Brianna Hackett’s move from NY gave Hollis Brookline its missing piece

Forgive Bob Murphy if he wasn’t doing cartwheels when he heard a basketball player was transferring to Hollis Brookline High School. The long-time coach has had his fair share of transfers and exchange students over the years, and not many of them have panned out.

Then again, none of them was Brianna Hackett.

Murphy, the HB girls basketball coach, first heard from Hackett last summer, when the soon-to-be senior emailed him out of the blue. She introduced herself as a basketball player who was moving into the school district from Peru, N.Y., and wanted to know what she could do to be a part of the Cavaliers’ program.

“My first thought was that I wanted to see how good she is,” Murphy said. “We had a summer league going on at the time and I wanted to get her involved right away, which we did.”

And it didn’t take long to figure out what kind of player Hackett was going to be.

“Within about 10 seconds I had a feeling that this kid is a player,” Murphy said. “She knows how to handle the basketball, she knows how to shoot the basketball, she’s got the speed.

“It was nice because this is the first time that’s ever happened to me with an exchange student or a transfer student. I’ve never had anyone who has come into the town I was coaching in who has the skills that she does.”

Hackett has been honing that skill set for a long time. A year-round basketball player, she’s been involved with the sport since the second grade. There was no question she’d want to continue playing at her new school, Hackett just needed to find out more about where she was going.

“Once we found the town, that was the first thing I went to,” she said. “As soon as I went to the website, I looked up the coach and I emailed him. I asked him questions, like what can I get into and what’s the program about. I told him a little about myself and he was able to get me right into things.”

While it was tough to leave a group of girls that she’d been playing with for as long as she can remember, the transition was made a lot easier when she found out what kind of teammates she’d have at Hollis Brookline.

“I got into the program with the girls and they welcomed me just like that,” Hackett said. “It couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit.”

A perfect fit and a bit of a godsend for Murphy, as Hackett has filled a number of roles that were question marks after last season.

The Cavaliers had no returning starters, and very few returning players who had been a big part of the varsity team a year ago.

“We had some returning seniors, but usually we have a couple returning starters or people who were key players, and we didn’t have any,” Murphy said. “It was key that this girl stepped in as she did.”

Hackett is the Cavs’ leading scorer and the team’s best defensive player, leading HB in points per game and steals per game. She’s also brought with her a sense of leadership, something that took a while to develop.

“Coming in for your senior year, you want to be a captain and you want to be a role model, and coming here, it’s like do I say this or do I not say this,” Hackett said. “How do I act towards my teammates?

“It was a struggle. I had to stop and say this is their home and I have to watch what I say. It took a little bit to get comfortable, but honestly, they welcomed me so much, they accepted that I was a senior. It was so easy.”

Despite the positive chemistry off the court and in practice, it took some time for that to translate to games and HB started the year losing five of its first seven. But two weeks ago, the Cavs upset undefeated Hanover at home to start a stretch of three wins in five games.

With three weeks – and six games – left in the regular season, HB (5-7) is in the middle of the Division II standings with a chance to still get better.

“We’re waiting for that moment,”
Hackett said of the Hanover game. “We’re saying ‘can we do it?’ We didn’t see it until we were in that game. We clicked and it was there, and from that point on, it’s going
to be there and it will affect the season tremendously.”