Ty’Zhea Hawkins set the tone early.
Brentwood girls basketball’s scrappy 5-5 guard scored nine of her team’s first 17 points and dove headfirst for a loose ball into the announcer’s table at halfcourt with 40.2 seconds left in the first quarter, sparking the Indians in their 68-40 win over host Sachem North in Suffolk League I play Wednesday night.
She had 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
“It’s just the competitive nature in me,” said Hawkins of her dive into the table. “Every loose ball on the floor, every rebound, I try to go for it. It’s just something you have to do if there’s a competitor in you.”
Brentwood’s relentless nature shined throughout, as the Indians built a 32-13 lead at halftime by attacking the basket and capitalizing on trips to the free-throw line.
They scored 16 points on free throws — highlighted by Hawkins’ 6-for-6 — and successfully converted six three-point plays.
“We attack, attack, attack,” said junior wing Alex Reyes, who had 11 points and eight rebounds. “Coach always tells us not to bite first, let them make the first move on defense and then go.”
Reyes was a force inside at 5-11, getting offensive rebounds and keeping possessions alive for Brentwood (2-1). Freshman Jeanna Cunningham, who stands 6-3, also made her presence felt in the paint with seven rebounds and five blocks.
Sisters Kennadie Hallum, an eighth grader, and Hailey Hallum, a sophomore, had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Sachem North.
“We’re all aggressive with each other in practice because we know nobody is going to give this to us,” Hawkins said. “Everything we want we have to earn.”
What they want to earn is a trip to the Suffolk AA playoffs, no easy task coming from League I, which boasts a few of Long Island’s top teams.
They fell to Longwood on Dec. 23, but wins over Patchogue-Medford and Sachem North (1-2) have them in good standing early in the league season.
Brentwood’s up-tempo style with Hawkins and K’anndra Rhoden (11 points, six steals, four assists) bodes well for season-long success. The Indians thrive off points in transition and getting easy points at the line.
They don’t rely heavily on attempts from long distance. Instead, they put the ball on the floor and force contact inside.
“We can make free throws,” Hawkins said. “It’s just something we’re naturally good at.”
And with Hawkins establishing that tone early in games, Brentwood could find itself getting exactly what it wants.