Casey Hayes considers herself a student of the game, regularly incorporating the moves of her favorite basketball players into her repertoire.
Sewanhaka's 5-11 junior center has picked up a few low-post techniques from watching Tim Duncan, and modeled a short jumper and hook shot after Brook Lopez. Teammates marvel at her ever-expanding arsenal.
But there's also the "Dirk Nowitzki,'' Hayes' awkward, one-footed, turnaround fadeaway, mimicking the Dallas Mavericks star.
Michelle Niles laughed, caught her breath, then continued laughing. "Yeah, we make fun of those,'' Niles said. "But when they go in, I have to stop laughing.''
Shhh! Because two of them went in and Hayes had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, leading the Indians to a 56-31 win over New Hyde Park Tuesday in non-league.
Destiny Hurt added 15 points and five steals for Sewanhaka (2-0). Niles had 12 points and 20 rebounds, and Daniella Ford seven points and nine assists.
Laila Chadli had 13 points for New Hyde Park (2-2).
Hayes controlled the post on both ends and flashed an array of moves, including a drop step to slip through double teams, a floater, lefty layup and hook shot. "I try to learn from different people and mix it up,'' she said. "Anything that can help, I'll practice it a lot and use it.''
That includes the funky fadeaway, one of which Hayes nailed from 18 feet, giving Sewanhaka a 35-21 lead with 3:03 left in the third quarter.
"It's a funny-looking shot, but it's hard to guard,'' Indians coach Alex Soupios said. "Every year she's added something extra, making her more dangerous.''
Sewanhaka, too, is more dangerous with Hurt. The sophomore transferred from Long Beach and already has made an impact with her athleticism, ball-handling and tenacity.
"She fit in right away,'' Hayes said. "She plays defense well and she's unselfish, so it's easy to play with someone like her.''
The guard scored on cuts to the basket and converted turnovers into layups. Her 10 first-half points helped stake Sewanhaka to a 29-14 lead.
Hurt's perimeter pressure made it difficult for the Gladiators to operate, and Niles, a guard-turned-forward, was scrappy in the paint. Ford, with her quick step and vision, orchestrated the offense.
As for Hayes: "It's great being able to throw it to Casey and have confidence that she'll finish,'' Niles said. "It makes the game fun.''
And sometimes funny.