a great kid to coach; she will do anything. I had her play in the post for a little bit in the second half, I said can you do that, I want to look at something and she said of course.”
Ryan got some good work in the post from the freshmen tandem of Van Liew and Okorodudu.
“We do have some size this year and our two freshmen, Van Liew and Okorodudu played well,” said Ryan.
“It is just nice to be able to go back to an inside-out kind of game. Last year, we were an outside all the time kind of team. We basically just had guards. I have always believed that the game is won in the post and the play in the pivot and we have players now who can help us inside.”
For Ryan, the performance against Stuart was encouraging on several levels.
“It was a good start; I am pleasantly pleased,” said Ryan, whose team built on its good opener by beating the George School (Pa.) 36-25 on Friday with Johnson scoring a game-high 15 points.
“I had no idea what to expect, they competed, they played hard. We didn’t stop playing hard, I told them not to look at the scoreboard. I don’t care what the score is, win or lose, we are trying to get better and I thought they competed the whole four quarters.”
Johnson, for her part, knows that the Panthers can play much better. “I think it was a good first game, we can definitely improve,” said Johnson, who will look to keep the Panthers on the winning track as they host the Solebury School (Pa.) on December 13, play at Morrisville High (Pa.) on December 14, and then host Rutgers Prep on December 17.
“I’d say rebounding and boxing out is our big thing. As a team, we have to work on our pace. We do get worked up. We play the boys and we are getting better at calming ourselves down but we still get worked up at times.”