Monday night’s 61-56 loss to Hersey in the Fenton End of Season Tournament title game shouldn’t do much to slow down the surging OPRF girls basketball team.
The Huskies (14-10, 6-2) entered the week with a nine-game winning streak and a legitimate shot at winning the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, a goal that seemed out of reach at the beginning of the season. But with junior forward Stekara Hall, who scored a game-high 31 points against Hersey, leading the way on offense and a stingy defense of late, OPRF has developed into quite a contender.
The Huskies, who have posted impressive victories over Silver Division foes York, Downers Grove North and Hinsdale Central this season, pummeled Nazareth 73-39 in nonconference action on Jan. 24. Carolyn Kelty was one of three players who scored in double digits for the Huskies. Kelty finished with 15 points, while Hall scored 12 and Raven Hurley 10. The victory pushed OPRF into the Fenton Tournament title game with Hersey, a team ranked 14th in the state.
Things weren’t always rolling for this Huskies team. OPRF began the season 2-7, but slowly came into its own with favorable finishes at the Marist Thanksgiving and Montini Holiday tournaments. Head coach Bob Biggins credited most of the turnaround to assistant coach J.P. Coughlin.
“In all honesty J.P. is the engine that drives our program and deserves as much credit as anyone for its current success,” said Biggins. “I think he and I have developed a great relationship and together give the girls a solid chance to succeed.”
Biggins also added that his seniors have played a major role in the team’s resurgence.
“We also have five seniors that have worked tirelessly since the end of last season to improve this team,” he said of Hurley, Amber Lara, Shelby Cozette, Hashika Barral and Camille Scott. “[They] have led by work ethic and dedication in both practice and games. Each player has her own style and all are extremely hard working.”
Along with the senior leadership, Biggins has Hall or “Stick,” his nickname for his 5-foot-9 forward. Hall is a legitimate Division I prospect who has already gained interest from Illinois State, Cleveland State and other college programs.
“Stick has taken her game and dedication to a higher level and has become a true leader in both games and practices,” said Biggins of his star player who is averaging around 20 points per game and who scored 30 or more points in four straight games earlier this season. “She pushes herself to achieve and hence pushes the team to excel.”
The Huskies, who are currently tied for first in the conference, have four more Silver Division games left beginning with Downers Grove North on Friday. Last month the Huskies pulled out a thrilling 64-62 overtime victory over the Trojans. Hall scored 29 points and hauled down 12 rebounds in that win.
“We have little wiggle room to obtain that conference title, and York and Downers Grove North provide the greatest challenges,” said Biggins.
OPRF hosts Evanston in a make-up game on Saturday (2:30 p.m.). They’ll welcome York on Feb. 5 (6 p.m.).