The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball team is off to a promising start this season.
After a rousing 60-50 win over cross-town rival Fenwick in their season opener, the Huskies maintained their early momentum by winning three of five games at the Marist Tournament during Thanksgiving week.
Hailey Hoye, the unquestioned leader for OPRF, scored 21 points against Fenwick and the versatile junior guard also performed very well at Marist.
"My goal is to continue communicating with my teammates and getting everyone involved in the game," Hoye said. "I want to know all of our players' strengths and just play my best in every game."
Along with Hoye, returning players like junior guards Victoria Waters and Emily Schreck and senior forward Erin Orr offer a wealth of talent and experience to also benefit the Huskies. Head coach JP Coughlin is thankful to have all four players in the mix.
"Hoye is one of the top shooters in the area," he said. "She routinely guards the other team's best guard and rarely turns the ball over. Waters has really made an impact as a slasher and rebounder in our up-tempo style. Schreck is our top shooter, and while closely guarded all over the gym, she has demonstrated the ability to hit big three-pointers. Orr provides a very active, athletic body on both the offensive and defensive end."
Highly touted freshman guard Chardonnay Harris has also made a considerable impact for OPRF. In the Huskies' 81-52 win over Simeon (Nov. 6), the 5-foot-9 Harris had 22 points, six assists and six steals. The following day, she tallied 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in a 67-63 loss to Marist.
"Chardonnay Harris has the ability to be one of the best players in the state by the time she graduates," Coughlin said. "She has dominated a few games already; however as a freshman, she has a ways to go to become a consistent varsity player."
OPRF finished 13-18 record last season, including a postseason loss to Whitney Young. The Huskies' lofty goals this year include winning a West Suburban Conference Silver Division championship and a deeper run in the playoffs.
"I think we're going to surprise a lot of people," Schreck said. "Our goal is definitely to do well in conference and play hard every day."
"The conference race is wide open," Coughlin said. "Proviso West and Hinsdale Central seem poised to be the favorites, but I really think this is the most wide open the conference has been in years."
Hoye is pleased with the Huskies' early season progress, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.
"Our defense is looking really great," she said. "That's something that coach JP wants us to keep getting better at. I think we've really improved defensively."
Bolstered by the win over Fenwick and a solid showing at Marist, the well-balanced Huskies' best basketball appears to be on the horizon.
"We played against some really good teams in the [Marist] tournament and went above all expectations," she said. "Everybody came together and showed their different strengths. That's a big difference for our team this year compared to last year."