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Hannah Hutchins, Ledyard's 6-foot-4 center, gave her team the lead for good on a pair of free throws with 51.9 seconds remaining on the clock in Tuesday's high school girls' basketball game against East Lyme in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division.
"I was nervous," said Hutchins, called "Hutch" by her teammates.
"… We have this team manager, Faith Jano. She kind of puts me in situations like that whenever we're fooling around: '99-99, this is for the championship!'"
Hutchins finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots in Ledyard's 47-44 win over the Vikings, setting up Friday's ECC Large matchup with Norwich Free Academy at 7 p.m. in Norwich. That game, between two teams unbeaten in the division, will be livestreamed on theday.com.
Hutchins also played volleyball for Ledyard, which went 24-2, won the ECC tournament and reached the semifinals of the Class L state tournament.
She said, however, that unlike volleyball/basketball teammate Michelle Klinikowski, who is a force in both sports, Hutchins prefers basketball. She did her work in the summer season with the Connecticut Storm AAU program, then carried that into winter, she said.
"Her potential's through the roof," Ledyard coach Adam Baber said of Hutchins following the win over East Lyme. "She's loving the sport. She's doing everything we ask, making all the corrections we ask. … She was diving on the floor. Not often do you see a 6-4 girl diving on the floor."
Baber added that Hutchins' ability on the free throw line is a plus. She was 4-for-6 from the line Tuesday.
"People will say, 'Just foul her going up,'" Baber said, "then you realize you can't go hack-a-Shaq (strategy used against the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal, a poor free throw shooter) on Hutch because she'll knock 'em down."