When Alayxiah Carr lines up to shoot a free throw, she stands about three feet to the right of the basket. The move helps align her lefthanded, slightly side-armed shot with the center of the net.
"I realized that when I shot from the middle, it kept going left," Carr said. "So now I move over, and it's been working out well."
The trick, which Carr picked up last year, speaks to her growth as a player, and it's symbolic of the growth of her Haddon Township girls' basketball team. Carr is a sophomore guard on a team featuring four sophomores and a freshman in its starting five.
Each player is brimming with potential. And reaching that potential, coach Tom Mulligan said, largely comes down to finding a comfort zone on the floor and finding an identity as a team.
A 64-42 win over Paul VI on Friday in the Paul VI showcase tournament was a big step in the right direction for both of those goals.
"We're definitely feeling more confident," said Carr, who led her team with 25 points and seven steals, making 5 of 7 free throws.
Off the court, Carr is quiet and soft-spoken - something in no way indicated by her aggressive, smothering style of play.
Carr intercepted passes, drove the length of the floor on fast breaks, shot from distance when she needed, and was instrumental in holding Paul VI (2-3) to 12 first-half points.
Her defense, particularly, was a sign of the identity that Mulligan hopes his team takes on.
"Young teams sometimes have a tough time valuing defense," Mulligan said. "But we're starting to believe in playing strong defense in every possession."
Sophomore guard Bella Preziosi added 16 points for Haddon Township (4-2), and sophomore forward Sarah Getzinger contributed 13.
Preziosi drained three three-pointers in the second quarter, a period in which the Hawks outscored the Eagles, 24-6.
"We're a team that has to go out and play hard every game," Preziosi said. "We have seniors coming off the bench who show great leadership. And even the younger players try to step up and be leaders. So far, it's really been a comfortable fit for everybody."
Haddon Township 13 24 14 13 – 64
Paul VI 6 6 23 7 – 42
HT: Bella Preziosi 16, Alayxiah Carr 25, Katie Burns 5, Morgan Lenahan 5, Sarah Getzinger 13.
PVI: Morgan Harris 9, Gabby Brown 10, Kiana Ye 21, Breck Urban 2.