— St. Hubert freshman Meghan Matthews starred with a 19-point, 16-rebound explosion in a win over Conwell-Egan.
If this constituted an off night for Charlotte Kucowski, then the rest of the Catholic League should be put on notice.
Kucowski, a 6-foot-1 senior forward for the St. Hubert basketball team, has wowed many early in the season with her ability to score. Through nine games, Kucowski has averaged a shade under 15 points per game and has scored in double figures in all but one, leading the Bambies to a 7-3 record in the process. Not only that, but Kucowski’s size, combined with her inside-outside offensive abilities, makes her a match-up nightmare for any team that St. Hubert plays.
And to make matters worse for future opposition, she’s got plenty of able-bodied helpers.
In Friday night’s home and league opening 72-66 win over Conwell-Egan, just how good the Bambies can be was on display for three quarters. A sloppy fourth frame saw a 20-point lead shrink to as little as five, but St. Hubert held on with impressive perseverance.
“If I’m having an off night, then there’s tons of other players we can look to,” Kucowski said before rattling off seven or eight names of her teammates.
Whether or not Kucowski had an “off night” is debatable (she converted just four of her 11 field goal attempts, but still fought her way to 12 points and 15 rebounds), but her comments about the team’s depth certainly ring true. Kucowski had lots of help in holding off Ashley Smith (18 of her 26 points came in the second half) the feisty Eagles, and nobody stood out quite like freshman Meghan Matthews, Kucowski’s frontcourt partner.
All Matthews did was post 17 points and 10 rebounds … in the first half. She was around the basketball anytime she was on the court, using her 5-foot-10 frame to outwork Egan players on the glass. (Most, if not all, of her shots were layups.) Matthews was so impressive that she even had a reporter confirming her class standing with the team’s head coach and athletic director during the game. When told that his freshman had 10 rebounds at halftime, head coach Brian Kuzmick offered a simple “wow.” Translation: Matthews doesn’t play like a freshman, and if the Bambies get this kind of consistent effort from her in addition to Kucowski and the rest of the supporting cast, they will be a contender in the Catholic League.
“She’s doing so well,” Kucowski said of her young teammate. “I didn’t expect it, because I was nowhere near that good as a freshman. The hard work she’s put in every day has been amazing, and I think she’s pushed the rest of us even harder.”
So how good can Matthews be?
“If she keeps this up, she’ll be phenomenal … one of the best in the league,” Kucowski said with confidence.
Matthews has been a recent revelation for the Bambies, scoring in double figures in the last three games after getting there just once in the first six. She finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds against Egan.
“Well, number one, the talent is there, and number two, the physical attributes are there,” Kuzmick said following the game. “She’s a big, strong kid that’s a natural scorer. We’re not expecting 20 and 15 from her every night, but she has it in her, and she knows it.”
In addition to Kucowski and Matthews down low, the Bambies boast enviable balance. Junior Caroline Price is a very capable ball-handler, as is her back-up, senior Casey Matthews. Senior Elizabeth “Biff” Jones added 16 points (5-for-6 at the foul line in the crucial fourth quarter) to go along with a handful of hustle plays, while junior guard Kelly Riley mixed in a quiet 11 points and three-sport athlete/student council president Claire Alminde scored all six of her points within a minute or two in the third quarter.
On a team filled with juniors and seniors, the Bambies hope their experience and up-tempo offense will allow them to simply outscore everyone else in the Catholic League.
“Because we’re 10-deep, we like to push the tempo early on,” Kuzmick said. “We know how good this league is and how nothing will be handed to us.”
The Bambies will have no time to rest, as the coming week was expected to bring two tougher league games on the road at rivals Archbishop Ryan (Tuesday, after the Northeast Times went to press) and Little Flower (Thursday).
“It was really important for us to win this first game,” Kucowski said. “We want people to know they are playing St. Hubert’s and give them the best we can be every game. 2013 is a big year for us for a lot of reasons, and we want to prove to everyone that we can win this league.”
That will be much easier said than done, but with more efforts like this one from Meghan Matthews and fewer “off nights” from their best player, one thing is clear: these Bambies will not be easy to beat.
“We have the pieces,” Kuzmick said. “And we’re pretty confident that we’re going to be good.”
“I know in these games I’ll be guarded tougher, and that’s fine, because we have so many other players that can beat you,” she said. “I want to win this league, and everyone on this team wants to do the same. It’s what we’re striving for.” ••
Sports Editor Ed Morrone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or firstname.lastname@example.org