Hawks hope to build off recent success

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Hawken Girls Basketball

Hawken’s girls’ basketball team returns just one starter but the Hawks are determined to build off of last year’s successful campaign in order to compete for the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division title.

“Coming off of a successful 2016-2017 season in which we went 14-9, we have high expectations for our program this year,” said second-year head coach David Murray. “We have a young team compared to last year, but overall we are quicker and more athletic. Our expectations are that we will work hard and get better every day and ultimately put ourselves in a position where we have an opportunity to compete for a conference title.”

In addition to returning starter Carly Perusek, the Hawks return four others who gained valuable varsity experience last year.

The projected starting five includes two seniors, two sophomores, and a junior.

“Our strengths are our collective quickness and athleticism,” Murray said. “We hope that this will enable us to pressure the ball on defense and push the tempo offensively.”

Perusek, a sophomore guard, averaged 10.8 points, 2.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game last season in earning second team All-CVC and honorable mention All-Northeast Lakes District honors.

“Carly is a two-way player whom we are looking to make an impact on both ends of the court,” Murray said. “Carly is a confident athlete who adds a lot of toughness and competitiveness to our team.”

Hawken’s senior starters include guard Annie Jackson and forward Elizabeth Stilson.

Jackson didn’t play last season and Stilson averaged 1.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1 assist per game.

“Annie is an exceptional athlete and competitor. We are very fortunate to have her rejoin the program and will rely heavily upon her leadership on and off the court,” Murray said. “Elizabeth epitomizes everything that a coach looks for in a senior captain. She is a hard-worker who is unwavering in her commitment to her teammates. Elizabeth is a four-year member of the Hawken girls’ basketball program and the cornerstone of our team.”

Junior guard Zaria Johnson missed the 2016-2017 season with an injury but is now healthy and provides more firepower to the lineup.

“It makes me very excited to see Zaria playing basketball again after missing the entire 2016-2017 season due to an injury,” Murray said. “We are hoping that she will be a significant contributor to our team this year.”

Sophomore forward Erica Emig rounds out the projected starting five. She averaged 1.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and nearly 1 block per game last year.

“Erica is a talented player with an exceptional passion for the game of basketball,” Murray said. “We are looking for Erica to have a significant impact on the varsity team this year.”

Murray also expects junior forward Taylor Smith and sophomore guard Jordan Kutash to contribute this winter.

Smith averaged 2.9 points and 4 rebounds per game while Kutash pitched in with 4.7 points, 1.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest.

“In order to be successful this season, we need to be committed to playing hard, team basketball every possession,” Murray said. “In particular, this means taking pride in doing the little things that do not show up in the box score like communicating, winning 50-50 balls, and boxing out.”

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.