January 26, 2022

Luo’s Hard Work on Her Game Paying Dividends As Junior Taking Leading Role for PHS Girls’ Hoops

RAY OF HOPE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Rachel Luo heads to the hoop in a game last season. Last Saturday, junior star Luo scored a team-high 13 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 53-31 to Montgomery. The Tigers, who moved to 5-4 with the defeat, play at Allentown on January 28 and then host Trenton Central on February 1. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As Rachel Luo went through her pregame paces for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team when it hosted Robbinsville last week, she was hot from the perimeter.

“During warmups, I was feeling pretty good with my 3s,” said junior guard/forward Luo.

That feeling was a harbinger of things to come as Luo hit a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. “I found I was open and I just shot it,” recalled Luo.

Despite Luo’s hot shooting, PHS found itself trailing the Ravens 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.

“We were rushing, especially under a lot of pressure,” said Luo.

“We were just not making good decisions. A lot of offensive plays that we ran in practice, we didn’t really go into.”

Facing a 36-14 deficit after three quarters, the Tigers showed some fight down the stretch, outscoring Robbinsville 10-7 in the fourth on the way to a 43-24 loss.

“A couple of our players were being more aggressive, we were just going all out, trying to get back a little bit,” said Luo, who ended up with 10 points in the game.

“That definitely helped a little bit once we got a few fouls and made a few shots and ran a few offensive plays.”

Luo has gone all out to improve as a player. “During the offseason, I just played,” said Luo, who scored a team 13 points in a losing cause as PHS fell 53-31 to Montgomery last Saturday to move to 5-4.

“I have been working on my 3s, that helped tonight. I have playing AAU throughout the year and then we had summer league for school.”

With point guard Casey Serxner having decided not to play this year for PHS, Luo has been working harder on her dribbling.

“I think I need a lot more practice, especially handling the ball,” said Luo. “Not having Casey here, we all have to pitch in.”

PHS head coach Dave Kosa credits Luo with pitching in for the Tigers.

“She works hard and we putting a lot on her by having her handle the ball,” said Kosa.

“She is not a point guard, we are doing it by committee. We just have to figure out what is best for her.”

Against Robbinsville, PHS struggled to figure out things at the offensive end.

“They were changing up their defenses a little bit, we just need to do a better job as far as recognizing it and attacking it,” said Kosa.

“It wasn’t anything new we have seen, it was a matter of executing.”

Kosa was happy with how his team executed on defense.

“I thought defensively we did OK, holding a Robbinsville team to the low 40s,” said Kosa.

“We held Hamilton to 19 (in a 42-19 win on December 21), I think it was seven going into the fourth quarter. Even Hopewell on Friday, they had nine at halftime and 28 at regulation (in a 28-20 loss on January 14). At regulation, Steinert had 26 (in a 39-36 win in overtime on January 11).”

Senior standout Molly Brown did well in the fourth quarter against Robbinsville, scoring six points and scrapping in the paint.

“I singled her out in the postgame huddle as far as giving us a spark and just being physical,” said Kosa of Brown.

“A lot of girls need to take something from that and apply it to their game.”

With PHS playing at Allentown on January 28 and then hosting Trenton Central on February 1, Kosa is looking for his team to raise its offensive game.

“It is putting the ball in the basket and stopping our turnovers,” said Kosa.

“We need to score the ball and stop making those passes and those bad decisions. If we can do that and get in the 40s, we have a much better chance of winning the ballgames. When we are in the 20s, especially against a decent team, that isn’t going to work.”

Luo believes that the Tigers need to work hard from tip-off to the final buzzer.

“I think we definitely have to be more consistent,” said Luo.

“We need to be playing the whole game and not lose our focus or break up under pressure.”