POTTSTOWN >> Oh, for heaven’s sake.
The Hill School girls basketball team had no answer for Lawrenceville guard Heaven Figueroa on Wednesday evening.
The Brooklyn native scored a game-high 33 points to lead the Big Red to a 59-52 win over the Blues in Mid-Atlantic Prep League play.
After she sat out all of last season with a broken ankle, Figueroa’s presence has been key for her team so far this season.
“She brings such a high level of competitiveness — high energy into every game for us,” said Lawrenceville head coach Antoine Hart of his sophomore standout. “She’s a New York basketball guard, so she can handle the ball and make things happen all over the court. We’re definitely glad to have her back.”
Figueroa was a scoring threat all over the court. She knocked down a three 3-pointers, finished 8-for-15 at the foul line in crunch time and added in some clutch assists during the tightly-contested second half.
“As soon as I saw some opportunities, I knew I had to take them,” said Figueroa, who scored 22 of her points during the second half. “No hesitation. I had open teammates, too. So I knew they could knock them down if we got some open looks.”
With the result, Hill School drops to 4-6 overall (1-1 MAPL) while Lawrenceville moves to 4-4 overall.
A couple years ago, Hill School head coach Jen Weissbach had her sights set on Figueroa. Like many coaches around the MAPL, Weissbach was hoping to convince the talented guard to join her program.
In the end, Figueroa chose Lawrenceville. And on Wednesday, she showed just why so many programs had chased after her.
“The most important thing when you’re up against players like that is you’ve got to find a way to contain them, keep them in front,” said Weissbach. “We couldn’t keep her in front of us — we gave up way too many drives and high-percentage looks.”
Feeding off Figueroa’s play-making ability, fifth-former forward Taylor Thompson added 20 points for Lawrenceville. She finished 10-for-13 from the foul line, including a couple of clutch trips in the final two minutes to ice the game.
Collectively, Lawrenceville finished 20-for-30 from the free-throw line, a number that Weissbach and her team aim to limit in their coming games.
“We put them on the foul line 30 times,” said Weissbach. “Defensively, we’ve got to do a better job of limiting their looks, especially in the paint. We’ve got to force teams to shoot.”
For Hill School, junior forward Alexa Giacche battled in the paint for a team-high 17 points while senior point guard Maia Lockhart had 11.
The Blues held a 28-25 lead at the half, but saw it erased amid Lawrenceville’s seven-point swing in the early minutes of the third quarter. The Big Red would never trail again, though The Hill was keen to make a late push.
With under a minute left, Lockhart converted a jump shot to bring it to 55-47. The Hill’s press defense then forced a turnover, which Giacche converted into a basket and a foul. After she missed the free-throw, Tess Gray secured the rebound and put it back up to make it a four-point game.
From there, though, Thompson earned three trips to the line to ultimately seal it.
Next Man Up >> The Blues had a pair of notable players in street clothes — junior guard Qiana Vigo and 6-2 forward Amelia Sniffin. Although it’s been a challenge — both players dealing with leg injuries — Weissbach deems it a ‘Next Man Up’ mentality.
“Girls have been stepping up and filling in for us,” she said. “That’s the thing, ‘Who’s going to slot in, play hard and do some positive things for us?’ We’ve just got to keep pushing.”
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