Sports Person of the Week
Lucas Steps Up as a Sophomore
Sophomore Natalie Lucas achieved her goal of becoming a key member of the rotation for Hand girls’ hoops this winter. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Lucas )
Natalie Lucas had a point to prove entering her sophomore season with the Hand girls’ basketball team. Natalie wanted to have a bigger role for the Tigers in 2021, and she worked as hard as possible to make that goal come to fruition.
Natalie, a shooting guard, became one of Hand’s most dependable players this winter. The sophomore helped the Tigers have a great year that featured a record of 12-2 and an appearance in the SCC Division I semifinals.
“Before this season, I was trying to get stronger, and I worked a lot on my shot,” Natalie says. “Every day, I took tons of free throws and shot lots of 3-pointers. I wanted to be a threat from outside the arc.”
Natalie wound up averaging 7.8 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field as a sophomore. She also shot 35.3 percent from 3-point range and excelled on defense by averaging 1.9 steals per contest.
Natalie was pleased with the way that her sophomore season unfolded. If something didn’t go as planned, Natalie would bounce back through the support of her teammates.
“I love how competitive the sport is and how much I enjoy it. I also love playing with my teammates. They push me to be better every practice,” says Natalie, who stands 5-foot-11. “My favorite moment as a player was how close I got with my teammates. One night after a bad game, I was really upset with how I played. My teammate [senior captain] Maddie Thomas knew how I felt and told me not to let it get to me. I appreciate how sweet and caring she was that night.”
Natalie started playing basketball in 3rd grade after she became eligible to compete for a local team. Natalie’s family encouraged her to give basketball a chance, and she quickly fell in love with the sport.
“We always played basketball in my driveway with our family and friends,” Natalie says. “I couldn’t wait to be old enough to play on the 3rd-grade rec team.”
Natalie turned in the biggest performance of her sophomore season when Hand faced Branford on March 6. Natalie scored 17 points and collected eight rebounds to help the Tigers claim a 76-23 victory versus the Hornets.
Head Coach Tim Tredwell says that Natalie’s length poses problems for opponents. Tredwell adds that Natalie is one of the hardest-working athletes on the Tigers’ roster.
“Natalie is easily 5-11 with long arms, which makes her a problem for opponents on defense. Perhaps most importantly, she’s got a tremendous work ethic,” says Tredwell. “Natalie wasn’t happy with her status on the team as a freshman, so she worked her tail off over the summer and developed into one of our top shooters. Her personality, basketball IQ, and love of the game proves that she’s just getting started. If she can continue to improve as she has in the two years she’s been with us, the sky is the limit for her.”
Natalie credits Coach Tredwell for motivating her to take it to a higher level in both practices and games. Natalie likes that Tredwell is always looking for ways to help the Tigers improve.
“My coach expects me to give 100 percent in every practice and in all our games,” says Natalie. “He holds me to a high standard, and that makes me work harder. Coach is always thinking about basketball and how his team can get better. He sends me highlights of other players and moves that I should work on in the offseason.”
Hand reeled off a seven-game win streak that included a convincing victory versus Hillhouse in the SCC quarterfinals en route to going 12-2. On the heels of an excellent campaign, Natalie expects to Tigers to come back just as strong in 2022.
“For next season, I think we’re going to be a strong team. We have a lot of returning players who know the game of basketball,” Natalie says. “I’m excited to see what we can do next year as a team.”