By Jerry Del Priore
Rising sophomores Barbara Bruno and Kaila Dawkins were big reasons why Brooklyn High School for Law & Tech’s girls’ basketball program experienced a huge, positive turnaround.
The Lady Jets went from an 8-8 record in the PSAL regular season, with a first round playoff exit in the 2016-17 season, to going undefeated in league play and making it all the way to Class B Championship final against John Jay Campus – a nail-biting 44-43 loss at St. John’s University in March.
Bruno averaged 15.20 points and 4.60 rebounds per game, while Dawkins posted 20.18 and 12.37 per tilt, respectively, for the Lady Jets during the 2017-18 regular campaign.
With BHSLT falling short in the title game, it’s only given the ladies more fire to avenge last season’s disappointment.
“Yes, for sure, we have unfished business,” Dawkins said with a straight-faced, serious tone last week at the Loyal for the Game Basketball Tournament at Maze Playground in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
But the court’s not the only place the dynamic duo is prospering. They both sport 85-plus averages, and have plans to attend college upon graduation, in which they’ll play hoops as well.
“I had a few schools (in mind) when I was younger,” said Bruno, 16, who wants to go into law enforcement to help fix a corrupt system. “But I’m still trying to figure it out, so I’ll see what school fits in best with basketball and academics.
“I’m still looking around and seeing what’s going on,” explained Dawkins, 15, who’s like to study nursing. “But I’m doing whatever it takes to succeed. I’m just trying to stay focused and do what I have to do.”
Their collective success is not an accident. Both female ballers work extremely hard to make the grade hoop-wise and in the classroom.
During the summer, head coach Michael Lloyd has them playing a busy hoops schedule with his ML Gators travel hoops team. Then, during high school basketball season, it’s pedal to metal for Bruno, Dawkins, and the rest of the Lady Jets.
However, neither player seems to mind the steadfast commitment in order to thrive in high school and beyond.
“We’re kind of just used to putting in the time studying, and getting used to playing a lot,” said Dawkins, who lives in Chelsea, Manhattan. “I play basketball every day. It’s basically my life.”
For Bruno, she commutes a half hour on most school days to BHSLT to suit up for a topnotch coach, such as Lloyd, she noted.
“Well, coach is a very good coach, for one,” she said. “I see the way he impacts players, and wanted to play for him. I feel like I became better.”
Lloyd couldn’t stop singing Bruno’s praises – first, as a player, and then as a student and person.
“She’s our X-Factor. When she came back after her injury (last season), we won 19 games straight. She’s a very big part of this team,” Lloyd said. “She can do a lot of things — she can handle the ball, attack the basket, got a nice pull up game. She’s working on her three, and gets after it defensively. She’s big for us. Plus, she’s got great grades, has a great attitude; very respectful. She’s a great kid overall.”
As for Dawkins, Lloyd said she possesses an overall game that no one else on the team owns.
“Kaila Dawkins has one skillset nobody has on the team,” the Harlem-born, current Brooklyn resident said. “We probably have five or six guards, but nobody can do what she can do: rebound, finish on the inside, hit the mid-range shot, get the rebound, go coast-to-coast, finish on the right side, finish on the left side. Also has a great average.
“Both of them got (college) interest,” he added. They’re getting interest a little bit, and this is just a start.”
Yes, a beginning to a path that could conceivably lead them to the next level in due time.