After reaching the Class B North final as a seven seed last season, there were high expectations for the Hermon High School girls basketball team this year. The Hawks graduated only one starter.
But the Presque Isle girls promptly gave the Hawks a rude introduction to the season by dealing them a 41-25 setback in their first game.
The Hawks got the message and have rattled off six straight wins entering a Wednesday game against another once-beaten team, Central High of Corinth.
Second-year head coach Chris Cameron said the loss at Presque Isle turned into a “huge positive for us.”
And standout senior forward and co-captain Emi Higgins agreed.
“It was definitely a wake-up call. It motivated us. It made us want to work harder,” said Higgins.
“It really woke them up and got them going,” said Cameron.
Hermon’s success begins with its player-to-player defense that has held opponents to 36.9 points per game.
“That’s our number one thing,” said Cameron. “That’s what we work on the most in practice. We want to make it difficult for people to score. We want to play with good discipline and box out under the boards.”
Higgins said they concentrate on defending without fouling.
The Hawks have a deep team and feature balanced scoring with five players averaging between 8 and 9.5 points per game and three more averaging seven, according to Cameron.
“That’s awesome. We don’t have to depend on one player,” said Higgins. “We work as a team. Everyone contributes. We’re really deep.”
Junior guard Maddie Pullen and Higgins are leading the team in scoring at 9.5 points per game, junior Lauren Plissey is averaging nine and sophomore Caitlyn Tracy and junior point guard Alex Allain are at eight per game.
Freshman Paige Plissey, Lauren’s sister; senior Chloe Raymond and sophomore Madisyn Curtis have averaged around seven points per game.
Lauren Plissey and Higgins are the top rebounders at 11 and 9 per game, respectively, and Allain is the assists leader at three to four per game according to Cameron.
The Hawks, who finished 13-9 a year ago, are adapting to having a target on their backs this season.
“I like where we are right now but there’s a lot more we need to improve on if we’re going to make another deep run in the tournament. We’ve had turnover issues and sometimes we take our shots too quickly,” said Cameron. “We’re working on that in practice.”