By Joseph Staszewski
Robyn Francis has voluntarily taken a back seat to her Francis Lewis teammates throughout her career, even when she was older or equally as talented.
Early on, it was Jasmine Davis and Tyese Purvis, and most recently Sierra Green and Chi La Bady. Francis’ role has changed lately with Green missing time with an injury and the Patriots struggling a bit. She has become the player Lewis turns to when it needs a big basket, steal or momentum changing play.
“Robyn’s skill set is impressive,” Lewis coach Steve Tsai said. “She’s had it, but she’s kind of laid back a little bit. This year it is just part of our offense. It’s part of us now that she is so important to what we do.”
That was evident as Francis helped the Patriots girls’ basketball team gut out an important 54-48 win over host Midwood in PSAL Class AA play last Friday. The senior was a major factor on defense and scored a team-high 12 points, including two baskets in the final 1:40 to put the game away. It was the latest example of Francis taking over when needed the most.
“If I see that nobody else is going to take that up, I’m going to take that up,” Francis said. “Somebody has to set the tone for the team.”
The Patriots (13-5, 12-1) found themselves tied with Midwood with five minutes to play and saw its defense take over from there. Lewis allowed just one field goal in the fourth quarter and outscored the Hornets 14-8 in the frame. Its press created turnovers at half court and defending city champion Lewis did enough to secure a victory that keeps it in the top three of the PSAL’s playoff seeding.
“Defense wins game,” guard Taliyah Brisco said. “It’s not just putting the ball in the basket. We have to get the ball first.”
Cassidy Khan scored 10 points for Lewis. Brisco and Bady added nine each. Junior guard Jai Moore scored 11 of her 23 points in the third quarter for Midwood. Alexandra Moogan chipped in 14 points, including four three pointers.
Both Moore and Moogan created major problems for Lewis in the first half. They sparked a 10-1 run that gave Midwood a 21-19 first-quarter lead. Moore hit five of six jumpers in the third quarter to put the Hornets up two in the closing seconds. Sierra Green, in her first game back from a thumb injury, hit a huge three-pointer to tie the game 40-40 to start the fourth. Tsai felt the team did not execute well enough on defense during that time.
“Even though we press the most important thing is not to press and get out of character,” he said. “I felt for most of the game we were so out of character.”
His team, despite not playing its best basketball yet, is still in a good position to defend its city title.
Having Green back healthy and Francis playing the best basketball of her career, only bodes well for the rest of the season.
“Everyone has been scoring and she just adds on,” Francis said. “We don’t want to go back.”