by Andrew Garda

The Montclair Kimberley Academy girls basketball team has won its last two games, and three of its last four. That streak is very much due to the play of junior Amanda Mack.

Mack, who took a year off from basketball to concentrate on softball, returned for this season and is averaging 13.8 points per game for the season and after her 17 points during MKA’s 39-27 win over Belleville Tuesday night, averaging 17.5 points over the last four games.

Mack said she couldn’t do it without her teammates though, pointing to the contributions of other girls during the middle of the game when she was held to just three points.

“We’ve really been working in practice so that everybody has ball handling skills, everybody is able to shoot the ball,” she said. “On defense, everyone’s pressing and we’re all working hard together. So it feels great to have people behind me.”

Mack decided to return to the court after verbally committing to Boston College for softball, looking to push herself and try new things.

“Once I verballed to softball, I felt a little less pressure. I knew that my college coach likes me playing other sports, and I knew it was a new year and I wanted to try it again,” she explained, calling other sports stress relievers. “Because everyone knows softball is my main sport, so when I play field hockey and I play basketball, I try new things every game.”

Mack was kind enough to take a few minutes post-win to talk to us for this week’s Athlete Spotlight:

What appeals to you about basketball? I like how quick the game is, and how if you’re down or even if you’re up, how quickly the game could change. One shot will make a huge difference.

It seems like the team is having a lot of fun. Especially this year. Coach Ily [Ilirjana Lulgjuraj] is working on focusing on family, and the family dynamic. So it’s almost like playing just for fun. We’re just loose and having fun.

What was the appeal of Boston College? They really focus on the family dynamic and I feel like I talk about that a lot, but that’s important to me. And also the high academic and high athletic aspects too. Personally I think the ACC is the best conference in college sports.

When not playing sports what do you do? Sports has become something I’m so used to, something that I find new ways to enjoy all the time. So I really don’t like not playing sports, but otherwise hanging with my friends catching up on new books or just going to concerts, living the life of a 17-year-old teenager.

Are you reading anything interesting now? Actually, the “Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” [by Junot Díaz]. It’s about a Dominican, and it’s from a Dominican author, and I’m actually Dominican myself. So it’s interesting to see how [the character] is growing up in New Jersey his whole life and experiencing some of the same things as me.