From the very first minute she arrived on the high school basketball scene as a freshman a little more than two years ago, Andie Lennon has been a rousing success.
The Secaucus High School point guard scored 20 points in her high school debut, setting the tone for what would become a stellar career.
“If you’re going to have a good team, a good program, it is essential to have good point guard, no question,” Secaucus head girls’ basketball coach John Sterling said. “Right away, Andie handled the ball for us. She was like the team quarterback. She had great knowledge of the game and great vision.”
“Since I’m the point guard, I want to help my team out in every possible way,” Lennon said.
When the 2013-14 season began last December, Lennon felt even more responsibilities.
“As a junior, I felt like I had to be more of a leader on the floor,” Lennon said. “I’ve been playing basketball for a long time, so I felt like I had to step up and be a leader for my teammates.”
Sterling said that Lennon was doing exactly that.
“She just continues to get better,” Sterling said. “You want your point guard to play with enthusiasm. She’s always happy for her teammates. She has confidence now and a better knowledge of the game. She tells other players on the floor what they should do and she’s always very positive with her teammates.”
However, there was a little blip on the way to success this season. For a brief stint, Lennon lost her shooting touch.
“She was in a bit of a shooting slump,” Sterling said. “She wasn’t making the shots she usually makes.”
“It was very, very, very frustrating,” Lennon said with added fervor. “I wasn’t used to it. So I stayed after practice to shoot and went to the gym more to shoot on my own. I figured it was all in my head. I asked myself, ‘What am I doing wrong?’”
Sterling said that the other parts of Lennon’s game didn’t dip.
“Sometimes, when you see someone struggle shooting, it affects their entire game,” Sterling said. “Not Andie. She was upset with it, sure, but she never let it hurt her game.”
Lennon figured that the shooting woes were more mental that anything.
“I was thinking about it too much and that just made me miss more shots,” Lennon said. “Once I got in a groove, I didn’t think as much.”
Lennon had another item playing with her mind. She was approaching the impressive 1,000-point plateau for her career.
“I felt it was a big distraction for me as soon as I got close,” Lennon said. “Once I started to get down to a few, I really thought about it and wanted to just push it to the side.”
Lennon was able to do that last week, scoring her 1,000th career point in a win over Dwight-Englewood. In that game, Lennon tossed in 23 points.
Two days later, Lennon got that groove she was missing. She connected on five 3-pointers, en route to a season-high 26 points and a huge 68-62 win over the Burlington Life Center, a team that has two NCAA Division I prospects and began the season ranked among the top 20 squads in the state.
For her efforts, Lennon has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week. Lennon joins teammate Julia McClure, who earned the distinction last month (Jan. 26).
Lennon feels that she’s a totally different player now that the milestone is behind her.
“Once I reached that goal, I felt so much stress come off my shoulders,” Lennon said. “I think it had a lot to do with the way I was shooting. Once I started to get down on myself, I tried to push it all aside. During the Life Center game, it came back and I just kept shooting. It was a relief that it was finally back.”
Lennon said that she enjoys a great relationship with McClure, who should reach her 1,000-point milestone sometime this week.
“Julia and I have been playing together since we were in third grade,” Lennon said. “We have great chemistry together. We know each other so well that we know where we are on the court at all times. We have each other’s back and that’s important. We’re good friends and enjoy playing together.”
“You see them looking for each other,” Sterling said. “It’s so great to watch. Julia wanted Andie to get the 1,000 [points] so much that she was willing to pass Andie the ball every time down the floor. There’s no jealousy between the two. Their jobs are both vital to this team. We have an extremely unselfish team. Those two always look for each other.”
Sterling believes that Lennon and McClure’s 1,000th point is a great accomplishment, made harder by the competition.
“What’s remarkable is that they play only half the game most times,” Sterling said. “I think reaching 1,000 points is still a big accomplishment. You have to be a good player to get that. Andie’s proud of it and I’m extremely proud of her.”
Although Lennon is just a junior, it’s not too early for her to think a little about the next level and playing in college.
“I would love to play at the next level,” Lennon said. “I’ve been playing AAU basketball in the summer to get more recognition and get more exposure for the college coaches. I’m working hard at it.”
Sterling believes Lennon has a chance to play college basketball.
“She has the quickness for the game and the understanding,” Sterling said. “She could play at a lot of different places. But it’s great for me that I have her another year.”
Lennon said that she still vividly recalls the tough overtime loss to Lincoln in last year’s Hudson County Tournament championship game.
“It goes through my mind all the time,” Lennon said. “I know the mistakes we made and that will help us prepare to get another chance. Hopefully, we’ll get that chance again.”
Now that Lennon has regained her shooting touch, anything is possible. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.