Northeast Times

Home sweet home

Start­Frag­ment

After grow­ing up in Ju­ni­ata, where she re­fined her bas­ket­ball skills for the bet­ter part of a dec­ade, Briyah Hill and her fam­ily moved to Frank­lin­ville, N.J., last year.

But there’s no place like home.

Hill has re­turned to her roots and is now back in the North­east. Cur­rently a sopho­more at North­east High School — she trans­ferred from Delsea Re­gion­al High School in South Jer­sey to the Cottman Av­en­ue in­sti­tu­tion — Hill is part of the Vik­ings’ varsity bas­ket­ball squad.

“This is my neigh­bor­hood school now. It’s ac­tu­ally real close to where I’m liv­ing,” said Hill, 15. “I’m very ex­cited to be back in Philly.”

Hill ex­plained that the trans­ition was re­l­at­ively smooth. Her fam­ily moved to the North­east over the sum­mer, just in time for her to start the new aca­dem­ic year at North­east High. It also gave her the chance to ad­vance her game on the hard­wood.

Last year, Hill played for the ju­ni­or varsity squad at Delsea Re­gion­al. However, upon her ar­rival at North­east, she was pro­moted to varsity and earned a start­ing role.

“I didn’t know too much about the pro­gram at North­east,” Hill said. “I figured that we would do well though, be­cause I heard they were good last year.”

This year poses some chal­lenges.

The Vik­ings — who fin­ished the sea­son 11-4 last year — have lost al­most their en­tire squad to gradu­ation, leav­ing this sea­son’s roster very young and in­ex­per­i­enced.

“We have no seni­ors. These guys are all sopho­mores,” said Rich Kirk, who has coached bas­ket­ball for more than 40 years, spend­ing the last 10 at North­east High. “This is the thin­nest team I think I’ve ever had. We really only have six kids that we can really count on. They’re really work­ing hard.

“They’re young, so they’re go­ing to make mis­takes,” he ad­ded. “But you can’t sit there and say, ‘That’s OK,’ be­cause you have to play in a league that’s full of seni­ors. And so far, they’re do­ing a pretty good job.”

North­east is cur­rently sit­ting pretty with an un­defeated league re­cord (7-0, 9-1 over­all). Their only loss — a 49-26 beat­ing — came at the hands of power­house Chel­ten­ham on Dec. 22.

“We got killed pretty good at Chel­ten­ham, and rightly so. We’re not at that caliber,” said Kirk. “But they needed to get a good spank­ing. At the end of that game, they said they wer­en’t up­set that they lost, they just real­ized that this is what it’s like and they have to work harder.

“They came out of it with a good at­ti­tude,” he con­tin­ued. “Our ex­pect­a­tions are high, but again, they’re young. As long as they keep work­ing hard, I think we’ll be fine.”

Last Fri­day, the Vik­ings dom­in­ated Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln High School, 41-11. Tayl­our Jones net­ted a team-high 20 points against the Railsplit­ters. Lauren Wil­lis ad­ded 15 points. Lovely Ac­cilus snagged 10 re­bounds dur­ing the win.

Next is Samuel Fels High School. The Vik­ings will host the Pan­thers today, Jan. 11.

“We’re do­ing pretty good. We’re still work­ing on the little things, but I think it’s been great so far,” said Hill. “We’re pretty much all sopho­mores here, but I think that gives us bet­ter chem­istry. We can all work bet­ter to­geth­er.”

It didn’t take Hill long to make a name for her­self on the hard­wood. She has earned a star­ring role, av­er­aging 4.3 points per game thus far this sea­son.

“She has really stepped up her game. She came here from Jer­sey, where she played JV ball, and she stepped in­to a situ­ation where we needed a guard,” ex­plained Kirk. “We have Tayl­our and Lauren, but we needed a third guard. And she’s really done a great job.”

Wil­lis leads her team in scor­ing with more than 16 points per game. She scored a sea­son-high 24 points against Frank­lin Towne Charter on Dec. 21. Ac­cilus, cen­ter Jack­ie Ha­gen and Tiona Brinkley round out North­east’s slim roster.

“Play­offs, then the cham­pi­on­ship — that’s the goal,” Hill said with a smile. “I think we have a lot of good play­ers that are all con­trib­ut­ing. I’m con­fid­ent in our team.” ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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