January 25, 2023

Sparked by Sophomore Pinkett’s Talent, Versatility, Hun Girls’ Hoops Tops Lawrenceville, Moves to 8-8

SCOOP AND HOOP: Hun School girls’ basketball player Amira Pinkett heads past two defenders for a layup in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore star Pinkett had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocked shots to help Hun defeat Lawrenceville 58-35. The Raiders, who improved to 8-8 with the win, host Blair Academy on January 25 and the Hill School (Pa.) on January 28 before playing at St. Benedict’s on January 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Amira Pinkett is making up for lost time this winter in her sophomore season for the Hun School girls’ basketball team.

“I dislocated my shoulder last year so I missed half the season; I missed the playoffs and everything,” said guard/forward Pinkett. “This year I wanted to come out and do what I couldn’t do last year. I improved over the summer.”

Last Thursday as Hun hosted Lawrenceville, Pinkett showed what she could do, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, helping the Raiders rout the Big Red 58-35.

Employing a stifling pressure defense, Hun jumped out to a 15-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and led 32-8 at halftime on the way to a 58-35 win as it improved to 8-8.

“I think the biggest part of it was our energy coming into this game,” said Pinkett. “We played Peddie on Wednesday — that was a solid win (61-25), and now with Lawrenceville we had to focus. We knew we had to come out and bury the team in the beginning so we wanted to come out with intensity, hands up and contesting shots.”

Pinkett hit plenty of shots, scoring eight points in the last four minutes of the second quarter, hitting jumpers and going end to end with a steal and finishing with a left-handed scoop layup.

“I try to be a big guard because I am 6’1; I try to have ballhandling skills, shoot the basketball and also be able to do post moves,” said Pinkett. “I try to do a little bit of everything. I can be a guard when the team needs me to be but a center when they need me to be.”

The influence of her father, Randal Pinkett, a former star athlete at Hightstown High and Rutgers University, has helped Pinkett embrace multi-tasking for the Raiders.

“He is a big part of it for me,” said Pinkett.  “He records our whole entire game. He will talk to me in the car on the way home.”

Another big factor in Pinkett’s growth this season has been the arrival of new head coach Sean Costello.

“I have loved coach Costello so far — he has been huge part in helping this team,” said Pinkett. “He wants us to play fast and play hard and we try to execute that every game.”

Hun head coach Costello likes the way Pinkett has been executing this winter.

“Amira has a super high ceiling, her drive in the second quarter was unbelievable, all the way to the rim and finishing with her left hand,” said Costello. “As soon as Amira figures out how good she is, I think then we will all see a really special player. She is really coming into her own. She is someone who is really benefiting a great deal from the pace we play. She has got a lot of length, she anticipates the passing lane, she blocks shots, and she can get out on the break. She is very versatile.”

Hun’s defensive intensity set the pace in the win over Lawrenceville.

“It is who we are trying to become, we have gotten better each game with it,” said Costello. “They have bought into it. One of the things that we can control is our defensive energy. We can’t control how many of our shots go down. We can certainly control if we want to dictate the pace and I think we have so it was good.”

Senior forward Sasha Moise controlled the boards against the Big Red, grabbing 20 rebounds.

“Sasha is like a Swiss army knife, she does a little bit of everything,” said Costello. “She moves really well, she handles the ball, she can pass it and she finishes at the rim. She has a really good understanding of our defense and is able to jump into quite a few passing lanes, which transitioned us into some easy baskets.”

On the perimeter, junior guard Anna Schweer led the way with her passing and tenacious defense.

“Anna had a great game, defensively she was
incredible today,” said Costello of Schweer, who had nine points in the victory. “She is really aggressive, she is a little spark plug. We are asking her to do a lot of ballhandling for us, which I think it is probably a detriment to her stats because she would much prefer to be on the wing. She is a really selfless kid and she had helped us a lot at the point guard.”

With Hun hosting the Blair Academy on January 25 and the Hill School (Pa.) on January 28 before playing at St. Benedict’s on January 30, Costello is seeing a selfless mindset across the board from his players.

“We have just been talking about getting better each day,” said Costello. “We went through some struggles and we had a tough schedule, but we just didn’t know who we are yet. I think we are starting to figure out each other’s game a little bit and understand how we can be competitive. It has been great, we have had a good little run. We have got up to .500. Now the goal is to keep that needle moving in that direction. It is a really close-knit group. They enjoy playing with each other, it is a good group.”

Pinkett, for her part, believes the closeness in the group has been translating to game time.

“I feel we are in a great spot, this team has been amazing all season,” said Pinkett. “We are like sisters. On the court it definitely helps a lot because we get along. In making good passes, we find each other in more ways than other teams who might not have the same camaraderie.”