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These Hornets don’t mind lack of buzz

The Brooklyn Paper
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It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Midwood girls’ basketball team has been overlooked.

Though one would be hard pressed to find a more consistent program over the past few years – the Hornets have won 10 games or more in each of coach Artie LaGreca’s seven years and made the semifinals and quarterfinals the past two years, respectively – Midwood just isn’t in the conversation regarding the PSAL’s elite programs.

That’s especially odd considering the school has produced superstars Melanie Murphy, now at Stanford, and Michelle Cashen, a freshman at Yale, in the past three years.

“They don’t know,” senior guard Victory Story said of the pundits. “They might have forgot.”

The Hornets are going to do their best this year to make people remember. But they’ll have to beat the injury bug before they can knock off Brooklyn favorites Jefferson and South Shore.

Story is battling patellar tendonitis in her right knee and she injured her left knee a few weeks ago while playing for her Brooklyn Saints AAU team in the Rose Classic. She is still waiting for the MRI results. Junior point guard Gisell Peguero is back from a torn ACL that forced her to miss all of last and even LaGreca has not been immune to the bad luck: he had surgery on his right shoulder recently.

“It’s a no brainer,” the coach said. “You have to have your best players healthy to play at the highest level.”

The Hornets think they’re at that level, too, even if some people tend to “downgrade them,” as senior forward Jessica Previlon put it. But LaGreca doesn’t mind that perception. He’s OK playing the underdog.

“What I care about is the only one not overlooking them is me,” he said. “If the rest of Brooklyn and the city is overlooking us, I’m fine with that.”

Midwood did lose Cashen last year and she played just about everywhere on the court well en route to an Ivy League education. The Hornets also graduated Celeste Roberts, who is playing Division I soccer at Alabama A&M, and it was only two years ago that Murphy went off to Stanford. If there is one thing missing from this Midwood team, it’s that there is no signature name.

“I think it’s good for us,” Peguero said. “We don’t depend on one person. I think it’s a team effort here.”

LaGreca certainly loves that attitude, but there’s certainly plenty of individual talent on the roster, too. Peguero is a rock at the point and Story was Midwood’s leading scorer last year. Previlon has made the biggest leap in skills. She’s a strong, 5-foot-11 forward, who gets almost every rebound, and is now more polished on the offensive end.

“Now, I have a handle and a jump shot,” said Previlon, who says has interest from Old Dominion, Colgate, Delaware, Long Island University and Central Connecticut State. “I never had that before.”

LaGreca also didn’t have the depth last year that he has now. Junior guard Brittney McFadden, a transfer from Erasmus Hall who averaged 25.6 points per game as a freshman, will get major minutes off the bench and might even see a starting role if Story is still injured.

Briana Felder, a 5 foot-9 junior, and 5-foot-11 senior Adedoyin Akingba will round out the starting frontcourt and the coach plans to get significant minutes off the bench from junior guard Victoria Fleisher and Yashika Morales.

“There were times last year I only played five girls,” LaGreca said.

That won’t happen this year. There won’t be any superstars at Midwood, but, as usual, there will probably be plenty of victories.

“We’ve been mostly the underdogs,” Peguero said. “We usually sneak up on people.”

For Hornets, they don’t usually have too much buzz.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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