Santa Clarita Christian freshman Emily Hackett’s game has taken flight quicker than many Cardinals of the past.
In her past two games, Hackett put the Heritage League on notice that she can score and that SCCS girls’ basketball is on the verge of earning a playoff spot.
Hackett, a guard, has given the offense a huge lift and has broken the program’s scoring record in each of her last two outings.
The freshman added 41 points to beat New Roads, 67-53. The team moved the ball around organically and repeatedly found Hackett cutting to the basket. Captain Sabrina Banke and freshman Hailey Parkes finished with nine assists each.
The Cardinals carried their momentum into Monday’s Heritage League matchup with the St. Monica Academy Crusaders where Hackett topped her record-book performance with another one and tallied 45 points. The freshman again cut well and was fed stellar passes from Banke.
SCCS trailed by two going into halftime but shot out in front thanks to a 47-17 second-half showing to win the game 59-37.
Cardinals coach Larry Sulham has seen his young star grow her game all season but make huge jumps over the past week.
“She was a little bit intimidated driving to the hoop and was worried about getting blocked or fouled,” Sulham said. “We told her, ‘Look, you have to stop thinking that and just think about making the layup and then getting the free throws.’ The last couple of games she really has caught on to that. Of course the success of scoring is building her confidence so she’s going through the hoop even harder and stronger now.”
Hackett does not have a deep basketball background at all but has put in the work this season to become a top scorer in the Heritage League.
“It’s not like she’s played travel ball or anything. Her experience has come from just working hard at practice and working hard with her teammates,” Sulham said. “So that surprises me. Girls in the past who’ve had some scoring times like this, but not to this degree, they played more and were higher up in the grades, sophomores, juniors and seniors, but she is a freshman, and has just really figured out her role.”
The team has rallied around the freshman during her scoring frenzy as her success has translated to the Cardinals thriving.
“They’re happy for her and they’re close enough that they understand that the success of the team is more important right now,” Sulham said. “What they’re doing is being successful for the team.”
The Cards were bumped up into the top 15 of the CIF Southern Section’s latest polls in Division 5A before the win over St. Monica. The win on Monday and a win in the season finale could fire SCCS up the polls and potentially put a rebuilding program back into the playoffs well ahead of schedule.
“That would be great for this group of girls,” Sulham said. “I think it would be good for the rest of the school in terms of kids seeing this can be a successful program, and thinking, ‘I want to be part of that.’ And that’s what we were trying to do, get other athletes in the school, girls to want to be part of this.”
SCCS closes out the regular season at home on Thursday in a rematch with St. Monica at 5:30 p.m.