By Brad Spencer
The OPRF girls basketball team's game against Glenbard West last week can be summed up with one description. As seconds ticked off the clock in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference match-up, OPRF's Hailey Hoye pulled up and launched what looked to be the game winner from 15-feet out, but the ball rimmed out as the buzzer sounded and the Huskies capped a poor night of shooting with a 48-47 loss to the Hilltoppers.
Getting their shots to fall has been a problem this season for the Huskies (4-5, 1-2), who made just one bucket out of 18 attempts to start the game against Glenbard West. They finished 18-for-66 from the field, including connecting on just 1 of 11 three-pointers.
Still, OPRF kept the game close by other means, most notably, by forcing more than 30 turnovers. Down 15 with 45 seconds left in the third quarter, the Huskies managed to claw back, but poor free-throw shooting contributed to the loss. OPRF made just 10 of 23 shots from the charity stripe on the night.
"We have not shot well this year; we need to get better at finishing as we miss so many easy shots, especially early in the game," said first-year head coach J.P. Coughlin. "Our effort and enthusiasm are great, our execution needs to get better, and it will. I have a lot of confidence in this group."
The Huskies will need all the help they can get with a game at cross-town rival Fenwick coming up on Saturday (7 p.m.). The Friars are undefeated at 8-0 and averaging over 80 points per game. Both teams run similar up-tempo offenses and rely heavily on pressing defenses. Last year's game between the two teams resulted in OPRF falling 101-91 in overtime.
"We know what Fenwick likes to do and it is pretty similar to what we like to do," said Coughlin. "We will not really try to slow them down at all. We have been pretty good against the press this year, but we have not seen an all-out press like Fenwick's. We need to take advantage of it, value the basketball, and capitalize on the break. We have been far more successful this year when both teams play up-tempo, so I imagine our girls will really enjoy the pace of the game."
Coughlin added that if his team can turn the corner on making its shots, then the game could end up anyone's to win.
"They are a tremendous team, and [Fenwick guard] Jade Owens is one of the best players in the state, but I feel that if we convert on open shots, we have the ability to make it real interesting."
Against Glenbard West, Caroline Kelty led the Huskies with 23 points, 17 coming in the last 8:45 of the game. Cuyla Hall finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Maeve Connelly dished out nine assists.
Before the Huskies travel down East Avenue for the cross-town showdown, they'll be in Hillside to take on Proviso West on Friday (6 p.m.).