January 4, 2023

Hun Girls’ Hoops Showed Progress Before Holidays, Looking to Peak as Season Heads Into Homestretch

THINK PINK: Hun School girls’ basketball player Amira Pinkett puts up a shot in a game earlier this season. Sophomore guard/forward Pinkett has been a bright spot for Hun this winter as it has gotten off to a 4-7 start. In upcoming action, the Raiders play at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 7 and host Princeton Day School on January 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School girls’ basketball team has gotten off to an uneven 4-7 start, Sean Costello likes his squad’s prospects as it heads into 2023.

“We would prefer to be closer to .500 but our schedule is pretty difficult,” said Hun head coach Costello, who is in his first season at the helm of the program. “We have long-term goals not short-term goals. Our long-term goal is to be peaking by the end of the season, which means we have to progress slowly and improve each game a little bit. We have to learn from the games that we play, wins or losses. I think we have achieved that.”

The Raiders showed progress in their final game before the holiday break as they topped Freire Charter 52-31 in the Germantown Academy (Pa.) Make-a-Wish Tournament on December 17.

“We are trying to get an identity for ourselves, we have really been trying to preach defense and rebounding,” said Costello. “We have really tried to pressure teams in the full court in order to try to get some transition opportunities for ourselves. We did a really good job of understanding what pressure we can bring to turn a team over which resulted in us getting some transition baskets.”

Post-graduate guard Emily O’Dwyer, a native of Ireland, has been doing a very good job for the Raiders.

“She has been great, we are asking her to do a little bit more on the ball than she is used to doing which I think she has really improved upon,” said Costello. “She is gifted off the basketball, she can really shoot the ball. She is a scorer. Her ability to put the ball in the basket and be physical on defense has really helped us.”

The all-around ability of senior forward Sasha Moise has been a big plus for Hun.

“Sasha has been our one constant throughout the year; even if she doesn’t have a high impact on the scoring column, she gives a lot in a lot of different ways,” said Costello. “She has been a post player the majority of her career and we are using her more as a playmaker in that new point forward position. She is a really good passer. She is a good defensive player, she is active on the glass. She can give you a little bit in a lot of areas.”

Sophomore guard/forward Amira Pinkett has been giving the Raiders a lot this winter.

“I don’t think we have scratched the surface with her; she has a lot of really good tools and in certain games, they shine,” said Costello. “She gets a ton of deflections, she is long-armed. The No. 1 area she is looking to improve on is just giving the consistent performance every game. If she is not scoring, it is not a big deal because she can still do the other things.

Defensively and rebounding-wise, she can give us a whole lot. She has had some games where she has been really successful around the basket offensively as well.”

The success of senior forward Tylr Neely has been a pleasant surprise for Costello.

“Tylr hasn’t played organized basketball since middle school and she is a senior,” said Costello. “She is going to play lacrosse at Coast Guard [Academy]. She is big, she is strong, and she is athletic. She came out this year and every practice she gets better. She is starting a lot of the games for us. She rebounds the ball well, she defends well. She doesn’t try to do too much offensively that she can’t do. She is somebody who has really improved for us.”

Another player who has shown improvement is junior Anna Schweer.

“The person who has done a really good job for us having to play point guard is Anna, she is pretty much our primary ball handler at this point,” said Costello. “She would probably be a little more suited off the basketball but she is doing a really good job.”

A pair of newcomers, Addie McNally and Victoria Lubaczewski, have also been doing a good job for the Raiders.

“We have some freshmen who have played some significant minutes for us,” said Costello. “Addie has been on the floor quite a bit. Victoria is extremely tough on wing defense. She is aggressive attacking the basket and has hit a couple of threes.”

As the Raiders play at Mercersburg Academy (Pa.) on January 7 and the host Princeton Day School on January 10 to start 2023 action, Costello believes his squad is headed in the right direction.

“I think we are getting better and that is where we want to be, we don’t want to be peaking right now,” said Costello. “The focus is to continue to improve each game, each practice. We are hopefully getting better in terms of knowing our rotations defensively. I want us to be more of an efficient offensive team. We turn the basketball over too much, that is an area we want to do better at. We turn the other team over but we want to protect the ball better.”

In Costello’s view, the Hun players possess the right mentality to keep getting better and better.

“It is a really close-knit group of kids; I think they have bought in and it is just a matter of getting the reps now,” said Costello. “From here on out, it is a little bit of a sprint. We are playing a lot of games. It is a totally new system, a different group of kids and even the kids coming back are playing different roles. They have worked really hard and they are doing a good job. I can’t say enough about the level of effort that they give on a daily basis. I never have to coach effort, which is great.”