Early in the season, Kaela Hilaire didn't know if she was going to play. The Long Island Lutheran freshman point guard had to adjust to the level of competition after transferring from Floral Park.
It took some time for Hilaire to grasp things, but it's starting to click. Hilaire started for the third consecutive game and scored 12 points to help host Lutheran defeat St. John the Baptist, 56-35, Thursday night in a non-league girls basketball game.
Boogie Brozoski, a sophomore point guard in her third year on varsity, scored her 1,000th career point on a jumper late in the third quarter. She scored 20 points and Staci Barrett added nine points and 10 rebounds for Lutheran (11-3). Lauren Parra's 11 points led St. John the Baptist (8-8).
"My attitude wasn't good at the beginning," Hilaire said. "I just want to get more playing time. I understand what I need to do now. It was very difficult at the beginning."
Hilaire helps alleviate the pressure on Brozoski by providing another ballhandler on the floor. "Most of the time, teams focus on me," Brozoski said. "Kaela has helped take the pressure off and she's really playing well."
As are the Crusaders, who opened the season with six consecutive wins before losing three straight. Since then they have had wins over St. Mary's and Bishop Ford, one of the top teams in the city.
It's a product of everyone playing better, especially Hilaire.
"She's worked very hard," LuHi coach Rich Slater said. "She was the main player at Floral Park. Here, it's all of us and it took her some time to get acclimated. She gives Boogie a chance to play off the ball and it makes it tougher to defend us."
Lutheran closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run. Brozoski scored four points during the run and Hilaire capped it with a drive to the basket, giving her six points. Brozoski and Taylor Byrne scored five points each in the second quarter giving the Crusaders a 37-16 halftime lead.
After enduring frustration, Hilaire is having a good time.
"Me and Boogie play well together," Hilaire said. "It's a lot of fun."