At Half Hollow Hills West Girls Basketball, Laila Carr directs the show.
She leads strong defense, often finds her way into passing lanes, and she’s the primary ball handler on offense, directing her teammates and even suggesting game calls to Coach Bryan Dugan. But she’s just a newbie.
“It’s a big responsibility, but I think I can handle it,” Carr said. “When I watched the senior leadership last year, they rubbed off on me a lot. I just think ahead and lead.”
Carr posted a game-high 15 points and had four assists and five steals to lead Half Hollow Hills West (7-4) to a 43-21 home win over Hauppauge (5-6) in Suffolk III.
The freshman guard ripped apart defense, found their way into the paint for layups in the halffield and benefited from Jahniya McCreary’s passes at the break. McCreary added 10 points and Laila Mustafic had eight points.
Half Hollow Hills West defeated Hauppauge, 57-27, en route to the start of the season in Suffolk III, but Dugan told his team not to expect the same result again.
The Eagles kept it close this time and were only 16:10 behind at half time. However, the Colts’ full-and-half pitch pressure led to steal after steal, slowly increasing the deficit.
Hauppauge was short benched with a couple of injuries, so Dugan wanted to play fast to force turnovers and tire the Eagles. Carr played a significant role in this, causing chaos in the fast lanes.
“You really have to watch their eyes,” Carr said. “When were [defending] on off [play], I always look at them because their eyes predict where they are going to pass the ball. I could think two steps ahead and secure that theft.”
Carr is also a few steps ahead on offense. She recognizes which plays would work best against tight defense and where her teammates should be positioned. She wants to optimize the team’s offensive performance and create easy chances for her teammates.
Dugan recognizes the difficulty of leading a team, especially as underclassmen, but he has the utmost faith in Carr now and in the future.
“She comes in as an eighth grader and can play right away,” Dugan said. “She’s handled it maturely and her leadership skills are exemplary… I told her the other day it’s her team. It’s her team now if she wants it and will continue to be her team in the future.”
Brendan O’Sullivan earned his master’s degree from Quinnipiac in 2022 before moving to Long Island to cover high school sports for Newsday.
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