Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Week for week ending Feb. 14, 2021

Sunday, February 14, 2021 | 9:54 PM

It’s almost as if New Castle’s Aayanni Hudson was built for all the hurdles and obstacles that all athletes have had to deal with this season, especially at New Castle.

Hudson had another big week on the score sheet, even though the Red Hurricanes lost two of their three games.

“Her mental toughness to stay positive through the hardships,” New Castle coach Kara Joseph listed as a strength of her junior star. “Her ability to read a defense and have countless moves, her mindset to keep everyone involved and hold high standards on herself so that her teammates hold the same standards for themselves. She is so coachable, and watching her grow has been a joy to me.”

Hudson began the week Monday against Montour by scoring 38 points in an eight-point victory over the visiting Spartans.

“Her work ethic for the entire 32 minutes stood out,” Joseph said. “Whether it was offensively or defensively, she stepped up and she set the tone for the other four on the floor.”

The Red Hurricanes then lost back-to-back games to close the week. New Castle lost to Blackhawk on Thursday in a section game and then fell to top-ranked Beaver in a nonsection contest Saturday.

In those losses, Hudson scored 35 of her team’s 61 points.

“She pushed through,” Joseph said. “She dealt with some double teams every time she touched the ball, and I think she managed it well mentally and physically. She is always looking to get her teammates involved, especially in the double-team scenarios.”

Getting her teammates involved has not been easy to do because of the dwindling available teammates for Hudson. With injuries stacking up, there have been recent games when the Red Hurricanes have dressed only seven players.

“It’s tough, but we don’t make excuses,” Joseph said. “The girls we have are here working hard every day. We need to get better at being consistent in our game play because we work so hard in practices, and as a coach, you want them to prove themselves each and every game. They have the ability to really achieve anything life throws at them, in basketball and in life in general.”

Even when healthy, New Castle is a young bunch with only one senior on the roster. Besides filling the basket, the junior Hudson has had no problem taking on a leadership role for the team.

“Absolutely,” Joseph said. “She is the first one to speak up vocally, and it’s always in a positive way, no matter what is happening she is positive and encouraging to all her young teammates.”

Hudson is one of the top scorers in Class 4A, averaging nearly 19 points Joseph said her quickness on the court is incredible, and Hudson continues to work on her other skills.

“She has a natural athletic ability that is unmatched. She’s working on moves in the post and her dribbling every day. She knows they need improvement, and she knows that only comes with hard work and dedication. Her defense has improved tremendously, but she knows she always has room for improvement and she will admit that.”

New Castle sits near the middle of the pack in Section 2-4A with a record of 4-5 and some tough games coming up in the next 10 days. Despite some shortcomings, Joseph loves the mental makeup of her team and believes it will compete come district playoff time.

“We keep improving every day,” she said. “When we have setbacks, we address it and we work to fix it. But we will always play hard and with heart. Taking it day by day, but I believe come February 27th, we will be right there at the peak of our play.”

2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Players of the Week:

Week 4 — Bryn Bezjak, Albert Gallatin

Week 3 — Mallory Daly, Brentwood

Week 2 — Olivia Westphal, Bethel Park

Week 1 — Ashleigh Connor, Mt. Lebanon


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