There has been no questioning Midwood’s frontcourt this season. Northeastern-bound center Jewel Tunstull is a major presence in the paint. Junior small forward Francess Henry has emerged as one of the city’s best 3-point shooters.
But the play of the Hornets’ backcourt has been uneven – admittedly so, according to senior point guard Gisell Peguero.
“I think that was the cause of the losing streak [over the holiday break],” she said.
The losing streak is over now, though, and the play of Peguero and her fellow guards is a major reason why. She had 11 points and five assists and Brittany McFadden had eight in Midwood’s 51-36 win last Sunday against Bloomfield Tech (N.J.) at the John F. Kennedy Challenge at InTech Academy in The Bronx. Yashika Morales even had eight points off the bench. It all starts with Peguero, though.
“There’s no question when she plays with that confident calmness that we’re a better team,” Hornets coach Artie LaGreca said. … “She’s picking the right time to play her best basketball. She’s been on the verge of it. I still think coaches are missing the boat on her. She’s being under recruited.”
Peguero isn’t a scoring point guard and she doesn’t really want to be. But she’s been able to score when necessary lately. She did it in a win against South Shore on Wednesday and had nine points in the first quarter Sunday. Peguero has been able to knock down the open jumper – something she didn’t always excel at earlier in the season.
“Throughout the season, people have been telling me to be more offensive minded,” she said. … “Not to sound cocky, but I think I just set the tempo. If I’m playing well, people follow behind me.”
Tunstull played pretty darn well behind Peguero against Bloomfield Tech (3-11). She had 12 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks – the most LaGreca has seen by a Hornets player in his nine years at Midwood (10-8). The 6-foot-2 Tunstull jokingly asked LaGreca afterward if she would get a trophy for the feat.
“A couple of the college coaches told me as I was leaving that she has good timing,” LaGreca said. “She’s athletic. She’s not 6-2 and slow.”
The Hornets still struggled offensively at times against Bloomfield Tech, which played without Louisville-bound guard Charmaine Tay due to a leg injury. They went the last 6:08 of the second quarter without a field goal and the Spartans were within, 26-18, with nine seconds left in the first half. But Midwood extended its lead with an 8-0 run, capped by a pair of McFadden fast-break layups, the last coming with 5:50 left in the third quarter.
The Hornets kept their defensive intensity for the most part, never letting the Spartans back within striking distance. Khayriyah Dawson had 12 points and Kianna Mayers had 10 for Bloomfield Tech. Neither of them were the 5-foot-10 Tay, of course.
“We were ready to face her,” LaGreca said. “We were prepared for a good, physical guard.”
Instead, Midwood had a pretty solid guard of its own.
“She’s a good stabilizing force, because she handles the ball well,” LaGreca said.
And she’s scoring a little bit now, too.