By Christopher Smith
---- — LAWRENCE — Genesis Santana’s defensive pressure was overwhelming.
Right near halfcourt, the Lawrence sophomore’s arms were raised high, blocking all lanes for Haverhill’s Jordyn Poole to pass to a teammate or even see one.
Santana then reached down, stole the basketball and dribbled in for a layup.
That play summed up last night’s contest.
Santana played relentless defense while teammate Kiara Rodriguez poured in 14 points to lead the offense.
Lawrence (1-10) earned its first victory of the season, 57-34 over Haverhill in MVC action.
Santana made one diving stop to prevent a ball from rolling out of bounds in the first half. During the second half, she intercepted a pass while airborne and as she was headed out of bounds, she threw the basketball off a Haverhill player to gain her team possession.
“There was a lot of hustle in her,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been doing bad this season but we’ve picked it up a lot (lately). We’ve been working together. She has put in a lot of work.”
Is Santana always that much of a hustler?
“Here and there when she wants to be,” Rodriguez said with Santana smiling beside her. “When she wants to hustle, she does.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, sparked the offense early with nine of her 14 points during the first half.
“We’ve spent this whole week practicing our shots, me and her,” Rodriguez said.
Santana added about Rodriguez: “Her shooting was on point. It’s all about teamwork. When I pass it to her, it has to be on point. And she just started making her shots.”
Lawrence coach Dan Blouin said that they often ignite the team.
“Kiara is more of the fuel offensively and defensively,” said Blouin. “But it’s not the same person every night, which is good for us. Kiara, Karisha (Jimenez), and then kids like Meaghan Belton who last year never started. She (Belton) is getting some rebounds and scoring six or eight points on great passes from Kiara. Everyone’s working.
“I’m excited to get a win. I’ve told them that we’ve only lost one (MVC) Small School game. We’re in the hunt. We’ve got to play like we’re in the hunt.”
Lawrence held Haverhill, which fell to 1-13, to just two points in the first quarter.
“And all game long they hit shots,” Haverhill coach Bob Melillo said. “Generally, defensively we play a little bit better than that. But you know something, our defense was OK, but they were hitting shots.”
Lawrence 57, Haverhill 34
Haverhill (34): Erica Jarosz 0-2-2, Jordyn Poole 1-0-3, Brittany Houle 1-1-3, Alison Grise 2-0-4, Molly Hoopes 4-1-9, Laurel Akowuah 1-0-2, Theresa Ross 1-0-3, Emily Cranston 2-2-8. Totals 12-6-34
Lawrence (57): Stephanie Garcia 1-0-2, Genesis Santana 3-4-11, Kiara Rodriguez 6-0-14, Luz Pimentel 0-0-0, Emily Ramos 2-0-4, Samantha Gethers 0-0-0, Aracelis Andino 0-0-0, Karisha Jimenez 4-0-8, Meaghan Belton 3-0-6, Teresia Njeri 1-0-2, Devinya Robinson 3-3-10, Angie Rodriguez 0-0-0. Totals 23-7-57
3-pointers: H — Poole, Ross, Cranston 2; L — Santana, Rodriguez 2, Robinson
Haverhill (1-13): 2 11 13 8 — 34
Lawrence (1-10): 12 13 16 16 — 57