HACKENSACK, NJ - Entering her fourth year as Hackensack High School girls basketball coach, Michelle Hammond-Dudley has taken her team to the North 1, Group 4 Sectional Final twice in the past three seasons, including a heart-breaking loss last season, 32-30 to Randolph.  The majority of that team, who made it to the finals as sophomores, graduated last season.

This is the season that Hackensack reloads, as Hammond-Dudley is starting just one senior, with three juniors and a sophomore in her starting lineup. Her first three players off the bench are also juniors. 

With only one senior back, Hammond-Dudley is hoping that people overlook her young team, seeing a team with only one returning varsity player, and they think they will be in for an easy night.  

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“We are a very small team," said Hammond-Dudley, noting that she does not have a starter over 5’8.  “If I use my advantage with smalls (smaller players) to my advantage with speed, we should be very competitive.  When we make our steals, we can take advantage, because we can shoot.”  

Senior guard Jayla Hall returns, the only player with extensive varsity experience a season ago, averaging nearly seven points per game for the Lady Comets, who finished 17-11 a season ago.  Hall is going to need to carry the scoring load and a leadership role in 2021.  

Hall is a streaky shooter, who Hammond stated “when she is on fire, she is on fire.” 

Junior forward Meylei Taylor has the most experience of the rest of the returning players, coming off the bench in 14 games a season ago, scoring 4.2 points per game.  She was injured for half the season in 2019-20, she is a very strong player, who plays with reckless abandon.  Staying healthy is the key for her.  

“She is a hustler, she won’t give up on a play until she hears the whistle. She will be a key player as long as she stays heathy."

Sophomore guard Renee Lucky-Heard will join Hall in the backcourt, assuming some of the ball-handling duties to free up Hall to shoot more. Coach Hammond-Dudley is very high on her.  

“She really knows how to read the floor, to see where there is a mismatch, and run a play to take advantage of it.”  

Junior guard Lindsey Moran, a smooth lefty is going to join Hall and Heard in the backcourt.  

“She has built a lot of confidence in herself this year,” Hammond-Dudley stated.  “I have loved Lindsay from the moment she came in as a freshman.  I need her to shoot more, and she is good defensively." 

Angela Lombardi is a hustler, very good defensively.  “I can depend on her driving to the basket, She is a kid, who when we are down, she is going to lift you up, a team booster." 

Jessica Spezzaferra is the sixth man on the team, a junior guard who missed last season recovering from a knee injury.  She might also get the start in certain situations when the Lady Comets go small and Hammond-Dudley is looking for more shooting skill. 

“No one knows about her, since she was injured a year,“ Hammond-Dudley stated. “But when she is on fire, she can hit anywhere from on top of the key, she can hit a three.”

Junior forwards Anaia Faison and Raelyn Salter will be coming off the bench as well., with Hammond-Dudley stating that Salter is the best defender on the team.  

Additional depth will come from her seniors, in forwards Gabriella Akik, Yanai Brown, and Marie Tranchant.

The Lady Comets open on Tuesday afternoon in Paramus.  Their game against Northern Highlands, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed due to COVID protocols.

1/26/2021 04:15 PM
Paramus
Paramus High School
1/28/2021 07:00 PM
Northern Highlands Postponed
Hackensack High School
2/2/2021 07:00 PM
Ridgewood
Hackensack High School
2/4/2021 07:00 PM
Indian Hills
Indian Hills High School
2/9/2021 07:00 PM
Paramus Catholic
Paramus Catholic High School
2/11/2021 07:00 PM
Ramapo
Hackensack High School
2/16/2021 07:00 PM
Paramus
Hackensack High School
2/18/2021 04:15 PM
Ridgewood
Ridgewood High School
2/23/2021 07:00 PM
Indian Hills
Hackensack High School
2/25/2021 07:00 PM
Ramapo
Ramapo High School
3/2/2021 07:00 PM
East Side
Hackensack High School
3/4/2021 04:15 PM
Northern Highlands
Northern Highlands High School

 

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