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By Brad Spencer
After going 2-7 to start the season, the OPRF girls basketball team needed a lift and it came in the form Stekara Hall. The junior helped lead the Huskies to a thrilling 64-62 overtime victory over Downers Grove North on Friday night in Oak Park.
Down three with 4.9 seconds left in regulation, Hall went to the free-throw line after being fouled on a three-point attempt. After splitting the first two shots, the junior purposely missed the third and ended up with the rebound. Her tip-in tied the score at 55-55 to force overtime.
Hall's heroics didn't stop after regulation. The 5-foot-9 forward scored seven points in the extra period before fouling out with less than a minute to go in the game. Hall, who nailed a three-pointer to put OPRF within 26-23 by halftime, finished with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.
Hashika Barral scored the game winner for the Huskies. Barral found the net on a driving jumper with 1.2 seconds left on the clock. Downers North's desperation heave was lost out of bounds and the Huskies walked away with its second straight conference victory.
Barral finished with 13 points, while 12 points came by Shelby Cozette, who played relentless defense on Downers North's leading scorer Katie Hunzinger.
The teams were even at 15-15 after the first quarter, and the Huskies stayed within three at halftime, 26-23, despite a noticeable height disadvantage.
Trailing 42-34 to open the fourth, Hall and Barral brought the Huskies back by each scoring eight points apiece in the stanza.
Earlier in the week, the Huskies (4-7, 2-2) upended Lyons Township 48-38. Hall led in that win as well, scoring 18 to go along with her 11 rebounds. Cozette finished with eight points, while Camille Scott had three blocks.
"This was a great team effort," said OPRF head coach Bob Biggins, whose team jumped out to a 10-0 lead against Lyons and held a 27-15 advantage by halftime. "We're certainly in a better place than we were last week."
The Huskies host Hinsdale Central on Friday night (6 p.m.) before prepping for the Montini Holiday Tournament to begin Dec. 27.