Lauren Hammersley’s jumper conjures visions of the past.
Maybe it’s in her release, or perhaps it’s in the fluidity of her movement. Either way, Hammersley is harnessing her family’s past to spark the present success of the Our Lady of Mercy girls basketball team.
The 5-7 wing is the niece of Denise Hammersley-Andersen, one of the best all-around athletes in OLMA’s history and a member of the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame. The three-sport star was best known for her exploits in basketball, where she became the first CHSAA player — including boys — to eclipse 2,000 career points and led the Mustangs to the state Federation Class D championship in 1990-91.
Now Lauren is doing her best to walk in her aunt’s footsteps. After scoring 41 and 42 points in back-to-back games on Dec. 8 and 13, she’s prompting memories of OLMA games that were played more than two decades ago.
“Denise was only 5-5 and had a slight build, but she flowed on the court,” OLMA athletic director Karen Andreone said. “She shot with a lot of grace. She got it up to a shooting position and released the ball quickly. As soon as I saw Lauren’s first shot the other day, she looked just like her aunt.”
Hammersley-Andersen was quick to praise her niece’s court presence, which she said has blossomed since last year.
“This year, just her leadership is phenomenal,” Hammersley-Andersen said. “She just has that confidence now. She could always play, but she knows now that she can play with the best of them.”
Success on the basketball court runs in the Hammersley family. Aside from Lauren’s aunt, her grandfather, Bill Hammersley, enjoyed a career highlighted by an NIT championship with Seton Hall in 1953. Her father, John, also played collegiately at Hobart College.
They all share the nickname “The Hammer,” which Lauren embraces.
“I love it; I think it’s great,” she said. “ ‘The Hammer,’ when you hear it, it stands out. Hammers do more than one job. On the court, that’s my job. I do more than one. I do everything to help everyone get better.”
Coach Matt Musumeci said he always knew Lauren had the potential to become an integral part of his Mustangs team. What he didn’t expect was her growth to come this fast.
“She went on a strength and conditioning program this offseason with a personal trainer,” he said. “Her shooting has gotten better than last year. She’s a good ballhandler, good shooter and good passer. It’s all on her.”
Her evolution as a scorer came from an intense offseason of training and AAU basketball, in which she transformed from mostly a shooter to a player capable of scoring in different ways. “It shows that the hard work really does pay off,” she said. “If they guard me one way, I can just score the other.”
Her progress is partly the reason for the Mustangs’ strong start. They’re 4-2 ahead of the opening of CHSAA play in January, with wins over Mineola (she had 20 points), Amityville (41), Glen Cove (42) and McClancy (24).
Against Glen Cove, she made eight three-pointers, breaking her aunt’s school single-game record of seven.
“What’s better than that?” Hammersley-Andersen said. “To say that my niece broke my own record, that’s amazing.”
She had 16 points in each loss against Longwood and West Babylon. Her scoring average of 26.5 points was best in the CHSAA as of Friday.
“She wants to live up to that Hammersley name,” Musumeci said. “It’s a lot to live up to, but she’s meeting the challenge.”
All while giving the present-day Mustangs some glimpses of a storied past.