Kaela Hilaire is one of Nassau’s top scorers, but the point guard prides herself on distributing the basketball.
“In the beginning of games, I like to spread the ball out and get everybody shots first,” she said. “If it’s crunch time, I’ll look for a shot.”
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The Floral Park standout currently has 1,533 points in her career, needing 467 points to reach 2,000. But she said her goal this year is to average close to a double-double in points and assists.
That’s indicative of the type of role she’ll have on the Knights. While she will be the go-to option in late-game situations, this offense functions well when she plays the role of facilitator.
“Right now we have a lot of very young and inexperienced girls,” coach Michael Spina said. “She’s doing a great job coaching them on the court. I’ve given her some input with the game plan and plays that we’re going to call.”
With her talent and instincts, Hilaire should be able to approach her goal. She plays at a very fast pace and her ball-handling allows her to beat press defense. She also studies early game defensive tendencies.
“I look to use my moves,” she said. “Once I see their [defense] a few times, I try to pick it up and take advantage of it.”
Her favorite moves include the hesitation and between-the-legs crossover dribble, and opposing guards have had problems slowing her down. Guarding her will be even more difficult this season.
“I’m working on a new move,” Hilaire said, laughing. “My new move this year is the step-back.”
The step-back has been working well, evidenced by her 29 points per game through two contests this season.
Her ability to beat press defense also helps her to distribute the ball. If she draws double teams, shooters like MaryKate Guerriero, Aideen Gil should benefit.
The young roster must capitalize on those opportunities, especially because Class A is packed with strong teams such as Elmont, North Shore, Manhasset and others. Floral Park needs a strong support system around its star to reach Hilaire’s ultimate goal.
“Winning counties is No. 1,” she said. “But I really just want to go as far as we can [at the state finals].”
Last year’s co-Conference Player of the Year will play at the University of Albany next season. Albany has competed in the NCAA Tournament the past three seasons, and Hilaire is looking forward to bringing her winning attitude to the Great Danes.
“I really have a certain love for the game,” she said. “I like to put on a show for everyone.”