By JOSEPH STASZEWSKI
Karin Robinson and Reana Mohammed felt the need to call a players-only meeting immediately following Mary Louis’ win over Francis Lewis Sunday. The girls basketball team was coming off a lopsided loss to Nazareth and was unhappy with their overall effort against the Patriots. The captains wanted to get everyone on the same page moving forward.
“We just talked about how we all need to step it up and play consistently and with a different mindset,” Mohamed said.
The meeting had the desired effect. The Hilltoppers put together what they considered their most complete performance of the season. They started strong, their effort didn’t waver and they got contributions up and down the roster in an 80-56 win over visiting Bishop Loughlin in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls basketball Dec. 23.
“It was more the energy we started with, and it kept the momentum of the game for us to be playing with that kind of tone the whole game,” Robinson said.
The George Mason-bound guard led the early charge. She scored eight of her 16 points in the first quarter and grabbed five rebounds. She had a steal and a coast-to-coast layup and then put back a Jasmine Nwajei miss after Julia O’Connor drew a charge down the other end. Mary Louis led 20-9 after the first period.
Mohamed scored 14 points, Shannon Delfini had nine and Jackie Gillen and Kristen Podlovits added six each for TMLA (7-1, 2-1), ranked No. 4 in the city by The Post.
“I feel like this should be an every-game situation,” Robinson said.
With Loughlin struggling at the free-throw line, shooting just 29-of-46 for the game, the Hilltoppers were about to open things up into halftime, finishing on a 16-4 run. Robinson started it by feeding Mohamed and Olivia Ilardi connected on consecutive left corner jumpers. The Mary Louis pressure forced Loughlin into quick, forced shot, leading to easy scoring chances down the other end. Delfini buried two short jumpers and Deirdre Ray capped it with a steal and score to put TMLA up 42-20 at the break.
“If you’re not going to steal it, we want to speed them up a little bit with their tempo and take them out of their comfort zone, which I think we did a pretty good job of today,” Hilltoppers coach Kevin White said.
The Lions (4-3, 0-3) tried to make a run back into the game to start the third quarter with a 13-4 spurt. Danisha Jordan (eight points) drove in for two, Aliyah Alston got a floater to fall and Jasmine Alston scored in transition to pull Loughlin within 46-33 with 4:50 left in the period. Amani Tate scored 12 points and Simone Charles added nine for Loughlin. Robinson then had a hand in the first six points of a 10-0 TMLA run that put the game out of reach for good.
“We saw they were starting to make their run,” Mohamed said. “We were like, ‘OK, we can’t do this again. We are doing so well so far. We took steps forward. We can’t go backward again.’”
White stressed to both her and Robinson that he wanted them to step up and motivate the team more and get them better prepared to play. They responded by speaking to their teammates behind closed doors and TMLA took a step forward in its development.
“I think this was the first time we put all four quarters together,” Mohamed said. “We played with the intensity and energy we wanted to play with.”