By the time Brittany Hrynko arrived at Engineering & Science as a freshman point guard, Keisha Hampton was already flourishing as a player.
Hampton, then the Engineers' senior star forward, helped lead the school to the 2008 Public League championship. She was The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania player of the year and the Associated Press' Pennsylvania player of the year, and was set to play Big East college hoops at DePaul.
But without Hrynko, the accolades might not have been so lofty.
"Brittany played a big part in Keisha's development," E&S coach David Hargrove said. "A big part of her improvement in her senior year of high school, because Brittany was able to get Keisha the basketball in places where she could be successful."
Now a senior, Hrynko is set to team with Hampton again. In November, she signed a letter of intent to join her former teammate at DePaul on a basketball scholarship. But before she does, she has one more season at Engineering & Science, and the team's ambitions are clear. Goal No. 1, Hargrove says, is to "definitely" win the Public League title.
As a junior, Hrynko stuffed the stat sheet, averaging about 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals. The Engineers went 20-4 overall and were one of three undefeated teams in the Public League during the regular season (12-0).
But they fell short in the District 12 Class AA championship, losing to Freire Charter. They won a play-in game to get into the state tournament, but lost in the first round.
In Hrynko, the Engineers have a versatile and quick floor leader who was ranked by ESPN as the No. 99 girls' recruit in the country. Having already committed to a school allows the 5-foot-7 Hrynko to focus solely on one thing.
"Now, I don't have to think about college, because I already know that I'm going to a school. A nice school," Hrynko said with solemn comfort in her voice. "So I just have to worry about my team at Engineering & Science winning the Public League and going as far as we can."
As illustrated by the numbers, Hrynko can do whatever is needed of her on the court. Still, in the fashion of a true point guard, she insists her favorite part of the game is getting her teammates involved.
"Number one, she's a fiery competitor. She hates to lose and she's a good teammate," Hargrove said. "She likes to keep her teammates involved in the game, but at the same time, she's aggressive and has that killer instinct of knowing when to take over a game."
As she did last season, Hrynko figures to play in around 30 minutes per game, and sometimes even the entire way.
Help will come from six other upperclassmen returning to the squad, and a starting lineup composed of at least, Hargrove said, four seniors to begin the season.
When Hrynko moves on to Chicago next fall, Hampton, a preseason all-Big East selection this year, will be there to guide her. Hrynko plans to major in nursing. She says she will keep in touch with Hargrove, much like Hampton does (they talk about twice a week).
First, it's about finishing the way she started, with a league title.
"She can lead them there, but she can't win it by herself. She's going to need help," Hampton said by telephone. "But if they all buy into it, I don't see why they can't win another Public League championship."